Sunday, October 28, 2012

Calming the Inner Storm

Inner turmoil, angst. It's been brewing ever since I returned from my trip to Spain. I have felt burdened lately by the demands I have made on myself, both to create, and to share. As I have said often before, there aren't enough hours in the day to do it all, and sometimes that inability to let things go brings me to a dead halt on it all. Like writing about my trip. For heaven's sake, I returned a month and a half ago, and haven't shared a thing! Overwhelmed by the richness of the experience, I didn't know where to begin. I have decided to share one more "art" story today, then move on to a number of posts in which I can tell you about my grand travels.

Also, I'd like to note that today is the second anniversary of my blog! In honor of where I have traveled in my creative life and what I feel has been achieved, I decided to take her out for a makeover treat, to let her look and feel evolve as needed. You will notice a new lightness to the template, hopefully an easier time reading the type. (I am trying to lighten my mood as well, hopefully complain less, but I can't guarantee.) All I know is that many around me are having hard times, and I have been blessed with riches of all sorts, primarily my good health and ability to pursue my heart's desires. What more do I need?

These dramatic night shots were taken on an evening this week when, with the spirit of Autumn in the air, my dear husband and I took to the yard as the sun descended and the moon rose to light our way, as we moved and raked and found peace in simply caring for what is in our keeping. When the work was done (or the evening too settled in), I went for my usual hot tea, and the camera, and spent some time recording a favorite theme, the warmth of house and home where love resides.

This head planter has greeted me every day at my front door for many years. There is something in her calm demeanor that sooths me, and yet in this guise she seems to pose a yet unanswered question.

It doesn't take a lot of light to make a welcome sign.

I was on a treasure hunt for images with just a touch of mystery about them.

So late in the season, the sun has abandoned this portulaca, but it still it has beauty in the light of the night. You can see more of these photos in the flikr set "Light and Shadow".

There is a storm brewing (even as I write these words) all along the East coast of the US, threatening life, property, and peace of mind. But here in my corner of the Midwest, life's crazy patchwork has finally been assembled into something I recognize as order and comfort. I am finally ready to continue telling my story. You know how sometimes being overwhelmed by too many demands can render even the things you love to do difficult, make you fearful of beginning new things. That's the way I have felt for the past few weeks. I decided I had to settle on doing something that had a rhythm and routine so well ingrained in memory that it didn't tear open the creative box, and scatter all the pieces. Neat orderly life, neat orderly creativity. Maybe it was the change of seasons, the change of body size, the change of direction in my creative demands, but lately there has been a heavy feeling of dread instead of joy. Best to retreat for a short minute, and find my center.

I returned to beading, something small you can hold in your hand. Something with stitch after stitch to occupy the mind without too much thinking, then something completed--beautiful and complex looking, but really familiar and soothing. I also began to clean--closets, surfaces, creative places, air out the weight of having too much stuff in sight. I can only ignore the chaos of the creative home for so long, then it begins to stifle thought and action.

I chose a project featuring two polymer clay disks made by a friend. I worked with techniques found in the book "Beading with Cabochons" by Jamie Cloud Eakin. 
I raided my bead cabinet and found all that was needed (enough raw material to make necklaces for the rest of my beading life!)

The completed pendant had a bit of a "star" turn.

Then the finished necklace went on a photo shoot which you can view in this flikr set on jewelry.

While I was gone on my Spanish adventure, a new class had begun. Something I had looked forward to all Summer, drawing from life and learning to tell stories with drawing, with the lovely Katherine Dunn: animal rescuer, farmer, storyteller, and artist extraordinaire. The class is called "Capturing the Essence" and finds inspiration in her wonderful family of barnyard personalities. If you don't yet know her work, check out her several blogs and online presence by beginning at this blog, Apifera Farm. In fact, you can still sign up for a little while yet for the online class, which will be at your disposal to work at your own pace until next summer.

We began the class by observing the animals in several poses and capturing the essence of the shape and movement through "gestural" drawings. We would overlap 2 or more gesturals by partially erasing the lines which were no longer relevant. This allows you "see" the movement.

After a series of gesturals, we would then do a more finished sketch of the animal in a single pose. This is Lucia, the donkey.

While it is intended that we work at our own pace, mine has been glacially slow. I think this is partly because, having done so well to begin, I am a bit intimidated by my own success. It makes me so happy to sit in front of the computer, watch the videos and draw with a simple conte crayon in a spiral sketch pad, that I am almost frozen with fear of moving to the next step. I don't think this had anything to do with the assignments ahead of me, it is more about my deep fear of art. I want it, I need it, but I may never fully eradicate the voice that tells me I am not good enough to have it.

Stevie, a goat crippled by neglect in a previous home, is  the subject of this gestural and the portrait sketch below. I love how he smiles at me with his wise eyes.

Having taken classes online for two years now and having had joy and success in each, I know I am capable. I know there is innate talent and I know  there is will to do, to learn, to express, to be interesting. But the fear always returns and puts on the brakes. My biggest obstacle to overcome at this moment, I think, is this need to label my efforts with a "grade". Unfortunately it is 60 years of socialization that says everything must be judged and compared to standards. Not a personal failing or obsession, but something build in to the machine. So I must keep reminding myself--I am no longer in "school". This learning environment is mine to determine the nature and rules, and I say: enjoyment should rule! Losing myself in the task should rule! And when today's play is done, put it aside with a kiss, and do some more tomorrow.

Rosie, the potbellied pig, is at the center of many of Katherine's daily farm adventures, and it was a privilege to capture her porcine beauty.

My assignment this week is to "evolve the drawing". With Katherine's guidance I will be making inroads into making a drawing something greater than a sketch and more personal than a "capture." I will be looking to express something deeper about myself and what drawing can mean for me. I'm very excited to be taking this step.