Monday, December 29, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
So this year...
The action shot...PK planting the terrarium
We'll see how these bog plants manage in the arctic tundra land that is our apartment...
A little odd, yes, but it sure beats another scented candle, eh?
Friday, December 26, 2008
Jason deCaires Taylor recently created the world's first underwater sculpture park in Grenada, West Indies. His sculptures are created from materials that encourage underwater life to colonize and change them; the ecosystem itself is part of the sculpture, and the interaction of the two dramatizes the transformative nature of life. There is something haunting about these works, all cast from real people, all located in the ethereal underwater of the Caribbean sea. I can imagine what it must be like to dive among them-how fragile one might feel in the shifting water and soundless light.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Their old, familiar carols play,
"On the first day of winter,
the earth awakens to the cold touch of itself.
Snow knows no other recourse except
this falling, this sudden letting go
over the small gnomed bushes, all the emptying trees.
Snow puts beauty back into the withered and
into the death-wish of nature and the deliberate way
winter insists on nothing less than deference.
waiting all its life, snow says, "Let me cover you."
- Laura Lush, The First Day of Winter
Monday, December 22, 2008
Then out of the night
came the shadow stalker, stealthy and swift;
the hall-guards were slack, asleep at their posts,
all except one; it was widely understood
that as long as God disallowed it,
the fiend could not bear them to his shadow-bourne.
One man, however, was in a fighting mood,
awake and on edge, spoiling for action.
In off the moors, down through the mist-bands
God-cursed Grendel came greedily loping.
The bane of the race of men roamed forth,
hunting for prey in the high hall.
Under the cloud-murk he moved towards it
until it shone above him,
a sheer keep of fortified gold....
And a little Hardanger Fiddle Music always seems to set the mood...
"Dervish" by Dan Trueman, linked from the HFAA website
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;
And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter
Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,
Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place
For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is."
- Wallace Stevens, Snow Man
Sunday, December 21, 2008
In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen,
Snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter,
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
These are some more photos from our yard the day after the ice storm that swept through and ravaged our small town, evidence once again that danger is so often quite beautiful. PK took the photos of the berries and twigs below just as the ice was starting to melt, and just before we lost power for a few days. We finally have power back, and are once again encased in our protective cocoon of technology. But for a brief few days, we read and played music by candlelight, huddled under blankets as the temperatures plummeted in the house, and froze our food outside in the garage. We paid close attention to the world around us, waiting to see if the pipes would freeze, or if we'd lose all the vegetables we'd gathered and prepared from the garden. For a moment we were reminded of how good we have it these days...and how easy it would be to lose it all.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Words I will try to use more often in describing other people's artwork, courtesy of Roget's International Thesaurus: 'impassioned','ecstatic', 'feverish', 'discomposed', 'in a dither', 'heave', 'pant', 'tremble', 'go hog wild', 'overpower', 'overmastered', 'wonder', 'marvel', 'thunderstruck', 'awestruck', 'stupefy', 'transcendent', and possibly 'rapt'.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
I’ve been working on some projects lately that have made me focus on the product, and the process has been something that I’ve had to rush and pinch back and otherwise force into uncomfortably small amounts of time in order to meet my deadlines. I haven’t had a day when I could just go out and bang my figurative metal into interesting shapes for a while, and I think I’m going to make that the focus of my post-holiday break. It seems like when I take the time to just play around with things, that’s where inspiration, and imagination and creativity just let loose---and often trickle into all the other parts of my life. I’m thinking of playing with some sculptures in snow and ice, something temporary, something where I can play all day with form, then come inside for a hot cuppa and think about nothing in particular but how interesting the morning has been…and just see where that takes me…
In the meantime, here's some interesting inspiration from british sculptor Andy Goldsworthy
Image: "Reconstructed Icicle"
More can be found here: http://www.goldsworthy.cc.gla.ac.uk/
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
I'm making our Christmas cards this year, and spent this morning working through some design ideas, finding text to accompany it, playing in paint and apparently, providing lots of amusement for the dog. It's dark and cold and rainy outside, and one of those days when we all just want to huddle around the stove and the teakettle. It would be a good day for soup and grilled cheese sandwiches and bread making and other wholesome, earthy things, but I think I'll take a little trip out into the woods, and see how the wilds are faring on this bleak November day.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
This quote from Wade Davis resonates with me right now as I think about my students and the words they use to talk about their lives. In the same interview where I saw this quote (found here http://ascentmagazine.com/articles.aspx?articleID=59&page=read&subpage=past&issueID=19 ) Davis also mentions that more than half of the world's 6,000 languages are no longer actively spoken, and likely to become extinct during the current generation. What does this mean for the future of our planet and our cultural diversity? I've always felt of two minds whenever travelling somewhere different from my own world--I've been fascinated by what I encounter, by the exchange of stories and ideas, by the incredible commonalities in the human spirit that made me able to have a conversation with a woman on the side of the road in a desert in northern Kenya, despite the fact that neither of us knew the other's words. But along with that fascination and the desire to explore all that other cultures have to offer was the bleak knowledge that ours was an exchange, and I brought my own American image into the desert with me, and left behind an impression, and material goods, that contribute to the homogenization of globalized culture. I'm trying to reconcile how I feel about this.
I think a lot about language as a way to visualize the changes in world cultures; English is the result of merging of Anglo-Saxon and French, Latin and Old Norse, all these other languages that adapted over time. It's changing still, and we discard as many words a year as we add. If I don't feel too sad about losing the cadences of Elizabethan English, why should I feel sad when this merging happens on a worldwide scale?
I've developed a little academic crush on Wade Davis this month as I read his works on the concept of the Ethnosphere. He approaches the topic with a better grasp of globalization than I have right now, and a little less sentimentality... some of his thoughts can be found in this really interesting keynote speech for the Interinstitutional Consortium for Indigenous Knowledge http://www.ed.psu.edu/icik/2004Proceedings/section7-davis.pdf
And his zombie book is good too.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
"I told you I wasn't there. I remember because I was writing poetry that whole day."
Uh huh...I've heard that one before slick...
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Creativity radio. Way cool....
Saturday, September 27, 2008
The Verdict? Not too shabby.
I had a few goals when we first started to talk about trying to structure our lives differently, and I feel like I’m making a lot of progress. I’m doing a much more creative job in which I write and challenge myself daily. Some day I might even get paid for it—but one step at a time! I’ve learned how to throw a pot, started playing around with photography, and put up a few bookshelves in an attempt to get more organized. I’ve started thinking more about approaching the world in a mindful way-walking softly and with heightened awareness. A good start, in all.
PK has had a good year too. He’s looking into selling his photographs. Ditto the pottery, which he has an amazing talent for. He invented an incredible card game, and has ventured into woodworking some more. All on the list of goals…
But most importantly, we have kept the dialog open about how to live more creative lives, and it hasn’t slipped under the floorboards and disappeared like so many other goals in life seem to do. We have a way to go—to learn more balance so work doesn’t eat away the hours we’d rather be painting, among other things.
And I’m sure PK would love to see me find a way to think about these things at more civilized hours. Baby steps…
Sunday, September 21, 2008
I have had very intense (flow) experiences while reading books where my imagination has gone into overdrive, I’ve imagined noises, practically felt the rain of a hurricane, or smelled the burning fires of a city under siege. Once we are done the reading experience, or the real experience, all this is shuffled into our minds, filed away under different subheadings. What happens when those memories get mixed up? I have sometimes started to tell a story I heard from someone only to realize that it wasn’t the result of a conversation I had, but a book I read. Is that just early senility, or a sign that perhaps this memory thing is trickier than we thought?
There are a lot of layers to this line of thought I’ve been chasing lately (and, I’ll admit, even a few diagrams I had to draw to get things straight in my brain)…not sure where it will end up…but it's an interesting line of inquiry.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
Sometimes I'm not sure I should really be allowed to be an adult...
Saturday, September 6, 2008
A small boy with messy blond hair and an annoying smirk on his face suddenly appears in the aisle and says to me, with a sneer "yeah, except that's DURIAN fruit***, duh"
Now, two things go through my head. One, I know a stinking durian fruit popsicle when I see one, and I was definitely talking about melon bars thank-you-very-much, and TWO, what sort of child runs around Asian markets saying snotty things to strangers anyway? I, however, put my new yoga training to work, took some deep breaths and restrained from making any snarky comments at all. Instead, I fixed him with my "teacher look", grabbed my MELON bars, and calmly walked away. I feel so proud of myself for behaving...
*a frozen treat made from musk melon that will send you into spasms of happiness just from smelling it, not to mention actually eating one...
**my good friend who has recently moved to Nantucket, where, tragically, there are no melon bars.
***Not a melon, durian fruit has a scary spiny exterior, and is supposed to smell like rotting human flesh, but taste like vanilla custard. No thanks, durian popsicle makers...http://www.durian.net/
And what kind of kid knows what the hell a durian fruit is, anyway?
From the kitchen come loud scuffling sounds, kind of like someone wrestling with a milk jug
WA-what the hell was that?
PK- That was the *!@*#!! cat. If my eyes would open I'd kick her A#@#@#>
3:00am The noises resume at increased intervals, this time accompanied by intermittent meowing noises
WA- But that doesn't sound like the cat
WA- (gets up, noises stop and discovers the cat sleeping in the living room.)
Cat- (Opens one eye)- Stop looking at me!
WA to PK- I can't find anything.
PK- Every time I go she hides. I'm not getting up again.
WA-I don't think its the cat-she's not clever enough to pull off a fake nap so fast.
The noises continue for hours.
PK- I hate the cat
WA- That's it. I've had it.
(she gets up, gets dressed and turns on all the lights. PK follows. No source of the noises is discovered. As WA searches the area of the Tupperware, PK makes a discovery in the blinds at the top of the kitchen window.)
This is not our cat. This is some other random cat who snuck into our house somehow. A cat extraction took place, during which PK was too busy laughing to document the event.
Sadly, this happened the night following a discussion I had in one of my classes about using non-linear thought in problem solving. As I was focused first on the idea that the cat was behind the noises, and second, that the noises could only be coming from the pile of Tupperware in the corner, PK was scanning the whole room for things that looked out of place. Score one point for the engineer for thinking on a higher plane!
Note to self: Maybe you should focus more on actually listening to what happens in classes instead of staring out the window and wondering if you'll have good waves for paddle surfing the next day. You never know when you might actually use this stuff...
Monday, September 1, 2008
Yesterday I hiked a small mountain up north, and noticed the first birches turning yellow all along the rivers. Right now they are scattered in the hillsides and swampy areas, but it won't be long before even our quiet little town bursts with color. This is my favorite time of year for so many reasons. I get overwhelmed with the beauty of the trees, and the frost and the way everything bends when the fall winds whip through. I love pulling my sweaters out of the closet and bundling up against the evening chill, and huddling before campfires before crawling into frost-touched tents. We still have several kayak trips planned, barring northerly hurricane trends, and I can't wait to be out on the islands, where the reds of the island oaks merge into the gray-green sea. This is a wild time of year, and with it I can feel my brain coming awake again after the lazy, hot days of summer. Last week alone I had 6 deep thoughts, and I think there might be more on the way...at the very least I feel posts brewing in the back of my mind...
Monday, August 25, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
This past weekend I remembered how much fun it is to just tool around with the camera and take black and white photos. Most of them aren't keepers, but I got a chance to relax and just play with shades. I always seem to see an improvement in my sketching after exercising a bit with BW. It tunes me back in to the shades of the world, helps block out the colors and the confusion. It's also fun to do when the hot afternoon light bleaches out colors, but renders shadows sharp and dramatic. I was bracketing the photos, playing around with some boundaries, and for some reason I just like all the overexposed images much better, particularly of the beach rocks below. Trippy.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Today the dog and I headed out for a walk in a local wildlife reserve. I had an inspiring moment and thought I'd take some pictures of a salt marsh I'd like to do some paintings of. Besides, it was sunny out, something which hadn't happened in many a day. Then these clouds came. At first I looked at them and, in total denial of reality, I said to the dog "I think they'll pass just north of us, let's go!" In fact, the movement I witnessed seems to have been some kind of clockwise spin, because as we entered the woods, the heavens opened up, and lo, did it pour rain down upon us!
And yet, I didn't turn around and head back to the car. Instead, I kept walking, even though the rain was so heavy I couldn't see; the water poured down my face in thick rivulets and steam rose off my clothing as the cold rain hit my warm flesh. Instead of cursing the fact that its rained every bloody day for weeks on end, usually just as I was about to go out and do something fun, I accepted the rain. The pup was already a few steps ahead of me in this, and was happily frolicking in the mud along the path. I didn't get my pictures of the salt marsh, but I did get a few wild, wind-whipped moments of storm--much better, I think.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
I've spent the summer navigating the murky waters of both my creative self and the San Diego coast. These Leopard Sharks proved easier to find than creative inspiration this past month or so, but I have been newly motivated by the brief change in scenery and the onslaught of new sights and sounds...the month of August is mine to play with, and my projects include work for the upcoming school year, a creative writing piece and a series of sketches and photographs of local underwater life...
Saturday, June 7, 2008
I've been absorbed in an interesting project this week- a friend gave me this beautiful stained glass wind chime for my birthday, but every time I looked at it, the row of thin copper chimes seemed misplaced- too orderly for a wildflower, I think. So I got hold of some copper sheets and made these tiny leaves that hang off a twisted wire stem. When the wind catches them they flutter like aspen leaves- a visual wind chime that I think more closely captures the spirit of the original piece.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Saturday, May 17, 2008
1) Remember to actually pack your camera in your backpack when you are going to be somewhere that you might want to take pictures. This will dramatically increase your trips to pictures ratio and give you something other than words to post on your blog.
2) When you do actually have your camera and are trying to use it while you are wearing sunglasses and are marvelling at the beautiful way the blue of the islands on the horizon blends and fades into the brown of the shore, you should remember that those are the colors in the land of Chilis, and not the actual real world around you.
That is all.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
I'm almost done with my finals-just a paper and an exam between me and sweet freedom. I'm actually pretty excited about the paper, because it's a prelude to a project I'm planning on working on this summer. My grandmother's aunt was a wonderful diary keeper, and I have diaries that cover about 60 years of her life, from the late 1800s on, every single day...an impressive accomplishment, and one that absolutely fascinates me. They are fragile leather bound books often smaller than an index card with a page a day...her tiny spider writing is faded and wispy, sometimes it's hard to make out the words. Sometimes I wish there was more room per page, so she could have written more than a hint of what happened in her day.
I know there is a book in there somewhere...my job this summer is to make the fist step towards finding out what that story is, and how I want to progress with it. I feel energized thinking about this project, and can't wait to finish up my loose ends to get on with the next big thing...
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
(these were once my favorite pajamas..until one winter when they fell out of the laundry basket and landed in the parking lot of my old apartment building, where they were run over by my neighbor approximately 5000 times. I wondered at their disappearance for months...then the spring thaw came and this is the horror that awaited me)
Saturday, May 3, 2008
on MSN, and found myself alternating between feeling highly irritated with and completely ambivalent about the human species. While the article was written slightly tongue-in-cheek, the underlying attitude, that you can purchase the right expensive pieces of equipment and "become" an artist, rubbed me the wrong way. There's nothing wrong with using gadgets like this to release your inner creative self. Not everyone feels like they are ready to draw or paint, and in my opinion, creative expression comes in many forms. BUT, how many people won't get the snarky undertone and will instead buy into the idea that they can purchase creativity? Aren't things like this the first step (or perhaps the 100th) towards a society where even creative expression is bland, cookie cutter, and meaningless?
Why do we think we can just buy something and magically transform ourselves into someone else? Nothing good can come of this...
This spotted turtle picture is by David Carroll, naturalist/illustrator and recent recipient of a MacArthur genius grant, http://www.davidmcarroll.com/david.htm . I have a print by him of a spotted salamander on my study walls, and as it rains today I keep thinking of all the little creatures about to try and cross the road as part of some perilous rite of passage. When it rains near my parents' house the little red efts come out in droves, to get to the other side where, I suppose, the grass is always greener and the ponds have tastier weeds. Isn't that the way of it?
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Sunday, April 27, 2008
The other type of art is what I've been working on most lately. I've been gravitating towards art that involves loss of control at some stage of the process. Gardening, watercolor painting, pottery--all involve the artist setting the stage for the final piece, then backing away and watching what forms. In our garden there is one corner where I created a nice cutting garden---but this spring the bergamot and primroses have spread like crazy, and a few of the cutting flowers have succumbed to winter's chill. It's a totally different place from last year, and I can choose to either spend money and time to wrestle it back to what I originally wanted it to be, or watch and see what this new garden becomes as the season progresses.
With pottery, I created forms and dipped them in glazes, but during the firing process the clay shrunk, the glazes spread and interacted with one another, and what came out looks very different from what I thought it would be--not bad, just unexpected. And the same thing happens every time I pick up my watercolors. The pigment drips and slides across the page in barely controlled chaos, sometimes producing magical results, sometimes puddling into a muddy mix.
Somehow I'm becoming more comfortable with all this chaos in my art. I think I have to be, or I will be unhappy with anything I produce. Just as the act of creating it takes on an increased importance in my life, the act of appreciating the unexpected must also become something sacred. So I'll be doing minimal restructuring in the cutting garden this year. I'm going to go with the flow and add in a hummingbird feeder...and just see what happens...