Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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“Trees Through The Forest”-New Wall Art Work in Progress

This year marks the 275th anniversary of the town I live in. The celebrations and commemorations started a few weeks ago with a parade, historical tours, hikes on conservation land, bike tours, and a pipe organ dedication at the First Parish Church.

As part of the celebration, members of the Bolton Artisans Guild decided to create artwork inspired by the town’s history. I loved the idea but came up with a big blank slate in the idea department. I thought, “What can I create using polymer clay and mixed media that is inspired by our little town?”

(Why the conundrum? The art is being displayed at the Nashoba Valley Winery and the display space is one wall in the shop. An art doll didn’t seem to be a good match and, the way I sometimes work, it would probably take too long to create.)

Then an idea came to me the other night. I could make a piece of wall art and use pre-stretched canvas as my substrate. Using a design concept that I saw in a Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine over a year ago, plus my love of circles and disks, I drew my idea in my sketchbook.

Trees thru the Forest Sketch

Trees thru the Forest Sketch

One quality that Bolton is known for is preservation of land. We have a lot of conservation land with many hiking trails. That is the inspiration for this work in progress.

My intent is to depict trees through the four seasons. In order to get the colors I want, I’ve had to break out my color blending notes from the workshop I took with Lindly Haunani several years ago. It has been a good way to get the creative juices flowing too.

This is where I’m at so far in creating the trees:

TreesThruForest_Day1Progress

The “spring” tree will have three different shades of green in flat and concave circles, plus a small bird. “Summer” is represented with similar colors, two birds and baby birds, “Fall” has a Skinner blend convex circle and tiny concave circles representing apples. (Bolton also has several apple orchards.) “Winter” tree will be interpreted with varying shades of green in a scribble cane.

This piece is more contemporary that my usual work. Another good way to stretch that creative muscle. Of course, since I’m doing something that I don’t do all the time, construction of the piece is moving along a little slower than I envisioned. (Isn’t that always the case?)

How much longer? Well, I spent the better part of two hours trying to recreate a particular color for the scribble cane that will become the “winter” tree.

I have no idea what I’ll do with the canvas. Right now I’m thinking a light wash of paint may be enough. I don’t want the background to clash with the trees.

What are you working on these days?


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Contemplative Photography: A Walk Thru Bowers Springs

Another task in Christine Valters Paintner’s book, Eyes of the Heart, is to go on a meditative walk with your camera in hand. While on the walk, ask to “receive” images. So beyond just “looking” for pictures to take, the task is to really “see” what is around you.

In this post, I share with you some of my favorite images from my walk through Bowers Springs.

Come join me on my walk.

BowersSprings_Walkway

BowersSprings_PeelingBirchBark

BowersSprings_UnfurlingFerns

BowersSprings_SingleUnfurlingFern

BowersSprings_GreenHosta

BowersSprings_TwistyTreeBranches

BowersSprings_TreeFlowerBud

BowersSprings_BeaverTreeCut

BowersSprings_TreeLeafShadow

BowersSprings_DriedWeed

BowersSprings_PondSurface


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To Begin Again

It has been quite a while since I felt compelled to share anything on my blog. This fallow period began in February when I realized that I had to step away from many commitments and expectations and tend to my spirit.

Only in the past couple of weeks have I felt the spark of interest in posting something, anything on my blog.

And within that spark of interest, I was reminded of St Benedict who tells us that we can always begin again.

And so I shall. Begin again.

Winter's Leaves


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A Year of Mindfulness: Awareness of Light

What a great time of year to become mindful and aware of the light. Here we are in February, slowly emerging from our winter cocoon. The groundhog predicts an early spring. The length of daylight is gradually getting longer.

This week’s mindfulness practice asks us to become aware of light. Not just daylight, but also artificial light. Something that many of us have lived with for so long that it is easy to take it for granted. We don’t truly appreciate the light until we lose it, such as during a power outage. During the day, it may not be too bad. But when night falls, only then do we understand how important light is to us. Especially if you’ve tried reading by candlelight.

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, our appreciation of light becomes evident during the winter when the days are shorter and the skies gloomier. We realize how precious a sunny day can be. How good the sun feels on our faces.

And how about when we switch from daylight savings time? We get up in the dark and come home in the dark. The lack of light affects our mood. Notice how much lighter you feel when there is light?

Light is therapeutic. It sparks energy and creativity.

As you become more aware of light, you find it everywhere: sunlight, artificial light, bright and dim, direct or reflected. You notice how it moves throughout the day and how it changes colors.

As you become more aware of light, you might also become more aware of darkness. While light and dark seem to be opposites, they actually contain and depend on one another. If there were no darkness-the night-we wouldn’t rest our eyes and bodies.

This week, become more mindful of light, both daylight and artificial light. Notice how you feel when there is lack of light and an abundance of it. Practice grateful attention whenever you turn on a light switch.

Reflection: Be a lamp unto yourself. -The Buddha

DCF 1.0

Image from Morgue File


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A Year of Mindfulness: Becoming Aware of Food

Bless us oh Lord and these, thine gifts, which we are about to receive….

And so went the daily prayer my family would say each night before digging into dinner. A prayer over our food.

For the most part these were just rote words I learned as a child. Words that were to remind me to thank God (or the Universe, or Buddha, or Allah, or whatever deity you might believe in) for the food on my plate.

I was reminded of these very words because this week’s mindfulness practice asks us to look deeply into food. That is, to consider where our food or drink came from; the people who harvested the food, the driver who transported the food, the farmer who grew the food, and so on.

When I was a child, my family grew some of our food in a small urban garden. Mainly tomatoes and corn which were the easiest to grow. As an adult, I carried this trait with me and have had a vegetable garden for many years.

But for many in society, there is no opportunity to grow food. And the further away we are from the source of our food, the easier it is to forget all that is involved in bringing food to our table. This lack of awareness was the basis for some localvore movements.

Yet beyond the understanding of where our food comes from and all the people (and animals) involved in bringing it to us, when we become aware of food, we awaken to our complete dependence upon the life energy of many other people. This awareness gives new meaning to the idea of having communion with others. That is, each time we eat or drink, we come into union with countless beings.

This week as you eat or drink, look more deeply into your food. Become aware of the source of your food and all those countless beings who contributed to bringing these items to you.

Reflection: The life energy of many beings flows into us as we eat. -Dr. Jan Chozen Bays

Bean seedling - Version 2


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A Year of Mindfulness: Signs of Aging

Okay, so I’m here I am feeling a bit old just thinking about writing this week’s mindfulness post. Achy hands, achy back. Is that a new gray hair on my head?

I’ve read through this chapter in Dr. Bays’ book a couple of times. Once again it seems to dovetail with last week’s practice on appreciation. While we complain about how old we feel or look, we must also appreciate how we feel or look right now. For being mindful about the signs of aging teaches us about impermanence. So we need to appreciate how our bodies are holding up in this moment because in a week, a month, or a year, something will change.

It is curious how we marvel at the life process, the aging process of a plant. Think about how exciting it is to plant seeds in the garden. To witness the tender shoots as they push through the dirt, burst forth in the sun, and blossom into flowers or fruit or vegetables.

Then, in the fall, we handily pull out the old, dead growth, thank the plant for what it gave us, and put the garden to bed for the winter.

We accept that life cycle.

But when it comes to our own aging process, egads, don’t go there. We miss our days of youth; the smooth skin, the full head of hair, the limbs that moved freely without creaking. And then we get all bummed out. We bring about our own suffering.

This week, consider how you’ve aged. Recall that wrinkles were once considered signs of wisdom, that gray hair was a sign of distinction. Consider how your life is reflected in your aging. The good times and not so good. Appreciate all your body has given you and what it still has left to share.

This week, be mindful of the signs of aging.

Reflection: Resting in this moment, we have no age. -Unknown


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Happy Halloween, Happy Samhain

This post is a repeat. Happy Halloween!

halloween07.jpg

Samhain, pronounced “sow-in,” is Irish Gaelic for “the summer’s end” and represents the death of the summer sun god Lugh.  Samhain is the beginning of the Celtic and Wiccan New Year.  It marks the end of the harvest.

Samhain is considered a time to eliminate weaknesses.  It is now customary to write one’s weaknesses on a piece of paper and then to burn the pieces of paper.  It is also a time to plant the seeds of new projects, to allow them to germinate over the winter, and to end old projects.

If you catch a falling leaf on Samhain before it touches the ground, it will bring you good luck and health for the coming winter.

Halloween originates from the ancient Celts celebrations and is based on their “Feast of Samhain.”

To learn more about Samhain and other Celtic festivals, visit here and here.


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A Year of Mindfulness-The Wind

Can you believe we are now entering the last quarter of the year? Welcome October! In another several weeks we will have completed our mindfulness practices and finished Dr. Bays’ book. Remember how awkward this all felt back in January? Okay, some of it still feels awkward. Know that you are making progress.

Last week, we were asked to become more aware of things we might be overlooking, such as sounds, colors, smells. Those things we typically don’t pay attention to because we are focused on one singular event or task in front of us. How did you do with this practice? Did you notice a bell that chimes almost every morning just before 8am? (There is a private school not too far from our home. A bell rings in the morning and we can hear it if we listen hard enough.)

How about a dog barking in the distance? Or a train whistle? With the cooler weather I’m also becoming more aware of the smell of fires burning in fireplaces. And you?

This Week’s Practice-Become Aware of the Wind

Now you might think this week’s practice is rather obvious. Of course I’m aware of the wind, you say. I feel it blow across my skin when I go on a walk. And you are correct. That is one form of this practice.

But what about the less obvious occurrences of feeling the movement of air? In this week’s practice, we are asked to become aware of the movement air, from the obvious, such as the wind, to the subtle, such as the breath.

There are several ways we experience “wind”-by feeling its touch, by feeling a change in temperature, by seeing it move other things, and by hearing it move through other things.

All of these experiences represent change-change in what we see (leaves moving), change in what we feel (cool skin), change in what we hear (a howling sound.) So you could say when you become aware of the wind or air, you are becoming aware of change.

As with many of these practices, this week we are once again called to pay deeper attention to actions in our daily lives. Instead of moving through life on auto-pilot, this mindfulness practice asks us to be present, to notice, and to embrace change.

This week, we are asked to become aware of wind or movement of air. Notice your breathing and how it changes in various situations. Notice temperature changes and how your skin reacts before you feel air move across your skin. Can you feel the air as it moves around you when you walk? How about when you blow on a hot beverage or sniff?

Want a real challenge? Sit quietly and try to become aware of your breath at the nostrils. Can you feel the subtle change on the skin just above your lips? Are you becoming aware of the subtle changes that make up the fabric of life?

Reflection: All things are embraced. Within the universal mind. Told by the cool wind. This morning. -Yamada Mumon


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A Year of Mindfulness: Water, Water, Water

Happy Monday! Ready to start this week’s mindfulness practice?

Before we get to that, did you practice silly walking last week? Come on, it’s okay. A little silly walking in the privacy of your own home is a great way to break the negative voice from taking over. How can anyone stay annoyed when they use silly walking? Just thinking about it flips my negative thoughts.

This Week’s Mindfulness Practice: Water

With the number of forest fires that have torn through the west this summer, becoming mindful of water seems rather timely. This week, we are asked to become aware of water in all its forms, both inside and outside of our bodies and our homes.

Did you know that your body is 70% water? Saliva, blood, urine, joint fluid. We take in water all day long. Tea, oranges, soup. Without water we’d be a pile of dried up cells & salt.

Becoming aware of water, we realize how miraculous a substance it is. Water is liquid, solid, gas. It is a substance we take for granted until we run out of it (drought) or have a problem with it (overflowing toilet.)

When it comes to mindfulness, consider how water moves. It flows without hindrance, over rocks, under bridges. What if we allowed our mind to be light and flexible, flowing (like water) with situations as they arise and change and not with energy-sapping resistance?

If water is muddy and left undisturbed, the sediment settles to the bottom and the water clears. When your mind is agitated, can you still the mind and regain clarity like the water?

This week, become aware of water in all its forms and how precious it is. This week, become aware of how your mind can become light, flexible, and clear, like the water.

Reflection:

Nothing in the world is more flexible and yielding than water.
Yet when it attacks the firm and the strong, none can withstand it, because they have no way to change it.
So the flexible overcome the adamant, the yielding overcome the forceful. Everyone knows this, but no one
can do it. -Lao Tzu


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Moonman Sculpture Inspired by Recent Super Moon

I’ve always enjoyed looking at the nighttime sky. As I get older, I find myself more fascinated with the twinkling stars and constellations. I do wonder “what is out there?”

The Super moon that we had a few weeks back was thrilling. Though it didn’t seem quite as large in my own backyard, some of the pictures posted online were fascinating. Looking at those pictures, an image popped into my head for a new sculpture. I drew the idea in my sketch book and began work on this new piece. I’m thrilled with how it turned out and am happy to share pictures of Moonman with you today.

First up is Moonman before he went into the oven. Looking rather fleshy isn’t he? Usually the sculpts are kind of ugly looking at this stage. He looks rather proud of himself.

Moonman Nekked

An acrylic wash is applied after the sculpt is removed from the oven and cooled. Then the fun begins when I add oil paint for dimension and character.

Moonman’s smiling face (Amy Crawley, 2012)

Moonman’s starry slippers (Amy Crawley, 2012)

Moonman in his starry jammies (Amy Crawley, 2012)

Moonman (Amy Crawley, 2012)

Moonman is approximately 4″ tall. He is made from polymer clay with a glass & wood armature. I think his smiling face might work its way into a new line of ornaments.

Thanks for stopping by.

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