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.
Well, it didn’t take too long before I faced potential boredom with my sketching. In the days after returning from France, I looked around my house and thought “what is so interesting here that I’d want to sketch it?”
There-in lies the rub. It isn’t so much a matter of what looks interesting to sketch, it is a matter of making it a practice no matter what the subject matter. If the only reason I sketch is because the subject is interesting, I would’ve quit long ago. (And, in fact, I did quit sketching, several times in the past.)
This is when I had the bright idea to use themes or topics as my basis for sketching. Deciding on a theme or topic is a challenge in itself, however, it seems to be working for now.
The “What Do I Want To Sketch?” Phase
Did you know that Globe Thistle are made up of multiple tiny five petal flowers, like tiny stars? One of my favorite flowers and I never looked so closely at them until I tried to draw one.
Another favorite flower whose petals sparked an idea in my head for an art doll.
We have bigger houses but smaller families;
more conveniences, but less time;
We have more degrees, but less sense;
more knowledge, but less judgement;
more experts, but more problems;
more medicines, but less healthiness;
We’ve been all the way to the moon and back,
but have trouble crossing the street to meet
our new neighbor.
We built more computers to hold more information
to produce more copies than ever,
but have less communication;
We have become long on quantity,
but short on quality.
These are times of fast foods
but slow digestion;
Tall man but short character;
Steep profits but shallow relationships.
It’s a time when there is much in the window,
but nothing in the room.
During Dayle’s workshop, one of the field trips we take is to Albi. Albi is in southern France in the Tarn department. Its history can be traced all the way back to Bronze Age (3000-600 BC.) I didn’t see any remnants from that time period. We typically visit Albi to see the Toulouse Lautrec Museum and the St. Cecile Cathedral.
This was my second visit to Albi. Instead of taking many pictures of the Cathedral, as I did last time, I tried to focus my attention on the textures and colors. I hope you enjoy these images of Albi.
Over the next few weeks, I plan to share with you some of my favorite pictures taken during our trip to France. Today, we start with images of Soreze.
Soreze is a magical village located in the Midi-Pyrenees region of France, in the Tarn department. The village forms part of a triangle that extends from Albi to Toulouse to Carcassone. Soreze can trace its origins and development all the way back to 754 when Pepin of Aquitaine founded the Benedictine Abby Notre-Dame of Sagne in the fortified town of Verdinius.
Today, Soreze remains a source of history and culture. It has a long history of being home to artists and craftsmen.
On this trip I was focused on capturing images that would inspire my new series of artwork, Snapshots and Memories from Languedoc-Rousillion. Soreze is an excellent source of inspiration for this new series. Lots of colors, textures, doors, shutters, and statuary.
Soreze Side Street
Doors, Windows & Door Knockers
I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of Soreze and its magical surroundings.
“This is the end, beautiful friend, this is the end.”
-The End by The Doors
So you’ve probably heard about this little “event” that is supposed to take place today; the end times, the beginning of the end, or the rapture. In fact, as I write this, calamity should be coursing its way around the globe, beginning in New Zealand at 6:00pm local time. I didn’t realize that God conducted His business by time zones.
My annoyance came at all the attention this particular group has received. I was concerned that the media and social networking promotion of this alleged event only reinforced this group’s beliefs. Then I thought of other extreme groups like Jim Jones and the Jonestown Massacre and how I would hate to see anyone who supports this prediction of the end times kill themselves. (The Jonestown Massacre was not related to an end times prophecy. However, I do believe one must be concerned about how someone potentially reacts when they realize the prophecy did not manifest itself.)
Maybe, then, all the attention is a good thing in an odd sort of way.
I’m not passing judgement on anyone for their beliefs. That’s supposed to be reserved for the Big Guy/Gal or whatever you choose to believe in (or not.) However, I’ve read that those who believe in this prediction plan to sit in front of their televisions watching the destruction. Another believer asked “Would you continue business as usual?”
Well, I have no desire to watch the destruction of others. My take away from all of this is to live life to the fullest. Express your love and gratitude for all that is around you. To me, that is continuing “business as usual.” I don’t think any ethereal entity wants us sitting around thinking about the end. We’re human BEings. We live, we love, we struggle. When the end comes, it comes.
And if this is the beginning of the end and the end is due to arrive in October, I ask that it wait until after my birthday :-0
Life has an uncanny way of tossing challenges at us. Sometimes they show up once in a while. At other times they come at us one right after the other. The challenges I’ve faced in recent months felt like they came one after the other: health problems; a sick kitty, home damage during a long, hard winter, relocating my studio several times, surgery, preparing for repairs and painting, and then delayed repairs due to contractor schedules.
As they say “When it rains, it pours.”
Once the haze of frustration lifts and the pissing and moaning ends, I try to reflect on each challenge and understand why the particular situation happened. To be honest, I don’t always find an answer. I don’t know if there is supposed to be one. Sometimes I don’t realize why things happened until well after the challenge has passed.
More often than not, the challenge arises from something beyond my control. And that lack of control over the situation makes it even harder.
One of the hardest things to do as a human is to give up control and to put the situation in another person’s hands, whether that be another human, or Spirit, or Universe, or Source.
For me, one of the other difficulties that I face in these situations is acceptance of the unknown. That is, not knowing why the challenge has appeared and being comfortable with that. I’m sure this is related to the control issue and our natural tendency to seek answers to situations that challenge us.
But do we always have to understand the “why?”
Dealing with challenges is a little easier as I get older. The phrase “There are things we can control and things we can’t” has become a familiar mantra.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I’m not sure it would be very good if I did. What would be the point of living if we knew all the answers anyways?
Now why in the world would I have the theme song from Sesame Street running through my head when this is what greeted us this morning?
Front Yard Holly Bush
Back Yard Suet Feeder Gets Weighed Down
Heavy Snow Weighs Down Tree Limbs
Perhaps it is precisely this April Fool’s Day snow storm that triggered the Sesame Street song. In truth, the song has been bouncing around in my head for the past couple of days. And I think it has more to do with some recent improvements in my health status.
It was one week ago today that I had day surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital to remove a fibroid that is believed to have been causing me so much grief these past few months. I had a consult with Dr. Brian Walsh in mid-March to discuss my options. He took one look at my MRI, pointed to the bugger and said “That is what is causing you all this grief.”
A sense of relief washed over me. Could it really be this simple? After being told for years that my only options were to “watch and wait” or have a hysterectomy?
We discussed the specific procedure, a hysteroscopic myomectomy (also known as a hysteroscopic resection) which is a noninvasive form of surgery for this specific type of fibroid. No incisions. No long hospital stay. Just day surgery with IV anesthesia (with painkillers and anti-nausea meds.) I was home by 2:30 in the afternoon.
(Yes the surgical name sounds pretty scary and kind of gross. I’ll spare you the technical gobbledegook. Suffice to say the name comes from the particular surgical instrument used and the name for one layer of the uterine wall. Nuff said.)
Recovery wasn’t too bad; some mild cramping was the worst of it. I laid low, took lots of naps, and watched bad TV. By Monday of this week I was feeling good enough to run some light errands and take short walks.
And today, a week later, I feel back to normal. Definitely a sunny day in spite of the wet snow outside.
Glimmer Spirit Messenger #2 is the second piece in my new body of work. You can read about Glimmer Spirit Messenger #1 here and what prompted this body of work here.
Glimmer Spirit Messenger #2 started out similarly to #1; a sketch, a head, and building a core body from 13g wire, aluminum foil, hot glue and masking tape. The face for this piece was modeled after a picture I took of myself.
Using myself as the subject helps me to better understand facial structure and movement in various facial expressions. Glimmer #2’s head was sculpted as follows:
From here the body was constructed using 13g wire folded in half, wrapped with aluminum foil and secured with hot glue.
But Glimmer #2 needed a little more support and girth to keep her upright. So I wrapped the body with some masking tape and attached the neck to the head and body.
From here, as with Glimmer #1, I add two layers. One from scrap clay and then the outer layer with colored and embellished polymer clay.
And here is Glimmer Spirit Messenger #2 all dressed and ready to join her sister.
Glimmer Spirit Messenger #2
Glimmer Spirit Messenger #2 has a bit of a military look; epaulletes on the shoulders and 9 pairs of seed beads “laced” together with thin strands of polymer clay.
Glimmer Spirit Messenger #2 also has kernels of gold clay at her base. However, she holds a special pearl in the center of the gold. This area is covered with a small piece of netting for protection.
Glimmer Spirit Messenger #2 is 10.5″ tall and 2.5″ wide at the base