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.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Primitive Wisdom

"It came upon my mind to clear........." - Anne Gillis
Ancient Echos I ~ watercolor sketch 2011 ~ eakf
~ that to go forward we must first go back !

Why are we often drawn to the past ~ seeking to unlock the mysteries of the ancients & their ways ? What were their lives really like ? and perhaps, most importantly, how did they "make sense" of the wonders & perils of the world around them ?

  What Primitive Wisdom did they call upon ?
In researching this and drawing inspiration from the early marks of man still found (globally) etched & stained into cave walls & rock faces ~ like ancient echos ~ a new series of ATC's are now in the works.
One significant "primitive wisdom" insight for me kept emerging in the idea of "Listening Deeply".
 Seeking answers & direction in any area of one's life is all about listening deeply to ........ a higher power, our true inner selves, and the ecological web (including fellow man). So this series of ATC's, though simple & primitive, will hold that message. Have you tried your hand at ATC's yet ? Are you ready to "trade" ?  :)  Either way, I'll sign off today with another thought provoking echo from the past ~

"Wisdom begins in Wonder "  ~ Socrates

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Creativity Windows

"Creativity is a lot like looking at the world through a kaleidoscope..."  
~Rosabeth Kanter
ATC's - 2011  "Nature Sings" edition         eakf

The idea of looking through; into or out of something  has always intrigued me. Physically~ windows or portals provide us these opportunities while also allowing light to pass through. Metaphorically, it is a quick step to the ideas of illumination and visualization as linked with creativity and all those times of inspiration, serendipity and "ah ha's". 
I welcome all opportunities to explore both new windows of creativity as well as revisiting those views familiar to me.
Recently I attended a demo & hands on session about ATC's ( Artist Trading Cards). This was not a new window for me as I first tried my hand at ATC's in 2007 during my 12 week study of The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. Was fun to again play with creativity in that form.
ATC's are essentially miniature Art works with the only guidelines being a standard size of  2.5 X 3.5 in. and that they are produced for personal enjoyment or "trading" with fellow artists only. Otherwise it is a wide open window. My personal preference is to work in a series and produce editions (usually sets of 12). The set featured above is from my dragonfly power series, which is nature inspired. I am also working on an edition from my coffeehouse series, which is a look at Human Nature.
Why don't you give it a try and then let me know if you wish to trade :) For sure, I encourage you to take advantage of all "Windows" in your life as to not miss any "Views" !! 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sweet May Mornings

"While earth herself is adorning this sweet May morning..." ~ W Wordsworth

Already half way through this sweet month of May. Busy - busy at school with end of year events, grades, portfolios etc. BUT - still able to enjoy so many perfect days. Landscapes all abloom, beautiful weather ( tho we could use some rain at night :) ) and so many Beatrix Potter mornings in our backyard habitat. As our perennials emerge and flower theses past few weeks, we have also planted our annuals for both added color and to help nurture our pollinators. At our feeding stations we are going through seed and nectar much faster then norm and are rewarded by evidence of a number of nesting pairs. We have witnessed fledglings & juveniles for Cardinals, Purple Finches, and Downy Woodpeckers for sure. It is so interesting to watch as these babies learn the" how to's" of their species. One of the funniest sightings is to watch the young finches try to land on and feed from the nectar feeders ...... not only do they teeter precariously as they try to perch, but their thick seed cracking beaks can not "sip" any nectar - yet they keep trying. Another sweet sighting was a "dad" Downy actually feeding a fledgling on the suet feeder. Dad would grab some seed & suet, soften it up and then feed junior.
   Watching from my kitchen window or sitting quietly on the back porch and feeling connected to all of the life in the green space - even for just a few minutes - is such a source of joy as well as an immediate stress reliever.  Then there is the inspirational value, which shows up in both my writings and my Art !!
   I offer you these words from an old Welsh verse and encourage you to find some joy "amid the woods"~

"An angel mid the woods of May~
Embroidered it with radiance gay~
That gossamer with gold bedight~
Those fires of God - those gems of light. "

Friday, April 22, 2011

Metamorphosis & Earth Day

Metamorphosis ~ from the Greek word for "transformation" ~ is a biological process of marked changes in form & physical appearance from the immature to the adult. This often happens in stages like the complete metamorphosis of Lepidoptera.

Yesterday, April 21,2011, was a marker day :) Not only did it mark 32 years of marriage for me, but also it marked the completion of a metamorphosis. Yes, a BEAUTIFUL & fully formed healthy looking Black Swallowtail butterfly emerged from it's crysalis !!
This little adventure of a shared Nature journey began on Sat. April 2 when I found a caterpillar on one of the herb plants I had purchased that morning in our local Farmer's Market. As the bird activity in our backyard habitat was very high, I decided to breakout my Classroom Observatory setup and nurture the caterpillar inside. Was rewarding for me to observe the stages - from "very hungry caterpillar" to crysalis formation, and now butterfly birth.
My mantra of "Walk with Nature, Talk with Art" has been fully satisfied once again with this little experience...... AND I consider it a special gift that butterfly emerged on the earlier side of typical timeline so that it could grace my Anniversary with it's beauty!!
Today is Earth Day 2011 with a theme of "A Billion Acts of Green"and my butterfly release was one of mine. May you each find a way to "morph"today - be it reaching a goal,  completing a project, increasing your knowledge, or adding to the reduction of your personal carbon footprint in some way !!

Happy Earth Day ~ walk with nature, her paths are peace .

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Village Lanes & Farmer's Markets

"From dewey lanes at morning,
Village Lane           watercolor on 140lb.paper  ~ eakf
the grapes sweet odors rise, 
at noon the roads all flutter
with yellow butterflies......."
Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1888)
    As we leave March and enter April, I revel in more things spring ~ the joys & wonders of.........

During our recent visit to Hill Country, we happened upon a number of open air markets ~ both Farmer's & Arts, and thoroughly enjoyed strolling through all. It was, however, a bit frustrating to see (but not be able to purchase) many of the delicious looking freshly grown produce because we were on the road. So-o-o....... when our local Spring Farmer's Market started up again ( this past weekend) I was there early with my basket in hand ! The weather was kind & I enjoyed catching up with some of my favorite vendors & checking out the new ones.
The market basket came home full, with fresh salad greens & fruits, some new "limited edition" handmade soaps ( vanilla orange) and some potted herb plants among other things. The bonus was discovering that my new fennel plant had a swallowtail caterpillar on it !!! Now the question was to plant or not to plant? Due to the high bird activity in our backyard habitat, I decided to resurrect my "classroom butterfly observation" container and nurture the caterpillar through it's stages inside. Today is day 4 from purchase and caterpillar has more than doubled in size :) & there are new shoots on the fennel plant so things are win- win right now.
      Connect this story with the fact that on Saturday I am involved in the official Grand Opening of our new Nature Center with the theme being "Celebrating Butterflies" and you can feel the serendipity. I do find it so interesting how things often tie together ~ if only we look for the threads !!
   So as I continue my love affair with "things spring" and focus on celebrating the beauty of Lepidoptera ~ my wish is for you to stroll down your own Village Lanes and find joy in the wonders of Nature.
Till again.......

Monday, March 21, 2011

Welcome Spring

"Slayer of the winter,art thou here again ?
O welcome, thou that bring'et the summer nigh!"    ~ W.M.Morris

Signs of Spring                            5"X7" watercolor sketchbook page - eakf
Yesterday, March 20, 2011, was officially the first day of Spring :)  ~ one of the 4 temperate seasons,welcomed as the transition from winter to summer, and typically linked to ideas of rebirth, renewal, and re-growth.
At this time of the year, the axis of the earth increases it's tilt toward the sun yielding longer & warmer days triggering the messages of new growth and new life in Earth's flora & fauna. A "Signs of Spring" hike is a great activity right now.
Metaphorically, Spring embodies ideas of fresh starts, new possibilities, and renewed hopes/ dreams as evidenced by the many Spring festivals & celebrations around the world. Creatives respond to the season with beautiful paintings, poetry, photography, prose and on........
I, for one,  have just returned from a wonderful & inspiring Spring break in the Hill Country of Texas, and am eager to incorporate those experiences into my art.

May you, too, gain energy from Spring's beauty and message of renewal !

Monday, March 14, 2011

el Sol

Rise N' Shine                                                  watercolor on 140lb. cold press / eakf
"How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains" - John Muir
This weekend we "sprang ahead" to accomplish DST 2011 (daylight saving time). So what is it about sunlight that has us wanting to "save" it ? The origin of DST stems from a suggestion made by our very own Benjamin Franklin in one of his essays
(An Economical Project -1734 ) ..... and would you believe that energy conservation was the objective !!
 In reality what happens is that we transfer, in effect, an hour's worth of daylight from early morning when only milkmen and roosters are awake to appreciate it, shifting it to then push back sunset (at least as far as our timepieces are concerned), giving the masses more usable daylight.
    Admittedly, loosing an hour of sleep the night we advance our clocks, isn't fun ~ but the benefits of seemingly longer days, especially now that Spring is bringing milder weather and the beauty of all her awakenings, far outshines a few lost 
Z-Z-Z-'s. Personally I embrace the warmth of the sun and the extended time to savor it.

Carpe diem !!!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Making Connections

One of our Red headed Woodpeckers.

"The Earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the Earth. Man did not weave the web of life ~ he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself"   
 inspired by Chief Seattle 1850"s

February is National Wild Bird Feeding Month and the GBBC (Great Backyard Bird Count). The GBBC is a joint project of Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon Society where Citizen Scientists from across the Nation can participate by conducting a watch/count for a specific time frame and reporting the highest numbers of bird species observed in that time. Data is then submitted to the Cornell Lab database for use in comparison studies of bird populations over time. This year the GBBC was from Fri. Feb.18-Mon. Feb, 21. The connections I experience with Nature during the GBBC are much deeper than the more casual watching that I do year round in our backyard habitat, perhaps because of the intensity of the watching necessary for this project. The binoculars are up the entire watch time and you tend to "look" in more places/ spaces than usual, so as to not miss a thing. Consequently you observe SO much more. We participated last year as well and so we now have begun our own "database". We enjoyed our usual cast of characters, including our resident species and our Winter visitors. The highlights for this year included on Day 1 - A Great Blue Heron "fly over"; Day 3 - A Sharp-shinned Hawk hanging around for about 20 minutes ( when there was not a sighting or peep from any of our birds !!) and Day 4 - the sighting of a new species for us of a Yellow-rumped Myrtle Warbler.
Making connections means to unite, or "be in close relation with" and for me, my desire to Walk with Nature often and in many ways gives me the opportunity to respect the web.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Art of Nature

"Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears" 
Fall sunset - 2005                      The Woodland's , Texas / NJF
                   - Fiddler on the roof

In each of it's moods and through out it's daily & nightly hours, the 'heavens' provide an amazing source of beauty & inspiration ! 
For me, catching a sunrise or sunset (often heading to or home from work) is the big prize of being a skywatcher. No two ever alike ~ each with it's own unique palette & set of scenes.
I will never tire of looking up, day or night, to see what sky show is playing. I also delight in the knowledge that I keep good company with MANY others who have been moved to create by skywatching. ( Think Van Gogh; da Vinci & Michelangelo for a start ) 
As I end week two of this new year ~ I continue to ... Explore ~ Discover ~ Imagine &  Express ... care to join me? 
What are your creative goals & inspirations ? Not sure ?  Just Look Up & Enjoy !! 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Awaken the sleeping blog ~

Oh my ! What was only to be a little blog nap turned into a Rip van Winkle sleep !! 
It is the New Year (2011) and high time to awaken this sleeping blog. My thoughts at this time of turning - old to new - are formed by questions & meditations ...... "Where is the meaning?" ...... "What will I do/ be/ see in this New Year?" ....."How will I know what & where?"
I turn to Aguste Rodin's ~The Thinker ~ a long time favorite sculpture ( and artist ) of mine. I was fortunate to visit the Muse'e Rodin in Paris (1976) and more recently to stroll through the Rodin Sculpture Garden at Stanford University (2006). On the pedestal of Stanford's Thinker is carved the question " Where is the meaning?"
The Thinker ( originally titled The Poet ) shows a man in deep meditation and is often used to represent philosophy. So with him as my January muse ~ I go forward mindfully to set goals, to learn something new EVERY day, to be inspired by Mother Nature and other simple things and to joyfully share my creativity where ever possible.
May this New Year of 2011 be Wonder-filled, Full-filled, and Peace-filled for all of us.