Sunday Selections

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What if the heart cracks like a seed, 
needing to be opened to grow? Then 
how do we understand what comes 
pouring out? Does pain turn into a 
small root? Does grief if watered start 
to break ground? It does no good to tell 
someone broken that they will become a 
flower. No one believes this while lost in 
the dark, anymore than creatures of the 
night can believe that there’s a festival 
of life making up the day. But this is 
the work of faith, the faith that moves 
like song and blood beneath our wounds: 
to believe that we are more than what is 
done to us. It’s true. I’ve lost everything 
more than once, each a devastation. Yet 
each in time grew me into who I was to 
be. I can’t explain or offer conclusions. 
Just know that we’re surprised into being. 
Like divers who open the treasure just 
as they’re running out of air, we’re 
forced to let go of what we want 
in order to live another day.

– Mark Nepo, “The Festival of Life”

Playing

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I am taking Heather Plett’s Mandala Discovery e-course this month and it has let me explore my word of the year (artist) in a whole new way. The mandala above and the detail below were my response to the first prompt: play. Play! My boys do it all day long. But me? Play is hard. Well, I don’t know if that is completely true. Play is easy, but unhooking from the ideas in my head of what play should look like, how I should be doing it, and all the other shoulds banging around up there – that is not easy. When I first saw this prompt, I knew I wanted to do something different from the mandalas I had been drawing. I also knew I wanted to up my scale and go from a 5-inch circle to a whopping 12-inch circle. A foot in diameter seemed like an endless wasteland when I first trimmed the paper and drew my outline. (And just as an aside, Tara Mohr has a book all about playing big that has been on my mind lately. This interview she did with Jamie Ridler was excellent.)

I thought about collaging the mandala – which is my first love and honestly the way I tried to create my first-ever mandala. {B.A.D.} And I’m not just talking about aesthetics here – I just could not get my head around how you were supposed to get paper that is essentially made up of straight edges to fit in a circle. The levels at which my mind remains trapped is slightly embarrassing. Anyway, my initial idea for collaging a ‘play’ mandala was to cut up an art catalog and use images of paints and brushes and pastels and such. When I reflected on this later, I realized that would have been a twice-removed facsimilie of what play is – a representation of the very things I would like to be playing with. Thankfully, I didn’t get stuck there and just decided to go for it.

I ripped up a bunch of colorful scrap papers to form a base and then painted on top of that. I still had the idea that I should draw some kind of design, because drawing had become synonymous with mandalas for me. So I took a deep red oil pastel and drew a scalloped design along the outer edge. When I finished the loop around, I realized I hated it. One great thing about oil pastels is that you can wipe them off – especially on a surface slick with paint and mod-podge. As I started wiping, the color started to smear into itself. The hard edges of the scallops disappeared and I was left with a ring of soft red. THIS was a whole new ballgame. I played with every oil pastel I had, creating radiant rings of color, drawing on top of this mess and then taking a bamboo skewer and carving lines and words into the wax that had accumulated.

Hello, Play! Lovely to meet you. IMG_0591

Sunday Selections

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Everything in nature invites us constantly to be what we are. We are often like rivers: careless and forceful, timid and dangerous, lucid and muddied, eddying, gleaming, still. Lovers, farmers, and artists have one thing in common, at least – a fear of “dry spells,” dormant periods in which we do no blooming, internal droughts only the waters of imagination and psychic release can civilize. All such matters are delicate of course . . . In his journal Thoreau wrote, “A man’s life should be as fresh as a river. It should be the same channel but a new water every instant.”

– Gretel Ehrlich, “On Water”, The Solace of Open Spaces

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This post by Barn Raised and this one by Hali Karla made me pause this week and pick up Ehrich’s book. Both felt like a cool drink of water.

Sunday Selections

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The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.
The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.
We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.
It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.
At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.
Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children.
They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.
This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.
Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror.
A place to celebrate the terrible victory.
We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.
At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.
Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.
– Joy Harjo, “Perhaps the World Will End at the Kitchen Table”

Full Pink Moon

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The Full Pink Moon asks, what dreams need tending? I found this dream board harder to put together than the others, and even considered stopping this practice or at least skipping this month. However, I kept my art journal open with a few images scattered around all last week. Nothing was rising to the top and I couldn’t get my head around the word “tending”. I forget what images I had combined on the right hand page, but they just weren’t working. I went through my pile of tear sheets again and “Joie” came up front and center. I have hinted at my need to find my joy again (especially in regard to homeschooling) and building a dream collage around this word was incredibly insightful. I think I put this together last Thursday or Friday. On Saturday, I met with my spiritual director and joy came up again as one of the themes in our session (oh, in addition to control and fear . . . ahem). It may look like just gluing random bits in a book, but I know it to be more than that. Much, much more.

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Here is a fun free printout of the lunar cycles for 2015 that also gives some guidance in working with intentions and dreams in relation to the phases of the moon. Good stuff. Jamie Ridler is the one who started me on this process of creating dream boards with the full moon. Here is a retrospective of the ones I’ve made so far: Full Cold Moon, Full Wolf Moon, Full Snow Moon, Full Worm Moon.