Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Space Between

This morning they sucked up the last of my gathered fallen leaves, clipped vines, and denuded brown stems, to cart them off to the community composting field. I watched them earnestly through my front window until finally satisfied that I had put the garden to bed for the year, and could now move forward to welcoming the winter break.

Once again, my surroundings feels stripped clean and new. Sunsets are more intense this time of year, maybe a change in the angles and the clouds, or maybe they just appear that way because their competition is on holiday. In any case, I treasure the occassional showiness of the earlier setting sun as a sign to stop and appreciate what is given freely by the world. It makes me turn a critical eye to the inside clutter. Time to divest, clean, and think about a new fresh color scheme.

The fire of a November sunset echoes the emotions I feel
 toward the new year to come.
This year we are simplifying our holiday celebration. We have decided to welcome the dark with lights both indoors and out, but dispense with the tree. Instead I created an evergreen display in the urn by the front door. It has already drawn notice, waves and good cheer, and that is the real purpose of this time. Connecting with others and our own personal gratitude.

Preparing for winter solstice with a bit of evergreen and bright red berries
Having recently written and thought about the successful conclusion of my "first" year in art mode, I have been pondering where I go from here. It is so easy to fall out of habits you try to establish when there has been more time in a life not doing than doing something. And yet each day only has so many hours to embrace the myriad goals and pursuits I enjoy. The one thing that stuck me most strongly in this evolution of my creative life is that I need to work on giving up the guilt. I need to fully embrace the philosophy of not owing anyone my time or life. That I don't need to be doing anything that doesn't bring me joy or fulfillment, or why I am doing it?

 Let me be clear here: we are not talking about responsibility to family or society, this is purely about my personal life goals and pursuits. As much as I am loving learning to draw, I came into that mode with a purpose: to give up the guilt about not doing it! To get passibly good at it so that I could use drawing as a basis for designing textiles and jewelry when it served me. Finding out that I loved to draw everday objects and scenes to document my life, or that I could actually draw passibly from imagination, well so much the better! But I was starting to feel that I could not just sit and meditatively stitch one loop into another because that was not "creative enough". Says who?

A new wardrobe of bead crochet bangles 
I decided it was okay to set aside my pens and journals for a break and return to some of my other obsessions like bead crochet, bead weaving and knitting. I also have been continuing to engage one of my larger goals from the past year, which is the development of my embroidery skills. I have taken three classes so far this year that were partially or fully about developing story and design through hand stitch (with or without applique). Thanks to Jude, Arlee and Sharon, and please check these links for the their wonderful new year's class offerings.  I will be continuing with all of their teaching and inspiration in 2012 as well.
In Arlee Barr's "FrankenStitch" class we have learned
 to embrace textural embroidery. 

My buttonhole stitch sampler is still at a stage far from complete.

The straight stitch sampler has made some progress, but will continue to be layered and developed.
This place I inhabit between my reality and my goals recently took inspiraton from a trip to visit family in Philly and Jersey. As I am normally too far from these people to see them more than once a year, it was so wonderful to have the opportunity for not just a visit to the close circle, but a bigger life event that drew cousins to celebrate a rite of passage. At once I was trying to accept the issues of the narrowing possibilites that age and age-related infirmities may impose on our options, and on the other, the endless opening doors of youth into adulthood. A cousins' eldest daughter was called to the Torah, and with the family and community gathered about in an inspirationally beautiful sanctuary, and with the help of her spiritual advisors and the cantor's angelic voice, she proudly and admirably took her place in the world of awareness of the "other". Her Bat Mitzvah project was involved with feeding the hungry in her own community. In addition to raising money and awareness for her local food pantry, she had collected donations of food that, made into beautiful gift baskets, served as centerpieces for the celebration that followed, and a reminder to the guests to be gratedful for our personal bounty. I thoroughly enjoyed my family reunion and danced my tush off.

Still life with party favors
Since returning home, I have completed my knitting project and pulled from the stash of UFO's a "blingy" wonderful bracelet with seed beads, rivolis, and drop bead fringe. I did some further work on the two machine quilting projects that I hope to complete before year's end, and pulled out the silk kimono from Jude's "Magic Diaries" class to work on. I was inspired by Melly Testa to join a December challenge project in "Rockstar Boro."

The linen stitch knit scarf truly looks hand loomed.

This bit of bling has been waiting patiently for a year for me to return. I think it will be finished this week.
This space between the years is filling up fast. Almost no break at all. But then I don't really want one. My years are too few, my loves too many. The colors of sunset are in that scarf, the colors of spring in that bracelet. I plan to fill the clean quiet space of winter with the color of joy.