Tuesday, August 12, 2014

August Flavors

I've done my share of complaining about August.  The heat, the drought, the seed ticks, the weeds, and, when I was a kid, the end of the summer and the start of school again.  Sometimes I wish August could be stricken from the calendar.  But August has its own magic.  There are hazy, soft mornings and deeply still afternoons with only the sound of whirring insects.  The light changes, the sun grows lower, the shadows longer, the nights cooler.  The court of High Summer is bowing to make way for mellower energies. Pods, seeds and grasses are ripening and the air takes on a distinctive August smell - goldenrod, walnut hulls and one hundred other scents mixed together, maybe dying beetles, who knows?

A slight but faintly pleasant melancholy settles over me on those days, because, although summer is dying, Autumn will soon bring its invigorating energy.

And for those dog day afternoons, there is sumac-ade to fortify the body and spirit.  We have two kinds of sumac growing on our property, maybe more, but I've found the winged sumac, with drooping clusters of purplish fruits, and the smooth sumac with upright, fire-engine red cones.  Making sumac tea is as easy as picking the clusters of berries when they're ripe (along about now) soaking them briefly in room temperature water and possibly squeezing a few times if you're in a hurry, straining, and drinking.  It has a very pleasant sour taste with fruity undertones.  The taste comes from a sticky resin on the outside of the seeds, so pick it on a dry day when rain hasn't washed the resin off.  Sumac-ade is very high in vitamin C and antioxidants.  Plus it's nice to lick your fingers after handling it and enjoy the sprightly sour flavor.

In the art world, I have been struggling mightily with a collage that started out with no particular idea in mind (never a good idea!) except to play with shapes and colors.  I began it as an abstract but it wasn't working.  Then it briefly morphed into another seascape, but I wasn't happy with that either.  Finally I saw that it was supposed to be a tree, so I'm trying to make a tree emerge from the hodge-podge chaos.  Maybe I'll succeed - I certainly hope so after putting so much time and materials into it.  It still looks ghastly, but it has potential, so I'll keep working on it.  I want a new collage to enter in a fiber arts show at the end of the month.  I hesitate to show it, but after all, chaos is part of the artistic process!  Maybe the mellowness of August will help me tame this unruly beast.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sweet Spots and Thinkin' Places

When I was growing up my cousin and I used to make forts, or, as my cousin called them, thinkin' places.  There was the road fort, on a hillside above the road where we could throw green apples at passing cars, and the pine fort at the back of my grandfather's biggest hayfield, where you could lie in a grove of pines and listen to the wind.  There was a honeysuckle fort hidden and private in a tangle of vines, and the hayloft fort, and another in a little valley filled with wild mint and horsetail that made a wonderful rustling sound when you walked through it.

I don't make thinkin' places anymore, but I have my favorite spots on our property.  One is on the highest point of our farm where the compost pile is, under a big hickory tree.  If I'm feeling unwell or out of sorts, standing there gazing down the valley makes me feel much better - always.  There are subtle energies around trees, plants and water and in places where the land curves or dips or gathers energy from invisible sources.  You can feel these sweet spots if you pay attention. They are very healing, physically and mentally.  We don't draw on nature's healing energy nearly enough.  It's powerful medicine to hug trees, walk barefoot, lie in the grass, find  thinkin' places and let nature speak to us in her own subtle language.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Inner Light

It's collage season when I get to play with colors and textures to my heart's content.  It's also my favorite time of year.  November and December, the darkest months, bring the season of inner light.  No matter what your spiritual beliefs, you can feel this.  The Christmas season is a celebration of the triumph of light over darkness.  When the outer world is dark and cold, when the ground is frozen and bare, we have no choice but to turn inward to find life.  And what we have cultivated in our inner gardens is the sustenance we have to carry us through the winter.  At this time, peace on earth, good will towards men seems much more possible.  People's hearts grow softer, lighter, more open.  I wish for everyone to find their bright inner light this season, and spread it around so there are many bright spots in the dark days.  All too soon spring will come and we'll be drawn out into the sprouting, blossoming, awakening earth, putting aside our inner gardens for the outer ones.  I hope everyone finds light and life and joy within while the earth sleeps.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Inspiration for the day

This is Edmund Dulac at his finest.  I'd give anything to sit beside him for even a day and watch how he does what he does.  Or did, rather.  He's been gone many long years, but his artwork lives on.  Sometimes I think, oh, what is the use of me painting and drawing when there are so many so much better.  But what if Edmund had thought that?  Even if I could inspire one person to pick up a pencil or brush, it would in some way keep the vision alive that flows from one artist to the next, each one adding his or her own essence.  I like to think of art this way, as a living river that flows between the generations of artists, picking up treasures as it makes its way to some far off ocean.  There is an archetypal fairy tale that calls to all of us.  Why else would these tales and visions be so deeply rooted in our lives.  So I keep drawing and painting away, trying to find the source.  I don't think I'll find it in this lifetime, but it's the journey that's important!

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Sea of Imagination

Sometimes when I sit down to blog I have no idea what's going to come out of my head.  Other times I have something specific to share.  Today is one of those no idea days, so I'll start by posting a couple of pictures I've done recently.  I'm collaborating with another Etsy shop owner on making a set of oracle cards.  I do the artwork, she comes up with the words.  So far I have done "Puzzled":
And "Vanity":

Next up is "Mixed Signals".  It's fun doing small works that go fairly quickly, and having a theme gives me a solid base to work from.  This is good, because for me, everything I see and do brings ideas to mind for artwork or stories, and it's easy to get lost in the Sea of Imagination.  This morning I was hanging clothes on the line, and suddenly I became a character in a story.  Where was I hanging clothes?  What was I feeling at the moment?  Images grew in my head.  I am a young woman with long blond hair wearing a white blouse.  I am in a back yard, a courtyard, maybe, lingering over my task, hanging up towels, socks, t shirts, enjoying the breeze on my face, the clean smell of damp laundry, the blue sky, the white clouds.  There is a man living next door in a tall brown house with many windows, and I hope he will see me.  Aha!  The plot thickens.  Who is the man?  I can't see his face, but there is some kind of conflict going on.  A lovers' quarrel, no doubt.  But before I can decide, my task is done, so I leave the scene and the man and continue with my day.  Ah, there is a cloud that looks like a dragon floating by.  Maybe the man is a dragon rider.... 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Gatherings for the Treasure Chest

This is the season when our senses expand and take in all the outward impressions Nature gives us.  Colors, sounds, smells, textures all lure us away from our inner life and into the wide expanse of the natural world.  Birds call, spring peepers pipe, the smell of freshly mowed grass mingles with dew, flower perfumes and the loamy odor of damp earth.  Thunderstorms flare, leaving in their wake scrubbed-clean air and plenty of worms for the chickens to find.  This is the season for gathering ideas, impressions, feelings and inspirations for later in the year when, for the artist, they can be turned into works of art.  There are wonderful mysteries and beautiful scenes evolving in every inch of the yard, the woods, the fields and the sky.

Persian tapestries?

Tiny jewels the fairies love.

And oh, those wonderful emerald carpets inviting one to dance on them.  What treasures will be happened upon tomorrow?  What paintings and collages will they inspire?  To be continued.....!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Art Drawer

Today, a soggy, wet, cool, cloudy day, I cleaned out my Art Drawer.  This was a huge undertaking, for many reasons.  The Art Drawer is a very large box on wheels beneath the bed, and holds an astounding amount of stuff.    Not only papers, sketches, pencils and markers, sponges and the like, but memories of the different stages in my life.  (Yes, this drawer has not been properly gone through for years).  There was the shadow puppet era, when I performed elaborate puppet shows with handmade puppets, music, a screen with a black curtain and lights.  The stories were written by me, and each puppet had moveable joints, making them come to life behind the screen.

And every puppet was alive to me, holding so much of myself within it.  I loved doing the shows, and probably could have made a career out of it.  But it was an incredible amount of work, and I was moved in other directions by other forces, so the puppets got put into the Art Drawer, where they have been lying asleep for many years while more and more things got stacked on top of them.  Today I dug clear to the bottom of the drawer and got out the puppets,  I knew this day was coming. They are now in a bag on the back porch, where they'll sit for awhile, until I get around to recycling them.  How can I say goodbye to all that?  And yet I already have.  There were more layers to go through, hundreds of sketches, each with a story to tell.  Why is it so heart-wrenching to look back on the past?  Would I want to go back?  No!  But there is a sadness about things that captivated you for a time and then faded, like an unfinished song.

So I'd best look forward to the future and wait to see what it brings.  There is always a herald out there if we take the time to listen, and always something new to broaden our horizons.

Hoping for sun!