Tag Archives: illustration

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.

 

 

 

 

feeling prickly

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In recent days I was caught unawares with a little virus that has kicked my proverbial backside with a hacking cough and periodic fevers that leave me achey and miserable.  I am thankful to have the flexibility to be able to stay home and keep this all to myself, though this meant  missing one of my favorite annual events, the Riley School of Irish Music’s Peace and Merriment concert.  But miss it I did, as I’d not wish this cough on anyone.

I am fortunate to have a live in love who makes a really nice soup and who puts up with my rather prickly attitude as a patient.

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I’m also thankful for friends who live away who call to check in on me and remind me of my worth as an artist and a human being.  (this discussion having nothing to do with feeling sick, but only magnified by such).  And so little by little, I get my breath back.  Hoping tea and books and rest (and maybe a spot of whisky) will see me playing music again soon.  And rocking a more positive attitude.

For today though, I just feel prickly.

While we’re together (A very Oberlin wedding – illustrated)

sometimes, photos aren’t enough to convey the richness of a magical time with those we love.  sometimes, we need the drawn interpretations of a journal entry or a few sonic scrapbook snippets as lenses through which to taste this fleeting magic…….

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(push play…. just below. enjoy the harmony, and perhaps, a guffaw or two…)

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eventually, as many magic times do, festivities melted into songs over cups of tea, and a few more sips of celebratory libation by those who were on that path….  here are a few more tracks of songs sung, littered with the sounds of toasts being made, more laughter, and some scratchy sketching here and there just near the recording device.  Best wishes Alex and Rae.  You are loved.

 

Flux and Catch-up

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It’s a delightfully cozy morning here.  I am just landed from a wonderful weekend away to Oak Ridge, Tennessee for the 8th annual Tune Junkie Weekend where a few of my normally more summery connections gathered to play music and catch up and play more and more and more music.  We are indeed junkies of a sort, fairly obsessed and addicted to this delightful folk tradition.  The weekend is mostly a ‘session-centric’ event but there was a concert put on and a few of us flute players played a few sets with the help of a couple of fiddles and a piano.

Crawford's Flutilla and friends, photo courtesy of TJW organizer, Chad Beauchaine
Crawford’s Flutilla and friends, photo courtesy of TJW organizer, Chad Beauchaine

It was, overall, just a fantastic time and my musical cup is full.  I am grateful for this last weekend as it helped pass the time that I must wait for the next Big Trip coming down the pike.

Very soon, my long-time honey and I are off on an adventure to places of a more tropical sort and I almost can’t stand the wait!  But for now, I must catch up on work both here in the studio, and at the shop.    There are exciting things brewing!  I’ll share a little bit of it all here…

First up, a dear friend of mine is in the process of putting together an online marketplace which will feature some of the arts and creative wares from our general vicinity.  There is so much talent and creativity here in this rich Ohio Valley.  I am proud to be a part of it and thrilled to have a few of my cards and other small works soon available for sale through her efforts.  Business acumen is not a strong suit of mine and being a part of this marketplace is an opportunity I am really grateful for!!  I will certainly keep you posted when the shop is open for business which is slated to be in March.  More soon!!

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Meanwhile, the annual Taos Trip registration process is chugging along briskly.  I have a lovely group put together already, but there are a few slots left.  Do contact me if you are interested in learning a bit about my journaling process which includes drawing, watercolor painting, and collecting the beauty of the travel experience.  And, while I’m at it, the beauty of day to day life really.  All of this is enhanced by making note of what captures our fancy in a little book. This is a process I have found to be life altering.  And I don’t say that lightly.

While not running hither and thither with a sketchbook, my studio based work has been essentially two pronged.  On the drawing table, Ginger Small has a little dummy book put together that I have been shopping around.  This process of putting my book ideas out there is daunting, as one doesn’t get much response beyond the occasional ‘no, thank you’.  But I know that this is all part of the process.  I have so many ideas!!  Like spaghetti thrown at the wall, something eventually has to stick!!  Best of luck to sweet Ginger and her stories and pictures….

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Also from the drawing table, my artwork now covers the gorgeous new album by Nuala Kennedy.  We worked together to capture the magic and adventuresome, seafaring spirit of many of the songs and tunes she’s collected in her latest work.  It’s a delightful listen and I am proud to have helped put visuals to the stories she tells.

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The other prong of my art making process has been lately centered around the sewing basket.  Perhaps it’s the time of year.  Or the fact that embroidery is super hot right now, but that’s primarily what I have been working on.  Needled pictures which are time consuming but great fun to produce.

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I’ve been revisiting some older embroidered works of mine over on my Instagram page, as well as creating new works like the Quetzal in process (above) and a little otter friend too….

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With all this stitching going on, someone was bound to notice and so I am very proud to say that my large scale embroidery, Leviathan,  is now Whale-in-Residence at my favorite fibery haunt of late, Fiberge Knits and Bolts, located in the Pleasant Ridge neighborhood of Cincinnati.  If you are local, do stop by and visit her!!  It was sad that she was trapped in my studio behind the door.  Now she swims the walls at this beautiful little shop.  There are some rumblings about a possible spring class I may offer at Fiberge about the art of pictorial embroidery.  I will post more on that here on the blog when we settle the details.

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And that, as my mom says, is all the news that’s fit to print.  I will certainly be sharing my upcoming adventures via stitches and sketches in the coming weeks.   For now I will ride the wave of flux and change and ebb and flow that this life seems to be offering me just now.  I am filled with gratitude for it all.

 

 

 

 

 

Connecting through sketching

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It’s a funny thing to go out into the world with a sketchbook, some pens and pencils and a little paint set.  My friends from the Cincinnati Illustrators group and I routinely set out around town to practice our on-site rendering skills and one of our favorite colder-weather places to sketch is the Krohn Conservatory.  Today was, indeed, a cooler day to be sketching and so we visited the conservatory where their annual holiday display is on.  There are lovely little  woodsy buildings made of natural materials, depicting many local landmarks and iconic places.  And of course loads of gorgeous plants and flowers.

I sat for a good bit watching this little incline go up and down the hill to ‘Mt. Adams’ while I drew the scene.

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After drawing for a while, I took out my paint set to add some color to my sketch.  Soon, I realized that I had a mesmerized young admirer of my work.

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and so I drew her.

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She was delighted with the results and when her Gran asked her, ‘what’s she painting there, Peyton?’, my new friend answered, ‘that’s Peyton!’

Peyton’s Gran sent me the snapshots she took of our sweet exchange and I share them here with her permission.  It was so wonderful to interact with guests of the Krohn, many of whom were fascinated by watching us draw.

Years and years ago, when I was a more shy sketcher, this notion filled me with dread.  I am often asked by students, ‘what if someone wants to see what I am drawing?’  (!!!)  And my answer is, ‘Let them!!’

We should all share our creative endeavors now and then, even when they might be new to us or feel clumsy.  I’ve been sketching for years now.  And each time I go out, I marvel at how curious and engaging folks are when I bring my sketchbook out.  I no longer mind folks looking over my shoulder as I draw, since now I teach the process.  I truly enjoy meeting the wonderful people who take a moment to say hello and ask what I am up to.  An active sketchbook is a lovely way to experience the world.

 

Changing Tides

11202886_10155872437970048_5120591334540910967_nToday is my 46th birthday.  As is often the case this time of year, things are in a state of semi-controlled chaotic flux, what with school starting soon and Big Moves happening for both of the kids.  Jack returned from Brazil just in time to join us on our annual summer sojourn to the coast of Maine and is now in the process of returning to his collegiate life across town.  Meanwhile, in similar fashion, our youngest, Madeleine, is making lists and preparatory pilings of her own as we move her into a dormitory at Ohio State University next week.  Things are getting real.  They are embarking on a world of their own making….

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All of this is, as expected, a little on the bittersweet side of life.  But it is also the Way Of Things.  This is why we raise them.  So that they can hopefully head out into productive lives of their own.  It is time for us to focus back on ourselves for the first time in ages.  I for one am feeling a delicious fire burning in my art work, music and in my inner life, while the Hub, Tony,  has plans of his own involving far flung watery places to explore.  It is an exciting time for all of us.

So let me just catch you up a bit on happenings since I last wrote.  As you now know, I am in the process of putting together a new workshop, launching in February.  I’ve had quite a bit of interest, and a few sign ups too!  And while I have been mostly on the road since the announcement and not able to ‘blast’ it properly as of yet, it is my hope that this class will be a ‘go’ with just enough folks to make it a reality.  Do let me know if you have any questions!

Ah yes, the road.  How it beckons!!  Last I touched base here at my online home, I was off to a week of full on music at Swannanoa.

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This was a week of complete bliss for me personally.  Tearful reunions with people I only get to see once a year.  We fell straight into tunes and laughter and musical mayhem that only ‘band camp’ can provide.  I opted for two classes, both in flute, with two of my favorite instructors/musicians/people on the planet, Kevin Crawford and Nuala Kennedy.

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They are not only brilliant teachers and players but they are absolutely hilarious to spend time with.  In my own teaching I try to emulate the sense of fun and level of laughter I’ve known in classes with these two.  It is through a childlike sense of play and creative experimentation that the best learning is to be had.  Learning a creative pursuit as an adult can be daunting!  Whether it’s playing a musical instrument, or painting a picture, adults take themselves (ourselves!) so seriously.  Getting out of our own way is half the battle.  I am still riding the wave of magic and beauty of that week, with renewed gusto to practice my tunes, to keep learning and improving.  I intend to make it back to this week again next year.  There is such a sense of ‘Brigadoon‘ to it all, magically happening each summer and then just like that, it’s gone….

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A song that captures the sense of a week at swannanoa is this

Of course, if you follow my summer patterns at all, you know that no summer is complete without a dip of my toes into the ocean in my soul’s home, Maine….

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Ginger Small and I were reunited up there as I’d heard very little from her all summer.  And we have much work to do!

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I spent a fair amount of time just gazing out to sea and doodling….

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…that is, when I wasn’t partaking of the bounty of the ocean.  YUM!

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Our time in Maine usually allows for a bit of the ocean and a bit of the lakeside as well.  I did a fair amount of oogling and doodling there as well.

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It is a time we treasure, and each year we know it might be the last where everyone attends.  Any next year could see the kids doing their own thing elsewhere.  So while I painted and sketched a good bit, and came up with a number of tiny paintings, it is never enough.

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Maine tugs at my heart strings harder and harder each year.  Every year, it gets more difficult to leave the fresh salt air and cool breezes available there.

“She loves the serene brutality of the ocean, loves the electric power she felt with each breath of wet, briny air.”  ~Holly Black

Having lived there once upon a time, I know life in New England is not all summer time and roses.  Winters are cold and long.  But I simply must spend more time there.

“When anxious, uneasy and  bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise, and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused.” ~Ranier Maria Rilke

For a while now, my dear, long time friend Amy (she who attended to the births of my children, my soul-sister) and I have admired the whimsical, colorful world of artist Henry Isaacs.

His paintings are impressionistic, energetic, and brimming with color that is at once straightforward and complex.  They are the kind of paintings that make me yearn to pick up a paint brush and paint.  But not in my usual sketchy fashion.

I’ve had this yearning to paint for awhile now.  And I have painted.  Here and there.  I’ve made some paintings that I like a fair bit.   While others have lacked the intensity I wanted them to have.  They often feel too cautious to me.  I’m not quite sure how to approach the materials, having had only nominal amounts of instruction in this particular way of art-making.  Often as soon as I have found my way into a painting, it’s time to quit to attend to Life.  And by my next visit to it, I’ve lost the steam.  Clearly, I need some help.

So in honor of everyone in this household going off and learning new things and forging exciting new paths, I am heading back to the coast of Maine in just a few weeks to take a workshop with Henry Isaacs.   I am so very excited to learn some new ways of approaching paint and then applying these lessons to the sights and sounds I find so enchanting by the ocean.

“I have sea foam in my veins, for I understand the language of the waves.”  ~Le Testament d’Orphee

Perhaps I may get the opportunity to paint the ocean of sage in the high desert of New Mexico at some point as well.  Again, something I have yearned to capture, but outside of my sketches, have never seemed to accomplish successfully.

I believe in following the voice of one’s heart.  That intuitive voice that whispers ‘this, yes, this!!!!’.

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I’m following that voice as much as I can these days.  My Right Work seems to be a three-pronged dance made up of teaching workshops in beauty-filled places, making up whimsical stories and pictures for the young at heart, and just painting/sketching/drawing by myself (also in beauty-filled places).    In between there I’ll work the day job when I can, manage the comings and goings of these adult children of mine, and try to keep this house in some sort of working order.  Oh yeah, and music.  Always music.

Today is a day of musing.  Pondering my life’s path.  I feel like the 46 year old me is waving enthusiastically to a younger version of me as if to say ‘This way!  This way! Aside from a few bumps in the road here and there, life’s going along quite nicely just now!  Just hang on!’ Because it is going along quite nicely actually.

I’m excited at the timing of this painting workshop opportunity, as it falls just as I have a moment to catch my breath before really needing to buckle down to work this fall on February’s offering.   I get another taste of salty Maine sea air before they must batten down the hatches for yet another winter.  My kids will be off doing their own thing for the first time really ever.  I’m thrilled and excited and incredibly grateful for all of it.

Happy birthday to me.

….and here are some of the new Tiny Offerings from recent travels.  Let me know if you would like to own one!

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The Green Light

Ever wondered where intrepid hamsters head off to when they escape?  I think I may know….  Ginger Small seems to be in the mood to head to New Mexico again for some tea and piñon in the high mountain desert, and perhaps a little mystery as well….  I shall be joining her to teach my Illuminated Sketchbook workshop of course.  But I hope to follow Ginger’s desert adventures here and there as well, if she permits it.  I’ve heard there has been a lot of rain there this season, and things are exceptionally green, for the desert.

The partial story below was recently discovered and I hope to uncover more of it very soon. It’s rough writing… think of it more as a sketch….

Dear Readers,

A while ago, years perhaps, (or was it just last week?) I was curled up under some fresh shavings, about to enjoy a long awaited and delicately saved blueberry yoghurt treat when suddenly, a soft glow began to emanate from somewhere not too very far outside of my habitat.  This was no normal glow.  It was neither warm, nor cool.  It was just…  green.  In the way newly grown ferns are in the springtime, just prior to unfurling.  This green spoke of freshness and strangeness.  I had a sense this light was for me.  I do not know how I knew this.  Somethings, I guess we just know.  And so I quietly shuffled out from under the shavings to take a peek.

Ginger's mysterious green light

One might wonder why I did not stay hidden beneath my shavings.  I was, after all, quite sleepy, and I was so looking forward to my yoghurt treat.  It may have been simpler to remain hidden.  But I have found that often, the best adventures come on the heels of the moment we trust the small intuitive voice which tells us, though this may be a strange green light, it seems friendly enough.  

And besides, I smelled tea.  And desert sage.  And, could it be?…. a hint of burning piñon? !  

I decided to undertake dire action, and climbed out of my habitat to greet whatever – whomever – might be shining this light in my direction.

Sometimes we must investigate

 The instant I made this decision, to shed the boundaries of my normal habitat, things got very interesting.

Ginger heads up to meet the green light

I was suddenly surrounded by colors I’d never encountered and vistas which made my heart sing.  I was not sure where I was heading, but I had a feeling, it was going to be a wild ride….

Til next time,

G.

In which Ginger Small cavorts with the other-worldly 4x6

…And that was about all I could find of this particular adventure, though Ginger has hinted there is more to the story.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted!

 

Cats and Dogs

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There are some delightful new additions to the wonderful collection of animals at our local (world-renowned!) Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens.  Fellow artists Christina and Vanessa and I took a couple of hours yesterday morning to enjoy some sunshine and sketching in the Africa section where there are lion cubs and painted dog pups on view.

It’s fascinating to me how much like my own domesticated cat and dogs these wilder versions are.  We spent much time drawing and observing the lions especially.  There are three adorable lion cubs who were hanging out with mom, ‘Imani’ and dad ‘John’ fairly close to the viewing area.

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While we drew them, they slept.

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And mama kept her eyes on us.lion 5

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John did a fair amount of pacing early in our visit, but eventually settled down with his family to enjoy the cool breezes.  He is absolutely beautiful.

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Just down the lane from the lions are a pack of African Painted Dogs.  They were not quite as regal and subdued as the lions were that morning.  There was much posturing and wrestling amongst the 10 puppies. dogs 2dogs 3

I did not draw these guys as much but just observed their antics.  So very dog like in their behavior; carrying sticks, stealing said sticks, chasing and playing.  So much like my own dogs.  Their markings are lovely – truly ‘painted’ with whippy white tails.  I think we will be back to see more of these creatures as they grow and change.

What have you been sketching lately?

 

Meddling With Nature

Yesterday, I had the great pleasure to attend an artful workshop at The Art Academy of Cincinnati by taxidermy artisan Jeremy Johnson and his team at Meddling With Nature. This workshop was geared toward professional medical illustrators but as a member of the broader illustration community here in town, I was able to take part just for fun, to photograph, sketch a bit and learn about a different form of sculpture.  When I attended art school, sculpture was where my heart was at the time.  Add to that a deep love of nature and the out-of-doors and this class was something I looked forward to for weeks!

We started the morning by watching the above video, to get a sense of the scope of the work these folks do.  This is not just taxidermy for the local hunter looking to mount the head of a recently obtained backwoods buck.  We talked about how Jeremy and his team come to obtain their specimens and life and death in general. One thing I love about people who operate at the crossroads of art and nature is that there is little ‘front porch talk’.  They go straight for the real.  Meddling With Nature presents around town to schools and community groups and often must contend with overcoming the ‘ew’ factor of the average audience.  But this group, being scientists and artists, was full of wonder and appreciation for the specimens shared and the activities presented to us.

First up was entomological preparation. We were given a lovely pamphlet to peruse…

goat reading

But in the end, it’s just best to dive into the activity hands-on.  And so we did.

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We were tasked with taking these insect specimens, rehydrated a bit in their shriveled state, and reigniting a sense of life in them by posing them for eventual display.

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The pins act as a sort of scaffolding to the structure of the insects without pinning them through like you might see in other displays.  It was tedious and tiny hand work which I soon lost myself in.  My first specimen was a goliathus beetle from Africa.

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I had to carefully manipulate the joints of legs and wings to open him up and show off his gorgeous wings which reminded me a bit of a bat wing.

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There were many bugs available to mount.  And even a few to eat.  Yes.  Eat.  I tried a cheddar flavored meal worm.  Just one.  And that was enough.

I moved on to opening up my second insect specimen…. A Thorny Devil.  At first glance these guys look like little green tacos.

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But eventually, the wings can be opened up, revealing under-wings the likes of which the fairy folk might encounter in their world.  I could just imagine a wee saddle placed just so to avoid the thorns.  (Thorns being a handy defense for airborne battles…)

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While we manipulated our insects and pinned them into place, the lecture moved on to bigger beasts.  Jeremy shared with us a bit of what he might do with a bit of road kill in order to preserve and prepare it for taxidermy or to harvest the bones for an articulated skeletal specimen.

specimensjeremy 1

cat arm

This was all very fascinating.  The medical illustrators were asking very detailed and smart sounding questions with words I do not know.  I observed, worked on my bugs, and did some sketching.

sketch 3We learned about how to properly prepare bones for keeping and displaying so that they might last a good long while.  It’s an exacting list of steps requiring great patience and a bit of a strong stomach for some of the larger things one might want to keep.  But the patience is worth it.bones 1Many of these processes are what the museums and zoos use to preserve things for the public to handle and gawk at.  I have always liked the Victorian’s notion of keeping a bit of a museum of curiosities in one’s own home.  And now I have a bit more knowledge and a few skills to continue my own collection.collectionJeremy et al have the opportunity to work with a variety of local and more obscure specimens.  Below is a cast of the palate of a tiger who passed away from diabetic complications.tiger palateI have always been in awe of the patterns to be found in the natural world.  And there are some things which are objects of artful beauty without much ‘preparation’.black swan heartThis was a truly informative and thought provoking workshop.  A most inspiring portion of the presentation was a series of photos about dissection.  You can see them here.  As much as I love the natural sciences nowadays, I was never much of a student back in school and so there is much I do not know.  For example, that the color of a healthy gall bladder is a most elegant and gorgeous green color.  The photos on the Meddling With Nature dissection page call to me to make large scale juicy paintings.  I hope to get to this one day…

But for now, my sketch book calls.  I am weeks away from leaving for New Mexico to teach again and so must continue to work in my own little books to practice.  There is much in the garden to sketch.  (and, frankly, many weeds to pull and plants to divide.)  I will do what I can amidst the day to day.  It was wonderful to sit back and be a student for half a day.  Many thanks to Jeremy Johnson and the other artists from Meddling With Nature. What a treat!!

 

 

A tale of summer’s travels (part 2)

In which we leave the desert behind and venture to the sea….. monhegan fog

Our summer is not complete without a visit to the coast.  And so, we drove many miles to Maine where we scooped up god-children we see only once a year and whisked them out to sea for a few days on mystical, magical Monhegan Island.  We drew boats and coast lines and hiked miles of trails.

 

 

 

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We seemed to blend in well with the others who were drawing and observing on the island.

 

monhegan artist

Sometimes artists stand on the rocks for so long that they become like stone themselves.

monhegan ghosts

But not all of Monhegan is wild…

road sign

We stayed quite comfortably in an inn called the Monhegan House.

monhegan view

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As was the case on my last visit to the island, the veil between here and there is quite thin.  It was necessary to pay our regards.

faery hut 2

But there is always time for more sketching in the sketchbook.  Because that is what I do.  In the desert.  And at the sea.

DTSheridan

brilliant artist

poppy gets a lobster

After partaking of oceanside adventure and cuisine for a number of days, we were called inland to the Land of the Lakes.

sheep

farm

The rolling hills of the Kennebec highlands are home to a relaxed pace and sweet berry-pie-laden atmosphere and so we settled in for a week of catching up with our far-flung soul family members.

across the pond

I spent much time observing the lake.

long pond nap

And Drawing.

long pond sketch

 

Watching the skies.

 

long pond mists

And Drawing.

long pond sketch 2

long pond value studies

And watching the skies.

long pond skies

Sadly, it was eventually time to return even further inland.  Back to Ohio where the kids, ever growing, had their more modern, fast-paced lives to attend to.  Maddie is back to her third year of high school, busy with AP classes and digging through the thigh-high pile of collegiate options she is faced with in the coming year.  And college, that is where Jack is.  Across town but a world away, living his life and pursuing his dream of making a life in music.  If this past weekend’s performance of Verdi’s opera Don Carlos is any indication, he has found his place.

And I fill my well where I can, such as sneaking off with my Hub to our own land-locked inland seas for our annual trip to Kelley’s Island on Lake Erie.  There was much kayaking to be had with perfect conditions all around.  And of course, I also sat and drew as much as I could.

 

beach sketch

All of this time around big water has only strengthened my fascination with the folklore surrounding the seas.

island gleanings

selchie pup

Specifically, the legend of the Selkie.  And so, once back at  my drawing table at home, I set about creating a watery world for a Golden Child of the seas…..

selchie beginnings

“I think of mythology as a function of biology, a statement of the impulse system of the body and the organs. Not something that’s made up in the head. What’s made up in the head is a fiction. What comes out of the heart is a myth.”  

Joseph Campbell The Hero’s Journey

In this painting, our selchie heads to her sea cave, far beneath the surface above.  There are wonders to behold in the depths, if we but seek them.  I’ve thought a lot about myths and stories lately and how traveling into ‘the depths’ can challenge us to discover our very own story in this world, while also seeing how our story sits among the other stories.  It’s the weaving together of story, both personal and folkloric, that create the culture we lean upon as human beings.

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Some of us are lucky to have friends who will accompany us when we dive deep, and make sure we come back up for air.

selchie

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And what might a sea cave sound like, you ask?

We have come to the end of my summer’s travels.  I was inspired by the duality of my desert/sea experiences and created these little paintings for a small works show called Small Glimpse, now showing at Red Tree Gallery.  I am fortunate to be able to find myself so far flung in the summer months with my heart’s work each June for the Illuminated Travel Journaling Course and then family time in Maine with music in between for the rest of the time.  All of this beauty brings a magic to my day to day back here at home in Ohio for which I am deeply grateful.

children of the desert children of the sea