Thursday, May 29, 2014

Digital Drawing: Yellow and Purple.

It's been a while since I've played with my SketchClub ap and stylus.  So when Terry's blog popped up about yellow, I was inspired.  

I looked out my window the other night and saw this amazing sunset.  Dark heavy rain clouds pushed aside revealing a brilliant yellow sunset.  The clouds were more a deep ultramarine to payne's grey color, but somehow, in my translation the clouds turned into deep purple and violet.  I kept struggling to get the color I saw, but finally, had to give in and go with the flow.

Here's my first sunset.  I can feel my struggle here to get the colors...right.  There's a lack of contrast in the value changes, I think.  It feels, blah.

My second one (at the top of this post) has deeper clouds, embracing the purple tones and the complimentary palate.  There's more contrast here, deeper clouds against the bright sunset.  I feel both strength and lightness.  
Today, admiring my amazing crop of Peonies this year, I decided to try something new for me.  I took a photo, put it on one layer, then painted over it.  Yes, it's purple popping up again, not sure why.  But playing with the fill layer, I could change the background color from light to bright, yellow to black and anything in between.  It was fun to play with feature.  My finger just kept going back to yellow, so this time, I went with the flow.

Ah. Ha. There's that word of the year creeping in again...flow.  Isn't that what art is all about? No, not the struggle, although, I admit to feeling that tussle a lot.  But what I've come to believe and know and now, the ebb and flow that is the essence of creation.  

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Talking To The Trees: Enjoy the Adventure.

(This is the 7th from my collection of essays. To read the other 6 go  here  here and here and here and here and here.)
It’s sunny and warm today as Jilly and I walk around the lake.  Blue sky and puffy white clouds rise above us and buttercups bloom at our feet.  I watch the geese swim in battle formation along the shore line protecting their newly hatched goslings. 
I don’t see the goslings, though, and that makes me worried.  Who or what are the geese hiding their goslings from?  I look up but see only clear sky and the tall fir tree tops are empty.  No eagles.  No hawks. 
As I keep walking, I wonder at this and other things. 

Jilly stops and sniffs.  She pulls me through the grass, along the lake, around the mounds of goose droppings and over the clumps clover.  When she stops, I stop.  Sometimes, I’m impatient and want to pull her forward faster.  Get the walk done.  Go home, have another cup of coffee and read my email. 
Today, I stop and feel curious.  What is she sniffing?  What is the grass whispering to her?  Why do the tree trunks hold her nose like a magnet? 
I know, I’ve joked that she’s reading her ‘pee’ mail.  And, yes, I do think she’s finding out who was here last. Who left their mark or calling card by the tree?  But, I think it’s more than that.  Because Jilly is trained to walk with me, so for her to stubbornly pull me off the path to some spot in the park makes me sure there is more to it than just sniffing.  I wonder if her sniffing is a way for her to gather energy from the earth that she needs.  Is it a way to connect with the other creatures in the world? A way to communicate?  A connection?  Or a collection of symbols that have meaning with every sniff?
A movement in the lake catches the corner of my eye.  It’s almost invisible, camouflaged by the leaves and murky water.  But I see it and my heart lifts.  It’s an otter swimming from one of the little lake islands to the grassy reeds by the shore where Jilly sniffs. 
I’ve been wondering and worrying about the otters that live in the lake.  I haven’t seen them in a long time.  That’s not too unusual, as they’re a shy and close little community.  I love them but they aren’t all that popular with everyone in the park.  They’ve attacked and eaten a heron, who in all fairness, was stalking the otter’s den.  They catch and eat many of the fish in the lake, competing with human fishermen.  Crawling up on the shore, they pull up and eat native plants.  And they eat eggs from the nests of the ducks and geese.  I smile.  I’m glad they’re ok.
As Jilly and I wander into the woods, I lead her to the Cedar Mother tree.  I lean in, listen and open up to the energy and wisdom from her warm trunk.  I feel the tingling and softness along my spine, while my head fills with recent events and questions.  I feel the smile forming on my face while I hear the message coming to me. 
“Ah, you’re going on new adventures.”
My mind fills again with recent experiences, details and worries.  I feel a pause.
“Enjoy the adventure.”

Moving away from Cedar Mother tree, I find Jilly busy, as usual, sniffing by my side.  I see Cedar Mother’s message isn’t the only one I’m picking up today. Yes, I have been doing new things with my art and life.  I’m feeling exhilarated and overwhelmed.
As Jilly sniffs beside me, I see there are many ways to have adventures.  Maybe instead of worry, I can be curious.  I can take a tip from Jilly and sniff my way through life.  I can walk and take in the new smells, sensations, developments, adventures.   And pause to inhale it one scent at a time. 
The geese were patrolling. I was worried.  Sniffing along with Jilly, I saw the reason: otter in the water.  The otter did nothing to the geese or goslings.  It was just going with the flow of its life, just like I’m going along with mine.
Enjoying the adventure.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

As The Wheel Turns: Thrown off or not?

I didn't throw this week.  I trimmed and touched up and smoothed the cups, vase and bowl from last week.  I bought more clay and supplies. But this week was, once again, a fast flow of activity outside my studio.

It was fun and fascinating going out for DimSum with my new pottery pals.  I'd never eaten DimSum and it was delicious.  Sitting at our table, carts rolled by mounded with plates of food in all shapes and sizes.  There were little round buns filled with savory pork or vegetables.  There were stacks of steamed rolls filled with shrimp and pork.  There were plates overflowing with deep, chesnut brown noodles.  And the dessert cart held the most beautiful little custard tarts.  The restaurant was amazing and overflowing large groups of families chatting in Chinese and eating their favorite foods.  I had a great time struggling with my chopsticks while chatting away at probably, the only table speaking English.

Another day was spent with a new friend and fellow blogger, Terry Grant, putting together a new blog for Washington County Artists Open Studios.  Even as experienced bloggers, we ran into some techical difficulties.  Thank goodness for Terry's graphic design expertise!  The blog has a great start.  And we should have our first post up soon with the inside stories of the art and artists on the tour in Washington County, Oregon.

I plan to get myself together today, catching up on dull things like laundry, groceries and gardening. And getting back into the studio to do some under glazing and sgraffito.  But there are birthday presents and performances coming up this weekend.  And sometime in here, I need to get the first post up on the Washington County Open Studio blog.

Ok I already feel the flow getting faster again, but instead of fighting the current and getting thrown off, I think I'll try to ride with it instead.

(Lovely DimSum pictures taken by Michelle Gallagher)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Flow: Fast and Furious vs Slow and Serene.

A whirlwind week.  I went from the solitude of my studio work to working on and in a show with hundreds of other clay artists selling thousands upon thousands of cups, vases, bowls, garden art, sculpture, masks, plates, baking dishes, ornaments and jewelry.  

I packed up my work in bins and boxes for delivery to four different areas of the show each with their own delivery dates and times.  I arrived first thing in the morning as huge trucks were unloaded with pedestals, walls and shelves needing to be painted and assembled. 


I left late into the evenings.  I lifted and painted and assembled.  Repaired broken or non-existent hardware.  I unpacked boxes and checked lists and tracked down missing pieces.  I arranged and helped hang over 70 masks in one area. Then I set up a group booth with lights and electrical in another area.  

After all this, I drove my car to the loading zone and hauled out 3 bins of my own work.  Then proceeded to unpack and fill the shelves to which I was assigned.  I am a new member of this group, so I don't get a choice where my work was shown this year.  It was hard to do all the work for others and see my pieces in a small corner in the very back.  But, I recognize that some things take time and I'm a hard worker.  It's patience that I lack.  Perhaps, this just another in a long series of lessons designed to help me learn.


I watched people buy my mugs, vases, sculpture and masks and take them home.  Other clay artists appreciated my work and bought it for themselves.  I packed up less to take home than I brought. I worked shifts all around the show. I helped sell masks from a special installation that made over $3,000 for a local medical team.  I met many new people and made some new clay friends.

But most of all, I was part of a great team.  And for the first time in a long time, I felt delight of bonding with like-minded people coming together to make something bigger and better than anyone of us possibly could.

It was a fast flowing week, yes.  And sometimes life, like a river, needs to flow faster in order to grow.  Today, as I sit here in silence, I feel a good tired that comes with flowing fast last week and the refreshment of a slower, serene flow this week.