The work behind the work

Some thoughts on the value of art and words in the world……

Hello to my dear long time blog readers!  I’ll be following this post up with a longer, more involved one over on the Patreon space in a little while.  But first, a quick hello here with some encouragement for you to give the Patreon version of ‘online me’ a chance.   With my annual Taos trip on the horizon in just a few weeks, my mind has been in preparatory mode – contemplating what makes these workshops tick, revisiting the artists and writers who can be a lovely philosophical underpinning to what I do and, perhaps, considering whether I will continue teaching at all as we head into the future.  I’ve been thinking a lot about Work (capital W).  More on that in the later post…..


The life of a creative person makes for beautiful and interesting blog and social media posts, but we must often remind ourselves that this is still Work.  Yesterday a long time reader reached out about being a bit sad that I had taken to Patreon and that access to my writing suddenly has a pay wall.  I knew this conversation would likely happen with my readers and so I’ve done a fair amount of thinking about what my response would be.  I so appreciated her honesty about the cognitive dissonance this shift has created for her.

This blog has been a labor of love and offered for free since October of 2007.  Some might say I am an “OG” blogger from the way back.  Since that time, social media has come to the world stage and shifted our collective thinking on what is valuable and how we measure it.  I have been told by many of my facebook friends and Instagram followers that the posts I share of my work and words, or the work and words of others who inspire me, bring some value to their online scrolling.  I am careful with what I share online – be it here on the blog, or on the more casual social media sites and I am happy to be a force for good when I feel like being there.  But what is the value of my presence online at the end of the day?   Why bother even posting into the noisy chasm of the unlimited universe of the internet?

This pandemic has brought a lot of things into focus for all of us.  For me, it’s been an opportunity to carefully consider the value of the work I put out into the world.  If every one of my 1000+ facebook friends signed up to give a dollar a month over on Patreon, that would be a tidy little monthly income!  But this is, of course, highly unlikely.  With algorithms being what they are, most of those people I’ve collected there, via art and music, probably don’t even see what I post most of the time.  And sadly, I often don’t see theirs either. (I am generally not a scroller).  When the musicians and artists who’s work I admire put out a new album or book or have an art show, I pay for the download, purchase the book, take the class or buy the painting or pottery if I can.  Because their work brings value to my own life.  I suppose the decision to utilize Patreon as a way to earn some artful income is really just me saying that what I do matters.  Most importantly, saying that to myself.

I wish we lived in a world where money didn’t matter.  But money is the the method of energy exchange in our world and it is up to us to channel it toward the directions that mean something to us.   For many, money is a bit tight.  And so I will continue to dip in here to share now and then with no strings attached.  And when I feel up to it, I’ll share on the socials too.  (Those seem free, but aren’t really.)  But the juicy stuff, the works in progress, the work behind the work, well, I will save that for the sphere where I know those reading really value it.  Even for just a buck a month.

I hope that has helped clear things up a bit and that you will continue reading over time.  Here on occasion or ideally, on Patreon where there will be more content.




Come chase the light…..

In a matter of weeks, I’ll be departing for New Mexico for my annual “illuminated travel journal” workshop, held most years at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos.  Usually by this time, all the plans are firmly in place and there are a host of folks gathering supplies, building pre-workshop community online and finalizing travel plans.  As with all things in the covid era, this year is different.  But, with cautions in place, and hope in my heart, I am forging ahead with this year’s workshop.  The scope of the workshop is more intimate – only half the size of regular years, in keeping with New Mexico’s covid-safety guidelines.  There is a certain expected fluidity in covid-era plans, and thus, this finds me with a slot open in the Taos class this year.

If you find yourself looking for a way to dip your toes back into travel, but in a way that doesn’t feel like an onslaught, this trip might be for you.  Including myself and my trusty assistant and dear friend Rosemary, we are merely a group of 10.  All attending will be vaccinated.  Two of three meals a day will be taken at Mabel’s together, and there are plenty of take out options available locally in Taos.  Rooms are single occupancy.

I’d love if you could join us this year.  These are strange times indeed.  What better way to catalog them than in a painted journal.  A keeper of the beauty around us we might otherwise miss while weathering the storms of current events.  Send me an email at if you need more information.  Here is the link to the trip details:

Like so many others

The last time we were renovating, we were relatively new to this house, busy with elementary school kids, eager to create a home for them that would grow with them.  I catalogued those renovations back in the spring of 2008.  Looking back to those posts and a host of others before and after on this lowly old blog, there is one small and constant voice in the comments section. (before I realized that there were comments!!)  Just the one.  I don’t think many people were reading my early efforts really.  But Esme was.

Es was a dear friend of my kids.  They bookended her in age and the three of them spent countless hours together.  I wrote about losing her in this blog post from March 2009.

Today is the somber anniversary of that loss, a loss that rippled through a community in ways still being navigated.  It’s been 12 years.  Madeleine made the journey home from Columbus today and we met up at Spring Grove Cemetery to pay homage to a young life ended too soon.  There is a tree there, planted in Esme’s honor and we made our way to it.  I remember when the tree was first planted, Es’s dad Tom would personally hand carry big buckets of water over to it to make sure it had enough.  So many trees in Spring Grove.  He wanted to make sure this became a tree for the ages.  It has.

There is something about the time in which we find ourselves just now – this pandemic – which has peeled some layers of vulnerability back on all of us.  My kids, now young adults, may finally be able to look at what happened to Esme from a slightly broader perspective.  Perhaps they even feel some company in grief, now that we find ourselves surrounded by it.

It is miraculous to stand amidst the boughs of this amazing weeping cherry and think of how much we have all grown over time.  How much stronger we all are.

We can bear so much now, with love in our hearts, and the perspective of time.

This nation has lost 500,000 people.  Like the virus that has us all at a stand still, grief rides the air and it can seep into everything.  No one is left untouched.  Perhaps we will support one another in grief and learn to live and love in kinder ways, I do not know.

This tree has created a perfect ‘sit-spot’.

What happened to Esme was a random and strange thing – a strike of lightning in a way.  Violence against women is – and always has been over the ages – rampant,  with some women more at risk than others.  In every family, and for every young friend who loses someone – that loss shapes the lives of everyone touched in their lives.

This cannot be over-stated.

Sometimes when I consider the grief in the wake of this pandemic, or in the epidemic of missing or murdered indigenous women,  I think of Esme and of the affect her loss had on our lives.  None of us were ever the same.  We still grieve.  And while we were her friends and we loved her dearly, we weren’t even her family.  I think of the hundreds of thousands of families, and loving friends, who’ve lost someone this year and I know a bit of the road ahead.

Grief is a prickly thing.  We all navigate it differently.  But grief, much like birth and death, is something we share as human beings.  And while the way through this journey of both grief and more broadly of being human is very personal, there are some tried and true paths which seem well lighted.

The gifts of music, art, nature, poetry and friendship (even if distanced just now) can be a bit of a healing balm through the tears.  It is our only option really, to seek beauty through sadness.

Jack played a concert for his old haunt the Riley School of Irish Music, where folks who’d watched him grow up, were treated to a show of what makes him tick musically. Music has been his path over these years and I am so grateful for it.

We have not been without our rough times after the loss of Esme.  Life is life, yes?  But our kids never really went through a stereotypical stage of teenage rebellion as they were sort of catapulted into the realities of the world at a much too early age.  The two of them have the most tender hearts, in part because of a Big Loss at such a young age.

We have a choice when we experience loss.  We can either harden, or deepen.  With the tools of art, music and kinship, we can choose to deepen (perhaps not right away, but eventually).  As painful as it might seem at the time, deepening is better than hardening, yes?

This time of year is normally fraught with a bit of tension.  The Irish music and dance arenas are on full throttle and we can tend to bottle up or bury the sadness of years past.  This is ok, and a very human thing to do.  We mark this anniversary in our own private ways most years.  This year though, we are at a strange collective standstill and are given a small gift of space.  A moment of silence to work into grief a bit, our own and that of the community at large, locally, nationally, globally.  Let us not harden.

Let us grow, even with dark shadows at our heels.  Let us deepen.

I wish you all peace.  Through the grief of the age.


****this is public post also available at my Patreon Page.  If you’d like to support my work and writing over there, the link is this:

On the run.

We have taken the dogs and run away to Kentucky for a couple of days.  Stop over to my Patreon site to get the full story.  Your patronage is truly appreciated there.  (even just a dollar each month!)

In other news here on this lowly old blog, I have engaged the tech services of a new person to help keep this place safe and ongoing.  Welcome John!  To Mary Beth, my long time, cheerful tech helper of all years in recent memory, I thank you for your patience and kindness.  You’ll be missed.

I am still working out what needs to be “blog” and what needs to be “patreon”.  But suffice it to say, it’s important to me that this ‘place’ here on the internet be maintained, that the kettle is always on and warm and that you are always welcome.  We all need a little place to get away from the world now and then.


On Drawing dogs

Just a quick nudge here to go give a follow to my new Daily Dog themed instagram account @dog_drawn_good where I will post my doodles and paintings and etc. of the dog at hand.  Likely mostly Philomena.  But Charlie might make her way in there sometimes as well.

Also, come visit me over on Patreon!  I could use the support of my work in these weird, untravelable times.  Patreon is allowing me to meet my studio bills and I really appreciate it.  Even a dollar a month makes a difference.

Ever yours in deep gratitude.


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