Tag Archives: feather

Where your name is spoken

Looking Westward, a drawing of mine from a few years ago…. Raven is a bird close to my heart.

What a winter we are weathering.  Not for the normal reasons which might lead to a bout of winter weariness such as darkness or the ice and snow (we’ve had little of either, though we do suffer our fair share of a seemingly endless milky-gray pearlescence, which is a nice, wordy way of saying ‘day to day dismal’.)

Instead, there seems to be a general sense of malaise in all corners, at least to my winter-wearied eyes.  The political climate of late is one I am deeply committed to keeping track of, though how to do so and still nurture my rich inner world is proving to be a bit of a challenge.  (I am up to the challenge.)  All told, through this winter’s darkness, both literal and metaphorical, I’ll admit to having had to dig quite deeply to find any light lately within my heart- physically, creatively.  Some days I have felt quite extinguished indeed.  It’s been a hard time, ‘I don’t mind tellin’ you.’  

But, I do have a few tricks up my sleeve and all is not lost, fear not!  I am back to running the local village paths once again more routinely, just in recent days, no matter the weather! This morning I awoke with the clearest head I have had in months, the cobwebs having been cleared from my seratonin-deprived brain by just a few short, but successful hard runs around my neighborhood.  I could nearly weep with joy for the returning of this source of bliss and emotional sustenance in my life.

While running has not been available to me, walking still has.  Our dogs enjoy a wee trot outside each day, provided the roads aren’t too salty for their exposed paws.  I delight in a rhythmic jaunt where I can get lost in my thoughts.

A few days ago, the sun did shine for a day. (read: a brighter milky-pearlescence).  My hub and I went to the local nature center for some sketching time.  There are all sorts of very still, very dead, yet somehow quite animated taxidermy-style animals there and we took some time to draw them.

There was woodsmoke in the air there that day, and a sweetness as well, signaling maple sugaring season.  We enjoyed learning about how our native forebears likely processed, consumed and traded the sweet, valuable maple syrup and crystalline sugar using handmade tools they gathered from the earth and adapted to their needs.  I did not take a picture.

We discussed that day of how sad things have been (how sad I’ve been) and we talked also of how mood-changing a song might be when it catches our ears just so.  My Hub found one such song called I Don’t Recall done up so very beautifully by Lavender Diamond. They have a new video….

We were intrigued by the biography of this project to be found on Spotify…..

“The folk delight that is Lavender Diamond originally came to life in Bird Songs of the Bauharoque,  a punk operetta inspired by the work of American painter/architect Paul Laffoley.  Vocalist Becky Stark wrote and created the piece with a friend while living in Providence, RI, and starred as Lavender herself, a winsome part bird/part human who wants peace on earth.”

Hub wondered at which point in the song she was human and which bit might find her in bird form – to which I argued, why can’t she be both?  Both, at the same time.  animal.  woman.

I’ve been pondering a great bit lately this whole notion of polarity.  Political polarity, yes of course.  But also the light vs. the shadow sides of ourselves.  The Masculine and Feminine bits too, always in a dance, yes?  And even to how we react to times of great strain.   I am intrigued (and often infuriated) by the discussion of a perceived necessity to choose one thing over another.  Why can’t we be Both.  I am both Woman and Animal.  I am Light as well as Shadow.  I enjoy tapping into both the (traditionally regarded) Masculine AND Feminine within my whole self.  When I allow this, I am more wholly alive as a total human being.  Perhaps like Lavender herself.

Music has indeed been a balm and an inspiration when Mother Nature is resting and doesn’t give us much to go on in the way of sketchable stuff.

Though if one pays close attention…..

One of my favorite flute teachers shared a song the other day which caught my ear, as songs of old often do.

It put me in mind of leggy hares to be found across the pond.  so different from our own bulky little bunnies.  so I sketched one up.

As I continue to climb out of the dark hole of my recent state, I am grateful for things which catch my ear.  The music often being the first and foremost quality of a song shared.  If I get a tune rolling round in my head, words or no, that can be a good thing.  It can, indeed, change the tone of an entire day for someone sitting rather on the edges of things emotionally speaking.

But sometimes, what catches my ear is deeper still than just a catchy tune.  Sometimes, as I listen to a newly found thing, often on obsessive repeat, (yes it’s true, and part of my charm, I like to think) the words partnering with the music to enchant the heart can act like will-o-the-wisp.  Lights in the darkness, taking me down an enchanted lane to other worlds….

This morning the lovely Lin-Manuel Miranda (you know, of Hamilton fame?) shared the music of one Ali Dineen in the form of this song in particular, which much like the Lavender Diamond song above, has a happy feel to it.  (and, turns out, Lin was one of Ali’s 7th grade teachers.  Can you imagine?)

This song led me down the proverbial musical rabbit hole of her music in general and I was not to be disappointed.  (Thank you Lin!) Little lyrical snippets pulled at my heart strings as I jogged the paths here amidst this gray, cold village here in Ohio.

“Somewhere else there were
miracles, carnivals, and a space in the air
only your bones could fill.”

Just weeks away, I am reminded by this tune, is a trip south to Antigua, Guatemala where I will sink into constant art-making for a solid week.  This makes me happy beyond imagining.  And reminds me that winter will pass.  In spite of how hard things can seem just now, personally, nationally,  globally.

“Spring it brought madness and chaos and song
the wind growing warm, the days growing long
I watched the world blow through your mind
we stooped low to pick up what it left behind
Scattered stories of our country’s childhood,
though we’re deaf to their sounds
We’re trying to stand up straight
but we don’t know what’s weighing us down.”

“go when your feet are restless
go when you hear a faraway song
heed what your bones are saying
don’t wait for your saint to come….”

“go where your name is spoken
stay when you feel like standing still
no one can guide your footsteps
so walk where you will “

So, yes, later this spring, I will travel to Guatemala, where once upon a time, my name was spoken.  I have been trying to tap into that little gypsy girl who lived everywhere and nowhere.  The me who spoke Spanish “like a native” (my mom’s words) and who seemed to feel at home anywhere.  I seem to have lost track of her over the years but I am keen to get reacquainted.  I’ve been taking a formal Spanish course locally and it’s been more difficult that I had expected.

We conjugate a good bit, which I will admit, I don’t know how to do adequately in English, in spite of my ability to speak the language here.  I am banking on a small faith that this class will warm me up to hear my name spoken on the warm volcanic breezes in the Highlands of Guatemala.  I’m told I went there as a girl when my Nana Campbell came to town.  I do not remember.

But I do remember what calls to my soul:

Music.

Art.

Stories.

Other Artists.

(we are all artists)

Thank you for reading…..

~a

ps.  do go toss a few coins into the hats of any or all of these amazing artists.  they deserve it.

 

 

 

 

Learning opportunities

skull study

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.

skull study color

skull study oil 1

 

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

 

unnamed

 

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

forever looking west

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.

Art Happens

So I have been here at Mammoth Cave just a few days and in that time I have taken 3 cave tours and a guided hike where I got to know some of the rangers who work here and know all about the park.  I also have explored the park on my bike and am generally getting the lay of the land.  When I am moving around and bouncing from place to place, I am pretty content.  However, when I am at my little house here, I don’t exactly know what to do with myself.  I have never been left to my own devices in such a way ever in my life. Ever.  It’s at once blissful and terrifying.  Art (capital A) seems extremely daunting, even though I am jotting down ideas as they come.  So I am starting small.  Little sketches, little experiments.  I found a wild turkey feather on the ground and made a little drawing of it.

I collected some walnuts in the park (which I found out is permitted at this particular National Park) and processed them into a dye bath….

and I put some paper bits in to see what would happen.  I was pleased.

I have also spent some time chatting up the scientists who work to keep the park natural and healthy.  I visited a freshwater mussel growing facility and talked to a guy whose job it is to know all things invasive… and keep them out.  And so I did a little embroidery.

All of these are just little sketches.  Little ways of getting my feet wet and greasing the skids for more work.  Today was the first time I actually could sit still long enough to get any real work done.  Hopefully that trend continues!