An Artist's Quest

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All Fired Up: why getting fired might be the best thing ever

 

238.Guest house

Art journal entry- When One Door Closes Another Door Opens

Well I had a new experience this week – I got fired. It was the weirdest way of getting fired actually. I have been agitating with my local school district for a raise for the lowly enrichment teachers for several years, and finally, this past school year, a raise came through, yippee! But guess what- they cut days of teaching and paid prep time, wahwah, so basically the “raise” was a wash. Anyhow so when that came down I started pressing my case that prep for teaching pre-kinder through 2nd grade art is a necessity and should be paid. I went all around the district and to the fundraising arm etc, I had a parent who was advocating for me as well….anyhow this week I was told that the school will (get this) “be going in a different direction with art” when I asked “are you firing me?” the response was “we are going in a different direction with art”, I said “are you firing me today or for next year” (now here is the really confusing answer) “I’ll leave that up to you”…..that’s a head scratcher. I don’t have a contract, there’s no union for enrichment teachers so that’s it. In all the years I was there I was never evaluated or observed so clearly this “new direction” isn’t based on my teaching or my curriculum or anything about my work with the children. So I know you are asking – where does the best thing ever part of the story come? Well I want this to be an opportunity- I’ve wanted to put myself out there more, to lead more adult retreats and classes and the constraints of the elementary teaching schedule was sucking my time and my energy, so I’m thinking this is the universe telling me it’s time! I’m 53 years old, now is the time to get out there and be bold. This creaky old door closed (with a slam)- so what- open up all the windows and let the possibilities come in. I am designing a number of mixed modality retreats that each revolve around a theme which will include art, meditation, reflection, centering and more, and of course I have my art technique classes I love to teach as well. So now my dear readers, here is my request – if you know of an organization or retreat/art center that you think would love to host a retreat or workshop of mine- please introduce me. If you have a personal connection you are willing to share, even better. I am excited and a little nervous- I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going. Throw open the doors fling wide the windows let the clean fresh breeze sweep through!

Time and time again I come back to this Rumi poem- The Guest House. I have shared it on this blog before but it seems fitting in this situation. So I put it here again to remind you and mostly myself of it’s great wisdom.

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

Some momentary awareness comes

As an unexpected visitor

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently seep your house

empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond

-Rumi

Letting Go of Time

237.Jack'sBreakfast

My husband making a delicious breakfast, whilst I was obviously drawing!

I had a lovely weekend; you want to hear what I did? Nothing- not exactly nothing, but nothing productive and I’ve got to tell you it felt fine! I sat around in my jammies until nearly noon, ate delicious food, participated in tea time and cocktail hour. I sketched on my iPad while listening to podcasts half the day. Played games and listened to music with my family. It was wonderful. Nothing was checked off my to-do list, and it was good, very good. I’ve talked with you about this before, about how time bends when we go out to our getaway house in the Redwoods. It’s so important to do and so hard to make happen in the regular flow of life. For me it takes getting away. I can’t seem to let go of time when I’m at home. There are always lists, and plans and expectation of accomplishment. If I don’t allow for days that bend ­– days for sitting and staying – the rest of life becomes overwhelming, frayed and frazzled. So here’s hoping you can let go of time soon and find a way to make time bend, I highly recommend it.

Selfie but not Selfish

I thought I’d share a little art teachery stuff. I had the opportunity last year to do some freelance art lesson plans for the art materials company Grafix. I thought you’d like to see the lesson plan I did for teens on the selfie as art form. I want to thank my lovely teen niece who sent me a selfie to use in my sample lesson (because frankly no teen would be as inspired by my 5o-something selfie!) follow the link if you want to down load the lesson plans for free Grafix Selfie as Art Form Lesson Plan(that’s the not selfish part).

236. Grafix Selfie

 

Never fear we over 50’s can do the selfie thang too! This selfie of me, using the same Grafix products, will be in the next issue of Cloth Paper Scissors.

236b.selfie

 

Oh and this selfie series will be in the next issue of Quilting Arts Magazine (also using Grafix printable transparencies).

236c.loresLisa ThorpeSELFIE4qa

 

A Fresh A Fresh Start: something old is new again

235.NovemberFog&Frost

I painted a new landscape. That doesn’t seem like much of a proclamation but for me it sort of is. Let me give you a bit of background. As a young artist fresh out of art school most of my work was social, emotional, and spiritual commentary mostly figurative and mostly female figures. Then about 15 years ago a friend and benefactor, John Weaver, decided I should go to an artist retreat in the south of France to paint landscapes. I’m not sure why he felt so strongly about it but he just thought it would be good for me so he donated some money to The Bishop’s Ranch for staff education and made sure I was the first one to use it. When I got to France I hadn’t painted a landscape since I was a child water coloring in a Yosemite meadow along side my mother. To be perfectly honest I had a little art school snobbiness about beauty. I liked to wear the angsty artist label as much the next art student and create “meaningful, challenging” art which is code for not pretty and god forbid not cute! But by this time I had lived in the beauty of The Bishop’s Ranch for five years and to be perfectly honest my life was so lovely and charming that there wasn’t much reason to make angsty art. So I surrendered to the beauty of the landscape in France and put what I learned to use at home, churning out painting after painting, for a while painting a landscape a week! My catalog has over a hundred landscapes of the Ranch and surrounds. But suddenly I was bored I had over done it. The landscapes felt like an expectation, and I began to feel trapped. So I took a hiatus, diving into collage, encaustic, digital art, quilting and any other medium that wandered my way. But lately, the last 4 or 5 months, I’ve been thinking longingly of landscapes. Going for hikes taking photos thinking, that would be a good landscape, so when I found my phone full of such photos I thought the universe was trying to tell me something- PAINT A LANDSCAPE – and so I did. And you know what- I loved it. The process of translating a beautiful vista into a beautiful painting, reconnecting with my personal painting style and the comfort of my old friend Golden paints, a lovely number 2 round brush and number 4 flat – well it was like old friends meeting up after years apart and getting along like we’d never been apart. So you my faithful blog followers get the first look –November  Fog and Frost. I hope you enjoy seeing it as much as I enjoyed painting it… more to come, but definitely not one a week, I’m going to pace myself this time!

Surviving Abundance – a reoccurring theme

Every year at this time I say I’m not going to get crazy with all the holiday this and that, and every year I really try to keep it under control. But the gatherings and the baking and the making and organizing is just part of the season, part of the harvest time of a rich relationship filled life and really I wouldn’t want it any other way. This year as in past years, I gravitate to the pomegranate as a symbol of the season. My pomegranate tree is hanging heavy with this wonderful fruit. It is like locked treasure chest with a thick leather case. Opening it is always fraught with the possibility of juice and jewels everywhere, but once it is open the reward is evident. The color, the shine, the multifaceted jewels filled with sweet, sweet juice there is nothing else quite so wondrous to me. So here’s to the season of abundance and wonder and a bit of hard work too, enjoy its sweet, sweet pleasures.

234.THORPE-ART-MixedMediaArtJournaling-POMEGRANATE

Here is a page from my art journal. I am excited to say I’ll be teaching a class in Mixed Media Art Journaling at the Mendocino Art Center the 1st weekend in August. I would like to teach more workshops like this if any of you have a suggestion of a retreat or art center that would be a good fit for my offerings please let me know and even better if you have a personal contact for me, I would really appreciate it!

The Tenacity of Life

Pleasure is spread through the earth in stray gifts to be claimed by whoever shall find.

-William Wordsworth

233.above Westside road 11-04

The view from the Ranch where I walked today. I painted this painting a few years back on a day much like today.

I went for a walk this morning with my old dog Lucky. She sniffed and barked at birds and phantoms, and followed the scent of last night’s fox or bobcat or stray cat with her stout short legged body bolting with such vigor and speed that seems impossible as seen prone on the couch- belly up and snoring. We walked the open pasture that rises up above road and looked out long across the valley of vineyards in full fall color. The hills and paths are just springing green, only an inch or so of rain has fallen in this drought stricken place, but the seeds that have lain dry and waiting were ready, sinking roots into the newly dampen earth to start a fresh green journey through another cycle of seasons. You my dear readers who don’t live in California and are always in the greening life, may not understand what a dramatic switch this is. We Californians like to call our hills golden in the dry hot summer and fall, which they are for a while but then they turn a brown grey like a burro’s back, waiting, waiting for rain. It came last week and this week the green has returned. Visible at first only in the mowed paths now showing more as the weeks advance stretching above the bent brown heads of it’s fallen parents. And today I was here to claim this bright, tenacious gift of exuberant hope.

Listening to the Landscape

Another of my aerial quilts which doesn't show the fog or the steam or the starlings I talk about but does show the vast beautiful landscape. Drawn on the ipad - printed on fabric and freemotion stitched. Russian River valley -Summer vines

Another of my aerial quilts which doesn’t show the fog or the steam or the starlings I talk about but does show the vast beautiful landscape. Drawn on the ipad – printed on fabric and freemotion stitched. Russian River valley -Summer vines

I didn’t sleep very well last night so I almost talked myself out of my morning hike but I rallied after some oatmeal and a big mug of coffee to take a loop through the woods and out into a hilly clearing that provides vista’s to the east, west and south. The morning fog lay over the river and steam was rising from the dry grass hill as the suns rays warmed the frosted grey-brown grass. I sat on a near by bench facing the Northeast to watch and listen and breathe. The first sound I took note of was the distant road noise and marveled at the low hum. Then I watched the fog lifting its lacy fingers releasing the Russian river from its nights embrace, in the distance a murmur of starlings swooped across the valley and out of my line of sight. Then before I could see them I heard them behind and above, a rush of sound as blood and bone and feather worked to move wing and beating heart on and away out of sight again. The sun won the day- fog drifted, steam lifted and I rose by blood and bone and long limb to walk into my day. Strengthened by the reminder that I am part of the great net of life, one strand in the vast universe, one with the fog and the sun and starling.

Detail of stitch.

Detail of stitch.

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