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 possibilities. Organic abstraction has a soothing quality and I have always gravitated towards circles and curvilinear shapes. There is something about this particular mandala that also reminds me of a Pennsylvania Dutch hex sign. Because I grew up close to Pennsylvania I remember seeing these signs here and there. I think I will look into them more closely now and see how I can work their compositional style and meaning into my work as I move forward with the mandala as a form of healing and expression. Meanwhile, the plants making my life more comfortable are green tea, ginger and lemon. Honey is also very soothing. Though as I write this post, I am thinking I need to search out my pantry to see if I have any slippery elm for my throat or horehound for my cough.
Monday, January 30, 2012
Thursday, January 26, 2012
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 to slow down, be highly observant and to listen to all that the spirit realm puts in front of me. One of the messages about this that I heard yesterday came through the radio. An economist was talking about how we need to live in tuned with today. He said economically we’ve been borrowing from yesterday and tomorrow rather than living within the circumstances of today. As I listened I was painting. In the studio I am working the mandala again. I started two new ones. They are not ready for showing thus I am not posting an image just yet. One was created with gouache and it is a disaster. I will draw over it and re-paint it. The other is being done in acrylics and I am pleased with it so far. I drew it primarily using the compass, ruler and the French curve. I love my French curves. I am using a small and large one. I am experimenting with all the possibilities they have to offer and there are many. The ruler and compass serve as positioning tools, to center the images derived from the French curve. Not surprisingly, the image I am working is a continuation of themes I have been working for years. The mandala is about the magickal energy emanating from plants. For soul food and inspiration as I work, I have revisited by heart series. Not quite Valentine’s in spirit, I wanted to see if I could make landscapes out of the single repeated motif of the stylized heart shape. These took many hours to create from colored pencils. With Valentine’s Day coming up soon it is fun to look at the playful shapes and forms that can be suggested by hearts.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
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 will light pine incense. I’m not kidding. These herbs are really energizing, even when you are not feeling well! In addition to the cleaning I am also making a humble split pea and veggie soup while baking in honor of the hearth and home goddesses. I have made corn bread and am working on some pumpkin mini-loafs because they are both quick and easy and their grains honor the hearth goddesses. Some years I let the Sabbats slip away but this year I am going to try to be more diligent about celebrating each and every one of them. The Sabbats, so closely connected to the earth’s movements and her ways really speak a sensible language with which I can relate. These special days keep me focused on what is very real but what our society often ignores in its hurry and focus on what is commercially viable. Imbolc reminds us, that in the heart of winter, spring is around the corner and it also asks us to make way for changes to come. That is why I am so excited. With the frozen, tundra-like landscape outside I can relish the time within my home and especially around the hearth. Cooking, clearing, purging, and banishing what is unwanted while welcoming and planning for the moist, colorful, fragrant, verdant days of spring. This image I am posting today is of an ATC that has been traded featuring the Great Goddess. Yeah! A test with a broom straw from my beloved Appalachian besom proves my mini pumpkin loafs are finished--time to sign off for today.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
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 stunning but typically in Chicago winter is very long, cold, icy, and gray. This type of visual deprivation makes you turn inward into the realm of imagination, memory, spirit and dreams. You can also become a more nuanced visionary, searching for nuances in tones, shades, values and within the landscape. Unfortunately, I am still feeling ill with the flu. Thanks to the Goddess, it is not something worse. This will soon pass; meanwhile, I will use the snow and the illness as vehicles to open some memory banks, rummage for new ideas and to think. This is a good time for art journaling and working on my lap with a small sketchbook and colored pencils. The image I’m posting today is a little 5 x 7 art card I made not long ago using embossing, stamps, painted paper, colored and fabric.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
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 before I did this drawing I had my first interaction with shielding and spears. Prior to that I had only thought of spears as powerful objects that existed primarily in a museum. When I stayed on Elcho Island or Galiwin’ku as it is known locally, in Arnhemland, Northern Territory, Australia the Yolngu people where still hunting and defending themselves with spears. They were also used as weapons. It was a transformative moment in my life when I witnessed spears being used in the present day, in an attempt to attack a friend and my husband. The spear yielding man was drunk and angered beyond belief. He had lost all sense of self-control and all of his anger was being aimed along with the spear at the dwelling that my husband and his friend were inside of. They were captive for what seemed like hours but they were never harmed. I was originally drawn to the island by stories of how people in the community still hunted and fished with spears. Never did I imagine that an angered individual would take up his spear against a loved one. Gradually, the community elders were able to mitigate the situation and it slowly dissipated. I had learned an unimaginable lesson—spears aren’t just objects in a museum; they are still currently being used by many different cultures. They are beautiful, powerful, and potent and yes, they can still be very scary!
Sunday, January 15, 2012
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 plan was to take up blacksmithing. I have written quite extensively about the magickal connections between mysticism and magick with blacksmithing in Africa and the Americas. Blacksmithing was especially important as a trade to early African Americans. I have wanted to make the jump from research and writing about blacksmithing to actually engaging in this craft that held such importance to my ancestors. In a city with the depth of Chicago, thoughts can become actions quite readily. After thinking about blacksmithing for a while, I ran into an old friend from art school that actually opened his own blacksmithing studio in the city. This weekend I ran into another old friend who was wearing chainmail jewelry she had recently created. These events are too auspicious to be coincidence. They call to me to return to shields as an area of artistic exploration. This is probably going to be the year that I go from respecting and reflecting on actual armor to making some 3-d pieces at the very least using silversmithing techniques. In Hoodoo and other spiritual traditions metal plays a very important role, especially with talisman and amulets and there seems to be some kinship to shamanism within some West African cultures. Metal filings are particularly potent and useful, as are coins when making power objects. Looking at this rather personal painting is an inspiration to return to its theme of shields and modes of shielding. Shields and armor are areas that are rich metaphorically, visually and physically. Shields offer all sorts of spiritual benefits as well, to the viewer and artist. Great! This is just what I needed; something new to add to the ever-growing to-do list.
Saturday, January 14, 2012
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 Education Association’s annual conference. I will try the mandalas with gouache instead of acrylic on some new Ampersand Aquaboard I just bought. I love how gouache lends itself to water so beautifully yet it holds its opacity. Gouache is a media I explored on the surface in college in graphic design but I haven’t taken it very far yet in the studio. I want to see what can be done with it, in relation to pattern and mandala vibrancy. What are its blessings and its limitations? I might incorporate casein as well. I have been going through my creative resources and inspirational sources, readying patterns for integration into this new work. I am looking hard at repeating patterns from the period of 1100 to 1800. Eggs are reappearing in my blog imagery, in part because they symbolize this idea of germination, conception, growth and development I am experiencing in studio practice. This Prismacolor pencil drawing on colored pastel paper I am posting today was done a while ago. This morning I was called to revisit it. I was immediately struck by its subtlety and delicacy. As a very lucid drawing, it holds space well and has a lingering quiet spirit like a whisper. There can be such strength in silence and pauses. I respond to how it grows out of ether, revealing some things but still very much a symbolic vessel for what is to come.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
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, especially on a day that began gray like today. At first a rejection letter can feel like a cold slap in the face but it can also be provocative. Rejections can be flipped away from you and your creativity and can be a statement by the person or people who have not accepted your work. You can begin to wonder…what is their taste, their stance, their take, their need or motivation? You can reflect back on the work you selected for a particular outlet or group. Did it really fit? Was it the best choice for that particular venue? Was it your best effort? If you know you did your best and feel confident in your statement there is only one thing to do—more work. Either work on submitting to more places or go back to the drawing board and strengthen your statement. My book, “A Healing Grove” was rejected several times before it became a published book. It continued to transform, grow and develop through its critiques and eventually it found a home with the right publisher, and it was a big step for me to go with another publisher. My book, “Sticks, Stones, Roots and Bones,” also originally had a different title and direction. The older rendition was also rejected by several publishers of varying sizes. I never lost faith in that book and eventually it found the right home. I refused to give up because I had a strong vision. As I work to re-launch my art career, I am again encountering rejections of various types. Rather than letting it get me down, I am going to my artistic inspirations and back to the studio, even though the studio is in a state of renovation. I am going to start drafting and compiling ideas that expand on those that have been rejected. I believe strongly in my vision and also in the idea, if at first you don’t succeed… I will keep trying and trying and trying until I met my goals and my work is situated how and where I want it to be.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
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 spirit, as the branches and the negative spaces around them, weave intricate patterns from plays of light and shadow guiding our thoughts and visions towards the unknown. Absence of color is like a conversational pause and it can be just as powerful at punctuating numerous formal and expressive elements of a drawing.
Sunday, January 8, 2012
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 projects over time, as well as recycled papers within the packaging for my two product lines. I think the tropical room spoke to me clearly because of my ancestry. I know my ancestors came from hot, tree-filled environments in Western and Southern Africa. The main place I have spent time in the tropical regions and rain forests has been in Australia, during my time studying Aboriginal Art as a Fulbrighter. When I look at the right side of this drawing I am reminded of the time I was invited to get painted up, in earth pigments, and dance the Bird Dance of my clan’s moiety, during a funerary march. Our feet movements were intensely bird-like, while our hips swayed like palms. I have related trees and dance throughout my life because they do seem to dance in their upper regions if you observe carefully. They also have a language referred to as Tree Whispers that a Tree Whisperer can understand. I would not call myself a tree whisperer yet the trees have definitely spoken to me throughout my life and they ask me to dance for them. As a child when I first heard the call I was facing off to a wood, on the other side of the lake and I gladly pirouetted. Out bush, in Australia’s Arnhemland, when I stayed in the Galiwinku community of Elcho Island I was moved by the Ghost Gum Trees and watching the artists retrieve and treat its bark, making it ready to receive dreamtime stories. Because of the unique ability of trees to speak and their physicality they have always been intimately tied to our storytelling, after all where would books be historically without them? With personal history in mind with my connection to trees I set out to do this drawing with pastels, vine charcoal and a large box of colored pencils. I wanted to capture the movements, vibrational energy and healing potential held in the tropics and within many trees elsewhere as well.
Saturday, January 7, 2012
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 and Olokun, the two water orisha of the upper and lower seas. The notion of connection to Yemaya/Olokun, male/female energy of the sea has always made sense. I revere the sea and have spent many hours when I lived in New Jersey at the shore and many additional hours by the ocean in La Jolla and Del Mar California, I was even married overlooking the sea. I have done seascapes and drawings of the sea, fish, and shells alone and in combination with self-portraiture. I feel an immense pleasure, satisfaction and sense of peace when I am next to bodies of water, large or small—even streams. When I saw the mermaid images offered by Art Chix Studios I knew I had to have them to work into my art. Mermaids are mysterious and have held a power over our psyches historically. They seem to evolve and change within a cultural and historical context but they also always seem to pop up in our various art forms. I find it interesting that in parts of Africa, mermaid spiritual beings, Mami Wata are depicted as being White and they are believed to be foreign beings that travel mysteriously into the African waters. I enjoy the idea of bringing together angels and mermaids while contemplating the spiritual nature of each in a single piece. In this ATC, the angels are looking out towards the mermaid with the same wonder and awe and that many of us feel towards them.
Friday, January 6, 2012
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 fascinated by dragons and feel their energy in my life and creative work. They are full of opposing energy forces, water and fire, hot and cold--all at once. They seem very massive and heavy yet they also fly. Truly fascinating. Over the next few weeks I will meditate on dragon energy and report in on this blog on what is revealed. Would love to hear comments about dragons.
Thursday, January 5, 2012
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 and earth elementals. My work as a magickal herbalist is deeply spiritual and tied to the divinely feminine faith I hold dear. Some herbs are great facilitators for the journey into the spirit realms. I will get into many of those later but for now I want to pay homage to vanilla--an expensive herb to purchase in bulk but well worth it because of its intensity, scenting, flavoring and staying power. I actually use vanilla beans more in my botanical blends, particularly the winter and spring potpourris, than in cooking, though when I find a recipe that calls for it in my kitchen I am happy to use it. Vanilla is musky and deep yet it is a sweet-smelling herb as well. It has a nice balance of yin and yang as well as male female energy. Its appearance is phallic and it holds countless seeds, suggesting fertility; yielding promise. Deeply earthy, transcendent burnt umber in color, this is not only a great herb for putting one in touch with Gaia, the earth goddesses and elementals, but the earth gods as well. This ATC featured today is the usual 2 ½ by 3 ½ inch foundation, on which I’ve created a tribute of earth goddess Gaia with a focus on her ability to inspire and sustain creativity using collage. After working the vanilla, with the recipe, which came out fabulously, I returned to my studio for several sessions of work with the walnut ink and stamps. This time I had much more success with the new materials partially because of experimentation with both mediums. The other element that really helped was the fact that I make contact with my beliefs and spirituality—all through the little seed vessel, we call vanilla.
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
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 never resisted the water-based ink so the image was lost. Not one to give up easily I did three more, all to no avail. I was left with a brownish inky mess on my little ATCs that had started out as wonderful collages. Now, I’m wondering what the lessons in yesterday’s foibles are. I’ve tried googling the walnut ink sprays but haven’t found any additional directions to what I already have. I feel a little hesitant to return to the studio to face yesterday’s mess. I’ve already thrown away the four ATCs and created one new one that roughly does what I wanted, sans walnut ink. I enjoy my intuitive style and fast pace of working but I am still mystified by what I did wrong with the inks. Maybe today I’ll try a hardier style of stamp that isn’t filigree-styled or return to my mandala paintings. When all else fails, experimentation is a great option. This art card, which I call, “In the Pink,” uses some experimentation. I have been playing around with overlaid transparencies for a while and this is one of my first times of using that media with collage. I also used die-cuts, shaped scissors and stamping. In addition, I tried glue dots for the first time.
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
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 and satisfying. I don’t really get excited about the New Year because I know that it creates an enormous clean slate that I don’t always feel ready to fill or even address. I know myself well enough to know that whatever the New Year will become, it won’t start on the 1st. Today is the 3rd of January and finally I feel slightly ready to at least start planning what the year will be about in terms of growth and changes. We are completely renovating our home, outdoors and inside, one room at a time. My studio is first on the list, for the indoor spaces, so that is completely covered in plastic and drop cloths as we work on it. I can’t wait until it’s finished. We’ve been working on it so far for a couple of months. I am filled with anticipation and awe, as the space transforms and changes. With the trees stripped bare of their leaves outdoors, I am filled with equal anticipation for the return of green growth, new leaves and flowers of 2012’s spring. Like the studio, we are also planning to totally revamp the front garden and parkway garden. Those who follow my writing will know that the gardens started barren, became an incredibly fertile and full garden that was organized but slowly it has morphed into a wild and crazy prairie, wildflower garden. Now, totally out of control, it is more like a thicket. I look forward to its re-organization in this New Year, filling it with antique bulbs, wild grasses, aromatic, magickal and medicinal herbs, non-invasive wild flowers and perennials, as well as setting it all in a good, structured hardscape. The birds love the space, as-is, and are filling it with life as I sit here and write, chirping and singing. I might make a mosaic bird bath for them and create some concrete and mosaic stones to lead the way through the garden. I also intend to paint some gourds to become bird houses. So, when I was creating this ATC, pictured today, I was thinking about spring 2012 and the promise it holds for our home, studio and gardens. This ATC contains an acrylic skin I made during a workshop from fiber paste, with added grasses and natural fibers, stamping, embossing, mica paint and acrylic with polymer medium.