Quietly Mending

Here at Chez Beaugard, our puppies are slowly becoming more grown up (one faster than the other).  Lady Iris sits patiently while the climate of hibernation continues…

Back in December I participated in a Bereavement Quilt Workshop with San Fransisco-based Artist Sherry Lynn Wood. She posted a few of the photos she took over the weekend of our quilts in process.  Needlework is a wonderful way to while away winter hours and I have been doing quite a bit of it, knitting and embroidering.  Years and years ago, before art school even, I used to patch my jeans with fabric and whimsical embroidery.  I’m not sure why I got away from this playful process but I have been inspired to pick it back up again via Sherry’s wonderful blog entry on what she calls the “Unpredictable Geography of Mending”. I love this description of mending, especially when applied to matters of the soul.  The last couple of years have been brutal in so many ways, thankfully graced with touches of magic and wonder. I feel a tremendous sense of internal mending this winter as I rest and prepare for what will be an incredibly active spring of workshops and talks and the travels inherent to them.

Below are a couple of pairs of jeans that are  now a tad less breezy than they were.  Patching as a process is a good bit like drawing in a sketchbook.  It’s great exercise for the brain to relax and let newer, bigger ideas flow in.  If you have never picked up a needle and thread or a pencil and sketchbook, I encourage you to try it.  As Milton Glaser writes, “How you live, changes your brain”.  This includes activities like drawing…. and what is embroidery but drawing with thread.

Winter Magic

Just a couple of days ago, it was warmish (comparatively speaking) and rainy – enough to bring my shoulders down out of my ears and for some snow to melt.  I sketched the earthy colors outside my studio window (yes, warm enough to be in the studio, bundled as I was). But Ohio weather being the changing animal that it is, today we are blessed with a fresh snow storm that has kids home from school and dogs all in a tizzy.

A good day for a walk…

We have plenty of woods in our area and it’s fun to head out with my Hub (who thankfully works from home and can occasionally get outside around lunch time), the dogs, and whichever kids feel like tagging along.  Today it was my niece and nephew over for the snow day.  Fresh snow has a way of bringing out the crazy in most dogs and mine are no exception.

I love the pure joy that they embody as they run and jump and play.  I know this is not limited to my wild pack o’ pups.  One of my favorite artists in the blogosphere showed her own hound bounding around with winter’s bliss in a recent post.  Their joy is infectious!!  I have been missing my old dog Caskie lately for some reason.  His little box of mortal remains was placed here in this sculpture made by my multi-talented partner.  Am I crazy to even consider getting back to the chaos and trouble that is life with 3 dogs?  I am not so sure.  But it was nice while it lasted.

After our hike, it was time to look for fossils in the creek (my nephew’s idea).

There were plenty of ordovician invertebrates to be found of course!!

Meanwhile, it’s Iris vs. the chipmunk community who lives down in the rocks alongside the creek….

(“I smell chipmunk”)

(“I know they are in here somewhere…”)

Alas, as Riley swings, the chipmunks are nestled into their hillside abode, most likely snuggled up together against the snow.

And so it was time to head back in for some soup, a fire in the fireplace and cozying up in the blanket fort….

It seems an especially nice gift to have all the kids home from school today and to have the chance to enjoy this gorgeous snow.  It’s Esme‘s 15th birthday today.  She is often on my mind as I go about my business in the world as artist and mama, but today she is exceptionally close at hand, like her spirit is just across the liminal realm so she can check back in with all of us left behind.  Happy Birthday kiddo.  Thanks for the snow storm….

Here’s a bird drawing for you…..

beau regard

Today I went to the gym for some exercise.  It felt great to get a good solid run in and some stretching too.  I spend so much time bundled up in layers of wool underwear, hats, scarves and down – it was just nice to be all warmed up for an hour.  There is a track at the gym that I like to run around and around…. and around.  Unlike a treadmill, the track provides me with plenty to look at, people to watch and wonder about, and a window well to keep a notebook where I can stash ideas.

Did you ever have one of those play-doh machines when you were a kid?  The one that pushes the play-doh through templates to create cool shapes?  During my visit to Mammoth Cave, the ranger guides would often compare the formation of gypsum crystals to the play-doh machine process.  Depending on the shape of the limestone void, various gypsum shapes would appear.  My own artistic practice has a play-doh machine quality to it.  When I run, ideas and notions seem to seep through my pores, almost as if being pushed out by the effort of a hard run.  This is good and happens more often than not.  I am grateful for it.

Currently I’m developing ideas for a finished Mammoth Cave related work that for now feels just slightly out of reach.  So I’m running and drawing and continuing to view things through what my friend Elizabeth calls, my “artist’s gaze”.  This beau regard (french, loose translation can be beautiful gaze, or beautiful eye) is what artists are known and ideally valued for.  Their unique perspective on the world is why we visit their blogs, purchase their art and music and writing.  It is a rare day that my world is not made more open or brighter because of the work of a fellow artist.

Nudges have been coming from various directions for some time for me to get some work made to sell on Etsy.  I have been dragging my heals, as is my nature. Somehow I haven’t felt cool enough, or productive enough, or…. I don’t know.  I have just avoided it.  But when my dear friend (and French medievalist) Anna made the play on my name as beau regard, it occurred to me that maybe I could make a go of it on the Etsy site with a cool name like that.  (insert a chuckle here at my sheer silliness.)  So we’ll see where it goes.  I’d love to get back to the wax table once I improve the venting in my studio.  Above are collages wrapped up for an artist trade thing I participated in this week.  They are pretty packages.  Things that might work nicely in the Etsy realm.  Baby steps.  The dip of a toe into this new realm.  This all will hopefully coincide with some updates on my website which is such a wonderful extension of my artist self.  I will, as always, keep y’all posted.

Meantime, I am trying to insert little glimpses of magic into my daily life.  I picked up these sweet flower faery lites at High Street here in town.  With our trip south over the holiday, we had used a honeysuckle branch with colored lights as a makeshift Christmas tree.  It was time for the color lights to go away until next year, but I really like the lights-on-a-stick idea… these should take us into spring time….

Cold Blue Days


If it could say itself January

Might brighten its syllables on the frost

Of these first New Year days whose cold is blue.

Meanwhile in this corner of its silence

A weak winter sun lowers down behind

The moor that rises away from the lake.

Beyond reach of light, the shadowed water

Succumbs to this darkening of spirit

That would deny the bog today’s twilight.

All of a sudden something else breaks through

To appear at the far end of the lake

In two diagrams of white, uneven light.

I have never seen white so absolute

And alone, glistening in awkward form

Dreaming across the water a bright path.

As it stirs and changes, I see what it is:

Two swans have found the mirror in the lake

Where a V of horizon lets light shine through

To make the light-source and light-shape in one.

Now they swim and fade through windows of reed

And disrobe the lake of apparition.

I look and look into their vanishing

See nothing. Departing that perfect ground

I knew I had been hungry for blessing.

~i.m. tony o’malley

Yesterday I planted my amaryllis bulbs (finally) whose impending growth and beauty will hopefully see me into the first breath of spring.  Already the light comes sooner in the morning in this post solstice time.  It is gray outside which makes the chill dig a bit deeper into my bones.

To combat the chill there is work to be made at the kitchen table (the studio space is not a comfortable place to be in the cold winter months), soup to be conjured on the stove and tea to steep its warmth into my soul.  Wishing you warmth in these cold, blue early January days.


The Structuring of Magic

“Creativity is really the structuring of Magic.” ~ anne kent rush

Much of my extended family had the opportunity to spend some time together down on the Gulf Coast of Florida this past week.  In spite of some brisk weather, at least for Florida, we spent time beach combing, playing games and drawing….

My new sketchbook is now broken in with drawings I was able to spend time creating, a welcome change from the to-do lists, grocery lists, and general notes-to-self that tend to usurp my drawings.  Handy for maintaining sanity in my wild day-to-day life, but not as good for the soul as a few hours with my watercolor set and some mummified sea life.

On one of the colder days down there we visited the Suncoast Seabird Santuary where we saw all sorts of birds recuperating from various injuries.  Amazing to get close enough to study and draw these birds which normally fly away before I get a chance to nail down an image of them worth finishing in watercolor later.  It was a great opportunity!  Pelicans are so very dinosaur-like in my opinion.

Most mornings we ate at a little diner in Pass-a-Grille called the Seahorse.  I enjoyed doodling over coffee.

Much of my kids’ childhood has been spent reading, listening to or watching the books and movies of the Harry Potter series.  We read aloud most of them (multiple times) and we have collectively awaited the arrival of each new book or movie as the story has developed.  Rowling’s stories have provided a modern mythology for kids and adults alike, introducing us to a world where beauty and magic, friendship and adventure, are a natural part of everyday life.  So many times we have turned the last page of a book in the series, or left one of the movies, remarking to each other how amazing it would be to actually be a part of the world of Harry Potter.

A highlight of our trip to Florida was the day we spent at the newly opened Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Normally being the type of person that avoids things like theme parks, I was a little skeptical that the Universal Studios park would live up to all the hype, much less to what we were able to conjure in our imaginations.  But this is what my daughter wanted for Christmas more than anything else…. so we went for it.  We were not disappointed.  The sheer artfulness and respect for the story’s gorgeous little details, combined with park workers who were cheerful in spite of the crushing crowds made for a magical day.  We sipped butterbeers (I have begun to research the various available recipes out there for this stuff.  Deelish!!!), bought stamps at the owl post and followed Harry out on the Quidditch pitch for a flight on a broomstick (I’m still a little nauseous just thinking about it!)

I even sketched a bit when the crowds in the candy store became a bit much for me.  Speaking of which, our favorite wizarding candies are the Fizzing Whizbees.

While at the park, it was inspirational for me to think that here is this entire beautiful world, created by one person’s fabulous imagination.  In the case of JK Rowling, creativity really is, the structuring of magic.

In the end, the magic was not all at Harry Potter world.  On New Year’s Eve day the weather was finally warm, the sun shining, and a perfect time to be out on the water in kayaks.  My little brother and I went out in the Gulf past the waves where we were treated to the sight of dolphins swimming along side our boats.  My kind of magic!

As this new year begins, it is my hope to do a better job taking the time to properly observe and be grateful for magical moments, big and small.  Things like time spent with my sketchbook, working on a new tune or going for a good long run are my chosen tools to make this happen.  What are yours?

Blessings to you in 2011.