Friday, July 26, 2019

Happy Birthday, Darby!

Last year at this time, I would never have believed this day would come. I was at a Guide Dog Puppy Raiser Fun Day smiling in wonder at all the beautiful dogs and their calm, loving trainers. I saw Golden Retrievers bouncing happily and lying down calmly while their people talked. There were black and yellow Labrador Retrievers trotting along watching all the action. 

On that day, I hoped and wished that one of those puppies in training would be mine. Six months later, my wish was granted and Darby came home with me.  

Hello puppy!

As I’ve written here before, I was smitten with Darby at once. His slightly lower left ear gives him an air of curiosity. His bouncy, ‘tigger’-like energy lifts me up everyday. Really I wish I could get a video of him popping up with all four feet in the air next to my bed each morning.

Since joining our family, Darby has learned to pass other dogs without pulling, leave food on the counter where it belongs, bark on command using a hand signal, follow me off leash to get the mail, get into the shower for baths, come when he’s called.

We’re still working on greeting people and other dogs in a calm, gentle manner and not tearing down the bamboo. But he is still just a two year old after all. 

But he’s also a 70 pound, two year old.  

So his sense of space and his coordination are still developing. But that’s one of the most adorable things about him. 

When he plays, he PLAYS. His whole body and mind and soul are one bubbling unit of fun. He can’t wait to get that ball. Greet that person. Sniff those strawberries(and eat them, of course). 

It took awhile for him to trust that the big blue circle on the lawn was his very own pool. He loves the hose. He doesn’t just want to drink from it, he wants to leap at it, get sprayed with it and run around the yard at full speed. 

And he’s a tease. Yes, just like every other 2 year old, he definitely knows what he’s not supposed to do. But he does it just to get my attention. And even though I have to correct inappropriate behavior, I love him all the more for it. I try not to show it, but I know he knows.

I love this sweet birthday boy. 

Today, he got a poached egg after his kibble. He got two new peanut butter bones which he loves to chew. He got his walk to the park and many more stops in new places for him to sniff. And he got his pool refilled and the hose to jump for and his favorite fetch toy bounced in and out of the water until he was soaked. 

Now he’s happily snoozing here beside me. You may think that he’s one lucky dog but I know the real truth: I’m one lucky human. 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

“Loosen your grip.”

That’s the message I got this week while leaning on my favorite cedar tree in the woods. As I stood there breathing deeply in and out, I realized I was curling my toes in my shoes. And there was absolutely no reason or need to be gripping the inside of my shoes. As always, Mother Cedar’s words were right on.

I uncurled my toes. Took a few more big deep breaths letting my jaw loosen, my eyes relax and my shoulders lower as I felt the warm energy of the earth flow through me. 

It’s been a tense and busy several months. I didn’t realize I was still carrying it all around. 
New Sculptures: Goddess of the Heart(top left), Goddess of the Trees(bottom left), Bluebird’s House

A show opening. 

My first featured show in years opened last Friday. It was a lovely evening surrounded by family, friends, gallery guests and supportive fellow artists. My talk to the group about my art went well and there were lots of interesting questions about the process of bringing these pieces to life. 
Labor of Art Show 2009, Mixed Media Story boxes

I’ve had a quite a few show openings in my 20 years as a working artist. And I want to point out my term - working artist - because this has been my focus, my job, my life. It is not a ‘hobby’. It is work. It is work I love, yes. Yet it was not easy and it took several decades of study, classes, assignments, practice, hours in the studio to get where I am today. 

And I’m not done. I’m still learning with every piece I throw or sculpt or build. There’s success with shows and sales as well as failures. No matter what, I keep seeing and making and putting it out there with love. Even this week, as I painted and loaded up the kiln I tried to remember to flow rather than push. 
“Prologue” 2019 

A mortality reminder. 

I am a melanoma survivor. When I was pregnant with my son, a mole on my leg that I’d had all my life was diagnosed as melanoma. I was terrified but luckily it was caught very early. It was removed with good margins with local anesthesia so as not to hurt the baby. I was 6 months pregnant at the time. 

I went in yearly for an overall skin check for a decade but as time went on and nothing went wrong, I let it go. I made appointments every 3 years instead. It was always fine. 

But three days before my gallery show, I had my first biopsy in 30 years. A suspicious area had appeared. I left with a few stitches and a lot of fear. Luckily for me, a few days later the call came to tell me it was not cancer this time. I was safe.

Into the woods. 

It was time. For me, one of the best ways to feed my soul and refresh my spirit is to head into the woods. I’m blessed there is a beautiful park near my home with a lake, big cedar grove and stands of birch. There are herons, geese, fish, ducks, otters and beavers.

That’s where I’ve been this week too. Wandering, leaning and hearing the wisdom that life is precious every day. That whether you succeed or fail or live or die, isn’t a matter of holding on but loosening up and letting it flow. 

Sunday, July 7, 2019

About Faces

‘Prologue’ Mask, porcelain, $300

From our very awakening at birth, life is all about faces. Seeing, knowing, loving begins with the faces of those around us. It’s not only a survival tool, it’s our very nature. 

I’ve written about this before. I see faces everywhere. It’s called Pareidolia. So I’m not alone in what I see, it’s an ability we all as humans, share. 

Whether I’m in line at the grocery store, watching clouds in the sky or touching the bark of trees in the woods, faces draw my attention. Happy or sad. Young or old. Spirited or wise. I find meaning and messages and connections and stories in each one. 
‘Healer’ Witch, porcelain, $50

Meeting new faces. 

I just delivered a new group of sculptures to the gallery, Art On Broadway. It’s been a little scary and at first, I wasn’t sure why. I’ve been in many gallery shows, local shows, regional invitationals over the decades as a working artist. 

I realized this week, it felt different because this is the first non-group show I’ve done in quite a while. It’s a dual show with printmaker, Beate Scheller. Her work is lovely in black and white and she, too, loves faces. 

We met on Saturday to hang our show. Again, not something I’ve done in a gallery show. Usually, that task is done by the curator or gallery owner. This time, Beate and I cleared the space, dusted and arranged the pedestals. While Beate hung her prints, I unpacked my new work. Yes, that’s it too. All of these sculptural pieces are new this year and this is their first show. 

Facing my fears. 

Showing my work in a group show is fun and relaxing and easy. My work is on display alongside many other artists’ work. I can hide in plain sight. In this show, I am the only ceramic artist. So not only is my work on display, so am I. 

In this group of work, I started with my love of nature. 

My simple leaf form became a cloak for a group of fairy witches. 

Tree bark inspired a pair of nature goddesses dressed in a combination of natural elements, Celtic symbols and feminine details. Shapeshifters appear again in my work in new forms. 

This group of work has sat around in pieces on my studio shelves for quite a while, staring down at me. I stared up at their faces, wondering. And finally, listening. 

They finally told me their stories and I did my best to bring them to form. But these are not just my stories, they are yours, too. These are stories we have all understood from our first look at the world around us. 

It’s all about faces.