An Artist's Quest

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Giving Thanks for Steamed Pudding & Time

273.persimmons

I went for an early morning walk today. I was on a mission to pick persimmons to make steamed persimmon pudding. There are several persimmon trees here at The Bishop’s Ranch and as always there was an abundance of persimmons. Yesterday I noticed that most were gone or fallen to the ground, or pecked to the stem by grateful ravenous birds; birds who can’t believe their luck to find such a treat just days from a solstice dark night. This frosty morning I realized that if I don’t get some now I wouldn’t be able to make my Aunt Lorraine steamed pudding.

My Aunt Lorraine turned 90 this October and I brought her some stone hard persimmons as a gift. As a thank you she sent me her recipe for steamed persimmon pudding… and in her Christmas card I got this week she asked me if I’d made it yet. So you can see I felt duty bound to honor this women with the making of a steamed pudding!

As I often do I started making the recipe before reading through the entire directions. My batter was made before I realized I’d need a “6 cup greased metal mold” – opps – I could picture what I think I need, my grandma had all these copper decorative pans with fluted sides – I think that’s what I need – all I have is a Bundt pan – it will have to do. As I read on I realized I need to fit this Bundt pan into a large kettle – it just fits! Uh oh how do I get it out? I need to put water in the bottom of the pan… with a bit of kitchen twine and some knotting skills I managed to rig a string lift to check the water. Now I’m ready to go! What? “Steam for 2 ½ hours”. With time on my hands I did this little painting of some persimmons waiting on my windowsill. Still more time and I’m writing this blog and connecting with you… still 59 minutes to go, I guess I should clean the kitchen now. But not before I give thanks for persimmons, and family recipes, and the gift of time for this disorganized cook to paint and ponder and reach out to you.

Be well this holiday season and take time, however it presents itself, to give thanks for all the beauty and love swirling around the long dark nights and short crisp days of Solstice.

273b.recipe

This is my Aunt Lorraine’s recipe, I can’t say how it came out because it’s still on the stove… but the batter was tasty! 49 minutes to go and fingers crossed that I can get it out of the Bundt pan!

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Thinking of Mark

272. thinking of Mark

“The Space between Heaven and Earth” currently showing at the Mendocino Art Center

My cousin Mark died today and I feel compelled to write about him and how I feel. He was just a few years older than me, 57- I think, and he died of cancer that had spread within his body. Mercifully he only knew for a couple of weeks and, I’m told wasn’t in much pain even at the last. That’s comforting, I think, at least comforting to me. He was an extraordinary man, full of wit and wisdom, sarcasm and sweetness. He was one of the strongest, most persistent people I’m sure I’ll ever meet. You see when he was in his teens he began showing the signs of muscular dystrophy, and while the disease weakened his muscles he carried on his life – he lived and learned and loved and though he was in a wheel chair for decades he was fiercely independent and spent most of his adult life advocating for people with disabilities. This paragraph is not enough, no words will be enough, but I wanted you to know, I want you to know he was here on this earth, he was important.

As a sometimes confused and always questioning Christian, I don’t really know what happens when we die. My dad shared his thoughts a few days before his death: at birth we are in one place warm and familiar and then there is a great commotion and we are in another place distinctly different and death seems to be like that, we are in one familiar place and then a great commotion and now to another place. This is a comforting way for me to think of death, as a rationalist I know we are made of cells, and molecules and atoms, particles of dancing protons and electrons. When we die those things still exist in the universe but their purpose is changed, they break apart and reconfigure but are still here. The molecules of Mark’s last breath still float in the air repurposed, reclaimed but here among us just the same.

I watched a documentary awhile back about the Tibetan Book of the Dead. It was fascinating and illuminating. One scene I remember is at the bedside of a man who had just died. The tradition calls for prayers and chants to be sustained around the body for many hours (perhaps days?) to encourage the floating spirit to not be afraid and to not jump into the first living thing to pass in front of the suspended soul – in essence cheering the departed one to reach for a higher level existence in the cycle of reincarnation. Oddly today as I thought of Mark I thought why not try out the strong body of the grasshopper. Wouldn’t it be lovely for him to bound and leap with such strong legs? Besides a grasshopper lifespan is short – within the year he could leap his way into a flitting, flying sparrow and try that body for a while, there is much to learn from the little sparrows strong wings, I’m sure. Three years from then perhaps a wise old owl will suit Mark’s fancy, soaring above us all in the long cool night air. Or maybe a dolphins body would fit well, how playful and lithe he would be let loose from that heavy damn wheel chair.

So just incase, I put the cricket I found in my kitchen this afternoon gently outside and whispered in my cupped hands before I let it go – you’re free now JUMP!

Your One Job

270.this Brilliant moment

This Painting will be at the Mendocino Art Center Gallery as part of my solo show from November 1st-22nd.

Hello friends, it’s been a busy week with a busier weekend; lot’s of lists and check marks and more things added to the list. This morning I’m heading out to Incarnation Church to lead a All Souls and Saints Icon making workshop for 20. I have a long list of materials to pack in the car to get on my way. As I was dashing up the driveway to my studio to load the car a wonderful vista over the vineyards emerged: golden rows of vines, a silky layer of fog ribboning above the river beyond and two brightly colored hot air balloons floating above.  I took a glace and told myself I’ve got no time to stop – get the car loaded and get going- my head told me.  As I dashed into my studio I saw this painting propped against the wall ready to take to my Mendocino show, it gently reminded me – your one job is to observe this brilliant moment -and so my heart listened and I stopped walked out on the patio, drank in the moist morning air, let the sun warm my face, watched the birds out flank the floating balloons and gave thanks.

This is just a little reminder to me and you  (now I’ve got to go – I have a workshop to lead!)

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Peace Be Upon You

269.Peacebeuponyou

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged – I’ve been working hard to get ready for a solo show at the Mendocino Art Center.  I’m loving the work I’ve done for the show and I’ll share it with you through the next few weeks.

As many of you know I live up in Sonoma County in Northern California, I’m sure you couldn’t miss the news of horrible fires up here. I’m relived to let you know that  West of the Russian River where I am was unscathed.  The tension and fear pervaded the area and everyone in the area was touched in small and big ways by the devastation.  I painted this triptych during the week of the fires as my way to calm my nervous energy and direct the unknown into something I know how to do.  I know how to paint, so I painted.  It brought me peace to do the work and it is my small offering to those who have lost so much.

Peace Be Upon You

The Mendocino Art Center show begins November 1st through Thanksgiving. The opening is November 11th from 5-8pm. If you happen to live in Mendocino area or close by I hope you can come. Mendocino Art Center info

Knowing

A knowing look, a knowing smile…. the older I get the more I know I don’t know much. I don’t know the depths of someone’s pain, the meaning behind the smile, the gesture, the tone. The more I know the less certain I am of my certainty. That’s a good thing, I think. I’m teaching myself to be less judgmental, reminding myself I don’t really know what is behind or underneath the surface, that I can’t really walk in anyone’s shoes but mine. This painting is about the idea that the only way to know anyone or anything I must share myself – a laying bare, a nakedness, an openness. I’m thanking Eve in this painting; she is sharing the apple with me, telling me that to know any true thing at all I must share my true, naked self. I’ll try – the first bite is crisp and tart, sweet and juicy – like life, like love, like living.

268.Knowing

I am furiously painting for a November show at the Mendocino Art Center this Fall. This painting and more will be a part of my solo show there. The opening is November 11th 5-8pm if you happen to be a Mendocino resident I hope you’ll meet me there.

Check out my schedule of workshops for the next nine months – I hope you can join me and get your creative juices flowing. Creative Workshops

Fruits of Our Labors- ANTICIPATION

Spring brings blossoms, summer brings fruit, and fall brings libations!

Apple-THORPE-ART-MixedMediaArtJournaling

From my art journal done this spring with the apple blossoms. I’ll do a “Still Life With Hard Cider” when the time comes.

Last weekend some friends invited us to help them pick and press apples. We picked pounds and pounds of apples, brought by the wheelbarrow full to the press. Then we washed and dropped the apples into a mechanical chopper. The chopped apples were then put into an old-fashioned crank juice press. We took turns washing, chopping and cranking – filling jugs of apple juice to freeze for drinking later. Then we juiced more, about 20 gallons more in fact. This juice is now bubbling and brewing and becoming hard cider. This process is way beyond my skills, I’m leaving it up to a master mixer, but since I volunteered to pick and press… this fall I’ll get to taste. Not bad pay!

I have a years worth of workshops lined up on the calendar go to my website to see what’s happening and how to sign up! http://lisathorpe.com/classes.html

My Own Personal Game of Thrones

I was out at our house in the redwoods this week for a little respite and of course with home ownership come chores. There are some things that must be done and my ongoing battle with three fierce enemies is a summer ritual. My battle for dominance is akin to the Game of Thrones series.  For those of you unfamiliar with Game of Thrones, there are multiple competing forces all vying to rule a fantasy world. I can’t really keep track of who’s who most of the time; and there really doesn’t seem to be a clear good guy, but there are clearly bad guys….any how, I took on my annual battle with the forces of nature like Khaleesi fighting the despicable slavery lords. My three opponents are these: One- the wily Poison Oak, clever at disguising itself – it can be a shrub, a vine and often likes to hide among other plants lying in wait to spread it’s itch inducing oils. Two- the spiny Blackberry, armed from leaf to root with thorns and able to amass a great, vast, impenetrable army of shrubbery to defend itself. Three- Scotch Broom, an invasive species that shoots up everywhere, really everywhere, like the Zombie White Walkers in the afore mentioned fantasy world; and left unchecked can take over a hillside in a year or two. So those are my enemies, and while the weapon of a hoe is honorable and effective, it is no match for these voracious foes. Don’t hate me for bringing out the big guns, Round Up and a two-gallon hand pump sprayer is my bazooka, or to keep the Game of Thrones metaphor going the Round Up is akin Daenerys Targaryen’s mighty flying dragons defending her territory from all comers. Fingers crossed I have kept my rivals at bay for another year, but never fear, season 12 is just one rainy winter and sunny spring away.

266.still life with roundup

From my sketchbook Still life with Round Up was done out on our summer deck after my epic battle, a gin and tonic close at hand!