Category Archives: music

Playing Catch Up

It’s hard to believe sometimes how time flies.  I know that sounds pretty cliche’ but there it is.  20 days have gone by since our country’s miraculous election and things have been rather busy round here at Chez Bogard.  Busy is good.

Yesterday I took a friend of mine to the Cincinnati Art Museum to see Madcap Puppet Theater’s production of The Firebird. This show was done in the style of shadow puppetry using light and flat puppets to create the illusion of space.  What was interesting to me about this particular production was the use of color.  The puppets were created with a heavy duty plastic and painted with the “stained glass” paints that are found at the crafty stores.  The effect was exquisite and magical.  Adults and kids alike at the show were enchanted.  Being a member of the Cincinnati Area Puppetry Guild, I knew some of the performers and got to go backstage after the show to see how it all works.  Unfortunately I did not have my camera with me but here is a shot from my phone taken during the post-show Q&A.

The holidays are officially upon us and they seem to come earlier every year.  Case in point, we had the Riley School of Irish Music‘s 3rd annual Peace and Merriment Concert on Saturday night.  We did it early this year to avoid clashing with too many other Christmas-ey shin-digs coming up and also to coincide with the end of fall quarter at the school.  Students and Instructors alike performed various holiday/ harvest related tunes and the audience seemed to enjoy themselves.  I hid in the back row of the ceili band performance and played my tunes as best I could.  Stage-fright is less and less an issue with me as time rolls on, but I still am not keen on the idea of playing in front of people.  Below is a shot of some of the Riley kids who are not shy about playing for people.  They pretty much rock, those kids!

As Riley School finished up, it occurred to me that a number of things are freeing up precious time for me in the coming weeks.  The Carnegie Center has changed its regular Family Saturday activities from Dec. 13 to Dec. 6  to accommodate a participatory arts day planned for that day.  I won’t be able to make it that day so  I’ll see all of my regular Family Saturday folks again in January!  Meanwhile, this past week was my final class for the semester at the Art Academy.  I am slated to teach the class again in the Spring, Feb 21- March 6. (6 weeks this time!)  I will post details for registration when I have them.  My hope is that I will have some returning students next time who will keep pushing the limits of tending their sketchbooks. Spring will also be a perfect time for taking any interested students slightly farther afield for a day (or 2?) to practice their sketching skills.  I have for some time entertained the idea of leading a travel sketchbook course.  I have a handful of folks who have expressed interest in participating and so I’ve begun to make plans.  I will be sure to post any destination ideas I have here and would love any feedback or requests for fun places to visit and draw.  Anyone up for Madison, Indiana?

So with some extra hours available to me I plan to play in the studio with wax and clay, reacquaint myself with my own neglected sketchbook (update my Daily Dog collection), and perhaps finish a pair of socks I have been knitting for far too long.  I have a new heater in the studio which should help take some of the chill out of the space (thanks to Dave for that suggestion!)

Although I haven’t been too active at the wax table in recent weeks, I have been working on some clay tiles I plan to install as a back splash in our new kitchen.  I am making them in pieces which will eventually come together to create an artistic take on the foot print of the Ohio River in our region (approximately from the Indiana border out to Maysville, Ky, a favorite river town of ours).  Kudos to my kayaker hubby for that brilliant idea.  It seems to be turning out nicely….

Last but certainly not least in today’s post, some wonderful doggie news:  The puppies have graduated out of their kennel and are now sleeping upstairs with us at night!  For some months now they have had the run of the upstairs hallway when we would leave the house.  They just chill out on their beds in Tony’s office and wait for us to come home.  At night however we were still putting them into their kennels to avoid morning chaos.  Last week we decided to try putting them to bed upstairs with us after a long walk to see how they would do.  Amazingly, they did great!  They have learned fairly quickly to just lie down in their beds when we are in ours and that just because we get up to go to the bathroom, doesn’t mean they need to get up too. (Caskie learned this years ago and likes to sleep in Maddie’s room).  It’s working out wonderfully.  During the day, their recent favorite hang out is in the kitchen…. sprawled out on the heated concrete floor!

Days Like This

Yesterday I downloaded my friend Kim Taylor‘s latest EP, The Greatest Story.  It’s 5 songs are soulful and playful and tearful and wonderful.  Seems like the perfect music for this amazing season.  Check out her website and get yourself a copy of her work.  I think you’ll love it.

Meanwhile my own work is plugging right along.  I have been teaching my Keeping a Journal Sketchbook class at the Art Academy in recent weeks and it is going extremely well.  This being the second time I have presented this particular class, I am more relaxed and more creative in my approach to teaching.  I think this may be rubbing off on to the students.  They are so enthusiastic that a few of them want to keep the class going another couple of sessions.  So the folks at the Art Academy have been gracious enough to let us officially extend the class for those who are able to keep meeting.

As I present this class to more and more students, it’s becoming clear to me that there is more to the process of keeping an artful  life-chronicle than first meets the eye.  We do more in this class than simply open our books to write, draw and glue stuff down.  As happened in my spring class, friendships are being forged.  Students are opening up to sides of their own creativity they never knew existed.  They are commiting, or re-commiting, to making an artful way of life a priority.  Surrounded by their enthusiasm and joyful art-making, my own making has received a shot in the arm.  Work begets work.  I know this, but it still amazes me when I see it and feel the phenomenon in action.

One of my former students, and now friend, introduced me to the work and writing of Jennifer Louden, the Comfort Queen.  Her blog is delightful.  Reading it I get the sense that I have sat down with a fellow artist to tackle the Fear-of-The-Unknown in our art process.  I get the sense that she feels the same fear in her work everyday and simply does what we all must do; show up, feel the fear, and do it anyway.  I encourage anyone needing an art nudge to check out her website.

One of the often discussed themes in my class at the Art Academy, as well as among my fellow artists and myself, is that of how to get started. The ol’ zero to 60 phenomenon.  Most of us have other jobs (many cases multiple!), families who rely on us, households to run, lives to lead.  Rare is the artist who wakes up and makes art, day in and day out without fail.  Frankly, I don’t know anyone like that.  How does one find the time, energy and inspiration to work on art at the end of a jam packed day or week?  How do we get the art motor running anyway?  I have my own answers to these questions and am always interested in hearing how other creatives get out of their own way.

Along with my ever present sketchbook and the act of walking my dogs, I have recently been writing letters and post cards to people I know will love to receive them.  I get out the collagey materials and glue weird images to envelopes.  I make little sketches and add them into letters.  Sometimes I use a typewriter…. yep, a real old fashioned one that hiccups its way around the words giving the whole thing a whisical quality that I love. I slip in a little glitter now and then.  None of this takes a terribly long time and the benefits are far reaching.  The art supplies are coaxed out of stagnancy and ideas begin flowing.  It’s a snowball sort of effect and I am rolling with it right now.  This simple act of doing something remotely artful is the back door to the more “serious” work that may or may not be around the corner. The other day I had a fire going in the studio fire place, the wax table was on and I was mixing new colors, sticky things were drying on postcards and in my sketchbook.  It all felt a bit like a complicated dance but there I was, just dancing.

Today my creativity finds itself mostly out in the kitchen where I am busy readying Chez Bogard for the annual Riley School of Irish Music Halloween Party.  Chili, cider, mad amounts of chocolate chip cookies are in the works.  I still need to get my new vampire teeth fitted.  I shall be a Vampire, to suck the very marrow out of life…. mwa ha ha.  But I digress….

Have a safe, happy, fun, CREATIVE Halloween.

Here’s the latest waxy work…

Almost heaven

This past week was spent in Elkins, West Virginia attending Irish Week at the Augusta Heritage Cultural Center at Davis and Elkins Collge. This was the third year Jack and I attended this intensive program, myself for flute this year with John Skelton, and Jack for a week of fiddle with Liz Kane. We are both exhausted and stuffed with new tunes and techniques.

I was tremendously nervous to try a week of flute having only been playing for about 6 months. But I survived not only the classes, but the student showcase performance…

Next to me is John Skelton who taught the intermediate flute class. As a teacher myself, I can, without a doubt, say that John is the best teacher I have ever encountered in any subject. His teaching style is the perfect blend of wisdom, wit, technique and understanding. He is, for lack of a better word, brilliant. I am already looking forward to the start if Riley School in the fall to get back to classes with him on a weekly basis.

On the right side of the photo above is John Doyle, whom John Skelton invited to play with us on our showcase pieces. In the small world of Irish Music, these two Johns are considered sort of rock stars. Needless to say, I was just a little nervous. But I felt like a musician, a real one. Those moments are few and far between. I am inspired to keep learning and practicing to get more of those musical moments in the future.

Many a night was spent wandering the Davis and Elkins campus listening to various sessions scattered about. We did a fair amount of ceili dancing as well. There was not very much sleep to be had, but plenty of coffee, and laughter and of course, music. I am already looking forward to next year’s trip to Elkins to reconnect with old and new Augusta friends, but for now, I am off to sleep some more!

Life is Full

I had cause to celebrate yesterday as I was able to pick up my new flute from Dave and Marlene at Celtic Lands Irish Flutes.  It is gorgeous and has a lovely sound already, even though I have not adjusted to playing it yet.  Every flute is slightly different and so a flute player has to adjust to the instrument over time.  I am really, really thrilled to have it!

Dave’s flutes all come with a case but I wanted something a little more funky than a gun case, plus I need something to carry my whistles as well.  So my son Jack and I scoured some antiquey stores and found a cute vintage Samsonite suit case into which I built foam and supports to keep the instruments safe and sound when traveling.

Every month on the Full Moon, some of my artist friends and I get together to celebrate this monthly natural occurrence as well as our intuitive, feminine way of making art.  Yesterday was the Full Moon so last night Lisa, who just landed a position teaching ceramics, came over with some clay and taught me how to make lovely spherical rattles that, when I looked at them, reminded me of the moon that brought us together.  Here’s Lisa’s nearly complete…

And here are mine and Maddie’s in process…

Baby Pictures

Last fall I borrowed my friend Cindy’s wooden flute to try my hand at playing it; a rather large jump in the learning curve for me in music.  Since then, I have had a few lessons and even signed up to take a summer course with my teacher from the Riley School, John Skelton.  Cindy’s flute was made by Dave Copley and Marlene Boegli at Celtic Lands Irish Flutes and I have enjoyed playing it immensely.  But there comes a time when one either has to fish or cut bait, as the saying goes, and I decided a few months ago that I was ready to commit to buying my very own flute from Dave and Marlene who fortunately live right here in Cincinnati and are part of the Riley School of Irish Music community.

Today I went over to Dave’s workshop to see the flute as it was being built and to take a few “baby pictures”, as he calls them.  I am very excited.  The plan is to build the flute with mounts already in place so I can add keys later on as I become more proficient at playing.  Above is a picture of the head joint, freshly drilled.  Below are pictures of a finished flute with keys already mounted on it and after that, the pieces of my flute, in the same layout, ready to have its shaping begin.

I am feeling a bit spoiled, having this instrument built just for me, but I am trying to get over that guilty notion and just enjoy it.  I hope to have years of learning and playing on this thing; I might as well have a good one.  My Grandpa Kelley used to say “ya pay a penny more and go first class”.  This was his way of saying that sometimes, quality things are worth the investment.

Meanwhile, the seemingly endless renovation project here at Chez Bogard continues.  After much discussion, research and visits from flooring specialists from all genres, we have decided to put in a polished concrete floor with areas of radiant heat to keep our toes warm in the colder months.  I have never been a fan of carpet from a housekeeping and allergy perspective and it didn’t look like wood, bamboo, or cork would hold up to the dogs and our rough-house lifestyle.  I like tile but I don’t want any more lines in this space so visually driven by lines in the first place.  This really left us with with only one option and we are taking the plunge.  Today Tony is taking conference calls outside to avoid the noise of the grinding and I have stuffed towels and blankets around the door to keep the dust out of the studio.

Slowly but surely, the forward progression continues.  We have left the dated, termite-eaten, fuse-blowing space behind and are starting to see the beauty of the light at the end of the tunnel.  Kudos to our contractor Jerry Westerkamp who built the gorgeous soffit in our new space.  Yep, slowly, but surely….