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Showing posts from 2012

Changes in the Air

I resonate with this image of a butterfly in an ambiguous field of color depicted on this art card because I am on a journey of transformation and changes as well.  I'm excited about so many things.  One of them is that I have started a novel.  It is about 1/3 of the way to being finished, so I have a lot of work to go.  It centers around a 14 year old African American girl who has many trials and tribulations many of which are in the spirit realm.  You might call the book paranormal fiction or alternative spiritual fiction; though the main character if young the book is not a young adult reader, it is meant for adults.  Set in two locations, the New Jersey Pine Barrens, my original home, and the outback of Australia.  Not just a backdrop, the landscape plays an important role, it is lush, mysterious and interactive with the story.  In some ways it reminds me of "the Color Purple" and in others, "Girl Interrupted." I have definitely been influenced by the magi…

Broken Promises of Summer

Typically summer, since I was a little girl, had to include sun and swimming.  This was my plan for this summer.  I was to join the pool and do lap swimming at sunrise or sunset.  But there was a different plan for me held by the universe.  On June 17th I woke up really early and full of energy just a bit after sunrise.  I washed the dishes and then headed to the basement to wash some clothes so my son was ready for camp.  Well, I missed a step and boy did that cost me.  I ended up dislocating my ankle, breaking it in two places and tearing a major ligament.  I had to have surgery a week and a half later.  This summer has been a mind game.  Trying to stay whole and sound while healing.  I say a mind game because I have never had to be so still and within myself until this summer, as I had to keep weight off my right foot for weeks and into months. . .sitting down, reading, painting and writing.  I can't believe its already August.  It's been a while since I've blogged and…

Piggy and the Bowl

I have been away from blogging for several weeks now.  I’ve been on that winding and demanding path of working and looking for a new job and it kept me away from this wonderful space. Sometimes with my energy level and creativity it is all or nothing.  All output in one direction or the flow dries up.  I was so happy on Beltane yesterday and felt my creativity blossoming once again. Beltane brings us fertility and fertility can be in so many aspects of our lives and come in so many different forms rather than just biologically. At this stage in my life I experience fertile ideas for making art and plans for the future.  Beltane is a beautiful and logical follow-up to Seed Moon because it continues to speak of preparations and planning for a distant harvest. While it seems as though I have not been producing art, to me anyway, I have used my creativity to create new projects for my students.  I have been busy over the last few weeks with paper mache.  I have made a very sturdy, tall, …

Seed Moon

I’ve been enjoying a little quiet time and am now going into full play mode.  The weather has been fantastic for a few weeks and it has taken my mind away from writing and blogging and more into the natural world.  I have been working nonstop on my oil pastel abstractions, which feels good.  I moved back into my studio and hung them up.  It was so good to see them all on one wall, hanging up together. I have been observing the sun at sunset—we’ve had a few huge and spectacular ones recently and last night I was reflecting on the moon.  This month’s full moon is Seed Moon and she looks promising.  Seed Moon reminds us to take stock of our dreams and desires and plan for the near future.  Obviously, it is also a reminder that it is time to plant physical seeds for herbs and plants for the summer and fall seasons.  I like to set this time aside also to plant metaphorical and metaphysical seeds. So, I have been putting things in place for summer, for example, trying to find a job to repl…

Sand Dunes of Michigan

I have been working with memories of land formations and geographic features this week.  One of the pieces I worked on is called, “Sand Dune” and it is an abstracted version of a sand dune I climbed in Michigan.  I have been working with oil pastel on top of a foundation of vine charcoal for a few weeks now.  Yesterday I bought some watercolor pencils to add into the mix but I haven’t attempted to mix the oil-based and water-based materials yet. To my surprise and delight the oil pastel mixed media works seem to be coming together to form a body of work.  For the first time in a long time my work has a flow to it that taps on intuition and expression in a way that I enjoy very much. This is something I can continue with for a while and I can't wait to see the series all together in a gallery space. I intend to continue to work with mixed media, trying the watercolor pencil as a contrasting element with the oil pastels and vine charcoal. Often, I teach my classes projects that inc…

Lightning Water and Thunderstorms

Lately I’ve been craving a good storm.  I don’t want it to pose danger to anyone but for someone reason I need a storm.  It already feels like spring or really like summer though it is not yet Ostara. You can do such potent magical things with Lightning Water but you need a strong storm to be able to collect the water. In my book, “Sticks, Stones, Roots and Bones,” I write a lot about proper collection of the different types of waters for magickal intentions and found during my research that I was especially fascinated by some West African collection techniques of the Ibo people.  I was looking through my things and noticing that I still have some Tennessee Lightning water sent by a good friend who is very spiritual.  I wonder how potent it is now? It is bottled in a brown bottle so it probably has maintained much of its power and I know it was sent with good intentions.  I need to make some powerful changes in my environment and have a good feeling that I need fresh Lightning Water …

The Driftless

I have been continuing to go through my sketchbook and repurposing my blind contour garden sketches.  It’s funny how something you did so long ago can be pertinent and useful today.  This particular sketch had a strong suggestion of landscape in its foundation.  As I developed it and worked into it with oil pastels I began to focus on remembering vacations in Wisconsin.  There are incredible geographic land formations in Wisconsin and I am attracted to the powerful forces of Mother Nature that created them.  I thought quite heavily about the Driftless regions of Wisconsin and the Kettle Moraines as I worked on this drawing.  It was a respite from life to work on this and it took quite a bit of time, working during multiple sessions.  I call this “The Driftless,” named after the driftless region in Wisconsin.  It stands as a reminder of the power of Mother Earth to continuously transform and impact our world.

Storm Moon

This mixed media drawing is called “Storm Moon,” named after this month’s full moon.  I observed her in her full glory and saw a halo of multi-colored lights around her giving Storm Moon an eerie glow.  True to her name, it has been a stormy time, punctuated by deadly tornadoes and storms; some hitting portions of Illinois and surrounding regions.  I have been watching the footage of the destruction from the tornadoes and I’m pretty sure it is the source of this abstracted imagery in this drawing.  There is a feeling of arrested movement to this piece and while many things are topsy-turvy, there are also peaceful sanctuaries where there is safety yet it is all unpredictable. In the drawing, there is structure within the destruction that offers hope.  I am not fond of drastic changes and I can only imagine and empathize with those who were victimized by the storms. I am relating to this Storm Moon heavily because I feel big changes afoot in the weather and in my life.

Pinwheel

One of the recurring themes in my art is looking at life with the eyes of a child.  I try to feed my inner child inspiration and nurture her so she is always with me, alive and healthy. I remember in grad school at UCSD I did very large oil on canvas that was strongly rectangular about playing jacks as a girl with my cousins in Montclair. There are balloons in the background and a large brown hand in the foreground is throwing jacks in the air.  It is mostly a red painting. I equate red with fun and excitement.  Now I am working with a very oily material that I can layer up on paper—Sennelier Oil Pastels.  They were a gift and what a gift! I love that set of pastels but at first found them on the overwhelming side. I find them much easier to work with using an actual oil pastel pad as the support. I typically work with them for a while and then put them back away so they last so I’ve had them over a year now.  Lately I’ve been incorporating them with chalk pastel pencil which is a sl…

Upcycling Sketches

Learned the meaning of a new word that I’ve seen kicking around—upcycling.  Apparently, it is taking something that is ready for the rubbish heap and turning it into something more valuable than it originally was.  Since I starting this blog old sketchbooks have been turning up in my life and I have been studying my older work.  The most recent sketchbook contains blind contour, vine charcoal sketches of my garden, which are 9” x 12”.  I usually do them as exercises to increase my hand eye coordination and as a right brain exercise—leaving it at that, hoping it will prove useful in terms of increasing my skills as I develop on my journey.  I found one of these drawings that were fleshed out in color and it gave me the idea to turn them all into mixed media full color abstractions.  This image I am posting today is an upcycled drawing that began as vine charcoal on paper, in black and white.  It is now done with vine charcoal, pastel pencils and oil pastels.  It remains landscape-like…

Glory of the Snow

Even though I live in the suburbs it is pretty urban here as I am right on the border of the city of Chicago.  My little urban garden suffers the ills and blessings of being near the expressway.  The blessing is the garden itself; I have seen people stop and pause next to it, as it offers a respite so close to the expressway.  The other wonderful blessing is that it is visited by many birds including birds of prey attracted to the expressway possibly because it is very canyon-like.  The ills of an urban garden are obvious. Trash blows all too frequently into its small space adding clutter.  This particular drawing from my sketchbook reminds me of the blessings and curses of my urban garden.  There seems to be trash blowing about in this drawing, landing in odd positions but there is also beauty in color, shape and texture, just as these contrasting elements exist in the actual space of the garden.  Even though it is not spring yet, I enjoy the spring-like colors in this sketch and in…

Body and Spirit

Sorry I’ve been away from my blogging for a little while.  Like most of us, I have had a lot going on in my life and it became overwhelming.  I have wrestled with health issues as some of you are already aware, catching several types of flu in a row and then worrying about my internal organs. Health is so important and when it becomes fragile or iffy it is scary.  It seems as though a lot of my worry and fear were for naught because I am actually pretty healthy according to the recent tests.  I have become more attentive to all the messages from the universe and ether about health issues. I started on some supplements that are supposed to fight off carcinogens (always a fear for the painter) and recently bought an intiguing book on health that I heard about from an art therapist.  It is called “Your Body Speaks Your Mind,” Decoding the Emotional, Pyschological, and Spiritual Messges that Underlie Illness,” by Deb Shapiro.  It is very compelling and really reinforces the body-mind con…

Full Snow Moon

Last night Full Snow Moon was outstanding.  I couldn’t quite believe my eyes.  She was luminous, and there is no other way to say it—huge! The yellowish cast was glowing.  I didn’t want my drive to end because I wanted to stay outside with her and just stare, and yes, I was slightly afraid I’d run into something.  That name prominent in some Native American groups and in the Farmer’s Almanac seems slightly out of place though this month—Full Snow Moon.  We have been in a phase I call Perpetual Almost Spring. In the Chicago we have set many records for warmest winter months and lack of snow in comparison to what we usually get.  We have had so little snow and it has been very warm by Chicago standards.  I listened several times to climatologists speak on NPR and PBS about why this phenomena has come to be but it still scares me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not crying over warm weather but there is a since of dread for the future that does arise when something so unnatural persists. I am f…

Imbolc Meditation

For a brief few moments my mind emptied of endless chatter and thoughts.  I saw an empty space at first and then out of the hollow came first a soft whistle and then just the voice of the Goddess. It had to have been Brighid.  It is almost time to come out of hibernation.  Soon you will be feeling the vibrational energy of the sun’s heat, as I warm the earth.  Stay quiet and still for now but realize the dormancy is about to end; new life, warmth and beautiful colors are waiting to come to the fore, for today is Imbolc! 

Healing Herb Mandala

I started this mandala last week and finished it yesterday. It is one foot square so my scanner was unable to pick up the entire image but this is a decent representation of its essence.  I’ve been feeling under the weather again, this time with a bad chest cold. Working on this painting brightened things a bit.  I was thinking about plants, more specifically herbs, and the healing powers they possess.  It’s very interesting and most likely intuitive that I gravitated towards this type of healing subject matter just before I got sick. Our subject matter choices are so broad and widely varied that what we settle on working with has the potential to deliver important messages, if we are open to listening. I worked with a compass, ruler and was heavily dependent on the French curve.  I have a large one and a smaller curve. I’ve been curious about them but haven’t used them a great deal in the past.  It was interesting to form an entire composition around the curve and its many possibili…

Fast Forward

I have been in fast forward.  I thought when I wrote the previous post about preparing for Imbolc that Imbolc was today, instead of next week.  I had projected forward in time and actually believed the beginning of this week was January 30th.  Then, I woke up this morning sure it was Friday.  What on earth is going on?  My internal clock is usually so accurate that I don’t need to set an alarm.  I guess I just got really excited that a new Sabbat was coming up. Yesterday was a day of positive messages.  I received a great deal of positive feedback about my teaching and my classes from a variety of sources. When something like that happens, not only do I feel great but I take it is a spiritual message. I know messages are sent to us all the time from the realm of the spirit.  It is up to us to interpret them but first we have to slow down long enough to receive these messages. I have been moving fast and in fact I have been projecting myself into the future.  Yesterday was a reminder …

Preparing for Imbolc

I’m excited about the upcoming Imbolc holiday and I’ve been preparing my home for the presence of Goddess Brighid.  Many people celebrate February 2nd as Groundhog’s Day but in many parts of the pagan community it is Imbolc.  Imbolc asks us to pay attention to home and hearth.  We welcome the deities closely aligned with those sacred spaces so intimately tied to our lives.  I particularly adore Vesta and am making way for her as well.  Since I’ve been sick I’ve really become mindful of cleanliness, especially since it is suspected that I had or have stomach flu.  I have been cleaning and sanitizing all morning though I have little physical energy I have plenty of psychic energy.  The aromatherapeutic benefits of the types of cleansers I am using are also giving me a spiritual boost.  I am doing spiritual floor washes using lemongrass essential oil, while also burning very sweet smelling red and white candles and will finish up with a juniper smudge. Then for a longer term effect, I w…

Snow and Illness

If we allow it to happen, snow will awaken the inner child.  There is a since of childish wonder and awe that can come with the snow, when you don’t think of shoveling too much, that is.  Temporarily shutting down the noisy adult and instead releasing the inner child enables snow to once again captivate.  Snow makes a transformative impression on the landscape.  We have been having a great deal of snow over the past few days and I have been sick with stomach flu which gave me a lot of time to sit, think, curl up in a blanket and dream.  As an artist, winter is one of the most important times.  It can be a very productive and stimulating period in the creative calendar.  Everything is in a state of flux, changing day by day and the snow makes everything in the landscape seem bright and new.  There is a lot of mystery, so much lies beneath the surface of what we can see.  Dreams become powerful—there is no denying it--winter is the time I get the most done.  The snow makes it visually …

Spears

I love sculptural containers such as amphora, urns and even boxes. I’m especially fond of the mixed media boxes of Joseph Cornell and Greek amphorae. The ancient Egyptians also made a fascinating assortment of containers for things such as unguents and ointments.   In my series about shields and modes of shielding I created this drawing with Prismacolor pencils on colored pastel paper with the idea of containment and safety in mind. The shapes are contained and shielded from a menacing spear.  I wanted to have an overriding sense of transparency on the frontal plane and more of a notion of opacity on the secondary plane. Delicacy plays its role here as well and so does the sense of movement.  The rounded shapes are quite fragile and are reminiscent of balloons. They are juxtaposed against the angular spear shape that twists and moves through the composition. The balloon shapes are being shielded yet they are still threatened by the presence of the arrow-like spear. Several years befo…

Shields

After spending a lot of time considering the notion of shielding, and shields as physical and psychic protection armaments, I created this piece using watercolor pencils on watercolor paper.  I wanted to portray the fragility of our physical self, portraying an abstracted version of the body with a specific focus on its important internal organs, placing all of it behind a transparent yet powerful shield. This painting is roughly 8 x 12 inches and was done about five years ago. When I worked at the Art Institute during my lunch breaks I would visit the collections, lingering over the armor section.  The armor collection is compellingly striking and it evokes awe and wonder. Feeling vulnerable physically, psychologically and psychically, about five years ago I decided to learn to make different types of armor, using the materials at hand.  I also made an intense study of armor and then created a large variety of shields as works-on-paper that also coordinated with a heart series.  My …

Conception

Something’s afoot in the studio and outside.  It’s still cold outside, snowy even but I can feel the quickening of conception, growth and the birth of new ideas and new life germinating beneath the frozen surface of the earth.  For many months I have worked hard on a few different series of ATCs.  Now it is time to trade those and put aside the making of the cards.  The cards have stirred many ideas for other media and formats.  I may even be teaching it in an afterschool enrichment program for children.  ATCs are a way of working I hold dear and I know I will soon return to them.  I have blogged about how they remind me of working with metals and how that similarity makes me yearn to return to cloisonné. That is one of the new mediums it has spurned—something I am eager to explore in 2012.  I also want to return to one foot square patterned mandalas. This time though I am going to use some of the ideas I learned about in a workshop on aqueous media while attending the Illinois Art E…

Dealing with Rejection

This morning I woke up with rejection on my mind.  As an artist and writer this is one of the most difficult things to deal with yet it is inevitable.  Why is it inevitable?  Well, if you are putting yourself out there, to multiple markets, groups, curators, publishers, whatever, you are bound to bump up with those who do not “get” your work.  For short periods of time, sometimes admittedly longer, I find rejection debilitating.  This happens when I lose objectivity.   This morning, for some reason or another, rejections I have encountered over the last couple of weeks ballooned in my mind and made me feel empty and hopeless. Then as I was driving to get gas I started to deconstruct those negative feelings.  Being rejected is not a reflection on a person it is a reflection of various people.  The thoughts of others about your creativity, is only that, thoughts and thoughts are not facts.  I ran into that particular quote for the first time on Twitter and it really resonates, especial…

Winterscape of Body and Soul

Working the negative space is a natural move if you are an artist that enjoys landscapes during the winter.  The blank spaces left from fallen leaves, between branches and stems leave a poetic opening of artistic opportunity.  At the same time negative spaces, like winter’s effect on the landscape, give us a chance to imagine what was there and what is to come. We can either complain or be disappointed over what is seemingly not there or delve further into these seemingly blank spaces and delight in the shapes, geometric interplays and markmaking possibilities with which we are faced.  This drawing taken from my sketchbook is a still life of a vase filled with variety of blooming Dutch bulbs, most prominently tulips.  Absence of the usual intense colors of tulips is filled with enticingly rich graphite, creating its own conversation in shadow, shape and depth. The stark winter landscape which many of us will be facing for many months to come, invites us to step into the domain on the…

Whispers of the Trees

A couple of years ago, I wrote a book devoted to the healing energy of trees called, “A Healing Grove.” Way before I wrote that book, I created this drawing in situ at the Oak Park Conservatory.  I remember it was to be a gathering of local artists to paint and draw, using the conservatory as an open studio.  It was a cold night outside and it was quite damp, dark and cool inside since we were there after regular hours.  I was a little disorientated at first because of all of the different tree energies and plant life pulsating in the ecosystem themed rooms.  I settled in on the tropical room because it seemed to speak the clearest language. I’ve always loved palms and banana trees as well as other fruit trees.  They give us so much in terms of sustenance, shelter, art and craft materials, spiritual resources for healing, ceremony and ritual. I enjoy using banana papers in my studio, as well as palm waste paper and fig bark pressed into paper.  I have used these in a variety of proje…

Mermaid and Angels

This ATC features a woman from a Botticelli painting transformed into a mermaid with two angels behind her.  While I was working on it I was transported to my childhood and began pondering my connections to mermaids, the lake and the sea.  When I was growing up I spent many hours swimming in a lake fed by freshwater springs.  I would encounter all sorts of wetland creatures as I swam, like small schools of fish, turtles and even otters.  Sometimes I would get tangled in the seaweed.  Swimming and rowing were respites from a sometimes stressful life inside the house. I always found wonder and a sense of peace from observing the tides, floating and swimming deep down towards the sandy bottom of the lake.  As I grew older my uncle introduced me to the Ifa path of the Yoruba people and that was my first time of reflecting on the diverse types of mermaids of the spiritual world.  At first he thought I was a child of Oshun, but eventually it was revealed to him that I was child of Yemaya a…

Blog Hop Friday

I'm trying out many new and different things in 2012.  I'm a part of the Creative Every Day challenge started by Leah and now I'm trying out this blog hop Friday's where you link to each other's blogs. http://www.thedomesticpagan.net/2012/01/follow-friday-2.html?utm_source=BP_recent Hope I'm doing this correctly, not sure about Mr. Linky and how he works.  Anyway, this image is another in my series of ATCs.  I think I'm up to about 50 cards by now.  I'm ready to participate in a mail-in swap in Canada that is for women only, and an in-person swap in Barrington, IL in a few weeks.  I've been working steadily on this ATC edition and have had a recent focus on a rock art/petroglyph type of theme inspired by my time in Australia, living in various Aboriginal communities, and also a Goddess theme.  Yesterday I also started working with combining the petroglyph imagery with the Goddess theme and began to work dragon energy.  I've always been fascinat…

Vanilla: a Vessel of Promise

Yesterday, with ego bruised from my failed technical experiments with walnut ink and stamping, I spent some time away from the studio and instead worked in the kitchen.  I was making one of Barefoot Contessa’s recipes for baked chocolate pudding.  It called for some fresh vanilla bean.  As I peeled away the seeds and pulp of the bean I was put in touch with the magickal allure of the Goddess Gaia.  It was over a decade ago that I discovered Goddess Spirituality.  Over a short time, I came to realize the power that the divinely feminine goddesses would have on my life. For nearly a decade I wrote a column for “Sage Woman,” magazine and this column was a vessel at the time for my spirituality, now that shift has moved more towards the garden, artmaking and writing books and articles.  I mention the garden because I see and experience the Goddess and goddesses in nature most prominently.  When I hold and smell any of my favorite herbs I am immediately put in touch with earth goddesses a…

Failure is an Option

I felt pretty good about my studio endeavors recently.  Bumbling along, working intuitively had been paying off.  My work ethic has been good and I’m putting in about 25 hours per week on my art.  Then yesterday, I had this seemingly brilliant idea to go to Michaels and buy some new stamps.  The rubber stamps weren’t marked down like I thought they would be so I was on to other things.  I checked out clear stamps and acrylic blocks but that was pricier than my budget.   Then I gravitated over to stamping embellishments and found some walnut ink sprays.  I have worked a lot previously with walnut ink in the manner of watercolor with my mixed media work and thought the sprays would be convenient for ATCs.  I did buy an almost filigreed design of a tree that is quite delicate.  I thought I followed the directions the way they were presented.  I stamped with the special quick dry ink called Versa, and then sprayed on the walnut ink.  I was left with a tar-like color and the stamp ink nev…

2012--Time for New Beginnings

New beginnings can be scary.  I remember so many first days of school, both as a student and particularly as an educator, and how the unknown factors of what would eventually come together to be a class, was incredibly frightening.  As a teacher, you are the facilitator, the one who makes things go smoothly, and hopefully the one who creates an encouraging, open, safe learning environment.  I also remember the new beginnings of life in my belly.  Being pregnant is such an awesome experience there are hardly words to describe it.  Eventually though, the experience grows old and you can’t wait to give birth.  After the excruciating pain of a natural child birth, you are presented with a most precious gift, a new human being and almost right away this experience, at least for me, generates intense feelings of love.  I had this immense pleasure four times and find that within my children’s lives there are constant new beginnings that make their lives and my inclusion in them, rewarding a…