Nature-Inspired Wall Hangings Part 1

I have a tendency to pick up natural objects as I walk through parks, on nature trails, or along the beach.  That’s why my art studio has baskets overflowing with twigs & bowls brimming with feathers, stones, & seashells.  By bringing Nature into my home, I feel a constant connection to what I hold sacred.  By bringing Her into my art, I can honor that connection & celebrate the beauty found in woods, water, & wildlife.  I hope you enjoy these as much as I enjoyed creating them.  May your senses be heightened to the beauty all around you.

Spiral Wall Hanging- the spiral is an ancient symbol of creation

Purple Fern Wall Hanging- energy is created by the contrasting purple & gold metallic ink.

Twig Wall Hanging- gnarled branches bring personality & movement

Check out the art I have for sale at www.etsy.com/shop/PureSusan

10% discount coupon available now through Dec. 31, 2012.  Type in “PureSusan2”

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Renaissance of Creativity

Two experiences in the past month have me yearning for a return to the union of beauty & functionality.  First, my boyfriend & I toured Grey Towers, the mansion belonging to the Pinchott family in Milford PA.  It’s French-inspired design & rooms full of hand-carved woodwork & ornate furnishings demonstrate a quality of workmanship & appreciation for beauty rarely seen any more.  Second, we spent an afternoon at the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen show in Lancaster Pennsylvania, where artisans & crafts people displayed their handmade creations, including pottery, jewelry, & clothing.  Such attention to detail.  Such quality.

I want a Renaissance of Creativity! 

Something happened around the 1930s where practicality & beauty diverged.  Things became streamlined, sleek,… sterile & uninspiring.  Everything from fashion to automobile design to architecture has slipped into the realm of function without imagination.  Notice all the beige, black, & gray clothing, cars, & home decor items to see what I mean.

Let’s seek inspiration in nature– Her colors, textures, patterns, & shapes.  There is so much beauty to appreciate.  Can it find it’s way into design, art, & architecture?  Imagine a shift in the culture where clothing is made of high-quality material & workmanship, where public buildings are designed in such a way as to inspire & stimulate, where food looks good & tastes better, where furniture & appliances are built to last while being pleasing to the eye, where gardens are full of plants that look beautiful & nourish life at the same time.

I’m not advocating a return to the past.  I’m challenging all of us to take pride in what we do & make.  Let’s get creative, marrying beauty & functionality in a whole new way, sparking a Renaissance of Creativity.

Happy Thanks-Giving!

There are a few holidays that we celebrate in the US that don’t resonate with me.  Columbus Day, commercialized Christmas, & Thanksgiving.  “Thanks Giving” is a great concept; however, our version of it is a bit Euro-centric, to say the least.

I recently discovered a book titled 1621 Thanksgiving: A New Look, published by the National Geographic Society.  It caught my eye because it’s so different from the Thanksgiving books I was exposed to as a child.  Instead of a group of Pilgrims dominating the cover, this book has a beautiful photo of a Native American woman on the front.  It was written by the Plimoth Plantation (that’s how it’s spelled in the book) in collaboration with the Wampanoag Indian Program Advisory Committee.  Wow!!!  A book about Thanksgiving that Native American people co-wrote.  I eagerly devoured the story, confirming that it isn’t the pilgrim-version of Thanksgiving that I want to celebrate… it’s the Wampanoag-version of “Thanks Giving” that speaks to my spirit.  Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday; it’s a way of living in gratitude all year long.

I don’t need to wait until the 4th Thursday in November to express gratitude for all those I love dearly, my health, my cozy home, my backyard retreat that nourishes both people & native wildlife, art, Mother Nature, & countless other things that mean so much.  My Thanks Giving ritual will occur far more often.

May you have a happy Thanksgiving & many reasons to give thanks every day of the year!

Haiku Inspired Art- Part 3

I’m continuing to fill my Japanese-styled sketchbook with simple pen & ink drawings along with accompanying Haiku-inspired poems.  Nature continues to be my Muse, my source of endless inspiration.  The first picture is my dog, Freyja, a former puppy mill breeding dog, who was rescued last October & became my little girl last December.  She’s slowly learning that life can be full of fun & joy.  The second is a drawing of a few delicate leaves I found on a walk.  The third is a beautiful rock sculpture that was sitting at the edge of a stream by a cottage.  Enjoy.

Freyja smiles!

Cuddles, kisses, & love.

Who rescued whom?

Awed with Autumn.

Leaves leave me

wanting more.

Who?  When?  Why?  How?

Sentries of the stream.

The strong & silent type.

Autumn Art On Holiday

Here is some of the watercolors I created while on holiday last weekend.  Autumn leaves are a common subject for me as I love their individuality, colors, textures, & shapes… a never-ending source of inspiration.

Art in Progress… with Jasmine Tea

Check out the art I have for sale at www.etsy.com/shop/PureSusan

10% discount coupon available now through Dec. 31, 2012.  Type in “PureSusan2”

Festival of the Dead

I have to say it, I find traditional, “American” rituals & ceremonies inadequate at best.  Regimented funerals, commercialized holidays, insipid baby showers, & meaningless bachelorette parties are just a few examples.  At worst, the ritual is missing altogether, like Coming of Age ceremonies for our youth.  If you say, “What about prom night or high school graduation?”, you’re proving the point.  Prom night is about the dress & staying up past midnight while our graduation ceremonies couldn’t be more generic.

I’ve taken to designed more deeply meaningful ceremonies.  This week, I created a Festival of the Dead for those who wanted to honor the deceased in a non-traditional way.  I prepared an altar with a white candle symbolizing the living & a black candle symbolizing the dead, along with other symbolic items.  Participants brought photos & objects of those they wished to recognize that night.  We created a sacred space by reciting poetry, learning about death ceremonies from other cultures, & sharing personal stories about those who had passed.

People of various cultures believe the veil between the worlds is lifted at this time of year so the spirits can travel from the other world to this one.  We made space for them by leaving an empty chair, welcome them among us, & taking a moment of silence to intuitively hear what messages they may bring.  The departed can live in our hearts & minds though they are physically gone from this world.

One participant posed the question, “Are funerals meant for the dead or the living?”  Both.  When we honor the dead, we’re recognizing our relationship with that person or animal.  Naturally, a sensitively-designed ceremony must be an extension of that relationship, meaningful to everyone involved– living or dead.  Every ritual we perform should be unique.  As you plan a special event to honor a rite of passage or a holiday that you celebrate, question what you do & why you do it.  If the ceremony doesn’t resonate with you in a powerful way, change it or enlist the help of someone who can help you.

For those who have passed, rest in peace.  For those still among the living, peace to you, too.