Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Snapshot of My Afternoon

Tumbledown is in shadow.

A single light illuminates my stovetop where a dozen tiny eggs hardboil in an enamel pan.

Outside, the once busy run is deserted, its hens hunkered down in fresh mounds of straw while trembling leaves overhead give evidence of the gentle rainfall….

And I stand inside at the dark door and watch it as I sip fragrant tea in a favorite cup and enjoy the rumbly thunder.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Shining Again!

A young mom with a stroller stopped at the end of my driveway today and took a picture of my chalk drawing from last Monday celebrating this week's very fickle sunshine. (It's still there; I'm surprised!)

Her toddler seemed unimpressed, but I suspect she was as cheered by today's in-again sun as I am. And that's saying something! (You heard it first: sometimes this Rainy Day girl just needs a little break.)

Here's wishing that today's happy sun is smiling down on you wherever you are. Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

My Head is Gonna Explode....

Thinking about you. Thinking about LIFE. Thinking about the planet. Thinking about EVERYthing.

So. Much. Thinking....

When the *boom* comes, it'll be epic....

When James came home early yesterday and found me staring into space, lost in some big-ass thoughts, he found me my shoes and my keys and my cap, pointed me in the direction of the studio, and sent me on my way. I'd been home for four straight days, trying to tidy up around here because there's just so much that needs doing. But even though I started out strong, I petered out fabulously and was pretty much just walking around in circles by that time, putting stuff in places where it didn't belong.

It doesn't help that there's the usual outdoorsy stuff now (garden tasks, chicken chores, etc.). In addition to the spring house- and yardwork, there's also the non-stop, stressful, Big News (every day's a new crisis!). Way too much to take in and process; my poor head's all over the map! So hiking to the studio yesterday was apparently just what I needed.

It was late in the day and the rush-hour traffic was loud, but I was able to ignore it as I walked slowly along the river in the shade of enormous cottonwoods, stopping to collect leaves and maple keys and to appreciate the spirea in bloom.... The art center was dark and silent when I arrived. I unlocked the door, breathed in the heady fragrance of paper and creativity, and sighed a big sigh. Of contentment, maybe. Relief.... In the few hours that I was there, I did nothing more than add to my sketchbook, really. (And it revealed to me some surprises, as always. Thank you, blank paper, for all that you do....)

And now today I'm ready. As soon as I press the 'publish' button on this entry, my shoes will be on their way again. North along the river walk, through the colorful tunnel, past the Four Silos and across the overpass, to the art center. To my Safe House, my sanctuary, my place where the world can't find me.

May I never ever run out of rent money. Ever.

Monday, April 10, 2017

And the Envelope Goes to....

Me and my Avery rocked the Crawl. (Thanks for your help, Avery!)
In my last post I wrote about my preparations for the North Artists Studio Crawl. And in this post I'll tell you how it went. (Spoiler: it was magickal.)

As prepared as I was for it, I got very little sleep the night before, as until nearly 5 a.m. the morning of the Crawl my head was a big old mess.

I'd decided earlier that day to try something unusual, something I first tried at Fest last season wherein I let people take Leaflings home with them for an exchange of whatever they personally thought was fair. Because I didn't want them to feel judged for their donation, I offered them a plain envelope at the time of the exchange and asked that they put in it whatever they wished and I wouldn't open the envelope until after the weekend. Also, I assured them that I wouldn't know which envelope they were responsible for because all the envelopes look the same and would get mixed together in my take-home bag so I wouldn't know whose was whose....

As you can imagine, the Fest 'experiment' was eye-opening. The Leaflings folks could choose from at that time weren't framed or anything; they were loose leaves that I'd individually embellished and carefully protected with a sealant. Each weekend after Fest I'd go home with about a dozen envelopes, and James would open them for me, mostly because of my rule to not personally take money for magick, but also because I was afraid to be disappointed.

Many of the envelopes contained single dollar bills. And many contained much more. As promised, I didn't know who was responsible for which particular envelope, except for the time a well-dressed woman chose four Leaflings and paid me in pocket change, and I only know that because I could hear it jingle as the coins were dropped in the envelope. At least two others refused to follow my rules and instead forced me to take their money (which happened to be a significant amount). And the only reason I could think of was that they didn't want their generous donation to be anonymous; they wanted me to know exactly who was responsible....

These delightful folks made my socks go up and down!
At the end of the Fest season, I was surprised at the amount my Leaflings brought in. What would have been just another ordinary year for me was significantly up for a change, and it was all due to the Leaflings and their magick.

It was then that I began to wonder what a whole year of similar exchanges would be like. Which is how I decided to make this year The Year of the Experiment.

The Art Crawl would be my first opportunity to try it out. But with only a few hours before the Crawl began, my head was all over the place about it. I wondered: what if no one 'got' what I was doing and why I was doing it?, what if I try to describe to people why it is that I make my Leaflings and my words don't make sense?, what if the Crawl goes by and no one takes a Leafling home?, or what if they're popular and afterward I discover that all the envelopes are empty??....

Friends visited. (Love you, Sue and Aina!)
I knew what I needed to make monetarily from that Art Crawl to break even, and I was confident that the Universe did, too. That morning as I hung the framed Leaflings on their display grid and fanned the individual ones out in their antique display case before the Crawl began, I made eye contact with each one. We had an understanding. And they had jobs to do. I trusted that each would make a connection with THE person meant to take it home, and in so doing that person would make a fair exchange.

I wasn't sure what to expect from an Art Crawl as I've never been part of one before.... I assumed a Crawl was meant to be more of a 'meet-and-greet-the-artist' and less of an opportunity to make a sale. Yet sales were made. A number of people understood how much my Leaflings meant to me and why I was creating them. And by the end of the day I had a dozen envelopes and some very rewarding memories of some very magickal interactions....

And more friends. (Love you, Suzanne!)
The next day was the same. Once again, friends visited to help me celebrate my first ever Art Crawl. I confused them with the whole envelope thing, but in most cases they obliged and indulged me.... My eldest grandbug, Avery, was there to help me that day and I was more focused on entertaining her than I was on selling my work. Still, at the end of the day I was surprised to discover that there were as many (or more) envelopes in my bag as there'd been the day before.

I crashed on Monday, as usual. And it wasn't until sometime that afternoon that I felt human enough to begin sorting through things from the weekend. And there was the stack of plain brown envelopes, waiting to be opened....

Just like after Fest, I planned to have James do the dirty work when he arrived home that evening. But then it occurred to me that I was separating myself from a very important step in my experiment, the part where I personally accept the exchange. If this was something I was going to do in future, I'd have to learn to carry the whole thing out from start to finish.

This classy lady made my day! (And this sassy kid did, too.)
So I poured myself another cup of coffee and sat down to that stack and prayed aloud over it. I promised the Universe that I'd be grateful for whatever came out of those envelopes. And the first envelope I opened made me cry. Not because it was so bad, but because it was so generous.

Opening the envelopes was humbling. There were a LOT of tears. And, not surprisingly, there was the Empty Envelope. I seem to recall an Empty Envelope last season at Fest, too. It was like a physical reminder to me to accept the bad and the good without judgment.

When I'd opened them all and tallied everything, it took my breath away. I was stunned. And so dang grateful that I cried. Because of those leaves and the effect they had on my visitors, I did more than just break even.

I also learned a LOT. And I was filled with hope.

Now as I look back on my experience, I can't help but read the signs and determine that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be right now, and doing exactly what I'm supposed to do. I couldn't have imagined this a year ago.

And it stuns me to think that this all began with one leaf.

And one wish.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

My First Ever Art Crawl

The North Artists Studio Crawl occurs this weekend. I've wanted to be a part of it for years, and now I am, and I invite you to attend

But I won't be displaying and sharing the kind of work I normally create. I'll be sharing something so close to my heart that I find it hard to talk about....

For at least a year I've felt 'called' upon to draw faces on leaves. It began not long ago when things like climate change and the current political administration began giving me anxiety attacks. Getting outside helped to calm me. And soon I was collecting leaves that 'spoke' to me and taking them home. 

Drawing faces on them soothed me. As I drew, I imagined each one absorbing my wishes for the planet (or the friend that was hurting, or the stranger that was afraid, etc.), and then I imagined it going on to spread its energy for Good as I released it back into the wild. (I originally wrote about doing this here: The Leafling Story. It was the start of something precious and humbling.)

For weeks now, in preparation for the Art Crawl, I've been creating leaflings like crazy, and then trying hard not to let them go. I've also begun to frame them. (Have I told you that it's been suggested that I frame them?)

I love how they look framed, and I think others will love them, too. But it's not been easy for me. By putting them under glass I feel like I'm trapping them somehow! And I know it's silly for me to feel this way; well-meaning friends have assured me that their magick will still be free to escape to do its thing. Still, I'm not 100% convinced.

Up until this morning I was busy papering frames and adding little hangers. And now today I'm sort of anxious.... Maybe it's because for once I'm rather prepared instead of burning the midnight oil before a show. Whatever the reason, I feel like I'm circling a big old panic attack. Not about the crawl itself! I'm excited about the crawl! And right now I should be typing in all caps and exclamation points about how excited I am, seeing as how I've WISHED for this.

No, there's other stuff contributing today to my mood. Stuff that's out of my control. It's coming from all directions, and it's making me want to take the leaflings that I've worked so hard on and put so much magickal energy into, break their frames, and release them to the wind.

Which is why I'm at home today and not at the studio, vacuuming and organizing like I should be doing. It's the only way to keep them safe for the weekend....

Those leaflings have big jobs to do and they know it -- I've written before about why I now make them and what I think they're meant to accomplish -- and I swear I can hear them shouting to me all the way from their frames at the Rum River Art Center. They're reminding me of that creative soul in ICU right now, fighting for life. And the stranger battling deep depression. And the friend who just lost her son. And the loved one undergoing chemotherapy. And the people without hope, the butterflies fighting extinction, the bees wasting away, and the planet that's raging against the human inhabitants determined to harm it, and the fill-in-the-blank(s).... So, so, SO much healing work to do! And they want to get started....

It's a constant struggle for me to shut the door on all that breaks my heart. I know I have to. And some days are worse than others. Sadly, today is one of them, and it couldn't come at a worse time as I've got tons to do to prepare for this event. Yet, all I want to do right now is draw on leaves and let them go.... To feel like I'm helping somehow.

Perhaps that's why I'm typing this; sending out a silly distress signal in hopes that a few folks will see it, identify with me, and show up this weekend. Not to view my art, necessarily, or even see my corny little wonder-filled delightful sanctuary studio space. But to exchange a hug. 

And to help share and spread the magick by taking home a leafling*.

Yes, I know they're just leaves. But they're magick. I know they are.

*Deep shaky breath*

What a tangent! Forgive me. This post was originally supposed to be about the Event, about how great it will be, and about how pleased I am to be a part of it. 

That being said, here are some links to the North Artists Studio Crawl (HERE) and a map (HERE) so that you can either find me or avoid me (haha). Fourteen studios in the North Metro area (with 32 featured artists) will be open to the public both Saturday and Sunday, April 1st and 2nd, from 10AM to 6PM. All the artists are amazingly creative, talented, and WAY more emotionally stable than I am. I promise. 

And I promise, too, that I'll get a dang grip by the time I see you there.

I promise.

*P.S. My leaflings are available for adoption. YOU get to determine what one is worth to you. Don't worry; I won't put you on the spot. Instead, I will hand you a plain envelope. You are then welcome to put an amount you're comfortable with inside the envelope while I'm packaging up your leafling. It will all be anonymous. Unless you really want me to, I'll have no idea what's inside the envelope (or who's responsible for it) until after the day's over.... Fair? I think so. :)

Friday, February 17, 2017

Thoughts of Spring

This week's been crazy springlike....

It's only mid-February, and all is nice (and warm!) enough for me to walk to the Studio --

-- with only a little puddlejumping.

Little green sprouts are even appearing in my gardens.

I'm sure this delightful weather won't last, right? It's Minne-snow-tah, after all.
And that's OK!

Because I'm not yet ready to stop enjoying winter.

I'm so grateful that I live where there are seasons!

What's it like where YOU are?

Friday, February 10, 2017

A Little Update

I'm currently over my eyebrows in a watercolor class that I'm in absolute love with, taught by a beautiful friend whose amazing work makes my socks go up and down. I'm easily the slowest student in her online course, I'm sure, probably because I'm completely out of my element there (ACK! Color!). But I've chosen to temporarily forget all that I've taught myself over the years and become a blank canvas (pun intended) and start from absolute scratch, as if I'm finally in Art School learning the basics....

But this class isn't the topic of my post. (I promise to give it equal time here so you can see how things are going.) I watch the lessons online and do my homework during studio time so as to be completely uninterrupted by housework and pets and fill-in-the-blank. That's been my plan all along, anyway, but I find that I'm still frequently interrupted. Only this time by leaves....

I'm pretty sure I'm spending precious class time on them because I'm anxious as hell.... So much is going on in the world right now that I'm really really not OK with, and I don't know what to do. I don't know how to help. I don't even know how to help MYSELF. The best I can come up with is to just breathe....

So when the real world intrudes in my head, calling a halt and just breathing has been a helpful reboot of sorts. But then I have to pick up again with something soothing that I am comfortable and familiar with.

When I'm 'leafing' (just coined this now and it makes me smile), time stops and a conversation starts. It's a convo at its most basic, between me and Everything Else.... It's like the Universe or whatever takes over and creates while my overactive brain enjoys a break, just floating in an imagined blackness like an untethered astronaut staring at stars and listening to the sounds of her breath.... I need to be in that peace for a bit before I can start entertaining thoughts again. Which might also explain why my class progress is slow....

My leaves are getting the paint treatment now because my watercolors are front and center at this time. The results please and soothe me. And I want to share them with you. What do you think?

(P.S.: Since writing last, I've received all sorts of Studio Name feedback (thank you!!). And I've been holed up in my wonder-filled spot at RRAC, drawing/painting on leaves and contemplating my choices.)