Tag Archives: claudia

Lately

Faery magic is strong in the woodland this time of year.

This is a world gone mad.  Too many things to take in, too much heartache for a body to navigate really.  The things I love which carry me into the gentle places of my soul and self and which keep me grounded when the winds do blow have suffered for lack of care.  I look at this little home of mine here on the interwebs and realize that it’s been since August that I’ve written.  It is not as if I have not written, or drawn, or painted in general.  Just not here, where even when no one is reading, it matters most.

Today I took to the woods with one of our trusty dogs, the one and only wild Iris Rose, to ponder a plan of how to negotiate the dangerous waters of our time in a sustainable balanced manner.  It is October, my most favorite month of the year.  I adore autumn and all it has to offer in the way of cooler temperatures, misty mornings and the desire to get the knitting needles clicking once more….

A little drawing in response to Rob MacFarlane‘s word of the day “die Füchse kochen Kaffee” which translates literally into “the foxes are making coffee”; German regional phrase for morning mists….

I’ve recently taken to fair isle color work and I am fairly in love.

Iris and I walked the golden woodland…..

We paid homage to those who’ve been before us in this well loved place.

This lovely bronze plaque was placed in memory of dogs who’ve hiked here well before our time.

We admired the colors signaling a late but welcome change of season….

I played a bit with my fancy camera which, like this blog space, has grown a bit dusty with disuse.

The pace of things in the world has me feeling a bit weary.  All this running and seemingly little to show for it.  The season and my soul alike beg for a backing off, a swing toward the internal to come once more to the still point of my personal center.  This country, and the world at large could stand the same I believe.

With the dark season ahead, one often fraught with personal mental health challenges, I am looking back with pride on a few months of wondrous productivity and activity whilst simultaneously crafting a structure of future quietude to keep the wolves at bay in the months ahead.

The Resistance, as it stands, is in full swing and its toiling does take up space and energy.  I quite mindfully make the space necessary to be of service in these dark times but must balance that of course.  There is canvassing and volunteering and much reading to stay informed.  The news is too much to keep up with and it can drag a soul down to low places, but I do my best.  I am careful to turn it all off and hit the paints or the road when I need a break.

The flurry of work and words in the past couple of months have been exciting to birth forth.  Here I share a few things that have been occupying my eye, my keyboard and notebook, my interest and my heart.  It is my hope that I take to engaging more here in this space in the coming months as it forces me, in the best way possible, to slow down.  To think about what I am writing and the images I share.  Social media channels are wondrous in their own way, and I certainly find myself lurking in the more creative corners of their hallowed halls.  There is so much to inspire.  But here, in my own designated space, I can think through my fingers….

“Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.”
Isaac Asimov

….and maybe go a little deeper.

So, last I left you dear reader, it was August, and so very hot.  September came along and while the heat gave no break,  I encountered a small challenge to make a drawing a day in 1″ square scale.  This painterly adventure, combined with a whirlwind trip to Taos, NM was balm indeed to a tired soul….

The Reluctant Trapeze, inspired by the amazing tune Le Funamble,  (do click the link!!) composed by Gilles Le Bigot and played by Nuala Kennedy.
“But we haven’t even covered redcaps and hinkypunks!” ~Hermione Granger
“When encountering a new soup recipe, one must proceed with caution.”

These drawings were part of a month long 1×1 challenge put forth by the House of Illustration in the UK.  An artist they showcased, John Vernon Lord, had completed a year of them.

“He dreamed himself very, very small.”
“The harvest is in, and I am feeling too small to deal with it.”
“I can’t fly but me pigeon can.” ~Charlie

I completed the challenge and made 30 of these little works.

Even when the news did say there were magnificent displays of ill will and malevolence.

“I read the news today, oh, boy.”

Toward the end of the month of September, my long time, dear friend Kristin (whom you may remember from this post) and I somehow managed to make our way from Ohio (me) and Vermont (she) to Chicago for a seamless meet-up at O’Hare and on to a quick flight out to New Mexico.  The opportunity to introduce a dear one to one’s soul home is a gift indeed and we savored every second.  Not much was catalogued of our time there, but we did manage some image captures…..

Photo by Kristin McCole.

“It’s the most wonderful place you can imagine.  It’s so beautiful there.  It’s ridiculous.”  ~Georgia O’Keeffe

Photo by Kristin McCole
Koshares, uniting shadow with darkness; playfulness with survival; divinity with debauchery.  At least that is how I interpret it.

We timed our visit with the Feast of San Geronimo at Taos Pueblo (every year on September 30th, you should go) which enabled me to see and visit with some dear friends there at a very sacred time.  It was a gift and blessing to share these folks and this place who are so dear to me, with an old friend from the way back, equally as dear.  Kristin said to me at one point, “You’ve built a whole world here, Ames.”  I do believe I have.  I am deeply grateful.

Majestic Taos Mountain

Our journey was far too short for a proper catch up.  To be honest, in spite of the splendor we encountered, we spent a good deal of time in a state of deep grief over the recent goings on at the Supreme Court.  There is a collective, primal scream of rage emanating from  the women in my life over doing this all over again.  How many times has this story been lived, eh?  Though this time is was so public, and so top-level.  I am still grieving.

But, and this is the thing, somehow we must keep going……..

And so, once home, early autumn life began with a focus toward music each weekend at the Riley School of Irish Music.  Those of us who love the music aim to bring just a smidge of this video below to our own playing….

Little Sea Folk Festival – Open The Door For Three – Church Hill / Monaghan Jig from Dean Merrill on Vimeo.

While we may never reach this level, we did manage to play our annual ceili dance once more and folks who attended seemed to enjoy it.  Chatting with our caller, Éamonn  de Cógáin after the dance, he remarked, “This is growing!!” And indeed it is.

This gathering was such good medicine just one day after the horrific news from Pittsburgh.  Just one more act brought to bear by the hateful rhetoric spewing across the nation from the White House.

so much musical love

The season brings with it, as mentioned before, a renewed commitment to new needle bound adventures.  I’ve invested in some gorgeous wool from my local knit shop to attempt the crafting of a sweater.  We shall see…. But in the meantime, it’s always fun to get to know the source of all things wool.

And maybe even attempt a sketch or two.

Perhaps you too are experiencing a bit of whiplash of the soul.  One minute darkness and rage – the next minute, a shaft of light to pierce that darkness and provide a respite.  We here are fortunate to have these moments of lightness.  To make art and craft worlds with words is a privilege indeed, and one I do not take for granted.  I believe to my core that it is an act of resistance to play music, and craft beauty with line, paint and words.  I am fortunate to have the support of family and my day job that enable me to live this artful life.  Not everyone can.  Yet somehow, artists get the job done, one way or another.  Here are just a few whom I support and so should you…..

Claudia: here, here, and here

Folk On Foot

Terri Windling

Four Way Quartet (Did I mention we hosted a house concert???)

The list goes on.

And so where does this all leave me?  As you can see, there’s been a great deal of output here in the form of energy and a good bit of intake as well which is wonderful.  But my hope is that I can slow it all down a bit.  To corral things to more depth and to a more manageable realm for me as an artist.  I like to say that I am a crock pot in this world of microwaves.

I’m being careful to begin my day with thoughtful words, such as the lovely poetry by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland or stories by Sylvia Linsteadt who’s recent book The Wild Folk  inspired a tiny sketch…..

Which led to a larger painting….

The Offering, 24″ x 36″, acrylic on canvas

My hub and I are running away a couple of days after the election to Guatemala to visit friends and make some art – to shore up our souls for what’s to come in our lives personally and collectively, good or ill.

We will get home just before Thanksgiving (yes, I’ve ordered the bird from our favorite market vendor.)  I plan to write here on this blog-space from down there if I can connect, as it’s one of the most inspiring places.  So do stay tuned.

If you are interested in my travel journaling workshops based in Taos, Nm, Antigua, Guatemala and a few other smaller venues, do get in touch and we can talk about the best options for you.

Wherever this reading finds you, I hope you are finding some gentility in this rough world.  We are at a crossroads as human beings and we have some decisions to make as to the path ahead.  For me, it’s one of kindness and art making.

“Hang in there, make art, be kind.” ~Neil Gaiman in response to the news of Brazil’s election of a nationalist, right wing president.  To my friends in Brazil, we are here for you.

Love,

Amy

ps.

What comes next?

As I have mentioned, little snippets of Hamilton just seem to hit the nail on the head when it comes to recent political events here in this divided country of  ours.

“…You were mine to subdue
Well, even despite our estrangement, I’ve got
A small query for you:

What comes next?
You’ve been freed
Do you know how hard it is to lead
?

You’re on your own
Awesome. Wow
Do you have a clue what happens now?

Oceans rise
Empires fall

It’s much harder when it’s all your call….”

Yesterday here in this fair Queen City of Cincinnati, Ohio, we marched.  I must remind my more conservative readers (if you are even still with me here) that this river town is not an ‘elite coastal city’ which some claim are the only places in which  marching and peaceful protesting are happening.  We are an average blue city amidst the VERY red state of Ohio.  And like many cities around the world we marched en masse in the thousands.  It was remarkable and emboldening.

And here is why we marched.

(if anyone knows the source of this meme, please let me know so I can link to it. And if you are unfamiliar with what this image is referring to,  here’s a brief start: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Treachery_of_Images)

We marched because this election was so much more than Democracy gone awry for our ‘side’.  Shear human decency was pulled through the proverbial ringer this past election season and we did not come out of it the better for our efforts.  Many were shocked.  But some of us saw it coming down the pike.  And now here we are.

It’s important to have water to drink at a march because it can go on for hours. This sticker was designed by my friend Kim Rae Taylor and you can get yours in t-shirt form here
From the Scottish TV pages. Sometimes the very best commentary comes from across the pond!

We are, it would seem, in a very strange ‘interactive virtual reality project’.  And so we marched.  On the shoulders of giants.

“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.”

– Maya Angelou

Protesters crafted clever signage to carry along the route.

Saw this version on Twitter, but many like it here in our own march
This sign was posted on Brene Brown’s Instagram feed and as a card carrying introvert who loathes crowd energy, I for one couldn’t agree more.
My step-mama Sue, an activist and extremely politically engaged at all times, is an inspiration to follow.
This amazing design has been doing the rounds and I saw it on a number of protest signs.  Far as I know, this is the source… http://ladieswhodesign.com/
I sincerely hope JK Rowling knows she has inspired a new generation of activists. Harry Potter is so relevant. It makes my heart happy.
And the other side of the Harry Potter inspired protest swag.
Even the little’s had something to say. The other side of this sign had this child’s scribbles in marker. Her parents translated her scribbles for all to read and understand.
My friend Julie Persons got Claudia involved too.  Will you look at that tiny hat!?  https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/adventuresofclaudia

This day was billed as a day for ‘Women’s Marches’ all around the world.  But, as the protesters did chant, “Women’s rights are human rights.”  The day was more than just for or about women.  We were protesting everything the Trump administration stands for.  Black Lives Matter activists were present and marching in solidarity, as were those standing up for the rights of Muslims here in our community, and the rights of those with disabilities.  Those who are worried for the future of public education under the person nominated for Education Secretary were there as well with their concerns and signs. Entire families were present.  My own included three generations.  There were tiny babies and the elderly in wheel chairs or with canes.  We all helped each other along the cobblestones of Over The Rhine.  It was beautiful.

“The thing about “snowflakes” is this: They are beautiful and unique, but in large numbers become an unstoppable avalanche that will bury you.”

~George Takei

We marched this day to build one another up for what will be four years of chipping away at the rights of many, in favor of lining the pockets of those already too rich for normal people to even conceive.

A t-shirt design I did awhile back for the beautiful song above by my dear friend Kim Taylor. (yes, another brilliantly talented friend called Kim Taylor.  I adore them both!)

Just last night I attended a musical birthday celebration and in the wings we whispered about the success of the marches around the world, while simultaneously lamenting the changes already affecting those most vulnerable in our community.  One friend, a physician, works with many immigrants and desperately poor folks on the fringe who are frightened to even show identification to their medical caregivers under this new administration.  Her office is mostly federally funded.  They may not even be present to give care if the promised cuts come along.  Another friend, recipient of an FHA loan to purchase her home was emailed that very day of an increase in her mortgage of $150 per month.  With a swish of a pen stroke, Trump signed away Obama’s 1/2% tax break, meaning many families will have to scramble just to pay for their homes now.  $150 is a ton of money for a working family.  But what would Mr. Trump know of such troubles as a billionaire, eh?  Sadly, many folks who voted him into office will get a similar email.  I wonder if they can make ends meet.

Which leads me to my original question.  What comes next? Marches are all well and good and definitely were a shot of desperately needed hope for many of us who lean toward the progressive end of the spectrum.  But they are not enough.  We have a lot of work to do.  I will not say that marches don’t make change.  I believe they do.  And so does Rebecca Solnit.  I recently read her book Hope in the Dark and in it she makes a case for the fact that even the smallest acts of protest can go on to have lives of their own and spark other action elsewhere which we may never witness.  Yesterday’s protests may possibly not yield the large benefits we all envision until generations from now, but we mustn’t sit back and wait and see.  There are things we can do here and now – ways we can ride this wave of rebellion.

There are concrete things we can do to stay engaged in this protest and not lose steam. More info here

Local government is where seeds of change begin to unfurl and grow and so we can begin there.  We must also stay on our national and state level representatives to remind them we are watching their every political move.  Post cards, phone calls.  Conversations with our neighbors.  We must continue to rise up as one voice in defense of the defenseless.

“Rise up
When you’re living on your knees, you rise up
Tell your brother that he’s got to rise up
Tell your sister that she’s got to rise up.”

~Lin Manuel Miranda

And through all of this, we artists must continue to find balance amidst this chaos in order to tend to our own quiet work, equally as powerful in making change as all the political actions.  In recent days, two of my past Taos Workshop participants told me that taking my sketch journaling class had literally changed their lives.  I don’t share this here to brag or even to market the class, but rather to marvel.  To remind myself how important the work is.  To remind myself, and you dear readers, how crucial our individual voices are in this tumultuous time.  Even if they feel small or quiet.

“I also wanted to write to let you know, ( months after the fact) how your workshop in Taos last summer transformed my life. At the risk of sounding corny, it lifted me out of the cocoon that I had been hiding in for so long. After coming back from Taos, my sense of adventure and joy was restored. I’ve got to tell you how major this is especially for a girl who struggles with depression and anxiety. You are making a difference. You certainly made a difference in mine. Your workshop is so reinvigorating and life giving to the soul. Friends and family have even taken notice of how I’ve taken flight after the workshop. It fed the starving creative in me which is who I am in my deep core. Fast forward four months, I finally quit the job I hated and decided to go back to school full time to pursue my dream of becoming a web designer and user experience guru. Butterfly effect much?”

~2016 Taos class participant.  <3  quote used here with permission.

So go forth and doodle.  go forth and write your poems of love and rage.  go forth and run for local office.  go forth and get to know that Trump loving neighbor or family member, and if they are open to it, (and you can stomach it) engage them in conversation.  go forth and build this great nation (who is still, “young scrappy and hungry” compared to most of the rest of the world) with liberty and justice for all.