Tag Archives: taos

chrysalis blooming

Pull up a chair and let me pour you a cup of tea.  It’s been a long and delightful summer filled with amazing journeys to magical places and I can’t wait to share it all with you in the coming weeks as I get caught up.  But first… I’ve been remodeling this little virtual space, as I said I might, and I am anxious to show you around!

icon-4 copy

Welcome to my new website!!  www.amybogard.com is now a blog-centered virtual world now.  I’ll spare you the tedious techie details, but basically my lovely old website, off of which my blog used to spin, has become a part of the history of the interwebs and is now just a exhaled electronic breath on the virtual ether by now.  I took a few snapshots for posterity before having it turned off and everything redirected to this new space and I now envision the old website and all it’s one-of-a-kind beauty floating ever further out into space like some out-dated satellite or some such.  It served me well for a good long time, but I am thrilled to be here, now, in this space.  Is’t it cozy??  Do poke around and click at will, and let me know what you think.  My friend MB and new “wordpress midwife” is, among many things (like so many mamas I know and love), a fantastic web-master kinda gal with super skills that I am in awe of on a daily basis.  I have her to thank for getting all of the proper widgets in place that can help me stay connected and current in this vast and weird online world, and to navigate amidst it.  She also had some fabulous design ideas and the look of the new site is as much hers as mine.  Big, big love and thanks to you MB!!!

It is said that if you disturb a chrysalis in it’s cocoon before it is ready to face the world, you stand the chance of damaging or destroying it.  My work lately has felt very much this way.  The blog is not the only thing undergoing Big Change in recent months…..

extra  read all about it!!!!!!!!

For the past three summers, I have been leading a group of intrepid travelers to Taos, New Mexico to work in their sketchbooks and create Illuminated Travel Journals, visual diaries of their time in this amazing little town so far off the beaten path, yet at the center of everything, being at the foot of Taos Mountain.  I created this class in partnership with the of the Art Academy of Cincinnati and having a Real Institution behind me gave me the opportunity to sprout some wings and get this workshop off the ground.  For this I am forever grateful.  But as the workshop and myself as well grow and change into a new creature, it became clear to me that I should forge ahead on my own, less a part of a large institution, but rather as the lead wolf in a small committed pack of like minded other wolves who could see my vision for things as they morph into what they need to be.  And so I have amicably parted ways with the Art Academy, with their support and their blessing, to continue offering this trip, with updates, some sprucing up, and forever tweaking the flow of things.  It is up to me to get the word out, get folks registered, answer questions, plan, plot, collect, inform, create and conjure to make the journey once again a reality.  I have taken full ownership and responsibility for it all, complete with a new bank account, the creation of an LLC, and a marketing plan.  And contrary to a time that has now passed, I am not terrified of this side of the work.  This too is something for which I have a whole heap of gratitude.


(photo credit: Julie Keefe)

Here are the basic facts about the course and you can go to the Join Us In Taos page for even more information and links to all things Taos.


June 15-20, 2014

Mabel Dodge Luhan House Historic Inn and Conference Center

Check in after 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 15 with evening welcome reception

Check out by 10:30 a.m. on Friday, June 20 with bagged lunch to go

Learn and apply the tools, tricks and techniques that will bring your travel sketchbook journal to life!

Open to all skill levels from drawing beginners to pros looking for a fresh perspective;

new and lifelong journalers alike are welcome.

Workshop fee includes room with full bath, gourmet breakfasts and lunches, as well as a farewell dinner.

Field trips to iconic sites in/around Taos;  opportunities for self-guided excursions and solitary drawing as well as class time and exercises.

Amy will be available for one-on-one assistance and support.

$1100 shared/$1300 single – payment in full by December 15, 2013

$1300 shared/$1500 single – payment in full by March 15, 2014

More Information:       https://www.amybogard.com

Register Via Email:        abeefrnd@gmail.com

And that is the gist of things in the Big News dept.  In smaller (though no less exciting) news,

first egg

The girls have begun laying.  I am not sure how long this will last, now that fall has begun to wrap it’s golden cloak around our region, but hopefully they will develop their laying skills for a few weeks before taking the winter time off.

Do stop back here to this cozy little space, as I have many tales to tell you of my summer’s journeying.  I have been to many places and have learned a great many things…..

“For some time now it has seemed to me that the two questions we should ask of any strong landscape are these: firstly, what do I know when I am in this place that I can know nowhere else? And then, vainly, what does this place know of me that I cannot know of myself?”

~Robert Macfarlane, The Old Ways


58 Days

There are a few flurries floating down this morning as I write this.  We’ve been fortunate to have a little bit of winter visit us here in the Ohio River Valley this year and I am grateful for it.  But today is the final day of the longest-shortest month of the year and around here, March can spell spring.  On the first of this year, I made a bit of a snap decision to make some sort of drawing everyday.  It’s been 58 days of doodles and sketches, some more successful than others, and I’ve enjoyed the practice!!  I am looking forward to getting outdoors again to draw.  It’s been a little on the raw side to spend too much time out in the elements sketching, so I have stuck fairly close to home, drawing whatever dog might be lying around…

Or art supplies.  Those can be fun too…

As I think of drawing in warmer climes, I can’t help but think about Taos, NM where I will be leading a travel journal workshop in June.  (More info HERE).  We have a number of folks signed up for this year’s trip, but there is room for more!!  Perhaps you have thought about going but have never really sketched or painted.  Or perhaps it’s been years since you have.  Well in the words of one Taos Trip participant:

“…Although I had no experience in journaling previously, this workshop took my collage work to a whole new level.  And I made many wonderful new friends.  Don’t miss this opportunity!” ~ Pamela

With just a sketch journal and a small watercolor set, you can learn to really see in a whole new way, with Taos as a backdrop!  I can teach you to capture the world around you with some simple sketching techniques as well as some collage with found materials along the way.  This approach to travel is an eyes-wide-open technique to seeing the world.  With stacks of books from years past I can look back over my drawn impressions of places I have sat and sketched and I remember them in a way even photographs can’t seem to capture.

I’d love to have YOU along with us on this year’s trip, which is shaping up to be wonderful as always!!  Do let me know if you have any questions.

Stop by my Facebook or Twitter  pages to keep an eye on this sketch a day project.  So far, it’s been great fun!


Retreat to Taos

Any of you lovely readers who follow this lowly little blog know that one of the highlights of my working year is a now annual Travel Sketch Journal Trip to Taos, New Mexico.  Over the past few years I have partnered with the Art Academy of Cincinnati to create a unique, outside-of-classroom art experience for creative adults looking to hone their observation and basic drawing (and beyond!) skills thru the vessel of a simple blank book.  Plans are already in full swing for 2013.

If you are local to Cincinnati, there is an information night next Wednesday, Nov. 14, at the Art Academy where folks will have a chance to meet me, ask questions and see a few slides of what a week in Taos looks like and some of the work we have done in years past.  I hope you will join us.  That said, one huge goal of mine this year is to include participants in the class who are not from the local Cincinnati area.  We already have someone from San Diego, a potential from Austin, TX…. If you have been eyeing this class from afar, this is your year to join us!  And please bring a friend!  Email me  directly if you need more information.

A really cool thing about going back each year to a sweet place like Taos is that I get to discover new things about it each year.  I have made friends in Taos whom I visit upon arrival each year.  And this year things got even richer.  I was approached last winter by film maker Jody McNicholas about being part of a DVD project that would provide a retreat experience for people who might not necessarily be able to/ desire to travel to a far flung place but wanted to try some of what happens at a retreat.  I officially became a part of the Eco Chic Retreat last summer, filming a short segment introducing the idea of keeping an illuminated journal.  The DVD is now finished and the Eco Chic team is diligently working to get the word out about this amazing project.  For just $50 you can give yourself or a loved one the gift of self care in this 3 day retreat experience.  There’s cooking, art, meditation, yoga and more!!  It’s a beautiful film and I am so proud to be a part of another something that helps people feel creative and well.

Most of the Eco Chic team is fairly far flung in the world and we filmed our segments separately with Jody at the helm.  Over time, we have all gotten to know one another virtually by connecting via email and facebook and such.  But we all desired to meet personally, as we agreed this project has taken on a life of it’s own. So last week, my hub Tony and I cashed in some hotel points, and airline miles and headed to Taos to meet as many of my fellow Eco Chic facilitators as could make the trip.

This trip happened to fall over the Spanish holiday tradition of el Dia de los Muertes, the Day of the Dead which is an exciting time to be in New Mexico.  Below are a few pics of our time out there and some sketches we made along the way.  I’m hoping it will whet your whistle to come along next summer when we go for the sketch trip….

One of my favorite things about getting into Taos is having to cross over (or drive down into) the Rio Grande Gorge.  It’s an amazing place.  Deep and full of mystery and shadow and the sweet green river running quietly down below.  It’s a great place to draw and get a sense of how to use light to create space in a drawing.

Over time, Tony has done quite a bit of sketching in his book inspired by the work I’ve done.  Here’s a beautiful drawing he made of his time at the gorge…

Often when I am teaching in Taos, I don’t get out into the countryside enough, so on this trip that was a priority.  We were up before dawn a couple of different days to experience all the mountains had to offer.  One morning we were treated to the sight of a herd of female elk.  I spotted them across a wide valley and just at the bottom of the tree line.  They blended so beautifully that only their slight movement gave them away.  The camera could not capture them.

Only fields and mountains stayed still enough to make drawings….

Dawn above Angel Fire NM was reputed to have cloudy wings of fire.  We just had to see this for ourselves…

I love windy roads/ drives which head into the hills.  I have often thought it would be lovely to have access to a little place just around the bend down one of these remote driveways where I can escape and find quiet when needed.  Funny thing is, this was not that far from Taos town.  It gets remote out there fairly quickly.

As I wrote earlier, each trip to Taos seems to result in a new friend or two.  This trip was no exception.   I met Leslie, a puppeteer/puppet maker living in Taos and she introduced me to some of her lovely hand-made hand puppets.  I couldn’t make it to her show as we had an Eco Chic dinner scheduled, but I thoroughly enjoyed meeting her and her puppets.  I have a feeling we will meet again!

We joined my friend Kate for tea one afternoon at a delightful little ‘Apothecary’ tucked back away off the main road near some gallery spaces in the bosom of Taos Mountain.

April, the proprietess at this lovely shop, created amazing warm drinks for us from magical combinations I have never tried before.  They were delicious and good for the body as well as the soul.  Taos being the small town that it is, it turns out that April has created a special tea blend just for Eco Chic Retreat!!!

I love sitting at tea shops and coffee shops sketching and discussing art, politics (and aliens too!!!) when I’m in Taos.  Folks there are not as tied to the clock nor as in a hurry as we are back east.  Going at this pace actually seems to open time up for me and I get a lot more drawing done that when I am in a hurry… Go figure…

Of course, meeting my fellow Eco Chic facilitators was the purpose and highlight of this trip.  One afternoon we gathered to take a painting class led by Jan Haller at Magic Brush Studios.  We painted in response to the colors with no plan or attachment to outcome.  It was very freeing and fun!!!!

On another day we visited with Louise Lowry, chef in the ECR at her rented house just outside of town.  This is a magical place with charm and eccentricity around every corner!!

There was a tree house.

And guest rooms in the former chicken coop.

And quirk around every corner.

Of course I felt right at home.  And we had some tea and cookies.

We left Lou to do her shopping for that night’s dinner party and went to see some art in the afternoon at the famed Harwood Museum.  There was much to see both new and old.  What stuck with me was the work of Maye Torres who lives outside of Taos and makes amazing mixed media sculptures and paintings.  Her work is haunting.

Our final evening in Taos was spent convening with the Eco Chic team.  It’s simply amazing to meet a group of people with whom you feel immediately connected.  Strangely, we all felt as if we had known each other for years.  Conversation was easy and comfortable.  The food, thanks in large part to Louise (and Jan’s desserts!!) was out of this world.  We had a fabulous time.

It is with an ever heavier heart that I leave Taos each time I travel there.  This time it was so wonderful to take Tony and give him a taste of what a trip it is to get to this amazing place.  Aside from Eco Chic work, I was free to be more of a tourist, which will make me an even better prepared instructor for next summer’s Sketch Journal trip.

We rounded out the trip with a stop in Chimayo to see some sweet old adobe church structures.  We also had some tacos at the BEST taco truck EVER (in Santa Fe, kitty corner across from Trader Joe’s on the main drag to Taos).

All along the way, in typical Taos fashion, I was reminded that this is a soul place for me.  It feels a lot like home….


Catch this post on Dwellable!!!!


Well, I knew the time would come.  When I’d be back in my living room in Ohio, attempting to put into words and a few measly pictures, the experience that is The Taos Trip.  I last posted the first few days of our adventure here and now I’ll re-cap on the quickly passing second leg of our trip.  At some point I hope to share some student work on the travel-journaling page of the blog but for now, just a quick re-cap… and some thoughts on it all.

While in Taos, we were fortunate to meet and spend time with folks who are knowledgeable about Taos or who are successfully living and working in Taos as artists, much like last year.  We took a tour of the Mabel Dodge Luhan house, our home for the week, with Judi who works at Mabel’s and has spent years learning about the ghosts of the place and how they fit into Taos history, art history, native and national history.

By the end of our hour with Judi, we felt transported in time and into Mabel’s fascinating life and story.

Last year, we met artists Kate Cartwright (who again paid the class a visit) and Lenny Foster.  This year, we visited artist, quilter and fabric designer Terrie Mangat at her house in downtown Taos.  It was thrilling!  Her home has been lovingly restored in Taos style and we were treated to an up-close and personal showing of some of her quilt work.

Fortunately, Terrie had aprons available for folks to purchase at the end of our visit (much as we would have all liked to buy one of her amazing quilts!!!)   Some of us bought 2.  Thanks to Terrie for a magical glimpse into the life of a Taos artist with greater Cincinnati ties!!!

Last week (was it really last week?) was the Solstice and to celebrate the longest day of the year (in, frankly, one of the sunniest states in the country) we did some sun prints to put into our journals.

This was a fun activity, specifically geared toward those not so keen on drawing in their journals.  I had a range of artistic skill and levels of comfort in this class and it was difficult to meet everyone’s needs.  I am already teeming with ideas for next year to get the newbies drawing more and the practiced artists to lean a little less on the camera image back in the class room.  There is something so immediate about sitting in a particular place and just attempting to make a drawing.  The drawings aren’t always the best, or most accurate, but when made, they can enhance the knowledge of a place one has visited.  But this activity was fun for all and most people made many of these.  It was great to bring home shadows of some of the natural flora to be found around Mabel’s.

Taos, and especially the Mabel Dodge house, has a tapestry of history with the native people of the region, the Taos Pueblo Indians.  Mabel’s backs right up to Pueblo land.

I have always found it tremendously interesting to  consider what life is like in a culture completely different from our own.  We were blessed with a warm, but beautiful morning to explore the historic part of Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Our guide, Cameron Martinez, provided a wonderful, knowledgeable tour of the public portion of the Pueblo and a peek into life there.

The tour guides at the Pueblo are generally college students who are planning to come back to live at the Pueblo and further their cultural heritage there, while bringing a firm knowledge of the outside world back with them which will help them to navigate the future relationship between Native people and the rest of us.  Cameron is a photographer and film maker, and I look forward to seeing his work!!

The week sped on and soon, sadly, it was time to say good bye.

Everyone seemed to have a good time.  Most everyone seemed to try a few new things, and met a few new friends, which will hopefully extend beyond the boundaries of the trip.  I for one am already making plans to make next year even better than this one, though if I learned anything this year, it’s that each year is different, and will have it’s own vibe.

A couple of folks on the trip have blogged about their time in Taos… here are two:



Though the workshop was over for the most part, our adventures were not.  While in class one afternoon, we made the acquaintance of Denise Labadie, who was passing through Taos, on route to Ghost Ranch to teach a quilting workshop.  We became fast friends with connections to Ireland, quilt making, workshop teaching and a love of the Southwest.  She invited a few of us for a visit to Ghost Ranch to her class.  And so we went!!

Denise’s work is award winning at the national and international level.  She hand paints fabric and then creates paintings of sorts, in quilts.  They are breathtaking.  Between her work and Terrie Mangat’s it all makes me want to make another quilt!!

Ghost Ranch is absolutely awesome.  And I don’t use that word lightly.  It’s a different landscape and feel than Taos, but no less beautiful.  I was captivated.  and I could see why Georgia O’Keefe pretty much took up shop there to make her most famous work.

At one point, in the quiet of the desert, I looked over at the iconic mountains in the distance and thought, I could paint here.

When I went to Taos the first time, I knew I wanted to go back.  And so I did.  Last year. That visit was overwhelming and fun and rocked my world.  And Taos felt like a foreign land.  I knew again that I wanted to go back, but I was pretty glad to get back home.  I told people upon my return that ‘Taos is great.  I don’t think I could ever live there.”  This came as a surprise to my closest friends and family who are used to me going places and saying, ‘I love this place!  I could LIVE here!!”.

Going back this year was yet again, completely different from any other time.  It was more difficult in some ways, logistically and from a workshop management perspective.  And yet, there was a feeling of coming home after a really long absence.  I’ve begun to create community in Taos.  The folks at Mabel’s welcomed us with open arms and we all shed a tear when it was time to go. Dorothy, Maria, Diane and Judi were like a blessed herd of Awesome Aunties the entire week.  I couldn’t get enough.   The kitchen staff fed us like family and I still wake up wondering if I smell bacon….  I have set the dates already for next year’s workshop (June 16-22, 2013!!) and am planning to go yet another few days early to sink in a little deeper into Taos Magic.  My Eco-Chic partnership is another place I have found unexpected community and I look forward to meeting more and more of my co-facilitators on that project.  They are a powerful bunch of women, and I am still pinching myself that I’m a part of it all!

I jettisoned (for lack of a better word) back into life back home with an exhausting (and exhilarating!) week of puppetry rehearsals.   We are working with Rumplestiltzkin this time around in preparation for a two week tour in Georgia:

As much as I love all that I do, I’m feeling the need to figure out exactly what it is I really want to do, and to follow it.  This is scary.  And may take some time.  I have a couple of kids to get through high school.  And some jobs I’ve committed to which I really love.  But in the dusty corners of my studio lie some pretty awesome ideas for bodies of work I’d like to paint on, and children’s books I’d like to make, and workshops I’d like to continue improvement upon.  I need to make some space.

We shall see how it all shapes up.  In the meantime, I’m practicing being in the now. It’s a good place to be.  And as much as I can, I’ll take time to share some of those experiences here with you.

In the Garden (and beyond)

Things are rolling along at the Amberley Green Garden.  We are down to simple watering and weeding chores which is nice.  I finished up any mulching that needed to be done this weekend.  The leaf mulch around the plants and then the more wood-chip mulch material in places to create paths (more like stepping stones) so I’ll have a place to stand when the plants mature.  Already we are reaping a plentiful harvest….

We’ve already begun to see a few results.  A few of my fellow gardeners have planted a 3 sisters garden that I plan to help out with as it grows.  3 sisters is basically a garden of corn, beans and squash .  These plants will support each other through out the season.  But for now….

Thankfully (or should I say tankfully…) we had a few days with rain in the last week and so our water tanks are back to being fullish.

At home, I’ve managed to grow a flower in my ‘living stone’ plant.  I love this.  So far, no deer has eaten it.

It’s not all been work in the garden.  It’s summer so we have had ice-cream.

And each week the Taos trip draws nearer…. Thanks to Julie who has been snapping some of the prepping process for the class.  Students are getting to know their watercolor sets.

And they are collaging and transforming blank books into vessels that will capture their travel experiences.

We are all getting to know one another as well…

as we prepare to head west next week (next week!!)

And Taos.  Oh sweet Taos.  In one short visit a few years ago I fell in love with the place and it’s had a magnetic pull on my soul ever since.  There’s always been Maine.  And Ireland… those moist and gray and green places that seem to help me grow roots to my very self.  But Taos is a different animal.  Instead of roots, it’s gift to me seems to be wings.  Every visit there I discover more about, and have more opportunity to further, my work.  This never ceases to amaze me.

This year’s delightful surprise is the chance to be a part of the Eco-Chic Retreat team.  A group of women, artists, healers, makers – who are coming together to share their work in a DVD project created by filmmaker Jody McNicholas.  Just as I was putting together today’s blog-post, an email arrived with Eco-Chic’s film trailer and a chance to support the making of the film on the indiegogo fundraising site.  

I hope you’ll take a peek at what we are up to and consider supporting the making of this film…

Til next time.







[draw] drawn, draw·ing,  noun, verb (used with object)

1.to cause to move in a particular direction by or as if by a pulling force; pull; drag (often followed by along, away, in,out,  or off ).

As you probably know by now from reading this blog over the years, the one steady thing that has been a constant throughout all of my adventures as an artist, a world traveler, and a musician is the fact that I carry around a sketchbook with me.  Pretty much wherever I go, I have a book in my bag, a small set of watercolors and a pen or pencil to write, draw, collect what I see and hear in the world.  This practice began years and years ago, when my kids were really small.  Say what you want about the beauty of motherhood.  It IS beautiful.  But it’s also really, really hard.  Among the few things that kept me somewhat centered during the early years of parenthood (such as a great husband and many many many marathoning miles), the act of drawing in a little book became a habit that was like my anchor in the storm.  Those early drawings are clumsy and poorly rendered.  The really early ones didn’t even include any watercolors!!  And yet, I have them (somewhere around here).  They include tales of camping trips interrupted by pasta ravaging raccoons and over-the-top Halloween costumes made to order for my kids (One year Jack wanted to be a peacock.  And his little sister? Yes, a Princess Peacock.  I swear if I come across those journal entries/ photos I will totally share them).

Slowly, over many years, through many slumps and the crossing of proverbial seas, I began to realize what I had in this seemingly simple practice of sitting and drawing and writing a bit about my life.  I began to do it with a bit more consciousness. I began to find others, people who called themselves Artists, who did a similar thing and seemed to even be making books and teaching classes.  People around me, beyond my awesome family who always thought I could draw anything, began to notice.  I even went to art school.  But not for drawing.  Majoring in sculpture, I was still noted for my copious collecting skills in the form of my sketchbook.  Post art school, I made some Art, but it has been the sketching and journaling that has time and again come to the fore.  This is mainly because, as a mom, it’s the one art form that’s portable (that and embroidery, but that’s for another post, another time.)  All of this time and the many filled books, eventually led to my teaching this process to others wanting to learn it.  Without even realizing it, I had developed a very individual and distinct way of doing this sketch-journal thing.

So fast forward to nowadays.  I teach Keeping an Illuminated Journal in both individual classes and at the local community arts centers.  I co-developed a business centered journaling process with a former student. (That project is tabled right now as we both pursue our individual work, me here in Cincinnati, and Adam in NYC.).  With the support of the Art Academy, I began taking students afield to document the travel experience in a sketchbook.  Through these trips to Taos it was even clearer to me that what I am teaching is more than simple life documentation, or learning to draw things that come across one’s path in life.  This process has a power to draw a person toward their center.  Keeping a journal, and more importantly an illuminated journal (one with drawings or paintings) is an act of meditation which leads to a deeper thinking about life in general.  As a young mama, battling depression and anxiety, I was not only capturing precious bits of my kids’ fleeting childhood, I was actually healing myself.  Keeping these books has been a slow-cooker style of self-guided therapy that has, over the years, taught me much.  I’m much healthier in the head and heart these days and I attribute some of that to merely growing into myself.   Growing into myself has happened in the pages of my sketchbook.  It is there that I can jot down quotes that speak to me at the time, I can mull over the mundane and the difficult, I can draw a dog or a backyard bird and feel calmer for doing so.  It’s like magic really.  And I love sharing this magic.

This summer when I head to Taos with yet another amazing group of students, I will also be filming my segment of the Eco Chic Retreat DVD project slated to be completed this fall.  I am so grateful for this opportunity.  Often, the spiritual side of the classes I teach winds up being an added, unexpected bonus to the fun process of writing and drawing in a journal.  But Eco-Chic’s retreat climate is all about centering oneself in the storm of life through a time of guided nutrition, yoga, painting, meditation and more and of course, keeping a journal.  I’m tremendously excited to talk about how the simple act of making a drawing, writing a haiku poem, or taking note of the day can seriously alter a life.  I don’t make the claim lightly.  I was my first student and I am, finally after all these years, a firm believer in the power of this process.

What drove me to go into writer mode on today’s blog post is the photo below of some of the Eco-Chic family.  This was shared electronically to those of us on the team who couldn’t be there for this particular gathering and when I saw it, my heart just swelled.  These women are doing amazing work in the world.  Each of them is a healer in her own way.  I am humbled to be a part of this project.  But I too am a healer.  And I look forward to sharing my take on  the ‘simple’ act of keeping a sketchbook in the hopes that it will bring healing your way too.

L-R: Ana Easter, Lourdes Paredes, Jan Haller, Jody McNicholas and Louise Lowry

Stormy day

“Every one of us should risk living in the full flow of our own originality.  And never to compare yourself with anyone outside you but to trust that inner voice that is speaking to you and whispering to you from the well of great possibility that lives inside you.”     ~John O’Donohue

Day two of the Official Workshop began even before the morning meal was served.  Remember Lenny Foster from the library lecture I told you about?  Well, Taos being a small town, and his gallery being right down the lane from Mabel’s, we wound up catching up with Lenny and sharing with him how moving we found his artist talk and his work.  He invited any interested students to meet him at a picturesque little church located back in the rabbit warren of lanes and dirt roads behind Mabel’s to take pictures on that Tuesday morning.  In spite of some serious looking skies, or perhaps because of these skies, a few of us gathered early coffee and drove over to meet him with cameras in hand.

Behind Mabel’s is all Pueblo land…. except for a little road owned by the Catholic Church where worshippers can walk the stations of the cross.  Here is the view from that sacred path, across sacred lands to Mabel’s house.

The church, “La Morada de Don Fernando de Taos”

Classic blue door, of course.

The view back down the path to the church.  Check out those ever changing, dangerous skies!

Much about this morning reminded me of an area of the Smoky Mountains called Cades Cove.  Rich in both natural and human history with the mountains holding all the ancient secrets.

People come to pray here for their loved ones, often weaving together many different cultural and religious traditions.  Lenny told us these little bundles are more than likely filled with tobacco and many, many hours of prayers.  I found them enchanting.

And all of this before breakfast!!  My plan was to take students out for a field trip that morning to the Earthships, but with the unexpected rain we postponed until the afternoon.  The stormy skies stuck around but we managed to dodge raindrops and were treated to wild skies all day.  The wind was enough to wear us out, but the lighting and clouds in the distance were worth it.

On route to the Earthships we stopped at the big steel bridge over the Rio Grande.  Amazing vistas and crazy heights.

This little coffee vendor (below) is so very Taos.

As is this memorial to someone young who passed recently.  Grief made colorful and beautiful.  I suppose that is all you can do with grief in the long run, isn’t it?

And here are the Earthships!

They operate with systems that allow for heating and cooling, water filtration and food growth.  To me it seems like a perfect way to live.  It would be lovely to have one of these handmade homes here in Ohio I think.

The skies, so wild and lovely, beckoned to be considered for a little while.

This day, only day 2 of the workshop really, seemed to roll on and on forever.  We gathered as a group back at Lenny’s gallery for a condensed version of his talk from Saturday and a break from being out in the wind.  Pamela, the pastry chef from up at Mabel’s, sent cookies to give to him as she knows how much he loves her baking.  Again, the group was enchanted by this artist who spirits his art and arts his spirit with no apologies.  So inspirational.

That evening a few of us tracked down a sweet little restaurant called the Love Apple.   A local barista had said that ‘it’s up hwy 68 somewhere’ and that if we were meant to find it, we would.  Finding it was part of the mystery.  God I love Taos!  Love Apple was just that; juicy and full of love.  They built a fire for those waiting for dinner and allowed bottles of wine to be served outside.  Although the place was tiny, they seated about 9 of us together and dinner was magic.

We were heading into day 3…. a few of us finished up this amazing day with more wine on the little back porch of our Gatehouse, talking about life and art and the richness of it all, as many visitors have done over the decades.  Something about this place begs it of you, the questioning and searching that goes with it all.  Here are two articles that agree with me (and who’s authors write so much more eloquently than I to boot…)



More soon….




Time Bending

“I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes equal distance into the world within.”  ~Lillian Smith

I am home.  And yet I am not quite.  There is just something about a visit to New Mexico that seems to alter a person’s perception of everything.  Time, space and relationships all seem to coalesce into realities that feed a new notion that anything is possible. I find that I am really missing my experience in Taos.  Wishing it were longer.  That I could do it over again and replay every detail just as it was.  And yet…. New Mexico seemed to come home with me as well.  Like rose colored glasses, I am still under a spell that blankets most things in a light of beauty.  As an artist, and especially one who likes to keep a sketchbook, I am pretty good at noticing the little things that bring beauty into my life.  To note them and to savor them is to note and savor life itself.  I am finding that this keen sense of beauty is magnified since my time in Taos.  I will continue below with more of the magic that was This Big Trip.  But first….

I am home:

And even with 100 degree heat and brutal humidity, I love this town.  I love the people who call me back home when I have been too far afield for too long a time.  I love that my little backyard mallard couple now have 7 beautiful little baby ducklings who are learning their way around our system of weedy waterways…

I love that I have dear friends who might live far away but come home just barely often enough that their young son knows his soul family.  I love that I can play music in a ceili band.  I love that I have even more traveling to do this summer….. but I digress.  Where were we?  Oh yes, Mabel’s.  Back to Mabel’s…..

There are drawings all over the Mabel Dodge house that are attributed to Mabel’s husband Tony Lujan, a local Pueblo Indian man, the builder of this great house, and the love of Mabel’s life.  These drawings, along with what I have read about Tony, speak to me of a rich inner life.

The Sunday of our trip was the day most of my students were due to arrive. Much time was spent preparing classroom space and supplies for their arrival.  Having a space that looks and feels worthy of artmaking is crucial to the artmaking process for me.  This gorgeous space in the Juniper House at the Mabel Dodge complex was just the ticket.

Each day we were greeted in the main house with meals that would make your mouth water.  Here is Mabel’s kitchen:

Next year I will have to get some more photos of the staff that make the magic happen at Mabel’s.  They were, every last one of them, wonderful.  One of the folks who works in the kitchen just happened to live a number of years in Cincinnati and is an artist herself.  I was a bit surprised to see her there, but was beginning by now to realize that there is a strange tie between Taos and the ol’ ‘Nati and I should just expect the unexpected.  Another, who would give French pastry chefs a run for their money, is a Pueblo Indian woman who guided us to the most amazing shop at the Pueblo.  But that is a story for another day….

Monday rolled around eventually and it was showtime!  Each day of the workshop we would meet after breakfast in the Juniper House classroom space to get warmed up with our supplies.  I have to admit, I got a little choked up each time my students would get all quiet and in the zone with their books and supplies.

I shared an exercise with them that I read about in a book by Dory Kanter that she calls ‘observation icons’.  The idea is to capture little moments of your travel time a couple of times a day and then add them to your journal.  I thought this might also be a way to get into the back door of art making because these little icons are so small (about 1″x 1″).  Too small for any inner critics to interfere.  I was right.  The icons were a hit and a great warm-up each day.  Here’s a sampling!

The classroom is wonderful, but the courtyard is even better! We were able to get outside and do some drawing of the grounds at the Mabel Dodge house.  Next year there will hopefully be even more of this.

In the afternoon of that first day, my new friend Kate came to talk with the group.  She is inspiring and so is her work and everyone thoroughly enjoyed meeting her and learning a bit about her process.

Later, as the sun was beginning to set, Kate took us to the famous church called San Francisco De Asis.

Pretty soon the New Mexico light began to work is evening magic.

There is so much mysticism that weaves in and out of everything in Taos.  Everyone you talk to has a very matter-of-fact approach to the daily unexplainables.  We received a gift of one of these little unexplainables in our gatehouse one afternoon in the form of this feather.  We were filled with gratitude.

More to come in the coming days.  I hope this finds you seeking, finding and spending quality time with, the magic moments in your own wild and precious life.







Art supplies first…

…then clothing and all that other stuff. I am off to Taos NM this friday morning to prepare for the arrival of 13 amazing students for the first (annual!) Keeping a Travel Sketch-Journal trip. While there I am sure to take a million pictures and finally have the time to spend making a few more thoughtful drawings, instead of the tell tale scribbles of a too busy artist-mama.

Recent weeks have seen us doing what my friend Jeni calls the Urban Iditarod, running from play practice to concert rehearsals, late to dance classes and our weekly Riley School classes, finally attending some of the best performances my kids have had to offer in their young lives.

The above program was to Jack’s concert at SCPA.  It simply defies description but leads me to believe that the various majors will be collaborating again soon.  Congratulations to all who participated!!

Then there was Walnut High School’s Jr. High performance of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.  I told Maddie that I completely forgot about the rest of the world for the couple of hours that we watched this show.  She says this is known as “the suspension of disbelief”.  I am now a believer in these amazingly talented young actors.

On the home front, I seem to have entered into a new realm with the combined effects of a new job and my children’s spring performance schedules.  I am on the go much more than I am at home, and much more than I’d like, to be quite honest.  That said, I know these years of busy-ness are simply the culmination of childhood.  I know that the day of my kids flying the nest draws near.  My own mama knows the wildness that is this era of life and got me a present.  Under the guise of wanting to pay me for some sewing I did for her and also as an early birthday gift, she got me a sparkly new i-phone.  Bear with me here as I explore all that the hipstamatic camera app. has to offer…. Yes, I am an i-phone newbie but I am warming to it’s conveniences.

If you follow this blog, you will notice that when I travel, I don’t blog much.  Something about lugging around a dang lap-top takes away from the sheer spontaneity that I like to take with me on the road.  So what you as a reader get is more of a synopsis upon my return from Great and Lofty Travels.  But what of the day to day during my travels?  Perhaps you would like to share a bit of this with me.  If you are one of those “status-update” types, or someone who “Tweets”, consider keeping track of my wanderings in the ether-worlds of Facebook or Twitter.  I will be updating these pages periodically with photos, links to where we will be visiting, and general impressions of everything I see and do on the road.  These electronic diary entries, combined with the rich tapestry of my sketchbook and camera will be what I mine for the blog trip-synopsis.

for Twitter:    https://twitter.com/#!/micromovements

for Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amy-Bogard/120930640047

In the coming months I hope to update my blog and website a bit to have these things available and clickable and all that to keep things updated and current.  But this takes time.  And I have a trip to prepare for…

When I am set to leave for a climate that is potentially very different from my own, I spend the days prior to departure memorizing everything that is my juicy river valley home.  Here are some snaps…. with the hipstamatic app thingey of course.  Yes, I am a bit of a nerd.  It’s part of my charm…..

I’ll be missing those who look at me like that here at home, and they will more than likely be missing me as well.  But the road calls….

“There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.”

~Jack Kerouac

I’ll see y’all in Taos.


keepin’ on

Here’s my new sketchbook cover for the Taos trip which is just 2 weeks away….  It’s collaged from an antique postcard I got in Taos last time I was there along with some other snippets from the collage supplies suitcase.  With my practice of drawing everyday until I leave I am very close to finishing my last book…

With working so hard, one must have helpers:

And I am already looking ahead to some projects about which I will keep you posted as they progress…

I am now off to tackle a busy spring weekend!!!