I kind of relate to this tree outside my window. It fell over and is just resting there. "How 'bout I just grow while I'm lying down?"
Sounds so sweet.
I've been on overdrive. In a good way. My dear daughter was visiting from Algeria and life went into Ariella mode. Full swing. And I loved it. Meanwhile, I had this idea I would also be keeping up with my life, which I managed to - well - I managed to let go of a lot, but hold on the expectation of doing it anyway.
And now I'm here at the lake. Relaxing. It's Sunday. And I'm reminiscing about that feeling of childhood summer mode. Those days when nothing nothing nothing happened and it was normal. Aaaaah.
And, by contrast, I was thinking of the idea of what someone needed to DO to accomplish. The idea of a formula: work hard to get where you want to go.
Hmmmm. That was a tricky one for the family I grew up in. For a pretty, I think, amusing reason.
The progenitor of greatest acclaim had done so well because... he fell asleep on the job. By chance, the product he deemed ruined turned out to be more desirable than what would have been produced if he'd "worked hard/stayed awake". Falling asleep = road to success. Right? I get it.
I think I'll look out at the tree and decide to feel good.
(so.... that's how I was thinking on Sunday. And today it's Monday. Hmmmmm.
I'm thinking. You know, doin' stuff/making it happen... That might be the best part. Could it be?)
Can you see that these are shifts made from one image to the next?
I was having trouble accepting the horse on the right on the top image. I am guessing that in the winter light the colors worked better for me. And I know the computer doesn’t capture them accurately – but the blues now were not as subtle as I wanted. They were not “singing” with the rest.
I totally redid the horse, and then that square seemed to want to move to a different place in the order. The greener horse on the right now serves to pull that background green along. And it plays off the reds of the first horse.
When I do and redo, I think of Giacometti – and the book I read years ago about how willing he was to erase and do over, at any stage of the process. And he also would leave signs of his erasure. Of his process.
We see and re-see an art work. Time can shift perception. And it all can be part of the art. The art can carry the changes within it.
That part, I do enjoy.
Earlier in the spring, I thought to myself: you won’t have these gorgeous woods to yourself once it gets warmer and more beautiful out. It is warmer. It is definitely more beautiful. Look at this wildflower, a ladyslipper. If it is picked, it will not rejuvenate. And no one is picking this… because (“dun-da-dun”) no one else is in the woods : there are SO MANY BUGS! If you stop walking, you could probably inhale the mosquitos.
But armed with lots of bug spray, Peaches and I are secretly happy. As are the many wildflowers in bloom. As is my art brain: loving the time to be out and quiet.
Because, yes, after a week’s hiatus of having sweet time with Ariella, home from Algeria, it feels great to be back doing art.
And after time away, I see things in my art that I didn’t see before. And well, some of them “bug” me. Yeah. Enough to goad me into action.
Shift the colors. Work the connections. Find the song.
Thanks, bugs. For keeping the beautiful woods so peaceful. And – yes – for bugging me into better art. (okay, I know it’s not the same bugs, but hey!)
I was out on walking dear Peaches on a day that was supposed to be rainy – and the sun was shining shamelessly – when a question came to mind: who’s walking who? I think I’m taking the pup out. BUT possibly, the darn pup is taking me out. Out of my house. Away from my sitting. Into a world of … well, look at this sweet blossom! Would I have seen this without my pup’s walk?
When I go outdoors, I’m stepping away from my art. The art that I started. The art where I told myself: I’m going to create this certain piece.
I start that “certain piece”. I get going. And then – well, the art starts showing me what’s next. And it’s like we are moving together. I do one thing, another thing needs to happen. And I’m in deep. Immersed. Loving it.
I ask myself: am I creating the art or is it creating me?
People are coming back to the lake after a winter away. I see acquaintances I know in passing, know well enough to smile and acknowledge and ask: "How are you?" They say some positive answer and the question bounces back to me.
I answer. I love this lake with the crazy wild weather of the last few days: wind and rain. I love the relative quiet and peace of May. I can say to them: "I'm fine."
Later in the evening, someone I know deeply asks me the question. Same question. Different answer. Now I'm talking about the crazy weather inside. And thinking to myself: can't the bad weather stay out there? Where we just put on or take off a darn coat?
But no. It storms away in the depths. And - as a good friend of mine says - "feeds" me as an artist. Dunno about that one.
But the great thing about weather is: it does change. Outside. And inside.
So, yeah. The clouds have parted. The storm's subsided.
Ask me yesterday: "How are you?" I say: not so good.
Ask me today. Today I'm doin' good.
Doin' real good.
Earlier in the day - pre the time this photo was taken on a sweet woods wander - Peaches and I were walking on the grass at Whole Foods in Portland when we saw a discarded label: other side up.
Well, on one of the first balmy days in May in Maine, that kind of captures it all. Sun? Warmth? Outside? That's basically "other side up" for this area after a long haul winter.
And with those feelings I remember springtime in Virginia, where I grew up. Virginia does spring.
Not in a day, like Maine, but for months. The glorious unfolding. Pale green, yellow green, lime green...
And of course, the birth of the horses. Born in spring. Always at night. I'd hear the late night call of whoever was watching the mare. And then see the flashlights.
The next morning, the gangly new foal would be trying to stand.Trying to nurse. Just out in the world.
"Other side up" was inside - out for the young ones. Either way, it was all new and growing. All that freshness.
You hear people say: words are just words until you live them. And a word you hear a lot : fun.
You're not feeling well? Go have some fun. You're tired? Do something fun.
If I knew how to do those, dammit, I'd be doing them now. I'm too this. I'm too that. I can't the "whatever" figure out how to have that stupid blasted fun. What is fun anyway????
And then spring comes. It's no longer black and white outdoors. And the darn bright yellow daffodils start poking out of the ground. Silent. No words. Not saying anything. Not telling you to be a better person. Or to be happy. Or be this. Be that.
Just being yellow. And darned if they aren't irresistible. And darned if you don't find yourself picking those bright colors.
And without realizing it, you slowly realize: WHAT? I'm - yes - I'm having fun. Not even trying. Doing nothing.
Just loving color. Feeling it. Feeling the fun.
Running horses? Relaxing? Is that possible?
I was out walking in the woods. Walking. Not running. But watching Peaches run hither and thither.
It had been pouring rain, so happily we had this lovely piece of outdoors to ourselves. I loved it. Roaming the now quiet woods.
In Barry Lopez's thoughtful book, Horizon, he brings up the matter: this idea that so many people carry around: of taking our tumultuous minds to the wilderness to calm them down. The idea of the wild mind and peaceful earth. That often heard belief and/or experience.
He compares that to the Inupiaq Eskimo concept: that the earth is actually NOT quiet. Rather, it's "always in a state of enduring change - ice breaking up on rivers in spring, foxes preying on voles... - but it give us the illusion of constancy ... relative to the (everchanging) weather that passes over it." Lopez suggested that it is this very CHANGING environment, both of earth and weather, that is so reassuring. Not this idea one might carry around of the busy - minded visitor in a static environment.
I find this understanding of the outdoors as dynamic to be compelling. Even nurturing. Matching some deep inner sense. A belonging.
It also helps me to understand how motion can be calming. That the horses that I seek to portray, running full tilt, can bring a feeling of peace. That a horse galloping might actually be: thrilling, but also - natural. Right. Soothing.
Peaches scooting past me. Horses at play. All for ease.
Ease of mind.
Remember that stream that Peaches was trying to reach - was it only a week ago? Maybe two. And yes, she's incredulous.
Spring. A time to be outdoors. Just being. Aaaaaaah.
As I was strolling through the rainy woods today - blessing the rain for keeping most others away - I loved that feeling of BEING in the woods. Not trudging with heavy boots, or sliding on the icy snow, but just walking. With relaxation. Me, a human being.
And it brought to mind reading that I had done lately about the way that Potowami, a Native American language, differs from ours. In particular how there are no nouns. What we describe as an object, for example, a tree or stream or... rain, in their language, is a verb. It's "being a tree". Or, in the case of the stream: "being the stream".
With that sense of the trees being. The stream being. The rain being. Everything felt different. It felt fluid. More alive. I felt like I was part of a larger experience, not separate from it. I felt included. And inclusive.
It also felt very alive. The tree is being. It's almost as if I could feel it's slow pulse. And the stream being? Wildly present and shifting and alive after being held hostage all winter. And the rain. Today, being part of the woods experience: one minute pressing down and the next, just barely kissing my skin. And being eagerly absorbed by the earth, dark and soft now. And I'm breathing all this in. All this being around me.
It's all so natural. Accepting the being. The being of the trees and stream and rain. The way a young child accepts the world as being.
To being among beings.
I left the lake today. The quiet lake. I took this photo to capture that: how fully I felt. The quiet.
Very few people are around. But many are online. And so is so much else: lots of art. Which made this particular paragraph in Broad Strokes stand out for me:
(preface: it was written by Bridgett Quinn who grew up in Montana and had only seen art in books and slides. She could just as well have said ... online. She was sure she wasn't missing anything.) And then she realizes:
I was wrong. What I discovered ... in New York was the necessary and exhausting emotion of confronting art itself. The messy, sexy, physically unnerving shock of THE REAL. That paintings can seduce you, sicken you, haunt you.
Who hasn't had that experience? Of being so affected by the painting/art itself that you wondered how it could possibly do that? Wham! The REAL can do something that no reproduction can.
And yet, every time we do see a reproduction, in some way, it's an invitation. Like the very first art: that silhouette cast by light made to remember the girlfriend. It was not the girl.
But it keeps the bond. And hopefully, all those images - hopefully, they lead back to the source: to the painting/art itself. With all that's behind it. Conveyed through it.
To the real.
The full impact.
It's evening. I'm looking through my translucent horses to that snow covered lake. Perfect backdrop.
It's quiet. Good to be home. Good to feel the peace.
And also, glad that I was in Bath. That my winter months were spent near Nika and Scott and Cecilia. That I was surrounded by people in the most isolating time of year. That I found new friends, new paths, new possibilities. New options.
I'm the kind of person who could easily become ensconced. Never budge. Get to know one place really really really well. If this dear sweet baby hadn't come along, I would likely be even more burrowed into this lake house.
But Cecilia did come. And I did leave. For longer than expected.
And now I'm going back. Back to Bath for a week. Carrying my new horses with me.
The ones I'm working on now.
Because I say:
Horses for Bath, too.
Lots of wind in the night broke up the ice. Allowed it to shift into these shapes. Kind of stunning.
The thing about living in such a gorgeous spot is that you realize always that all you have to do is look outside and be moved. Look at the lines. Look at the shapes. Look at the texture.
When I would go riding with my father as a child, we occasionally would have a friend or guest join us. Predictably, my father would say afterwards: "They talked too much." He wanted quiet, to take in all there was to see in the woods.
As a child, I was ready to talk. I saw trees and more trees. Dark mornings getting lighter. And yes, okay, there was the intense glow of sunrise.
Now, years later, those memories come back to me in a whole different way. What I was observing and taking for granted comes up as wonderment. The ways that the woods shifted from season to season, day to day, hour by hour.
As a child, what I wanted was for time to speed up. Of course I was riding through those non-moving trees. Tree tree tree. Who cares?
Now? Wow, I'm mesmerized by almost still ice. Mesmerized.
getting close to 4 months already!
River water! Ice is gone. What a gift.
I walk through tall old growth pines. Over jagged rocks. Next to the clear river. All gifts.
In Native American understanding, the earth was given to us. Every year, the animals that are born, the food that is grown, the sun that shines. All are gifts.
I love that way of thinking.
That sweet baby. Where did she come from? We came in – each one of us – as a gift.
And we continue to receive gifts: of friendship, of food, of nature.
But also, of inspiration. Of ideas. Of creations that we produce.
The point is to see it all as gift. Forget the effort, right? Just let those gifts flow. Aaaaaaaah.
Loving how that feels.
Years ago, I taught film-making to 4th and 5th graders who were struggling in school, struggling to learn to read and write and generally be there. The idea was to start with something they love and then make the other parts: the words, the writing, part of the film-making. So, first: learning how to make a film. Kind of.
Very simply, I started with the guidelines that you need a long shot (background), a middle shot (context), and close-up (focus). And then you have the audience, and the story goes from there. BUT, what I also told them, after we got going was: no “shoulds”.
Forget starting with the long shot, start with the close up… yeah, close – close – close. Or maybe far – far. Middle – far – middle. Do it all wrong. Do it your way. How do YOU see it?
Years later, I hear my words and think: that’s it! Forget the “shoulds”. Perhaps that’s what really got their attention, got them really motivated.
In a setting full of guidelines, letting the rules go. Looking for another way. A more personal path.
It was a mess. It was too much. But it was the only way to go.
That was years ago. Much time has passed. The world has changed. But the shoulds keep coming.
And I maintain, that sometimes, maybe not always, the best advice is:
This is Peaches looking out at the Kennebec River on a BEAUTIFUL 50 degrees day in April. No, that is not a big fish causing the disturbance in the water: that is the rip, as it is termed: the river is trying to flow downstream as the tide (in the center) is pushing full force upstream. Two strong forces battling it out in the gentle swirls of water.
And then there’s my mind. It’s loving the warm day, the lovely scenery and the prediction is for – UGH – snow. I look at that forecast once. Then again. And again. As if my looking will affect it. Affect the weather.
As Barry Lopez writes so eloquently:
The nature of a storm is to be emphatic,… indifferent to all life. It cannot be contained… It’s entirely free. Its own idea.
My mind going one way is useless to switch whatever darn way that storm is happening.
And yes, I’ll have a beautiful day. Indoors. With my art. My art which is its own perfect storm in the works.
Its own idea.
I’m thinking: “The ice is getting really thin. I hope Peaches doesn’t … AAAUGH!”
“COME BACK, Peaches!!!”
“Phew! Good dog.”
Huge sigh of relief.
Let’s go take a ride:
Yesterday I lost a crampon in the woods. I looked down and one boot was bare. You can see – above – what I lost: it’s meant to prevent your slipping on the ice. You can also see, by contrast, the size of my little horse pieces I’ve been having a blast making.
So today I went back to the woods. Dammit. I was going to find that sucker. I put on my backup pair of crampons – my red ones. And off I went.
The woods are half ice and half mud now. The mud would pull your boots off if possible. So… in looking for my lost item, I managed to lose these sweet other red ones not once, not twice, but three times! At the end of the walk, I was carrying them – just sliding on the darn ice.
I never found the lost one. Soaked into the morass. Gone.
But I have the leftover. And, as you can see, I’ve already put it to good use: as an indicator of my art size. Assuming that you know I’m not godzilla.
Doesn't Peaches look like she's emerging from the darkness? As in Tolkien. The deep, dark woods...
And yes, that kind of feels like what one small realization meant to me today.
I had this wonderful Alexander technique session with Alice. Alexander technique is something that professional musicians and actors are likely to know about because they often encounter difficulties from the tension of demanding repetitive movement or vocalization. Alexander technique is about how to find the ease so that your body can feel comfortable and supported in various demanding situations. I wanted to find out about it after I hurt my back in January.
But only recently did I meet Alice.
Meantime, in my black and white way of understanding things: I had decided that I had done way too much too fast (all true) and that the solution was to more or less collapse. Not collapse totally, but just - shall we say, give in to gravity. What other option made sense?
Now, I'm not talking here about moment to moment weariness or not. I'm just noticing my mental picture of the good and the bad. Good = sleep. Bad = doing too much.
What Alice proposed was the actual cyclical basis for perceiving the flow of energy in the body. She was asking me to - yes - let the energy drop through the body to sense the floor (or chair). But then, feel how that quite naturally supports the bodies upward lightness. That the relaxation feeds into the upliftment of the body.
As I write this, I think: "Du-uh". But before I had been thinking only of either up - as in "go go go", or down, as in "rest rest rest". The fact that the body itself uses (ideally) both all the time, in all its actions: that's the key. Relaxing as going. Going with relaxation.
Got that? I love that understanding. Yes.
And now? Time to allow that to inform my body: relaxing as going. And then going with relaxation. Basic. Yet key.
I go to the woods because they feel so much like home to me. So today I was thinking about a time when they were actually home to so many people. And how the woods weren't a place to "go to". Home surrounded you, in a sense.
But home itself is that feeling, isn't it? It's that comfort that you want to feed yourself. The nurturing of surroundings.
And that comes to me, as well, when I'm doing my art. Yes. It's like, I'm home.
I was home when I did my art in earlier years. I was home when I did my art in another state. I'm home when I'm doing my art right here right now.
Who doesn't love that deep sense of home?
It's spring. The woods are a mess: icy trails, mud next to the ice. But, hey, it's spring: what a gift!
The baby needs a new diaper; the baby just spit up; sometimes a mess. But it's Cecilia. Cecilia! she's a gift. Yes, such a gift.
My art is all over the place: cluttering this table top, falling out of that box: it's a mess. But, it's my darn art and, it feels like a gift to me.
The gifts that really give back. Those gifts. The real gifts.
My sister, Julie, used to do sports photography for a university and she would tell me about timing. Catching the moment on film. That shot. That one.
In those years - gosh, I think it would have been the 1970's - they were just coming out with cameras that could shoot the continuously. But what she said was: the really good photographer would be so connected to the action that she/he could catch the crucial instant. The auto camera would miss that milli-second.
I loved that. That level of precision. That MOMENT.
On the flip side, there is the blur. There is action that one sees and it happens so fast that you - you who are there watching - sense it as this indistinguishable blur. Not one moment separable from the next.
It's that kind of indistinct sense of movement that I seek to capture in this piece. The eye might recall one vivid detail of the action. The rest: what just went by? That sense of having seen and wanting to capture it but - it's gone.
Somewhere, the mind has registered that whole movement as a moment. That moment. That one.
"the unfathomable sublimity of a random moment ... might revive the determination o rid oneself of life's weight of self-doubt... Or a moment of staggering beauty might reignite the intention ... to lead a life of great meaning..." Horizon, by Barry Lopez
How could I go on and on about winter and not mention...?
Yes. If anything marks time, it's the growing baby, Aaaah. Yes, we want them to grow. And we want them to experience many many winters that turn into many many springs.
Winter has a way of wrapping around me that feels like it's here to stay. So I stay: all snuggled up inside a warm house; all snuggled up inside layers and layers of warm clothes; all snuggled up inside myself. It's winter. Endless.
And then the snow starts to melt. Streams start to flow again. Light returns. Instead of 6 layers, I need maybe only 3. I can trudge on trails that were inpenetrable.
Wait. Is winter leaving? It's not here forever?
I'm in disbelief. Every time. I'm such a sucker for winter's lie.
I'll be transitioning little by little back to spend time at my home in NH. To what is now still a frozen white mass that calls itself a lake. See how long it takes for me to believe I can swim in it again.
Meantime, part of my deep love and appreciation for winter is that it provides the ideal conditions for my art. It makes leaving the home/studio unappealing. It cuts out the capacity for my loving friends and family to easily entice me away. And it shortens the time outside needed to wear out the pup.
Winter: it's quiet. Introspective. And, in what it means for my art ... endless.
Is it the full moon? It looks that way to me. And it feels that way to me.
I've been making a mess. I'm doing this art that is, well, not supposed to look perfect. Not supposed to look exact. Not supposed to look any certain way.
And I've succeeded there.
And you know what? It looks okay. And then, perhaps there is more to the story:
I went to see this wonderful Network chiropractor yesterday.
But beforehand, the office had to do an assessment. I've never had this kind of check-up: one where they can measure your stress levels. It's all, of course, done on computer. For the first test, the computer refused to work. The assistant tried three times and gave up in frustration. I, of course, wondered: was my stress that high? Was it affecting the machine?
For the second and third tests, though, the computer worked. You could see where my muscles were too tight or pulling in one way or another. And the third test was for the parasympathetic nervous system: a read on how much reserves your body has.
The results of the muscle test were familiar. But the third: I was supposed to get this certain pie shape with these nice blues. But, no. I had greens and yellows and red. Hmmmm. If I wasn't already feeling tired, this was irrefutable evidence.
The assistant told me it was for the insurance company and so they could then see how I progressed from the treatments. I did know I needed the treatments. And the first treatment did feel soooo good. But, was it with the knowledge of that evidence? I came home feeling exhausted.
So, today, with my new decision NOT to stress, well - you know, my art can look anywhichhow it wants. Plus, it's the full moon, right? I'm going to be just so so fine with it.
'People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." ~Maya Angelou.
Right, Cecilia? Will we ever forget how you made us feel? We might not remember your words...
But we will remember that it was February and it felt deep blue cold.
And that it was so sweet to be with you, which lightened that blue substantially.
And then, yes, you were huggable and lovable. And soft. And let's not overlook:
The light. How all this light came through. Penetrating joy.
That we will remember.
I was very poorly understanding a concept of Japanese gardening when I tried to share it with Scott the other day. About the wall. The wall for a garden, that is. In reading their book, "The Sound of Cherry Blossoms", I thought that Mosko and Noden were almost requiring that a garden have a wall to shut out the rest of the world. To "be Zen".
I was reading this as applicable to my art, too. That my art needed a wall, a frame... So I wanted to confirm that what I had told Scott was, in fact, what I had read.
No. It wasn't. It wasn't close.
Instead, the authors state:
Boundaries do not have to be walls or solid... (what you are looking for is something that) establishes the feeling of going from one place to another... Water, of all the elements, most closely resembles the nature of mind, therefore bridges have special meaning... They represent passing from one place to another, from one state of mind to another...
So, that feeling of transition is the key. And I love that it is about moving "from one state of mind to another". Yes. That is without question:
With gardens, you want to take the person from pressing matters of the world to ease. From an often unattractive world to a desired one. From the mundane to the transported space.
We enter a garden. We enter a piece of art. We invite a transition. It can be soft, subtle. It can be beautiful. It can make you forget anything less than that.
It can shift your mind.
What's this in front of me? All this blue and white and blue and white and blue and white? Let me read this one.
In my "reading" reading today, I ran across an article which talked about the Arabic word for home:
The Arabic language evolved across the millenia, leaving little undefined, no nuance unshaded. "Bayt" translates literally as house, but its connotations resonate beyond rooms and walls, summoning longings about family and home. ~ Anthony Shadid, World of Interiors, Feb. 2019
Home. Creating a home. Is it the walls/ the structure? Is it the history of the place? And then, don't we carry our "homes" with us as we move from one place to another. Some sense of home inside us?
I watch little Cecilia as she wakes up to her home, her environment. And I wonder how the physical presence imprints. Or rather, what aspects of it imprint. What is she "reading" today?
I never underestimate the importance of that early childhood piece. If anyone asks me today about myself as an artist, the first thought is of my formative years. I'm aware that my sight - the blurriness - of my early childhood informs me. As well as the first time I could see definition of form.
That may not seem to be specifically about the place/ the home. The vision piece . Except, well, I did grow up with horses... (reading horses)
My mother used to have this saying: "This country is too big." And it's odd, because I moved only 2 and 1/2 hours away from where I was, and it seems far. And as I settle in, I notice how I anchor myself. In a new place, I really see that.
One way that I really do anchor is with routine. I like, rather, I LOVE my routine. And if something comes along like, say, a sore back... Hmmm. Am I going to let that get in my way? I don't think so. I'm going to just imagine that it's not actually there. That if I ignore it, it surely will pass.
Damn it all. Why doesn't that work? Why can't I just imagine things away? Well, maybe I can sometimes. But this time, no.
So, yes, I have to pull the anchor up a bit. Just let go of that darn way of mooring. Not so easy for me.
And yes, isn't it wonderful to see how precious a mooring can be, under the best of circumstances?
Little Cecilia is growing. Isn't she irresistible? Watching her become rounder, softer in her flesh, more focused in her vision, more present to your holding her. More aware of your love.
And that, that's what it's all about.
When I moved to Bath to be near Nika and Scott and the baby, I had to focus on moving THINGS. On setting up HOME. On taking care of practical matters. All important.
Once here, I began to meet people, mainly at the dog park. Everyone was soooo friendly, I felt welcomed and appreciative. And I lived so close that I could go often: lots of dogs, lots of dog owners.
And then, my critical mind came into play: "I thought I liked this person but now I find out ...." And "Not her again". All the usual. And, you know what? I began to feel lonely. Lonely for friends I'd known longer, who were "better", of course. And my mood sank.
No, it wasn't the people at the dog park. It was that messy mind of mine. For a week, my schedule shifted. When I went back I did meet others. But, those ones I was judging so harshly, now I looked forward to seeing again.
They weren't bigger, plumper, more aware of my love or anything so alluring as with my dear Cecilia. But they... they were offering to me their own kind of love. The possibility of connection that can grow into more caring.
And I realized,
That's what matters.
With baby, with people, with art,
Awareness of love.
You have what you need: colors and trust.
Oh, and focus.
You'll get there.
I was feeling low today. The sun was shining, the dog was happy, people were kind. But... my back hurt. Yes, I had overdone some - "if you do this, then you will get that" exercise/make me a better person thing-a-ma-jig. And now I was hurting. And I'm all grown up, right? And not supposed to be ever feeling this way, right? Etc. All the cliches: "wherever you are you take yourself with you" echoing through my brain that was stuck in stuck mode about dumping on being stuck.
In this midst of this pity party, my dear Ariella phoned from Algeria. As she was sharing how she was finally overcoming the massive culture shock she'd experienced in her first months, she talked about the relief of not being around the aggressive overachieving American culture, "where you read that the most successful CEO's are admittedly the most unhappy people". Yes. Talk about trying and trying to get there.
So, in my dumpy mood, I was doing the only thing possible in that state: playing with my art. "This color, yes, and that, no not there...got it. Ooops... There, now it's working."
And as I begin to feel better, I wonder how did that happen?
(Not with those better person exercises...)
Today, I was here with Fred (carpenter Fred) replacing some pulls on my kitchen drawers when they started falling apart. The fronts of the drawers were falling off. I've lived here for a month and not noticed that they were about to come undone. The story of this house has been so full of unexpected calamities that it's now gotten to the point of being just humorous. Even entertaining. I'm actually getting a big smile out of each unfolding. It's funny.
Things done wrong. Are they supposed to cheer me up? Are they supposed to make me feel better?
Years ago, when I was living in Yugoslavia with a Hungarian family, the grandmother spent time teaching me traditional Hungarian embroidery. At my first few attempts, she just laughed, they looked so inept in her eyes. My embroidery was so wrong.
I worked hard. I learned to do it right. I can DO Hungarian embroidery.
But ... years later, I'm adding "stitches" to my artwork. And I'm doing it all wrong. So much more fun. It's delightful to be so wrong.
Yeah. It can be. Cecilia has that to find out.
Green. Remember? Remember green?
Vaguely. It's somewhere hidden in the back of my brain. I think I can conjure it up.
At certain times, I want to be distracted. I welcome distraction. I look for it.
This past week, I had a friend visit. Yay! Time out.
Kristin and I have known each other for years and years. Recently, she has opted to live in a very southern climate while I... I moved ever so slightly further north. Regardless, Kristin decided to brave a visit in January. The week that it decided to snow and snow, drop colder and colder, then whip around to rain and wind and warm. In other words, the weather was the worst week ever here, for her stay. To emphasize it, a tree decided to land on my car.
The good side of all this for Kristin is that she now has no doubts about the wisdom of her choice of residency. And the good side for me is that I was NOT in my car when the tree decided to fall on it. And the final good side is...
That for many people, none of this mattered. They were not at all distracted by the weather. They were busy growing into a bigger and better selves:
Snow day! Eclipse day! Let's move some pieces of fabric around day! (exclamations day!)
Randomly. I was reading an article in the New Yorker by Joshua Rothman on decision making. In it he references Tolstoy's War and Peace, where the Russian general is asking himself: what decision did he make that ended up with Napoleon almost at Moscow? The point is that rarely are decisions made in isolation. They tend to be part of a process, a series of events.
Rothman talks about how there's a lot we don't see. And there's a lot we don't know. As well, the past is not always a good predictor of the future. You can weigh and balance and entertain advice but ..."(l)ife's truly consequential decisions 'can't be understood on a single scale'". We can't know how we will grow and change.
And then, there are the truly transformative decisions...
You might have experienced one or two (more?) of them in your life. The writer mentions having a baby. To an outsider, it may look as if that decision ended badly: they see how tortuous the months after birth appear: sleeplessness, diapers, slow life. But Rothman verifies that, inside it, there is another reality. Somehow, the parental love that accompanies that time is so transformative that it outweighs everything.
I've felt that. And I see that. I witness that watching Nika and Scott with baby Cecilia.
I notice too, that their decision influenced my life. Until last spring, I was talking vaguely of possibly moving to Bath someday. Maybe. But then... Nika got pregnant.
The other day when I was walking with dear Peaches in a gorgeous wooded trail that is a full 3? 5? minutes from my door, I thought about how I'm here because of them. Because Cecilia was coming. It took this to get me to move.
So, I ask myself, "Did Nika get me to come here?"
Or was it Cecilia?
Do more! Make more money! Find more "friends"! Feel the pressure to achieve. Feel the pressure.
The alternative? I look at my pup. Living in the moment. Wagging her tail. Making up fun. Loving her food. Falling asleep anywhere. Aaaaaaaah.
The only drawback in her life? Peaches doesn't see color. No color.
Now, that's a big one.
I'm not an internet savvy person. And, for some reason, it's not at the top of my list. I seem to be more interested in getting outside or messing with other things. Like my fabric or getting this house kind of fixed up.
But I'm friends with people who have the skills I lack. And are constantly expanding them. And I watch with wonder as they "link" with more and more people and ideas.
By contrast, I have been wandering in the woods - as you may have noticed. In the actual, gorgeous and sweetly alone woods. Just yesterday, I encountered an older man - there are many older men in Bath, perhaps because the Iron Works is a bastion of male employment.
Regardless, he was out walking with his dog - and surprised Peaches and me. His response was "Oops! I must have wandered off the less known paths to end up here". And thus I got my first inkling that there are more paths. More paths than the ones on the map. More paths that the general public/ the newbies like me don't know about. I think to myself, "A-ha!" I'm going to find these lesser known byways. I'm going to explore, so that I can find my own way when the seasons change.
It's not linked in, LinkedIn, as in meeting more people. It's linked in as in paths that interconnect. And finding my way, MY way maybe to ... fewer people?
Yet, I wonder if, somehow the two "linked in"s don't serve a similar purpose - we both get fed. What feeds me is that time apart. What feeds them/their businesses is connection.
But I'm also aware that what feeds me is being connected to them. Connected via the internet. Even as I wander off into my lesser traveled trails in the woods.
There are times in your life when all there seems to be is action. Action. Action. It's needed. It has to be done. You can't get from A to B without picking up your stuff and moving it. Physically.
And then, friends come. Family come. And a new baby. Not the same kind of action. But yes, action. So much happening.
And then it settles. The move is over. The crowds have thinned. The sweet new one is easing into her loving environment.
And there is... quiet.
At times like this I think of Carl Jung, of his description of creativity where there is searching and searching, and then, in a moment when the mind is relaxed - the solution comes. As I take these walks in the woods where no one is around and there is no destination, I see ideas for my art come out of nowhere. Try this! How about that?
I can recall certain moments when I was struck by space in a painting. Not in a painting that hangs in the Met, some world reknowned piece. No. A painting that was in process.
In one instance there was a figure of a rope. The rope loosely followed the form of a circle, and as it reached somewhere near its beginning point, it kept going. The crossing line rose above the "line" below and suddenly: I saw space. An opening.
In another instance, the artist was painting a lemon - or, the outline of a lemon. Very distinct, vaguely oval, and including the way that the small protrusion sits on the end after the stem has been eliminated - can you see it in your mind's eye? The line went most of the way around the form. Most of the way. And then, it let the eye fill in the last bit. Let the knowing eye cover the space. Let the viewer in.
And these places where space happens - where space comes into being - brought delight into the art. For me, it was my entryway. I was in. And surprised. I had entered through the opening of space.
And yes. Overlapping. Incompleteness. Space is just reminding us of those feelings: where we touch and where we reach. How we move through space with bodies and with mind. Deeply affected.
I'm out with the pup. Out in the air. Out walking on frozen water. Out moving quickly to keep warm, to keep the "fire" going inside. We're exploring our earth. Our big earth.
Earth, fire, water and air. I've mentioned four elements. So what is the fifth?
I hadn't considered a fifth element until ... in reading Mosko and Noden:
The fifth element is space... (That element) is the vision that drives all the other elements. It is the ultimate mystery... (and is) difficult to talk about since it is the union of subject and object... It does not appear or disappear... It's the emptiness that brings clarity to the whole.
I recalled how, a few days ago, I had felt pent up. I had left NH with all these wide-open lakes and uninhabited mountains and now was living in town. I felt like: I need space. And, really - hardly two minutes from my house there is a nature preserve. In summer, it's well appreciated: there are many people out in the woods. But now? With temperatures in the single digits - I have the woods to myself. I was easily able to answer that need for space.
And I appreciated how it felt. My mood lifted. My mind relaxed. I could feel myself let go. With that space.
It was such a literal response to the word. Yet, I wondered afterwards if I wasn't literally responding all the time? If there was time pressure, or people pressure - any kind of pressure - the release/relief comes from getting some kind of space around it.
The outdoors is one passageway. And then, there's my art. That same opening is there. The "blank canvas". The space to play. To enjoy space: the way lines delineate and colors suggest lift and flow. The way emptiness can suggest the shape or surround it. On and on.
Outdoor space. Art. And then...
And then, sometimes, just sometimes, what is needed, what is desired is less space. No space. A tight wrap.
Sometimes one loves being just all wrapped up.
(The fifth element is appreciated in all its configurations.)
I need to see. I need to really see what colors I'm using for my art. And guess what? Sunlight and shadows can totally kill my ability to see any color. Ooops - time to move where I'm doing my art. Or at least where I'm choosing the colors. So I can see.
I was in the woods today, again. Along the trail there were imprints of animal tracks. The bright sun on the snow showed me the footprints vividly. No animal to see, but dark shapes as evidence.
When I moved in, my neighbor told me there's a fox that roams around my house. Today, Nika says she has seen the fox. Twice. I never have. I'm outside with my dog. I don't see what my daughter has seen.
I think I know. I think I know what I see. I think I know what I see even if I don't see it.
Cecilia's dad, Scott, knows what he sees. Yes. And then, Cecilia looks right back at him. What does she see?
I'm the only one on this trail that is well traveled in warmer months. The colors? Black and white almost.
I've ventured out, away from the art I just started. Just started! Yes, I opened these bags filled with small squares of silk color: remnants of work that I'd done in past years. Waiting for me to re-discover and re-explore. And to welcome me when outside is so monochromatic.
I seem to have an emotional pattern with my art making where I begin from a place of discontent. I don't like that I experience this over and over, but the judgment only serves to intensify it. The discontentment seems to serve as some kind of a springboard: a firm push to DO ART. And then, once I get started, it lets go - the art takes over.
As I wandered through the Lilly Pond woods today, I thought of this pattern. And also of the words in this book that I'm enjoying: The Sound of Cherry Blossoms, by M. H. Mosko and A. Noden: "the (outdoors) is a place that allows us access to big mind (that which is open, welcoming and vulnerable) beyond our small mind (never satisfied and self-protective)". I realized that I start my art with some idea, an intention that my mind has determined.
Rarely does that pan out. Rarely is that intention what I actually am seeking. Rarely is that what I actually want.
Therefore, I love it when I run amuck. When I see that what I thought I wanted looks dull, expected. And then, I'm in it. I'm in something bigger. Bigger than that first thought.
And that's why is feels good to get outside. Outside of actually knowing ahead of time what I'll find. And then, where that leads me...
She came on December 26. Cecilia. New to this world.
So much to understand. How to be. To be picked up. To be fed. To be touched.
To let in light. To let the dark soothe. To let out sound. To let in noises.
To feel empty and full and comfortable and not comfortable and to like what's happening and to not not not like it. And to be upset and then to somehow ease into not upset at all at all at all.
And to be mooshed up against someone and to want to be mooshed up and then to move and have to move and oh dear and that's better and let's have more of that and do we have to do this and yes, let's have that that that. All mooshed up, just so. Feeling with. With.
And then it changes and then it changes and then it changes. Night comes early. But the light follows. Even in winter.
Warm inside. Thank goodness. It's winter.
Cecilia's first days.
New in winter.
"What attracts me ... is that it's not 'about' something ...- it just IS something." (Laura Hoptman, Art in America, 1/2019).
I'm walking back from the dog park. Only a salt marsh sits between me and this massive object that reverberates with the clang-clang of iron moved from place to place. Bath Iron Works. Huge. Blue. Metal.
Yeah. I love this town right away. And I love this object. Not what it is, but just it's "is-ness".
Isn't it crazy that we use the words "made it" to mean, on one hand : made by hand. On the other: got to this place. Yeah.I made it to Maine. And yeah, I made it: all that stuff piled up in the photo that I brought along with me.
As opposed to the house in NH, which has window after window, this Maine habitat has... yes, white walls. Soft white in the night. When I chose this house, what I loved was the space and the light. Now that I'm here, I see those beautiful walls. And I understand why galleries paint their walls white. They show off color. They really do.
I don't have anything on the walls yet. Not yet. There's, well, plumbing and heating that needs work first. Basic stuff.
But the walls are there. White/soft white. Waiting.
I made it to Maine.
I've looked out my window for years now and seen lake and mountains. In a month, I'll look out of the window of another house and see woods. Lovely open Maine woods.
I'm not moving per se. This house will be home. And, well, that house will be home as well, I hope. I've bought a place in Bath, Maine, so I can be near my oldest daughter, Nika, and her husband Scott. They're starting a family and asked me to come closer. Which I'm happily doing. Happily.
And yet, I seem to have forgotten, somewhere over time, what setting up a new home entails.
First, there's finding the place. Most important, I had thought, as I headed to Bath, was to look out on more water. No. Not so. Most important? To be near Nika. Well, of course. But also, the dog park. And a good place to walk. Not to mention, light and space for my art. Plus, when looking in a town as old as Bath, perhaps try to find a house that has a room larger than the size of a queen bed. Or is not cavernously huge. With a basement that doesn't have a river running through it. That's the challenge.
I found the house. I have it. Now, it's a matter of "nesting", as my friend Jan calls it. I'm attempting to recall: how did I do that before? Where did the "stuff" come from?
And did I forget that the house always needs some "help" initially?
Okay. So yes. I have a serious case of House Brain. Forgive me for a while as I work on...
the next place to create my art
near Nika and Scott and the new baby, coming soon.
my horses hiding the thunderstorm
Years ago, I was having a tough time at one point. Really tough. So much so that I couldn't make sense of what was going on.
It's times like that - midst confusion and darkness - that truth stands out like a shaft of light. So, I vividly recall my sister Nin walking with me down to the water's edge in Maine during a full moon. Her words to me:
"It doesn't matter if you understand what's happening or not. The tides come in and the tides go out. The only thing that matters is that one thing is attracted to another. That's all there is. That's all that matters." Nin tells me she doesn't recall this moment. These words. But they were so simple and clear at that moment that I will never forget.
And yes, the tide does come in. All summer. People people people. A slight lull/out. And then Ariella has been here.
She's on a short trip now for - is it three days? But it's almost irrelevant. The tide goes out. She comes back. It's in again.
Once the seasons shift, or perhaps if I move to a place with more people, different "tides" will occur.
But we are water. So much of us. And we are attracted to one another. And we do: we come and go. Literally and also, at times, emotionally.
At this time of year, I tell my daughter, you feel as if you own the lake. It feels like it's just us, no one else around. And - well, here she is with a friend in the kayaks. At sunset. With Peaches watching.
I love that feeling. "Owning" a space. Like its yours. Or a time of day: no one else is awake. My time. I own it.
I've had Ariella here for a wonderful while. I get up early. She usually is slower to rise; that is, when Peaches doesn't rouse her. So yes. I own the mornings. The late nights (after 9) - that can be hers. Let her own that time.
It's funny. Ownership. It's like getting someone to yourself. Being with the lake. Being with the morning.
And then: being with my art. My work. Now that might be what makes it so deeply gratifying. The with-ness. That relationship.
This morning I was in the woods that I treasure for my daily visits. It was Saturday. In the fall (leaves starting to turn red). I encountered two very elderly men. One was walking with two canes and the other was letting him determine the pace. It was heartwarming. But at first: I admit, I had to let go of the ownership of "my" woods.
Okay. Yes. Isn't that what it's all about in the end? To own. Then share. Love the lake, then bring a friend. Ingest the morning, then let it into my heart. Make the art. Then put it out there.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. But meantime, owning? Shall we savor that part? Here in the fall...
Feels so sweet.
I'm reading this wildly interesting book on Alexander Humboldt (by Andrea Wulf) who was one of the first environmentalists. I'm early in the book and, although he's German, he's finally gotten funding from the Spanish king to explore the New World - this is around the time of the Napoleonic wars. He is so excited to be in South America that he immediately starts collecting specimens of everything in sight. He traverses miles to reach the jungle where he continues to collect and collect.
We now know, more than a hundred years later that the abundance of flora in the jungles has yet to be fathomed. But what struck me was his excitement in looking at everything. Everything. It was all fresh and new.
And so it dawned on me: I'm in familiar territory, not the jungle. How much to I notice of the much simpler plant life that grows in my geographic area? I'm not talking about the plants that I impose on the landscape - in my garden. What about those that grow and thrive and bloom on their own?
At this time of year the meadows are teaming with life. The asters (above) are everywhere. Goldenrod. Yes, there, I can name two. But then there is this vibrant blue one - striking. And black-eyed susans - okay I know that one, too. But others that I've looked at like - and thought: "Oh that thing that grows beside the road".
There is some sweet quote: "a weed is a plant in the wrong place". But maybe, it's the eyes and the mind that put it there, after all. Hmmmm.
So many of these blooms that are all around me, have I even seen them?
So in my latest best-loved book, The Invention of Nature, von Humboldt is struggling across an endless grass landscape in South America when he encounters an occasional palm tree. It was his appreciation for the palm tree in that setting that led to his idea of a keystone species. The fact that one plant could help so much else - the insects, the moisture, the wind, the soil, the shade - to him it was like that one stone in an arch that supports the whole structure.
And in my life? The keystone? Regardless of what else is going on, what do I need? It seems that always, always I need to do something with my hands. Make something. And it seems to be best when it's something I can feel. Feel the yarn. Feel the cloth. I love the images. And I love the touch.
I hear that often asked question, "What are you passionate about?" I wonder if a better question would be, "What do you do day in and day out that anchors your day?" Supports your soul?
Yes, I forgot. I forgot to name many who dropped by, jumped in, laid back, enjoyed the lake. All of whom I thoroughly enjoyed:
Those wild adventurers, Oren (NYC/Texas), and David, the musician, who joined Samsun on days of 12 miles per day hikes of vertical NH mountains.
There was Clarissa who crossed over from Ireland with her dear 8 month old Wynn.
Not to mention Ariella's priceless friends: Shannon (CA) and Rose (Chicago, right?) and Monsharee, fresh back from the Phillipines.
And, of course, dear Camilla (I'll say Mexico), Eva (SF) fresh off her wild triathlon, and Sasha - who joined the climb up treacherous Mt. Percival 2 weeks before her wedding date. And lived to tell.
Plus Corey, Emmy and their one year old Beatrix, taking a few days off of their work with the Lion King musical.
Did I leave out Trum? Who was, of course, here. Chainsawing trees away from the house, no less.
And Daniel, clearing the long-lost child trails through the woods.
SUCH GREAT PEOPLE.
SUCH A GOOD SUMMER.
Let's have some thunder!
starting in on "dark hearts"
It's September. It's after Labor Day. The BIG SUMMER has ended.
I thought to myself: "Now I can re-enter my internet world". As if it was a world of its own.
No. The internet is worlds. And this summer, what I interacted with were other worlds:
There was the world of my daughter, Hunter's, wedding to Lynn in Toronto. With all its heartfelt wonderfulness and crowded busyness. Emotional. Beautiful. So much fun.
There was the world of my daughter, Nika, who is pregnant and expanding in size and joy every time I see her. (I'm including you in that joy equation as well, Scott.)
There was the world of my third daughter, Ariella, swooping in for visits from DC, and gathering herself for a year in Algiers.
Not to mention my son, Samsun, here for a month with Amanda, then off to China.
And my friend who just left to return to her ashram in Portugal.
Did I forget to note Victor driving up from Boston with his Palestinian girlfriend, Sama?
And Jesse and Emmanuelle from Santa Fe. Yay!
And our beloved Trinidadians (can we still call you that?): Marlene and Marvin and Mikaili.
Oh, yes, and also ... "the burners": Caroline and Nat, from Somerville and Concord.
I'm sure I've forgotten others. Other worlds that landed here. For a time. This summer.
I was intrigued by a passage in Gombrich's book in which he was writing about seeing. He mentioned that a person who gains sight later in life has to learn to see. But even those of us who can see are sometimes surprised and confused: a piece of paper in motion can at first appear to be a bird. But once you know what it is, then you can't see otherwise. Gombrich was pointing out how knowing affects seeing.
Which is why new ways of making art meet resistance at first.
But also why art is so compelling. Who doesn't want to see differently?
In my own thought segway, I consider how I see things: what I understand. When I'm with another person, I communicate my seeing. If it's a really exciting exchange, I come away finding out that various thoughts of mine that I thought were birds were just pieces of paper. Or perhaps... vice-versa.
That - THAT is what I want art to do. But without the words. Take paper: show me birds.
This summer I've been slowly digesting Gombrich's The Story of Art. I had my fair share of art history in the classroom. But even the most inspired teachers had not got me as excited to the extent this book has (to my surprise, I admit.) What I find so compelling about this telling of art history is that it unfolds like a detective story. Not quite - but kind of. What Gombrich presents is: the art as the solution to the problems/inquiries at hand. So, the ancient Egyptians' art looks like it does because they were meant as simple indicators of religious messages. Their image of the foot was not what the foot looked like according to how a person stood. It was "a foot" symbolically. As time passed, the actual appearance of the foot relative to the body began to be noticed, to matter. It was those inquiring minds of ancient Greece. And on it goes. Through lengthy medieval times which carried rich influence from Islam. On and on...the impressionist painters stepped outside into "plein air" and painted that light for the first time, with all its highlights and less distinct details... Issues of what art meant echo through time and are felt today. Art has been built on what came before. But it's always affected by what matters at that time.
And to step back a bit, and even expand outside the realm of art, isn't each person doing that with the "art" of their lives? A person is born into a set of circumstances. Innocent. But those circumstances, that historic situation is the setting. It carries in it the problems for the individual to carve out a life.
A dear friend of mine is dealing with an older parent who is difficult. Very difficult. And, without knowing this person myself, I wondered to myself about her: she was born into pre Second World War England. Food was uncertain. High tension politically. Military training and guns all around. What would matter most then? Getting the next meal? Staying alive? Her problems would have been so different from any I can imagine at this time. How to appreciate the art of that life?
I was born in a time of relative ease. Not war. Not deprivation. I was blind to how much I was shaped by my times. And now here comes Gombrich's book. I see how interwoven time is with what's created. Each artist/artistic era is part of the evolution of the medium. And only in retrospect can one connect all the intricacies of that journey.
For a couple of wonderful years, I was part of an online art group. Once a week we would talk. Between, I blogged.
I was "above ground". Seen. Communicating. Out in the world.
And I loved it.
This summer, we in the art group have not met. I've not written as much. I've been underground in some sense.
And yet, the underground is relational. The time I spent on the computer has been time spent in the immediate world, so to speak. Sometimes with friends and family, sometimes alone.
I can't say that I missed the computer. But what I did miss was my sense of connection to people who I know only through this means of communication. People who I've gotten to know well, even without ever meeting them face-to-face. As well as friends that I see less often than I'd like.
To them, I've been in the underworld. In fact, if the underworld was as relaxing and restorative and sweet as this summer has been, few would want to miss it.
Yeah, I guess in some way, I'm recommending that very place to others. Not to disappear and disconnect. But to find solace/peace in the apartness. That, I can say, feels good.
How did that happen?
With lots and lots of away-from-the-computer time is how. With lots of time in the woods and water and boat with the dog is how. With lots of great people time is how. With lots of sun and warmth and nothing getting accomplished (as in "list-to-d0") is how.
Today is quiet. Many people were here and now it's silent. Silent except for the waves outside my window.
At times like this, I wonder - now where was I in my life? Like reading a book, I've lost my place. I forget what I was doing before all the kerfuffle.
It reminds me of the trees. A while ago, a very old tree fell and missed my building by inches. When the tree experts came, they assessed the other huge trees on my land which were the same age. All were ready to fall. Those old, ancient trees were cut.
Only later did I read about the intricate connections these trees have to each other. Not just above ground but below. It's like a version of the internet down there - with all the fungus part of the networking. And it's vital to the making and health of the trees as a community and to our soil. Even the stumps that are left will interact for a long time.
I somehow was imagining that my above ground perception of the trees matched my public interactions with those that visited - the part that is so vividly visible. And by extension, the below ground continues on, long after the friend or loved one has left. And that my reference only needs to shift - to that ongoing part. That part that continues regardless.
And that my family, my friends, my set-aside-art, all these things are not cause for "losing my place in my book".
I'm just looking in the wrong location at first.
All, so connected.
GREEN! So much rain. So much green.
(see that kind of stalk of a tree mid-distance? My mother, no longer alive, told me its name and I didn't retain it. It's a relic of the dinosaur times, with a triangular stalk and stems and leaves that just jut out side to side. A closer look:
I was launching into green. And how this Swedish man had a theory that green was a primary color, but that people can't distinguish it's many shades. My photographer tells me that's a male/female difference: that women can make more distinctions than men.
Aside from my enthusiasm for green, what I really wanted to share was this new piece of fun info on color (from the most recent issue of American Craft magazine) re. the discovery of how color could be synthesized. I don't know why I hadn't wondered before. Certainly we all have the image of the painters for generations grinding their pigments. I had never had to learn that process. But I just figured the process was the same, but done by machines and jammed into tubes.
No. It's actually chemistry. To my surprise.
The first discovery, in the mid 1850's, was by an 18-year-old(!) chemist, William Henry Perkin, who was looking for a cure for malaria. It failed, but the coal-tar he had used in his failed experiment left a residue liquid. He noticed that this liquid stained his clothes a striking purple. Quickly, he realized that substance could be used for dyeing. He then proceeded to manufacture synthetic color.
That was the beginning. Up to that time, chemistry had only been a theoretical study. But after color synthesis was discovered, chemists went on to explore and discover in other areas - notably as weapons and ... plastic. Can you believe it? All instigated by the chance discovery of color.
I have to say, I get excited just reading about color. Much less seeing examples. "That's your idea of a color wheel?" I'm off and running with ideas.
But isn't that the lure, over and over, for many an artist? The fishermen see that fish hidden somewhere. The artist seeks the deep satisfaction that color will bring. In that NEXT piece. And then the next...
Color. Not just those tough-to-see greens. Not just natural. All of it.
Could Peaches be any closer to that fan??? It's hot. It's suuuuummmmer.
Amanda was asking me yesterday where my horse art was - (she's only seen me knitting in the last few days - wool no less). I told her I had it carefully tucked away, arranged safely for access once guests were not here and I could take over the large table again. When I was alone.
What I didn't think to mention was: in summer, the windows are open. In this heat and humidity, every bit of wind is welcome. And for some reason, we are getting that wind. But not all the time. And not in any way that I can predict; for days it's been on and off, sometimes minute by minute. Who knows when the next wind burst/rain storm will descend.
Could that mean: start something fresh? Get on with it? Pull the frames out of hiding; pull out the dyes...?
OR check out all the tidbits of cloth that are already done. Lying around. In wait.
These times are fertile. Open-ended. What's next? AND...
it's suuuuummmer. In what? One day. Maybe two. Another visitor. Another welcome friend. Another person to enjoy, relax with. To celebrate this sun (?), this sky, this water, this place on earth.
Aaaaah. Yes. Summer.
...technology is taking over so many aspects of our lives that I think there's a need for a small tribe of makers to keep up the low-tech and the hand-made. Man-made... always catches my attention. Direct traces of people's hands and vision. ~ Anna Schuleit
(Schuleit is a fine artist who has won acclaim for her deeply moving installations as well as her paintings.)
Doesn't everyone LOVE using their hands? Currently, I'm knitting a blanket for Nika and Scott's baby, due near Christmas. I thought I knew how to knit, but hearts? They require attention. None of the more mindless moving of fingers that I've done in the past.
I admit, I enjoy it. It feels good. It feels good painting on silk. It feels good sewing. It feels good knitting. Making with hands.
My sense is that the hands imbue the creation with an energy of the person. That others pick this up and respond to it. And thus we "feed" each other.
With our hands. And the time. The touch. The caring that hands carry.
We all benefit from the tribe. Anna Schuleit's tribe. It's all about the hands.
The raspberries are coming ripe. So good. So few.
When I was making my first decisions about this garden, years ago, there was an abundance of raspberries. They were so happy they wanted to take over the whole area. I labelled them as invasive, before I knew what terrible invasives there actually are, and pulled them out. A while later, I regretted that move and put in new raspberries. But... these raspberries remember. They have never borne fruit like their predecessors.
That's how it seems anyway.
Meantime, the body does remember. And not just with the brain, I'm told. This naturopath friend of mine told me years ago that when a person decides to make a change - say, to rest more- that the body doesn't "believe it" until it's proven to be true over time. One day of rest? Not considered a change worth noticing; only and incidental effect on the ongoing chemistry of the body.
So, here I am a month into the most rest I've gotten since I was a child, it seems - other than short bouts of not feeling well. And today, for the first time, I can feel that there has been a shift. Like an upgrade in my energy. It's a slow process. My body wants this to be something that is here for good: a calmer life. But the body takes a while to release the memory of the fast pace that I'd been moving. And my mind? Is it as impatient as ever?
So I have questions: what do I want my body to believe? To remember? So that tomorrow I'm gaining "chi", as the Chinese so wisely call it. The core strength that is vital to everything.
My answers matter. Over time. My body: it has memory.
80 percent: how good my inner ear is now. That's what my dear acupuncturist told me. I've gotten so accustomed to this not-quite- centered feeling that I didn't know how to answer when she initially asked how I was doing. But I could feel from the intensity of the needles that my body was still working on this one.
I think I'm upright, but maybe not so much. Like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
I do know that I'm still less than full energy. Way less. Busy brain, working overtime on this one.
But I will get better. Thank goodness for eastern medicine. I just need to rest and - restore my yang. Get my heat back.
What a perfect time to do that. This summer is proving to be unusually warm. And - as you can see - my dear horses, a few finally swaying in the breeze, are perhaps welcome as shade.
If I get them 80 percent done, I will be glad.
I tell myself: no hurry. Take it easy. It'll feel great.
It's been a while.
I stretched the silk on the frame, all ready to dye the strips that would "frame" those horses - finally finish the piece. But then... I was up in the garden, pushing more beet seeds into the ground (I've never had a problem growing beets. What's with this crop?) and I realized that I maybe didn't need anything more for my art.
I didn't need to dye more cloth. Instead, I thought: how about seeing if the squares can hang freely with the slightest attachment: just thread? Let the sun and light filter through. Perhaps less is more.
So I didn't dye the cloth. I'll try the seemingly simpler method first. Find out if it that's enough. Or not.
Oh, the journey with art. After each piece is done, I could do a repeat in a fraction of the time. But when it's being born, it's one experiment after another. Feeling my way along.
Like life, right? What's that expression: 20 20 in hindsight. Yeah.
So, I can say that the weather is perfect today. That I feel good. And that my art is just - evolving.
(heron flying away)
When I was a child, I had recurring dreams of falling. I'd fall off a cliff. And then float. I might be scared to fall, but then once I was in the air, I was at ease. Relaxed. Just held somehow.
I feel as if that is what took place for me in the last few weeks. I kind of fell off that cliff. And for a long time, I had no sense of balance. I couldn't find the earth under my feet. It was useless to do anything: when in midair, it was so much effort to even locate or focus on anything.
So I floated. I slept a lot. I really didn't think I could sleep so soundly in the day. I really didn't think I could relax as much.
I was helped by the presence of Nika's friend's baby. The whole world became focused on a smile. And then, sleep. The life of a nine month old. I was matching it so well.
Now the baby and mom and Nika and Scott are gone. Leaving me feeling nurtured. Refreshed.
I feel as if I was held in the small intimate circumscribed world of the very small child.
Or the adult who is floating.
That rest is paying off. I'm finding the ground again. And soon, my hands and my art.
"Ring around the rosies....All fall down." Oh for nursery rhymes...
But yes, last Wednesday I "all fall down". I ended up spending the day in the ER because I had collapsed from dehydration.
It's how many days later (?) and I'm still very low energy. Today was the first morning I woke up when I didn't have vertigo. I needed each day to absorb enough electrolytes to calm down my imbalanced body. It'll take a while to get back to myself again.
And this is the second time within a year when I have overdone/overexerted and suffered for it. I was chastising myself in the ER, where they gave me a CT scan and EKG to make sure I wasn't impacted by something else. But in the end, when it was clearly just severe dehydration, the kindly doctor told me how he, an ER doctor, had almost died from the same issue. The issue that results from: "I just want to get this one last thing done, and then I need to do that over there, and while I'm at it..."
That was my story. Long days. Long mulching in the garden. Long sunshine... And not realizing that I needed to drink steadily as I worked, not afterwards.
So, slow wins. Slow. Now, no option.
When will I honor slow? Slow while sipping water. Slow while tasting the water. Yeah, this tastes good. Yum.