What Do You See?

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When it snows, I’m like a bear in winter. No, I do not sleep. In fact I sleep less than usual. But that is because I go into a kind of creative hibernation. So much of what I see just before and during the snowstorm gets translated into something I can touch and feel. It may seem crazy to go on snowy walks and see collaged papers in the landscape, but there it is. Or to look into my stash of yarns and see a poncho. Much like Eric Carle’s Brown Bear, I’ll tell you if you ask me What I See. But I’ll likely tell you in mediums, colors, and textures. Here goes..

Genevieve, Genevieve, what do you see?

(click the highlighted words to watch my little movie:)

BeforetheStorm

I see lines looking at me!

Genevieve, Genevieve, what do you see?

Chevron Poncho

I see colors & textures looking at me!

Genevieve, Genevieve, what do you see?

CollageSmithHollow

I see collaged papers looking at me!

Genevieve, Genevieve, what do you see?

SocksontheLoop

I see warm feet looking at me!

Genevieve, Genevieve, what do you see?

DrawingtheDark

I see shapes of dark & light looking at me!

Genevieve, Genevieve, what do you see?

WatercolorWinterTrees

I see watercolors looking at me!

Genevieve, Genevieve, what do you see?

Lucy&Chevron

I see a kitty looking at me!

Everywhere, everywhere, what do I see?

I see beauty looking at me.

*********

What do YOU see?

Beaufort Treasures

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I’ve been at my drawing table today reliving wonderful memories from a trip to Beaufort with a friend last week. Though I had only taken my Prismacolor Fine Liner Pens, the memories came leaping to life as I added color just now. I am once again reminded how grateful I am for this sketchbook and for a practice of drawcumenting my life in it. I honestly don’t think I would experience (or remember) even half the beauty of my life without this practice of drawing it, painting it, collaging, recording the everyday and not-so everyday of life.

Getting out of town is not an everyday event for me. Especially to go with a friend, without husband or kids. It was absolutely delightful to go on this lovely jaunt with a fellow artist. Her name is Jennifer also. We painted and knitted the town “red”. Well, maybe not exactly cadmium red, but cerulean, sienna, gamboge and a host of other exquisite colors in yarn and in paint.

JM'sSunroom

Jennifer’s beach house is a sweet cottage near the waterfront in Beaufort. Though the first morning was wet and rainy (which was marvelous for knitting inside in her cozy sunroom drawn above), the rest of the time was spent in glorious sunshine either on the waterfront or at the ocean.

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This little spot was at the end of a street in Beaufort. The bent trees framed the water’s view. How wonderful it was to sit and be completely ensconced in my surroundings, drinking in the loveliness through the end of my pen.

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At the beach, we walked and walked and picked up treasures. I wanted to be very selective and not return home with too many shells. I selected a few interesting shells (seen in the photo of my drawing table) and then sat to draw the horseshoe crab shell, the smaller crab shell with one eyeball attached, and the sea urchin. These seemed like special treasures, not your everyday finds at a beach.

I cannot share the other drawing I made while in Beaufort. I sat on the waterfront drawing a docked boat with all its many lines, shapes, tiny windows, masts, booms, rolled-up sails, etc. I should’ve snapped a photo of it before giving it to the boat owner. I had no idea he would walk up to us as we were drawing and begin a conversation. He seemed so appreciative of someone actually drawing his boat. There were a few other lovely conversations with passersby as well. You never know what friends you’ll make when you’re out with your sketchbook.

And you’ll never know what treasures you’ll find when you draw your life in a sketchbook.

Major On One Thing At A Time

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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.

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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!

 

 

Merry Days!

DrawtheHearth

From my heARTh to yours…

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…the MERRIEST of days as you celebrate Emmanuel!

May love, joy and peace brim to overflowing as you experience family and friends in the coming days.

Master Mallow Roaster

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I nearly titled this post “Master Mallow Marsher”. Around our house we ask, “Wanna go marsh some mallows?” As if “marsh” was the action of placing a “mallow” into a fire to roast. I looked up the history of this word and discovered that the marshmallow is actually an ancient Egyptian plant from which the sap was extracted, combined with egg whites, sugar, and a few other ingredients to make a sweet medicine used to soothe children’s sore throats. It wasn’t until the mid-1800’s that people began making a cheaper, quicker creation to mass market and in doing so, the sap was dropped and therefore all its medicinal properties. The marshmallow evolved still further over the years until we have our modern day version which apparently, we Americans adore. According to one site,  Americans consume over 90 million pounds of marshmallows per year!! Our household certainly contributes to this number!!

My husband has taken to firing up the chiminea on our back deck this fall. Almost an every-afternoon ritual, Maddie loves to join him while she does her homework, and inevitably the bag of marshmallows comes out along with our fancy, made for just this purpose, mallow roasting sticks. She has the roasting process down to a science, creating the most delectable roasted marshmallows I’ve ever eaten!! Her trick is that she roasts the mallow all over slowly, then turns the mallow upside-down on the stick to roast its underside as well! Gooey all the way through, with just the perfect crunch on the outside!!

I often join them by the fire, crocheting a blanket, or I simply place my order with Maddie…two please, just the way you make them! A Master Mallow Marsher indeed!!

The Measure of a Life

LinesinLogs

The true measure of  an artist’s life is NOT

*in how many drawings one makes

*nor in how “good” they are

*nor how much money they fetch…

…but rather in a stouthearted search for beauty in everything:

*in the little as well as the big

*in the mundane and the magical

*in calm as well as chaos

*in peace and also pain.

We wield our pens to draw out the lovely contained in anything, even d’un beau affreux (the ugly beautiful).

-jpe

Randyworking

Recently, I sat with my husband on a crisp fall day gazing into our chiminea. I caught my breath as the flames revealed a beautiful labyrinth of lines etched into the burning logs. After running inside to get my pen and sketchbook, I tried following the lines to etch them onto my paper, mesmerized as I went along. I did not expect to find beauty in a chiminea.

Even in a furnace of affliction, beautiful lines are revealed as the fire rages. We need eyes to see it and a sketchbook to record it.

This is how I want to spend my life.

Measured or not.

Counting Gifts

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On my walk, jewels mark my path as if Royalty had just passed by. Gold, ruby, emerald in every shade…pooled under trees, scattered across the sidewalk, huddled in patches along the street. Hovering gray skies served only to heighten their jeweled glow. I genuflect to pick them up, one by one. Each a different shape. Each a wonder on its own. Many, newly fallen, sparkle in their radiant color. Others, no less beautiful, lie brittle, tinged with umber. Pockets stuffed. Hands full. I cannot hold them all. Each one is perfect. Joy and wonder bubbles up with every bending. And I think–

*If I count each gorgeous leaf as a gift or blessing, I am rich indeed.

*Remaining upright is not always the best place from which to see Beauty.

*A life bent low allows for gathering gifts into one’s arms.

-jpe

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“When I give thanks for the seemingly microscopic, I make a place for God to grow within me. This, this, makes me full, and I “magnify Him with thanksgiving” (Psalm 69:30 KJV), and God enters the world. What will a life magnify?”

Ann Voscamp. pg. 61. One Thousand Gifts Devotional.

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“Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing. “

Camille Pissarro

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What will you magnify (give thanks for) today?

A Favorite Barn

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At the end of a road down which I walk each day, is a wonderful old barn. This barn sits on Smith land and is a part of Smith Hollow Farm where my artist friend Debbie and I have spent many a happy morning drawing the land, their horses, goats, and donkey named Elvis. As I sat here drawing this view, Mr. Smith drove up in his truck and hollered at me that I could go on down into the land further to paint or draw whenever I liked. I always breathe a sigh of relief when I receive a happy greeting. One never knows.

Barns are a favorite of mine, to draw and paint for sure, and to just gaze at and wonder about the history and life lived in and around the barn. Years ago, at Appalachian State University, I was able to see a show of pastel paintings by Wolf Kahn and I distinctly remember saying to my mom: I wish I had been the one to make these paintings.

It would be so cool to travel from one end of North Carolina to the other, drawing and painting the barns. Just in my hometown of Boone, the number of barns would keep me busy for years I’m sure. I would want not just to draw them, but also interview their owners, find out a bit of the history of the barn, the family who built and owned it, etc. If anyone wants to hire me to drawcument Watauga County’s barns… Ha! Wouldn’t that be fun?

The temps are much cooler this week and I have a feeling Debbie and I will be drawing indoors, returning to Eclection as our cold-weather haunt. I will surely miss drawing outdoors. I’ve been stealing away to draw in my yard lately, on the back deck, and enjoy the beautiful colors we are having. The winds are starting to blow them away.

November is a busy full month for me! The JDRF Walk for the Cure is this weekend and there’s still time to donate! Then I have an Art Show on the 22nd at Southwinds Gallery (do come for any portion of the 4-7 pm time slot on that Saturday!). Then Thanksgiving,  followed by my parents 50th Wedding Anniversary party on the 29th. Full indeed!

I may need to steal away to draw up at the barn a few times just to catch my breath!:)

Fear Not

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Tomorrow is Halloween. And I’m thinking about spectres. Spooks of a different kind that do not just come out to haunt at Halloween, but which tend to hover and linger all year round.

We are a Harry Potter loving family. Would that there was something like chocolate I could eat or do to banish the dementors. Something that I could ingest that would stop the life-sucking fear and drive it away. Oh to be able to conjure a patronus– some ethereal line that becomes a stag or a doe, or a bunny…to ward off the looming spectres.

As I’ve been ruminating this morning, it occurred to me that I do have something like chocolate. Ancient words, true and trustworthy, written for me to ingest into my being and let them work through my mind and spirit: “Fear not, for I am with you.-Is. 41:10”.  “Perfect love drives out fear.-1 Jn. 4:18”. Each time I read them, say them, ingest them, my pulse slows to normal and I’m restored, if only for the moment, to a less fear-ridden state.

I even have a wand with which to conjure a line into a deer, bunny, or a vase of flowers. Drawing acts like a force-field that keeps the spectres of fear from penetrating the boundaries of my heart. Like a patronus charm, drawing repels the threatening spooks as if they were rag dolls, keeping them at bay while I happily draw  my world.

Truth and drawing…that’s what I need this Halloween and beyond!

A chocolate frog and a mug of butter beer wouldn’t hurt either!

One Pane Only

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Here’s something you can try…

Sit next to a window that has panes dividing the glassed viewing area.

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With pen and sketchbook in hand, draw what you see within only ONE pane.

This acts as a viewfinder for you, limiting the scope of what you have to draw.

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You can keep your lines within the rectangle of the panes, or you can let them flow outside of those lines as I have here.

These are from my daily Morning Drawings. It’s a great way start your day. Just simple lines and a splash of color. I have quite a few I haven’t uploaded to Flickr yet. In the time it takes to upload images to Flickr, I could make a couple of drawings!! To Flickr or to Draw, now that is the question. 🙂

Try the “One Pane Only” approach! Of course, with Sean Connery’s voice in your head!

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My Backyard as seen from the window where I sit each morning.