Friday, December 31, 2010

explore, imagine, invent, discover

“It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.”
--Edward de Bono

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

another project of mine:

In April 2011, EtStudio celebrates the 4 year anniversary of starting
the Goddess Mail Art call of fabulouso Creative Exchange. We have had
submissions from 25 countries and one magnificent art show - and we will
have the FIFTH ANNIVERSARY show of Goddess art and artist trading cards
this SUMMER!
All art will be posted and shown on the blog -- see below, and artist trading cards will be exchanged.
1. Please send us your Goddess mail art, AND/OR six original (6) ATCs— a set of 6, or 6 versions of your work.
All cards submitted will be displayed in the SPRING show, (venue to be decided.)
2. Please include with your 6 card ATC submission: a pre-stamped return
envelope (SASE), your contact information, including e-mail (if
possible) and 1 page maximum about you and the way you made your work--
tell us a little about yourself & discuss your techniques and tools,
and your image content.
3. Do you live outside the USA?
Don’t worry about return postage, send us something fun-- ephemera from your
country, or even an extra ATC. We’ll pay the return postage. it’s easier
that way.

Display Closing: Mid-August 2011, after which you will receive 6 trades mailed back!
For More Information, please contact Emily Townsend/11750 Carmel Drive/Lakewood, Colorado, 80215, USA.

May we Honor the Goddess in all HER forms!

Monday, December 20, 2010

myth, meaning, mystery

I always have this urge for travel.
Not tourism, not just ticking off a list of sights, but being deeply in another place. The places that feed my soul the most deeply are natural, mountains, rivers, oceans, groves of trees, paths down natural and wild places.
But also, I have loved being in historic capitals of Europe and learning of the history of where my ancestors came from, and learning about amazing artists, writers, architects of these places and how they created brilliance that inspires me today.
I have given up wondering why I have this urge, and let these longings direct me, following my bliss, which Joseph Campbell talks about.
And although I do love wild places, my body also loves comfort, and sometimes the best way to experience the wonders of the world are by watching a film, or reading a book about it.
I think the connection to anyone in history who has lived the myth of their lives, found meaning in their work, used the Spirit of place to make meaning is what attracts me.
Getting out of our comfort zone makes us really see. The rut is what I am escaping. I love making art out of experience, hence, creative journaling!
I am finding my mission statement, my meaning for being, it's just taken me a few decades to get there.

"Tell me what it is that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? A ship is safe in port, but that is not what ships are for." --Mary Oliver

Thursday, December 16, 2010

the vision

Inspiration sometimes just piles up in a backlog of ideas in my brain, and instead of working at expressing it, I seem to sit in front of this computer and waste time on this and that on the internet.
I know I have deep truths buried in me, but the trick is to express them clearly in images. How to get the whole of the world in one small cut up collage?
I sometimes come across an image that takes my breath away in it's complicated beauty combined with simplicity; and sometimes I come across a phrase in a book that captures it all. . . . my mind wants to hold all the meaning in one shot, so I do try to get this in my work - perhaps I am reaching too high -- to make something so clear as to hold all the meaning in the world?
That is the seed that I am after in my work right now.
We'll see if it can happen; why not try?

"The world of learning is so broad, and the human soul so limited in power! We reach forth and strain every nerve, but we seize only a bit of the curtain that hides the infinite from us."
--Maria Mitchell

Monday, December 13, 2010

and finally a new journal page . . . .

I am being easy on myself these days, still working on getting the house all sorted out, enjoying some cooking and knitting for the holidays.
My journals are patiently waiting on the table, in a messy little stack, until I "feel it" again.
Sometimes I just fiddle with pens and paper, organizing and sorting, and not requiring myself to push forward yet.
Today I did manage to add some squiggly lines and a quote from the Tempest to this page I had started a few weeks ago.
I am settling into this time of fallow fields, and honoring the space that I am making for something new and big to start in Spring.
Sometimes I feel panicked nothing will happen.
But I have been at this long enough to know to stop, breathe deeply, maybe get up and stretch, and pick up a book if I need to.
Creativity does wax and wane, and that's fine.

"All things in common nature should produce
Without sweat or endeavour."
--William Shakespeare, The Tempest

Friday, December 10, 2010

waiting for my new direction.

"Old Woman . . . .
Under the words you are my silence."
--May Sarton

"I know there is a shift going on inside of me. A deceleration. I can feel the striving leaking out of my work. It's like I'm just figuring out how to lean back into the simplicities of being. It reminds me of the first time you try to learn to float, the way you have to keep letting go and resting in the moment, believing the water will hold you, that it is enough, that it is everything. And then you sink and you have to sputter back and start again."
--Sue Monk Kidd, Traveling with Pomegranates

Sunday, December 5, 2010

This elf is busy getting ready for the holidays!

"We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup." --Buddy in the movie, "ELF"

Friday, December 3, 2010

what are you dreaming today?

"To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe." --Anatole France

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

learning from a tree

I have been immersed in our new place and my new path, forgive me for not being here too often while my journal fields lie fallow, there will be more pages as the moon waxes and wanes, all in the fullness of time, as they say!

"A tree uses what comes its way to nurture itself. By sinking its roots deeply into the earth, by accepting the rain that flows towards it, by reaching out to the sun, the tree perfects it character and becomes great. Absorb, absorb, absorb. That is the secret of the tree." --Deng Ming-Dao

Friday, November 19, 2010


"When you do things from your soul you feel a river moving in you, a joy." --Rumi

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


To go to the studio each day and work on journals - to dedicate my creative expression to self exploration, experimentation and personal visual vocabulary . . . . this work is the core of what I do and it does make me wonder sometimes.
I am exploring some new media and my journal really helps me think about things visually. I just am not a verbal thinker.
I love flipping through old journals and letting the inspiration take off -- try it!

"Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open? Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking. Live in silence." --Rumi

Monday, November 15, 2010

finally. some journal pages.

Just to mix it up, and not get bored, I always have at least 3 journals going at once. This little one was a real treat -- I have boxes of postcards sent to me over the years, many with magnificent collage art that I wanted to enjoy. I chose my 30 or so favorite postcards, and stitched them together in an accordion-style booklet. Then I added some paint and stickers and doodles and stamps and words when I felt it.
So it ended up a collaborative little book, 30 generous wonderful artists who shared their work in the mail with me, and a bit of my own hand.
Just because we tend to work alone in a studio does not mean we can't join a collaborative mayhem of art; make some awesome messy collages with other similar soul-searching spirits, sharing our creativity in ways not even predicted by the original artist.
Every time I flip through this book I get ideas for new work.
Here are some of these pages:

"There is a community of the spirit. Join it, and feel the delight of walking in the noisy street, and being the noise." --Rumi

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Saturday's Garden - the last day of our garden tour

Saturday, a day of many chores inside, is a day of mostly enjoying what is there, and not doing too much work. (ha.)
This area includes the waterfall (now dry so the pump won't freeze) and some brick pathways.
There is a nice grouping of 2 pine trees and an aspen here, and some colorful groundcover that won't need much maintenance.
Not totally a day of rest, but the smallest bit of work possible in this, the last zone of the week.
I also found a papery wasp nest here, and will scan that and use it in some collages - so already the garden is giving gifts, inspiring me with textures and colors. Art to follow!

"It is good to be alone in a garden at dawn or dark so that all its shy presences may haunt you and possess you in a reverie of suspended thought." --James Douglas

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday's garden

Friday's part of the garden includes the rear raised beds -- which actually are quite large and filled with who knows what. I can identify a large wonderful sage bush, but not much else - might have to wait 'til Spring to really get a sense of what is there. Today the sun is out again and Simba and I took our morning walk; just when I thought this house couldn't get any better, we found a little path along a spillway, called the Highland Canal just up the street - it goes for miles. There are mature trees all along it, and as we pass various fenced yards, Simba gets to greet each dog with barks and a bit of running. It's awesome. Our neighbor told us her kids tube down it in the summer when the water is high.
A canal. Right here.
My last two favorite places in the world to walk were along the C&O Canal when we lived in Bethesda, MD, and along the D&R Canal when we lived in Princeton, NJ.
and now, a canal right here just steps from our house.
Who could have planned that?
and although I haven't journaled in a while, I am starting to get back into the swing -- here is a journal cover I made for printing little pocket journals, maybe it will inspire you (and me) to open up the journal again and play.

"I've discovered the secret of life. A lot of hard work, a lot of sense of humor, a lot of joy, and a lot of tra-la-la."
--Kay Thompson, author of the Eloise books

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thursday's Garden - with snow!

First snow of the season, and we are only part way through our garden tour. Thursday's garden includes the East side and rear beds, and my favorite -- a huge ancient tree, I think a Ginko but I have to check with my brother, the tree expert, when he comes.
That rope hammock swing is great to sit and spin in, even in the snow.
These beds will be dormant until Spring, then I'll see what comes up.
I already found some surprise rosemary in the front, gifts for the kitchen.
I am glad for the quiet today, and time to just enjoy the coming winter and stillness.

"The object isn't to make art, it's to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable." --Robert Henri

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wednesday's garden - day 3

Wednesday's garden is the East side yard - there is a brick path leading to the back yard fence, and I counted FIVE rose bushes planted here.
There are also beds of pine needles, which will make great pine baskets, if I could learn how to do that.
and the roses, well FIVE bushes means lots of flowers. wOw.
Wednesday has the smallest bit of garden, so mid week is my lightest day for work in the garden, a middle of the week mini-sabbath, although maybe those roses will want lots of attention. They can be quite the prima donnas.
This morning was both misty and sunny, and the first frost of the season dusted the plants. This is going to be so fun.

"So you see imagination needs noodling, long inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering." --Brenda Ueland

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tuesday - day 2 in the garden

Tuesday's garden includes the wild flower beds in the front, some climbing vines on the garage, a little stone area with chairs, and a lovely pine bed with yet another stone paver area.
There is so much here and it is so overgrown right now, I trimmed some of the rose bushes, but just wandered perplexed with the rest -- I don't know how much to cut back.
There are still flowers blooming, although it is supposed to snow later this week so that will end that . . . . although even the "lifeless" brown seed pods are quite beautiful.
At some point, I should cut it all back, and just see what comes up in the Spring. In the meantime -- some images:

"Observe the wonders as they occur around you. Don't claim them. Feel the artistry moving through, and be silent." --Rumi

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday -- first day working in the new GaRdEn!!!

Although we are still unloading boxes, and getting the gazillion individual items we own each to their right place, I stopped to work a bit in our greenhouse and gardens!
I have divided the land into six zones, and Monday's zone is the GREENHOUSE and the western edge gardens, including some wonderful rose bushes.
I found an old box of seeds from two houses ago -- mice had eaten all the corn, sunflower seeds, and pepper seeds - but left me a nice array:

I hung an amulet from a Hawaiian Buddhist Temple given to me by Chaz, my Shamanic friend who did the house blessing; it is designed to protect and nurture all that grows in this space, and then I added the first sage bundle ever from the herb bed:

The tables are ready to be filled with little seed pots, the worms are busy making me some awesome compost, the tools need to be cleaned and oiled, leaves raked, roses trimmed back to allow new growth in the Spring . . . .
Nature Spirits will be letting me know what is needed, and I am ready to be the worker in this little oasis we have been gifted with.
So much will come to life in this space, I am filled with gratitude for this new part of my life! Can you just see the foothills of the Rockies through the glass?
Journal pages, for sure, to follow.

"The place where your great gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet."
--vocation as defined by Frederick Buechner

Saturday, November 6, 2010

still organizing studio -- journal pages to come!

“Myth must be kept alive. The people who can keep it alive are the artists of one kind or another. The function of the artist is the mythologization of the environment and the world.”
--Joseph Campbell.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

boxes BOXES boxes

We have internet!
and lots of furniture set up.
and a working kitchen with healthy food to eat, finally. Moving is so hard.
But soon, I will be back here to my regular journaling practice, promise!
in the meantime, in honor of the wonderful bathroom in our new house that I am enjoying, here is an older journal page:

"How should we be able to forget those ancient myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us."
-- Rainer Maria Rilke

Sunday, October 24, 2010

a goal for today:

"To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving; To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy; To return home at eventide with gratitude; And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips."
--Kahlil Gibran

Saturday, October 23, 2010

packing . . . .

“… whoever you are, whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe.
It’s your mission on earth.
To realize one’s Personal Legend is a person’s only real obligation.”
– “The Alchemist“, Paulo Coelho

Friday, October 22, 2010

5 days 'til we move. . . .

The thing about packing up your house and studio to move is that you don't have your stuff to hand while you transition.
So I have no studio.
which I dearly miss.
So in the meantime, here is a mini photo essay of my time in Aix.
I was an exchange student in the south of France 28 years ago, and I had the good fortune to return last June.
I only had two short days there, but to walk around this charming town, to see the markets and public squares and water fountains and fancy shops and sidewalk cafes -- simply magnifique.
The sense of style and beauty and commitment to good food, good wine, good leisure, I love these things about France.
I am right now setting up the new house, planning furniture and paintings on the walls and colors . . . . thinking about the new studio which is LARGE and LIGHT FILLED!
I want to bring some of the inspiration of colors and rich texture to the new house, the sense that a well designed space makes for well designed living.
and maybe one day, I will have more than 2 days in Aix to really soak it in, to wander without aim, just enjoying the atmosphere of a place I lived for 5 months almost 3 decades ago, a place that always has stayed with me.

and I have to admit I am wondering if this blog can grow and change along with me -- I am entering a new phase, a new studio, new mediums are calling to me. About a month ago, as I was beginning to prepare for a journaling workshop I would be teaching, my beloved current journal fell apart. Yes, all the pages just popped right out of the binding, scattering across my desk in a very rebellious act of not being contained in their book. Then the workshop was canceled because not enough students signed up.
I am processing what this all means as I pack and redo my life.
In the new house there are extensive gardens and a greenhouse, and I feel the call of clay and herbs.
What will this mean to my journaling practice?
Well, more to come, just tune in and we will see if this blog can hold all the new adventures on the horizon . . . .
and while we wait for the future to knock at the door, here are some photos from the recent past:

"This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival; a joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and attend them all.

Even if they're a crowd of sorrows... still, treat each guest honourable. He may be clearing you out for some new delight." --Rumi

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

on to new places . . . .

Packing the house, getting ready to move to our oasis gardens and new house.
I am going to listen closely to the abundant and amazing plants there, ask them what they want from me, I will journal about all this as I can -- stay tuned!

"It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between." --Diane Ackerman

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

becoming a servant to your art

The duende is the Spirit of the Earth, and has been explained as a power, not a work. It is a struggle, not a thought. An old maestro of the guitar said, "The duende is not in the throat; the duende climbs up inside you, from the soles of the feet."

"For the first ten or fifteen years, you learn your craft, you learn to see, to respond to what you're seeing. Then as you mature, you're able to give yourself up to the notion of duende, to reverse the process. You reach a point where the picture begins to tell you what it needs. You, in a sense, become the servant to your art, and because of that, every single day, you will always be surprised at what you do."
--Nick Bantock

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Kashgar Sunday Market

Right now, exactly a I type these words, a lifelong dream of my Mom is coming true. She is at the Kashgar Sunday Market, deep in the Gobi Desert on the Karakoram Highway following the ancient Silk Road. Marco Polo visited this market, which has been in continuous operation for 1500 years, and marveled at it's riches, he said it was the starting point for merchants to take their silks to the West. She is closer to Kyrgyzstan and Dehli than to Beijing, where she started this trip a week ago.
and did I say she is 81 years old?
Why not dream big and make it happen? I have a great example in her and her amazing adventurous spirit, and I am so thrilled she is right now bartering for camels and donkeys, silks and costumes, rock sugar candy and colorful rugs, perhaps watching some jousting or horse racing, nibbling on a goat head or hoof, or hot Kashgari bread.
I can't wait to see the pictures.
Go Mom.

"I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world." --Mary Anne Radmacher Hershey

Friday, September 24, 2010

making magic

One of my favorite ideas is that imagination lays the tracks for the reality train to run on.
Why not imagine what might be, and see if it can come to pass, instead of being sad at what is?
If this is called magic, I will take it over "reality" any day.

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man adapts to world to himself. All progress depends on the unreasonable man."
--George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Welcome, Autumn

Today, the cycle of the year moves toward darkness and cold, and we welcome the first day of Fall. This marks the beginning of the slow ending of the year, leaves falling, animals storing food for the winter, harvest celebrations, and anticipating the coming of the snow and cold.
For me, it is a time for gratitude for what we have sown this year, while also a time to reflect that things do end, nothing lasts forever. . .
Our lives have changed so much in 2010, a new state to live in, new jobs, new communities to join, new groups and friends and a whole new way of life here in Colorado. This is our first Fall here, and I am so eager to see what it brings. The apple tree in the front yard has had a overflow of apples, and we can them as fast as we are able, knowing this means applesauce for the whole year to come. and I am so eager to see what Fall is like here next to the mountains, and to greet the chill in the air knowing although it ends the cycle with dying, that new beginnings come when the void is created, and that focusing on the center allows the turning of the year to not leave our heads spinning.

“Have you ever watched birds soaring high up in the air without a beat of their wings, being carried along by the wind? How endlessly they seem to enjoy themselves! They are not concerned about death. If death comes, it is all right, they are finished. There is no concern about what is going to happen; they are living from moment to moment, are they not? It is we human beings who are always concerned about death - because we are not living. That is the trouble: we are dying, we are not living.” --J. Krishnamurti

Monday, September 20, 2010

what will you make today?

"The thought manifests as the word. The word manifests as the deed. The deed develops into habit. And the habit hardens into character. So watch the thought and its ways with care. And let it spring from love, born out of concern for all beings." --Buddha

Saturday, September 18, 2010

patterns, cont.

Make a collage.
Scan it.
Print it.
In a few sizes.
Tear, cut, glue, play.
Add some ink.
layers, layers, and more layers.
pattern making makes great pages.
(and go look at the image posted on Wed. Sept 8 to see how it started out.)

"When you create art, you want to use yourself as an instrument to find out about things." --Kim Tran

Thursday, September 16, 2010

a pattern language

A book by that name was written by Christopher Alexander about architecture in the 70's -- before any of us had the idea that the internet would be this community of connection for the whole world.
Patterns really do create a sort of language - and we create patterns in our days that make our lives become what we want them to be.
In fact, creating the patterns is the beginning, designing with intention is the result.
I use my journal a lot to help me figure this out, being a visual thinker.
and besides, playing with patterns is just fun and satisfying.
There is such beauty in pattern; find them, and make them part of your art and part of your day; creating patterns in your journal, and thus in your life, you will add intention to the world.

"I once saw a simple fish pond in a Japanese village which was perhaps eternal. A farmer made it for his farm. The pond was a simple rectangle, about 6 feet wide, and 8 feet long; opening off a little irrigation stream. At one end, a bush of flowers hung over the water. At the other end, under the water, was a circle of wood, its top perhaps 12 inches below the surface of the water. In the pond there were eight great ancient carp, each maybe 18 inches long, orange, gold, purple, and black: the oldest one had been there eighty years. The eight fish swam, slowly, slowly, in circles—often within the wooden circle. The whole world was in that pond. Every day the farmer sat by it for a few minutes. I was there only one day and I sat by it all afternoon. Even now, I cannot think about it without tears." -- Christopher Alexander

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

where does inspiration come from?

I find inspiration does start with a work ethic, but blossoms a bit with relaxing and not forcing any certain thing to happen.
If I get myself to the studio and just start, it comes.
Yesterday I had a long and slow day at the gallery, not many visitors were coming, so lots of time to "fiddle" around in my journal.
Just sitting there, a bit bored, I doodled and drew, and the ideas slowly formed.
Now and then, my time was punctuated with a conversation with a patron, or with a bit of wandering around and talking to Joan, the other artist working with me.
By the end of the day, I really liked what I had added to the journal pages.
Sometimes it is in the blur of non-directed thinking that gentle beauty can emerge. Our push push push culture of production has never encouraged us to work dreamily like this.
so wrong of it, and so counter-productive to creating something new and authentic.

"I learned... that inspiration does not come like a bolt, nor is it kinetic, energetic striving, but it comes into us slowly and quietly and all the time, though we must regularly and every day give it a little chance to start flowing, prime it with a little solitude and idleness." --Brenda Ueland