Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Art of the Rake

I'm taking a wonderful online class right now with Jane LaFazio. I am learning techniques for journal sketching with ink and watercolor. Actually I didn't know I needed to have these skills or wanted to take this class with Jane until the day before it started. Blind luck found me reading the class description from a blog link I was following (I think Lyric?)  But that's how I work these days. If something falls into my lap I figure it is a gift and I'd better take it. Well, not everything of course. A class on small motor repairs might have been construed as meant for my husband, and discarded. But I did, at this very moment in time, need a nudge (or maybe a noodge) to help me finally crack open a journal and start sketching.  It has been a goal for years, but I have felt the fear of self-doubt, and resisted. Well, I'd like to report that with the kind and competent help of Jane and my numerous enthusiastic classmates, the fear is on the run.

Some days, however, it is necessary to just get outside and meditate on nature. Last week had a couple of those days (bracketing some serious wind storms here in the Midwest) that were perfect opportunities for my favorite way to revive my art senses: garden work. The repetitive pull of the rake across the lawn, stacking leaf upon leaf into giant piles, the trips to curbside, pausing to note the clear blue of the sky, the smell of the earth and small sounds of animals and birds doing their own important work: this is a form of meditation that totally refreshes.

Lucky to have a healthy elm to provide shade, animal homes,
and leaves to rake

Raking is more fun with polka dot yard clogs, alpaca socks,
and a good man to help when you wear out

...And suddenly I needed, NEEDED, to draw the yard ornament that lives under the elm tree, the one I had been daring myself to commit to paper all summer. I wasn't nervous any longer that I couldn't do it right, I didn't care that someone would see me and wonder what I was doing. I sat down and sketched, and then sketched again. I LIKE HIM! Do you? So why did it take me so long to trust myself with such a simple task? All I can say is "Thank you, Universe!" for a little synchronicity.

Yes, Melly. This is hippo love.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Year of Technology and Hippos

What has become "The Year I Returned to Art" started out as "The Year of Technology."  In my household there is the member who researches stuff--computers, cameras, antivirus software, whatever. Then there's the member who uses the stuff that gets purchased. To be fair, to really use the stuff one must have projects. Ironically, household engineers tend to be busy fixing things, like replacing the reverse osmosis water system. This generally requires old school tools, like wrenches. Technology driven projects tend to be the domain of the arty ones, especially if they have the time and temperament for play. So in our household, either you know stuff and keep life running smoothly, or you use techno stuff, and create things.

I bought a new computer three years ago, yet was so busy making stuff from nothing that two years later I still hadn't found the time to learn some of the basic upgrades in the bells and whistles. With January resolutions, out came the "dummy" manuals. That thrilling read lasted about a week. After all, how can you really learn a techno system without an interesting task?  Far more fun to play on Facebook, Pandora or YouTube. Gradually came the realization that Internet playtime was actually teaching me a lot beside how to raise the bar on my techno savvy.

I'm learning that these new found social connections can have long term meaning when they bring me back to the things that truly matter.  Like connections to real people--not necessarily people who are physically in my life, but those whose presence in my day improves my life. People like you, dear readers! And discovering interests that don't only amuse for a moment, but attach like a magnet to the place inside where resides the essential "ME."  What is my "ART" if not the expression of "ME"?

As the year 2010 starts to wind down, I can say it started with a mac, but will likely end with a mac, a paintbrush, and inspiration. What a year; what a great start! Oh, the hippos? That's another story altogether.

A couple of my muses and my favorite new brush keep mac company

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Why a blog and why now?

Life in transition. Face it, I'm not getting any younger. If I knew it was going to be over tomorrow or next week could I say I was satisfied with what I've done? Not yet.

But there have been new beginnings. New worlds of connections. In just the last year and a half, the Internet has opened so many doors: to friends and family far and wide on Facebook; to a storefront on Etsy; to finding teachers and mentors in the fields of drawing and painting, journaling and textile arts through the following of blogs like this. I have taken classes in person through online discovery, and online classes through personal connections, and I am learning how to share my joy in the work through online sites such as flikr and Blogger.

But the main, most essential new connection has been to myself--to a place of dreams long buried but not quite forgotten. A connection to the hope that there is still time. And why not? As long as there is life and hope and intention there is surely time to make dreams real.

So raise a glass with me to toast the birth of Finding Home: A Creative Journey. I hope you will sign up to follow me here. Come along and see what develops.

My workspace awaits the latest drawing lesson with Jane LaFazio