Tag Archives: journaling

Gifts of Color and Light

The sun drifts down behind volcanos surrounding Antigua, Guatemala, providing the beginnings of the evening’s light show, Sunset.

It is winter in Ohio.  Today, at least, we have some sunshine and some not so bitter temperatures.  I will go outside with a dog in a bit to attempt to shake some of the doldrums nipping at my heels just now. A heaviness borne of annoyances mostly.  Demands of the season and the length of daily darkness have ground me down in recent weeks.  I know this will pass.  I look forward to Solstice next week and keep my soul facing the light as best I can, while making friends with the dark as needed.

Gifts are being crafted, alighting to celebrate the return of longer days.  Although it will be a good many weeks before we see the changes and shifts properly, our hearts know – and sometimes that is enough to lighten the spirit.

Last weekend there was a concert – a sharing of musical gifts in the form of our annual Peace and Merriment concert at the Riley School.  Our hearts were lightened by an afternoon of tunes and a few stories by our Master of Ceremonies, who is also my flute instructor, John.

All things seasonal are underway….

Decoration,

“Tangled”
Changing a bulb

Reflection,

Celebration,

Sharing light with the world,

I have lists made of gifts to gather for the kids in my life, most of whom like books, even the older ones.  Perhaps we can be like Icelandic revelers and lie around reading all day on Christmas!  As for the adults, we all seem to feel a distinct pulling away from the “stuff” of it all, opting more for subscriptions, memberships, classes – “things” which aren’t things and which brighten the experience of simply being human.

Perhaps you know someone close to you who feels similarly.  Perhaps this someone is feeling the darkness of winter, (which even on the brightest of winter days has a muted spectrum of color).  Perhaps, they might like to look forward to more light and color in the not-so-distant future.

Registration for my travel journal workshops in Taos, New Mexico and Antigua, Guatemala are officially open and Taos is nearing capacity (yay!).  Antigua, being international and a newer offering, still has a few spaces left in each of the two weeks available (click the link for details!)

I can’t say enough about what a dose of vivid color and warm air can do for one’s soul and body after a long winter and I find myself looking very forward indeed to the spring trip to Antigua in particular.

And the coffee.  You simply wouldn’t believe the coffee…

Our classroom is in the form of where ever we find ourselves each day, from rooftops to ruins.

We immerse in culture through some shopping and exchange of language.

Through it all we gather it all into a travel journal.

While I encourage the use of cameras and smart-phones to capture “source photos” for later work, there is simply no better way to really soak into a place than through the lens of a travel journal.  Merely taking the time to draw something, perhaps even multiple times, creates a broader understanding of place.  A broader understanding of our place in the All of Everything.  This can be difficult to pin down in our hectic world.  By cataloguing a travel experience in a little book, our travels are enhanced and brought to life in a new and richer way.

We notice the little things…..

….while standing in awe of the bigger things as well.

We immerse in the day to day of Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which holds beauty, color and light at every turn.

There are a million different yellows….

Pinks as well.

Blues and greens are well represented.

Our palette here is bright and beautiful and I help you figure out how to recreate these vibrant hues on the pages of your journal with a simple set of watercolors.

As the end of the year draws nigh, with one major gift giving holiday behind us (gosh Hanukkah was early this year!!) and another too close for comfort, consider the gift of one of my workshops.  This might be a gift for a loved one or friend, or simply, and perhaps most importantly, to yourself, setting the tone for 2019 to be filled with close attention paid to beauty, light and color.

The world could use a bit of all of these.

See you in Antigua!

From the rooftop of Posada San Sebastian. (oil on Panel, 5×7)

Hear ye, hear ye!

It’s been a fair bit of effort in the doing, as I am not a person of numbers, but new prices are now officially set for next summer’s sketching workshop in Taos, New Mexico.  You can find them here:

Join us in Taos, June 2018!!

Why a change in price?  Well aside from a few costs which have risen in the 7 years I’ve offered this workshop, for the 2018 offering next summer, I am expanding the workshop to be a full 5 day offering. Usually we have a full 4 days, with departure on Friday morning of our week together to give folks a chance to head to the hills and practice all they have learned in four days of workshop exercises. But over the years, participants have been loathe to part and I have gained more and more to offer and so, I give another day to it all, which changes the pricing structure a bit as well.

I hope this new structure works for everyone.  I already have a handful of folk ready to join us in June.  Won’t you be one of them?  New Mexico is a spectacular place in which to tap into the language of an artful soul.

Send me an email if you need any more information about the workshop or what it entails.  If the class speaks to you but you feel you are ‘a beginner’ or ‘can’t draw’ or any of that other stuff, I assure you, I’ll help you sort all of that out in the doing of it.  Trust me.  You won’t be disappointed.

Creativity is our birthright.  More soon….

Workshop bliss

workshop 9

It’s difficult for me to fathom that just over a month ago I traveled to Taos to teach my annual summer travel-journal workshop.  Has it really been a month?!  Was I really just there three weeks ago, mid-way through a fantastically perfect week filled with the company of the most amazing group of people?

If I look at the calendar, it would seem so.  And yet, I look at some of the snapshots of that week (captured by my trusty assistant for the week, Taos artist, Jan Haller) and it seems that the workshop never happened, or is happening right now, or perhaps, is just around the corner once again.  Taos has that relationship to time.

There was much laughter.  Belly-laughs as deeply rooted as the ancient cottonwood trees.

workshop 8

And there were also plenty of precious moments of solitude and quiet.

workshop 3

workshop 7

There were those moments of ‘aha!!’ when we learned a new trick with those wiley watercolors.

workshop 6

There was a fair amount of demonstration done by yours truly, to show my approach to capturing the world in my own journal….

workshop 5

workshop 2

…and yet we learned that there is no better way than one’s own way of working.  It was my goal for the week for each workshop participant to find their own visual voice.  Which they did.  In grand, beautiful fashion.

workshop 4     Workshop 1

At the end of this gorgeous week we celebrated our hard work and new friendships with a dinner at Mabel’s which fed not only our bodies but our souls as well, as meals at Mabel’s generally do.  There was more of that nourishing belly-laughter, and perhaps some equally delicious tears over deep conversations too.  This work is so much more than just drawing and painting in a book.  It’s about an approach to life that can sometimes be difficult to find in our day to day.  But we re-discover it at workshops like these.  We find it in these fellow artistic souls.  We are reminded that beauty and laughter, grace and joy, great food and fantastic, fierce friendships are crucial to a life well lived.  dinnerToday- just now – back in Ohio, it is (not surprisingly) raining buckets.  In my ears, on repeat while I work, is this which is the perfect blend of arty and trad.  Combine this music with the sound of rain and things can seem a little somber.  Especially when compared to the bright beauty of New Mexico.

worskhop 13But there is a lushness to this valley that is at once suffocating and yet deeply and beautifully compelling.  It is travel season, and I am torn between all of the amazing, soul-home places (yes, including Ohio!) and people I have the great fortune to know intimately.  Those who know me and love me best know that this very restlessness and yearning are what keep me moving artistically.  The need to be on the move was instilled early on in me by my ever-changing home life and I’m grateful for the ability to travel as much as I do now as an adult, especially in summer!

workshop 12Next up is my now annual trek to the North Carolina mountains where I will play music for a week with far-flung friends at the Swannanoa Gathering‘s Celtic week.  I will be updating the blog a bit in coming weeks (between trips) with next year’s workshop offerings.  There’s a new one being offered in February 2016 about which I am very excited.  Much of the same sort of work, but deeper and richer.  So stay tuned and I’ll keep you posted!

 

Drawn

draw

[draw] drawn, draw·ing,  noun, verb (used with object)

1.to cause to move in a particular direction by or as if by a pulling force; pull; drag (often followed by along, away, in,out,  or off ).

As you probably know by now from reading this blog over the years, the one steady thing that has been a constant throughout all of my adventures as an artist, a world traveler, and a musician is the fact that I carry around a sketchbook with me.  Pretty much wherever I go, I have a book in my bag, a small set of watercolors and a pen or pencil to write, draw, collect what I see and hear in the world.  This practice began years and years ago, when my kids were really small.  Say what you want about the beauty of motherhood.  It IS beautiful.  But it’s also really, really hard.  Among the few things that kept me somewhat centered during the early years of parenthood (such as a great husband and many many many marathoning miles), the act of drawing in a little book became a habit that was like my anchor in the storm.  Those early drawings are clumsy and poorly rendered.  The really early ones didn’t even include any watercolors!!  And yet, I have them (somewhere around here).  They include tales of camping trips interrupted by pasta ravaging raccoons and over-the-top Halloween costumes made to order for my kids (One year Jack wanted to be a peacock.  And his little sister? Yes, a Princess Peacock.  I swear if I come across those journal entries/ photos I will totally share them).

Slowly, over many years, through many slumps and the crossing of proverbial seas, I began to realize what I had in this seemingly simple practice of sitting and drawing and writing a bit about my life.  I began to do it with a bit more consciousness. I began to find others, people who called themselves Artists, who did a similar thing and seemed to even be making books and teaching classes.  People around me, beyond my awesome family who always thought I could draw anything, began to notice.  I even went to art school.  But not for drawing.  Majoring in sculpture, I was still noted for my copious collecting skills in the form of my sketchbook.  Post art school, I made some Art, but it has been the sketching and journaling that has time and again come to the fore.  This is mainly because, as a mom, it’s the one art form that’s portable (that and embroidery, but that’s for another post, another time.)  All of this time and the many filled books, eventually led to my teaching this process to others wanting to learn it.  Without even realizing it, I had developed a very individual and distinct way of doing this sketch-journal thing.

So fast forward to nowadays.  I teach Keeping an Illuminated Journal in both individual classes and at the local community arts centers.  I co-developed a business centered journaling process with a former student. (That project is tabled right now as we both pursue our individual work, me here in Cincinnati, and Adam in NYC.).  With the support of the Art Academy, I began taking students afield to document the travel experience in a sketchbook.  Through these trips to Taos it was even clearer to me that what I am teaching is more than simple life documentation, or learning to draw things that come across one’s path in life.  This process has a power to draw a person toward their center.  Keeping a journal, and more importantly an illuminated journal (one with drawings or paintings) is an act of meditation which leads to a deeper thinking about life in general.  As a young mama, battling depression and anxiety, I was not only capturing precious bits of my kids’ fleeting childhood, I was actually healing myself.  Keeping these books has been a slow-cooker style of self-guided therapy that has, over the years, taught me much.  I’m much healthier in the head and heart these days and I attribute some of that to merely growing into myself.   Growing into myself has happened in the pages of my sketchbook.  It is there that I can jot down quotes that speak to me at the time, I can mull over the mundane and the difficult, I can draw a dog or a backyard bird and feel calmer for doing so.  It’s like magic really.  And I love sharing this magic.

This summer when I head to Taos with yet another amazing group of students, I will also be filming my segment of the Eco Chic Retreat DVD project slated to be completed this fall.  I am so grateful for this opportunity.  Often, the spiritual side of the classes I teach winds up being an added, unexpected bonus to the fun process of writing and drawing in a journal.  But Eco-Chic’s retreat climate is all about centering oneself in the storm of life through a time of guided nutrition, yoga, painting, meditation and more and of course, keeping a journal.  I’m tremendously excited to talk about how the simple act of making a drawing, writing a haiku poem, or taking note of the day can seriously alter a life.  I don’t make the claim lightly.  I was my first student and I am, finally after all these years, a firm believer in the power of this process.

What drove me to go into writer mode on today’s blog post is the photo below of some of the Eco-Chic family.  This was shared electronically to those of us on the team who couldn’t be there for this particular gathering and when I saw it, my heart just swelled.  These women are doing amazing work in the world.  Each of them is a healer in her own way.  I am humbled to be a part of this project.  But I too am a healer.  And I look forward to sharing my take on  the ‘simple’ act of keeping a sketchbook in the hopes that it will bring healing your way too.

L-R: Ana Easter, Lourdes Paredes, Jan Haller, Jody McNicholas and Louise Lowry