Category Archives: sketches

On Liminality

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Over the weekend, I had the fantastic opportunity to take a sneak peek at an exciting new exhibit at our local Museum Center.  A few years ago, through the gentle nudging of my friend Christina, an artist, illustrator and fellow sketcher-of-the-world, I began meeting some local illustrators for lunch every so often.  This wonderful group of story-telling artists collectively keep a blog that gets quite a lot of attention from interested visitors. The virtual space always has something exciting to offer about arty things happening around the city and beyond through the lens of the illustrators’ keen eyes.  Recently, our blog was made part of a grid of local news-reporting by WCPO news, and the illustrators were offered the opportunity to see the mummies exhibit, before it even opens to the public.

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Christina and I enthusiastically took them up on the offer, packed our sketching supplies, and headed to the museum for the morning.

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The exhibit is a mind-blowing collection of mummies of all sorts, not just the traditional Egyptian mummies which come to mind when one hears the evocative word mummy.  There are bog people, and animals, and objects which may have been slated to help the deceased beyond the grave.  There are mummies who never intended to become such, but have, due to perfect conditions in their long lost crypts.  It was utterly haunting.

Christina draws a shrunken head.
Christina draws a shrunken head.
This is my drawing of yet another shrunken head.
This is my drawing of yet another shrunken head.

 

While we were permitted to take photos, per an email from our hosts, we didn’t have the fancy press passes the other visitors had and so we decided to challenge ourselves to rely on sketching only.  It was very dark in the exhibit space, light shining down on the specimens only, leaving very little light by which to see what we were doing.  Both of us opted to use ink to draw.

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It took a few minutes to decide what to spend time with, as sketching is more time consuming than a mere snap of a camera lens.  I myself kept coming back to the mummies of two very young people and decided to draw them.  First this little bundle of a child whose life must have been one of great hardship according to what tests have shown.  He had faced the crippling condition of scoliosis along with malnutrition and chronic illness.  Of all the mummies, this one was my favorite.  So small and delicate.  I found myself wondering what his name was, and who his parents were.  What the breeze may have felt like on his face while he was living.  And now we are left with this mummy.  A shell of his physical self which can give clues to a life lived long ago.

Since it had been so dark while drawing, I finished watercoloring the drawing when I returned home….

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The other child I spent a bit of time with was this one below, from South America.  He or she still had hair on her head, hair that had been crudely trimmed, perhaps to make some semblance of bangs to keep them out of her eyes while she played.  In spite of her mummy-ness, I could still see that her legs and hands had that pudgy quality young children have.  My guess is she didn’t face quite as many hardships in life as the above bundle-child did.  And yet, to die so young….  Tests are still being made on this child to unlock some of her story.  I am curious to know what happened to her.  Was she royalty?  Or sacrificed perhaps to some selfish god who demands the life of a child…  I do not know.

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The visit to the mummies exhibit came on the heels of a visit I had made the day before to my aunt who is currently spending her last few days in hospice-care.  After that tears and laughter filled afternoon, I came home to the news that another good friend is also facing her crossing after long years of living with illness.  It would seem that death is in the air.  I am not one unfamiliar with death or how it comes, sometimes with some warning, other times with a swift cruelty – I have deep respect and regard for it.   I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to spend time drawing these beautiful remnants of a physical life lived long ago.  It would be amazing to go back, with a little more light even, and spend more time drawing.

There is a reverential quality in drawing, that exists in few other activities.  In a small way, the artist steps out of the self and becomes one with the subject.  This can be true when drawing the fleeting autumnal beauty of a fallen leaf, but is exceptionally powerful when faced with a mummy who was once a living, breathing human being.  This exhibit did a fantastic job of creating a respectful atmosphere in which to experience all it has to offer.  I am tremendously grateful for the opportunity to see it before the crowds find out how awesome it is.

 

A Need for Slowness

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It’s a gloriously frosty morning down here in this Springvalley of ours.

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The cold seems to have settled in for the season and it all feels a bit early, though I suppose it is November.  This week I dug out the heated waterer for the girls so they have access to unfrozen water, and we are back to our morning ‘oatmealworm’ breakfasts to keep them warm, fed and with enough salt in their little systems.  chicksThis time of year always puts me in a bit of a hibernatory place, in spite of  our culture’s Countdown to Christmas mentality.  I find myself drawn to slower pursuits and am inspired by others seeking the same in their worlds.  Since it has been a little while since I have checked in here at my online home, I figured I’d share a a few things I’ve come across which consider a slower world-view, as well as a couple of updates in studio news.  

Brew a cup of tea, or pour a wee dram of something else to warm you…..

The title for this particular post came from a quote from the above video.  “What we have is a need for slowness.”  I couldn’t agree more.  This couple and their enchanting caravan lifestyle came across my path via the interweb-wanderings and sharings from a couple of artist/writer/performer types upon whom I have recently been keeping a close watch.

Rima Staines and Tom Hirons have crafted a world full of magic and old-world style mystery with their art work, poetry, puppetry and beyond and they are fixin’ to take it on the road.  To live a simpler life in general and to share their artful wares and wonders with folks farther afield than their current home in Devon, England.

Tom and Rima created their crowdfunding video with the help of their uber-creative community of fellow artists.  Their project harkens to a world just outside of the reach of modernity, at the edges of our imagination and land of dreaming.  Hence, their new collaboration has the perfect title, Hedgespoken.  I have made it a point to share their project here and there on my own tendrils of social media because I really believe in what they are doing.  I grew up on the move myself (which is a story for another time and a longer burning fire) and have vivid and beautiful memories of time spent in my grans’ airstream trailer each summer.  Nothing fancy or romantic really, but for me, it was life shaping.

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People like Tom and Rima are quietly rebelling against the things that rush our world into the Land of Too Much (be it stuff, to-do lists, etc.) Their theater and home on wheels could possibly slow things down a bit for just a few people along their path, and remind us of the magic to be found in all things, if we but take the time to listen and look more closely.  Hedgespoken is in it’s home stretch of fundraising and I wish them a firm breeze at their backs as they sail on home to port with it.  If you believe in this particular brand of magic, head on over and toss a few coins into their hat.  You’ll be glad you did, as their blogs (here, here, and here) are chock full of fascinating and shadowy paths down the proverbial rabbit hole.

Another delightful bit of sweetness that has come across my path this last week is an interview of a quiet gardener in Ireland named Eimear Moran.  I found her thoughts on finding beauty and synchronicity and yes, the Divine in her own humble back yard to be truly inspiring.  She is another quiet rebel walking the path of slowing down and waking up to things that are in our reach in the day to day.  If, again, we but take the time to listen.

Eimear’s book is nearly available and I look forward to getting my hands on it.  In the meantime, you can keep up with her daily garden thoughts and meanderings at her page on the Book of Faces (I have Rima to thank for coining that lovely phrase.)

With all of these beauty-full beacons to light my own path, I am truly sinking into the season here myself.  My own small crowd-funding project to shore up my residency plans this January in Taos, NM is going well.  I too have a few more weeks to get to my goal and am so grateful for all the support thus far.  Ginger Small and her adventures have gotten the bulk of the attention lately as she is really the sparkly one of the bunch.  But there are also sheep and rabbits coming along with me on this trip.

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Cards are being made of a number of these images, should you be interested in counting a few sheep….foggy sheep sun on foggy sheep

Or channeling your inner rabbit….bunnies

 

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I am having great fun with all of them with thanks especially to my friend Vanessa Sorensen at Nessy Designs. She recently gave me a few pointers in photoshop which has helped me turn some of the mere sketches in my journal into things I can work with in print.  Vanessa and I get together occasionally to sketch and sometimes even to collaborate on a craft project.  The most recent of which is this little wonder of fashion…..

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Part of this notion of slowing down in my life includes activities like knitting, embroidery, printing my own clothes.  Vanessa’s cicada print, my years old skirt and a bit of embroidery to bug out the eyes makes for a wonderful one-of-a-kind fun thing to wear.  And to top it all off, it meant an afternoon spent with a fellow artist, sipping tea and sharing bits of things that had set our minds to wander and our hearts to sing lately.  That is the true gift.  Time Well Spent.

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Speaking of bits of embroidery…..

Bogard_Leviathan_1Leviathan will be on display at the Kennedy Heights Art Center’s upcoming show Imagine, featuring members of the KHAC’s Artist’s Collective.  The show opens November 22.  If you are local here in the Ohio River Valley, do stop by and see us.  Some of my recent skull studies will also be up for grabs…..

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What do you do to stem the flow of time?  How do you bring a desired slowness to your everyday?  I’d love your thoughts and links to others who might be in this same camp of Time outside of Time.

Watery and Windswept – some days on an island in an inland sea

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I have written before of our past journeys to a magical little spot of land in the middle of a not-too-very-far-away inland sea…. Kelley’s Island is a few hours’ drive and a brief ferry trek across the waves and we enjoy a different side of it every time we visit.  (For past inland island tales, click here and here.)

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This year, due to a traffic back up on the highway on our way northward, we arrived rather late to set up camp.  It was windy and threatening predicted rainfall.  No pictures were taken, no sketches were made. Tents were pitched against the bluster and the decision was made to stay off the water until the following morning when the annual Kelley’s Island Poker Paddle was slated to begin as darkness was upon us….

We slept fitfully in our tents, which while protecting us from the elements, still allow in the roar of the waves and the voice of wind; and awoke to angry skies and rumors of badly-tempered waves.

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Alas we found that for this day at least, the poker paddle event was canceled.  So a few of us hopped into cars to drive the island roads and survey the moods of the waves battering the rest of the island.  Lake Erie is a shallow lake compared to its cousins and just an overnight’s wind can kick up some surf.

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Some spots seemed more dangerous than others.  And we contemplated this temperamental lake.

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I snapped pictures of not only the lake’s moodiness, but signs that autumn was already more into full gear just this far north of us.

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Eventually, there were signs that although a circumnavigation of the entire island might be in poor judgement, there might be enough sunshine out to warrant some play amongst the waves in the safety of the little harbor at our camping place…..  And some intrepid souls decided to head out to play.

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I debated.  On the one hand, I have this boat I like to spend time in.

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But I was a bit chilled, and was enjoying being beached.

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I had just brewed a pot of tea.

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But in the end, I opted for a little time in the rough water, more as practice time than anything else.

 

I was rewarded with a few seconds here and there of good surfing.  And while the wind was cold, the water was not, so we practiced getting in and out of the boats to stay up on emergency skills in case of a water-bourne mishap one day.  Hopefully we will not have to use these skills in real life, but it is good to keep up to date.  And to test my stomach.  I had been on the ginger for a number of days, and thankfully, had no sea sickness.

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I came into harbor sooner than most, but eventually we all caught up with each other to warm up and see what else the day had to bring us.

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While the more intrepid stayed out on the water for more surfing, I sat with my sketchbook and watercolors and watched the colors dance on the water and the sky.

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Eventually we decided an afternoon hike might be in order.

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Kelley’s has a rich history of industry and quarrying and so one is likely to wander across remnants of days gone by being recaptured by the forest.

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We continued on through the forest, following the voice of the lake….

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…aided by what felt at times like the spirit of the place. Most places have a spirit of sorts and the spirits of Kelley’s are alive and well and willing to show us the way.

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This island is not a really big place and soon, we had once again reached the water’s edge….

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Kelley’s is renowned for a number of special things such as glacial grooves.  On this hike we visited the Alvar region of the island….

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This side of the island does take a beating from the perpetuation of the waves.

 

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There are even fresh water ‘tide’ pools of sorts which shine like jewels.

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We walked along pebbly shores which were seemingly made up of all shades of beigey whiteness.

 

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Upon closer inspection, of course, we see that no two stones are alike.  Some speak of lives lived ages upon ages ago.

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While others remind us that to show our true colors in a sometimes seemingly-bland world may be the best gift we can give.

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I broadened my collection of heart-shaped stones, recognizing that to show the shape of a heart in a hardened world often means to have been a bit broken along the way.  And perhaps tossed about on the shoreline before being picked up and treasured.

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The light began to change and to call us back through the woods and back toward camp…

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We greeted the forested friends along the way.

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Finding our way back along the path toward a dinner of perch and a more restful night in the tent.

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Fortunately, the winds and waves of one day gave way to a calm and gentle beauty of the next.  We were greeted with a spectacular sunrise just outside our tent door, which I watched for awhile….

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…before finally deciding to step outside and brew some coffee.

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It was to be a perfect day of paddling, at least in my opinion.  Placid and calm.

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It was like four hours (11-ish miles) of a water-based moving meditation.  At the end I was deliriously high from it all.  I was thankful the Kelley’s Island Kayaking Club opted to wait a day for the official event and thankful that my more adventurous cohorts still got their play time on the waves the day prior.  We all got what we needed and wanted from the weekend. The rest of the pictures from our trip to Kelley’s are merely those in my mind’s eye. I didn’t have the camera out for the tail end of this tale which involved some sunshine, a few Lake Erie water snakes popping their heads out of the water to say hello (though I kept missing them by a hair’s breadth of a moment!), grilled snacks and a poker game and finally, some well deserved brews for our group at the end of it all.

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With a somber ferry’s ride back to the mainland and more cornfields than we cared to witness, we were eventually back home where we have traded in the sound of waves crashing for the far off hum of the nearby highway.  Seagull’s cries have been replaced by the sound of sirens and car-horns in the nearby city streets.  But if I listen more closely, I can hear the cluk-cluk-clucking of my chickens out back, and the sighful snores of my dogs. Down the hall, I hear my hub back at his work-a-day.  Life is good.  I am thankful for little island side trips as a gentle reminder of this.

 

 

Learning opportunities

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It is a deliciously delectable day here in the Ohio River Valley.  We have the gift of mild weather recently making being here this season a rather pleasant thing, which for this time of year, isn’t normal.  I am so grateful for this.  My musician son and I pack off tomorrow for a week of music camp in the mountains of North Carolina, while my dancer daughter sets off for her final week at Irish Dance camp to learn her new sets of steps for the coming year.  (a special shout out to my Hub for keeping all the animals fed and watered while we are away!!)

Once upon a time, when this whole ‘kid-at-camp’ era of our lives began, I was merely an observer; a parent along to chaperone the latest in whatever phase the kids were going through.  But over the years, I picked up a few tunes, learned a little bit about playing an instrument or so and eventually had the courage to sit with strangers and have a tune or two.  These strangers have become my friends, my son has grown to adulthood (and yet manages to have a tune with his intermediate level mama here and there) and I find this camp-thing has become my thing as well.  Something I deeply look forward to the rest of the year.

I believe that a practice of life-long learning is crucial to staying young at heart, tapped into the world and into one’s self.  This year I am taking a class in concertina, a big step as I only know a couple of tunes on this complicated instrument and I will likely be hiding in the back of class with my recording device, trying not to hold other students behind!  But since I help make these beautiful instruments at work, it’s worth learning to play one, as there is always a new instrument there needing to be broken in and scanned for needed tweaks and tuning.

Besides music, another pursuit I’ve taken on in recent years is that of painting.  I took a few classes in drawing and print making while in art school, but my focus there was sculpture.  I am, at heart, a maker of things.  I love tools and supplies and materials.  And my Day Job feeds this side of me.  But painting has been tugging at my soul more and more, especially with trips in recent years to places like Taos, NM and Monhegan Island, Maine; places where the dogma and history of painting is rich and full of history.  While in Taos a few weeks ago (has it only been a few weeks??) my friend Harold over at the Pueblo took a few of us out to visit his herd of buffalo.  At the end of one of our visits, he gave to me a buffalo skull to take home.  I was taken aback by this beautiful gift and have been somewhat obsessively sketching and painting it since it’s arrival here from Taos.

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Hopefully these will be dry when I get home from traveling so I can send one back to Harold as a thank you gift!

 

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Each painting I make I learn something, and this goes for every sketch I make in my journal, and every tune I hack away at in an Irish music session.  All of it is learning.  There is no true mastery of anything, really.  Just a place on an endless spectrum of skill.  Sometimes I look back at all the years of this blog and it’s amazing to see the learning I have accomplished and how so much of it is cataloged here.  I am grateful for your readership over the years!

Likely I won’t get to blogging again here until the summer is near through as our annual family trip back home to Maine comes directly on the heels of camp week.  It is not lost on me that this ability to spend most of the summer on the road is a huge gift.  Sure, the Taos trip in June is work related, and technically summer camp is sort of a parenting gig…. but I know that I am truly fortunate to have these opportunities. While I may not do so much sketching in NC (seems the more music I learn, the less I draw while at music camp!) I will be sure to share some drawings and paintings from our time in Maine.  Maine is a perennial soul home of mine and it fills my proverbial well of inspiration much in the same way Taos has come to do.  If you want to contact me, you know how to find me.

a gift from the faeries

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Simply send a message on the wings of a bird, preferably a raven if you can find one, and send it my way.  Or, if it’s more convenient, I’ll try to check in online now and then as well.

Happy summer to you.  May it be filled with learning opportunities, chances for true joy, rest and communion with those you love who might be far away the rest of the year.

Enchanted

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It would seem that I have returned, physically at least, from the Land of Enchantment.  Hopefully, if you follow these things, maybe you have been keeping up with my adventures on the road and in the workshop space over on the more day to day virtual spaces I occasionally post to.  Looking back at my last pre-Taos blog post, I was so very ‘prepared’.  My plan was to do some blogging from the road, yes?  What is easy for me to forget when I have been away from this place for a solid year is how on a different plane it is.  Once out there, the LAST thing I want to do is be on a computer, or device.  It was, I must admit, all I could do just to post updates via social media (here, here and here – do join us over on SketchShare!)  And so now, I have pages and pages of journal work to sift through, hundreds of source photos to catalogue, and more memories and stories to share than I could begin to dole out in any measured fashion here in a blog post.  I felt it better just to sit down and type out a few Thoughts on Things Taos, in no particular order.

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Returning to the Mabel Dodge Luhan House each summer for my workshop is something of a homecoming.  This becomes more pronounced each year as we have made close friends both at Mabel’s and in Taos town.  Each year I learn more and more about Mabel herself and I come to respect her journey to Taos and all that it wrought more so as well.  In many ways, Taos is the artist’s Mecca it is today because of Mabel and her influence.  She was an amazing woman.  I sensed she would have been very pleased with how the workshop went this year, on many levels.  When I go to Taos, I like to take a small something to leave on her grave as a sign of respect.  It would seem many others do the same. (one day there were a number of glazed donuts present.  I believe this made the local magpie very happy) Mabel’s is the only grave to be decorated in this little cemetery.  To me, I feel the veil is thin in Taos.  Best to keep those channels open.

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It is said that New Mexico is The Land of Enchantment and I believe it.  I also believe that this is more so the case the closer to Taos one gets.  It is so very different than anywhere else and you have to experience it to believe it yourself.  I come from a rich land here in Ohio, lush and verdant.  The air is literally heavy, especially this time of year.  In the past couple of weeks, I have been at about 7000 feet above sea level, compared to our usual 700 ft in Ohio.  Upon returning home, it can be a bit painful to breathe in this dense atmosphere, something I attempted to rectify with a slogging run in the humidity this morning.  I think it helped.

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(photo credit, Julie Keefe)

Under New Mexico skies, anything seems possible.  Creativity seems to seep from my pores.  Any doubts, backpedaling, nay-saying and other such things seem to disappear when I am there.  It is one of life’s riddles, how to bring that sense of possibility back to the day to day.  The answer is in my journaling work, I am sure of it.  And my art work outside of the little books I keep.  It’s becoming harder and harder to leave NM every time I go back, and this may be something that has to be dealt with on some level one day.  I must admit to the romantic notion of keeping a little casita in the countryside for extended visits to Taos, but I shall not let romance get in the way of my Right Work, which is here, now, in this place.  I have much to work toward.  Plans are already underway for next year’s Illuminated Journaling Workshop, June 14-19, 2015.  I will have pricing structure decided very soon and details will be found on the Taos page.  Some changes afoot from years past, but nothing major.  If you would like to be kept in the loop, drop me a line!  I am getting the sense that the 2015 trip may fill fast.  This season was the best yet.  I had a group of artists that spanned the spectrum of experience from professional to just beginning.  Everyone put forth amazing work in their books and I was in awe each day of how open to just doing the work this particular group was.  Even the beginners bravely dove in and gave new things a try.  By the end of the workshop I had a group of new friends among those I have known from seasons past, and there is already talk of next year.  I am so grateful for these women.

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In Taos, the world as a whole seems to be suddenly in our hands.  Everything is magnified in importance.  Laughter comes so easily.  Small talk simply doesn’t exist.  I feel completely at home.

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(eensy map by Sally Hickerson)

There is a sense of magic that pervades our day to day there.  This year, that magic came in the form of lovely new friends, and some future opportunities…

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Harold Cordova is a Taos Pueblo man who keeps a herd of buffalo on his land up in the mountains.  He is someone I have spoken to on the phone now and then, but never had a chance to actually meet due to logistics and the way Taos Mountain seems to run on her own time and agenda.  I had heard about Harold and his buffalo from one of the staff at Mabel’s who keeps us well fed on our visits there and is family to him (and to us!).  This year she handed me his number and told me to call him.  And so I did.  I always say at the beginning of the workshop that the daily agenda will be shared day to day, always open to changes in circumstance, weather, etc.  I’m so glad I do things this way, as no one gets too attached to a perceived locking in of their week’s experience, including myself.  We wound up shifting things around a bit late in our week to visit Harold’s beautiful herd of buffalo.

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It’s difficult to describe how great this whole outing was for those who went.  The sage was so pungent and fresh out in the field; the buffalo, timid and curious, seemed to look us straight in the heart, wondering what we bring to them of ourselves.  We snapped a few photos but mostly we just soaked it all in.  I had many delightful conversations with Harold, about animals, our relationships to them, Totems (Raven in particular) and Dancing Hummingbirds (he is a hummingbird whisperer).  We discussed magic, in a real sense, in the way we walk this earth and our place in it.  We talked about music and how traditional music in particular is a direct route to the soul, especially to those who can listen and choose to play.   It is my hope that we can share a bit of each of our traditions in a musical way some day….

The same day that the buffalo opportunity came to us, I was informed of an opportunity that has opened itself up to me.  In the spirit of Magical Thinking, I had offhandedly mentioned to Dorothy, Director at Mabel’s (I yet AGAIN did not get a picture of myself with her, but she is one of my favorite people at Mabel’s!) that I wondered about the idea of possibly being an artist in residence.  Was there some way I could get back there, off season, to do some work?  Anything, just to get more time out there?  Well, in her beautiful, twinkly way, Dorothy told me that a writer-in-residence program was being reinstated at the Mabel Dodge house, and that if I wanted to, I could apply and see about working with Ginger Small or some other book idea for a couple of weeks next winter.  But I had to do it STAT.  And, so, amidst everything, I submitted a brief written proposal and by Thursday, I had my answer and some dates for a residency in January 2015.  I’ll be making an official blast of this announcement once I work out the details, but if you are reading this, then you are fan to have made it this far, and so you deserve to know.  I am tremendously excited, and daunted, but I know my first full day back after the culmination of a taxing, though extremely successful, workshop is not the time to fret over Big Things.  But suffice it to say, Mabel Dodge Luhan and Ginger Small are now, inextricably linked….

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And so, quick as that, the workshop was over.  It was time to pack up our supplies and books and examples and souvenirs and mail them off.  It was time to say goodbye to all of the beautiful spirits we worked with, and to those who supported my workshop with their work (I simply cannot say enough about the gracious team of staff at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House.)  We took one more spin around the buffalo range with Harold for those who hadn’t the chance to see them the day before.  Lastly we scoped out some hiking paths with yet another dear friend from Mabel’s kind enough to spend an afternoon off of work to show us some of the hidden treasures just outside of Taos Town.

I am very fortunate to do this work.  I hope to build it up even more so.  Perhaps add another class during the year maybe in a different season.  As tough as Taos can be, dry, windy, difficult – Mabel’s makes it possible.  This was her original goal when she set up her home there.  To invite artists from all over the world to come and stay for a spell, to do their work and then to go back into the world to share what they had discovered amidst the quiet, mystery and sense of abandon to be found while in Taos.  Stay tuned for proper residency announcements, and perhaps more pages from my journal as I sort things out here back at home before the next trip.  I love the next two journeys, to Swannanoa to spend a week down the rabbit hole of Irish music and then onto Maine for our yearly dose of precious family time, but I am feeling called this year more than ever to maintain a distinct tether to life in Taos.  Life between dimensions is a tricky business.  But I aim to try.

Last gasp of winter

spring

 

We thought we had made it through to the other side.

The piled up, well and often used coats and woolens lying around have been tucked away into the closet to await next winter.  Pollen has begun to hinder the morning’s runs and flowers are bursting forth all over the landscape with enthusiastic springtime abandon.

 

Mona Lisa

 

Lambs are being born at our friend’s farm, and green grass for them to nibble is growing strong.  We have had the first official pass with the lawn mowing tractor.

 

foggy morning sheep

Neighborhood friends have come back to play in the shadowed corners of the yard, quiet, sweet and quite shy, but willing to make friends if we let them.

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Even the ever so flighty cherry blossoms have been on full display at some of the more flowerful places around town.

 

spring grove cherries

 

And then some storms came.  With much wind, buckets and buckets of rain.  And we awoke to a blanket of thick sticky snow weighing down our springtime lightness.

 

winter 4

I couldn’t help but admire it’s loveliness, much as I am over snow as a phenomenon for the season.  Springtime has it’s own slant to the light in the sky and so the snow has a more lively crystalline quality to it than it does in the depths of winter.

winter 3

The daffodils seemed to be requesting a do over, with their cheery faces leaning back into the soil.

winter 2

The forsythia blooms, just recently opened are feeling a bit droopy and sad with this cold snap and the weight of the snow.  I wonder if a few more blooms are still behind these…

winter 1

 

The farmer’s almanac did say that we were in for at least one more good snow before we really could settle our bare toes back into the grass and the bubbling creeks without getting too very cold.  And they have been spot on all winter long.  This too shall pass.

And then we can continue to get on with the busy-ness of spring.

Gestures

photo 5

 

You are used to seeing quick drawings of dogs here on this blog, as they are the creatures nearest at hand, and I am comfortable drawing them.  Whether lying still in their beds, or romping around the house or yard, they are just fun to doodle.  People, on the other hand, are difficult to draw, at least for me.  I am reminded of my failures in drawing class (so acutely brought to my attention by a haughty graduate student who may have been a decent artist but had much to learn about teaching).  And so usually, I will admit to avoiding drawing people.  There is so much more to the world, yes?

But yesterday a wonderful opportunity came around that I couldn’t resist.  The folks at Modern Makers have been creating little sparks of magic all over town lately, bringing art out into the community, breaking down traditional silos that exist between different avenues of art.  Dance and Draw was the latest of these events where the Cincinnati Ballet had a few of their dancers on hand for artists young and old to observe, draw, sketch, photograph.  No fancy costumes, just some music and the beautiful, graceful lines and shapes created by the bodies of these amazing dancers.

ballet 3

 

 

 

We drew them while they warmed up and then they performed a few basic* routines for us. (*basic to them, extraordinary to us)

ballet 2

 

The event was extremely well attended by artists of all ages.

 

sketchers 3

 

My friend and fellow sketching devotee, Christina Wald went with me and we sketched and sketched and sketched….

 

sketchers 2

 

My nerves over drawing people soon melted away into the gesture drawings of the dancers.  They weren’t holding poses, just moving.  At this point, it’s the job of the artist to capture the essence of these movements.  And so for a few pages in my new sketch-journal, I did just that.  First with some toned paper and white crayon…

 

photo 1

 

And then, onto my beloved watercolors.

 

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I used dried paint from my palette so my lines weren’t any one color, rather a combination of the colors on hand.

 

photo 3

 

After the ballet dancers finished we were treated to a lovely improvisational dance by a dancer from CCM and her musical partner who created music in response to one another.  It was captivating!!  She was a joy to observe and to sketch!!

 

photo 4

 

I was a little sad I didn’t have my ‘good’ camera with me to take better source photos for longer drawings later, but the upside of this is that I drew more than I thought I would.  And I can always mine some of the images Christina managed to capture with her camera!

Last night was just one more example of the vibrant ‘creative class’ so very much alive and well in our Queen City, who just a few years ago was criticized for it’s stodginess and lack of luster.  I love what’s happening here in this town and am glad to be living here for its renaissance.  Bravo to Modern Makers and to all the partnerships and collaborative groups around town working so hard to put together evenings such as Dance and Draw.  I had a blast and can’t wait to do it again!

 

In other news…

Bogard_Amy_Murmuration (Once We Flew)

 

The above work entitled, Murmuration (Once, We Flew) (oil on paper, found frame, fish bone) has been accepted to be part of the 50/50 Art Show and Sale next month at Covington Arts!  I’m thrilled to be a part of it as the sale always draws a crowd and there is a nice shuffle for purchase by the attendees.  If you are local to us, and would like a one-of-a-kind gift for your Valentine, this is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy an evening out with some wonderful art, and maybe even purchase a piece or two!

Also in February, the 2nd to be exact, the class I’m offering in partnership with Diane Debevec at Women Writing for a Change has been met with great interest!  We are a slot or two away from selling out, last I checked, so if you are interested, do get in touch with us via the link and join us for an afternoon of Illuminated Journaling practice and techniques! I’m excited to work within the WWfaC technique base and to incorporate writing practice into keeping the illuminated journal!  With St. Bridgid as inspiration, we will have much subject matter to draw upon.

 

 

 

st bridgid

 

Rumor has it there may even be some collage exercises happening to get the creative juices flowing!!

 

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Ginger Small has also been hard at work.  She and I have started a Society6 page with a few Ginger products available for sale.   These too, have been met with great fanfare by Ginger enthusiasts.  If you are a fan of Ginger and would like to see a favorite image of hers upon a mug or a phone case or some such, just drop me a line!  I’d be glad to upload more images as time goes on!

Some folks love when Ginger is all bundled up for a winter’s day, (much like today!) and have invited her for cocoa.

Ginger comes to cocoa

Others appreciate Ginger’s love of the ocean and a lovely tropical breeze.  The perfect scene to keep your mind off your computer work, yes?

 

IMG_5769

 

Speaking of the ocean, this continues to be where my art brain resides, and therefore, some of my sketchbook resides there as well.  It’s difficult to stay primed in our illuminated journals when the wind howls outside and the snows cover most anything that might normally be of interest.  At times like these, look to your imagination, (Ginger drawings), or online for seemingly magical (but very real indeed) creatures of the deep… (this one I drew from a photograph)

Weedy SeaDragon

 

…or perhaps no further than your windowsill for a find from last summer or the last time you were at the beach.  Around here there are always bits of this and that laying around, usually with a magnifying glass to notice the details.  Here’s a page I did with a  few of these finds. (not from a photo)

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No matter how you are keeping your sketchbook alive, I’d love to see it!  There are just over 6 weeks left to sign up for the Taos trip happening this june.    While we may have a few slots left for latecomers, signing up before this deadline is the only way to guarantee at room at the inn as well as a slot in the class.  Part of the magic of this course is spending a week at the magical, mystical Mabel Dodge Luhan House.  While there is more than enough room for a conference at Mabel’s, they do open any extra rooms after our deadline to people who may not be attending a workshop but want to lodge at the inn.  And so, after March 15th, much will be left to chance.  If you have any questions about the trip, feel free to message me in an email and I will answer them for you as best I can.  I hope you can join us!

As my mom would say,”that’s all the news that’s fit to print”.  And so it is.  Stay warm dear readers.

Why we love a snowy day

 

 

Beneath the hill where the Red Wolf Howls….

redwolf howling 

There is a line of trees where Squirrel Folk dwell….

we know youre up there

On a snowy day we can clearly see the paths they have traveled and track their every move amongst the trees….

 

squirrel chase 3

Although we never catch them….

 

squirrel chase 2

We are always up for the chase….

 

squirrel chase

Which is good fodder for the artist’s little book of days.

 

Snowy day dogs sketch

And quite the excuse to nap a bit on the warm, radiant floor in the kitchen.

 

warm concrete is a doggie soul balm.

What do you love about snowy days?