Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mudlucious Puddle Jumping - In the Park

Squish. Slurp. The ground is seeping with water, the earth is thick and rich and sticky. On my path today through the mudlucious woods, I walk carefully. Even the little ups and downs on the path are tricky. I slip and slide.

After a few days of sunshine and warm temperatures, it's back to our normal spring in the Pacific Northwest...rain, wind and more rain. The lake is filled to the brim and even the geese and ducks are trying to dry out on the grassy banks. The paved pathways are covered with worms swimming from one puddle to the next. It's a robin's feast day.

Crossing the bridges over the lake, I look over the railing and watch the water rushing underneath me. I'm glad to be safely above it. I notice that the ducks and geese that normally hang out on this end of the lake, are also safely perched on the island today.

The puddles are everywhere. Jilly walks calmly through them, while I do my little hop, skip and jump as I try to puddle jump and keep my feet dry. Why? I can always dry off at home and, happily, I realize that it's only a few minutes walk away. So instead of avoiding the puddles, I start to really look at them. The shapes, the colors of the water and mud. But I see more than that, as I look down at the puddle, I see trees, new leaves and the sky. I wonder, at this new view, like a special rainy day portal. As I look down, I see what's above me. I wonder, then, about all the time I spend looking down at my feet and how much I must miss in the rest of the time and space above me.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday Scribble - At the Writing Desk

#208 - Alchemy

I looked up the word, Alchemy and it's an ancient Greek word meaning "the art of transmuting metals", according to Wikipedia. Many fairy tales deal with alchemy, the changing of straw or lead into gold. It is the basis of modern chemistry, the changing of one element into another or another chemical state. It's also viewed as a psychological, spiritual and metaphysical practice in many cultures around the globe.

As an artist and writer, alchemy is in essence...what I do. I take ideas and visions and transform them into metal masks and sculptures. I take mud and paint open to the mystery and form them into the faces of characters in my story pieces. My eyes may see the landscape around me, but it's the process of alchemy that shows me the spirits of the mountains, trees and clouds that become my copper repousse landscapes.

Magic. Mystery. Discovery. Creativity. All these words describe alchemy to me. Opening to the magic and mystery in the world, and transforming that into a deeper understanding of the spirit and soul. Discovering the answers, solutions and cures transforms the questions, problems and diseases. Taking clay, metal, ink, and paper transforming them into art and stories is, perhaps, the most magical, alchemical process of all.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Art & Flowers - Around the House

Today, it's sunny and bright. Living in the Pacific Northwest, I really treasure these spring days when the sun is shining. The new green leaves on the trees, yellow daffodils, pink primroses and tulips just seem to sparkle. The colors vibrate with an aliveness that only spring brings.

I just thought I'd share some pictures of art and flowers blooming around my house. And I wonder...what's blooming around your house?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Patterns - In the Studio

In the last few days in the studio, I’ve been swirling, twirling and spiraling around and around. I’m not dancing, although I am listening to music from jazz to celtic dance to Jimmy Buffet. I am working on my sculpture.

I’m working on masks in copper and aluminum screening. Both have been keeping me busy creating patterns of swirls, spirals and lines. And I love patterns. I love the rhythm, the repetition, the roundness. When I get the pattern that works, it just feels right.

Here are a few pictures of the patterns I’ve been creating on both of the masks I’m working on right now. One is a dragon mask done in copper using a repousse’ technique, the other mask is an aluminum mesh material and the pattern is created with acrylic paints.

Swirling and twirling…I just love patterns!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Following Jilly's Nose - In the Park

Today, I walked through the park with my eyes on Jilly's nose. Whenever she sniffed, I watched like a policeman(woman)waiting for someone to make that wrong move. Why am I on patrol? It's spring.

Yes, it's spring. It's warmer and lighter. People are smiling at each other. Geese are pairing up and getting territorial. And Jilly is sick from eating a spring feast of kitty 'rocha' and newly sprouted grass.

Ok, I know it sounds gross but try living with it. The thing is-I know this sounds crazy-but every year, I freak out thinking there is something terribly wrong with Jilly. I worry. I fret. Then I remember, oh, yeah, this happened last year. Why? The sun is out. The cats in the neighborhood are out and visiting our yard. They see our gravel side yard as a giant litter box. Jilly sees it as a giant 'kitty' candy box and she gobbles all the 'treats' gravel and all. Yum. Maybe for her.

For me, it means sleepless nights getting up to let her out or clean up what comes up. Yeah. Yuck. Sometimes, all that's needed is a few days of pepto bismal. Sometimes, like this year, it's a full week of cleaning up(on my part) ending with a fast and a diet of rice, broth, beef before we're all back to normal. And I get some sleep!

That's why today, in the park, my focus was...where is Jilly's nose? I want to make sure she doesn't get tempted to gobble up those delicious morsels left behind by the geese. And when she goes out in the yard, I go out with her making sure she doesn't find any more 'spring' treats!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Sunday Scribble - At the Writing Desk

#207- Demands.

I'm trying something new today. I'm participating in a writing prompt posted on another blog, Sunday Scribblings at Every Saturday, Laini and Megg post a writing prompt on their blog. After you write your piece on it on your blog, you post a link on their blog. I thought I'd try it, so here goes...

The prompt is 'Demands', the question is, "If you were a mega ridiculous superstar on tour - what would your demands be?"

Ok. I'm a ridiculous superstar(right...) on tour, far, far from my huge mansion home and I just have to have a home away from home. I mean, after so many huge, luxurious hotel rooms, you can only take so much, right? So, the entrance to my dressing room would have huge, ceramic urns filled with seasonal flora and fauna. Right now, I'd want daffodils, hyacinth and tulips planted around ornamental plum full bloom, of course.

Inside my dressing room, there would be a soft, plum velveteen couch with silk pillows, an antique trunk topped with candles, flowers, books and magazines. Over to the right, a rich wood desk holds a laptop with internet connection, next to it big screen TV with all the channels and movies. There would be a long side table with trays of cheese, bread, fruit, chocolate and wine, sparkling water and assortment of coffee and tea alongside elegant crystal glassware and china.

At the foot of the couch would be a huge, fluffy crimson dog bed for my sweet black Newfoundland to rest on while waiting to greet me between sets. It's understood that I'll have a personal masseuse and assistant to see to my every need. And, don't forget, my huge, leather tote bag containing my favorite journal, pens, sketch pads, travel paint box, crochet hooks and hand-dyed yarn. Of, course there would be beautiful, soft slippers and cozy lounge wear for my off-stage hours and racks of designer clothing for me to choose from should I decide to go out on the town. (What town am I in anyway?)

Here, now, I'm sitting on my own sofa, in my own home. It's not a mega-mansion and I'm not a mega-star. I'm happy to be alive, enjoying the somewhat sunny day with my love, my dog and cat in my cozy slippers. Ahh.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Secret habits - Around the House

I have a little secret. Something I do around the house that most people don't know about. I crochet.

Yep. I taught myself to crochet about 5 years ago and it's been a constant habit of mine. I've made so many scarves and hats, I can't even count them all. I actually did so many at one time, I donated them, plus little hats to an orphanage in Russia. I've made tank tops, halters, a skirt, shawls, capelets, shrugs, and a tunic top.

Now, I've taught myself to make socks. It took me two or three times trying out different patterns before I found one that I love. It's a really basic pattern and that's great because I can make it in many, many different ways. This first pair is just straight single crochet with a little ruffle at the top. The beautiful colored stripes came from the Berroco yarn I used. My daughter calls them my 'elfin' socks because the toes are a bit 'pointy'. Ok, she's right, but it was my first pair and I was learning.

The second pair I just finished is worsted weight yarn done with a much bigger hook. Quick. Easy. And, oh so cozy to wear while watching TV or reading.

Ok, another secret habit...I love to bake. Here's a picture of St. Patrick's Day soda bread that I made and shared with friends and family.

So, here are a few of my now, not so secret, favorite habits around the house. Both crochet and baking are relaxing, enjoyable and stress-free for me.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Reflection - In the Park

Bright sunshine, frost on the grass and daffodils waving in the wind are what I see on my way to the park this morning. But it's what I don't see at the park that makes today different. And it's not until I cross the bridge over the lake that I get it.

Here's what I don't see...waves, ripples or birds bobbing for fish. What I do see is the blue sky, puffy white clouds and trees that surround the lake mirrored in its surface.

I see reflection and stillness. I think about that word...reflection. What does it really mean? The dictionary definition of reflection is to bend or throw back light, sound or heat; to give back an image, mirror or reproduce; the fixing of the mind on a subject, serious thought contemplation; the result of such thought in words; blame or discredit.

I see that the word works to describe my physical and mental experience walking around the lake today. The still surface of the lake is indeed reflecting, throwing back sunlight and images of the clouds, trees like a mirror, I see that with my eyes. And I am reflecting on it...fixing my mind on the idea of reflection, with serious thought as I walk around watching the clouds and sky on its surface.

My reflective contemplation leads me to a 'resulting thought' - that stillness is possible in nature and in life. All I have to do is see it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Playing with clay - In the Studio

I love working in clay. It's soft and cool, so it's very soothing. It's flexible. If I don't like what I've done, I just spray on some water, smooth it out and start over. Above is a picture of the one I started today.

First, I cut off a slab and knead it(called wedging)to remove any bubbles, then I roll it out until it's about 1/4 inch thick. I add newspapers to the back of the slab to support the facial structure. Then I start sculpting. I push, pinch and add to the clay to form the eyes, lips, nose and the rest of the features. I've used this technique to make many of the faces in my mixed media pieces in the past.

Today, I'm starting a new series. I'll be sculpting clay faces, bisque firing them and finishing them with paints. Here's a picture of one with paint.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Walk In The Park

It's a mixed day, today.  There's some sun, a few clouds, a chilly wind and patches of puddles.  I think the weather fits my mood.

I feel glad.  A sunny spot has opened inside my heart and I find myself just smiling.  Somewhere in there is a small spot of, dare I say it, happiness again.  A little nugget of goodness that I can carry with me.  I also feel concerned, a little patch of sadness and worry clouding my soul touched every now and then by a burst of chilly wind.

It's been a difficult few years and my life has been as unpredictable as the weather.  Many periods of clouds and rain interspersed with days of hopeful sunshine and blue sky.  Of course, I've experienced weather like this in my life before, but like many of us, this recession has been hard.

As I walk past the lake, the geese are gearing up with their pre-flight honking.  I'm always amused by their group dynamics.  It always reminds me of a large, loud committee meeting with everyone talking at once and no one listening.  And there's always lots of honking discussion before they take off from the lake.  Finally, the geese are up in the air and my dog, Jilly and I stop to watch as one half of the group flies over the bridge, the other half flies under it. 

I see their flight path is like my life lately.  There have been some big obstacles in my path.  But like the geese, I am taking off anyway.  Whether I'm flying under or over, I'm still crossing the bridges and getting past the obstacles in my path.  Life is good.