Tag Archives: sketchbook

Dreaming the Between into being

A painting of the heart; beeswax, paint and love

Last Night As I Was Sleeping

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a fiery sun was giving
light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.

Last night as I slept,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that it was God I had
here inside my heart.

                                                                 ~Antonio Machado
Perhaps it is the bright face of the full moon which pours into my bedroom window in the wee hours of the morning.  Or maybe it’s that I have traveled far and wide just recently, with more journeys awaiting me in the wings of weeks to come.  I do not know.  But I have been doing a fair amount of vivid dreaming while visiting the landscape of my sleep-time each night.
Generally a deep and dark sleeper, I seldom remember my dreams, but occasionally I get a conscious-time glimpse into  that other-world beyond and it’s tremendously exciting and inviting and I do not want it to end.  Thankfully, this has been occurring more and more and more.
Once, much like in the poem above from Antonio Machado, I dreamed that bees had crafted a hive in the walls of my home.  This dream-time home was different than my home here in waking-time. Yet it was my home none-the-less, as it often goes in dream-translation.  It was a quaint little house, nestled in quiet country.
Painted blue, it had lace curtains which blew gently in the breezes. Outside there was washing on the line, bleach-drying in the golden sunshine.  Inside, the bees had been so busy in the inner walls of this sweet home of mine that honey –rich, golden honey – began to seep from the very walls themselves.  And from the ceilings.  Drip, drip, dripping from every corner.  Oozing a golden coating on to all.  My waking self has a bit of an aversion to being sticky.  Give me the mess-making of mud-pies and the following-flowing of dust-bunnies, but stickiness can set my teeth on edge.  But my dream self saw and felt this honey coating everything as a great gift from the bees.  A sign of the richness in my day to day.  Seeping out of the very walls.
I come back often to this dream and the sensations it delivers upon the heart of my remembering, as I am “abeefrnd” after all.  I love all things bees. The wax, the honey, the magic of their pollination which in essence keeps us alive as well as surrounded by beauty.  Just the other day I was captivated by a podcast featuring a Bee Priestess called Ariella Daly and was once again reminded of the honeyed home awaiting me in my dreamscape.
This morning I awoke from another powerful dream which I took to paper and pen first thing (well, after I’d given the dogs a chance to wee and poured myself the requisite first cup of coffee).
“Intense, wee-hours-of-the-morning dream.  Skyscape and seascape were one.  I could swim-fly underwater, beneath floating purple and darkened-green continents of mosses. Under-over there, all was turned around – up was down and sideways and back again.
Some feared if I swam-flew in this place, I might never return to above the mosses.
Before this swim-fly time, I was on a beach, with a public beach-house.  It was winter and access to the sea was limited.  The life-guard then said it was time and everyone cheered and pulled their pick-up trucks on to the beach to sell their market wares.
It was crowded.
This is when I began to swim-fly.  This place was not crowded. It was wild and lonesome.  I dove in and once under came the turning around of the world.  As I dove down, I also flew up.  Direction didn’t seem to matter.  I could easily breathe this air-water.  I was of two worlds.  Maybe more.  The worlds of Up, Down,  Over, Under, Back and Forth.
The masses of mosses had watery, puddled areas in them, like bog-land. Puddled portals of a sort. These puddles led to below-above where anything is possible.”
                                                                  ~Amy Bogard
I could go on an on about the venturing I’ve been up to amidst the murky depths of my own dreaming, but we all know how difficult these images and sensations can be to convey in conscious conversation.  So I will simply share with you a few endeavors from waking-time, and in-between times which seem to be contributing to these dreamscapations.  (That may be a new word of my own making, though I am not sure.)
The rough little drawings dotting this post are from a small book I keep at my bedside nowadays, along with a pencil.  Most evenings, just before sleeping, I scribble a bit into this book.   Nothing in front of my eyes to capture.   Merely the musings of my own mind and my own imaginings.  Occasionally I am surprised at the results.  Often, they are simple and rather mundane.  But still I doodle.
I began this practice a few weeks ago, inspired by my friend, fellow illustrator,  and fab yoga instructor, Stacey Maney who has been doing the same practice herself a good while now and has amassed a number of bedtime drawings.  Though we each approach this practice in our own way, we both find it helps to feed the inner muse.  This muse is our bread and butter after all and needs to be coaxed and tempted with attentions and praise from our daily habits.
This all differs greatly from my usual sketching practice of the world around me, about which I write here often and much.  The deep mind-full-ness my sketchbook work brings has been a richly rewarding gift over the years, a gift I now offer to others through my classes and workshops.  And yet, I still want to go deeper.  Sketching is not enough.  Writing is not enough.  In the attempt to bring my own practice to a deeper, soul-entrenched level, I’ve been seeking a nameless thing.  I haven’t been sure if that thing is in the form of yet another book or a deeper yoga practice to delve into, or a new teacher, or new habits and pathways of my own intention.  In the past I have even been known to run toward (and away from) this Nameless Longing by training for and running marathons.  I did 7 of them before deciding they were finally through with what they had to teach me.
In the end, I’ve come to find it is all of these things along the way and always more, ever changing. And so recently, I have been following this nameless need for something, down it’s soft, darkened path.  I can almost smell this path, blanketed as it is by pine needles and leaf litter.
It feels so good to be able to smell the earth once more as spring has come upon us.  To celebrate this awakening, I have signed up for a class via One Willow Apothecaries called Intuitive Plant Medicine.  The ideas promised in this class are exactly what I have been looking for as pathways to enrich my own personal practice as an artist, a writer, a teacher.  I firmly believe that to be a good teacher, one must always be learning right alongside our students.  Maintaining an openness and the vulnerability of a learner, a beginner, is crucial to meeting students who find their way to us right where they need us to be.  And so I am always digging.  Always searching for ways to stretch.
I have no intention of becoming an herbalist or plant shaman really, except to suit my own curiosities and affinity for the magical world of plants.  But I know in my gut that this seemingly un-related study of the soul-life of plants, and how they can enrich our own lives at soul-level, is exactly the spirit-food I need to stay grounded and growing in my own work in the world.
And so it goes.  The seasons are shifting into sunshine and growth.  Workshops are happening in the coming weeks and I am busily tending to the earthly details which make them run smoothly.  My offspring are both jumping headlong into their adult working lives.  Madeleine off to Africa to work with a linguist and some medical doctors to collect health-care stories (a pricess called Verbal Autopsies).  Jack, gearing up for next week’s senior recital over at CCM.  How the time is flying.  And like between season lettuces tucked in under the other vegetables and flowers, I plant idea seeds in every fertile corner I can find.  Hoping something grows and blooms amidst all of this rich life-compost.
note:  I haven’t a clue what any of these drawings mean.  but they seem to have a feel to them that reaches one into the next.  I am interested to get to know the little faces peering out at me from the pages of my little bedtime book and perhaps learn their story.  

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.

 

 

 

 

Cats and Dogs

lion 2

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.

lion 4

While we drew them, they slept.

lion1

And mama kept her eyes on us.lion 5

lion 3

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.

John

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?

 

The Tiny Book of Truths

Some while back, I received a gift in the form of a little book on a necklace from a dear friend who knows I love the allure of a blank book. Knowing this book would be near to my heart for years to come, I opted to fill it with some of my favorite quotes and a few doodles as well. The result is this tiny book of truths. I find it to be even more fetching now, filled with words and images I have chosen.
This is the case with all blank books – journals, sketchbooks and the like. They really come alive when we put ourselves into them. I suggest we fill all of those old blank books we might have lying around with quotes and drawings, musings and the day to day magic that makes us individuals. When you do so, do check back and share what you’ve made. Every person’s journal, no matter how big or small is a one of a kind. Just like you!

And the winner is….

Many thanks to all of you who entered to win the giveaway!  To keep things fair and square, I wrote down the names of all who participated and put them slip by slip into the ‘sorting hat’…..

and the winner is 4

I then enlisted the assistance of an Official Impartial Puller Of Names to make the selection….

 

and the winner is 3

You may also notice the Official Impartial Judge and Onlooker here as well… (he takes these things very seriously)

and the winner is

And the winner is…….

and the winner is 1

Jo D. is the lucky winner of the giveaway!!

I so appreciated the energy this little drawing provided as the Taos trip participant list is around half full!!  This is wonderful news!  For those of you who are still contemplating taking this trip with us next summer, there is still plenty of time to sign up before March.  I’ll be posting plenty of sketches and inspiration along the way.  Go Forth and Doodle!!

GFaD2

Why we love a snowy day

 

 

Beneath the hill where the Red Wolf Howls….

redwolf howling 

There is a line of trees where Squirrel Folk dwell….

we know youre up there

On a snowy day we can clearly see the paths they have traveled and track their every move amongst the trees….

 

squirrel chase 3

Although we never catch them….

 

squirrel chase 2

We are always up for the chase….

 

squirrel chase

Which is good fodder for the artist’s little book of days.

 

Snowy day dogs sketch

And quite the excuse to nap a bit on the warm, radiant floor in the kitchen.

 

warm concrete is a doggie soul balm.

What do you love about snowy days?

moon muse

My new friend Bee at Irish Blessings Tours had a wonderful idea the other day to bring the writing of Haiku poetry into my ‘illuminated diary’ practice.  Like small, quick sketches, Haiku poems are a brief but effective way to capture a moment in time, especially when time is of the essence.  Or, you are simply feeling lazy, un-motivated, or stuck…..

Brisk, moonlit morning

still warm blankets, call to me –

crickets sing, ‘wake up!’

Try writing a haiku poem in your sketchbook, along with a drawing.  The dance between images-in-pictures and images-in-words will enliven even the most seemingly mundane moments.

Mini-trip

My Hub and I drove a few hours north for the weekend to attend the annual Kelley’s Island poker paddle in which a bunch of kayakers circumnavigate a little island on Lake Erie, stopping every so often to pick up a playing card that makes up a poker hand that will then determine prizes to win.  It’s always good fun and every year is different.  This year Lake Erie was a disturbing color of green due to a blue-green algae ‘bloom’.

Due to wind and waves, we avoided the eastern side of the island and did a 10 mile out and back.  I had an early bout of sea sickness (to which I am sadly prone) during the first leg of the trip but managed to walk it off on the beach with a salty snack.  The waves from the first leg, which are what some folks call ‘confused seas’, calmed considerably after that and I was able to perk up and finish the event.  (with three kings, a ten and a 7, I might add.  I won myself a nifty t-shirt!)

Later in the day, I stayed out of the water and sketched and watched while many people surfed in the waves.  Our camp site was on primo real estate… right by the water.  Windy, but beautiful.

Not willing to ruin a beautiful day with more nausea, I opted out of the opportunity to paddle on Sunday and instead explored the island on my own, stopping to write and sketch for a while near one of the island’s quarries, walking on a pebble beach and visiting one of my favorite houses.  This place just drips with charm.  I love it!!

And here is the view from the dream home.  Le sigh.

A favorite exercise of mine is to try and capture snapshots of what colors are around me.  This is especially handy when there is so much to draw that I don’t know where to start!

It’s good to collect love wherever you go.

Y’all know how I love to travel.  It seems I am only home a week or two and I begin to feel the urge to be on the move again.  Why is this?  I think it is because when I travel, all of my senses are being utilized in a way that the autopilot of daily life doesn’t always allow.  Capturing the quiet beauty of daily life is one reason I keep a sketch book, but let’s face it, my sketch book pages are even more exciting when I travel.

This past summer I traveled to Taos, New Mexico with an amazing group of students.  This venture was a success on so many levels! New friends were made, there was a renewed commitment to exploring our creativity and making an artistic practice part of our lives in a way that feeds our souls.  I am so tremendously grateful for it.  The dates are set for 2012…. I invite you to join us (click here for the lo down!) If you live outside of Cincinnati and want to join us, please do!!!  Any pre-trip planning and prepping will be guided in an online-class kind of fashion for out-of-towners.  We would love to have you join us!  This class is for anyone who wants to document their life in a visual way through a sketch book.  You can be an artist, but you certainly don’t have to be.  I believe if you can sign your name, you can sketch in a sketchbook.  Give it a try.  You’ll be glad you did!

There are already some folks signed up and space is limited.  I look forward to meeting you!!!

 

 

 

tidbits from Ireland

Ireland has so much to offer and in our ten day visit, we barely scratched the surface.  We went to play music and in the end, that was our priority.  The Fleadh, part competition, part festival, was held in Cavan Town, Co. Cavan, a lovely mid-country border area that I frankly had never heard much about.  It was absolutely captivating.  We were able to  dig into the area quite a bit with some special guided tours and some travel on our own as well before things in the music realm got really wild later in the week.

One tour we took was with local naturalist and certified Geo-park guide, Heather Bothwell who delighted us with a trek through a raised bog just down the road from where we were staying.  Most local folks we talked to thought we were nuts to see a bog as anything special, but bogs are special and worth learning about and protecting.  We had a ball walking and exploring and learning about all of the flora and fauna.  I am still going through notes and photos as to all we experienced and I may revisit these in future blog posts (or should I say bog posts) but I wanted to share what I did get into the sketchbook here which may motivate me to put more into the book in the weeks to come as I settle back into life back at home.

First off, I made a new sketchbook from a used book.  It’s stuffed with gorgeous watercolor paper and is an absolute delight to use with watercolors!

When settling into a new place I love to make a map of sorts in my book to get the lay of the land.   It’s also good to really look around and get a sense of the colors that are making the experience what it is visually.  The colors in Ireland are very different.  So one evening I started this process at the kitchen table, capturing little color studies of the things right in my field of vision at that very moment:

This would come in handy the next day when I was overwhelmed by all we had seen in the bog.  Here is the boggy spectrum:

a quick watercolor sketch of the bog as a whole…

Thanks to Heather’s pre-planning for our hike, we were able to look at a bunch of moths that she had trapped the night before and get an up-close look at them.  This is a tiger moth, like what we have here, that come from the ‘wooly bear caterpillars’.  This is a truly beautiful creature.  Then again, I have a thing for moths.

In the coming weeks I will share more of what I was able to find in Ireland.  Stay tuned in the coming months for information on an opportunity to experience some of this yourself as I am planning a travel sketch-journal workshop for – you guessed it – IRELAND!!  Part of my intention for this fleadh trip was a bit of reconnoitering for a trip there with students.  I’ve met and connected with some fabulous people over there who are artists, musicians, tour-givers, story-tellers and all around good folks.

My head is fairly spinning as I re-enter reality following what was essentially a radical sabbatical time.  I have lectures coming up and classes to teach.  I have work at the concertina shop to do and work to create in the studio and sketchbook.  I have a Mammoth quilty work to finish.  There is much to look forward to.  Grateful for the chance to share here with you!

 

keepin’ on

Here’s my new sketchbook cover for the Taos trip which is just 2 weeks away….  It’s collaged from an antique postcard I got in Taos last time I was there along with some other snippets from the collage supplies suitcase.  With my practice of drawing everyday until I leave I am very close to finishing my last book…

With working so hard, one must have helpers:

And I am already looking ahead to some projects about which I will keep you posted as they progress…

I am now off to tackle a busy spring weekend!!!