Tag Archives: new mexico

Distilling a beautiful depth

Firstly,

To my dear patrons, this post is a “public” post, intended for those who maybe don’t read as often, or who may be new to the work and are considering participating later on via Patreon.  To those of you who do chip in a buck or 3, or ten, month to month, please know that you keep this ship afloat, you are the wind in the sails that keep it all going.  So many of the pennies you contribute are right now working behind the scenes to get this old blog into a more modern and navigable state in the form of a shiny new website.  And for this, I am truly grateful.  But for today, below is the post-Taos-trip report.  A yearly thing….

A love letter to the participants of this most recent workshop:

I always come away from the Taos, NM trip in a state of awe.  This workshop is my offering to the world.  A way of seeing, traveling, art-making and engaging that is different from anything else.   And each year, a small group of people, varying in degrees of experience and expertise, take a plunge of trustful open-heartedness and come along for the journey.

My offering is a humble one – in this world filled with so many shiny things in which to partake.  My own world is one of moss-time; slow and somewhat fragmented.  And I am routinely caught by surprise when a class fills with curious, interested, artful beings, eager to come along.  Ever so shyly I make my way out to meet them and share what I have learned over the years, to share what I am thinking about and how I might catalogue that in some way into a travel journal.

Here we are again after another week, another year.  The Taos trip is a sort of flagship as it were.  It is at once where I feel most at home and most challenged.  It sets the tone for the year ahead, offering an island of respite and recollection from the year just passed. (And what a year it’s been!  yet again.)

It is a still point of sorts.

I treated myself to a second hand treasure of silver and turquoise. I still can’t quite believe I have custody of it. It fits like a glove.

Last I left anyone paying attention, we were were careening away from Taos town at the very break of day after the workshop.  The mountainous vistas achingly beautiful in their farewell.  We had spent the evening before partaking of one final desert hike, under a smoky sunset, worrying over the latest wildfire, and pondering the journey home.

I was so very tired,

already missing my dear friends.  And we hadn’t even parted one another’s company.

The week was pure magic.  Somehow, outside of a couple of folks opting out of the class due to utmost care (and for this I am deeply thankful), we managed as a group to remain covid free.  Everyone arrived ready to work.

and work we did!  Below is a sampling of participant work.  Like I have said before, sometimes I have beginner artists, and sometimes I have people come along who have been successfully making art for their entire lives (and I wonder to myself why they are even there!).  Yet all who are called to Mabel’s are welcomed.  And I actually don’t question much of that any more.  I merely build the container in which to hold the work and step back to marvel at it all.

It was a gentle week in many ways.  This group of 14 or so, along with a few companions and spouses, gathered and worked together with zero interpersonal drama.  It was just so easy in so many ways.

So thankful Tony and Philly could come along on this trip again this year. It was nice to get some puppy love between lessons.
Phil got to enjoy the best of Taos while I was teaching.

It was also difficult at times.  New Mexico is a fierce and weathering place and it does take its toll after a time.  We took care to take care of one another.

There were field trips with old friends…

And we were glad to see them.   I took it all in and sat in deep gratitude for the years this place have given to me.

As is usually the case, I soon found myself at the end of the week with nothing to offer up to the gods of the Socials.  Once the week had begun, I could not splinter off to report to the masses online.  I just don’t have it in me to be anything other than fully present when I am teaching or making art or music.  This might not be good for the bottom line or for advertising, but it’s true to me and so I stick with it.

We did manage a few photos collectively however and at the end of our week together, everyone gathered in their party frocks for one final fancy meal at Mabel’s and to share our work with one another back in the classroom.

Now I find myself back at home, distilling it all.  Wondering if the fever-dream of creativity and friendship, art-making and wonder were really all just a dream.  I wonder how I can wrap words around the unfathomable.

I came across a post online by the marvelous Maria Popova of Brainpickings. She wrote that she’d put together a poem of sorts in honor of Krista Tippet’s 20 years of On Being based on episode titles Without even reading her poem, I thought, “I should do that with my blog post titles!”  And so I did.  Wondering what would come of it.  Was it the thing I was looking for to somehow convey the magic of the past week?

There were many words to mix together and choose from.

I’ve been writing here since 2007.  Not many read my posts, but a few do and I am thankful for that.  My new web designer/tech handler person says I’m an ‘ “og” blogger, from the way back,’ and I take this as a great compliment.  Mining the titles of 15 years of writing, below is a poem which I think suits:

Notes to self:

Let us keep courage, on, in, near the tone of things.

Dream Quest:

A tale of Summer’s Travels

A golden opportunity; a need for slowness.

Gathering. On liminality.

Flights of fancy, gratitudinal expressions

Think Less. Breathe More.

These gifts:

Joy of Being

Evidence

Art Heals

Peripatetics:

Road time.

Traveling shoes.

Rambling ways, whirlwind wandering.

On the move, peripatetic runaway.

 

Flying.

            Distant horizons

Between worlds, shifting. 

            The end of the rainbow, virtually in time.

Seeking sanctuary, floating on air

Time bending, between.

            Careening

                        Between storms

                                    Sanctuary.

 

When I have fears; On feeling small

 

Hunting and gathering; the work behind the work

            New beginnings.

                        Filling from a deep well.  Digging deep.

                                    Dive

A taste of practice.  A call to action.

            A measure of quiet.

Attending. Awakening.  Aware.

 

Dreaming the between into being.

            Making space.  Between

                                    Listen

                                                Ciúin

Quiet beauty.  Cosmic reverence

Contentment is wealth.

            This is love

                        Stay and wonder

                                    Come on along

 

And Just like that

Allowing the structuring of magic.

Enchantment. Inspiration. Artist’s pace.

            What artists do:

                        A book and a box of colors

                                    A glorious something else

Mere sketches, more sketches, PORTALS.

Pictures speak louder.

A day for greening.  Gold behind the green.

Awakening, gradually.

                        Mode of magic making.

Red eye. Blue.  Shades of gray.

                                    Processing daylight.  Come, chase the light.

Goldening, alchemy.

                                    Sometimes words will do.

Paint, how do I love thee?  Watercolor play

Fully blooded magic. Gestures. Play in motion.

            Illumination in situ

                                                What do I know?

Art happens

The language of drawing, mapping the unmappable

What comes next, shifted paradigm

Magical thinking:

                        This I believe.

            The ancients, bubbling

                        Reminders, blessings, allies.

                        Stone whispers, living geology.

                        A living land where your name is spoken

A conversation

                        Tiny offerings, Gold. Gifts of color and light.

Recalibrating

            Under a mountain

            Evoking passage

Picture This… Transition

At one.             Drawn

Settling in, here, now.

            Under pressure.

Connecting through sketching.

            Melding worlds.

                        While we are together

On traveling and coming home

Nest.    Arrival.

            Gratitude and liminality.

                                    For friendship

Joy before the journey’s end. Light returning.

State of contentment on impermanence

            JOURNEY’S END

           

Dream nest. 

            Successful. Returned.  Enough.

Grateful for the mountain

            Home again, do not disturb.

                        Gifts that keep on giving

On crafting one’s own world. 

I find it fascinating that the words I have used for all this time can cast a net to hold the experiences of my most recent time in New Mexico, leading me to believe ever more so in the constancy of all things.  I’m no quantum physicist, but I find some of the concepts fascinating.  Perhaps all time is in this very moment.  A vast void of now.  

As this glorious summer of re-opening, re-engagement, and re-commitment continues on, I’ll balance all the nows at hand.  Opting more and more often for a puddle of paint or the company of a good friend over the tantalizing offerings of the online world.

Week to week news will always be over on Patreon however, and  my tech handler John is still weaving this old blog into the new space as he puts my new online home in order.  So stay tuned for that.

I will announce registrations for 2023  (!!!!)  classes early in September so mark your calendars for that.  I will do my best to blast those announcements all over the usual channels, but let me know if you need more information.  I’ll put you on an email list.  Classes are selling out faster and faster each year which is humbling and amazing.

More soon……

Amy

 

 

 

 

 

 

San – G

“Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine” 

~Irish saying that translates literally as “People live in each other’s shadows.”  (via @nualamusic)

Today is the 30th of September, and the facet of my heart that shines brightest in New Mexico sunlight beats in time with those of my soul family there as they celebrate the Feast of San Geronimo.

This celebration is sacred to my friends, and we don’t talk much about the meaning of it all.  Rather we bask in the company of one another, we celebrate a successful harvest with food and community and we encourage the Lady of the Mountain to don the golden colors of autumn.

There is talk of Shadows when the Koshares appear to wreak a bit of havoc, which adds to the festival atmosphere.

It is a day to sit in communion with the land and the mountains and the folks who live on and with it.  Today I send a lot of love out into the cosmos, especially to my beloved Land of Enchantment.

A Winter opportunity amidst Summer’s sultry steaminess

If you have followed this blog in recent months, you’ll know that I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of weeks in Taos this past January to work on a couple of kid-book projects long in coming.  Those projects are swimming along nicely and I’ll be shopping them around this fall.  But time in Taos is always colored by the work I do there in the summer, which is to teach the art of keeping a visual diary.  And so, while there in January, I began to wonder, what would it be like to teach a winter-time class at Mabel’s?  The season would call for more work indoors.  Winter is a time of looking inward to our own interior spaces and pondering things in a very different way than we do in summer.  It is a time of withdrawing.

And so, I have decided to offer a workshop this coming winter to do just that.  The class we be held at Mabel’s, as in summer, but we will focus on the interior spaces of this beloved, historic home.  We will find the hidden corners of the house and of our own hearts, and sit with them while we draw and paint.  The act of drawing and painting a scene is one I find extremely meditative, and that will be something we discuss and work toward – finding that state of stillness in the making of art.  I’ll be combing my own library in the next few months for readings and poems to point us in the right direction in this class.  Taos, New Mexico, and more specifically, the Mabel Dodge Luhan House itself, is a hotbed of creativity and has historically been a place where the creme-de-la-creme of the arts go to recharge their creative batteries.  I look forward to this new offering and hope you’ll consider joining us this year for what I hope may be an annual journey.

Do get in touch if you have any further questions.

 

 

Withdrawing into mabels 993314_10155060669370048_645646455994482058_n

Workshop bliss

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It’s difficult for me to fathom that just over a month ago I traveled to Taos to teach my annual summer travel-journal workshop.  Has it really been a month?!  Was I really just there three weeks ago, mid-way through a fantastically perfect week filled with the company of the most amazing group of people?

If I look at the calendar, it would seem so.  And yet, I look at some of the snapshots of that week (captured by my trusty assistant for the week, Taos artist, Jan Haller) and it seems that the workshop never happened, or is happening right now, or perhaps, is just around the corner once again.  Taos has that relationship to time.

There was much laughter.  Belly-laughs as deeply rooted as the ancient cottonwood trees.

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And there were also plenty of precious moments of solitude and quiet.

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There were those moments of ‘aha!!’ when we learned a new trick with those wiley watercolors.

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There was a fair amount of demonstration done by yours truly, to show my approach to capturing the world in my own journal….

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…and yet we learned that there is no better way than one’s own way of working.  It was my goal for the week for each workshop participant to find their own visual voice.  Which they did.  In grand, beautiful fashion.

workshop 4     Workshop 1

At the end of this gorgeous week we celebrated our hard work and new friendships with a dinner at Mabel’s which fed not only our bodies but our souls as well, as meals at Mabel’s generally do.  There was more of that nourishing belly-laughter, and perhaps some equally delicious tears over deep conversations too.  This work is so much more than just drawing and painting in a book.  It’s about an approach to life that can sometimes be difficult to find in our day to day.  But we re-discover it at workshops like these.  We find it in these fellow artistic souls.  We are reminded that beauty and laughter, grace and joy, great food and fantastic, fierce friendships are crucial to a life well lived.  dinnerToday- just now – back in Ohio, it is (not surprisingly) raining buckets.  In my ears, on repeat while I work, is this which is the perfect blend of arty and trad.  Combine this music with the sound of rain and things can seem a little somber.  Especially when compared to the bright beauty of New Mexico.

worskhop 13But there is a lushness to this valley that is at once suffocating and yet deeply and beautifully compelling.  It is travel season, and I am torn between all of the amazing, soul-home places (yes, including Ohio!) and people I have the great fortune to know intimately.  Those who know me and love me best know that this very restlessness and yearning are what keep me moving artistically.  The need to be on the move was instilled early on in me by my ever-changing home life and I’m grateful for the ability to travel as much as I do now as an adult, especially in summer!

workshop 12Next up is my now annual trek to the North Carolina mountains where I will play music for a week with far-flung friends at the Swannanoa Gathering‘s Celtic week.  I will be updating the blog a bit in coming weeks (between trips) with next year’s workshop offerings.  There’s a new one being offered in February 2016 about which I am very excited.  Much of the same sort of work, but deeper and richer.  So stay tuned and I’ll keep you posted!

 

Settling in…

IMG_0092After a long day of travel, peppered with delays, cancelations and many, many hours of knitting, snoozing and sketching, I found myself at long last, arrived in theLand of Enchantment.  Ginger Small was as annoyed with the delay as I was at the way our day of travel had gone…

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…and for the second leg of the journey, opted rather for a hot air balloon ride.

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Last I heard, she may have tracked down her cliff dwelling friends further down the mountain, but that is a tale for another post.

Meanwhile, I arrived, very much alone.  I was greeted by moody skies, a darkening landscape and storms.

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It was all quite lovely really and I just got into my little car and drove, intent to make the most of the last of daylight, intent to eventually arrive in Taos.

Thunderbirds guided me up the mountain.

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After a day off to soak at the hot spring and nap and visit, yesterday finally found me truly landed and ready to get to work.  There are many supply gathering sort of errands to be handled, and meetings with the team of folks here in town and at Mabel’s who make this workshop possible.  But I did take a couple of hours yesterday to hike a well loved desert path.

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I met many new friends, who were in full plummage due to recent rains.

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IMG_5028I was able to sit for a few minutes with my sketchbook and do a quick rendering of a bit of the Rio Grande Gorge before I had to head back up the path to get back to town.  It was wonderful to sit in the quiet and witness Raven riding the thermals, and to feel the sun on my shoulders, and the breeze on my cheek.  The noise of town and traffic well behind me.   I need more open space in this life.

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It feels so precious to be back in this strange land, so very different than my own homeland.  By experiencing, exploring and cataloging new landscapes, we are surely discovering and perhaps even altering our own inner landscapes.  Every visit here reminds me I have much to glean here.  From myself, and from the land.IMG_5025

 

The trip has only just begun, and there are already so many tales to tell and drawings to be made.  I am grateful for this quirky place and it’s rugged landscape and beautiful people who are fortunate enough to live here full time.

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The Green Light

Ever wondered where intrepid hamsters head off to when they escape?  I think I may know….  Ginger Small seems to be in the mood to head to New Mexico again for some tea and piñon in the high mountain desert, and perhaps a little mystery as well….  I shall be joining her to teach my Illuminated Sketchbook workshop of course.  But I hope to follow Ginger’s desert adventures here and there as well, if she permits it.  I’ve heard there has been a lot of rain there this season, and things are exceptionally green, for the desert.

The partial story below was recently discovered and I hope to uncover more of it very soon. It’s rough writing… think of it more as a sketch….

Dear Readers,

A while ago, years perhaps, (or was it just last week?) I was curled up under some fresh shavings, about to enjoy a long awaited and delicately saved blueberry yoghurt treat when suddenly, a soft glow began to emanate from somewhere not too very far outside of my habitat.  This was no normal glow.  It was neither warm, nor cool.  It was just…  green.  In the way newly grown ferns are in the springtime, just prior to unfurling.  This green spoke of freshness and strangeness.  I had a sense this light was for me.  I do not know how I knew this.  Somethings, I guess we just know.  And so I quietly shuffled out from under the shavings to take a peek.

Ginger's mysterious green light

One might wonder why I did not stay hidden beneath my shavings.  I was, after all, quite sleepy, and I was so looking forward to my yoghurt treat.  It may have been simpler to remain hidden.  But I have found that often, the best adventures come on the heels of the moment we trust the small intuitive voice which tells us, though this may be a strange green light, it seems friendly enough.  

And besides, I smelled tea.  And desert sage.  And, could it be?…. a hint of burning piñon? !  

I decided to undertake dire action, and climbed out of my habitat to greet whatever – whomever – might be shining this light in my direction.

Sometimes we must investigate

 The instant I made this decision, to shed the boundaries of my normal habitat, things got very interesting.

Ginger heads up to meet the green light

I was suddenly surrounded by colors I’d never encountered and vistas which made my heart sing.  I was not sure where I was heading, but I had a feeling, it was going to be a wild ride….

Til next time,

G.

In which Ginger Small cavorts with the other-worldly 4x6

…And that was about all I could find of this particular adventure, though Ginger has hinted there is more to the story.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted!