Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Seismic shifts

The recent earthquake back east got me thinking.

At first I, like every west coaster, scoffed at the reaction from our east coast citizens after they experienced a 5.something earthquake. In California, a 5.something is a snoozer. Turns out the quake truly was felt more strongly and widely than one would have expected due to the age and density of the rock. These factors resulted in a rather small earthquake having a big impact.

This is a little like the transformation that has gone on in my "inner landscape" of thought. Small shifts in thinking have resulted in changes that have been outwardly significant. If you've been a dear, devoted follower of my blog over the past year, a couple of examples of small earthquakes occured when running through hot and cold pockets and when I listen to my heart - but then consult my brain. Turns out that not only can old, hard rock move and change, but so can my ingrained thinking!

All of which resulted in my trying an exercise the other day. I imagined my life the way I would like it to be in my dreams - as a successful artist/writer. I asked myself what would a normal day look like if I had achieved notable success? I would get up, have coffee, plan my projects, map them out, work in the studio, break for exercise, work in the studio, break for a stretch/lunch, work in the studio, call it a day, cook dinner, enjoy the evening with my best friend.

So what? I do that now. Mental earthquake! I realized that I will always have something I am working towards, there will always be obstacles and resistance - I don't need to be so afraid. I can embrace the struggle of getting there a little more. The obstacles are like hot and cold pockets of air that I run through - neutral. It is my reaction to them that determines if I have a positive or negative experience. Concrete result of this earthquake: I'm totally excited about several projects I'm working on in the studio and if I'm afraid of economic realities, I can get a part time job - no shame there! Meanwhile I will keep moving toward my goals, and enjoy the process a little more.

Speaking of process - sometimes when I don't think I'm accomplishing anything of note in the studio, I put out all of my work studies to remind myself of what a wonderful job I am doing. I thought I would share some of them:

Style/technique/color studies

Value study/first wash

Way cool fun playing around with adding watercolor washes to these fantastic line drawing cards that you can get here. I've had so much fun that I'm thinking about changing the paper I paint on. I'm also excited to try different mediums.

Here's to seismic shifts in thinking.

Monday, August 15, 2011

You say goodbye, I say hello

The hawks are gone - left the nest, on to better hunting grounds, new tree-top vistas.

But I'm still here.

The forest is hawk-quiet, their calls silent at least for me to hear. I hear the crows now and know for sure that the hawks are gone. The season of the hawk has passed. There is a sense of loss - a hawk shaped hole left behind.

I think about other losses - seasons that have passed leaving holes in my heart:

cherished grandparent shaped holes
grown children shaped holes
beloved pet shaped holes
past hopes and dreams shaped holes

As I stare out at the trees thinking about the summer of the hawks I see a flash of yellow at a bird feeder that we placed three or four months ago, hoping to attract yellow finches. All spring and summer the bird feeder has remained unvisited. I've thought that maybe it's the wrong kind of feeder, the wrong kind of food? The feeder has hung, waiting, waiting, waiting for the right season. Another flash - black capped chickadees, my little favorites from the trail where I run. They're here at my feeder. Another flash of yellow - a yellow finch! Just a flash, then gone.

Now I think - are they finally here because the hawks have gone? Did the one have to happen before the other? Do we need to say goodbye sometimes before we can say hello?

I think about old habits, patterns of behavior that no longer serve me - how I hang on to them thinking that I will change when something better comes along, yet hanging on to the old wondering, fearing that there is nothing better. Maybe I need to let go first to make room for what is better.

As I watch the little black-capped chickadees and wait for another elusive flash of yellow, I hear a hawk call in the far distance, and I smile.

P.S. Here is another magnificent moth that visited our haven home:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Time is on my side

Time is fleeting

Time's awastin'

The clock is ticking

I got no time

Passing by me

running out

the hours waning

I got no time

I had an epiphany on my run yesterday. That happens so often, especially when I run on the Centennial Trail. Maybe I should just call them "centennialisms".

My centennialism had to do with time. I think I am not unique when I say that I feel the pressure of time - too much to do, not enough time to do it, years passing by me, not enough accomplished. There's always the press of time, a constant adversary.

I had the thought that time is a lot like the hot and cold air pockets we run through in life. It simply is - it is neutral. My perception of it is what is positive or negative. Then my choices reflect that perception and what I experience in life is the consequence of those choices.

I was cleaning the other day. Not my favorite way to spend time, so whenever I clean, my attitude is to "get it done, get it done, get it done", always feeling the pressure of knowing that getting the one chore done will lead to another and another and another because it really never CAN BE DONE. The consequence to this grim thinking? I never feel that I clean as well as I would like because of the pressure to MOVE ON so therefore I don't even have the satisfaction of enjoying the chores that I DO get done. While cleaning the laundry room floor, I decided to do it differently, focusing only on what I was doing at the moment - and doing it well. It sounds silly, but I actually enjoyed it.

The last few months I've struggled in the studio. I feel the need to study the nuances of pigment and paper properties so I thoroughly understand them and make intelligent decisions of my own. I started this process last summer, but took short cuts and left my understanding incomplete. What colors do I really LOVE to work with? What kind of paper do I really like that will give me the results that I am looking for? I don't want to listen to other people; I want to figure it out for myself once and for all.


Time - It's running out. I wish I'd done this years and years and years ago.

Time - I won't have anything to show for this work - no beautiful paintings or prints. I can't afford to waste this time.

But I can't afford not to.


This is the point where I had my centennialism. Time is. I can grimly fight it, frustrated and enjoying nothing, or I can make the best choices that I can to get the results I want, and then relax and focus on what is in front of me.

So, my friends - here is what I have been working on in the studio:

And here is a beautiful creation that landed on my front porch through no effort of mine other than just to notice it:

I like time being on my side.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Case closed

A while ago I shared a mystery with you here:

Great news!

The mystery has been solved. The missing dragon has been revealed -

It joins its previous companions -

and -
They are spectacular together!

You can bring them home here -

Another mystery solved.