Autumn Feeds My Soul

Perhaps it’s because I’m an October baby.

Perhaps it’s the sight of skinny scarecrows in their denim & flannel, standing watch over dried cornfields.

Perhaps it’s the growing darkness & thinning of the veil that lets us receive messages more clearly from those who have passed.

For all those reasons, and more, October feeds my soul.  I feel a greater connection to all that is across time & space, a humble sense of awe for the beauty around me, & a quieting of my spirit.

My sister called with a very simple wish to fulfill… “We need a traditional fall experience.  Fi and I will be there Friday night.”  She need not say any more.  I knew exactly the kind of experience they would love– a crisp, cool day on a farm.

Farm 6

The next morning, we parked near the farmhouse surrounded by orchards dotted with bright red apples & fields dotted with bold orange pumpkins of all sizes.  A John Deere tractor, pulling a wagon, stopped so we could climb aboard & sit on hay bales as the driver took us up to the orchard.

Farm 2

Armed with empty bags, we jumped down & wandered among the trees, looking for apples to pick.  Not all of them made it into our bags… one apple the size of a grapefruit tempted us too much.  Like three Eves, we took enormous bites, letting the juice run down our wrists & soak our sleeves.

We munched leisurely & made our way to the pumpkin patch.  Men & women of my generation will understand the reason why I immediately pictured Linus hugging a blue blanket, waiting patiently for the Great Pumpkin to arrive.  (Secretly, I want to see him, too.)  Choosing a pumpkin was difficult, for how do you choose the perfect pumpkin when they are all perfect?  A young man with pruning sheers clipped the stems of our chosen pumpkins & we rolled the orbs into our arms, trying hard not to spill the bags of apples.  Now we were both sticky & a bit dirty but isn’t that what it’s all about?… enjoying the moment to the fullest?

Farm 4

By now, our cheeks & noses were as red as our apples & it was time to go but not before my sister & niece posed for one last photo.

Farm 5

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”  LM Montgomery

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”

Getaway Nourishes My Spirit

My boyfriend’s birthday is Oct. 26th & mine is Oct. 29th.  Since they were bookends to a weekend this year, we decided to  go somewhere quiet & remote.  Nestled among the trees at the top of a dirt road in Milford Pennsylvania, I found a charming little cottage with a joyful stream flowing alongside.  That stream, like every place in nature, has it’s own energy… I could hear it giggling as it danced over the rocks, carrying autumn leaves off to some new adventure.  It beckoned me often throughout the day, every day & I found it to be the perfect place for my morning ritual.  Each morning, as close to sunrise as possible, I greet the Earth by putting my hands flat on the ground & the Cosmos by reaching my arms upward, honor the four directions, & calmly take a few deep breaths as I respectfully reconnect with all that’s sacred– the Divine above, below, & all around me.  These few days away fed my soul.

Our private getaway, tucked in the trees.

The wood stacked next to the cabin provided cozy fires every evening.

A beautiful spot to meditate, listen, or read. Notice the stack of stones on the large rock in the middle of the picture. A nature lover was obviously here before us.

It’s so important to remove one’s self from day-to-day obligations, to nurture the spirit & reconnect with nature.  We need to give ourselves permission to feed our hungry souls.  For me, it means leaving my to-do lists behind & unplugging the world (including my cell phone, the television, & the computer).

Even if you can’t afford a vacation “getaway”, get away by unplugging the world & staying home alone or with someone you love.  Care for your Self in a way that is right for you– “replenish your well” as some say.

The more we care for our Selves, the more we have to give others.

A Gardener’s Prayer of Thanks

One of my favorite autumn rituals is preparing my garden for winter.  I take this time to kneel, putting my hands, prayer-like, on the cool soil, giving thanks to Mother Earth for all she gives to me.  “Great Mother, thank you for your countless gifts this year.  Thank you for the doe who greeted me at my fence at dawn, staring at me as I stared in awe at her.  Thank you for the abundance, from blueberries & raspberries to herbs & vegetables; I appreciate it all.  Thank you for the summer days when my niece & I made fresh pesto from your rich bounty.  Thank you for the returning snakes, spiders, birds, & rabbits who signal a healthy, safe yard where they can eat & take shelter without fear of poisoning from pesticides & herbicides.  Thank you for the moonlight that continues to peer in my window at night, bathing me in her magic.  Thank you for the bulbs that are hibernating, resting before they make an energetic return in the spring.  Thank you for unforgettable times with my boyfriend who loves & appreciates you as much as I do.  Thank you for providing a space for my dogs to nap in the sun.  Thank you for a place to set our hammock & some lawnchairs so friends & family feel welcome.  Thank you.  I’m so very grateful.”

Thank you for a sunny place to rest my paws.

Thank you for the breeze that blows through my ears & tail.

Thank you for the changing leaves & rolling clouds.

Thank you for the dried zinnias, whose seeds feed famished birds.

Thank you for the tools to make my workload lighter.

Thank you for the memories.

I feel like Mother Nature is simply making a costume change, preparing to return in a new, dazzling display of icy blues & snowy whites.  Every season is special & I honor every one.  Blessed Be.

Autumn: A Different Harvest

I absolutely adore autumn; it’s my favorite time of year.  We sleep with the windows open, snuggled under blankets as the temperature outside drops to a chilly 47 degrees F.  By afternoon, a warm breeze flows through the room, reminding me that summer may be gone but not forgotten… not just yet anyway.

Local farmers have set up stands to sell their gourds, pumpkins, corn, & flowers.

They are harvesting their crops & in a way, so am I.  Both of our harvests are the result of seeds we planted.  Some seeds are bearing wonderful fruit in my life.  For example, I’ve put more attention on who & what I value most– my boyfriend, my pets, my friends & family, creativity, nature, & spirituality.

As a result of the seeds I planted, I am aware that my authentic Self is separate from my experiences.  I am not my job.  Accomplishments & failures are  opportunities to learn & grow but do not define me.

On a more humorous note, some seeds did not bear fruit this year.  I planted seeds of intention for new opportunities to come along but so far, a multimillionaire has not called to say, “I want to fully fund a spiritual/creative retreat for women & want you be the director.”  Nor has anyone emailed to tell me, “I love the art you are selling on etsy.com.  Would you like to be a full-time artist & never worry about money again?”  I’ll be replanting these seeds next year 🙂

I reverently enter this autumn season, knowing that I can only harvest the seeds I nurture throughout the year.  I hope your seeds bear fruit for you, too.

Collage Trio

Winter has officially begun but I want to share three completed leaf collages that I began several weeks ago.  Starting a new piece is easy for me as I have dozens of ideas for new artwork; however, finishing it isn’t always so easy.  I’m getting better about patiently waiting for a piece to guide its own completion, especially in cases where my critical mind has gotten in the way of inspiration.

I adore Autumn for a myriad of reasons but what inspired these pieces was a walk that turned into a fairy tale.  On this particular day, I took my dogs out for their daily exercise.  The day was a bit warm for fall & the sky was turquoise.  The contrast of the sky & warm-hued trees got me daydreaming.   In this blissful state, I rounded a corner where the leaves literally carpeted the ground in gold, russet, garnet, & rust.  It left me breathless & hushed, awed by the colors & hypnotized by the muffled sound of my feet stepping on the still-soft leaves.  I began picking up the ones I liked the best, which meant I ended up holding a large bouquet of them!  I adored each & every one, unique as snowflakes, seashells, & each of us.

Back in my studio, I selected a few delicate leaves to sketch & eventually collage on canvas.  You’ve already seen the works in progress but now they are complete.  I chose deep, rich tones of the season to remind myself of that warm Autumn day long after the colors fade & snow becomes my new carpet.  I look forward to my imagination being stirred by icicles in the coming months.  Each season has it’s own beauty & I cherish them all.

Autumn Leaf 1: paper, acrylic paint, fusible fiber, & metallic ink

Autumn Leaf 2: collage on canvas

Autumn Leaf 3: a celebration of early fall

A Joy To Create

Animals have feelings, not unlike human animals– listen to a cow call longingly for her newborn calf, watch a mama Grizzly protect her cub, look at polar bear babies snuggling their mother as they sleep.  Knowing that animals are sentient beings who feel resonated with me most powerfully when Pixie, my Shih Tzu, mourned the loss of Buddy (my other Shih Tzu who died at age 13).  They were constant companions & she suffered the same way each of us suffer the loss of a loved one.  She got depressed, refusing to eat or drink.  She literally seemed to give up on life.  It took IV fluids, lots of love, & a new companion to give her the will to live without him.  For this & many other reasons, much of my artwork is an attempt to depict how animals might feel when left to live life freely.  I love the small painting shown below.  From the minute I lay the wet brush to the canvas, I knew this was going to be a fox with personality plus!

Sweet Dreams Fox captures a young red fox asleep among crunchy Autumn leaves, happily dreaming of chasing rabbits or playing with his foxy friends in a nearby field.  I can hear him making noises like a sleeping dog, little growls & barks of contentment.  Isn’t nature wonderful?  Aren’t animals amazing?  Don’t we owe it to them to be good stewards of the earth, spreading a message of peace, interconnectedness, & the value of all life?  (Sorry to be preachy…I guess I’m feeling the importance of this message as deer hunting season starts tomorrow.)

Sweet Dreams Fox... sleep well.

Art Date with Mother Nature

When Mother Nature talks, I try to listen.  In the past two weeks, I’ve intuitively heard her say when it’s time to prepare for winter & when it’s time to enjoy a gorgeous autumn day.  On Oct. 29th, the sky was grey with fat, wet flakes falling to the ground.  Leaves weren’t even off the trees yet.  How bizarre to see two seasons occurring at once!  At first, the snowfall was beautiful to watch but soon the trees bent low under it’s weight.  Mother Nature sounded the warning so I raced outside with a broom to sweep snow off the branches before they snapped.  Thankfully, my trees survived.  That day woke us to the reality that winter is just around the corner.  Time to prepare.  Since then, we’ve power-washed the house, tilled the garden, rolled up the hose, & repaired gutters.  I think we’re as ready as we’re going to be.

Autumn & Winter at the same time.

Mother Nature spoke to me again today.  “Come play,” she beckoned, “The sky is blue, the air is mild, & the last of the leaves are about to fall from the trees.”  We drove to the lake, an art date with Mother Nature (as well as my boyfriend).  I picked up rocks rich with mica or quartz, glistening like jewels on the rocky beach.  We skipped stones like children & I climbed among gnarled roots to hug trees so big my arms couldn’t wrap around them.  Yes, I take “tree hugger” literally 🙂

This day was a sigh.  A lovely break from the routine so I could commune with Mother Nature, centering me & soothing my spirit.  May you find time this week to find peace in nature.

Who can resist being in nature on a day like this!

Such beauty & character.

Trees are Yawning

The Wheel of the Year continues to spin, bringing in Autumn, my favorite time of year.  Now that the weather is cooler & the days are shorter, I enjoy walking the dogs under trees that seem tired of being lush & green after such a long hot summer.  As they yawn & stretch their limbs before their winter nap, I scour the ground for the gold, scarlet, & russet leaves that flutter on the path before us.  That distinct crunching sound of dry leaves under foot is one of life’s simple pleasures.  I can’t resist picking them up & taking them back to my studio.  Every year, I use maple, beech, ash, & oak leaves for inspiration, never tiring of their colors, shapes, & textures.   They are so different from one another yet similar, reminding me of how much people are the same in some ways & unique in others.

In my studio, I consider which materials to play with–  fabrics, paints, inks, & something new to me– Dicro Fusible Fibers.  If you haven’t played with this material, try it!  I used the color “bark” which looks like thin threads of copper– gorgeous!!  Perhaps you can see it in the photos I included below.   Never be afraid to try new things 🙂

On one hand, I feel like a child, free to create whatever my imagination can dream into being.  On the other hand, I am humbled by the spirituality of creation — the Divine in me connecting to the Divine in nature.  Some say we are co-creators in our own lives.  What do you think?  Please take time to notice nature & appreciate the changing seasons.  Inspiration is yours for the taking!

Autumn Leaf Inspiration

A close-up of maple leaf with fusible fibers.