Tomorrow

More than ever before, we need to be making things. This is not merely to while-away the time or to keep our minds off of all the sad news and the what-will-happens. There is an inherent belief in creating something that says, if only in a small way, “Tomorrow will come. A new day will rise.”

We cast on a knitting project and in so doing is the stalwart belief that I desire to and will finish this sweater or hat or pair of socks in the future!

We draw in our sketchbooks to capture a small bit of something that caught our eye today so that we can remember it tomorrow.

We spin wool into yarn which is in itself a ball of possibilities either for you or for someone else to make into a thing of beauty another day.

We begin a tapestry weaving or some cloth knowing that it will require us to keep weaving tomorrow and the next day and perhaps even the next.

(Ok, so this isn’t a loaf of bread. I DID bake bread yesterday but I didn’t take a photo of it. I think this looks like a most delicious loaf, don’t you? :D)

We bake bread with the knowledge that it will be enjoyed for at least a day, maybe two or three.

Just as planting vegetables and flowers casts our net into an unforesee-able future…so too does penning a poem, molding clay, writing a song. As Julia Cameron notes in her book The Artist’s Way, creative people are like equestrians in an obstacle course. The rider must throw his or her heart over the fence in order to land on the other side. This is precisely what we are doing as we daily set our hands to making something.

Whether it is actually planting a garden, or baking bread, or beginning a large oil painting, I hope that you will make time to create something. For this will pull our hearts forward as we endure our current worldwide situation. If anxiety prevents you from that large commissioned piece, then make something small and manageable. Try a new way of creating like origami or simple watercolor doodles. You will discover your heart is a bit lighter as we leap over this huge fence.

Grace and peace to you all this Easter weekend and beyond!❤️

Change

There is something about our current state of affairs that feels like a suspension, hiatus, time-out, or an extended stay-cation. It’s as if the world has been put on hold and we are hovering in place, holding our breath, until we have made it over the bridge, or until we are told we can come up for air.

I’ve also thought of these days as being on a phone call in which I’ve been placed on hold, or a VCR tape which has been paused. I imagine that the tape is being stretched as it waits in suspension until it can roll again. None of these images of our present situation adequately describe what’s happening .

It may be nearer the mark to use Tolkien’s definition of adventure versus quest. We are decidedly not on an adventure, where we will return to things as they were when we left them. When this is all over, we will be changed. The earth is already changing, and we humans will live and think of our lives differently than before. We have certainly not gone anywhere as an adventure would call us to do. Rather we are on a quest, one in which we are pinned in place, endeavoring to do our part in a worldwide effort to stay home and stay well. The effort to do this is far greater and more costly than the freedom to go on grand adventures. Yet it remains true that we will not land on the other side of this the same. We are being changed. I feel it in my bones.

Shifts in life often yield changes in art making. I have found some difficulty in sticking to drawing a tree every day. The drawings I make are decidedly simple and shape oriented, as if I’m designing for a weaving or a stitched fabric piece. Despite being in love with oil pastels , I’m wanting to let go of the must-draw-a-tree-every-day and just draw as I like, or weave or stitch.

It is likely that in letting go of having to draw a tree daily, that I will continue drawing trees. This was true before I began the quest on January 23rd. Trees are ever a fascination and will always be. My hope is to maintain this focused attention to their physical details, personality and their likenesses to me…or the other way around.

We do not know yet what changes will remain with us once we have been allowed to leave home, roam freely again, breathe and press play. That too will likely bring a shift in creative focus and I’ll want to follow whatever is next. For me, merely the change in seasons always brings changes in mediums and color choices. It will be interesting to see how we are all led to create once the current crisis is in our rear-view mirror.

Are you sensing a shift or change in your creative work? Do the seasons affect you in this way? Is the current quest we are all on changing what you create or how you approach your work as an artist/maker? I would love to know!💖 Most of all, I hope you each are well and safe and able to receive whatever this time is bringing your hands to create, no matter how simple or seemingly inane it may feel. Just keep creating, keep making things, writing poems and stories, shaping clay, painting and drawing pictures, trees or not. It will steady us and see us through to the other side.🙏💖

Poems

“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.”

-Khalil Gibran

I am finding this to be true. Each and every tree…no matter how trimmed, blighted, hacked off, or allowed to grow free…speaks in verse or rhyme a tale of life and love, beauty and grace.

Evening sky behind treeline…

The limbs are like pens, writing in the sky, waving words through line and shape. We are nearing the end of the season where I can see the tips of these pens. In a month or so, most of the trees will have blossomed and leaved, hiding the pens themselves, but showing off their colorful raiment, sharing a new stanza to their poetic life.

Neighborhood tree in Oil Pastel.

It has already begun here in the piedmont of North Carolina. Everyone is marveling (and perhaps a bit skeptical) over the early Spring activity. Daffodils, pear trees, forsythia and irises may all be blanketed in snow once or twice more before spring temperatures are here to stay. No one is complaining. Bring on the glorious display! My pen is ready to draw the transformation!

This week of tree drawings marks a shift not only in seasons, but also in sketchbooks. The last four days have been drawn in a slightly larger book which is probably intended more for writing than for drawing. There are tiny pale dots everywhere which I quite like along with the thick smooth paper. There are so many pages, I’m thinking it will last me a looooong time! We shall see!

Pear tree blooming in neighbor’s yard. Oil pastel with fat marker.

There is also a slight shift afoot in media choice. I have always been seasonally affected when it comes to what I choose to draw or paint with. The last two drawings in my sketchbook contain more oil pastel and hence more color on the page than in my previous sketchbook. I love it all! I welcome the shifts and try not to talk myself out of them. 😃

I was delighted to hear from several of you after my last post and that you are indeed receiving notifications now in your email boxes! Hoorah! I appreciate each and every one of you who takes the time to read these posts. My hope is always to bring you a spot of delight in your day and perhaps inspiration to draw or make something yourself!

Be on the lookout for tree poems! My eyes are peeled…💖

Where I Sit…

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You might enjoy meandering over to my drawing/art blog to read about an amaryllis that’s been blooming above me on the piano. It certainly speaks of knitting too!

Click Here to read it!

Have an Artful Day!

Where I Sit…

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From where I sit, here in my studio sunroom, an amaryllis blooms above me. It sits on the piano grinning broadly at me while I knit, draw, write. It has been there a while, maybe a month or more. For the longest time, an inch of green shoot sat nestled in the loam. I watched impatiently, expecting the little green shoot to sprout up immediately upon watering. It took forever, it seemed, for the stalk and four leaves to reach its current two-foot height, unfurl the three red flags and drape them over so gracefully over the tippy top, to smile at me for days on end.

But now, the cadmium red flags are flagging, folding up their withered smiles one by one. Only a single face remains open, sharing its beauty with me.  If this amaryllis could speak of what it’s seen in the relatively short span of its life, it would tell you of page after page of writing, numerous drawings (many of amaryllis herself) and countless stitches in various colors and forms. It has enjoyed beautiful music by my son’s piano hands, sweet conversations with my husband and daughters, sunshine and snow falling all around the windowed room.

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Amaryllis has witnessed the ever-changing world of an artist and a family, just as I have witnessed the phases of its life. I recently watched Shall We Dance in which Susan Sarandon’s character says,

”We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things, all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go unwitnessed because I will be your witness’.”

It struck me as a profound statement of not just marriage, but of friendship and parenting too. In our various communities, whether it be through church, school, work, or a yarn shop, we get to bear witness to others that we see them, acknowledge that they exist, encourage and support the beauty we see blooming in them.

Every word on the page bears witness to all we have seen and heard…this here is worth remembering.

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Every stitch loops around a moment in time, gathering in the days as a permanent testament to the stitcher having seen, heard, lived the duration of that particular project.

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Every line drawn records all that we experience around us as a witness to the beauty of every day details…the who, what, when, where, why of the phases of a life.

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And so I draw Amaryllis, and knit with its colors, and write of all I’ve witnessed through the phases of its brief life. This is artful living:  to declare in all our creating, “Your life (whether it be a flower, a place, a person) will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness.”

I am grateful for this Artful Life. (*there is an entire category of this subject, Artful Life, if you care to read more on the subject. Look for the category in the right hand margin.The most recent  posts are listed first, so scroll down to read earlier ones.)

**I’ve been camping out over on my Knitterly Arts blog…drawing yes, but doing lots of looping around the moments! Join me there too if you like!

An Artful Life

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As each day marches on beyond the health ordeal I’ve recently gone through, I begin to see some of the shake down or repercussions of it all. It might be described as having experienced a sifting of sorts, and what remains in the sifter is the pure wheat. It’s an ongoing process though, and I’m just sharing with you as I go along.

I can’t remember if I’ve ever told you about my achilles heel: an inner drive to have a career in Art. I call it my “achilles heel” because it has plagued me for many years now: An overarching desire and longing to have an established career as an Artist in a particular creative path. The thing is, as much as you may not believe it, this career in Art has always eluded me. My definition of “career” has a lot to do with being gainfully employed by a full-time endeavor. I have chased down numerous paths (portrait artist, knit & crochet designer, exhibiting/gallery artist, art & yarn teacher, etc.) and none of them have really “taken off”, or at least met the expectations I have in my  mind for what a career in that vein would look like. I do realize the flaws in this type of thinking, but there it is, for better or for worse…I have wanted (and if I’m honest with you, I still do want) an Art Career.

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But it has become clear to me in these days following sickness and surgery, that what I truly want far more than a career in art, is a life of art! And though it may not seem to be too different, there are significant differences in how I think about the two. I won’t type it all out here. I’ll let you read through my poorly photographed list I made in my writing journal. Some of these might resonate with you. Some may not. It has been good to put the two “focuses” side by side and see the difference.  They seem huge to me. I think the one that most excites me about having an artful life, as opposed to a narrowly focused career, is that I am free to hop in and out of all the things I love to make whether it’s drawings and paintings, or knit & crochet designs, or Genevieve illustrations, etc.

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The freedom of this makes me giddy! And whenever the siren song of “must have career” begins to play in my head, I recall that my artful life allows me to be who I am, creative ADD and all! In fact, an Artful Life is really what I’ve had for many years yet couldn’t see it because of my drive to establish a career. Perhaps now I can let go of the career-path dictums, and just enjoy what I have.

I’ll be posting on this topic, An Artful Life, as I continue to flesh out what it means (for me) to live Artfully. I do not in any way mean to say that if you have an Art Career you can’t have an Artful Life! Or vice-versa! But I’m just exploring, for my own benefit, the differences as I have attempted for many years to establish a career in a particular “art”. It has seemed that I ran into roadblocks so many times, or that I had to choose only one art to focus my marketing and selling energies.

**So…do you have this affliction? This drive to establish yourself as capital A Artist in a particular area of the arts? Does it plague you? How do you deal with it? Do you find freedom from having to have an Art career and if so, in what way? I’d love to hear… 🙂 Or, if you do have a career in the arts, do you feel you are also able to have an artful life? Please leave your thoughts in the comments…I might quote you in upcoming posts.;)