Tag Archives: Inspiration

Gratitude and Liminality

We awake at 230 am, Antigua local time, to brew a quick cup of coffee, double check that we’ve packed every last little thing we brought with us and picked up along the way.  It is dark, quiet and cool.  Hugo, one of our beloved innkeepers, sees us off with hugs and sleepy eyes and makes sure our driver arrives.  Which he does, only a few minutes late due to road closures set up for the weekend’s Procesións.

Careening through the wee hours and the volcanic hill sides to arrive in Guatemala City where lights, sounds, people and the airport are to be found, we begin our trek back into modernity one small step at a time.

The day awakens with a pink dawning. I part ways with my friends, knowing we will be drawing and painting and laughing together in just a few week’s time for a smaller workshop out in the San Jose area.  And so there are no tears, which is a relief.  I am sad to be leaving this 3rd world, but I look forward to my home comforts and creatures.

Airport life is strange and timeless, full of noise and people rushing about, and lots of concrete and hard surfaces. I do not care for it.  I am fortunate on both ends of this trip to have familiar faces to greet me along the way.  This sweet dog is called Enya.  She works with my dear friend Danielle in customs making sure no inappropriate or potentially dangerous things come along in peoples’ baggage.  I have such high regard for dogs with jobs and it is lovely to make her acquaintance.  Though clearly Enya is on the job and only has eyes for Danielle.

Eventually, I make it home to the Ohio River Valley, which is carpeted green with spring and there is even a bit of sunlight.

I settle in, and unpack a bit, catching up here at home, which feels really good.

Just like that, it’s my first day back home.  Coffee in hand (in my new hand painted mug from Guatemala), I walk outside with the dogs for our usual routine.  Almost like the last week never was.

And yet, it was.

I left for Antigua just over a week ago with a head full of the spin-cycle of modern life, but return now with a handful of worry dolls to carry those little things instead, and a heart filled with color, beauty, simplicity and love. Along with a huge dose of gratitude, which is a great gift indeed.  If you don’t shake stuff up now and again, all the good stuff sinks to the bottom.  We can’t have that.

Life in Antigua is quite easy and simple for tourists, or those residing there with money.  However, I believe that for the average citizen, life is probably a bit rough around the edges.  Yet people seem to get by for the most part.

Ever so creatively.

Shopping and laundry get done.

Money gets made, which can be a family affair.

Life goes on.  In some ways so very different than life here, and yet, mostly, pretty much the same.  To me, this was one of the take-aways from this trip.  I was reminded how very much alike we are as people. Human beans are so keen to draw lines between ‘us’ and ‘them’, when really, we are all just us.  My modern life, white skin and heaps of built in privilege are just the luck of the cosmic draw, really.  This is something to consider when we walk in the world.

I’m taking today to launder some well worn travel clothes, bathe my smelly dog, and enjoy a little quiet after the trip.  Perhaps a run and a bit of time in the garden as well if the weather holds.  I am enjoying the liminal, post-travel version of myself.  This mellow feeling that anything is possible and life is good.  Because it is.

I am thankful for the ways I have of connecting back to my travels in my heart of hearts, even as my life back home slides back into place.

My heart is wide open.  I am grateful for it.

Peripatetic Inspirations

 

I am a runner of paths here in our little village.  I enjoy watching local gardens come alive, and to give my body, so intent on holding onto some unknown but anciently ingrained stressor, a good dose of endorphins to loosen things into the now.

On some of these runs, I feel as if I have wings, fairly flying above the pavement.  I receive many visiting artful notions while running and I am grateful for this reliable gateway into magical thinking.

take off

In recent months, I have taken to cataloging some of the visual bits and bobs which come across my path and to share their whimsy via the interwebby places upon my returning home.  I call this collection of images “found asphalt drawings”, as they are simply things on the ground which catch my eye as I motor along.

the wind like a charging ram blows over this lamb of a day

As human beings we are pattern seekers.  The world, with it’s seemingly inherent and overwhelming chaos, requires our brains to make sense of things via patterns.  Through math, art, the sciences, we can begin to see that the world is not so chaotic after all, if we but take the time to see.

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 10.02.23 AM

 

Being one taken with animal imagery, I find that my eye finds animal medicine most often in these found drawings. Ravens under the moon….

raven under a full moon.

…or in a nest, awaiting the arrival of a meal perhaps.

raven - incoming

It’s not just birds.  Woodland animals follow me along at times as well.  I was particularly smitten by this deer on the edge of things this morning.

woodland deerAnd of course there are always bunnies crossing my path.  asphalt bunnyWhen the snow began to melt this spring, I was shown glimpses of far off landscapes, full of mystery and fog, like little windows into a Brigadoon of sorts.

rainy landscapeI enjoy the many stories given to me in these found drawings and could see an eventual series of paintings being born from them.  But for now, I am just collecting them. Grateful for whimsical comings and goings….milkyway freefall

Hummingbird?

hummingbirdNot sure what to think of this last one, except perhaps that this particular platypus might have a cold and is now in need of a tissue….achoo

The mores and the lesses of things

Depth by bird in the attic

 

It is that time in the wheel of the year when many of us are called to be a bit pensive about things.  To consider the seasons that have passed and what they had to offer to us and what gifts we gave in return, as well as to gaze through the telescope of time, looking to what’s in store in the days, weeks and months to come.  I find it’s helpful to select a word which resonates for me in the deep pockets of my heart and to keep that word at hand through the year, almost as a keel to keep me on course as I sail on….. Last year’s word was FOCUS and I utilized it with great care and reverence. But I don’t believe we give up on a word once it has served us for a year, it merely acts as an addition to the tool box of life.  And so this year’s word, DEPTH will work with last year’s:  Depth of Focus.  I like the sound of it.

As a reminder of these chosen word talismans, those in my creative circle sometimes trade word laden gifts.  Above is one of these crafted by Michelle Blades of Bird in the Attic Studio.  Her world of whimsy and wordsmithery is simply enchanting and I am tickled with my murky depths ornament.  A reminder to go deep in all that I do in this New Year on the calendar.

Along with a word on which to focus, I like to make a little list of the mores and the lesses to consider.  Much like Ye Olde New Year’s Resolutions, but with less room to fail, the mores are all the things I’d like to add to my day to day while the lesses are things I could stand to curb.

 

 

More and lesses, a list of potentials

 

One of these ‘lesses’ is the time I spend monitoring and engaging in social media, for both work and play.   Much has been written by many about just this thing and two of my favorite blogosphere heroes, Rima Staines and Neil Gaiman have recently shared their thoughts on this dilemma.  As I consider what depth will look like in my life and work I know that the bite sized information available at the candy counters of Twitter and Facebook, Tumblr and other such temptations acts as both a driver of work and connectivity, and a swallower of precious time and productivity.  Simultaneously. Of course this can be endlessly frustrating and one could chase one’s own tail for days on end trying to come up with a solution to the quandary of it all.  But I don’t think there is a solution.  Like all complicated systems that come with good and evil, there must come a balance and we must simply ride the pendulum the best we can, attempting to know truthfully how much is enough for each of us.

Canary rides the pendulum of time

As December roared through town, swinging at my head with engagements and obligations, flurrying and hurrying, I began to think very concretely about how not to fall prey to the insanity of it all and I realized that time off from the virtual world, as much as I love so much of what it has to offer, was key to an even keel personally and professionally.  Along the same lines, I have opted to listen to music without ads to keep the screaming part of the world at bay, and this has already made the first few tentative steps down into the artistic rabbit hole easier and more successful.  I plan to keep these minor (yet major) changes in place as this new year gets underway.  As it has been for so many years now, it’s these micromovements, set to the course toward what feels to be our true north which really make for sustainable change and growth.

I wish you more mores in your lives, and fewer of the lesses which cling to your backs as well.  Happy New Year.  May your blessings be bright and bountiful.

 

 

Artist’s Pace

get the motor running

With one kid away at University and the other up and at ’em and out the door on her own each morning (her preference, I must add), my mornings are fairly quiet.  Most days, I use those mornings to savor some coffee, make a quick sketch, and then go about my business of working day-job hours, errand running, etc.  It is a rare thing indeed to allow days in a row of sinking into what I think of as my own particular Artist’s Pace.

Let me set the stage.  The Hub is usually just a couple rooms down the hall working his day job, entertaining a seemingly endless series of conference calls.  If I do take an ‘art day’ to spend in my studio space, it is with door closed and music on to block out the din of the rest of the house.  It’s usually about sitting down and getting things done. Business.  And the business of art is important stuff, lacking in romance though it may be.  But this week, the Hub is out of town for his business (I think it’s nice they get to all talk face to face now and again, don’t you?) and I have found myself with a few days of this house to myself and the dogs who aren’t much for conference calls, or any conversation for that matter.  And while it took me a bit of the weekend and much of yesterday, I found myself awakened today, settled into my own sense of The Pace of Things.  I find it fascinating how much Real Work I can get done in the course of one day in the studio when I am not pushing so hard; when I allow that sense of play and timelessness to set the tone for the day and for my process.  My mindset is different for a few days’ solitude and I am reminded that it truly is just a mindset; one that I can tap into in spite of the din of the day to day, should I simply allow it.

There is much to be worked on again today upstairs but first, I spent some time outside, admiring my morning entertainment, in the form of the chickens whom I could seriously sit and observe for hours at a time.

head to head chickens morning entertainment 3

They are truly endearing creatures and I am enjoying their company greatly these days.  As well as their amazing eggs.  Thank you girls!

morning entertainment 2 

While the chickens scritch and scratch away looking for bugs, the dogs play peekaboo with each other and the squirrels.  

peekaboo dog 1

peekaboo dog 2

peekaboo dogs 3

And the brooks that criss-cross our land babble along happily in the company of jewel toned autumn leaves.

a brook babbles through it

Indoors blank canvases and bits of specially prepared papers await my attention.  The very whiteness of blank canvases, or a new journal for that matter, used to intimidate me to the point of avoidance and inactivity.  This is not so any more.  To me the site (and feel) of a freshly sanded canvas is an invitation to explore another world.  I accept this invitation gladly, with my bags packed for adventure.

canvas blanks

Lately I have been traveling north for these imaginary adventures, where I seek out the magic of the ‘Merry Dancers’, The Norther Lights.  My earthly self has the witnessing of the Aurora Borealis on my life-list of goals, but my astral, internalized self has been seeing them for ages now, and they are beginning to come to the page.

Northern Lights Northern Sea

Northern Lights by Boat

There will be plenty days ahead full of the ‘business’ of applying for shows, cataloguing work, purchasing supplies, getting the word out about the Taos trip, managing the day to day of our home and family, etc., etc.  But for today, my toes are tucked into my sheepskin slipper-boots, my pajamas are ready for a spot of two of paint should that occur, and I am ready to fall headlong into today’s adventures.

Artists are the keepers of the creative flame in this world.  We are the dancers and drawers, the makers and musicians, the magicians and conjurers of worlds not yet brought to light.  It is our job to allow the spaciousness for these worlds to come into being.

Keepers of the Creative Flame

 

“There are myth places, they exist, each in their own way.  Some of them are overlaid on the world; others exist beneath the world as it is, like an underpainting.” ~Neil Gaiman 

 

 

Anna’s new book

Anna Klosowska’s book coverThis past weekend I had the distinct pleasure to attend a celebration marking the publication of a recent book by my friend and talented author/ researcher/ professor, Anna Klosowska. The book is the culmination of some years’ research and digging into the poetry of an aristocratic woman named Madeleine de l’Aubespine who lived and wrote poetry in France during the sixteenth century.

Anna discovered some academic references to this poet’s lyrical work and followed threads all over Europe to further discover and then translate the complete works. At the party, guests were treated to Anna’s recitation of Madeleine de l’Aubespine’s somewhat racy (for their time, at least) poems in their native French language.

The translations are lovely and allow non-French speaking readers to get the point of the poems, but nothing compares to listening to them in French, read by someone familiar and enchanted with the work. As an artist, I find that the passion and visual imagery provided by both women’s work is an inspiration for my own work.

The book is available for pre-order on Amazon.com.