It’s a very brisk morning out there (it’s warmed up a bit to the current 9 degrees) and I am eternally grateful to be in charge of my own schedule. And also eternally grateful to friends who crochet…
One on my lap, one round my shoulders as I sit here and work. Woven love. Nothing like it!!
I’ve taken today off from my job-work to pull together some art-work for an upcoming show at UC Clermont’s lovely gallery space called Nature in Art. (opening March 6 from 4-5pm, if you are local) My good friend Bruno Zabaglio (awesome website HERE) is curating this show and I am honored and excited to be a part of it. It’s been quite awhile since I have shown any new work and the majority of it won’t be finished until just before the show but I am for once not in a total panic about getting finished in time. Which is nice. The ideas barely began to flow in time, but now that they are flowing… well, work begets work. So it’s down to measuring, and committing to specific works to be included, and then of course back to late night painting. Which I love. (no pics quite yet…. but soon….)
And of course the sketch-work, which looks a bit like…..
So I am up to 22 days in my #Draw2013 sketch everyday project and it’s going well. Work DOES beget work. In spite of falling temperatures, I stopped at the zoo on my way home from job-work yesterday and spent some time with a few of the animals on display there. There was a hearty little group of birds (and their keepers!) called Keas who were actually outside greeting visitors. I sketched them a bit as they attempted to nibble my earring and the buttons on my boots. I absolutely love these guys and their intrepid, curious, quirky personalities.
But it was too cold to stay out drawing too very long and so it was time to head indoors and visit those animals. The bird house was exceptionally warm and comfy and Linda and I spent much time there drawing the various wild species there.
After the bird house, a quick stop at the Jungle Trails exhibit to catch some primates in action.
and in action they were!! The Coquerel’s Sifakas were hard to capture on paper. Mama and Dad were busy with their now adolescent youngster who was always moving. Oh, how I remember those days….
And so I will leave you now with these little doodles, as I go off to work with the deeper work. But the doodles are important. They are keeping me in practice for the Taos trip which is coming around the bend. We already have a nice crew of participants who will begin getting to know each other online in preparation for the workshop. We have folks from Cincinnati, of course, but also from as far flung as Florida and California. Won’t you join us? It’s as simple as keeping your eyes wide open and learning to capture what you see and feel into a beautiful travel journal. This is something ANYONE can do. If you can sign your name, you can draw!! More info HERE: TAOS Travel-Journal WORKSHOP June 2013
My work life has always had plenty of branches, and lately those branches have reached beyond the scope of our nest and into the world a bit more. I’ve not been so studio centered so there is not as much solo art being made, and this blog practice continues to shift into the land of longer, more convoluted stories of What’s Happening Here. All of this being so, it’s an exciting time in the work sphere, and beyond so I’ll catch you up to speed on where things are.
As you may know, I juggle many jobs. The most important one being that of Parent. With my teens not quite driving but still busier and busier by the day, we spend a lot of time running around to various school, music and dance related activities. Jack is branching in his work as much as I am in mine. Between his classical and Jazz studies at school and his Jazz and Irish music duties outside of school, he is constantly playing music. This past weekend we both played at the Museum Center’s Celtic Lands Festival.
First with the Riley School as a group. And later, with Jack in the lead of the kids band in a kid centered concert in the Children’s Museum theater. Seems like only yesterday, he was one of the little kids. And being a Celtic festival, Maddie had a dance gig as well that day. Good thing there is overlap in their cultural activities, or I’d be in the car even more!
Later that day, Jack moved on to his Jazz activities which these days includes a local gig at a place called the Blue Wisp. He and some of his fellow musicians, the Young Lions, play there most saturday evenings for tips. It’s great practice for all of them, and has led to some other gigs here and there for them as well. They are a joy to watch and are consummate professionals, even at this young an age.
In spite of all of this, I was able to steal away a few hours over the weekend and attend an Owl Prowl at Spring Grove Cemetery. I love Spring Grove. It’s a place to sit with the spirits of those we’ve lost as well as a place to sink into the beauty of nature. Just last week we marked the third anniversary of Esme‘s passing with a gathering at her weeping cherry tree.
I still can’t fathom that it’s been that long ago, and yet feels like just yesterday…
And so, the time spent at the Owl Prowl was pleasant, yet pensive. The presentation portion was in the Norman Chapel of the cemetery. I had never been inside this lovely building and felt a world away….
We did hear an owl call later, just as we caught up to the crowd where the guide was calling them with a recording. I really enjoy owl calls. Both those of the local varieties to be found right outside our door, like the Barred Owl, the Screech Owl and the Great Horned Owl, as well as those from farther afield…. like this guy at the zoo, a Eurasian Eagle Owl I spent some time sketching last week….
It felt really great to sit down with my sketchbook and my watercolor set and get lost in the drawing process for a couple of hours. As you may know, I am gearing up for another visit to Taos in June with a group of students interested in keeping an illuminated travel journal. I am looking forward to getting back to teaching this magical process, as it inspires me to capture my own life and travel adventures in my sketchbook. Taos has a magnetic pull and a way of making connections between people that is, in my experience, rivaled only by Ireland. A number of weeks ago I was approached by a film-maker, based in Taos, about the potential of being a part of a very unique film project…..
And so, let me introduce you to Jody McNicholas, of Walk-In Productions. Jody is putting together a project called the Eco-Chic Retreat which you can read all about at the website. As much as I love the idea of a retreat to Taos, or Ireland or wherever the wind blows me with my work, I know that a travel centered retreat is not always a possibility at all times for all people. And yet, the need to back off of the daily grind, to dig down deeply inward and take stock of things is a crucial practice in this wild and wooly world of ours. Jody, and I, along with a whole basket full of talented artists, healers and makers are in the process of crafting a container for the at-home retreat experience. The Eco-Chic Retreat will provide viewers with mini-classes in all of our various fields of self-work and exploration, such as yoga, nutrition, painting, journaling, meditation….. It is something you can take a weekend to commit to, or simply apply a bit to your daily life. The film will be the type of thing you get together with your girl-friends, your partner, your sisters, to encourage the self-care so many of us lack in our lives. In so doing, we will be that much more outfitted to care for our loved ones, and our communities. Each bit of the film will be a little bit different, owing to the differences in all of us participating in the project. Each of us will provide a bit of what it is we teach in our classes and place-centered retreats so that you get an over-arching spectrum of skills and ideas to apply to your own life.
Jody found me and my work through the magic of google. The convenient timing of my time in Taos for the Mabel Dodge trip is nothing short of serendipitous and I’ll be able to film my part of Eco-Chic while there. I am honored to be a part of this amazing project and will of course keep you updated here as things progress with the film. At this time, it looks like it will be released in the fall time frame, allowing for it to be on everyone’s holiday gift giving lists!! I’ll keep you posted….
So yes, another spoke in my Wheel of Work. Puppetry is shaping up. I have learned 2 shows and have a third one to get under my belt in June. The weeks of rehearsals are exhausting, but the performance schedule is composed of feasts and famine, which suits me just fine as it enables me to keep up with part time work at Carroll Concertinas. And still, as if it all weren’t enough, we are in the process of renovating another area of this old house of ours. To keep the budget in scope, we are doing a lot of the work ourselves, which is fun, but time consuming. This house sits on an amazing bit of land, but was poorly built (as so many things were in the 50’s) and so we have been systematically rehabbing it. In our lower level there was no insulation whatsoever which kept it cold and dank much of the year. We’ve torn all of that dankness out and have framed in some new storage and insulation. It’s already more pleasant to be in. As this area continues to shape up, I can see what I want in there. One half of the room opens out to our yard and so it is light filled and wonderful during the day. It has a fire place too, for wintery days. My plan is to put one of my drawing tables near the hearth so that I have a place to paint and draw, even when the weather is too cold or too hot to be in the studio….
And what of the studio? I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the idea of a studio. Especially my studio space, which is lovely to be in, about half of the year. The room goes unused a lot with all of the work I am doing outside of the house and due to weather extremes. It also has some serious issues which we will need to deal with sooner than later. A leaky roof, birds in the rafters…. you get the picture. Part of this shift in my work is the idea that I don’t really need a dedicated space that much anymore. If I can carve out a drawing/ painting station in our new family room, and have an embroidery/knitting nest on the couch, I am left with needing just a small wax table set up in the studio space. I’m looking to tidy it all up a bit. Organize my books onto our new shelves downstairs, make the studio more of a breezy sunroom to be used when weather permits. After all, that’s what it was built for. It’s time to get rid of the fireplace out there that is the cause of the roof leaking and part of the reason it gets so very cold/hot depending on the season. The room has served me well over the years, but I can see it now as needing a little day bed for napping, should the opportunity present itself. My work is happening in all kinds of arenas right now and that doesn’t seem about to change. And I don’t think I want it to. As exhausting as it all is, it’s exciting and I love every bit of it. Though I am trying to carve a little more time out for painting and drawing. That’s where my heart is…..
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.