Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dahlias in June?

I can't believe it either, but I have the pictures to prove it. My purple dahlia shot up during all the rain we had in May and early June and is now blooming! I'm not a master gardener, but even I know that there's something wrong with this picture.

Dahlias normally bloom in late August or early September. I always look forward to those big, fluffy blooms around my wedding anniversary in September every year. So when the plant shot up in May and bloomed this last week, I was shocked. Especially since my peony blooms are still struggling to open at all.

I've had several more experienced gardeners tell me to dead head the bloom immediately, so I'll still have a plant and blooms in the fall. So I did take quite a few inside today, but I'm having a hard time just cutting it all back.

If you're an experienced gardener, please let me know what you think is happening here and what I need to do.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Coming Around Full Circle.

Thirty some years ago, my first exhibit of art was at the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts, High School Student Show. This year, 3 of my aluminum screening masks are in the open show at the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts.

If you'd asked me as a high school student if I'd ever do anything with my art much less sculpture, I'd have thought you'd lost your mind. There were many more talented students in that show, than me. I was the geeky new kid in school. My father worked for GM and had been transferred from Ohio to Oregon, so I had to leave behind my cute boyfriend and miss my prom in Ohio to live in Oregon. I wasn't a happy camper about it. I was also coming to terms with the culture shock of being a Midwest honor student in the cool, casual Northwest. The only thing I did, actually out of rebellion and spite to my parents and school counselor that year, was to demand to take an art class instead of yet, another math class.

It turned out to be the one class where I felt a small measure of comfort and I remember meeting some really nice people. Ok, I was the only senior in a lower level art class, but I didn't care. I'd always loved to do crafts like embroidery and now I got a chance to try out all sorts of media. The class included drawing, watercolor, calligraphy, design, and clay. I remember being so embarrassed when the teacher went over my portfolio of work with my mother. All I could hear was how I hadn't done this or that right.

So you can imagine my shock when I saw something of mine in the student show. I figured the teacher was just being kind to the poor, geeky girl. But my 'Honorable Mention', for a small, slab built ceramic cup did encourage me. After I graduated, I took drawing, ceramics, watercolor and design from local teachers, the community college and the university. I didn't become an art major, but looking back, I realize that the love of art never left me.

Over the years, in and around jobs and kids, I dabbled with rice paper and ink, watercolor, beading, wire working, embroidery, and home decor projects. When the kids went to school full time, I went back to school myself taking classes in drawing, painting, fiber, and clay sculpture. I loved faces and masks, and slowly starting in the corner of my bedroom, my art working grew. And so did I.

I've shown my work in galleries, museums and juried shows around the Northwest for over 10 years now. I've even won an Honorable Mention. But this weekend, felt very different.

After 30+ years, here I am, again, with artwork in the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts. It felt a little weird entering the tent as more than a spectator. Of course, I had to check out the high school exhibit. I was amazed at the high quality of the art work. I don't remember mine being that good. Yes, I did feel a little geeky once again and a vision of green polyester and denim bell bottoms flashed before my eyes. That's ok. I know, now, that we all carry that high school experience somewhere inside of us forever. But I also know we all grow up in spite of it, and maybe, just maybe we weren't as geeky and our work wasn't as bad as we remember. Ok, maybe not.

But I did art then because I loved it and I still do art because I love it. That's what's really important and I'm glad I had the chance to come back to where it all began.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Art + Yoga + Writing + Dog + Sunshine = A real challenge.

Last week, I joined the 21 5 800 challenge. For 21 days, I do 5 days of yoga and write 800 words a day. Sounded wonderful to me at the time. But, where do I fit in sculpting, painting, delivering work, filling out show applications, facebook, email and walking my dog? See sad picture of her...on the rug...waiting.

Ok, so nobody said it would be easy. Right.

Last week's progress:
5 days of yoga - check.
800 words a day - check almost. Ok, some days it was only 600 words but are the others also working artists, too?
studio work - check.
wanting to go on a long, long holiday --double check.

So, today, this blog writing, writing artist emails, statements/forms for show applications and some personal journal writing make up my 800 words. I'm going to yoga class tonight. I'm done with the challenge for today, right?

Now, back into the studio to work on a lamp, more lilies and check my clay pieces.

But...but...but...it's sunny outside today! For the first time in weeks, months, years, there's sun shining on my garden, my clematis, lilies and poor rain soaked peonies. And my sweet Jilly dog wants to go outside and lay in the sunshine.

Ok, now guess what won...back into the studio or outside with Jilly?

Of course, you're right.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Writing and Yoga challenge

(Photo from Yoga Journal)

On Monday, reading Jennifer Louden's blog, I heard about a writing and yoga challenge put together by Bindu Wiles.
Here's the challenge:
For 21 days, we’ll be doing 5 days of yoga a week and 800 words of writing per day.
THE WRITING: The writing can be ANYTHING. Memoir, blogs, business plans, essays, fiction, free-writing, letters,……..ANYTHING. The point is to get writing again daily and to have the boundaries and challenge of a daily word count to reach.
THE YOGA: There are several options for you to do the yoga portion of 21.5.800 5 times in 7 days. Here are the options: 1. Go to a yoga class in your ‘hood. 2. Do a yoga dvd at home. 3. Take a 20-40 minute savasana* (see above) at home on the floor.

Ok, it sounded a little overwhelming. Especially in the face of all the other things on my now, mental, 'to do' list. Yes. I eliminated the paper lists, but getting rid of the mental list making, a well worn life habit, is proving to be a bit harder. So, when I came across this challenge, my mind balked at the task. Which I know means that it's just the right road for me to take right now.

As far as the yoga is concerned, I already do a weekly yoga class and a short morning routine and sometimes savasana for meditation. So that part of the challenge should be easy for me. And believe me, doing savasana is not only easy and relaxing, it's a little slice of heaven for me, the busy bee. If you don't know what it is, it's what's called 'corpse pose' in yoga and basically, you lie down on the floor, arms out at your sides, palms up and your toes out with your heels pointed in. I know the title is a bit weird, and at first I had a hard time keeping my palms open all the way and my back flat on the floor(too much hunching in my past). Now, I fall into this pose and love it.

The writing is part of my everyday life, but I don't have a routine and I definitely don't do 800 words a day, everyday. How I'm going to do this, where, when, and about what I'm going to write, I have no idea. So, my friends, this is going to be my biggest challenge. But...I'm going to do it. Starting now.

Any ideas for me? I welcome your suggestions and/or writing prompts to keep me going. Hey...I just realized something...this counts. Writing my blog counts as part of my writing requirement for today. Together with Monday's blog, that's over 950 words. What do you know? That wasn't so hard after all!

Monday, June 14, 2010

He Did It! - Mom's Mission Accomplished

Yesterday, my son Kyle graduated from college! He received a BS in Community Development from Portland State University. I'm proud of him and all the hard work he's done to earn his degree.

It's been a bit of a winding road for him, my husband and I. He started out looking at University of Oregon for a degree in music. He played percussion in middle school and high school jazz bands, quads in the marching band and winning regional awards for his own compositions. Then he decided he wanted an engineering degree from OSU but after his first year, found that wasn't for him. The next year, he entered PSU thinking of a degree in business and he did ok. But it was a class in community development and urban planning that re-ignited his passion.

In addition to music, he was always building and drawing and planning as a kid. He loved his legos and blocks. Even his preschool teacher watching him build a hotel with wooden blocks commented that one day he would be building for real. The urban planning and community development classes have used his design and building talents. It's developed his love for the land and wildlife and how people, business and the environment can live better together. I'm looking forward to seeing what he'll be doing to make our city more beautiful and sustainable.

He's had to work hard to get where he is today. Studying and working part time and trying to have a normal college life can be a difficult juggling act. It's been stressful for him and us, at times. Since he's been living at home some of the time, I've had the opportunity to help him through the rough spots. Even when it was hard to see him struggle, I'm glad I could be there for him.

In the last month, my husband and I have worked even harder to help him make it to the finish line. Sometimes that meant simple things like making his favorite sandwich or picking him up at campus. Sometimes it was just listening to his worries and stress. Sometimes it was just giving him words of encouragement.

Small things, really. They don't add up to much. But I was just glad to be able to help him a little to accomplish the goal he wanted so much: a college degree. You see, he didn't think he could do it( I knew he could). Now he knows that not only did he do it, but he can do whatever he decides to do. And that, is the biggest accomplishment of all.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A blooming sculpure.

That's a delphinium growing up through the middle of my 'Seasons' series sculpture, 'Summer'. It's taken a while to see the blossoms get tall enough to peak out of the top of the sculpture because of all the rain and hail over the last two months here in Oregon. I planted the blue delphinium along with lobelia and begonias back in early May on one of those now, rare, sunny days.

Then I pushed the stakes in my 'Summer' sculpture into the soil over the top of small plant. In spite of the drippy weather here, the plant has grown tall right up through the middle of my sculpture. Finally, you can see the bell shaped, blue-purple blossoms peaking out of the top of her head. The purple painted petals of the sculpture almost match the delphinium's beautiful blue bells.

When I sculpted this series, I was creating art. I wasn't thinking about creating art for the garden. But last year, thanks to the encouragement of artist friends and a some imaginative gallery owners, I figured out a way to take my 'Seasons' outside.

I showed 'Summer' all summer last year at a local gallery. And was able to have fun placing my other 'Seasons' around my own yard to the delight of my neighbors. In the fall, during my open studios, 'Fall' was spotlighted next to the changing leaves of my Japanese maple. 'Winter' was highlighted during the Christmas season up front surrounded by noble fir bows and twinkling with white lights. 'Spring' sold at my open studios, so now it's 'Summers' turn to take the stage blossoming with the season.

In spite of all the rain, here's to 'Summer' bursting into bloom!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

'Listless' week produces surprising results.

Last week, I gave myself a challenge: a week without 'To Do' lists. After a lifetime of making lists, I wondered if I'd get any studio or writing work done, forget to walk the dog, answer my email, and go to yoga class. Would I forget what I needed at the grocery store? Or would a week of 'listlessness' make me a happier camper?

Here's what I learned.

I still worked in the studio. I worked on three clay faces, painted mesh bird masks and bought needed supplies. I remembered to go to the enameling class I signed up for months ago. I experimented with additional paint glazes on the clay busts and the new cement bases I'd cast. I wrote on the blog just as I always do. I started writing a new series of essays. I remembered to check and answer my email, post on facebook and read other blogs, news and sites on the web. Yes, I walked the dog(I don't think she'd let me forget), went to yoga, made my appointments.

Somethings didn't change, but some things did.

I found myself spontaneously doing things and taking on projects that I really wanted done, but had put off. Shopping at Target, I picked up a new comforter set for my room that was over 1/2 off and a tablecloth purchased on impulse led to a whole range of home decor projects. I love to do home decor projects, but due to life changes and the economy, I haven't done anything in 3 years. I made new valances for the nook, took down curtains in the living room, put up different ones and sewed three new pillows for the couch from the rest of the Target tablecloth. The downstairs has needed painting for a few years. Suddenly, last week I was picking out paint colors, buying the paint and, yup, painting those dingy walls.

In the past, all projects had 'To Do' lists with all the details outlined. I always thought that making detailed outlines and supply lists was necessary to get the projects done. That I couldn't go shopping successfully without making a list.

What I learned this week: I don't need the lists to get the projects done. And, perhaps, being a little 'listless' actually helped me jump into projects with more energy and enthusiasm. I also found myself making good shopping decisions on the spot.

Will I go 'listless' forever? I don't know.

I do know, although it was scary at first, I felt lighter, more energetic and spontaneous. I even got my hair cut in a new short cut, on the spur of the moment. (In the past, I would have researched cuts and had a 'list' of looks to give my stylist.) Ok, I still made a list for grocery shopping, after forgetting the ketchup and shampoo. And I still love post-it notes, I think it's the colors.

But I'm thinking that a 'listlessness' might be a very good thing. What do you think would change for you if you tried a week of 'listlessness'? If you're game, try it and let me know how it works, or not, for you.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

You are safe - At the Writing Desk

This week's Sunday Scribble writing prompt exercise was 'mantra'. Once I saw what it was, I knew what I had to write. I know what a mantra is and always wanted one, but never had one until just last week. And it was given to me from a most unexpected teacher.

Here's the description of the writing prompt: Sunday Scribblings: "The original meaning of mantra is something that you repeat to help you concentrate while you are meditating. There are lots of people, however, who use a mantra to help them concentrate in other ways. Do you have one? Do you need one? Would you like one? Can you share yours or is it secret and private? How do you feel about mantra?"

My new mantra.

I was doing my morning stretching exercises in the woods by the roots of this old – yet newly sprouted – birch tree when I heard, “You are safe.” I’ve always felt a sense of welcoming comfort standing over these roots. I know the tree is a woman, a ‘she’. I also know, she knows me, sees me and watches over me. I can feel her strength and her deep knowledge of life that comes from living on this earth. I also know she hasn’t always been the small birch as she appears now.

Once, not too long ago, she was a large, powerful and beautiful birch tree. I don’t know what happened to her wide branches and full trunk. I do know that she had a choice then to die or be reborn. She chose rebirth. She chose to stay rooted and sprout anew from one of the small suckers at her roots.

Where I stand to do my stretching is, I feel, where she used to stand in all her strength and glory. I can feel the power of her roots under my feet as I stretch my arms down to the ground, outward and then up to the sky. As I reach down, across and up, I feel energy flow between us from her roots to my feet, from her limbs to mine. She has stood by me as I’ve cried and sighed. She’s offered gentle comfort and wisdom. Sometimes, it’s just the warm flow of energy between us that gives me solace. Sometimes the energy is balancing like the arm of a friend around my shoulders. Sometime, when I’m especially fearful and worried and my monkey mind is swinging this way and that, I feel her quiet, rooted strength. Then like an anchor in turbulent sea, I feel myself pulled slowly to a stop and the sea calms.

There are other times, though, when I get a friendly reminder, like a tap on my shoulder, that I’ve gotten a little lost in my own inner woods. At times like these, and I blush a little to admit that there have been many more times like this than I’d like to admit, I hear her chuckle at me. I can almost see her shaking her head at me, a smile on her face, at the mountain I’ve made of some molehill problem.

Her perspective is always refreshing and reassuring. And I respect her wisdom. After all, she’s lived on this earth far longer than I have and seen many, many more people and problems that I ever will. She is a survivor. And it’s her indomitable spirit that I feel so strongly and admire so much. If she can lose almost everything and chose to live, re-grow and blossom, then so can I. Whatever storms blow her way, she stands her ground. She tells me to do the same, “You are safe.” I believe her.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Roses in the Rain - Around the House

Rain is falling but in spite of the weather, my roses are blooming. Everyday, I hope for sunshine so I can see and smell the sweetness of my roses and peonies. This season has been the coldest May in the last 20 years. Add to that more rain than sunshine and you can understand the flowers staying in tight buds or drooping with water weight.

Yesterday had a little sunshine...Yeah!! Just enough to pop out a few blooms on two of my peonies and one of my rose bushes in the front. I was so happy to see their bright colors and smell those wonderful fragrances. Today, with the rain falling again, I took a few pictures to share and cut a few to enjoy some of that brightness inside.