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.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the uncivil discourse in our country and the world that seems to be filling our newspapers, our social media, and our inboxes. But we all know in reality we are more alike than different, we want to give and receive love, we want our family and friends to be safe, happy and whole. You know that’s about it really when you come down to it, and I think almost everyone could agree to that. So what has been rolling around in my mind is how to get that message out? I decided showing love and building community through art is what I know so last week I launched this-
OPEN HEART STUDIO troop #1 –Promoting civil discourse one LOVE letter at a time.
This is what I sent out to my local friends:
Mission: To reveal our common humanity via Random Acts of Love, through the vehicle of art. No politics, no religion, just a common need to receive and give love.
What: Make a love collage on one side of a 4×6 card, write a simple note such as “YOU ARE LOVED, pass it on”, laminate the card add a string on top place them randomly and anonymously in the world. That’s it!
Short Term Goal: To brainstorm the idea with you and make some love notes and send them out in the world.
Long Term Goal: Meet monthly to make collage cards and set them loose in the world. Encourage others to start their own OPEN HEART STUDIO troops.
Dreams: To have a mobile Open Heart Studio van filled with collage items and everything needed to make a R.A.L. card…go to scout meetings, schools, churches, synagogs, mosques, town meetings, have a booth at farmers markets, a stand outside of Congress, at the U.N.….oh yeah and achieve world peace!
I don’t have a facebook page or a website or any of that right now just an idea and a hope for a more loving, accepting, helpful, peaceful world. I will keep you posted on my progress. Maybe you want to start your own Open Heart Studio troop. Yours can be troop # 2!
I’ve been a bit wrung out these days, my to-do list just won’t get shorter, my sleep is off, the short days and early dark – you know what I mean – I’m out of whack, I’m in disequilibrium. So where the mind goes so goes the body and a few weeks ago I bent to zip my zipper or tie my shoe or something else innocuous – there was a loud pop in my neck and my range of motion stopped at about twenty-five degrees each way. Ok fine universe, I’ll do some stretching, etc and keep on going. Well let me tell you the universe did not abide, so last week after a regular teeth cleaning (nothing unusual) my jaw slipped out of gear just like the clutch going out in your car but this came with gnawing pain with every chew and my bite out of alignment….. OK, OK universe I get it – STOP – I added “take care of self” to my to-do list. There was a masseuse right here at the Ranch for the week – nothing was stopping me. So today (just hours ago in fact) I got an amazing massage!
I scheduled a 90-minute massage instead of just 60 minutes (a splurge I have never allowed myself), I told my masseuse of my woes and she got to work, she dug and pressed and smoothed every inch of me with her hot angel hands. While I was on the table an image of a strong, fierce, determined angel wringing out laundry along the Ganges came to mind. The masseuse was the angel, of course, and I the laundry, the pouring rain outside played the part of the mighty holy Ganges River. After almost 2 hours she left me – set out to dry in the tree branches along the riverbank. Neck is moving to 35 degrees each way now (not perfect – but better), jaw thinking about getting back to work (maybe a few more days). Thank you universe for reminding me to take care of myself – but next time can you just send me a text?
So here is your reminder before it’s too late- make time for yourself in the midst of your all your busy!
PS – Thanks Angel Anya for your strong hands and open heart!
This week I have been in deep seeking mode. The early rains, the cold mornings tell me it’s time – golden chanterelle time that is. So each morning this week I have put on my rubber boots and grabbed my mushroom kit (a knife to cut the mushroom off below the dirt, a natural bristle brush to whisk off the dirt and a bag) and set off. These scrumptious beauties like to rise up in the deep leafy duff below the oak trees, blackberry bramble and poison oak spouts so this effort is not for the weak I tell you. These past drought years there haven’t been any chanterelles (at least that I could find) but this year I was heartened to see lots of fungi sprouting so shouldn’t the chanterelles arrive too. But each brisk morning I have been disappointed, bright orange, brown, black and white caps of other mushrooms have revealed themselves but not my tasty treasure. So this morning, like the others, I donned my boots and grabbed my bag – keeping my eyes low scanning the ground under the trees. As I walked up the back driveway, here at the Ranch, the open pasture to the north sparkled in the early morning light and the bright sun filled the grassy bowl. My head lifted and I forgot my mission, the sun so inviting, I was enticed to climb the hill to the open ridge. When I reached the top my heart pumping, my thighs burning and my lungs filled with the cold, crisp December air I turned to the sun in the east and stretched out my arms I stood a long while in that warm embrace, then turned back towards home, chanterelle forgotten but satisfied just the same.
Like my search for the mushrooms when I started this painting I was seeking one thing then found another. This image of a man releasing a bird came to me soon after my dad died and it seemed to encapsulate some of my feelings of his death days, so I did some sketches and then asked my son to pose for me so I could create the silhouette from my minds eye. This painting did not come easy, not spiritually per say, but technically I had all kinds of mishaps with paints and spills and goopy varnish that would dry that had to be carefully scrap and sanded off, I wrestled and cajoled and tended this painting to it’s finish. As I worked the painting the meaning shifted, and what I thought was about setting my Dad free, it became more about my relationship with my son and setting that free, trying to find new ground in the parent to adult child relationship.
So this was a long winding way to say – keep seeking just be ready to find something you’re not looking for!
Here is a peek at my studio sale today and tomorrow – if you are in Sonoma County stop by INFO
PS if you kept reading this far well good for you – here is A GIFT FOR YOU! It’s a link to one of my recent paintings you can print out to have even if you can’t come to my studio!
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