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.

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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.

Harvest

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If I look back over this year as if my life were a field that should produce a crop, it appears at first glance to be spare and thin. Surgery in June and its aftermath, from which I’m still recovering, makes me think the bumper crop will be sparse this year and for good reason.

Yet I’ve been looking through my sketchbooks and artwork I’ve made this year in preparation for my upcoming Art Show at Southwinds Gallery. Last year’s show was an epic event that should have proved to me that much rain and storms often yield a bounteous crop! I’ve been marveling, once again, as I prepare for this show, that indeed there has been a profusion of art growing from these fields of creativity I tend. It is humbling. It is head-scratching. How? How has this happened in the midst of what has felt like turmoil?

I really don’t know the answer to that. All I know is that what I thought would be a sparse harvest, actually looks much like the drawing above, made at the Ciener Botanical Gardens this fall…a profusion of color, flora and fauna springing out of much rain and not a few storms.

I’m grateful. This is an understatement. Gratitude to my heavenly Father who is bringing me through a year of difficulty, all the while having planted and sowed such beauty along the way. As I flip through my sketchbooks and look at the pile of knitting and crochet wrought this year, I’m humbled at how I’ve been allowed to create despite the churned soil and wretched storms.

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It occurs to me, as it has in the past, that each and every drawing I make, is a chronicling of something I’m grateful for. It is putting down on paper, a visual recounting, of what I find beautiful in my life. Wow…there really is A LOT that is beautiful. And I don’t often realize this truth unless I stop and view the harvest.

It is my hope that this post does not seem self-congratulating in any way. Oh dear, it really could be perceived in that light. My intention is to confess to you that my natural tendency is to view my life as meager, sparse, UNDERwhelming, UNexciting, and thin. I realize time and time again, that this gift of art could quite possibly have been granted me for no other reason than to reveal to ME the breath-catching beauty that is all around me in my life no matter the circumstances…to show ME that the yield of a life is not measured in huge accomplishments but in the day to day small things that add up to a satisfying harvest. This is a lesson I seem to have to learn over and over and over again. Truly humbling.

This makes me excited about the art show this year! Especially since I get to share it with my dear friend and fellow artist Debbie Schiappa! She and I have, for a few years now, drawn together on Friday mornings in and around Kernersville. We will be showcasing some of our drawings and paintings of our town along with other artworks of various kinds. Saturday, November 22nd from 4-7 will be a wonderful day to view just some of the harvest from each of our year’s crop. I would love for you to join us there!!

It will truly be a harvest celebration!

Pure Joy

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I’m not sure I know what it means. Nor do I feel I am doing it well. But I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the words, “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds.” James 1:2

I am certain it does NOT mean a plastic smile. Nor does it MERELY mean to gloss over the immediate reality of pain and discomfort to claim that One Day…One day all will be well. This is certainly true and does hold a great deal of hope for us. But the above call, to consider it pure joy, is definitely speaking to the day-to-day experience of it, the ongoing reality of the trial in one’s life, the uncertainty as to whether it will get better, or whether one will have to endure it to the end of one’s days.

In these months post-surgery in early June, I’ve been holding onto that One Day idea. The surgeon and his nurses speak this way: it’s an adjustment period and once you get through that, in a few months, you’ll feel great! I’m going on four months now and I’m not there. In fact, I’ve developed other issues that have my experienced surgeon in a bit of a quandary. First it was a fistula and now ongoing inflammation has developed which is not responding to the antibiotics he has had me on for weeks now. I’ll be going in for testing to see if he can identify what’s going on and prescribe a medicine or other regimen to get rid of whatever is causing the issue. Now I’m thinking this will be more of the same: try this med, see what happens, if it doesn’t work, try another, hope that the side effects are minimal, and if that doesn’t work… Ugh.

I’m now needing the fortitude to find joy, pure joy, in the midst of this trial. I don’t want to “gloss over”. I want to approach each day with an eye toward understanding what these huge words mean…consider it pure joy.

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One thing I’m certain of, is that in drawing, I know this joy. Or perhaps to put it more succinctly…it is THROUGH drawing that this joy comes to me. It might be called happiness at times. But not always. One’s happiness is often tied to how a drawing turns out, whether I’m pleased with it or not, whether it is “good” (whatever that means).  There are times, however, when I may not be feeling good about my drawing, or I may not be feeling good period (as I was on Friday morning, drawing the two you see here, with my friend Debbie, up the road at Smith Hollow Farm), and I STILL experience that joy.

So… I draw. And as I draw, something wells up inside me. It may be called peace. It may be tranquility. It may be an assurance that somehow, some way all will not only be well, but it IS well, just at that moment. It matters not how the drawings turn out. Indeed I felt what I produced on that soggy morning was well…a bit soggy. The act of drawing becomes a conduit for joy to break in, no matter what my body may be feeling at the moment or what may come in the future. Drawing, quite literally, draws me into the present moment and ushers in a joy that does not necessarily include a grin on my face.

It also helps to have an encouraging friend, as I did on Friday. Someone who holds out hope that, yes, tomorrow will be different and possibly for the better. Drawing outside causes me to start thinking of all that I DO have: the beautiful outdoors, the cool breeze, the love of my family and the encouragement of friends. Drawing the people, places, and things in my life causes me to see beyond the resident discomfort and pain and allows me a new set of eyes for the grandeur of what’s all around me. If this sounds too pollyanna for you, I do not apologize.

In suffering of any kind, we can choose one of at least two paths. We can either be sour, bitter, beat down, and resentful. Or we can take a deep look at what it might mean to “consider it pure joy”. I’m choosing the latter because I know there is LIFE there, and there is death in the former. I feel the sour, bitter, beat down, and resentful start to bubble up. And I’m battling it with drawing… my pen a sword, my watercolors a shield for the fight for joy.

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It’s worth every minute of time facing an empty page in my sketchbook and filling it with what is right in front of me: fences, friends, family, flowers, cows, anything! Through the act of drawing I’m understanding a bit more of what it may mean to consider it all pure joy.

Won’t you join me?

Cheer In A Vase

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I love flowers. Have I told you that? I often feel like Monet who said, ” I perhaps owe becoming a painter to flowers.” Yes, indeed. So many ways to depict them, so many mediums to choose from for the color, joy, and shapes of flowers.

In my previous post, I shared the LINE version of this particular bouquet…here’s  a photograph of the actual bouquet:

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As you can see, I do not attempt to put every little detail into the drawings/paintings. Some artists enjoy that. I prefer to “suggest” what’s there, to express the profusion of color and cheer.

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When you choose to work without line, then you’re having to rely on shapes of color and value as well as expressive brushwork to capture the floral bouquet. I love working both ways.

***I have now added the above painting as well as the last two florals in my Etsy Shop for sale. I will add others this week as I share more floral depictions of hope and beauty. The great thing about these paintings is that they are done on 9″x12″ acid-free paper, perfect for framing in a ready-made frame. I suggest the kind with a mat built in. Matting your paintings gives breathing space between the painting and the molding. It also really sets off the image.

***I hope you find a little beauty strewn across your path today.

Draw What You Live

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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!

A Connection

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A Connection

Was I cut open so that books could come out?
Or was it to make me an open book, my stories to rout?

To then be stitched up like the spine of a book—
held together when open, is that what it took?

To have a permanent spout for books to come out?
They’ve always been there, they just needed a route?

If I drew a self-portrait of the scar that I carry,
I’m not sure I’d like it—it wouldn’t seem merry.

But perhaps it would celebrate that dear time with God.
I know there are folks who think that odd.

But would I prefer not to expose,
to keep it wrapped up, in my nice pretty clothes?

These books that I’ve made in the following months,
seem like dreams come true, impossibilities once.

And now I hold them, one-two-three;
And there are still more, waiting to be freed.

The New Year holds promise for what lies in store—
another Genevieve, Draw Your Life, and so much more!

Whatever the connection between my scars and these books,
I’m grateful for their being and all that it took.

We just never know what pain will bring…
I’ll rest in its path, His praises to sing.

-jpe
11/22/2013

*****As 2013 comes to a close, I’ve been doing a good bit of reminiscing over the year’s events. Whew! It’s been a full one! Even though there are some parts I wouldn’t want to relive, I’m grateful for every moment of it.  Tomorrow’s post will be the last one for this year! I hope you’ve enjoyed my little holiday present to you of postings every day ’til Christmas. I sincerely wish you all the merriest Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Beyond Imagination

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In the daze (days) following Saturday’s Book Signing and Art Show, I haven’t quite known how to blog about the event. From almost the moment I walked into Southwinds Gallery at 3:45 until I stepped out the door at 6:15, it was at the same time– a blur AND a piercingly memorable evening. I had planned on getting lots of pictures. My husband and I, the gallery owner, and others were so busy we only got a few pics from the event. The above pic was taken by my brother in law…thank you Richard!! That’s my husband Randy peeking over my shoulder. 🙂 I’ll share with you the others I have:

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My arms were full as I walked into the gallery, bringing boxes of both books, Genevieve cards and prints. Already there, was a dear friend and fellow artist from Reidsville, who had driven 40 minutes to come to the show. Any jitters I might’ve had prior to arriving at the show, were seriously calmed seeing Teresa (on the right of my daughter Maddie). She has been a huge encouragement to me both in friendship and in all things creative. After just a few minutes of hello and getting books and such settled, more people began trickling in. My parents, a few friends and some local folks relieved my fear that I might be standing around twiddling my thumbs for two hours.

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But by 4:15 I was anchored to the counter signing books. With the exception of one or two dashes from my signing spot to hug a neck or two, I stood there, writing away. The din of happy voices, laughter, people milling and having a good time was music to my ears. I truly could not believe what was happening.

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Friends and family from so many different walks of my life had made their way to this event. I really wish I had photographs of these dear people to share with you. The memory of them, however, is permanently planted in my heart and mind.  There were friends from Boone days…growing up there and attending Appalachian State University. Several artist friends came out for it too! Also, my knitting friends from 2008 and after came … each not knowing the others were coming.  Friends from church, neighbors, and local Kernersville folks, some of whom I had never met before. Family from Pittsboro. Friends who had moved away from Kernersville in recent years.  All were happily milling around, looking at artwork, catching up with each other, enjoying the food and beverage, and waiting for me to sign their books.

A fellow Kernersville resident and crochet friend of mine, Tammy Hildebrand, is an internationally-known crochet designer. I was humbled and delighted that she would come out for the show, and I enjoyed catching up with her and hearing about her TWO new crochet books coming out in the new year!

At one point as I was madly signing, I looked up to see a sweet face I recognized.  Even though I had only known her as an online friend through Everyday Matters, my blog and Facebook, I immediately recognized her and couldn’t believe she had driven all the way from Galax, VA to come to the show! Deborah Alexander made my night as we finally got to meet face to face. I only wish I had had time to talk with her more!

I wish I could have done that with everyone … to really chat and catch up with each one! But my delight in seeing everyone and meeting new faces while signing books was not dimmed one bit! At 5:45 Angie (the owner of the gallery) and I began to breathe a bit. Then in walks Mr. Whicker with his lady friend (as he calls her:).  I couldn’t believe he actually came out for this. It was a delight to talk with him for a few minutes and show him the paintings of his farm and field where I love to paint. I do so wish I had a picture to share with you. By this point I think my brain was fried!

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As I walked out of the gallery that evening, I had very little in my hands but my heart was filled to overflowing. The success of an Art Show/Book Signing is typically determined by sales. And though I am overwhelmed and delighted by the generosity of so many, I actually determine the success of a show by the number of faces.  I woke the next morning with face after face of dear folks and newly made friends marching across my memory. I got up in the wee hours and went to write down their names, even if it was only their first name I could remember.  I would say this show goes down in my memory history books as one beyond my imagination!!  Thank you to each and every one of you who were able to make it out for this show! The love and support I experienced and carry with me is beyond comprehension. Merci de mon coeur à tous!

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If you were unable to make the show and would still like to see the artwork or pick up a book or two, feel free to go by Southwinds Gallery! Angie has it all up for a little while longer, and this lovely gallery will be the permanent home for Genevieve and the Kite and Letters to an Artist.

Thank you again. For everything!

A Day of Juxtaposition

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A Day of Juxtaposition

 

Today’s a day of laundry and dishes

And also fulfillment of long-time wishes.

How can I hold them all in my hands …

Will I fly apart? Or can I stand?

 

Is there a key to contain it all?

Can I embrace it in a neat tidy ball?

The hum-drum of life and the everyday stuff

Seems odd on a day of dreams hewn out of the rough.

 

Or perhaps it is the other way ‘round—

The dreams-come-true are the oddity, I’ve found.

A two-hour slot to sign books at a show.

Not one, but two published, it’s crazy, I know.

 

And then, what’s more, my art on display …

The work of two years in sketchbooks each day.

Could this be happening as I vacuum my house?

Am I really that artist? I feel like a mouse.

 

So small and simple with very few cares.

Yet a mandate of wonder from my toes to my hair

Resides deep inside me; it must come out –

In paintings and books to share like a shout:

 

“Come see Beauty with me in the town where I live!

Come fly a Kite and be free to give—

Encouragement to each other, as daily we create

a Father’s love for His children, which will never abate.”

 

So with vacuum in one hand, books and art in the other,

I’ll receive His gifts, as artist and mother.

This is the key that I needed today …

To simply receive. May I remember it always.

 

-jpe

11/23/2013

A Garden of Gratitude

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I’m feeling quite overwhelmed these days. The only way I can wrap my head around it is that we’re experiencing a harvest time in our family. With the goodness of a harvest, comes a lot of activity. It’s all good. But wow. It’s a lot.

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I’ve been moved and delighted by the response to Genevieve and the Kite. A few of you have already gotten your copies (I’m still waiting on my BIG box to land on my front stoop!:) and your comments have been so encouraging to me. Thank you. All of you, really and truly…thank you!  If you are so inclined, I would love for you to submit a simple review of the book on Amazon. You’ll see the words “customer review” highlighted in blue. Click on that and you can submit your thoughts on the book. That would be awesome! Thank you in advance! 🙂

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Another thing growing in our Garden is an EP of six original songs and retuned hymns, titled Songs of Grace, by three incredible musicians in our church. One of these guys is the fella who lets kids throw pies at him. 🙂 He’s pretty special to me.  Every time I listen to this CD, I’m amazed at his voice and all the talent these men have.  If you enjoy worship music, click here to go the BandCamp site where you can stream and listen (free!) to the songs, and/or purchase the digital downloads for so cheap! Also available there for free are the lead sheets to the music so that you or your church can incorporate these tunes into your worship experience. It truly is beautiful music.

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And…our son. Goodness me. As if the above two weren’t enough, our son William’s EP of original songs came out last week as well! We have watched (and listened) to him bloom into an amazing musician/singer songwriter. With the help and expertise of Michael Kuehn, a friend in our church and one of the guys featured on the Songs of Grace CD mentioned above, William was able to record six of his own songs and compile them onto a CD. When he asked me for artwork for the cover, I was happy to oblige. 🙂  (If I type any more of these smiley faces, it’s gonna be obnoxious!)  William plays guitar, banjo, and harmonica and sings, while Michael has added numerous other instruments to make for a marvelous listen. Randy and I are so proud of and excited for our 16 year old boy.

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Whew. Harvest time for a farming family is the busiest time of year. And the above three things are only just a few of the things going on in our family. Our oldest just performed in her Fall Concert at Wingate University and will be performing in the their fall opera in just a few weeks. And the JDRF Walk is coming up for Maddie and I.  Once again, we have been overwhelmed by your generosity in giving on her behalf for this wonderful organization. We can’t wait to walk on Saturday October 26th to represent Maddie and all of you who have supported her in finding a cure for Type 1 Diabetes!!

I feel a bit like I’ve got the Kite by the tail and I’m soaring off into some pretty lovely, but unknown realms.  Thank you to all of you, dear readers, for your cheers, your encouragements in comments, your thoughts and prayers. We, the Edwards family, are so blessed by you!

P.S. The above watercolor is a recent sketch from the Ciener Botanical Gardens. In the midst of all that’s been happening, the Gardens are a lovely respite to the “fullness” of my life. Can you stand one more smiley face? 🙂