Greetings from beautiful Taos NM! I’ve arrived with Hub and Pup in tow for a few days of reacquainting myself with this place before getting down to business with the workshop at Mabel’s. It is both strange and familiar to once again find myself here after 2 years away due to the pandemic.
You can follow along on all the adventures and discoveries over on my Patreon page for just a dollar a month. And of course, if you want to chip in more, there are arty gifts to follow. This is a handmade thing of value, this blog. I appreciate the patronage and support of my readers. With the noise and algorithms of the social media realm, I’ve found myself shifting focus to where what I do is of true value, not just yelling into the void. So thank you for reading. Thank you for throwing a few coins into the proverbial hat of this traveling artist.
****Note, this is a “public” post. An offering to all, as I will do occasionally and have done for many years pre-patreon. Please consider supporting my patreon page if you have not done so already if you like what you read here. In gratitude….
Spring has truly sprung here. Iris’s are blooming and wee fawns can be found along the edges of things, deposited by their mothers in hopeful safety and quietude while they go off to forage. I wanted to share a bit of how I prepare for my upcoming workshop in Taos, New Mexico.
The desert will be very different from this verdant river valley. It always is. And there will be adjustments for sure upon our arrival. But delving into my new sketchbook with some writing and a few basic color matching swatches can be just the thing for warming up. This way I can hit the ground running, painting in one of my favorite landscapes.
In the long run, this artistic practice is all about opening my eyes to really see what is in front of me, no matter where I am. And this begins here at home, before any travels commence. It could be so easy to overlook the little things.
But I am here to notice, to take note. To observe and recreate color and line and form as best I can. To remember this moment in time.
Like this small fawn (who will surely come by to nibble my dahlias later this summer once he’s grown!) I rest a bit until ready to go forth into the world properly.
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 email@example.com if you need more information. Here is the link to the trip details: https://www.amybogard.com/taos-new-mexico/
I’ve been painting a bit. And writing. You can read about it all over on Patreon where I share a couple of exciting new projects I am to be a part of in coming weeks. Below is the link and as always, I appreciate your support of my work.
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.
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.
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: https://www.patreon.com/amybogard
part rabbit warren, part spin on art & life & etc. art, illustrations & workshops by amy bogard