……With much practicing, John Joe Badger has learnt most of a simple jig.He has invited a couple of his closest friends and confidants over for a cup of tea to share it with them.But lo!Just when John Joe reaches the B part, *phlooofff!!*….. An embarrassing blowout!His friends do their utmost not to laugh, as these things do happen.Especially in the beginning.
The fecks continue to fly, of course, yet John Joe carries on.His friends are delighted at his progress, in spite of the leaks, the blowouts and the goose-like cacophony of his playing.Keep practicing John Joe!Oh, and maybe a little twist of waxed hemp to shore up that connection between your bellows and your bag, yes?Yes.
Today it rains and rains here in Blackrock, as Ireland is famous for doing, and I am grateful that yesterday was the day for touring. My dear friend Simone had a work related function in Dublin and so we took the bus into town where we lunched then parted ways for the afternoon – she to her work life, and myself to take in some iconic touristy destinations.
Along my way I spy a couple of fevered protests. The first is in front of the famed General Post Office where the Easter Rising was centered back in 1916. Political protests have often happened at this site since that time, as it feels symbolic to the notion that perhaps change is possible. This current protest is by Kurds who find themselves here in Ireland. Their speeches are fraught with desperation regarding the atrocities occurring in their homeland just now and as an American, I am deeply ashamed of the recent decisions by our current “leadership”.
Further down the street, Extinction Rebellion is also holding a peaceful protest near the bridge over the Liffey River. If you haven’t heard of the Extinction Rebellion movement, you will. They too are desperate with their message, which is about the fact that we are running out of time before climate change wreaks a havoc we cannot stem.
And it’s interesting to me to listen to the talk of my fellow tourists on the street about their opinions regarding this “movement”. About how the folks participating in these events aren’t doing enough personally to make their message valid. That they might only be doing this for “attention”. Well, this is exactly what the powers that be want us to think. To so wrap us up in the guilt surrounding our own daily lives that we lash out at those trying to cause some systemic shifts in large level corporate and governmental practice. I think about how I flew in an airplane to get here to Ireland, and that I will fly some more in the coming months to do the work I do, and I do feel some guilt. But I also know I am doing what I can, where I can. Small shifts. I’m opting out of consumerism where I can, shopping only second hand for most things. That sort of thing. But at the end of the day, I live in a system that is largely out of my control, and Big Change will only occur on a large scale. Extinction Rebellion aims to force that change. I say good on em.
Eventually, I make my way to Trinity College, Dublin. The place is thronged with more and more tourists like myself. But it is beautiful regardless.
There is a wedding happening in the midst of the collegiate and tourist atmosphere which is lovely.
Ivy grows on on walls old and new.
I make my way to the Trinity Library where the Book of Kells is housed.
Over the course of the next hour I read about this ancient tome and how it found its way from the monks of olden times to its climate controlled home at Trinity. It is remarkable it survived.
It is almost too much to take in in such a short visit but I find the imagery to be evocative and inspiring. The work of these monks inspired an old artist friend of mine, Cindy Matyi to make her Celtic inspired works and much of what I see at the library brings her to mind.
Eventually we leave the Book of Kells display and make our way up to the Long Room of the library at Trinity.
Even with the crowds, the Long Room is breathtaking and I wander and take photos as best I can. I can only imagine what this place is like when the masses are gone and a real and genuine quiet descends once more. Surely the ghosts of Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker stop in now and again?
With another hour left in my solitary time, I head back toward the General Post Office to take their tour on the Easter Rising. I think about what those rebels risked for what they believed in. And how they eventually gave their lives. I can’t help but think that some people may have thought they were crazy for doing what they did at the time (much like some think currently about Extinction Rebellion), and yet most scholars agree that it was the Easter Rising which set the course for the eventual forming of the Irish Republic.
This is all history that I barely know the surface of, but I am grateful for the stories told which get my mind buzzing and contemplating the state of our world now. Countries still fighting over lands in other places of the world. Border tensions even here in Ireland are set to have some potential issues with a hard brexit on the horizon. The Troubles are never far from anyone’s mind here. Peace and prosperity are tenuous at best. We would all do best to remember that.
Our bus ride home is a rainy one. We snooze a bit and chat about the day quietly.
I’ll admit to being rather exhausted after a day in town. Today has been busy getting a few things sorted before I hit the road tomorrow to the West. I’ll be hiring a car and driving it which I have not done this side of the Pond in a good many years. But with a little parking lot practice today to jog the memory, I think I’ll be just fine.
The rain has finally stopped and so I am writing a bit here before we go gather dinner ingredients. There is time for a walk to the sea for some fresh air.
Tomorrow travels resume. I shall be in touch when and where I can, as my tech set up will get a bit wilder from here. It is a delicate balance between soaking the travel experience in personally, catching up and spending time with loved ones, crafting material for this blog, all while attempting to make art and music along the way.
But I am keen to try to do it all.
ps. Here is the Brian Boru Harp, also housed in the Long Room at the library. It is a thing of beauty….
“A nomadic bird, Snowy Owl relocates when the weather changes. In January 2012 rising numbers of Snowy Owls started migrating in mass numbers from the Arctic to many parts of the United States. One leading researcher described the migration as ‘unbelievable’. Another researcher called this the most significant wildlife event in decades.
Owls have been seen in indigenous cultures to be predicative of weather changes, and Snowy Owl is now showing us that as the Earth evolves we, too, must move and flow with the changes.
Snowy Owl blended in with the snow of the Arctic but stands out in contrast in more southerly environments. One message we can interpret from this is that as the Earth changes we need to come out of hiding and be seen. If you found comfort in blending in with your surroundings, the goddess energies, the feminine, might now be asking you to stand out and make your strengths known. It is time to share what is bubbling up from deep within you, to show up and be seen and heard.”
~Sandra Ingerman and Lyn Roberts – Speaking With Nature
Spring has sprung here in Ohio. I arrived back only a few days ago, and today must get back into the world properly, spending a few hours at the shop and pursuing a shadow-box style frame for an plants-themed art project due quite soon.
(pssst. Here’s the start of that project, begun in Antigua…..)
I’ll admit, I miss Antigua and it’s garish semi-tropical plant life. And I miss my garish semi-tropical self as well. In spite of the language barrier and the “foreignness” of food and drink, air and sounds, I felt so well adjusted down there. Even with being “in charge” of things, hosting two separate groups of artists. It was a lot to be sure, but I slept well and my anxiety was low. I felt unfurled and properly relaxed, even in the midst of Semana Santa chaos and the weight of responsibility in my work.
Looking back and attempting to find a pattern, I realized that part of this was the time I spent in my garden before leaving for Guatemala. It was time spent tidying up a bit here and there and crafting gentle boundaries for the deer to allow some growth to happen in the plant-life and trees. There truly is nothing so grounding as digging in the dirt. So far, these boundaries are holding and things are bursting forth in splendor indeed.
Another important piece of the puzzle I have come to realize is that I didn’t spend very much time checking in on the social media outlets while down there. I had too much to attend to really. I’d post a bit on IG which posts automatically to FB and then occasionally I’d drop a sketch or so onto twitter with a hashtag or two. I know that in this day and age, it’s part of my job and part of how I sell the work that I do so that I can do more of it.
This is all well and good of course, as we do live in a modern world. But some of us, those who live close to the bone when it comes to mental health, must walk a careful balance when it comes to such temptations. It can be all too easy to get hooked on who likes what has been posted, who might perchance redistribute it in someway or comment on one thing or another. It can be all too easy to spend inordinate amounts of time looking at the work of others, while one’s own ideas wither and die beneath the surface of it all.
Social media makers have crafted a system that keeps us glued to our screens more than we should be and upon arriving back home, I melted back into those old habits. I’d be lying if I said I don’t enjoy reading and reacting to comments on my own work, as well as the engagement with the work and words of other artists and writers. But I realize something has to shift…..
The nice thing is, I pay attention to these trends in myself and could feel the anxiety creeping back into my bones. Though I had a good balance with the social media work while I was away, upon returning home to familiar territory I could feel the internal quandary of “not-good-enough” and comparison with everything else on the internet – that sense that I am never, ever doing quite enough to keep up with the rest of the world. Even as I enjoyed catching up with it all on some level. All of this is a bit ridiculous, I know, but there it is.
How is it that while in Antigua I could practically feel a proper book pitch bubbling together just under the surface while upon returning home find myself back in the sludge- swamp of insecurities that so marks my day to day? How can ideas be so clear and firm on one day in one place, only to scatter to the wind when “real life” gets back into gear.
“It is time to share what is bubbling up from deep within you, to show up and be seen and heard.”
A dear friend of mine, who shares my deep love of metaphor and signs, shared the owl quote from above with me yesterday as I was writing up the post about this latest journey. How was she to know that tecolote (just one of the many Spanish words for “owl”) had featured prominently in our time in Guatemala? So prominently in fact that I picked up a mask of owl to bring a lovely burst of color to our front entryway….
Not so very long ago, in autumn, I made a painting with owl which was shown in winter at the local art center. My friend and I decided that perhaps this was just the beginning of my journey to “showing up and being seen and heard” properly, which is at once scary and exciting. That even then, tecolote was talking to me.
I long to burst forth with so many ideas that I’ve literally had for decades but I find I always have time for every-thing and every-one else, while setting aside my own work in the process. It’s classic avoidance behavior and I am guilty as charged. And so, with this in mind, I logged off of two of the largest time-sucks in the social media realm – facebook and twitter. For now I shall leave instagram on so that I can post pictures there and announce when I share a blogpost. But I am carefully monitoring even that. My intention is to write a bit more here on the blog. Sketch more. Allow the disparate ideas to trust me to bring them to light in their own way, in their own splendor.
Gardens must be tended. With each journey to far away lands, I learn more about how better to tend to my very own garden, both literally and metaphorically. I’d love it if you drop me a line here now and then, and let me know what you think as I sink my roots into deeper soil. I’ll admit I do still enjoy a nod from outside myself now and again.
I do not know how to make a “real” book pitch. I have 11 years of writing on this blog and I am told it is of value and worthwhile. And so perhaps I shall spend some time reading my own writing and sampling that to send off to agents and publishers. So far, I have only really been sending off illustrations here and there. If I were to state it clearly, I’d love to see a little published book with my thoughts and sketches of my reacquaintance with the country of Guatemala. A little book that might inspire others to dig into the wildness of their own past and see it bloom through new eyes. I do not know. I only know, I must do a better job of trusting in my own vision, instead of always permitting myself to view the world through the vision of others. *
*don’t worry, I will still keep track of things which make my heart sing and I will always share them here. The world is too filled with beauty to spend all one’s time narcissistically navel-gazing. 🙂
The other day on NPR I heard that *strangely*, the world’s collective attention span is getting shorter (I know, *gasp!*) I know this to be true for myself and it’s another reason for paring down my social media usage. Here’s to trusting one’s own vision and forging forth on longer term, deeper projects – and bringing them to fruition. I’d love to know if you are doing something similar in your own relationship to social media, and how you find and keep that balance.
I’ve a layover to occupy here at the Philadelphia airport. My system in a bit of a shock as to how tremendously noisy it is here back in the States – volume on all things up to 11. Dublin, even its bustling, modern, state-of-the-art airport, pales in comparison to the noise of my home country and I am deeply grateful for sound-cancelling technology and the escape route of this blog space on my little device to help pass the time here. These and some guacamole and a spot of wine (oh, avocados, how I have missed them!).
I find it hard to believe a trip I have so longed for, a trip years in the making really, is actually done and dusted. In a way, I feel I’ve been away forever and a day (and my family and dogs likely would agree) and yet, as good trips often do, it all went by too fast for my liking. I found moments when I wished to split myself into many pieces so as to take it all in properly. One bit might step back in to the shadows and draw and paint it all, quiet as a church mouse there in the corner, forgotten. Another bit of me might not be so shy when the tunes begin and would dive in with full confidence. Still another me might sit in coversation with the lads from the village, soaking up their vernacular and storied ways (while painterly me takes careful notes on just what tweed each particular waistcoat consists of). There is simply too much to take in.
Sketcher me does get a few things at least begun on paper, early in the trip, between raindrops one day and bus schedules the next. These I shall eventually finish and post, but for now, frustrated with the paper in my book, they rest, awaiting proper studio attention once I get home.
My journey to Blackrock, Louth, ever so charming and lovely is over far too soon for my liking and I must make my way west into unfamiliar territory. Green, rural, beautiful. Navigating buses, trains, and the like, I eventually make it into Listowel where friends old and new await my arrival. I am to participate in the inaugural Listowel Visual Arts Week, not as a teacher this time, but as a student! This is a welcome breather to me after a week of intense facillitation in New Mexico. My first evening is spent enjoying a Pecha Kucha presentation by artists in town as instructors, as well as some locals who seem to represent the very depth of creativity to be found in Listowel and surrounds.
The presentation ends and I am shuttled off to a pub called John B. Keane’s which is the center of all things for the rest of my time in town. John B. Keane was an author and playwright known for shaping the local flavor into the compelling stories they surely are, for those with ears to hear and I was captivated by the spirit of the place, as well as by the songs and tunes to be had there throughout the week.
Days shift into days and soon it is the weekend when I attend a workshop put on by my multi-talented friend Lillie Morris who hails from Augusta, Georgia.
Lillie works in mixed media and paper collage and the following two days result in a great deal of work by all involved.
The work I myself produce is very much in keeping with Lillie’s iconic style, and yet, my own voice shines through as well. The sign of a good teacher I do believe.
These days are over before we know it and suddenly time feels crunched. So much we want to accomplish and yet the week is flying by. Lillie has been traveling to Listowel for many a long year and is greeted and treated like family there. I am welcomed into this fold like a long lost cousin and our lovely hosts whisk us off to County Clare for a peek at the iconic Cliffs of Moher and perhaps a tune or two in Ennis. We both, Lillie and I, are also on the prowl for a place to teach in future. This may happen in tandem as our work might fit nicely together, but we are both open to any and all possibilities. Time will tell.
Our trip to Clare begins auspicously with a blessing from a raven himself. (Though likely he just wants a snack from the tourists on the ferry from Kerry to Clare.)
Either way, he is a handsome fella indeed.
Cliffs of Moher do not disappoint, though I could do with fewer fellow tourists along the way. All seem to be taking full advantage of the weather, which we hear tell is the longest sunny/dry spell since the fateful summer of 1976.
Ennis as well is lovely beyond belief and we enjoy tunes with friends of Lillie’s from over the years, tucked away in a local pub called Michael Fawl’s. Unlike the mic’d up splendor of the session for the masses up the street, ours is in the back room, keeping ourselves to ourselves and it is indeed lovely in pacing, tune selection and over all company.
Ennis is, alas, merely an overnight adventure but we take in what we can, finding history and color and music along the way.
We even manage to meet a man who, along with his lovely wife Natasha run a retreat space geared toward artists so we head off to take a look. It seems promising and we plan to keep in touch.
Soon we board our ferry back to Kerry and arriving on its shores feels like coming home.
Though to be fair, the shores of Clare are spectacular as well.
Home we go to Hannie’s House. A place that is truly a step back into time and family.
A place where turf is still harvested and burned as fuel on cooler nights…
There is nothing like the smell of peat on the breeze to welcome one home to the cottage, is there not?
Listowel continues to open its arms our way, with new-to-me paths being introduced by Dan, Mike, Lillie, Diane, Noreen, Sean, Michelle et al. I marvel at it all.
One day we drive just outside of town to a smaller seaside town called Ballybunion. Along the way are many very Irish things to see. Thatched cottages, turf being footed to dry, and a number of cows.
After lunch we head for the beach as I am keen to swim.
The day is filled with the collection of many sensory impressions- colors, light, stories ancient and recent, and of course, as much time as possible bobbing in the waves. My Selkie nature shines through a bit on this day to be sure.
Alas the next day sees the end of time in Listowel and I once again traverse this green country to line up nearer to where I began this Irish adventure, Dublin. Goodbyes are sad but I have a feeling I’ll be back quite soon. And of course Lillie and I will soon be in our own version of Brigadoon at the Swannanoa Gathering sooner than later. I am deeply grateful for my new friendships and inspirations found in Listowel.
Swords sees me tucked into a little hotel, up the street from a nice castle.
And just like that the trip is over. My flight from Philly to Cincy is near to boarding so I shall post this now…… But know there is always more to share soon..
“It was the morning after the night before….” ~Ciaran Carson
Miraculously, I find myself landed in Ireland somehow, having traversed time and space, desert, mountains, oceans along the way. Last week the Taos-based workshop was in full final-days mode. Marathon days featuring visits to the buffalo on sacred Taos Pueblo land, aha moments of drawings well crafted, friendships solidified over laughter and late night story-telling and wine. And work. So much gorgeous work. For me this means the gifts of facilitation and teaching kinds of work, for my workshop participants, it was painting, drawing and finding ways to craft color into images to make them sing sketch of work. It was rich, delicious work, beautiful work. We called it play.
I could wax poetically about it all but instead I’ll merely share some imagery from the journey to Taos to now. And on further along into magical lands of more art and music. Brew a cup of tea and have a look…
There is so much more to tell. About my day in Dublin at a museum, and yet another traversing this green country to find myself here. About arriving Listowel and immediately attending a Pecha Kucha event and a local music session immediately following. But for now I hear an accordion and can smell peat on the air. I must step back into the present.
Winter finally arrived in our fair river valley in the form of a harsh and deadly freeze which assaulted most of the eastern half of this country over the holiday season.
Occasionally, I’d glance at the temperature gauge in our car and see a number hovering around or below zero. With the biting wind, it often seemed colder.
Our three dogs were not keen on going outside to do any amount of business, especially the smallest of them who found herself at the veterinarian with a nasty bout of colitis which may or may not have been related to cold weather issues and, ahem, business or lack thereof.
And yet, we soldiered through. Fortunately for the human beans in this pack of ours, we could don coats and boots and we did manage to spend some time outside, in spite of the deadly temperatures. And it was lovely indeed.
“We must go out and re-ally ourselves to Nature every day… even every winter day. I am sensible that I am imbibing health when I open my mouth to the wind. Staying in the house breeds a sort of insanity always.” ~H.D. Thoreau (via Brainpickings)
One particularly brisk day I attended a winter plant walk to see what we could see. I learned a lot, procured some mushroom tonic which I believe helped me shake a head cold, and met a new friend as well.
Oh to have an alpaca coat in this cold clime! We had a lovely conversation and I was whispered many alpaca secrets that morning.
Eventually, we were treated to a bit of a thaw, as we are wont to do here in Ohio being neither North nor South. It is nice to breathe cool air instead of gasping at the cold.
This winter has been so very different from the last. I look back at last winter’s blog posts and feel the fragility and desperation of a self barely holding on, riddled with illness – in both body and spirit – and a palpable malaise in front of which only the act of writing could keep me.
This winter, today, now, things are lighter. I approach this harsh world with a new foundation forged of the groundedness which yoga practice, healthy eating and the like have afforded me. I am deeply grateful. The other day at in meditation class we learned that the idea of mindfulness, which everyone goes on about in this day and age, is actually a bit of a mistranslation from East to West. That a more fitting way to put the notion is that of heartfulness.
I found this idea quite captivating and found myself ruminating upon it long after our hour together as a group. What if, when we begin the spinning sensation of uncontrollable thinking – “good” or “bad” (light or shadow) – we might just go and curl up in our heartspace for a bit? The space where kindness dwells. The space where we are beyond judgement. We are so very hard on ourselves, aren’t we? When we think dark thoughts, or lose our patience or don’t live up to some constant standard we hold ourselves to. What if we could just let these human tendencies come, and quietly, without judgement, let them go? With a full heart.
This notion is not a new one, I am sure. I am not one for labels or for following one particular tradition or spiritual path. But this idea of heartfulness over mindfulness really makes sense to me. And it’s nice for things to make sense now and again, isn’t it?
There is much brewing here in the studio, amidst all of the bothers of the day to day, and the workings of the day job. Following the lead of my friend Kevin Necessary (amazing illustrator and official cartoonist at our local WCPO) I did something quite out of character the other day and downloaded a digital drawing application on my phone called Procreate Pocket. Kevin had posted some lovely digital drawings and I was interested to see if I might be able to do something of my own with this new tool.
And so I am something of an old dog learning a few new tricks.
It feels nice to use the phone as a tool, versus feeling used up by the phone and all of its trappings. I’ve curbed my social media use in recent days, being more conscious of whether I am using it, or it is using me.
I’ve ordered some clayboard panels which should be in next week to expand a small painting of mine into a triptych of sorts – a special commission for some kind patrons who happen to like cows.
I’ve said yes to a low-paying illustration job in the hope that the exercise alone will be worth the effort.
I’ve recommitted to not only keeping up with the flute playing so near and dear to my heart, but learning a few tunes on the concertina which I spend so much time around anyway at the shop. (So far, I have a polka, a bit of a waltz, and half of a jig. and maybe a bit of that old hornpipe I tried to learn a few summers ago) I am so fortunate to have access to these beautiful instruments. I might as well learn to play one.
With the dawning of a new year, thoughts turn to re-centering in the things which mean the most to us. My word for 2018 is T R U S T. I like having a word to ponder and work with, versus a long list of resolutions. I’m learning to trust my own intuition more and more. A real gift of this stage of one’s life.
Tomorrow the hub and I head west for a couple of days by the ocean in between our busy work schedules. Like a landlocked mermaid, I can already taste the salt air and am deeply looking forward to hearing the waves crashing.
“Dance upon the shore; What need have you to care for wind or water’s roar?” ~W. B. Yeats
Keep an eye out in the usual posty places (IG , Twitter) for drawings and musings as we travel. Wishing you the brightest of New Year’s offerings. May it be all we hope it can be. And more than we could ever have dreamed of.
It is the day before the complex holiday we call Thanksgiving here in this country. A holiday fraught with colonial baggage of things we must eventually confront as a nation if we are to move forward. A holiday also fraught with the tradition of meal-time “discussions” in the realm of religion and politics, which if NPR is any indication, are to be dreaded.
That all said and acknowledged and considered, it is also one of my favorite days of the year. Aside from a few years when we traveled with our daughter for Irish Dancing competitions, I have inherited the keeping of this day from my Grandma Kelley. I even have the old roasting pan for the turkey.
We don’t make a huge fuss over things. We here in our house cover the turkey, gravy, cookies and pies. And the sides and sundries come from the rest of the family. My niece Riley is bringing Thanksgiving bingo which warms my heart. (and some friends and foods as well!)
The kids are beginning their orbit home. One has laundry going and is binge watching the Great British Bake Off. We discuss the importance of a rue in a decent gravy….. (and yes, onions)
There is still enough dog hair floating around on the floor to knit up yet another dog and so there is still work to be done. But we are on target. It always has a way of coming together.
The pie crusts are resting, the whipped cream is crafted and the cookies are baked….
All of this is wrapped in love and gratitude.
We live in tumultuous times. But we also are hopefully surrounded by people we love. May this season bring gifts of gratitude and nourishment as we navigate the future.
Love and gratitude to you all.
This Is Love, by George Harrison….
Vicious words drift away from their meanings
And the sun melts the chill from our lives
Helping us all to remember what we came here for
This is love
This is la la la la love
This is love
This is la la la la love
Little things that will change you forever
May appear from out of the blue
Making fools of everybody who don’t understand
This is love
This is la la la la love
This is love
This is la la la la love
This is love, this is love
This is love, this is la la la la love
Since our problems have been our own creation
They also can be overcome
When we use the power provided free to everyone
This is love
This is la la la la love
This is love
This is la la la la love
This is love
This is la la la la love
This is love
This is la la la la love
Seems I have only been home for a day or two from New Mexico, but alas, it’s been far longer. Long enough to get dragged back into the day-to-day, with day-job-work to attend to, family to connect with, but I find myself on the eve of my favorite part of the season. That part of the year in which I take ‘off’ from work, and yet, from which often my deepest idea-gatherings and thought-craftings dwell. It seems a bit upside-down, doesn’t it?
Tomorrow before dawn we fly to visit our first born who is spending a magical summer out in Colorado on a musical fellowship. I am excited to get back to a mountainous climate and to see our kid with my own eyes to make sure he’s all good. 4 years of conservatory can take it out of a fella and I’m his mama. Enough said, I suppose. This is not a usual jaunt for us in summer and it feels quite decadent. We are excited and debating what to pack….
If time and inspiration allow, I will share some of our Rocky Mountain adventure here on the blog, but closely following this quick trip is my annual trek down the rabbit hole/ off to Brigadoon that is the Swannanoa Gathering. Every year this week of music is exactly what it needs to be. I’m out of practice but excited to see old friends and make new ones. All of us sharing a love of Irish Music. So we shall see, and I place no pressure on myself.
This last trek to Taos has me all shifted inside. Not as game on the pressures that make me ‘work’. Allowing things just to be instead of pushing them along.
“You can’t push the river.” ~Eunice Proust (via Terry Pratchett)
Today, this allowing comes in the form of a cup of tea and some knitting to sit with this afternoon under a clouded-gray sky. Seems like a total waste of time and yet, here I am.
I came across an amazing Rilke quote over on twitter the other day and I think it sums up my life’s work beautifully…
“I have been circling for a thousand years, and I still don’t know if I am a falcon, or a storm, or a great song.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke
The other day I did some painting – finally – and it felt really good. And now I am left with a small pile of not-good paintings lying around. I find it really fascinating that the visual arts are such that our practicing leaves visible evidence in the world. Often evidence we might not want others to see or share. This isn’t the case in most other art forms. When I practice tunes on my flute, I play them, maybe get a little better at playing the tune and move on – with no slime trail left behind. This is something we visual artists must grapple with. Even Georgia O’Keeffe had stretcher frames in her workshop off of which she had sliced undesirable paintings to be recycled or destroyed. I love her moxie.
And, !ya esta!. Sharing a cup of tea, and a quote that has me thinking big thoughts in the course of this, the latest of my gypsy summers. I love being on the road. It causes me to question everything and then to return home with eyes wide open to the beauty of it all and my gratitude for both the journey and the coming home.
There is a strange light in the sky and thunder in the distance. It’s storm season here in Ohio, which is annual and to be expected.
But there is so much more storming to be witnessed. I hear the news; – local, national, global, and it is storming. And it all makes me so sad. I am at once lulled by the beauty of spring blooms not yet burned by frost, and also rooting for children not yet brought down in Syria by poison gases. It is heartbreaking.
I look and look and look for things to cling to. That the world is not yet lost.
Here are two things which brought me solace on this stormy day:
A number of years back, one of my dearest friends discovered a little light growing inside of her, someone we all were excited to meet. Someone who at the time we called Orby – for he embodied that ‘little orb of light’ that we, especially his delighted parents, could feel among us as a presence already. There were not only adults awaiting Orby’s arrival here in this world, but a number of young kids, who adored the parents-to-be and wanted to create something special to welcome their new little friend to this wild earthly existence.
So, as one does, we gathered everyone’s ideas. We knew that monsters can be the bane of a young person’s existence, at least at first. This group of youngsters wanted Orby to feel safe and loved and to know that not all strange creatures were out to get ya.
As the artist in this particular community, I collected the children’s ideas of monsters in the form of drawings from them. Some of the kids were older, some mere toddlers, so the monsters ranged in complexity. But they all told a story, and they all had heart.
Some were bagpipes, which had been feared, but without reason.
Others, haunted the high hill tops and deep valleys of far-flung mountainous terrains.
And still others could be found deep at sea, or perhaps outer space. Teaching us of worlds away from our own. For what else are monsters for, if not to inform us of the unknown; worlds outside of our own imaginings?
Orby was born, given an earthly name of Elliot, which suits him beautifully. And soon, he was drawing his own early doodles, as was his young sister Alice Willow just a few years later.
Their beautiful, crafty mama translated a number of their early drawings into little embroidered keepsakes to keep on the wall in their home and they are lovely in their sweetness and simplicity.
I asked her to snap these lovelies, as well as to take some updated snapshots of the Orby quilted flora and fauna in support of an up and coming embroidery class to be held again at my favorite fibery haunt these days, Fibergé.
The drawings of children are so telling – of what they are feeling, seeing, experiencing beyond the bounds of language which eludes the most adult among us, yes? With most kids, if we are paying attention as parents or teachers or aunties or care-givers, there is that first magical drawing which actually has a name. The one in which the child says, “that is the moon.” or “that, is a pig.” or “that is a feather.” for the very first time. These are magical moments when the drawn image is tied to an idea. And if you are an educator or merely a parent fascinated by the stages of youthful development, you know the importance of this jump between what happens inside a young mind, and how that young mind ties it to the outside world through a drawing.
I was in Fibergé the other day picking up a new skirt I commissioned from her collection of AMAZING fabrics (more on that soon hopefully on the blog!!) and we were talking of what might make a nice theme for our next embroidery-class partnership. I love teaching there and was keen to do so again. We got to talking about Mother’s Day and how fun it might be to do something along those lines and we came up with the idea to follow the lead of the kids, much as I had done with the Orby quilt years ago.
As a busy working mama running her own business, Lysha of Fibergé-fame has amazing kids who take it in stride to spend time doodling or playing when mama is with a customer or a vendor. And Lysha pays attention to the evidence of these times with the love only a working mama or papa can have.
I kidnapped a few of these sweet drawings (with permission, of course!) to interpret into samples for the upcoming class this May 6th.
I had a ball and they came together beautifully!
If you are local to the Cincinnati area, do consider joining us for this upcoming class. Beginners are welcome as we will be covering the basics, of course. As you can see by Kristin’s sweet hoops above, simple can be absolutely stunning with a simple chain stitch! But I can also fill you in on how I approached the rest of the monsters in Orby’s quilt and send you home with some ideas for such.
Or perhaps you just want to come in to create a gift for mama, or grandmama (Dad’s? Don’t think you can’t wield a needle? Do check out the work of Mr. Finch!). Either way, consider joining us for a workshop at Fibergé on May 6.
I look forward to seeing you there! In the meantime, stay tuned to this space. travel season is beginning…….