Today

Today is September 11.  It has been 20 years since that fateful day.

20 years ago our Jack had just turned 7.  His birthday was yesterday and now he is 27, off living his best adult life.  I marvel, honestly.  His memories of the 9/11 attacks involve the grown-ups all talking in tearful hushed tones while he diligently worked to put together his new Millennial Falcon lego set.

September 11 is always a somber day and today was no different.  But there is the joyful resistance to the murderous intentions of the evil-doers of that day.  Any time people come together in love or kindness or in solidarity in the pursuit of something beautiful or good, there is resistance to that evil.

Today, after a year and a half off, the Riley School Of Irish Music came together, vaccinated, masked and ever so weary of the state of things to learn a few tunes and to see how it might go.  With the virus surging, this may not last.  But it was worth a shot.  It’s always worth a shot.

We must try to show up and carve out a new version of what normal might look like and this will take time.

There are so many news stories and posts and blogs and podcasts and etc. etc. about this year’s 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  So I won’t wax poetically here, except to say that as I wandered in a public area in a nearby suburb, I was gladdened by the multi-cultural nature of it all.  People from all walks of life, in many skin tones,  bearing the cultural signifiers of various modes of belief and ways of life.  I thought about how one small band of people so filled with hatred could cause so much harm and what we might do, each of us, to avoid this sort of thing happening again.

In the end, I have to believe it’s just more and more love.

I hope that wherever today found you, that you could find a moment of peace, of beauty, and maybe a bit of friendship.  And that perhaps, through these things, we might heal the world a bit.

Peace.

 

the unexpected one

We find ourselves here once more.  Telling the story of a little dog who unexpectedly wove her way into our hearts.  Yesterday afternoon, with the gentle and kind assistance of the wonderful folks at Cincinnati Animal Medical Center, I said a tearful goodbye to our Charlie.

She wasn’t always ours.  Charlie began her life as the much coddled lap dog belonging to Tony’s mom Pat.  Very shortly after she came to them, health problems began to take center stage as can happen in life and Charlie learned to tolerate shuttling to and from the homes of relatives between hospital stays.  After Pat’s husband Larry passed away, Charlie and Pat settled into a number of peaceful years and I know Charlie was great company for my mother-in-law, who was now very much on her own.

Eventually, Pat’s own health began to suffer and with that, her ability to care for her beloved little dog.  And so, in the grand arc of all the things involved in Caring For An Aging Parent, we took the dog.

She was a bit worse for wear, having been reared on tasty but lacking-in-nourishment “treats” and too little exercise.  When Charlie arrived here at Chez Bogard, she weighed almost 20 pounds and was unable to even walk up the driveway without lying down to rest.  Eventually, forced into the Bogard Clean Living Plan featuring good food, no junk, and more and more gentle exercise, Charlie lost her extra pounds, getting to a healthy 13 pounds.  Imagine losing a third of your body weight!!  Over time, the compounding changes in her health led to a softer, whiter coat and more energy.  Charlie’s feisty personality really blossomed and she settled into life here, amazingly able to keep up with our two larger dogs, Iris and River.

“Even the tiniest poodle or chihuahua is a wolf at heart.”

~Dorothy Hinshaw

But honestly, her favorite thing was lying around on the couch.

Charlie was the last creature I saw each night before I went to sleep as she liked to lie at the foot of our bed.  Sometimes, in full moonlight she would shine like a bright little beacon.

I often drew her in my bedside drawing practice.  I’ve always liked scribbly dogs, and Charlie was very scribbly indeed.

As you may have read, the last couple of years have been a bit rough around here with quite a bit of loss and grief.

Charlie spent nearly a year as our only dog and we could see she was aging a bit.  But we adjusted.

She was able to go to the seashore for the first time….

And she continued to make friends wherever she found herself.

Last December we adopted a puppy called Philomena and Charlie, once again, adjusted beautifully.

Eventually.

I find myself this morning settled with our decision to let her go.  Everyone who knows us had been saying for a while, ‘maybe it’s time’, but I struggled to know when exactly that time was.  For a good long time now, Charlie has been deaf to all but the shrillest sounds, blind to all but the shifting shadows of light and dark.  Still, she had her routine and she carried on.  We managed her pain as best we could and carried on with the day to day.  She relished meal time in what I now know was an almost demented obsession.  I look at the photos of her from as recently as this past spring and I can see how much she had shifted in just the last couple of months.  Gone was the brightness in her eyes and she just seemed weary.  Much as I hated to admit it, I was holding on to her for my sake, not for hers.  It was time.

We didn’t choose Charlie, rather we all just sort of fell together somehow.  I always joked that “she was not the brand we ordered.”  Here was a dog who’s hair care routine was more expensive than my own! And yet, she was one of us.  We learned a good deal of patience through the stewardship of this little dog.  We learned that change is possible – good, solid, life-altering change – at any stage of life.  Charlie may have been an unexpected acquisition, but we loved her well.

Long may you run, Charlie.

 

 

Home in Maine

Hello from Maine!  Our annual pilgrimage was a success and we find ourselves drinking up the sea air and the long overdue catching up with dear family-friends.  We love it here.

Many of you long time readers have reached out that you look forward to seeing “all the Maine posts” this summer.  I’ve been lying fairly low over on the social media channels, choosing instead to put my limited work time each day to writing on my Patreon page and of course, working on art and writing in the background, not necessarily ready for posting.  If you want that dose of Maine, do come over and support the work over on Patreon.  It’s a small thing, as little as $1 a month, and you get to read the posts I put so much work and love into.  I’ll see you there.  (More on why the shift in my online offerings in this post *here*)

In other news, I am busy planning next year’s place-based travel-sketch journaling classes. (We’re back at it lads and I am so excited!!!)  Access to the Taos, NM and Antigua, Guatemala classes for 2022 is always offered to past participants first.  The Guatemala trip is nearly at capacity but I am delighted to announce that there are four spaces available in the second week (arr GUA Saturday Feb 26, class Feb 27-Mar 3, Depart Mar 4).  Send me an email if you are interested in more details.  I’ll be updating the Guatemala trip page here on the blog with the new dates soon, but the prices are basically the same as what is listed there currently.

Per the usual, I will announce how many Taos slots are open after the first week or so in September.  First dibs will be given to those who missed out due to the pandemic as well as to those few who were able to attend this summer.  I will put an announcement here when that occurs so be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss it.  Or just check back in early September.

Thank you as always for reading my musings.  I am carefully combing through all of my old thoughts on creativity, the power of attention (and intention) and what a difference seeking out the artful in our own lives can make and working on a bigger avenue for all of it.  So bear with a quieter than usual blog here, dig into the Patreon option for more of the kind of updates you are used to and stay tuned as I ramp things into bigger territory in the coming months.  It’s finally time.

 

Home again, Home again

The boots are off, suitcases finally unpacked.  As are the art supplies (also, finally).  Tony did a quick turn and has found himself in DC visiting our eldest who’s working a concert series at the University of Maryland.  I just couldn’t.  I feel I have done nothing but nap in recent days.  Sometimes twice a day.  Always with this sweet soul nearby.

Provided she gets a good run in, she is all for settling into naps.  I am grateful for this, as she is, after all, merely a puppy.  8 months old today actually.

I’ve been slowly getting myself situated here at home.  Batting off feelings of overwhelm and too-much-ness which often plague after a successful journey.  And what a journey it was.  It was the kind of road trip that makes me want to sell all and get a camper-van and hit the road.  This is, of course, all very well until I once again feel the call to get my hands into familiar soil.  And so, we strike a balance via travel.

A page from my own travel journal.

I want to welcome those of you reading this who aren’t familiar with my long time musings.  This post itself is a “public” post meaning anyone can read it, as I want my recent Taos workshop participants to have access and to read my words about the work accomplished and the magic made during our time together.  Patrons who choose to sponsor my work month to month get more posts all their own, and occasional thank you gifties as well.  (The post cards are coming!)

I did get a question about whether one might sponsor my work somehow without doing the monthly billing thing through Patreon.  I punted this question to my tech handler, John, as it’s a good question.  But alas, it appears I am firmly wedded to this platform for the time being.  So far it’s working.  A fair few lovely folks, many long time (we’re talking 14 years!) readers of the blog, are chipping in a few dollars a month and more and this is sort of feeding the whole thing.  I can pay the tech handler without worry that I took a year off for the pandemic.  Maybe eventually I might invest in some stop motion gear.  Who knows!  But I must, always, say thank you.  Patreon, with all its modern day baggage, is a good thing for me for now.  So that answers that.  Now onto the post trip report!!

I never quite know what I am walking into when I do a workshop.  This year in particular was a little anxiety producing as I was so out of practice!  (Weren’t we all?)  There are a number of things which might call someone to attend a “travel journal workshop”.  In my work I attempt to make room for all of it.  Sketching, collecting words and ephemera and experience, writing all go into these vessel-books.  And in the end there is a collection of evidence that the experience was had, and that it was rich and soul-full.  Year to year, every Taos week is different and I knew this would be the same, especially with the year we’ve had.  I had people self-identifying as “complete beginner” and others who are accomplished artists in their own right.  I’ll admit I was a tad daunted on day 1.  But I remembered that this process isn’t about how “good” one is at art or writing.  It’s about the act of paying attention to what thrills the soul when traveling.  That is it.  And this is different for everyone.

In the end, the beginners made strides I couldn’t have predicted.  And the artists in the group took away a small toolkit of new ideas and approaches which I hope will serve them.  I think it went well.

Here are a number of photos of the work done by those who attended the workshop.  They were so focused and fully present.  I couldn’t help but be the same as facilitator.

Mabel’s front door.  always a welcome. (Judith)

Barb took an exercise to the next level and made an abstracted painting she was quite pleased with.

More beautiful work from Judith

I love how Judith used the hole punch to peek through to the next page.  an idea from Melissa which many of us utilized.

Melissa, already an accomplished urban sketcher, lit up this page with the day’s exercise and her own sketch of the same scene.

Loads of trucks made that week.  I love the purple in this one.

another work from Melissa.  Such a fun sketch of this iconic sign.  She showed a real mastery of technique on this one.

Rosemary’s trucks.  They are slowly sinking into the fields out there.

Beautiful use of quote and sketch together (rosemary)

another from Rosemary.  She prints out little photos to add to her book with her sketches which makes for a lovely presentation on the page.

just gorgeous light here from Rosemary

This truck, believe it or not, is by one of my self-professed “beginners”.  Melinda, you’re a natural!

Not all beginners bravely go for a full page spread to draw.  Well done!

getting into subtleties (melinda)

We take in so much when we travel.  This is a good example of choosing one thing to spend time with.  In this case a gorgeous stained glass window at Mabel’s.  Loads learned on this one drawing.

This is truck one from Lily.  She was working on getting her values nailed and mitigating the pigments in her watercolor set.  later in the week…..

She’d learned to really see what was in front of her and she figured out how to get her paints to do what was asked of them.  Beautiful work Lily!

Bj has been attending my classes on and off over the years and her work has grown in depth.  

Her work is always such a capture of her experiences and impressions.

And I have always adored her sense of color!

Here Ruth tackles the birdhouses, not an easy task.

More lovely work from Ruth

I really love the sensitivity and delicacy of this page from Ruth in particular.  

Kris too made lovely work during the week, getting playful with the typewriter and all the flying curses therein.  For some reason I don’t have more images of her work.  She does this lovely splatter thing on many of her sketches and I think I might add that to some of mine.  Cross-pollination with other artists is the best thing really.

Soon, it was friday. (all too soon, really).  We gathered as a group in Mabel’s dining room for some delicious chili rellenos and lovely conversation, as we’d done all week.

and just like that, it was time to go.  Saturday morning was all a flutter, with last minute coffee and packing.  The goodbyes were tender but hopeful.  We’ve somehow survived this last tumultuous year, a til next time didn’t feel quite as painful as in years past.  Though I will admit that I was a little choked up at our final good byes to Harold and Esther outside of town.  They were the first to greet us and the last to see us go.  Always making a place for us.  Welcoming us home.

Rosemary, Steve, Tony and I had one last meal together before we all headed home to pack for an early start.

We left at the crack of dawn.

Drove through the mountains and plains and back into humidity and humanity.  Springfield MO offered up a brewery open late enough for us to get a meal and a beer which we gladly accepted.

All in all it was an uneventful journey.

But gosh I’m tired.  I forgot how hard the work is, in spite of how amazing it is.  Being out of practice didn’t help.  That said, I could not be more grateful.  For people willing to trust getting back together with strangers once again.  For Mabel’s who opened up just enough to allow our arrival, even though they often weren’t sure how or even if it would go.

It couldn’t have gone any better really.  I plan to continue catching up here at home.  I’ve hand painted post cards to finish and send to you patrons who are in those “tiers”.  Thank you again to all of you reading.  Between words and paint, I somehow am managing to make a small mark in this world.

Til next time.

X~a

Take Two

It is morning in New Mexico.  The sun has come up over Taos Mountain and we have been given the gift of a new day.

The week ahead beckons.  Our weary band of travelers begin their workshop week today, diving into the colors in their little traveling watercolor sets.  I encourage students to bring what they have or what they’d like to learn with, so there are potentially multiple kinds of paints to explore today.  One of my favorite things is to solve individual art problems with each person, helping them craft a travel journal that is all their very own.  I can’t wait to get started.

I appreciate the patience of my dear Patrons as we figure out the tech angle on things here in NM and in the interface between my blog/website platform and Patreon itself.  So this is a “public” post which will be here on Patreon as well as on my blog.  More soon.

 

 

come on along

Greetings from beautiful Taos NM!  I’ve arrived with Hub and Pup in tow for a few days of reacquainting myself with this place before getting down to business with the workshop at Mabel’s.  It is both strange and familiar to once again find myself here after 2 years away due to the pandemic.

You can follow along on all the adventures and discoveries over on my Patreon page for just a dollar a month.  And of course, if you want to chip in more, there are arty gifts to follow.  This is a handmade thing of value, this blog.  I appreciate the patronage and support of my readers.  With the noise and algorithms of the social media realm, I’ve found myself shifting focus to where what I do is of true value, not just yelling into the void.  So thank you for reading.  Thank you for throwing a few coins into the proverbial hat of this traveling artist.

I’ll see you in the high desert.

A taste of practice

****Note, this is a “public” post.  An offering to all, as I will do occasionally and have done for many years pre-patreon.  Please consider supporting my patreon page if you have not done so already if you like what you read here.  In gratitude…. 

Spring has truly sprung here.  Iris’s are blooming and wee fawns can be found along the edges of things, deposited by their mothers in hopeful safety and quietude while they go off to forage.  I wanted to share a bit of how I prepare for my upcoming workshop in Taos, New Mexico.

The desert will be very different from this verdant river valley.  It always is.  And there will be adjustments for sure upon our arrival.  But delving into my new sketchbook with some writing and a few basic color matching swatches can be just the thing for warming up.  This way I can hit the ground running, painting in one of my favorite landscapes.

In the long run, this artistic practice is all about opening my eyes to really see what is in front of me, no matter where I am.  And this begins here at home, before any travels commence.  It could be so easy to overlook the little things.

But I am here to notice, to take note.  To observe and recreate color and line and form as best I can.  To remember this moment in time.

Like this small fawn (who will surely come by to nibble my dahlias later this summer once he’s grown!) I rest a bit until ready to go forth into the world properly.

 

part rabbit warren, part spin on art & life & etc. art, illustrations & workshops by amy bogard