An Artist's Quest

Posts tagged “life

The Presence of Absence Revisted

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Buttercup prints

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.

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Left is the negative space print from around the buttercups on the right is the ghost print

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.


REMEMBER

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I painted this series this week in response to my feelings of sadness and resolve that women all over the world have a right to control their own bodies – REMEMBER – ponders our situation

It has been awhile since I blogged so happy New Year friends. I had a lovely New Years trip to Kauai and before that I was wrapped up in the holidays. I’ll admit to being a swirling mix of feelings this past couple of weeks; dismay, disorientation, disgust to name a few. I don’t talk about politics here but now is the time. I want a conversation, an exchange not just teams sunk in their own huddles listening only to themselves. So I must be part of that conversational solution. I’ll give you a little history. In 1992 my sister, mom and I (oh and half a million other people) marched on Washington in support of  a women’s right to control her own body and for one last push for the Equal Rights Amendment (which didn’t pass so to this day women are still not named in the constitution…). So now as a new conservative government takes charge, I have a choice: hide or engage. I choose engage. Here is a quote that reminds me why my voice is important:

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Even a superficial look at history reveals that no social advance rolls in on the wheels inevitability. Every step towards the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals. Without persistent effort, time itself becomes an ally of social destruction. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”- Martin Luther King, Jr. in Stride Toward Freedom the Montgomery Story

I will admit that since that march in 1992 I’ve been more talk than action. I guess I thought the wheels were rolling forward so I could take my hands off the cart. I see I was wrong. But what I want to push for is conversation, for understanding and finding common ground. I have something in common with the anti-choice voice – I think we can both agree that abortion is not the best way to control birth. Now from there we diverge on how to prevent abortions but still we have common ground. But maybe, just maybe I can engage in conversation from that point of agreement, right? I’ll try. Tomorrow I march with friends in Sacramento, I march to remind myself that nothing rolls on the wheels of inevitability, I must put my hands to the cart to move the conversation, I want to be a voice of strength, love and inclusiveness, I want to engage with you and the world to ensure that the advances towards “liberty and justice” are truly for ALL. Thanks for reading – now take positive action – ENGAGE!

Here is a link to a great History of Planned Parenthood mini documentary that is very informative; I hope you’ll watch it.

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detail from the REMEMBER series


Wrung Out and Hung Out to Dry

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“The Place Between Heaven & Earth” – mixed media painting from the Breathe series

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!


Seeking & Finding What You’re NOT Looking For

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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

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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!

 

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Time is Racing

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:

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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:

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Still MORE! Commit to your creative self in 2017 come make art with ME! WORKSHOP INFO

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Begin Again

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This is a large commission painting that I hung recently. (Thank you Beth for believing in me enough to set me loose on a painting for you!) Hanging this was all about beginning again and getting back t0 the business of doing what I love and of course that is what my father would want me to do.  48″x48″ commissioned by Beth MacLean for her office.

It is hard for me to begin again. My dad died just over two weeks ago and I have struggled to write a blog post, since my last passionate one nothing seems as important. The ordinariness of the past two weeks feels like an insult to the intensity of the previous month. The every-day-ness is a affront to the powerful love and the concentration of feeling that went before. But likewise (and in contradiction to what I just wrote) the ordinariness is comforting. The sun sets, the sun rises and a new day begins. Work needs doing, groceries need to be bought, the car needs service, the dog whines for a walk….. The truth is my father wouldn’t have it any other way. He was a doer, a hard worker, someone who got things done. And so my work continues and this blog that he was so devoted to continues. My dad was possibly the first person to read my blog each time I sent it out, and while he rarely commented publicly he almost always sent a text or an email of encouragement and praise. That’s what is hard now – my dad was one of my biggest fans – forever cheering me on. And now he’s not there. NO, that’s not true; his legacy in my veins is made of stronger stuff than that! I hear his encouragement still in my ear, in my heart. So I guess I better get back to work.

Thanks to all of you who sent your kind words and encouragement over the past two weeks, you have buoyed my spirit and I am grateful.

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Because commissions can be scary, I painted 2 paintings so Beth could choose.  This one (similar but different) is now hanging in the Ranch dining-hall waiting for the the right home… maybe you? 48″x48″


Life’s Layers

Communing I made this last weekend during my Encaustic collage workshop- Sandwiching papers, silk organza and spray paint between layers of encaustic wax.

I made this last weekend during my Encaustic collage workshop. Sandwiching papers, silk organza and spray paint between layers of encaustic wax.

Life is a complicated thing – when some things are revealed others are hidden.  We are never in a place where we can see, feel, know, understand it all.  I am no exception, the future is unclear, the past is up for interpretation, and NOW, well now can seem like so much fog – tangible and real but not meant to be held or contained.  In an effort to be more in the now I’ve taken on a few personal challenges.  These are tidbits of advice gleaned from a facebook posts here and podcast there – no guru formula – just my own way of sorting my priorities – my own daily check list of things to make my life more grounded in today, to keep my body, mind and soul healthy.  Last fall my husband and I started an early morning exercise regime that I have been mostly faithful to along with some diet changes.  Those have been good for my body and now I’m ready to take my daily commitment to the next layer- mind and soul.  I’m trying to make a meditation practice happen, a friend was visiting recently and asked if I walked that labyrinth here at the Ranch regularly- the answer was no but then I thought why not?  So last week after exercising I walked over and took my shoes off and slowly walked to the center and out again- aware of the path on my bare feet, the breeze, the birds it was lovely, a simple passage to NOW.  My other new daily resolution is to commit a random act of kindness at least once a day.  These are simple things, holding a door, offering to take someones shopping cart to the holding pen in the parking lot, holding a women’s bike while she wrestles her child into the baby seat …. what ever it might be it forces me to be aware of the moment to be enough in the now to respond to what is around me and to offer the simple kindness of noticing, helping.

Here is my little list that I am trying to do most days:

  • Exercise
  • Eat right (you know what I mean)
  • Get enough sleep
  • Meditate
  • Commit at least one random act of kindness a day

That’s it- seems simple enough right?  Let me know what’s working for you!

Detail of layers

Detail of layers