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.


More Haiku-Inspired Work

These are three more images from the little golden sketchbook I wrote about in my last post.  Taking a subject & simplifying it with a few lines & adding a haiku-inspired poem keeps me focused on what I see as the subject’s pure essence.  The first drawing is a tree planted in the middle of a path.  While people ignore it as they walk around it, I imagine the tree eagerly waiting for someone to say, “Hi.”  The second drawing is one of my favorite nearby spots with an amazing view.  The third is my blind dog, Paco, who can safely explore the fenced-in area of the doggie park, while I watch him lovingly from my blanket stretched under a shady tree.

With arms outstretched,

Lonely tree

beckons this tree hugger.

As far as I see,

green on green.

No boundaries, no fences.

Finding his way back,

Paco’s nose & ears

replace dark eyes.

Morning Dew

I have the intention of starting each day in nature, offering a prayer of gratitude or blessing, no matter the weather.  I’ve set this intention before but sometimes the bed is so cozy or the day so cold that going outside to pray takes a lot of effort.  I’m so glad I did this morning.

It was cool & foggy in the predawn hour.  Secluded & silent.  The world belonged to me, my cup of coffee, & my dogs.  I gave thanks for my many blessings then lifted my eyes to the maple tree praying next to me (or perhaps it was listening to my prayer).  I gasped with amazement & awe.  The patio light illuminated tiny, perfectly-formed droplets of dew on every blossom & twig.  It also revealed countless delicate spider webs, draping the tree like glittering garland on a Christmas tree.  Dewdrops are more precious than diamonds, in my eyes.

There is nothing man-made that can surpass the beauty inherent in nature.  I’m no poet & my words will never do justice to the magic of being PRESENT this morning.

After breakfast, I walked around my back garden, marveling at the spiderweb “hammocks”, made visible by shimmering dew droplets, nestled in the shrubs, like cupped hands cradling something fragile.  I imagine these exquisite webs to be fairy beds.  (Yes, I fully intend to keep my imagination & childlike wonder my entire life.)

This morning is definitely one of the most memorable experiences that I’ve ever had.  Others including a perfect rainbow arching over my house a month or so ago (how tempting to search for the pot of gold) & a moment in the mountains when the world was black & white like an Ansel Adams’ photograph because bare trees black with wetness contrasted so dramatically with the fluffy white snowflakes that landed on them.

What richness there is around us when we take time to see!

Who Gets To Say?

When should a widow start dating again?  When should a person adopt a new pet after one dies?  When exactly should we accept our loss & get on with life?  Who gets to say?  After all the loss that 2011 brought to my life, I’ve learned a few things…

1.  Feel What You Feel When You Feel It— That means crying when you want or lying around in pajamas all day watching old movies.  It means being sad one minute & happy the next.  It may even mean feeling 2 or 3 emotions at once.  It’s ok to feel what you feel.

2.  Create Personalized Closure Rituals— Do what you think is appropriate to say good-bye & bring closure for your Self.  There’s nothing worse that the generic Amazing Grace/Valley of the Shadow of Death service where the minister has nothing more to say about your loved one than “He was a good person.”  Make the ritual as unique as the one you lost.  Write a poem, create an altar, paint a picture, have a ceremony that only you attend, or go back to a special place you both shared & simply sit in the silence.

3.  Know Your Loved One & Grief Are Unforgetable—  I have to be honest… you won’t “get over it”… ever.  You will come to terms with it, tucking it into a safe place in your heart so you can continue living but you won’t ever forget nor should you.  It’s the memories that keep our loved ones alive in a meaningful way.

4.  Do What You Need To Do To Go On Living—  I lost Pixie on December 5th & adopted Freyja on Dec. 27th.  She was a Bichon/Spaniel mix used in a puppy mill as a breeder for 3 or 4 years!  She spent the last 3 months in a no-kill shelter (Bless these shelters & the people who support them!!!)  Did I move on too quickly?  Absolutely not.  I have love to give & have the means to care for another dog.  Besides, Paco & I needed rescued just as much as Freyja did.  Life goes on.

Freyja's First Day-- A new life for a puppy mill dog 🙂

After a visit to the groomer to remove the matted hair.

Paco is overwhelmed by the thought of change.

We're all going to get along just fine.

Please consider adopting a dog or cat from your local rescue center.  They desperately need love. 

If you can’t, give of your time or money.  In these economic times, the shelters need both!


Art Journal as Loving Tribute

I recently posted “What’s An Art Journal For?”, explaining… “my art journal helps me delve deeper into my soul, interpret my dreams, & chronicle my life.  It’s far more intimate than a sketchbook.”  Over the last few days, I’ve been using it as a way to heal & honor my beloved Shih Tzu, Pixie, who died at age 14 1/2.  I should clarify, she didn’t “die”… I had her put to sleep because of tumors that would have made each day slightly worse than the day before.  After all the countless wonderful memories & a lifetime of loving devotion, I couldn’t bear to see her suffer for even one day.  She deserved much better than that & in a strange way, saying goodbye like this was my final gift to the girl who gave me unconditional love her entire life.   Her last day was spent going for a walk, eating her favorite foods, & getting so many kisses from me that I thought I’d wear a bald spot on her beautiful little head.  She was my girl & will always hold a special place in my heart.

The Sweetest Girl in the World

I took a day off work to mourn her & feel sorry for myself.  I cried a lot while working on a two-page memorial using acrylics, paper, her Obedience Training certificate (which is a joke since I was the one who ended up being trained!), & ink drawings inspired by the enormous number of photos I took over the years.

The Many Faces of Pixie

The Obedience Certificate that should have my name on it!!

As an artist, I’m blessed to have a creative outlet for my feelings.  As a person, I’m equally blessed to have memories of a wonderful companion, Pixie.  Sleep well my fearless Flying Squirrel.

A Woman's Best Friend

Art as Ritual

There are many major events in our culture that have their own ritual from weddings to graduations yet there are some that have no ritual at all, a girl’s transition to womanhood with her first period or a boy’s transition to manhood (when exactly is that?).  There is a growing movement to make moments more special by personalizing rituals that aren’t very meaningful anymore (the commercialization of holidays comes to mind) or creating new rituals where there isn’t one.  I had to do that when Buddy, my dog of 13 years, died.  I mentioned in my last post how it affected Pixie, my darling Shih Tzu.  I don’t have to go into detail about how deeply it affected me, too.

To honor Buddy’s memory, give him a proper good-bye, & give myself closure, I created my own ritual that included a burial with his favorite stuffed animal, a eulogy where I mentioned many of the wonderful memories we shared, journal writing, & the creation of a portrait that was based on a silly photo of him & Pixie in a washtub.  How he hated that experience!  I could practically hear him protesting the humiliation of being photographed in a plastic tub.  Totally embarrassing for a dog of his stature 🙂  The portrait wasn’t meant to be realistic; it was meant to capture his playful yet curmudgeonly spirit as well as Pixie’s sweetness.  This artwork helped me heal & still makes me laugh each time I see it.  Art is one of the great healers & a valuable component to meaningful ritual for me.  How do you make rituals meaningful for yourself?


Their expressions say it all!

A Smaller Scale Frees My Creativity

Have you ever entered an art supply store & had your eyes dance with excitement when you spot something you’ve never used before?  That happened to me recently– I fell in love with these cute 3-inch square canvases at Dick Blick’s.  Working on this scale is new for me but I had a feeling it would be fun to try.  Before I got to the cash register, I knew that they would be mini-portraits of animals to set on a small ledge in my house but that’s all I knew.

What’s nice about working on a small scale is that it’s inexpensive, quick, & liberates me from my tendency to be a perfectionist.  I don’t worry about what anyone else may think– I’m creating art for art’s sake.  Letting my heart lead the way, I chose acrylics in bright jewel tones, black, & white for the background surface treatment.  My brush was relatively dry to give the effect of colored chalks on a chalkboard- sketchy & rough.  After completing the backgrounds, I sipped Jasmine tea while patiently waiting for Divine inspiration to speak to me & influence the art.  One by one, Snowy Owl, Holstein Cow, Mourning Dove, White-Tailed Deer, & my Shih Tzu Pixie appeared in the paint.  It was a relatively quick art session but sometimes the best art happens that way 🙂

Try experimenting outside your comfort zone by working on a scale you normally don’t use.  It will give you a fresh perspective on your creative process but most of all, you’ll have fun trying something new.  By the way, I’m offering free shipping through Dec. 31st to anyone who purchases something at my Etsy shop   www.etsy.com/shop/PureSusan.  Use coupon code SAK1966.  

Sweet Pixie: Little Dog with the Huge Heart

Blue Holstein

Snowy Owl

Lavender Mourning Dove

White-Tailed Deer