I went for a hike along the trails here at The Bishop’s Ranch yesterday morning. The sun was bright and warm, tempered by a brisk spring wind. As I walked through the heirloom apple orchard the nearly century old trees, twisted and bedraggled with dead branches, persisted in blooming, they resist the urge each year to give in to winter and choose instead, with what energy they have, to embrace spring. Thanks to the abundant winter rains this year the trees are surrounded by carpet of green dotted with delicate, bright yellow buttercups. As I bent down to pick a few a sweet memory flooded through – forty-five years or more ago I bent to pick these same buttercups. That day I stood in a meadow with my sister. The meadow had a little creek that ran through it and housed two fat ponies and a burro. While they grazed idly by we picked buttercups. We picked buttercups not by the handful but by the armful. We truly filled buckets with buttercups to bring to the house. We filled every nook and cranny with buttercup bouquets.
Yesterday I brought my bundle of buttercups to my studio. I am preparing for a mixed media nature journaling class I’m teaching in May here at the Ranch (class info). I have been experimenting with printing organic objects. So I inked up my printing plate and placed my buttercups down, laid the paper on and rubbed. When the print is lifted what showed is the negative space around the buttercup. Then I gently peeled up the buttercups and made what is called a ghost print of what was left behind under the buttercups. I found these negative space prints and their ghosts to contain a simple quiet beauty and while I was making them I began to think of my father who passed away last fall. I have been working on a slide show for the celebration of life we are having for him next weekend. While I have done the best to find images of him throughout is life from birth to death, to somehow encapsulate who he was in one slide show, I know is folly. There are gaps of course, missing pieces things he loved not captured in film, people whom he loved and loved him not pictured. The gaps and missing pieces in this slide show are like the negative space buttercup prints- they depict the presence of absence the space around the life. And like the ghost prints it is just a whisper of the vibrant life he led. I am grateful that his memory comes to me in many ways through photos and celebrations, and quiet buttercup prints reminding me to leave space for the presence of absence.
Somehow I can’t keep up with my life these days; well that’s not quite true, I’m keeping up but just barely. Workshops are happening, my work at The Bishop’s Ranch is happening but I feel stuck in quick sand, I’m running but it feels more like slogging. I keep thinking I’ll get caught up – today is the day – and then the next day is the same. I’ll keep trying – I promised to blog more but bare with me. I want to keep you in the loop about what I’m up too so….
This weekend I taught this weekend at The Bishop’s Ranch my Winter Creative Workshop. It was all about making art papers and making personal, artful gifts and cards with the stenciled, stamped and sprayed papers, take a peek:
But wait there’s more! I’m having a Studio Sale December 1st-3rd, here is a preview and a link to details STUDIO SALE… PLEASE COME AND INVITE FRIENDS:
Still MORE! Commit to your creative self in 2017 come make art with ME! WORKSHOP INFO
I just wrapped up a great weekend with 16 adventurous creative women, who in two days learned a bunch of new techniques and made a vast array of interesting, personal, playful and insightful art. It is always rewarding to share what I know and then see the different directions that one medium can go. In just 2 days I could see each student find their voice and unique style. I always learn something along the way too, a new twist on something I’ve been doing for ages or in answering a question I never thought to ask before. So I give thanks to these women who trusted me with their creative hearts and dared to go on a creative adventure with me!
A couple of weekends ago I taught a Mixed Media Art Journaling class at the Mendocino Art Center. The center is located in the quaint artsy coastal town of Mendocino in on the Northern California coast. It’s a beautiful little town and a lovely place to teach. On Saturday, after teaching, I made my way to the local bookstore and as I often do, I found myself thumbing through the poetry section. This poem of Mary Oliver’s spoke to me and I used it as my inspiration for my Sunday demonstration in my workshop the next day.
I Go Down to The Shore
I go down to the shore in the morning
and depending on the hour the waves
are rolling in our moving out,
and I say, ok, I am miserable,
what shall –
what should I do? And the sea says
in it’s lovely voice:
Excuse me, I have work to do.
–Mary Oliver, A Thousand Mornings
The poem speaks to where I am right now- “I have work to do”. I had a summer with busy parts and lazy parts, visits, travels and guests. It is wonderful to get out of the routine, get out of the ordinary, to play with the rhythm of the day and the rhythm of the week. But at some point it is time to return to ordinary time. There is comfort in the return – the structure of rising early, exercise, and getting down to the business at hand. This week was that for me, doing Ranch work, making sketches for a commission, meetings, emails, even this blog, all of it. My to-do list has been sitting ignored for some time now and this week it’s boxes were checked, things completed new items added. It is both daunting and invigorating to return. So forgive me if I brush past you in my bustle, like the sea, “I have work to do”.
Lately I have been designing mixed modality meditation workshops with a variety of different groups that come to The Bishop’s Ranch. This week I had the opportunity to work with Colleen Cannon and her Women’s Quest retreat (Women’s Quest Site). Colleen leads women’s empowerment retreats and takes women all over the country to go on “adventures for body, mind and spirit”. She asked me to design an art meditation for her group during their stay at the Ranch. Last night I got to work with this delightful group of women. During the day they had biked for many miles around Sonoma county and after dinner joined me in a meditation session that lead to these beautiful intention filled stones. Each color on the stone relates to an intention or goal. I had them each make two stones, one to take home with them and one to leave in a little meditation spot here at the Ranch- I plan to do this project with all the summer campers this year and as the summer passes the rock cairns of good intentions will grow!
I haven’t written in awhile… sorry….when I got fired from my teaching job in late March I imagined so much time and space to make art and blog with you and meditate and ponder the meaning of life. But as Aristotle said, horror vacui, or nature abhors a vacuum, and while I was worrying about how to make money when my job ended I caste a fist full of seeds into the universe. Well I guess a lot of those seeds found fertile ground and now I need to consider thinning my crop down to the things I most want to do. I saw a Venn-diagram recently with 3 overlapping circles; one reads what you are passionate about the next reads what you are good at and the third reads what people will pay you for…..and where they all cross over is the sweet spot – where talent, passion and marketability meet. Simple enough in theory but harder to find on a day to day basis. When I finished teaching April 1st I felt like this was an opportunity- I was just given some space to find the sweet spot- but in my fear of no income I have been filling up my every minute taking on every job that comes my way. I have taken on more graphic design work, more work at The Bishop’s Ranch, more workshop teaching, more sewing jobs…. you get the idea. In some ways it feels good, I know I can make the money when I need to, but now I need to pull back and do that thinning of my possibilities garden I was talking about before and find the sweet spot in my personal Venn-diagram. This week I got a little clue about which way to wander. On Sunday I taught an Encaustic Collage Workshop for 12 wonderful women- they had a good day I had a good day and I felt financially well compensated. Also this week, kind of by accident, I sold 4 pieces of art- big pieces- and when told the prospective buyers the price no one flinched. So I think I’m beginning to zero in on my talent, my passion, and what people will pay for. So here’s to searching for the sweet spot and listening to what the universe is telling you!
Here in my little slice of paradise spring has long sprung (sorry you guys in cold climes) and now it is iris turn to stretch out her long neck and open her beautiful face to the sky. The iris come in an awe-inspiring color palette that surprise and delight every year. Some time ago a friendly acquaintance asked me if I wanted some iris rhizomes (they look like a ginger root gone mad) he was digging out of his yard. I picked up a bucketful not really knowing what a treasure trove I had. The following year blooms of impossible beauty shot tall and sturdy in my yard. I have this purpley-pink bloom (above), and a surprising periwinkle blue one, there is a pale creamy yellow one and one that is a deep cabernet red and another that is a purple black of astounding darkness standing like the night sky facing the full sun. The flower itself is a delicate fluttering silk butterfly but the stalk it opens from is tall and sturdy and strong giving a wonderful jux of position. I have been admiring these beauties that rise from my garden with seriously no help from me now for at least 10 years. They rise and bloom and slowly fade and fall to burrow again in the comfort of the ground and spring forth strong and beautiful again each year, a good reminder of beauty and strength and resilience. Thank you iris, for standing as a bold reminder that I too can grow and bloom and fold fallow ready to bloom again when the time is right.
The painting above is from my watercolor sketch book- I’m teaching a Wine and Watercolor class this Sunday at a local winery Campo Vida website. If you have ideas of places I can teach or contacts with organizations or businesses that you think could pare well with a watercolor class, let me know and I will reach out to them.