Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Imbolc and Feast of St. Brigid

Imbolc, also known as Candlemas, begins at sundown on February 1 and ends at sundown on February 2. It also runs concurrently with the feast of St. Brigid.

There is much to read about Imbolc and the feast of St. Brigid, so I won’t add more to that. Except to point you to one of my favorite descriptions about this holiday by Waverly Fitzgerald on her School of the Seasons website. And a post I wrote on Imbolc back in 2008.

I also came across this lovely song about St. Brigid by Celia, which prompted me to put together this post.

I listened to this song a couple of times and danced around the studio while it played. Moving the body is a great way to invite the creative muse to come and play. It also seemed appropriate because Brigid is also associated with creativity and creative ideas.

After dancing around the studio, I created this watercolor painting of St. Brigid in honor of her feast day.

St. Brigid Keeper of the Flame

St. Brigid
Keeper of the Flame

Working intuitively, this painting came together in less than 2 hours. I love when I can dive in and let the creative flow happen. Sketching comes easily. Choosing colors of paint is less stressful. The negative voice becomes quieter when it knows I’m not listening to it.

If you enjoyed Brigid’s song above and want to sing along, the version below includes the words.

Brigid so beautiful. Brigid so powerful.

Goddess Brigid, peace weaver, healer, poet, queen. Melt the snow and bring the spring.


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Art I Created This Summer

I’m embarrassed to see that I haven’t posted an update since the beginning of August. The month passed quicker than I expected. And though I thought about posting something here or there, my priorities were focused elsewhere. So, much like that first essay the teachers used to make us write in grade school, here are some pictures of art that I worked on this summer.

Anemia

Anemia is an art doll that I first wrote about in June. Here are a few pictures of the finished piece. I hope to some day share more about the process of Anemia’s creation.

Anemia-Detail

Anemia-Detail

Anemia-Detail 2

Anemia-Detail 2

Anemia

Anemia

Trees Through The Forest

This piece was first introduced to you during the month of July.

More progress was shared in the early part of August

This piece now hangs at the Nashoba Valley Winery in Bolton, MA in the Bolton Artisans Guild’s display “Themes From Our Town” as part of Bolton’s 275th anniversary celebration. A few pictures of the finished piece is below. (Click on the first photo to start the slide show.)

Inspiration From Nature

As summer moves forward in our garden, I often find interesting mold and fungus sprouting on the mulch. Some of it can be both intriguing and repulsive. For a long time I’ve wanted to make something inspired by these molds and fungi. And this summer, a technique I found in Cynthia Tinapple’s new book, Polymer Clay Global Perspectives, made creating these fungi pods a lot easier.

For lack of a better phrase, as this work in progress as no formal name, this piece is simply inspired by nature.

The Inspiration-Pod Fungus

The Inspiration-Pod Fungus

Creating Hollow Pods

Creating Hollow Pods

A Few Pods with Texture

A Few Pods with Texture

What did you create this summer?


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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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New Art Friday: Birds of a Feather

A quick check-in this Friday with a few more new Ornimals.

Some of my favorites ornies to make, and also some of the most popular, are birds. Living in a house that is surrounded by woods, I have lots of inspiration right outside by window. We have cardinals, blue jays, nuthatches, chickadees, and goldfinches, juncos, and titmouse. We occasionally see grosbeak, towhees, orioles, and cedar waxwing.

And then there are the big birds-sharp shined hawks, red-tail hawks, owls, and vultures and the occasional heron.

Last year, my bird Ornimals featured just the head of the bird. This year I’ve expanded my sculpting so the bird Ornimal has a body and feet. Some come with additional embellishments like hats and ear muffs.

Cardinal Before (2011 version)

Cardinal Ornimal 2011

Cardinal 2012

Cardinal Ornimal 2012
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

Chickadee Before (2011 version)

Chickadee 2011

Chickadee with Earmuffs
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

Baby Chick

Over the summer, I ordered 2″ glass balls. Another slight error on my part-ordering the wrong size ornament because I still couldn’t find the ones that matched the ornaments I used in 2011. These glass balls sat in the box they were delivered in for a few months.

Then I found inspiration in a few pictures on a great blog, My Modern Met. The post included pictures of baby chicks. They were the perfect size critters for sculpting on these smaller bases.

Baby Chick Ornimal
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

What do you think?

Do you prefer the “full bodied” birds or the “head-only” birds?

Ch-ch-changes

As much as I enjoy sculpting the Ornimals, I find myself yearning to return to some art that I dabbled in last year: encaustics and my polymer focal disks. I took some time in October to dig out the disks I made and laid them out on a work table. It was fun to shuffle them around, lay them out in various patterns, and think about how to assemble them into wall hangings.

Focal Disks

I pulled out several books on encaustic and watched part of a DVD on the medium. Sometimes we all need to take a break from the art we currently make and rejuvenate with a different medium. I hope to work a bit more with the disks and encaustic after I finish my last holiday show in December. Who knows, maybe I’ll combine animal sculpture, encaustic, and wall hangings.

Focal Disk on encaustic paint background

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great weekend.


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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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