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!
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!
Last night my family and some hearty friends continued an 18-year tradition. We gather annually on January 6th no matter the conditions or day of the week to burn our Christmas trees and to recognize the beginning of Epiphany. I’ll give you the dictionary definition of epiphany here to chew on for a moment:
epiphany -noun, plural epiphanies.
- (initial capital letter) a Christian festival, observed on January 6, commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles in the persons of the Magi; Twelfth-day.
- an appearance or manifestation, especially of a deity.
- a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.
Definitions 1 and 3 (and possibly 2) were certainly in play last night as we gathered around the fire pit in our yard – hot coals from the fire we started late in the afternoon were ready to received the first greenery. We started off slow with some wreaths and cedar swag then moved on to our pile of Christmas trees. As the sparks began to fly on our little ritual, a daily ritual began in the sky; a golden orange melon-shaped waning gibbous moon began to rise over the hills directly to the east of us. This nightly celestial miracle, that often goes unnoticed, rose last night inline with our humble fire pit and as we threw another dry tree on the fire we watched amazed as the sparks reached up as if to join the moon’s glow. Last night’s tradition and friendship put me in the way of beauty – Thank You! This morning as I performed my morning ritual and rolled out my yoga mat, the sun began it daily celestial miracle and rose with glowing edges of deep orange emerging through a peachy golden mist. This morning bleary eyed and grumbling at the chill I was put in the way of beauty once again – Thank You! See if you can put yourself in the way of beauty – today and every day.
“Put yourself in the way of beauty”- Cherly Strayed from her book Wild.