Monday, January 3, 2011

Dust in the Wind

New Year's Day, "The Littlest Hippos" painted and shared with my world, my husband and I head out for out first coffee date of the decade. We enjoy the simple routine of hanging about and people watching at the Starbucks across from our mall. Living in the almost rural burbs, we've only got one mall to choose from and a couple of coffee shops worth hanging in. It will be several years yet before we can retire to Portland, and people watch in many new places, even walking to them to burn off the snacks.

The smallest members of my collection: earring, pins. button and beads

After an hour of filling the senses: coffee, sweet treats, the colorful parade of characters, and a general sense of good beginnings, we headed home in the rapidly chilling afternoon. Grey, blustery skies made for a bleaker drive back. On the radio a favorite downer song of the late seventies, "Dust in the Wind" by the group Kansas. The well known lyrics seemed to send a clearer message on this day of beginnings, to go deep and feel fresh: we are only here for a moment and then we are over. What we do here really doesn't last or matter, accept that you as an individual are just not that important. For just a moment, a sense of loss and sadness, resignation to my utter smallness.

But the next moment brought a second realization, the knowledge of how wonderful that concept really is. I, and what I do with my moment of existence, counts just as much as any other soul and their moment. What I choose to do with that opportunity is just as valuable or inconsequential as any other. So why should I feel less important or more afraid to tap my creative forces? 

At home I started cleaning the work station for the next hippo painting. At Dave's suggestion I will draw the unglazed porcelain with the baby and birdie on her back--an Egyptian themed page, probably. As I stored away "the littlest ones" I realized that once drawn, the objects seemed so much less significant to me in their physical being. I realized that if I lost them now, I don't think I'd care so much. If I lost the painting, I probably wouldn't care either. What mattered was having the experience of recording a vision of my life that day--I had seem something fully, and now I could let it go.

On Sunday, I started a lesson on Visual Journaling sponsored by Strathmore Art Papers. It involved a sort of multi-media art I'd never done. This one, Recycled Journal Pages, had us use our previously made journal pages or art, photocopied and cut up to create new images. At first I was hesitant to start, not sure it spoke to me, and then I just let go and fell into the experience. The hippo quilt that I shared in the last post has morphed into something new. This is "Deconstructed Hippo". The process thrilled me and the results even more. It is something I didn't envision doing. It just seemed to happen. I let it flow uncensored.

"Deconstructed Hippo": torn and cut paper and ink

One of my drawing teachers and mentors asked the other day for her blog readers to share a word they will live by in the New Year. What came to mind at that moment, and that I shared there, was: fearless.  Now I understand how true that will be.


  1. Lovely words, Cheryl. Yes it is all transient, this moment is all we have so grab it fully. Happy New Year!

  2. I felt this too, the first day of 2011, the sadness and emptiness,followed by a new sense of faith and warmth, unusual to me. That said, your drawing is wonderful, lovely colors and neat lines and details! And your "deconstructed hippo" page looks gorgeous. Must be an interesting course! Bonne Année!

  3. Very nice. You are very good at capturing silver and shiny metal objects.

  4. I love people watching- constantly surprised by what I see. Great painting of your drawing station.

  5. I really enjoyed looking at this drawing. Your use of highlight and shadows with your line work and details works so well!

  6. It's important to make the most of a moment.
    You could take a sketchbook when you go for your coffee and sketch the people you see? That's because I'm nosey and want to see too:)

  7. Nice little collection, and really nice collage work as well =)

  8. Not a hippo-phil myself but I appreciate that muses come in all shapes and sizes (mine are more caprine in nature). I love your cityscapes! This new year brings much that is good into my life including a new job and the Sketchbook Challenge, and blogging for the first time. Now instead of burning old journals I will turn them into mixed media stuff- talk about your sow's ears into silk purses, or maybe just nicer sow's ears! Happy New to us all!

  9. I think both of these are fabulous. I'm not a big fan of abstract art, probably I just don't understand it. But, yours has just enough recognizable figures in it to interest me greatly. I see a big white bird with one foot on the back of a person hanging over a log. It may not be what you intended but it certainly made me smile!

  10. Hi Cheryl~i'm grace, from the latest of Jude's
    classes. when i read your comment about people
    actively participating, not being quiet, i
    smiled, because i was just giving myself a
    talk about subduing my enthusiasm and at least
    starting off quiet...hmmmm.

  11. Wow! I love your watercolor work! Soooooo very sweet.

    Your strathmore class project is coming along too! Found you though flickr - but I'm also in the strathmore workshop.

    Love to have you stop by and visit me too at

  12. Very thoughtful post coupled with fun, charming art! nancy