Digging Deep

Art as Work is an interesting phenomenon.  Try as one might to work under the constructs of a “normal” work life, sometimes it’s impossible.  I took an emotional plunge in recent weeks, on the heels of vacation season, as the kids were starting school, in the midst of domestic chaos.  I simply could not handle being in my studio, or my house even for that matter.  I have made no paintings.  I have not sketched.  I have just wanted to be outside.

With all of the construction still going on, or perhaps a better description would be that it is not going on, I just have not wanted to be inside where I could see it.  We should have counters installed next week.  Our concrete floors have had to be repaired for a second time since this all began and we are off of them again for another week.  (Kudos to our concrete company for standing by their products… but we are really ready to be done.)

There is really only one thing that has saved me over the past two weeks and that is digging in the dirt.  Tony and I removed some old evergreen bushes that were really blocking and dating the front of the house.  I put in some end of season perennials and we ordered a boulder from a local landscaping company.  It has felt good to begin something and complete it all in a reasonable amount of time.  This project was something we could do ourselves and that we have had control over.  It felt creative.

This is where my art is right now.  In the dirt.  I realized I didn’t feel like being on the computer lately and that has been ok.  In fact, it is one of the things I love about vacation.  So I have unplugged quite a bit these last weeks.  And I plan to continue to do so.  I also enjoy blogging and plan to continue to do that as well.  But for now, the pressure’s off.  I am just going with the flow, trying to keep things as sane as humanly possible around here.

I’ll keep you posted… when inspiration strikes…

Home Again

Yesterday was my birthday. 39. I think some women cringe at that number. I can’t tell you how many people have said to me, “wow, so next year’s the biggie.” Yes, it is a biggie, but not for the reasons of doom implied by some folks. I personally look at each year as a gift, and am happy to have gotten this far.

Yesterday was also our first full day back here in Cincinnati. I have been trying to avoid a phenomenon I call “burning up on re-entry”. That’s right, like the Space Shuttle is in danger of doing every time it re-enters the atmosphere. Just like the Space Shuttle, I go from the weightless quietude of vacation (read: vacate) into the fully weighted gravity of Reality. I’m avoiding burn up by being gentle with myself, taking one thing at a time and basking in the full well of images and experiences had while traveling this summer.

A couple of days after our return from Irish Music Camp, we took off again, this time all four of us, to Maine. We lived in Maine for a number of years and Jack was born there. We go back every summer to visit friends who have become family over the years. It feels like home. In the years we lived there we got to experience much of what Maine has to offer tourists, but not everything. One thing I have always wanted to do was visit a place called Monhegan Island which is about a 2 hour ferry ride from the coast. It has been an artist’s mecca for years. This year, my wish came true and we paid the magical island a visit.

With all of the fog and mist and cool air, I felt a million miles away from Ohio which was suffering from 100 degree heat and a drowning humidity. Time seems to run differently on Monhegan. When we did see the sun, it seemed to cast a different light than anywhere else in the world, which is probably why artists have flocked there to capture the light and landscape in paintings. I didn’t do much painting myself, just a few sketches. I was too busy just soaking it all in…

The whole family enjoyed hiking, and exploring the coast. The island has woods and coastline as well as a tiny town area where we stayed the night at the Monhegan House.

Jack likes to skip rocks….

Tony charted our course on the trails..

Maddie explored the wreck of the D.T. Sheridan.

Most of the buildings on the island have weathered cedar shingles and charm galore… Not many people live on the island year round, about 65. During the summer there are more. Many of them artists.

Our room at Monhegan House was spare but perfect. My favorite part of it was the lace curtain that blew in the sea breeze. I’m telling you, it was a whole, other, magical world.

I could have stayed on Monhegan Island the rest of the trip but alas, we were due to hit the Belgrade Lakes region to have a week on Long Pond with long time friends. We stayed in a wonderful house on the lake and took what sun we could get during the mostly rainy week.

I am already looking forward to next year’s trip “home” to Maine. For now, I am re-entering reality as best I can. Today my photographer friend Gregg Smith (alas, no website) visited to shoot some recent-ish work and I am going to get some grant proposal images together. I have a zillion (ok, hundreds) of photos to work from to make some new paintings and plan to approach them via the milky world of encaustic, which still frustrates and teaches me every day.

There were days during my travels that I really missed being at the wax table each day, a positive testimony to my recent at-least-one-small-painting-a-day efforts. Tomorrow that practice resumes. My goals are to keep learning the medium, make some worthwhile bits of art and maybe get some residency plans together. Whenever I travel, I am once again blown away by how inspired I am by exploring new places, especially places closely tied to the land. I know I need to explore my relationship to the landscape and the concept of place more closely. It’s during these self examinations that I wonder if grad-school may not be around the corner. For now, I will just be my own teacher, supplemented, I hope, with the gift of travel to stir things up.

It’s good to be home, but then again, I am home just about anywhere. Perhaps I’m some sort of Gypsy after all….