Monday, December 31, 2012

Wrapping up 2012

Wrapping up 2012                collage  eakf
Retrospective - (from the latin retrospectare "look back")

It is New Years Eve 2012 and as I sip a nutmeg laced eggnog I welcome the time to practice looking back to move forward with this retrospective ritual.
Holding a retrospective ritual is a very old idea. It has served the human species well, as stories of hunts are retold around campfires and stories of child rearing are shared as baskets are woven. It has survived this long because it works. It is a fundamental vehicle to discover, share, and pass along the learning from experience (aka- wisdom).
A calender year's end brings the desire to honor & celebrate the old year, made up of many individual "moments" and larger important events ~ all "the stuff" of our lives. So in my rearview mirror of 2012, I see that I have accomplished many of my creativity goals - from small step daily practices to a few larger challenges. I also actively followed the advise of my word for the year which was "Attend"!
It is rewarding to realize that focus and commitment can yield results. For me this year has been one of creativity growth and I celebrate that as I now look ahead to continue the journey.

"A journey of 1000 miles must begin with a single step" ~ Lao Tzu

What do you see in your rearview mirror ?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Mind the Gap

Introduced in 1969 on the London Underground - "Mind the Gap" signs & audio serve as a caution of a possible larger than normal gap (space) between the platform & train in certain areas of the system. Over time, this phrase has been adopted in Metros around the world.
I use it here to help me begin to bridge the gap in time since my last blog post, and to establish a new energy as I blog forward. Of course, life & some Art continued to happen during the "space", with the most significant piece being my decision to retire from teaching in the formal education system. As of June 4, 2012, I am retired ( Oh my !) I admit to mixed feelings here, as I will miss the wonders of a classroom, BUT am very ready to give up plan books, grading, testing, and early morning alarm clocks !!
So, I now stand at a crossroad with new thresholds before me, and am excited to have time to develop "back burner" ideas and head in the direction of my dreams...... hope you stay posted.

Where are you on your path ?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Freizeit ( free time )

Vacation - n.  an intermission of activity, employment, or stated exercises, as for recreation or rest; a holiday.
Watercolor sketchbook page                                          Aug 2011 ~  eakf   
     Some thoughts on the value of spending time "unplugged". ~
By vacating "the routine" and for a time not answering to a schedule, the calender, the clock .... and having little to no connection to phone, computor, or TV, can be rehabilitating for mind, body, & spirit. It becomes a refreshing time for renewal & discovery (maybe even some re-definition too).
     At first it is a bit disorienting (kind of a withdrawal) because we are often so much more pressed into the places of our routines than we realize. But then, there is this wonderful release ( eine fliegen frei ~ a free flight ) from pressure -- like a lifting from heavy weights and growing wings at the same time.
       I spent such time this August while on vacation on Florida's East Coast. Leisure reading, sketchbooking (above page example), beach walking, along with some fine dinning marked the time. We also enjoyed 4 days of family time when our sons joined us , and tho the pace picked up - we  stayed "unplugged"with our activities.
      I am once again back into routines, work schedules, etc., but find myself able to tap into the insights gained during that centering experience to maintain some balance. Mainly, it is about releasing the inconsequential while keeping the important  as you walk through each day. So, if an opportunity opens for you to "be unplugged" for a time ~ give yourself that gift.

 "Rest is not idleness and to lie sometimes on the grass
 on a Summer Day listening to the murmur of water,
 or watching the clouds float across the sky, 
is hardly a waste of time"       ~ John Lubbock

Today is the Fall Equinox ~ a change of season ~ Happy Autumn !!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Roots N' Shoots Color

What once was white ..... 
"Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth......" ~Budda
.....dye baths at work        2010   eakf

I find it interesting to watch how all manner of things trend & cycle. Currently, I am following the surge/expansion in Fiber Arts ~ both in how fibers & fabrics are produced, altered, or prepped, as well as how they are then incorporated into Art.
   For one thing, I am happy to see the renewed interest in using natural dyes (Earth Hues) and the integration of fibers & fabrics into innovative mixed media explorations. I like that artists (from all walks) are crossing old lines between Art categories, and continually improving/developing techniques while still preserving original foundations of same. A look at natural dyes and their history helps illustrate this nicely. (There are a number of great new books out on this)
   We know that pigments from the earth (and it's kingdoms) supplied the first "art mediums" and that over time, as now, man - the innovator - learned more &  more about culling colors from Nature's bounties. As children we all had clues to this, as we returned home with grass stained knees after a visit to the playground or berry stained fingers from a"pick your own" field adventure.
   I have enjoyed altering colors of both paper & fibers off & on over the years; most recently this past fall, when I did a unit on natural dyes at school. To watch the students react to seeing a bag of papery dry onion skins become a dye bath that turned white cloth into subtle but lovely golden to rosy hues was very rewarding. Then to incorporate those materials into an art work - even better!
   So, even if you have no desire to begin to forage & harvest roots & shoots (and petals, nuts, fruits etc) ~ next time there is a bit left in the coffee or tea pot ~ what say you put it in a container, add heavy paper or a cut of cloth & see what you get ...... then ....... see where it takes you!
   ~ and always remember ~
"As the sun colors flowers, so does Art color life"  ~ John Lubbock

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ripples & Reflections

  "A water surface of glass
    Mirrors the surround
    Stirred by a web foot"     ~ Haiku   eakf 
Reflections            Woodlands photo                   Billy '05
Time spent at a water's edge has to be one of the great pleasures. Seaside, lake or river matters not, as it is the water itself that calls us ~ like mythical sirens ~ to it's beauties & mysteries.
Water provides refreshment, recreation, relaxation (think of waterfalls or crashing wave music here), meditation, and inspiration in our leisure time.
And then there are those COLORS ! Kind of mystical because we all know that as a substance, water is clear (colorless) and yet ~ some kind of magic happens ~ some mix of elements from under it's surface and around it's shores with the addition of Solar power from above ~ and we have the awesome spectrums of jewel tone blues to greens of the Caribbean to the icy Arctic's laser bright whites, silvered grays and deep indigos.
Back to the surface, and viewing it as a canvas for contemplation, we are drawn to the beautiful water patterns made by reflections & movement. Who of us hasn't tried our hand at skipping a stone across a pond just to see the ripples & rings we create? Or watched in fascination how wildlife in & on the water interact with it's surface? Picture the Pelican soaring in V-formation over the ocean and then diving to shatter the crest of a wave or the majestic swan gliding gracefully across the lake, leaving wonderful pattern in it's wake.
So many opportunities for "Reflections" of the contemplative kind are also offered to us at a waters edge. A chance for careful consideration of things around us by gazing straight at a thought,  listening carefully, and noticing the edges & the ripples of ideas and concepts.

                    "Four ducks on a pond
                     A grass-bank beyond
                     A blue sky of spring
                  White clouds on the wing ~
          What a little thing to remember for years.."     ~ William Allingham 

Where is YOUR "Pond"? What kind of "Ripples" do you create?
Take time to sit and wonder.........

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dragonfly Power (aka The Power of Influence)

"Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may not remember; involve me and I will understand"
~ Native American Proverb
Zen Odonata    8"x8" scratchboard    eakf
Earlier this week I enjoyed the very special experience of re-connecting with a powerful influence from my past. The desire to do this began in 2007 during my 12 week journey through The Artist's Way  ( J. Cameron). In week one of this course, you are tasked to use "Time Travel" exercises to explore your past for both the positive & negative influences on you as a creative. Once identified, you are then encouraged to send a thank you note to a long-lost mentor.
OK ~ So the name instantly on top of my list was Kay Walking Stick, one of my Art professors in college. I was lucky to have Kay for more than one studio course, and from day one she was magic for me. She is of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and her style, her Art and her heart all reflected that communion with the Spirits ...... and, like a Totem ( mine is Odonata ~ the Dragonfly), she empowered me.
She had the capacity to push & pull so much more out of me than I knew was there ( in those early days of being creative). I still often "feel" her hand literally pulling me back by the collar when I got too close to my easel and therefore fell into my intense-detailed mode (a NO NO left brain place).
    In 07, I researched to see if she still lived and where, but it was only a few days ago that I finally composed and sent her an e-mail. I had NO expectations to hear back - after all I was a student of hers 35 years ago !! Imagine my extreme delight when she answered with a lovely ( so her style ) e-mail. Oh, did I mention that over these last 35 years she earned a Doctoral degree, taught Art for 17 years at Cornell and has her Art all over the country ? This "connection exercise" has been rewarding and energizing, and I am thankful that I finally did this.

So ~ Who is in your Hall of Champions? What sources have given you creative power? I would suggest that it is time well spent to reflect a bit on this, to re-connect with positives from your past, and be in communion with the Spirit.   May the force be with you........

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Wedding of Heaven & Earth

"What ever you dream on this night will come to pass." ~ William Shakespeare  A Midsummer's Night Dream
Stonehenge @ Summer Solstice

Awed by the great power of the sun, civilizations have for centuries celebrated the first day of summer. Sol + stice from the Latin words meaning "sun" and "stand still" reflects the observation of lengthening daylight, and a big bright sun high in the sky.

Back to the idea of Primitive Wisdom ( previous post ) it is again early man who, in trying to make sense of his world, gives us interesting insights for this celestial ocurance. Ancient pagans (world wide) found this day to be a reason to celebrate ...... light, love & growth. Notable revelers in the west were the Celts, Slaves & Druids and from the east, the Chinese, each with unique festivals/ practices & rituals. Common to each, though, were the presence of big fires, dancing, garlands of flowers & herbs, and food & drink.
It was the Druids' who dubbed the day as "the Wedding of Heaven & Earth" with the most spiritual location being at Stonehenge; other pagans called the Midsummer moon the "Honey Moon" for the mead made from fermented honey that was part of wedding ceremonies performed at the Summer Solstice ( leading to todays idea of June Brides having good luck ), while across the globe, the Chinese were honoring Li, the goddess of Light. Most believed that their celebrations and the use of big bon fires would help to increase the sun's energy which was so critical to early mans survival.

So in the spirit of the day... I wish you all enlightenment, and joy and encourage you to dance or look  into the heart of a flower and appreciate the power of the sun.
~ Happy Solstice and Sweet Dreams.