Whoa and Wow

2018. Wow.

Am I just now realizing the magnitude of this? Nearly two and a half months into it, this number, a big one, it tells where I am, how far along I’ve come since 1965. This year, this 2018, I will be 53 and will celebrate 30 years married and will see my children turn 24, 21, and 16. Lord willing. Wow.

That’s all I can say…wow.

Couldn’t I just spend my days marveling at where I am? Could I not just take a moment, a year, a rest-of-a-life to say whoa.  Stop right here. Let’s pause and gather it all in and look deeply into one another’s faces?

For it shall not stay like this. I feel it already, the pull of years to come. Like Marty in the Future photograph, beginning to fade. Or like the moment’s before Scotty beams us up, pixels waving farewell. Can we not stop the world and get off for a moment to hold one another’s faces cupped in our hands and look, really look and say I love you and always shall?

Please do not forget.

Today, let me do just that with my pen and brush. Let me caress these faces I love, the landscape of Backyard, the hay bales of Silver Dapple. Let me hold them even if for a fleeting line to say I love you and always shall.

To say, if only to myself, please…please do not forget.

This act of loving is feeble and flimsy at best. Pieces of paper in a bound book. But it is how I know to say whoa and wow to 2018. It is my way of cupping my hands around the faces I love, the place that I live, the life that I have. There are miles to go before I sleep, as Frost would say, and there are miles of lines to log in my book through 2018 and beyond.

In this way, drawing and painting my life, I will not forget. And perhaps, when I fade from the photograph and my pixels wave their final farewell, these books will remain,

saying I love you…

and always shall.

-jpe

Major On One Thing At A Time

YardLines

I often learn about living life from the process of drawing. That sentence sounds a bit odd. But it never ceases to amaze me how the act of drawing informs life, just as living informs drawing. For those who have followed me here for some time, this is not news to you. Here and here are just a couple of posts about discovering help for life from the activity of making a drawing.

As I think about the New Year coming up, I want to live it in like manner to how I draw. When I set about to make a drawing of what’s in front of me, I often begin with a bold line marker. Whether it’s an 08 Fine Liner Pen or a thick Sharpie, I follow the contours of the main bit I want to highlight in my drawing. I settle in to concentrate only on that bit, being present to see all the shapes and connections of lines in that one area. Once I feel I’ve put down as many lines as I deem necessary for that main area, I choose a slightly, or greatly, thinner pen to render background areas. These areas receive no less attention while drawing them, but are rendered lightly so as to highlight and support the main bit, instead of taking it over. I may even choose a much paler marker for even “lesser” background areas, as I did above in the drawing of our front yard.

EclectionPinkCouch

I enjoy doing the same thing with color. Color can be added all over one’s drawing or just in specific places–not only highlighting the bits that receive color but also allowing the structure of lines to remain in view, solid and intact.

In 2015, I want to continue learning to live my life in this manner. I do best when I am purposeful about what each day holds. As a wife, mom and working artist, there are many things that vie for my attention. Being purposeful about what gets highlighted and emboldened each day helps provide focus for my days. Carving out time for what needs to have my attention allows me to fill in around it with all the other stuff…IF there is time.

Sometimes I sit down to draw and life interrupts. Of course! But if I’ve begun with the main bit, then I’ve at least gotten something down and the rest can either be left to another day or simply left out entirely.

So what am I saying in all this?

**On any given day, week, or month, MAJOR on one thing. Minor in everything else, or let some things go altogether. Being purposeful to do my work as an artist in designated time segments, allows me to fill in domestic work and other commitments around it. Indeed, sometimes I need to designate the majority of a day to the domestic stuff–cleaning, cooking, laundry, etc. Or a day might be majoring in family or friends. some days need to be “just-be” days, allowing whatever to bubble up and enjoy.

This isn’t about being rigidly segmented with one’s life. It actually allows a flow to my life with a lessened amount of mental static and confusion. Thinking in terms of “one thing to major in”, allows the structure of my life to remain in view, solid and intact. I feel less flighty, less like taffy-being-pulled-in-a-bazillion-directions,  more focused, less scattered. Note that I say “less”…nothing is ever seamless and perfect. It is merely one way to hold my dreams and hopes lovingly together with the demands of my everyday life.

Tomorrow I’ll share a second, though closely related way of approaching the New Year. Please return for a visit and if you feel so moved, leave any thoughts in the comment section for all of us to benefit from. Thank you for being here today!

 

 

Draw What You Live

SoMuchtoLove2

For me, drawing my life is a direct link to loving my life. Take the above for example. I did not set about it with any thought that I needed to love my life more, or that I was going to find my heart pulled in the direction of my life, just as it is now, upon completing the drawing. I simply thought, “I want to make a drawing of the new table centerpiece”, having changed it from the winter one a few days ago.

I began. I arbitrarily chose the front and center beaker (of the Brambly Hedge tea set my mom gave me) to start following the contours, as I love to do. From there, the contours led me around to the knitted bunny I made a couple of years ago, to the little bird I received from a  friend when I was in the hospital last year, to the teapot, the tea cloth, the wooden stand my mother-in-law gave me, to the desert rose salt and pepper shakers and flower tea bag holder, to the tea light holders, the tea strainer, the crocheted-by-my grandmother cloth underneath. When I looked up after this, I realized it was not centered well at all. Lots of gaping space at the top. This happens a lot to me. Life has a way of being off center, a bit off kilter, much of the time.

So I did as I always do and set about to fill in that space. A line leading from the top of the teapot climbed up the wall where the molding to the opening of our kitchen begins. I followed contours of things on the right of this molding, where my painting of a girl knitting hangs on the wall, a fruit stand and lamp sit on an empty wine rack. (Must do something about that!)

As I looked farther out from the dining room, contours of the kitchen counter, the piano further beyond in Genevieve’s Workshop, the star bunting, the Magic Cake Ruffle Shawl hanging on my dress form named Genevieve also.

When I sat back and looked at it all, I breathed in…look at all that! So much I love contained in one little sketch. All of it radiating out from the table where my family sits and eats meals and shares their day and does homework and bills, where friends eat with us, and where we listen to Garrison Keiller on Saturday nights while we have dinner.

If you want to love the life you already have, to really see it for the beauty that is surely there, to wipe the dust off of everyday living (Picasso reference), then draw something in your life. Get lost in the contours of it. Then sit back and look at what your hand highlighted on the page.  You might be surprised at what you see.

**If you want any encouragement and motivation for Drawing Your Life, click here, to access 12 Mini Lessons. They are getting a ton of traffic these days from hither and yon. That is thrilling. Let’s Love the Life we Live, one drawing at a time!

Morning Lines

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In case it was difficult to follow the written lines along with the drawn ones, here’s the poem.

All lines, written and drawn, were made over the last three mornings.

Morning Lines

 

There’s something about morning

All the world seems right.

The day ahead teems with possibilities

As my creative heart takes flight.

 

The simple things are charged with goodness.

A mug of coffee. A slice of bread.

Hope hangs thick in morning’s thoughts.

There’s nothing to dread.

 

Dreams can play as I carve the lines.

On paper. In pen. Getting them down.

So I don’t forget, before the race begins.

Before the everyday threatens to drown.

 

As my weary head finds evening’s pillow

Only two or three sparks remain.

I fold them in to my hopeful heart

That by morning, they’ll rekindle the flame.

 

-jpe

June 15, 2013

Unique Perspective

UniquePerspective

I just gasped to see the date on this sketch. Gheesh! I am amazed at how long I’ve been battling this disease. And so glad it is now cured. Symptoms began just before Christmas, though they were mild then. As the disease progressed and symptoms worsened, I tried to get an appointment to see my gastroenterologist whom I had seen a few years ago for proctitis. But I was told the earliest I could have an appointment was April 15th. What? I called a few weeks later to tell them I was getting worse and really needed to see him, but was told the only thing they could do was to put me on a waiting list. I was never called.

Not only is your body battling a disease, but your mind and heart are also doing battle. You want to keep your head above water, stay positive, try to see the benefits you may be experiencing, or the beauties that are underfoot. This is crucial to enduring any kind of health issue. Some days are more difficult than others, and that is where I find such comfort in having friends who pray for me. I was able to make it through the most discouraging days because people were praying, sending healing thoughts, and just encouraging me in general.

Eventually, I was desperate, and took myself to PrimeCare and begged them to get me in with a gastro doctor anywhere, but ASAP! That was a Friday, I got an appointment for the following Monday, was in for a colonoscopy on Wednesday and was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in over half of my colon. I went home thinking “I’m going to get better now!” having medicines in hand that were supposed to put the disease in remission.  The medicines seemed to help for a few days, but then I began to get worse. And thus started a pattern that would continue for a couple of weeks: trying new meds, I improve a bit, and then worsen. We had talked with my doctor about hospitalization. And soon it became apparent that this was the next step.

We are only given the little patch of the path directly in front of us. And that’s the little patch we have to take in and deal with, trying not to worry about what’s on down the path! This is very difficult for me! I am a worry wart! I realized the only way to go through this journey was to concentrate on TODAY, this patch of the path, this moment, this bit of information we have and just BE there.

I am still learning this as I recuperate. One day at a time, one moment at a time, one baby step at a time. This is the perspective I need. This is the perspective to healing.

Sustainable Art

LandofMany

Last weekend, when Maddie was sick, it made me remember a wonderful morning just a couple of days before with two visiting artist friends from Reidsville. After combing the creations in Eclection, Vintage Jane, and Renew, we sat talking away at Amalfi’s about how to be artists in and around our lives as mothers. It’s a subject near and dear to my heart, as I have tried to work this thing out for nearly 16 years now…pursuing art and all that it encompasses from learning to creating, to exhibiting. Motherhood is perhaps one of the most interruptive jobs one could have. No two days are alike. Just when you get them into the school years, so many other things arise, visits to the doctor, dentist, orthodontist, sports. And of course, sick days halt whatever artistic goal or path you had hoped to pursue that day.

Suffice it to say that I’ve been, for many years, on a quest to find a sustainable art, though I wouldn’t have been able to articulate it that way. A couple of summers ago, on our trip to Michigan, we met up with old friends there. The wife’s job was to work with companies to make what they do more “sustainable”. As I listened to her describe what this meant, I gathered that her job was to help companies do what they want to do in a more humane and gentle way both for their employees as well as for their clients and to the environment. Over the long haul, these new or improved ways of doing things would allow for resources to not be used up, for employee satisfaction and less burn-out, and clients who feel served over a long period of time.  Something about what she was saying made me think that this was what I had been trying to figure out in my artistic life. At the time, I felt I was actually finding the answer.

When I began to paint and draw in earnest at the age of 32, I did so in and around the busy life of a mom of little ones. I grabbed whatever time I could when my children were napping or asleep at night to paint and draw things that would hopefully be purchased in an art show or gallery. Several years into this, it began to feel very difficult to keep up this pace. I was schlepping paintings hither and yon to broaden the exposure of my artwork, while soccer games, gymnastics, church activities, etc. vied for the same slots as the openings for these shows. It was getting increasingly harder to justify the expense of framing all the works on paper (my preferred medium), to buy the tubes of paint, etc. It was also getting harder to find space in our small house to store these paintings if and when they didn’t sell in the exhibit or gallery. It felt incredibly hard to work as an artist of this kind, trying to keep it up. I got to a point where if I only had 30 minutes to paint, well that just wasn’t enough time to really do anything so I just didn’t do any “art” that day. Several of these days strung together and became a year, then two, where I didn’t do any drawing or painting.

Fast forward to this post here, when I discovered Peter Reynolds book, Ish and Danny Gregory’s book, The Creative License. I began to work (play) in a sketchbook, getting down all the “paintings” in my head, using any and every medium I enjoyed, in any and every method I wanted to. Total freedom. Easy on the pocketbook. Much easier to store. Portable. Do-able in and around a busy, chopped up, life of a mom.

What has been most lovely for me is to find working in a sketchbook to be a sustainable art that I can participate in no matter the circumstances of my life. Though I can still draw and paint for an art show when I want to, I am no longer limited to that. I can draw and paint anytime, anywhere: when my kids are sick, or at the orthodontist, or at a college orientation day, or on trips, or at the hospital, or ANYWHERE!

This may not be important to some artists, finding a sustainable art, but it has been to me. And one must find the artistic expression that is authentic to them!  This is also why I love knitting and crocheting…a portable art form that can be sustained in and around a busy life as wife, mother, and teacher.

**Note: The above sketch was made along with My Balloon Tree post. Again, one of those times where the meaning of it is unclear while making it. I see it now with me standing outside my home, Balloon Tree in the backyard with an endless stream of lovely balloons of creativity flowing from it.

Dropping Down

 

This moment, right here,

is where i need to be.

Drinking in the lines & curves of the NOW life

which is SO unassuming,

SO simple,

perhaps not even note-worthy.

And yet…in drawing,

i find worth and value

in just BEING.

BEING still,

being focused on here

and not on there.

This dropping-down

of the straw-pen

into the milkshake of my life

is like placing the needle

of the record-player

onto the vinyl disc:

i begin to hear the music…

softly at first…

then stronger as the needle traces the lines

round and round my life

AS IT IS

right now,

in THIS moment.

-jpe

from my daily writing journal. 11.11.2012

A Line for Maddie

Friends of ours who went to live overseas, said to those of us sending them off, that we were the ones holding the line on the other end for them.  I loved that thought! And, as an artist, the idea that I hold one end of the drawn line as they “draw” the lines of their journey, fascinates, inspires, and touches me deeply.

This is what I envisioned this past Saturday, as we Walked for a Cure for Type 1 Diabetes with our daughter Maddie.  ALL of these people, the long ribbon of folks ahead of and behind us, hold the line for her and for every Type 1 child and adult who lives with this disease. We were ALL connected that day.  All of us joined together by one single line… a HOPE for a cure for juvenile diabetes.

I thought how, for me, this line begins with my daughter and connects to me, my husband (the one carrying the young girls’ jackets:), Maddie’s cousin Zoe, our friend Anna, and all of you!  You who have sent donations (over $500!) and well-wishes and cheers of support for our girl.

Thank you for holding the line for my Maddie! Randy and I are deeply grateful to all of you! Merci.

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Le Cycliste and Le Tour de Pig

Sharpie & Sketchbook went with me to Lexington, NC this past Saturday to cheer on my husband as he came in to the finish line of the Tour de Pig bike ride.  The rest of us sat in our chairs ringing cow bells, hootin’ and hollerin’ as cyclists came in.  Many of them love being celebrated after the grueling 30, 50 or 64 miles they’ve just ridden.  Randy made his best time ever for a metric century! We then ate delicious barbecue together as this was a Festival for Lexington’s famous and favorite food: barbecue!

Trying to draw moving cyclists is not easy.  I quickly sketched in the areas that weren’t moving and then added in cyclists from memory of them as they went whirring by.

I see now that I need to go back into my sketch to put the date 10/13/2012.  I’ve been so busy lately I didn’t know right at the moment what the day’s date was.

If it weren’t for these sketches to pin me to the ground, October might have been over before it even started. TGFS! (Thank God for Sketchbooks!)

Botanical Gardens Panorama!

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A little accordian book of drawings made panorama style of the Ciener Botanical Gardens here in my little town of Kernersville, NC.

I hope you enjoy!