Too fast paced of late. Frenetically crossing to-do lists off as if penance for up-coming traveling. Only time out of doors can check this process. Finally the temperatures drop to comfort level, leaving “hotumn” behind us.
October temperatures in the mid-nineties will make one crabby.
I find myself outside on a beauty-filled day. Collecting leaves, plotting a small hillside in the back for a new vegetable bed slated for next spring. Tunes wander through my head. I take a break to capture a bit of this ochered season with my camera. The old sweet gum tree in front is particularly lovely, dropping her petals into the main creek which is, miraculously, always running with a trickle even in the driest of times. There are little skimmers paddling along in their own little world, which I suppose they do with or without our observation.
I put together a slow paced little gathering of sweet gum and skimmers for you here. The music is used with permission and is by Nuala Kennedy. Once upon a time I did a little art work for the cover of the album where this track can be found. The whole collection is divine and if you haven’t heard it, you should.
It is my hope that in this busy time of harvesting and preparing for the darker days of the season, you too might find the time to settle down for a spell and take in the small wonders.
This is a world gone mad. Too many things to take in, too much heartache for a body to navigate really. The things I love which carry me into the gentle places of my soul and self and which keep me grounded when the winds do blow have suffered for lack of care. I look at this little home of mine here on the interwebs and realize that it’s been since August that I’ve written. It is not as if I have not written, or drawn, or painted in general. Just not here, where even when no one is reading, it matters most.
Today I took to the woods with one of our trusty dogs, the one and only wild Iris Rose, to ponder a plan of how to negotiate the dangerous waters of our time in a sustainable balanced manner. It is October, my most favorite month of the year. I adore autumn and all it has to offer in the way of cooler temperatures, misty mornings and the desire to get the knitting needles clicking once more….
We admired the colors signaling a late but welcome change of season….
I played a bit with my fancy camera which, like this blog space, has grown a bit dusty with disuse.
The pace of things in the world has me feeling a bit weary. All this running and seemingly little to show for it. The season and my soul alike beg for a backing off, a swing toward the internal to come once more to the still point of my personal center. This country, and the world at large could stand the same I believe.
With the dark season ahead, one often fraught with personal mental health challenges, I am looking back with pride on a few months of wondrous productivity and activity whilst simultaneously crafting a structure of future quietude to keep the wolves at bay in the months ahead.
The Resistance, as it stands, is in full swing and its toiling does take up space and energy. I quite mindfully make the space necessary to be of service in these dark times but must balance that of course. There is canvassing and volunteering and much reading to stay informed. The news is too much to keep up with and it can drag a soul down to low places, but I do my best. I am careful to turn it all off and hit the paints or the road when I need a break.
The flurry of work and words in the past couple of months have been exciting to birth forth. Here I share a few things that have been occupying my eye, my keyboard and notebook, my interest and my heart. It is my hope that I take to engaging more here in this space in the coming months as it forces me, in the best way possible, to slow down. To think about what I am writing and the images I share. Social media channels are wondrous in their own way, and I certainly find myself lurking in the more creative corners of their hallowed halls. There is so much to inspire. But here, in my own designated space, I can think through my fingers….
“Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.”
….and maybe go a little deeper.
So, last I left you dear reader, it was August, and so very hot. September came along and while the heat gave no break, I encountered a small challenge to make a drawing a day in 1″ square scale. This painterly adventure, combined with a whirlwind trip to Taos, NM was balm indeed to a tired soul….
I completed the challenge and made 30 of these little works.
Even when the news did say there were magnificent displays of ill will and malevolence.
Toward the end of the month of September, my long time, dear friend Kristin (whom you may remember from this post) and I somehow managed to make our way from Ohio (me) and Vermont (she) to Chicago for a seamless meet-up at O’Hare and on to a quick flight out to New Mexico. The opportunity to introduce a dear one to one’s soul home is a gift indeed and we savored every second. Not much was catalogued of our time there, but we did manage some image captures…..
“It’s the most wonderful place you can imagine. It’s so beautiful there. It’s ridiculous.” ~Georgia O’Keeffe
We timed our visit with the Feast of San Geronimo at Taos Pueblo (every year on September 30th, you should go) which enabled me to see and visit with some dear friends there at a very sacred time. It was a gift and blessing to share these folks and this place who are so dear to me, with an old friend from the way back, equally as dear. Kristin said to me at one point, “You’ve built a whole world here, Ames.” I do believe I have. I am deeply grateful.
Our journey was far too short for a proper catch up. To be honest, in spite of the splendor we encountered, we spent a good deal of time in a state of deep grief over the recent goings on at the Supreme Court. There is a collective, primal scream of rage emanating from the women in my life over doing this all over again. How many times has this story been lived, eh? Though this time is was so public, and so top-level. I am still grieving.
But, and this is the thing, somehow we must keep going……..
And so, once home, early autumn life began with a focus toward music each weekend at the Riley School of Irish Music. Those of us who love the music aim to bring just a smidge of this video below to our own playing….
While we may never reach this level, we did manage to play our annual ceili dance once more and folks who attended seemed to enjoy it. Chatting with our caller, Éamonn de Cógáin after the dance, he remarked, “This is growing!!” And indeed it is.
The season brings with it, as mentioned before, a renewed commitment to new needle bound adventures. I’ve invested in some gorgeous wool from my local knit shop to attempt the crafting of a sweater. We shall see…. But in the meantime, it’s always fun to get to know the source of all things wool.
And maybe even attempt a sketch or two.
Perhaps you too are experiencing a bit of whiplash of the soul. One minute darkness and rage – the next minute, a shaft of light to pierce that darkness and provide a respite. We here are fortunate to have these moments of lightness. To make art and craft worlds with words is a privilege indeed, and one I do not take for granted. I believe to my core that it is an act of resistance to play music, and craft beauty with line, paint and words. I am fortunate to have the support of family and my day job that enable me to live this artful life. Not everyone can. Yet somehow, artists get the job done, one way or another. Here are just a few whom I support and so should you…..
And so where does this all leave me? As you can see, there’s been a great deal of output here in the form of energy and a good bit of intake as well which is wonderful. But my hope is that I can slow it all down a bit. To corral things to more depth and to a more manageable realm for me as an artist. I like to say that I am a crock pot in this world of microwaves.
My hub and I are running away a couple of days after the election to Guatemala to visit friends and make some art – to shore up our souls for what’s to come in our lives personally and collectively, good or ill.
We will get home just before Thanksgiving (yes, I’ve ordered the bird from our favorite market vendor.) I plan to write here on this blog-space from down there if I can connect, as it’s one of the most inspiring places. So do stay tuned.
Wherever this reading finds you, I hope you are finding some gentility in this rough world. We are at a crossroads as human beings and we have some decisions to make as to the path ahead. For me, it’s one of kindness and art making.
“Hang in there, make art, be kind.” ~Neil Gaiman in response to the news of Brazil’s election of a nationalist, right wing president. To my friends in Brazil, we are here for you.
It’s a gloriously frosty morning down here in this Springvalley of ours.
The cold seems to have settled in for the season and it all feels a bit early, though I suppose it is November. This week I dug out the heated waterer for the girls so they have access to unfrozen water, and we are back to our morning ‘oatmealworm’ breakfasts to keep them warm, fed and with enough salt in their little systems. This time of year always puts me in a bit of a hibernatory place, in spite of our culture’s Countdown to Christmas mentality. I find myself drawn to slower pursuits and am inspired by others seeking the same in their worlds. Since it has been a little while since I have checked in here at my online home, I figured I’d share a a few things I’ve come across which consider a slower world-view, as well as a couple of updates in studio news.
Brew a cup of tea, or pour a wee dram of something else to warm you…..
The title for this particular post came from a quote from the above video. “What we have is a need for slowness.” I couldn’t agree more. This couple and their enchanting caravan lifestyle came across my path via the interweb-wanderings and sharings from a couple of artist/writer/performer types upon whom I have recently been keeping a close watch.
Rima Staines and Tom Hirons have crafted a world full of magic and old-world style mystery with their art work, poetry, puppetry and beyond and they are fixin’ to take it on the road. To live a simpler life in general and to share their artful wares and wonders with folks farther afield than their current home in Devon, England.
Tom and Rima created their crowdfunding video with the help of their uber-creative community of fellow artists. Their project harkens to a world just outside of the reach of modernity, at the edges of our imagination and land of dreaming. Hence, their new collaboration has the perfect title, Hedgespoken. I have made it a point to share their project here and there on my own tendrils of social media because I really believe in what they are doing. I grew up on the move myself (which is a story for another time and a longer burning fire) and have vivid and beautiful memories of time spent in my grans’ airstream trailer each summer. Nothing fancy or romantic really, but for me, it was life shaping.
People like Tom and Rima are quietly rebelling against the things that rush our world into the Land of Too Much (be it stuff, to-do lists, etc.) Their theater and home on wheels could possibly slow things down a bit for just a few people along their path, and remind us of the magic to be found in all things, if we but take the time to listen and look more closely. Hedgespoken is in it’s home stretch of fundraising and I wish them a firm breeze at their backs as they sail on home to port with it. If you believe in this particular brand of magic, head on over and toss a few coins into their hat. You’ll be glad you did, as their blogs (here, here, and here) are chock full of fascinating and shadowy paths down the proverbial rabbit hole.
Another delightful bit of sweetness that has come across my path this last week is an interview of a quiet gardener in Ireland named Eimear Moran. I found her thoughts on finding beauty and synchronicity and yes, the Divine in her own humble back yard to be truly inspiring. She is another quiet rebel walking the path of slowing down and waking up to things that are in our reach in the day to day. If, again, we but take the time to listen.
Eimear’s book is nearly available and I look forward to getting my hands on it. In the meantime, you can keep up with her daily garden thoughts and meanderings at her page on the Book of Faces (I have Rima to thank for coining that lovely phrase.)
With all of these beauty-full beacons to light my own path, I am truly sinking into the season here myself. My own small crowd-funding project to shore up my residency plans this January in Taos, NM is going well. I too have a few more weeks to get to my goal and am so grateful for all the support thus far. Ginger Small and her adventures have gotten the bulk of the attention lately as she is really the sparkly one of the bunch. But there are also sheep and rabbits coming along with me on this trip.
Cards are being made of a number of these images, should you be interested in counting a few sheep….
Or channeling your inner rabbit….
I am having great fun with all of them with thanks especially to my friend Vanessa Sorensen at Nessy Designs. She recently gave me a few pointers in photoshop which has helped me turn some of the mere sketches in my journal into things I can work with in print. Vanessa and I get together occasionally to sketch and sometimes even to collaborate on a craft project. The most recent of which is this little wonder of fashion…..
Part of this notion of slowing down in my life includes activities like knitting, embroidery, printing my own clothes. Vanessa’s cicada print, my years old skirt and a bit of embroidery to bug out the eyes makes for a wonderful one-of-a-kind fun thing to wear. And to top it all off, it meant an afternoon spent with a fellow artist, sipping tea and sharing bits of things that had set our minds to wander and our hearts to sing lately. That is the true gift. Time Well Spent.
Speaking of bits of embroidery…..
Leviathan will be on display at the Kennedy Heights Art Center’s upcoming show Imagine, featuring members of the KHAC’s Artist’s Collective. The show opens November 22. If you are local here in the Ohio River Valley, do stop by and see us. Some of my recent skull studies will also be up for grabs…..
What do you do to stem the flow of time? How do you bring a desired slowness to your everyday? I’d love your thoughts and links to others who might be in this same camp of Time outside of Time.
There has been a string of very seasonable (for our neck of the woods at least) hot days lately. The sort of days that make a gal cringe to even think about getting into the car after a day at the shop. The sort of days that have me waking before dawn just to get some exercise in. It’s brutal and my least favorite time of the year (including our more wintry friend, The Polar Vortex). I suppose in my soul I am a true northerner, as I would prefer to add layers and sip tea through a cold spell versus grapple with inescapable heat and humidity. All that said, in spite of the temperature, there is a definite sense of the goldening of things. A shift in the way the light leans each day….
The gardens are beginning to dry out and fade, making way for autumnal splendor on the pallet of the season.
After all, these are spring time creatures which must take their rest until next year….
I have the gift of a whole day here at my home/studio today and can take time to notice this goldening. The dogs enjoy flushing out the rabbits who live in our ferns, to give a quick chase which keeps the poor bunnies on their toes. Of course if you ask, the pups deny all wrong-doing.
I sit with my journal trying to capture thoughts, ideas, sketches and stories as they zoom past like so many streaking chickens.
Meanwhile, in spite of a woeful lack of gardening on our part this year, I was surprised to see a pumpkin in our little patch. Evidently the deer didn’t get to every single bloom after all.
zoom! There goes another chicken!
The girls continue to be fairly productive in the egg-making department and I am so grateful for it. They seem to love their little hut and the extended run which helps keep Mr. Fox at bay. Even they seem to notice a change in the light of late.
Yet still they lay, day to day…..
As I begin a day holed up in my cozy (and thankfully air-conditioned!) nook of a work-room, I am glad of this shifting of things. It brings a new energy to life, a nesting of sorts. I bring some of the outdoors in, until I can invite the autumn breezes inside as well.
And with the help of my muses, I dive into working…. on bunnies who herd sheep, world-traveling hamsters who are in desperate need of an apron or so, and oil paints perhaps. As usual, I shall keep you posted on the goings on.
ps. I posted the video below before in this post but I shall post it again here, as with the word Gold floating around in my mind, the song is as well.
It is a season of change and of cocooning and hibernation. There are bridges to be crossed daily – moving to new things, bridging old projects to new adventures…
From a well made, protective cocoon, given enough time and love, magic can emerge. Music where there was none before; artful objects that did not exist just months ago. Opportunities appearing from seemingly thin air…..
One evening last week I attended a Halloween-themed chamber orchestra concert at my son’s school, The School for Creative and Performing Arts. These talented kids took a break from their day to day rehearsals for the upcoming major musical Brigadoon and managed to put together an evening of entertainment with everything from Michael Jackson’s Thriller to the Danse Macabreby Camille Saint-Saens. They decorated the theatre with an assortment of goulish bits, and after a last minute rehearsal…..
….it was show time. Let’s just say, that to begin the festivities, the orchestra teacher/conductor, (an unapologetic creative himself) emerged from a coffin, in full Dracula regalia, as the orchestra pit was brought to stage level, and the music began. It was BRILLIANT!! I am reminded on a daily basis how fortunate we are to have this amazing school in our city. It is the first of its kind in the US; a K-12 arts enrichment facility, where the study of the arts is taken as seriously as other academic pursuits. (often times more so!!)
Meanwhile, after months of occasional stitching, and travels down dark avenues of the Unknown, my final quilt project for presentation to Mammoth Cave National Park (affectionately named the MCQuilt) was finally finished and readied for delivery to the fine folks down there.
VOILA!! The Brea(d)th of History
I am still not entirely sure of what to put in a written statement to support this work now that it has become part of the Mammoth Cave Collection of Interesting Things. I believe that sometimes works of art come from a gut place, far from the realm of descriptive words, and they need a little time among We Who Use the Spoken Word. It may be awhile before this quilt is itself wrapped in a blanket of words, but for now I will feed you some tidbits….
While working, I was thinking a lot about the tie between natural and cultural history that is such a part of Mammoth Cave. Unlike some other parks in our National Park system, MACA is distinctly and directly tied to the people who explored, sought shelter in, and sometimes even died in the cave. It is rich with history, known to go back as far as 4000 years ago. Perhaps even beyond. The shadows and whispers of those who came before are around every bend in the cave. This cave, much like others, breathes with the breath of the earth, air moving with the changing temperatures and moods of the earth and atmosphere itself. It can at once shelter artifacts which are preserved indefinitely due to cave conditions, while simultaneously act as Living Cave – creating new and ever changing crystal formations and new, undiscovered caverns. It is a place deep in mystery, and steeped in legend.
Upon completion, late one evening, I held up this quilt to have an upright, good look at it, and discovered that it glows when lit a bit from behind. A small and delightful surprise.
We must always seek the light in the darkest places…..
And so, it was time for an autumn road trip…..
My friend Julie from the Jakk’s Magic Beans Workshop took some time out of her busy schedule to join me for the 4 hour trek down into the hills of Kentucky and a lantern lit cave tour underground. It was, the proverbial 3-hour tour…..
With the help of our guides Rangers Bobby and Linda, we discovered historic graffiti, and listened to the cave speak to us as we quietly walked it’s stony paths.
It has been a year since my month long residency down in the park and it was so wonderful to go back and catch up with friends I now hold dear. This new layer of community is perhaps the greatest gift from my time there. Everyone oohed and ahhed at the quilt work. I felt so honored to present it to them.
All of this ceremonial completion deserved a bit of celebration, which occurred this week with some of my now friends from last year’s Taos trip.
In the past few posts, I have written about my desire to get deeper into image making – drawing and painting. I want to steep myself in an inner narrative that I have never truly explored beyond it’s crusty surface (with it’s gorgeous, touchable textures – where so much of my Big Work has resided). Like many artists I know, I keep by my bedside a worn copy of Women Who Run With the Wolves. It’s the ultimate book of fairy tales. In this modern world of ours, we don’t often think of the old stories beyond a Disney version of the average princess-in-distress story or some such. But if you dig just below the surface to the root of those tales, they have much to tell us and Dr. Estes does just that in her fascinating book. The world of children’s stories, myth, puppetry are where we human beings hide Important Truths which may be too big for knowing just now. Thankfully, these stories and others, are told on a routine basis, sometimes in bits and pieces, by artists, performers, musicians. A few of my recent favorites are Rima Staines, whose blog The Hermitage is simply a feast for the senses and an escape into a timeless world of mystery; and Carolyn Ryder Cooley – I am in love with her drawings and installations! Two other painters with whose work I became acquainted with via the miracle of Twitter are Kathleen Lolley and Lindsey Carr. I love the colors they use, evoking a time out of place, just through the fog, to an Other. I look forward to exploring more of the work of these artists and more, as I dig into my own work more deeply at the same time.
A funny thing happens when you cast a wide wish-net into the Universe. Ask for fairy tales, old fashioned narrative, and artists who are masters at the interpretation of these tales, any you may just get exactly what you ask for…..
In my last post I hinted that I had a potential work opportunity brewing that would provide me with another tangential avenue upon which to broaden my artistic horizons. Let me introduce you to Kevin Frisch, of Frisch Marionettes:
The word on the street was that Kevin, whom I’ve known as a friend and fellow member of our local puppetry guild, was looking to hire a new puppeteer to help him work his larger shows. I ignored this at first until my old boss at the Red Cross encouraged me to toss my hat into the ring for consideration. I visited Kevin and his current fellow puppeteer Tiffany (slated to go back to grad school this winter, hence the search) at their presentation of Hansel and Gretel. I spent some time with Kevin and a few of his marionettes to see if I had even an ounce of natural marionette manipulating ability. And after a week or so, was offered the opportunity to begin rehearsing for performances in January 2012.
In this interview, Kevin explains why sometimes, artists and musicians make good puppeteers…
And so Peter Page and I will be spending many, many hours together this fall. Learning to walk and stand without slouching, to run and walk with a distinct bounce in one’s step, and to focus, really focus on exactly what you are supposed to be paying attention to. (a wee bug on the ground perhaps). Surely these are good lessons to work on with or without the help of an adorable puppet page.
It is indeed wonderful to be crossing this bridge into an altogether new adventure, to have put to completion a year’s worth of thinking and stitching, and to begin nurturing the parts of my creative self that have been sorely neglected. As things settle in to this season of hibernation and cocooning, I’ll work at my puppetry skills, and the creation of parts and cases for the beautiful concertinas I have the pleasure to listen to and handle on an almost daily basis. (one day I shall learn a tune or two on the concertina, I believe.) I’ll enjoy curling up for some doodling and sketching (new art academy sketch-journal class starts next Thursday, there’s still time to sign up!!). I’ll continue to practice my flute playing and teaching at the Riley School of Irish Music. And hopefully get my paints out to blend the sorts of colors that now occupy my sleep.