Tag Archives: krohn conservatory

Mode of Magic Making

Life’s pendulum slowly begins to swing back to a quieter state.  Only a smattering of art-related events left to attend to and soon the art work will come home to roost once again where it belongs.  Well, most of it.  Some small things have sold and will be finding their way to forever homes which feels like an accomplishment of sorts.

Last night, upon returning home myself from an evening of sharing a few tunes with my musical mates, the headlamps of my car alight upon a great buck who has come to pay us a visit.  He is regal and quite stately, taking his time crossing the little bridge over our creek.

Today I look for evidence of his brief visit, as he is quite magical and a brain entranced by hours of music can often see things which are not of this world.

I find the evidence in what is left of our recent snow fall, a track across the bridge where my dogs stop to have a sniff of this wild creature’s path.

Playing around with ‘watercolor graphite’ I attempt to draw the buck.

In my drawing he is bulky and strange, but I find myself excited to use this medium which I purchased awhile back and have not yet used much.

Rustiness seems to be the name of the game lately as I have been presenting and exhibiting, showing and teaching, meeting and greeting.  A dear friend of mine remarked at my last opening that he could see why I am not a fan of art openings in general (even the fun ones!) because it’s as if ‘you were just getting swallowed by people’.  Which feels true.

I am eager to get back to the magic of making.

I have recommitted with a vengeance to the act of daily sketching and outings with our newly sanctioned Urban Sketchers of Cincinnati group are just the ticket to get the pen moving across the page once more.

Though it’s painfully crowded, I manage a warm up sketch at first.

And then a bit later, settle into a quieter place, with a more fantastical little structure to draw.

The rusty drawing skills begin to come to life and I feel the gears slowing down in my bones with pen to paper.  It is strangely familiar and I am grateful for years of practice which don’t ever truly leave me.

I finish the sketch at home later that evening with a bit of color.

Our Urban Sketchers group is open to anyone who wants to get out and draw so do join us if you are in the area.  I promise we are quite friendly and do not bite unless provoked.

This is a indeed a magical time of year.  With the Solstice nearly upon us, in theory we begin to witness a return of light, though the world seems very dark indeed just now.  To combat this darkness, we must make magic in our own way.

Over in the land of Twitter, writers Julia Bird and Robert MacFarlane have cooked up a plan for the internet to co-read the novel The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper.  We begin December 20th, the very same day the story begins, and I am excited to be a part of it.  Reading a beautiful classic is a balm in these dire times.

I am inspired by dear friends who have been making magic in the world in very special ways.  The first, someone I hike and paddle with, has a job in the world of retail where she knows how to line up deals and coupons to make things quite affordable. She uses this super-power to purchase new coats for those in need to donate to the coat drive at a local charity.  This is especially wonderful for the rough and tumble little boys who are so very hard on their coats and therefore gently used coats are few and far-between.  I marvel at her spirit of generosity and urge others good at shopping in the world to consider doing something similar.

Another friend has been crafting and conjuring magic in his own way and a few of us closest to him have been presented with a wondrous gift indeed.

A wand.  I have other wands.  Those with paint-brush tips.  But this is a whole new animal indeed.  It is a branch of elm, sanded and shaped and bedecked with a gorgeous calligraphy nib for writing and drawing….

It makes lines like a dream.  At the other end of this wonderful wand is a little reminder of where my heart lies…

I am truly blessed to know people who play music, make art, walk ever so gently in this world.  I aim to be one of them.

Meanwhile, unbelievably (inconceivable?)

It has been 10 years of making magic here in this little online world of mine.

“Creativity is really the structuring of Magic.” 

~ anne kent rush

This anniversary time feels momentous.  Seismic in its shifting of my work and my thinking and life in general.  I look back on the woman who started this blog ten years ago and I know that I have grown and changed.

Around the same time as this blog was getting going, I got my very first tattoo.  A moth, rooted.  That tattoo has served me well for many years and the symbolism still resonates with me to this day.  That said, it had faded a bit and had grown a little tired.  When my daughter (now about to turn 21 which here in this country means one is a fully fledged adult) suggests we get tattoos together, I decide to use this opportunity to reinvest in the moth design.

Her idea is to get ferns, each in our own way, to our own liking.  Ferns are all about unfurling into one’s true majesty, which I think we both are doing just now as human beings.

She knew right away what she wanted and so, she goes first.

 

Simple, graphic, hipster.  Very her.  We both love it.

A few weeks on I come to the idea of reworking my moth and proceed to Flying Tiger Tattoo where my friend and fellow artist Megan Butler works.  She comes up with a way to reinvigorate my beloved luna moth, while incorporating the ferns.  She also nurtures the root ball of the design, adding in mushrooms to aid this forest inspired work of art, brightening and delineating the roots, giving them room to breathe.  I simply could not be happier with it.

It is earthy, bright and beautiful.  Colorful and confident.  No longer fading.  It is more cohesive than the original, more well thought out.  It may yet be added to.  It is a rich environment for new growth to occur. 

All of these things feel applicable to myself just now.  Which as I look back on this time last year, fills me with a relief I cherish.  This season finds me filled with so much less anxiety and depression, having worked exceptionally hard to shift back into a yoga routine, once again going back to eating vegetarian.  Self care and overall health are great gifts indeed.  They add to the magic making, at least around here.

And speaking of magic, here are a few more tidbits to share.

Magic in the littlest moments.  Noticing. Placing attention on these things….

One of my all time favorite characters in any book is Tiffany Aching.   She is a young witch, who is, among other things, “good with cheese.”  I like to think she’d be rather proud of my first foray into making cheese.  This time, a simple paneer.

And lastly, I leave you with my efforts from the month of October.  At the last minute, I opted to take part in “inktober”, putting together an alphabet of creatures as a way to get to know my new fountain pen.  It was great fun and I hope to have sets of post cards to share with you in time for the holidays.  Prints of individual animals are also available. 

*special thanks to my dear and wonderful friend who has allowed me to use her music in my videos over the years.  Kim Taylor, you are the very vision of friendship.  I love you.

 

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.

 

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Yesterday, with temps in the single digits, a sketchy friend and I decided to move our studios to the warmer climes of the Krohn Conservatory for a bit to draw plant forms and soak up the juicy green-ness and humidity there.  As always, this beautiful jewel in the crown of the Queen City did not disappoint.  We spent an hour or so drawing in the cactus room with thoughts of our upcoming trip to Taos

Upon leaving, I commented on the gorgeous citrus trees, heavy with oranges and lemons, wishing out loud that I might be able to try one of them.  The ladies in the front office overheard and handed me this Ponderosa Lemon to take home saying it had been laying around for a few days and I was welcome to it!  What a lovely gift!  We then got to chatting about some beautiful terrariums on display at the conservatory.  They gave me some tips on getting my own terrarium to grow more successfully.  I have plans to stock up on some charcoal and a new fern or two in the coming days.  Meanwhile I have this fabulous lemon to draw…. (Iris is fairly certain this is a large tennis ball destined to be her play thing.)

In other news, my ice box of a studio space is featured today in Terri Windling‘s lovely blog The Drawing Board as part of her “On My Desk” series.  A number of bloggers have showcased the work spaces of fellow artist/writer bloggers over the years and it’s a fun way to get a peek into each other’s spaces, if only virtually.  Terri is part of a village of artists who live and work in the town of Devon, England.  She and another web-fave of mine, Rima Staines embody the notion of Storyteller for me.  I feel a tremendous kinship with these artists half a world away.  They seem to write about the same concepts that interest and fascinate me… the blessings of an artistic community, the blissful presence of traditional music, the inherent wisdom of dogs.  Although their work is quite different from mine, the notions that drive it run along the same veins that seek truth and mystery in the day to day human experience.

Tomorrow this single-digit cold snap is supposed to break and I will again have the wax pots on…. hopefully to pop a few more works up on the new Etsy Site.  I will, of course, keep you posted.

Winter Green

Holiday Season is in full swing here in Cincinnati.  We have even had some recent snow and ice to liven things up a bit and remind us that it is, indeed, Winter.  With winter comes a raw, dry harshness that is difficult to escape.  Even with the presence of humidifiers, houseplants and an aquarium, I still find myself cracking at the seams and zapping everything I touch.

Yesterday afternoon my son Jack and I had some time to spend after school while my daughter was at a play rehearsal (this will be a frequent theme in the next couple of months).  So we wandered up the hill to the Krohn Conservatory to immerse ourselves in the moist tropical air of this beautiful glass hothouse.  The Conservatory is a favorite place of mine to draw for the sake of drawing and I am rewarded with moisture and quiet while I work.  It’s lovely.  Jack got a new camera this past fall for his birthday.  With this new toy and his natural eye for photography, he managed to capture a bit of the winter green magic that can be found at this Cincinnati treasure…

Lately, with my schedule being somewhat more open with fewer teaching gigs and such, I have been reconnecting quite a bit with my studio space and my own personal art work.  I have so many ideas recently that it is hard to pin them all down.  This is a wonderful place to be and I write it here so that when an Art Desert scenario returns someday (which it will), I can remind myself of the ebb and flow that is the life’s work of a creative.   There will be dry spells I must work through, usually by simply maintaining my sketchbook and feeding my spirit with little field trips like yesterday’s Krohn visit.  Author Julia Cameron calls these little field trips “Artist Dates” and I like that notion.  Like one is wooing the inner artist out of her shell a bit.  It works.  I have always known that work begets work and yet I am often guilty of the self sabotage that is easy to fall into when life intervenes.  There is often not enough time to just wander and take in the world.  Recently I find myself blocking out time in my calendar as simply “Studio Time”.  Often this time is most fruitful when spent not actually in the studio, but rather out in the world, exploring.  Through my own practice and in my classes, I have become accutely aware of the power of keeping a sketch journal alive and well.  I am swimming in the power of this practice right now, and it feels right.

“Go outside, move deliberately, then relax, slow down, look around.  Do not jog. Do not run…Instead pay attention to everything that abuts the rural road, the city street, the suburban boulevard.  Walk. Stroll.  Saunter.   Ride a bike and coast along a lot.  Explore.”

John Stilgoe, Outside Lies Magic