Tag Archives: flowers

Attending

“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.”

~Mary Oliver

It’s funny to me, my own internal cycles of inward-facing versus outward-facing; of intense productivity versus steeping an idea for a time.  The notion of developing something a while and then, at the proper juncture, sitting down to implement that development into something real in the world, something which was once just an inkling in the outer reaches of my mind’s eye.

These cycles are no less apparent in my relationship to the online world.  In the midst of this pandemic, and that amidst a country further mired and deeply more into trouble, I have once again, like so many I know, fallen into the trap of too much information and too much time on the standard culprits.  It is time for a break.  I’ve learned that I do not need to pull a Lorde and burn up my social media presence, rather I simply need to pull back into my own sphere for a bit to recalibrate.

“This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.”

~Mary Oliver

A good while ago, knowing the news wasn’t going to get any better anytime soon, I removed Facebook and Twitter from my phone (always a wise move even in the best of times) but it’s not enough.  There must be a balance to these things.  A balance of being informed but not inundated, of monitoring where my attention falls.

I have heard it said that what we do with our days is what we do with our lives.  I believe this to be true.  And so we must decide what we want our lives to be.

“Attention is the beginning of devotion.”

~Mary Oliver

There is a lot to take in just now.  Heartbreaking news from every corner of the globe, but also breathtaking beauty in our gardens and new ideas to pursue in our imaginings.  Neither of these things should outweigh the other.  We must pay witness to the tragic, yet not dismiss the miraculous, however small or fleeting it may be.

None of us are any good to anyone if we become mired in the unreal world of social media.  My goal personally is to read more deeply about the issues at hand – about this pandemic and it’s long term challenges.  About how the rest of the world is viewing our country (and the UK)  just now in the wake of recent, racially motivated murders.  I’ll investigate ways to look keenly at my own inherent biases and consider how to best navigate them and change from within.  (Here are just two things for a start:  The Groundwater Presentation and The 1619 Project .)

We are in tumultuous times to be sure.

 

We must pay attention to everything.  Closely.  It is what artist’s do really.

 

“Instructions for living a life.  Pay Attention.  Be astonished. Tell about it.”

~Mary Oliver

One of the pitfalls of social media is the old “if a tree falls in the forest” concept.  If one is not on facebook lamenting the latest lunacy from the white house, is one really informed or engaged at all?  My answer is “yes”, perhaps even more so.

So while I may appear to disappear into the folds of my own little world here, you can be sure I am keeping up with the broader context.  I might seem to be hiding in the garage making stop motion videos, or getting lost in an imaginary world where animals wear clothing.  But rest assured, I am quietly staying informed.  Engaged.  We all just need a break sometimes.

A time in which to grieve the horrendous loss we are experiencing as a collective, to bear witness to ongoing atrocities in our “perfect union”, and yes, a time to weep at the beauty of the blooming of a simple spring flower.

Turns out we DO have white peonies in our yard after all! But we can still share some pink peonies with our gardening friends.

“Attention, without feeling, I began to learn, is only a report.  An openness – an empathy – was necessary if the attention was to matter.”

~Mary Oliver

I wonder and worry as to whether I’ll ever get back to Ireland. (And with that, how to get delivery of my new pipes due in October as well….) As a small prayer of hope, I planted some fuschia in a pot in the back garden. I am told the hummingbirds will like it. And maybe the bees too. These can be found all over Ireland in hedge form. Little fairy jewels on display. And I love having them around here at home.

Settling in…

IMG_0092After a long day of travel, peppered with delays, cancelations and many, many hours of knitting, snoozing and sketching, I found myself at long last, arrived in theLand of Enchantment.  Ginger Small was as annoyed with the delay as I was at the way our day of travel had gone…

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…and for the second leg of the journey, opted rather for a hot air balloon ride.

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Last I heard, she may have tracked down her cliff dwelling friends further down the mountain, but that is a tale for another post.

Meanwhile, I arrived, very much alone.  I was greeted by moody skies, a darkening landscape and storms.

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It was all quite lovely really and I just got into my little car and drove, intent to make the most of the last of daylight, intent to eventually arrive in Taos.

Thunderbirds guided me up the mountain.

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After a day off to soak at the hot spring and nap and visit, yesterday finally found me truly landed and ready to get to work.  There are many supply gathering sort of errands to be handled, and meetings with the team of folks here in town and at Mabel’s who make this workshop possible.  But I did take a couple of hours yesterday to hike a well loved desert path.

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I met many new friends, who were in full plummage due to recent rains.

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IMG_5028I was able to sit for a few minutes with my sketchbook and do a quick rendering of a bit of the Rio Grande Gorge before I had to head back up the path to get back to town.  It was wonderful to sit in the quiet and witness Raven riding the thermals, and to feel the sun on my shoulders, and the breeze on my cheek.  The noise of town and traffic well behind me.   I need more open space in this life.

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It feels so precious to be back in this strange land, so very different than my own homeland.  By experiencing, exploring and cataloging new landscapes, we are surely discovering and perhaps even altering our own inner landscapes.  Every visit here reminds me I have much to glean here.  From myself, and from the land.IMG_5025

 

The trip has only just begun, and there are already so many tales to tell and drawings to be made.  I am grateful for this quirky place and it’s rugged landscape and beautiful people who are fortunate enough to live here full time.

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Spring has sprung!

Thankfully with the coming of spring, things have settled down (if only just a little) and I have had some time to enjoy my garden which is bursting this time of year with flowers mostly and a few greens I had popped in the ground earlier.  Here are some sketches and snapshots…

The weather is still cool enough to be enjoying greens straight from the garden!  Thankfully the deer seem to have had enough to eat elsewhere as they have left this bed pretty much alone for now.  Last fall we built a couple of raised beds in which we’ll grow basic veggies come summer.  My grandfather always warned never to plant veggies until the first full moon after mother’s day and so these beds lie in wait with only some garlic peeking out of the soil.

Much of what’s going on in my yard I inherited from the former owners of this house and I am just trying to keep it well tended as I learn how to be a gardener.  We have a wealth of flowering trees that bloom one after the other for about a solid month.  Redbud, azalea, magnolia, lilac, wisteria.  All really lovely to witness.

Last week my girl friends and I took a few hours to go to the local flower show where we saw all sorts of lovely things to draw and dream of putting into our own yards.  I could have walked around and drawn flowers all day!  I did get a few sketches into my book…

It feels really good to sink my toes back into my own turf and get back into the swing of things here at home.  Tina and I are finished with the Convention Center project and it was installed late last week.  I will post pictures of it in situ as soon as I can get them so stay tuned!  With that work completed, Adam and I are throwing renewed energy toward Drawing Down the Vision through continuous improvement on the website and the addition of a blog on that site about the benefits of drawing for everyone who may want to give it a try.  So pay the site a visit if you have a few minutes.  It is my hope that this work, albeit in a whole other world, will provide another avenue through which to share my love of keeping a vibrant sketchbook.

Speaking of sketchbooks, the Make the Book/ Fill the Book class had it’s final session a few weeks ago.  I so enjoyed meeting our students and working with Cody.  We already have ideas for changes and improvements for the next offering of the class which will hopefully be next fall.  The Art Academy has announced that in May 2011 I will be taking a group to Taos, New Mexico for a travel sketchbook course.  (download the class brochure and you’ll find the details in the catelog!)  This should prove to be a wonderful adventure for anyone who would like to travel and learn to keep an illuminated journal of the trip.  My best sketchbook pages always happen when I am traveling and seeing the world through fresh eyes.  You don’t have to be from Cincinnati to go on this trip by the way so if you care to join us, I will certainly keep you posted on the details as they firm up.

Well it looks like it has stopped raining for the time being so I am going to go for a run.   Happy spring!