It’s been a whirlwind, maelstrom of a time around here lately. Months of work suddenly seemed to come to fruition recently and I have been working feverishly to keep it all afloat. Drawing Down the Vision has had multiple pilot workshops and, coupled with a new and improved website, is ready for sale to receptive corporate audiences and beyond. My business partner Adam and I are tremendously excited to see almost a year’s worth of work and research finally see the light of day.
The Artworks project for the Cincinnati Convention Center is “rounding third and heading for home” as they say here in Cincinnati. Tina and I are in the finishing stages of making this huge project a reality. We are technically ahead of the long list of things that need to be done, but it is still stressful as we prepare to move the work in a few weeks to the auto body shop for a finishing clear coat, and then finally on to the Convention Center for installation. There is still much to be done, but we are plowing through it. Yesterday I worked on two more faces, those of Christian Moerlein and Louis Hudepohl who will be in the part of the design that looks a bit like a brewery…
Being springtime, at least according to the calendar, it is also tornado season and that means puppets!! (At least for me and my fellow Red Cross puppeteer Jeni!) We did our first show of the season a couple of weeks ago and made it through with no discernible mistakes. It is amazing to me how well we can remember our lines after only a couple of run through rehearsals and months off before that. The depths of memory have no bounds it seems.
The Make a Book/ Fill a Book class at the Art Academy is approaching week 6. Cody and I have a great group of 10 students who are bravely forging their way in their newly-made “re-purposed” journals. Cody taught us all how to take an interesting old book cover and fill it with blank paper using traditional book binding techniques. I have been introducing students to the various materials and techniques I use to then make a blank journal into a one of a kind, personalized sketch-journal. The results have been delightful!!
Often, when I am in the midst of teaching this class or when I have a time of great externalized efforts, like recently, my sketchbook is along for the ride in my car or my bag, but doesn’t see much action inside. I can go for weeks sometimes without sketching or writing. This is a pattern with which I am familiar and I have learned not to be to hard on myself; that I will get back to it when things settle. Last week, this pattern was shook up a bit. In the middle of everything – I took a trip. A badly needed respite from all of the work as well as the stress and grief from the trial of Esme’s murderer. Although work has been so wonderfully busy, this trial opened up and salted wounds that had only gingerly begun to heal over the past year with all of our positive efforts to create a lasting legacy to someone lost so young. Some time away was in order.
Months back, Tony and I had planned to join a group of Cincinnati area kayakers on a trip to the Gulf coast of Florida to swim with some manatees and to enjoy everything the Nature Coast has to offer. We set up a hip yet responsible house sitter to hang out with the kids and dogs and off we went for paddling, snorkeling, and for me, some serious time in the sketchbook. I am excited to share the fresh pages with my students this week when I get back to class. Here are some highlights from my trip and from my sketchbook….
The drive to Florida was just under 900 miles and I slept a good bit of the way. Once I awoke to look out the window at a huge peanut on top of a building. Ah, Georgia. We wound up in Cedar Key, Florida, a sleepy little island town and I was instantly smitten. (My good ol’ friend Carol did remark, when have I traveled and not fallen in love with my surroundings?….. I think she has a point!)
We had hoped to paddle in the morning but awoke to storms. Instead we walked around town and visited the museum and some little galleries and had some wonderful chowder at a place called Tony’s.
By the time we got to the campground the rain had pretty much stopped. We were in for a week of majority sunshine!
Day one, Rainbow River. It was the clearest water I had ever seen!!!! So many gorgeous colors. We kayaked and snorkeled and by the end of the day, I knew I needed a new wet suit top if I was not to suffer hypothermia….
Day 2 – Three Sisters springs, and swimming with manatees!!! Thanks to my new friend and awesome photographer, Jamie Trammel, I have some shots of our time in the water with these gentle giants. I could have done just this every day and would have been satisfied. We wound up going back on day 4. I love manatees. Simple as that.
Under the water, they are very purpley in their grayness. That is how I sketched them.
Day 3 – the Weeki Wachee River. More clear blue water, snorkeling, rope swinging and even a few manatees toward the end of the paddle!! This place is famous for its mermaid shows but we simply paddled and swam it’s waters. Given more time, I would have liked to see the show. Maybe next time!
While part of the group took the cars to the end of the line, those of us left behind arranged the kayaks for a colorful picture. Here’s to random acts of guerilla art.
Later in the week, at the end of the trip, a few of us headed back to Cedar Key for a paddle to Atsena Otie Island which used to be where the actual town of Cedar Key was located. It was washed away by a hurricane in 1896 and only a cemetery and building foundations are now present. It is a lovely, quiet and haunting place and we spent quite a bit of time there poking around and drawing.
While paddling over, our friend Don picked up a little swallow that had died and brought it to shore so I could sketch it. A sad but beautiful little thing.
I also sketched some horseshoe crab shells. Tony found this one, completely intact.
The gravestones at Atsena Otie are old and beautiful and covered with lichen. I took some rubbings into my book and wondered about the people that somehow managed a living on this far flung island.
So here I am, back in Ohio, on a cold, rainy Monday. Vacations have a way of shaking up things and getting me far enough away from the norm that I can really take stock of things. While away, I made working in my sketchbook everyday a huge priority, even forsaking the occasional paddle. I simply can’t express how soothing this was and a huge reminder that I need to make it a priority in my daily life here in Ohio. I found upon returning that I am feeling more centered and focused than before I left. This is due in part from just resting and getting away from it all. But I attribute it also to all of the drawing I did in my sketchbook. As Adam and I move toward marketing our Drawing Down the Vision workshops to the generally non-drawing corporate crowd, I plan to practice what I preach more than I have been amidst recent stresses. The act of picking up a pen and mapping out ones surroundings on paper (be they internal or external worlds) is crucial to staying centered and seeing broader connections. This past week has reminded me of that. I am grateful for it.