“Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.” -Anne Sexton
It was really difficult to find my rhythm in the studio this past week. We got home late Saturday night. Luke was here for Mother’s Day and to bring back Watson who he had kept for us. It was a wonderful Mother’s Day celebration, but then Monday, Luke was back at school and Bob left for a week away on business.
I love being by myself, but after all the time spent together on vacation and then the great family gathering, on Monday I felt very alone – not lonely, just alone. I busied myself with laundry and the house. But most of all, I needed time to process all I had seen. After spending the week before in New Mexico looking at amazing art and a completely different landscape, it was hard for me to clear my head to paint.
Finally on Wednesday, I quickly painted two pieces. I feel both of these are heavily influenced by my time spent in the southwest.
‘The Bird Conjurer’
We are having an irrigation system put in for our (raised bed) garden today. Between vacation, all the rain and busy schedules, it may be next year before I’m actually planting in this garden space. After the irrigation is in, we need to build the beds and fence it in.
I have a few 18-inch clay pots with kale, swiss chard, collards, cabbage, Brussel sprouts and tomatoes planted. Now I’m dealing with a rogue squirrel who likes swiss chard. It’s annoying because we are taking so many precautions against deer and moles – the damn squirrels can climb the fence. Looks like we’ll need to put a little electricity on the top wire of the fencing. I don’t love squirrels. They are so destructive and so clever. Not a good combination.
“Painting is a source of endless pleasure, but also of great anguish.” -Balthus
“Art is what we call the thing the artist does. It’s not the medium or the oil or the price or whether it hangs on a wall or you eat it. What matters, what makes it art is that the person who made it overcame the resistance, ignored the voice of doubt and made something worth making. Something risky. Something human. Art is not in the eye of the beholder. It’s in the soul of the artist.” -Seth Godin
We had such a wonderful holiday. We flew to Santa Fe and drove to Taos. We rented the most magical casita. John Nichols who wrote the THE MILAGRO BEANFIIELD WAR lived there for a while. We wandered around Taos for a few days eating the amazing New Mexican cuisine. WOW is it good. We visited friends in Abiquiu and walked around Georgia O’keeffe’s Ghost Ranch; visited an Indian Pueblo; drove the Enchanted Circle scenic highway and did I mention we ate wonderful food!? While at the Indian Pueblo, we met a drum maker who will make Luke a drum and infuse it with good spirit. I will describe Luke and his goals and then the drum will be made specifically for him. Sounds like a great Christmas present.
Then we spent the last day in Santa Fe. Santa Fe has a million galleries and we walked through about two hundred on Canyon Road. We wanted to bring back some original art. The decision was so difficult because we wanted at least one piece from every gallery. The first piece above was actually purchased in Arroyo Seco not far from Taos and it’s by Peggy Baucom. This one needs to be framed and we are going to hang it above our fireplace.
‘For All Those Who Gave Us Shelter’
We purchased this piece from the GVG Contemporary Gallery on Canyon Road in Santa Fe. It was the first gallery we went in and this piece was hanging just inside the door. We both fell immediately in love and after looking at many more pieces in hundreds of galleries, we came back to this. This one will hang over our bed. Isn’t it wonderful.
We bought one more mixed media piece.
New Mexico is beautiful although I missed our green treed landscape. It’s good to get away! I’m refreshed and almost caught up with laundry and reclaiming my house. I hope to get back in the studio this afternoon. Here are a few beautiful pictures from our trip.
“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” -Henry David Thoreau
“I always forget how important the empty days are, how important it may be sometimes not to expect to produce anything, even a few lines in a journal. A day when one has not pushed oneself to the limit seems a damaged, damaging day, a sinful day. Not so! The most valuable thing one can do for the psyche, occasionally, is to let it rest, wander, live in the changing light of a room.” -May Sarton
Happy May Day, happy May – my favorite month. It contains my anniversary, Mother’s Day and my birthday. So I’m giving myself a little gift, a gift of true relaxation – rejuvenation. I’m going to wander for awhile. I’ll have my sketchbook with me and I’ll be back soon.
“Music is the silence between the notes.” -Claude Debussy
“Procrastination is driven by a desire to have a finished product. I don’t focus on that. I focus on the process which is its own endeavor and has it’s own rewards. Like the saying, ‘there are no ends, only means.’ As long as I am moving, doing, thinking, planning and organizing, I am not procrastinating. Procrastination comes from fear. Fear of failure.” -Mike Etie
I didn’t have much time in my studio this week, but I did manage to finish the two pieces above. I got a laser printer last year for my birthday (May), but with all the upheaval of moving and setting up a new studio, I haven’t used it. The first piece has some added collage pieces (the figure and the Japanese newsprint on the upper left) and the bird is a drawing I did and copied and printed with my laser printer and then added as a transfer. I finished the piece with acrylics, acrylic glazing medium, charcoal and Derwent pencils.
The next piece is an abstract with acrylics, acrylic glazing medium, wax pastels and Derwent pencils.
I’m looking forward to the weekend! It’s supposed to rain the entire time, so I’d like to lay on the sofa and watch movies or read my book — no chores! Bob just bought season one and two of Game of Thrones. Gotta take advantage of a rainy weekend. And then next Saturday we leave for vacation. YAY! Luke is staying here and keeping Watson. They like hanging out together.
“Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument. Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” -Rumi
“All you can do in life is be who you are. Some people will love you for you. Most will love you for what you can do for them and some won’t like you at all.” -Rita Mae Brown
a friend gives an
our truest self
our hearts meet
with only a nod
or a quick wink
always with grace
a connection that
“The purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.” -Kurt Vonnegut
“The most important thing is that you love what you are doing and the second – that you are not afraid of where the next idea will lead.” -Charles Eames
After deciding that turning the television off wasn’t enough, I also turned my computer off. I just couldn’t continue to listen to or read the news. I sat at my drawing table doing what brings me joy – literally playing with all my materials. I used watercolor pencils, acrylic washes, oil pastels, wax pastels and graphite. These drawings are in two different sketchbooks. One of the books is obviously too big for my scanner.
I’m working on some ideas for paintings with these sketches. I’m somewhat stuck as to what I want to paint next. I sidetracked myself with drawing and want to get back to my acrylics. These sketches are quickly done on purpose so I move away – for the time being – from concentrating on actual drawing skills. I will continue to practice drawing – but it takes all of my focus, so time for a painting break.
“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” -Joseph Campbell
“There is a silence into which the world can not intrude. There is an ancient peace you carry in your heart and have not lost. There is a sense of holiness in you the thought of sin has never touched. All this today you will remember.” -Helen Schucman
I was going to do a post on the little beautiful things that are happening in my life right now – Luke’s recital, my poem being accepted for print and some new drawings I’ve been working on. Somehow that all feels insignificant when unspeakable horror occurs to my fellow human beings. I believe the majority of folks are good in this world, but every now and then someone with a wire loose unleashes unspeakable insanity – making us all feel unsafe and vulnerable. Today, though in spite of everything that has happened lately, I still choose to believe in the fundamental good of mankind. My heart goes out to those who’ve lost family members and to those dealing with unbelievable injuries. May we all heal — together.
“I would like my life to be a statement of love and compassion – and where it isn’t, that’s where my work lies.” -Ram Dass
“A trapeze artist on his high wire is performing and defying death at the same time. He’s doing more than showing off his skill; he’s using his skill to stay alive. Art demands that sense of risk, of danger. But few artists in any period risk their lives. The truth is they’re not on a high enough wire.” -Stanley Kunitz
I haven’t been in my studio much lately. I have spring fever and have been outside! I’ve made a promise to myself to draw daily, so when I don’t have much time, I like to draw faces. They are quick and don’t require the concentration learning to draw does for me. These drawings were done with charcoal, graphite, colored graphite and watercolor pencils. I am working in a Strathmore Visual Journal with 140lb cold press watercolor paper.
I’m finding this isn’t quite the paper I want. I ordered it so I could use my watercolor pencils, but when I add charcoal and erase there is too much soot left behind. The first photo was so black with graphite that I did a tea stain over it. It helped some, but I think I’m going to switch journals. I found a tip on Lynne Hoppe’s blog. She recently posted about a Stillman & Birn journal, Zeta series that sounds perfect. I’m always adding to my wish list after visiting Lynne’s blog. She shares so much about her materials and techniques.
I’m also re-working “First Steps.” I didn’t like the white background and I may put a figure on the horse. Obviously that piece is not finished. My ideas for some new work include figures, animals and buildings — time to put it all together and take a few risks.
“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” -Henry David Thoreau
“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” -Joseph Chilton Pearce
Still drawing but beginning to add color. Above – charcoal, graphite, acrylic washes, Derwent watercolor pencils. Attempting to loosen up beyond my sketchbook. This is on a luan 24×24 panel.
“But there are certain meanings that are lost forever the moment they are explained in words.” -Haruki Murakami
“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” -Margaret Atwood
There’s something about the warm spring days that just makes me happy. That luscious spring green of leaves budding out on all the trees. The new growth sprouting from the ground – it is energizing! My garlic is up. My peonies have broken ground. The hydrangeas are leafing out. The sun is warm. I think we’ll have a few more 50 degree days — but not many more.
This past week we had an outbuilding delivered and a portion of our upper deck screened in. My artwork in the next few weeks will be mostly working outside. Our garden will take some time to implement. We are irrigating, building raised beds and fencing it in. So this year we will probably only plant half and that may be for the fall garden. Lots to do before adding seeds. As I’ve said in a previous post we are building according to Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening book. He not only recommends raised beds, but also has a formula for the dirt mix for the beds. It all sounds like a lot of work – but only in the beginning. This way of gardening should make gardening easier in the long run. Because I am insisting on an organic garden, we are having to seek out non pressured treated lumber for the raised beds and fencing. And my future holds a greenhouse! YAY – I’ve only wanted one since I was 16. I spent my youth/college years working at garden centers and greenhouses! Dreams do come true – maybe not on my timetable, but eventually.
The exciting thing about having an outbuilding is we finally get to set-up our garage studio. Luke was home this weekend and helped us fill that outbuilding with all the unnecessary stuff you need, but don’t have any place for. Bob is a pack rat and saves screws and metal and wood pieces. He scours flea markets for stuff I just don’t understand. But when something needs to be fixed or built, he has everything to do it and knows where all of it is. I’m constantly amazed. Having an outbuilding to store that stuff gives him room for all of his woodworking tools and I get to set-up my clay working area. I sold my wheel last year, but still have my slab roller and kiln and low fire glazes, slips and terra sigs. And lately I’ve been thinking about clay and wanting to make some things. I’ve learned a lot about working two-dimensionally and want to use what I’ve learned on my clay surfaces. I’ll also have a place to work with my hot wax (encaustic) stuff and my bookmaking.
We love this home in the mountains and hope to get it set-up in the next few years so Bob can retire. We’ll have our studios and garden and these beautiful mountains to roam.
Happy April everyone. Did you remember to say ‘rabbit-rabbit’ this morning?
“There are hundreds of paths up the mountain, all leading to the same place, so it doesn’t matter which path you take. The only person wasting time is the one who runs around the mountain telling everyone that his or her path is wrong.” -Hindu proverb