Tag Archives: wolf

Women who run with the wolves

Wolf quilt detail

Once upon a time, in the midst of a great sadness at losing one dear to me, I spent a good deal of time with a howling in my heart.  I channeled that howling into many many stitches and eventually created a quilt to honor not only my own howling heartbreak, but to especially honor those closest to that fiery grief.

wolf quilt

This quilt now occupies a special place above my drawing table as a reminder of What Artists Do and why we do it.  While my recent posts here have been rather tied to creatures of the sea, I adore all animals, particularly the wild ones.  Just today, I received a belated, much looked-forward-to birthday gift from my friend Julie– a chance to spend a few hours at Wolf Creek Habitat, a sanctuary for wolves who now live in captivity for a variety of reasons beyond their control.

And so, on this gorgeous and golden late september morning, we hit the road for the hills of Indiana….

The long and winding road

indiana countryside

And we arrived to meet our guide Kathy, whose path it is to care for these magnificent creatures and educate visitors about wolves and the cultural misconceptions which plague them.  Julie’s gift to me was a private tour, without the company of tourists or school groups, and besides Kathy and the wolves, we were the only other beings there.  It was magic.

An amazing opporutunity to get to know these creatures


We were permitted to go into an enclosure which houses a stable pack of wolves with a distinct hierarchy, including some rambunctious juveniles.  There are many other enclosures at the sanctuary with other mini-packs and coupled wolves who might not necessarily ‘play well with others’.  Upon entering the play yard where we would spend the next couple of hours, we were greeted with much enthusiasm which included nuzzling, sniffing, rubbing, licking, more (enthusiastic!) nuzzling and sniffing.  (Especially our hair. Pony tails were discouraged.)

A gathering


Within a short time, we were deemed by the wolves to be proper company, and were then charged with belly rubs and treated to rolling exercises and photo opps.

rollin rollin rollin 2

rollin rollin rollin

I noticed many differences between these wild wolf creatures and my own domestic canines.  And many similarities as well.  One big difference, is the size of wolf feet.  They are BIG paws with webbing between the toes.  Much like some puppies have large paws for awhile, these grown wolves’ feet seemed disproportionate to my eyes used to dog-sized feet.

Wolves have GINORMOUS paws!

Some wolves seemed more dog-like at times.

some were more dog like than others

But mostly they were very wolf-like.

wolf gaze of wisdom

What's this???

I Simply couldn't get enough of their beautiful eyes

Soon, it was nap time.


Amongst the wolves

black wolf elusive

Fodder for another wolf embroidery?

We spent a bit more time surrounded by sleeping wolves, marveling at their wild liminality; so dog-like, but so Other.  Like many other majestic wild creatures, wolves have an air of mystery and spirit that surrounds them, even when they run and play together, or roll over for a tummy rub from someone newly trusted among them.  Thank you Julie, for one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received.

julie and the wolf

*a note about the title. Women Who Run With the Wolves is an amazing book by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes.  If you haven’t read it, you should.  

And here’s another little wolfish tidbit for your enjoyment…






It’s a delicate balance, this work thing.  On the one hand, over-scheduling myself can put me in the position of not having enough time and energy to make quality work (while still keeping up with life itself.)  On the other hand, too little work to do makes for artistic stagnancy and that can quickly spiral into dangerous psychological territory.  Ideally, if I can pluck away at some larger ideas while staying loose with smaller daily things I can stay balanced enough to do my best work as artist, mama, wife and friend.

Recently I signed up to be a part of The Sketchbook Project out of Brooklyn, New York.  This is a really great project that I consider to be something of a community art project.  None of the artists donating sketchbooks to this project are getting paid, in fact we paid to do this.  But here is how I look at it.  It’s exercise.  People spend billions of dollars each year on exercise for their bodies, why not pay a small fee and a bit of time each day to exercise your inner artist?  The first step in all this for me is to gesso all the pages in the book which is a moleskin brand blank book.

Generally I don’t use the moleskin books because of the paper.  Great for writing or even just pencil or pen drawing, but it doesn’t take watercolor very well.  With the gesso on the pages, they become more like blank slates that I plan to do collage work and maybe some paintings as semi daily exercises outside of my own sketchbook work (which try as I might not to, I still can take too seriously).  The book is due back to Brooklyn by January 2011 and will have a life of it’s own once out of my hands.  It’s good for me to do this sort of thing and let it go.

My theme for the Sketchbook Project is “I am a Scavenger”.  This is pretty much true, from nature bits to quotes to my own ideas, I am constantly scavenging around for new and potentially usable stuff…

Meanwhile, I have been working on an embroidery for a quilt I am making for a special show in the fall.  Here is the beginning…. just blocking in colors and getting the generic form of a howling wolf into place.  Already I love her and she seems to have some wonderful personality.  I will post more on this project as it comes nearer to fruition.  If any of you blog readers are crocheters or thrift store shoppers, I am looking for crocheted doilies (approx.3″-8″ diameter) to be a part of this piece as well.  Please contact me if you’d like to contribute!

But for now, I am back into the studio to draw my new favorite thing I read about in a book last night…. cave pearls!!!  (I think cave formations will translate nicely into wax this fall!)