Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A new writing contest and a birthday present.

Carvings done by Erwin A. Thompson

Fellow blogger and author, Janet Riehl wants to give her 95 year old dad, Erwin A. Thompson, a unique birthday present and you can help.

Janet has come up with an essay contest and an award that's dedicated to her father's birthday. Janet writes, "My birthday present to him is to establish an annual Second Mile Award. The holder of the 2010 award receives a $500 honorarium, a certificate designed by my niece, and publication on Riehlife of the nomination essay. The deadline for nomination essays is November 9, 2010--my father's birthday. He'll join me in reading the essays to determine the holder of the 2010 Second Mile Award."

Picture of Erwin A. Thompson

What is the Second Mile Award? The Second Mile Award honors Elders 75 years and older whose dignity, character, creativity, and connection to community have quietly contributed to the world around them.

If you love to write and have a special Elder in your family, life or neighborhood, this is a chance for you to bring your 'loves' together. You write an essay describing how the Elder person has contributed to you and your community. Then send it to Janet's link. You could win a $500 honorarium. To find out more about how to nominate an Elder, enter your essay, the award, the meaning of the Second Mile, and Jane'ts father's life at Second Mile Award.

I think this is a wonderful birthday present, don't you? If you're a writer, and have a special Elder in your life, I hope you'll join in giving Janet's Dad a very special present this year.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dribbles and Scribbles

Sometimes getting back into serious studio work requires serious play. Focus is great but all work and no play, not only makes me dull but my art as well. How do I know when that happens? Good question.

The biggest clue for me is SAS or Studio Avoidance Syndrome. Ok, silly, I know but I've noticed it's a pattern for me. When I push myself and my art to work harder and better and faster, I also find myself getting busy with too much busy work on the computer. That makes me very crabby.

Time for serious play. So, this week, after writing long hand with a pen in my journal, I decided to doodle. I got out this wonderful pastel paper that was given to me a year ago (it's very expensive, so, therefore, precious but I got it for free), and decide to make a mess of it.

I painted all over the paper with washes of acrylic paints in cerulean blue, cobalt blue, warm and cool reds. Then I added drips of pink ink.

After it dried, I got out my old pastels and scribbled. I haven't used any of these pastels in over a decade. I dabbed on light blue clouds. Then I scribbled all over that too. Smooshed over the scribbles and called it done. Fun.

Dribbling and scribbling, it's not great art. And that's the point, really. I finished with hands covered in pastel colors and a smile on my face. Just what I needed...not serious art but some serious fun!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Desire - Delicious and Scary.

Why is the word, desire, so delicious? Because it's such a sensual word, one that I feel to my very core. It creates visions of little birds hatching, fragrant flowers blossoming, water trickling in a fountain, hearty soup simmering, love shared, words written and said, copper and clay and paint and yarn and wire and beads and chocolate...well, you get the idea.

Desire is something I desire. I just didn't know to use that word until the other day when I read Jen Louden's blog post. Do I allow myself to feel it? Sadly, not very often. Why? Desire is a word that also scares me to my core. After I read Jen's blog and the comments, I saw I'm not alone with my desire of desire and my fear of it, too.

Here's are some quotes from Jen's blog about desire:

Lorin Roche, from The Radiance Sutras:

"When a desire arises in you, let it flow. Sense the sparkle and flash as the desire springs up. Put your whole attention into that flashing energy. Seeing desire in this way brings tranquility and equanimity. As you absorb the energy of the desire, you glow with satisfaction."

Jen wrote, "I do not want to miss out on life because I was afraid to desire. It burns, it hurts, it beckons, it seduces, and most of all, it’s here. Why waste time resisting?"

I commented, "I realize that I keep my ‘desire’ down because it scares me. Even the word, desire, shakes my soul and brings up the mud of guilt. Now, maybe, I can let it in a little, see it for the goodness that it is and can be?"

Molly Gordon shared this quote by Buddhist psychologist, Mark Epstein:

"Desire is a teacher: When we immerse ourselves in it without guilt, shame or clinging, it can show us something special about our own minds that allows us to embrace life fully… If we are out of touch with our desires, we cannot fully be ourselves. In this way of thinking, desire is our vitality, an essential component of our human experience, that which gives us our individuality and at the same time keeps prodding us out of ourselves."

What is desire to you? How does desire feel to you? How can we all move toward our desire, embracing desire without guilt?

I can see already, that just using the word desire, a sparkle of light, a shimmering tingle and a shy smile has started to peek through my serious busy-ness in spite of myself. I even let myself 'play' with paint today. I let myself desire fun and mess instead of perfection. That's not so bad, is it?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The SCRAP Challenge: Making something out of nothing?

The Result: A Mask!

It was a collection of 'nothing'...yarn, electrical wire, screening, raffia, rope and a steel ring. And the challenge was to make a mask for the SCRAP Incognito Auction and Art Show. SCRAP is the School & Community Reuse Action Project, a place that takes materials donated from schools and individuals in the community, puts it in a warehouse and sells it to be reused.

I accepted the challenge and then, after seeing all the options, I wasn't sure what I'd do. I looked it all over and made my choices: Yarns in sparkly white, feathery black and several shades of blue; red raffia, blue rope, multi-colored speaker wire, a steel ring, and steel wire. At home, I added from my stack of window aluminum window screening that I use in making my masks.

After sculpting and painting the screening into a bird, I got out my crochet hook, crocheted around the steel ring in blue yarn and attached it with some of the electrical wire. I crocheted the 'feathers' out of yarn using a spiral stitch technique, then wired the spiral feathers and attached them to the ring adding raffia and rope and more wire.

I must admit it made me happy to be able to combine so many things I love to do in one mask...sculpting, painting, working with wire and crochet! Maybe that's why I name this mask, The Bluebird of Happiness.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Two boys, a hole to China and a Willow tree.

Once upon a time there were two little boys digging a hole to China. They dug and dug, day after day, scooping out the earth with their shovels. The hole got deeper and deeper. The hole got so big that one boy could stand in it and just barely see over the top. The boys were proud of their deep hole, but even after all that work, China was nowhere in sight. So one day, the boys just stopped digging. When the rains came, the hole filled up with water making a nice small pool in the yard.

Walking along the street after a huge wind and rain storm, the Mom spotted a Willow branch laying by the sidewalk. She picked it up, carried it home and put it in the hole filled with water. She'd always loved curly Willow trees and wondered if this branch would grow to fill the hole her son and his friend had dug.

Sure enough, the Willow branch sent out shoots and rooted itself in the big hole in the yard and grew. At first, it grew tilted so much to one side that it had to be propped up. But its trunk grew stronger, its roots longer and soon the little Willow branch in the big hole became a big Willow tree in the ground. Sometimes in windy or rainy weather, the smaller curly Willow branches would snap off. But it didn't bother the tree, it just kept growing.

Until one day, the tree was twice as tall as the house and its branches grew to cover the roof, the chimney and the next door neighbors roof as well.

The boy and his friend grew too. Over the years, like the tree, their limbs got longer and they got taller. Growing from little boys digging a hole to China and riding bikes to teenagers driving cars to college graduates. Yet through all those years, the boys remained friends.

And even though the days of digging holes to China were long past, they didn't forget the curly Willow tree. But they could see that the tree was getting too big for the yard, and had to be trimmed.

So one day, they climbed up into the curly Willow tree and cut her branches back. They attached ropes to her branches and sawed through the bark. They guided her branches safely off the roof, away from the chimney and down to the ground. Up and down they climbed into the tree, along the branches and onto ladders and the roof. They talked and laughed and worked, once again, together in the side yard in the sun. The curly Willow was trimmed and out of danger from the seasonal storms. There was much more sunlight streaming into the backyard garden.

The Mom smiled at the boys, who once upon a time dug a hole that maybe never made it to China, but who were now making their way in the world as strong, gentle young men yet, still happy to be working and playing together. And she wondered if there was another Mom out there with two little boys digging a hole to China who might like a curly Willow tree in her backyard because now, she had her own stack of branches.