Create While I Wait

I’m taking a new approach to situations that usually trigger a measure of impatience in me, such as waiting for the mechanic to finish a car repair or sitting in the doctor’s office because he is running behind schedule.  I’ve tried reading the outdated magazines and I’ve tried to watch whatever happens to be on the television in the corner of the room, neither of which appeal to me.  The phrase, “Do what you love”, inspired me to create a traveling art kit that fits easily into my purse.

Traveling Art Kit:  can hold everything from watercolors to a glue stick & bits of fabric.

Traveling Art Kit: holds my small watercolour set, pens, brushes, & a mini sketchpad.

An old cosmetic bag gets a new life as the keeper of my pens, brushes, and mini-sketchpad.  It’s a treat to be able to take out my art supplies & play until my name is called.  Now, I’m more likely to say that the wait time was too short!

A fun little doodle in shades of Payne's Gray.

A fun little doodle in shades of Payne’s Gray.

I don’t have large blocks of time to explore my creativity on most days but a few minutes here and there can quickly add up.  It’s so much easier to maintain a positive attitude in less-than-ideal situations when I’m doing something joyful.

Zinnia blossom in watercolour and pen.

Zinnia blossom in watercolour and pen.

“Create while you wait!”; the perfect mantra for someone who waits impatiently.

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Portrait of an Artist

This piece is dedicated to artists, songwriters, poets, & all others who create from a deep place within their soul.  

For, I believe, creation is a sacred act performed in collaboration with the Divine force that inspires & co-creates with us.  

I hope you see yourself in this portrait.

 

I enter the passageway, regal yet humble, confident yet scared- bare feet purposefully connecting to the cool rock beneath them.  Moss cushions one footstep while jagged rocks poke savagely at the next.  No right or wrong… just being.

There is drumming but no drummer.  The heartbeat of the earth itself.  The heartbeat of this cavernous temple.

Long skirt, bare arms- warm there, cool here.  I continue to be pulled in deeper & deeper.  The drumbeat-heartbeat echoes in my ears, pounding in my brain until thoughts are blessedly mute.  There’s just the pounding rhythm.

Small torches give life to shadows that dance on the walls.  Spirits are here.  I am the priestess, the High Priestess, of this temple, standing in the power of connecting and belonging.  A larger light beckons from deeper within.  I walk up to the shallow copper bowl on its pedestal, coals glowing inside.  Such heat blows the hair back from my face, drying my lips & eyes.  I shut them both & raise my hands to either side of the bowl, moving them first closer to the heat then into the coolness before settling comfortably in the warm middle space.

I peer down into the embers, where more spirits dance.  Such power- an energy that dances in me, too.  What is the message?  “This cannot be rushed.  Demands & impatience have no place here.  Look & listen.”

I genuflect, hands before my face, palms pressed together in prayer position.  I touch them to my core- a place of right action, my heart- right emotion, my throat- right communication, between my eyes- right thought, and the crown of my head- right connection.  This sets the intention for sacred work to take place.

Drumbeat-heartbeat no longer a sound, now a feeling.

One knee senses the small pebbles beneath, grounding me to this place and time.  When ready, I rise and bow to the fire- giver of life, destroyer, and transformer.  I proceed to the dark recess where torch and ember cannot reach.

Wetness… bare feet slip on rocks and hands slide along slick walls.  I smell the dampness that blankets my skin and fills my nostrils.  I drink with every breath.

I notice the small pots on the stony ledge and pick one up.  It’s half full of russet paint, the color of dried blood.  I push my finger into the warm thickness then streak the bridge of my nose and under each eye.  I hold space for a still moment before I take that pot to the place where dark meets light and magic takes place.  I dip a crude brush into the paint then hover above the place on the wall where I want to put the image.  Wait.  Keep waiting as long as I’m thinking “I want.  I want.”  When “I want” becomes “thy will”, place the brush on the rock and let it move.  It will be what it will be.

Back- long and strong, around the haunches- muscular and determined, shoulders- curved and coiled for action, neck- supporting the regal head, and face- alive and knowing.  What else?  I wait for it to come.  If nothing comes, I stop for stopping is all I can do.  This is a collaborative piece that I can never own or dare to take credit for.  My body, like my brush, is a channel.

I stand in the silence… feeling the blood course through my veins and pound in my ears.  All the pounding- my heartbeat, the drumbeat, and the animal spirits stampeding on the wall.  I know this is all for now and I am at peace.  I return the bowl to its place on the dark shelf and I return to the light beyond the embers and the torchlight to the fiery radiance of the sun.

Sensory overload as macaws scream, monkeys screech, insects rub legs and wings, birds chirp, and the waterfall roars.  I cover my ears with my hands.  Too much to take in.  Too many objects… too many sounds… too many scents vying for attention, rushing me all at once.  I long to return to the cave, that place far removed yet more deeply connected to all that is.

This, too, is my world.  Men feeding elephants.  Women feeding babies.  I take from the cave and bring to the village as a gift.  I take from the village and bring to the cave as a gift.  All of life committed to being an offering.  An expression of gratitude for the light and the darkness, the noise and the silence… gratitude for all that is.

Join in the Dance

The image of women dancing in the light of an enormous full moon has brewed in my imagination for some time now.  Our natural cycle is so closely linked to the cycle of the moon that a painting showing this connection is particularly meaningful for me.  Several women clasp hands as they twirl in the sand; while a lone figure reaches out to them.  Who is she?  Is she hesitating?  Is she eager to join in the dance?  Is she me?  Is she you?

Visit my Etsy shop at www.etsy.com/shop/PureSusan to see this painting & my other work.

Join in the Dance:  20"x24" acrylic painting

Join in the Dance: 20″x24″ acrylic painting

Mini Landscape Collages- Part 2

Photos of local farms & rolling countryside inspired me to complete the last 3 mini collages in my series of 6.  While the photos act as reminders of the idyllic rural places I’ve been, these 4-inch square collages express how much I treasure the world around me.  Some of these honor Mother Nature & others honor the farmers who work continuously to provide for the rest of us.  We can no more do without them than we can the earth Herself.

mini landscape 4

mini photo 4

mini landscape 5

mini photo 4

mini landscape 6

mini photo 6

When I see a stately sycamore  or majestic maple solidly rooted with limbs uplifted, like congregants in Nature’s great cathedral, I stop to ground myself & raise my arms in humble gratitude as well.  When I see rolling hills & broad patches of plowed farmland stretching out under the sun, I feel my spirit stretch across the earth connected to the earth below, the canopy of sky above, & the vast mystery beyond what I know or can possibly understand.  I’m just glad it’s part of me & I’m part of it.

Take a look at my Art Gallery page to see all my recent work. 

                                        Check out the pieces for sale at www.etsy.com/shop/PureSusan

Stretching Creatively

I guess it’s been almost 20 years since I tried writing a poem longer than a Haiku.  For some reason, the words never seem to flow as easily as images in my visual art so when the opportunity to take a one-evening workshop on creative writing came up, I seized it.  While I could easily slide into a groove, producing a body of artwork that is distinctly mine & similar in style, I like to stretch creatively– pushing the boundaries of my imagination & ability, growing as an artist.

The writing activity that inspired me the most was one called “If I were…”  The facilitator finished the phrase with words such as “a piece of furniture”, “a sound”, a color”, “an animal”, ” a food”, & “a place in nature”.  We numbered a piece of paper from 1-16 & finished the phrases as quickly as possible so our subconscious could override our active, logical, over-analyzing minds.  From words including “rocking chair”, “purr”, “lapis blue”, “lynx”, “chocolate fondue” & “a bed of moss under a tree”, I shaped nonsensical sentences then turned those sentences into a poem.  Here’s the result of that exercise…

The Odalisque

Lynx languidly reclines on her mossy bed beneath the firs.

Holding court, she coyly swirls figure eights

in the melted chocolate with her lustrous tail.

“Infinity”, she purrs, “Infinity.”

 

 

Dainty paws pluck from her plate

fears carefully considered then…

Dunked in decadent darkness & swallowed with satisfaction.

Demurely dabbing at puddles of chocolate caught in the corners of her smile,

“Fearless”, she purrs, “Fearless.”

 

 

Lynx stretches luxuriously in lapis-tinted twilight.

Harpsichord hammers out a haunting refrain

as rocking chair sways in time.

“Sing your song”, she purrs, “Sing your song.”

 

 

Her seductive Siren call lures me into the fondue.

Like amoeba evolving from primordial ooze,

I emerge from my chocolate baptism,

enveloped in warmth, reborn & reminded,

“Simply be”, I purr, “Simply be.”

Baby Steps

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, & endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”  Henry David Thoreau

I gravitate to inspirational quotes like this when I’m preparing to go in the direction of my dreams & hoping to meet with “success unexpected in common hours.”  Keep talking, Thoreau; I hear you & I know you’re right.  And while I’d like to stride confidently in the direction of my dreams, more often than not, I take cautious baby steps instead.  Why?  Because I can’t see the destination & running in the dark seems a certain way to trip & fall.  I prefer baby steps, slow & steady.  I’ll pick up speed when I’m more sure of where I’m going.

Change is scary but staying in a situation that you’ve outgrown, that makes you unhappy, or that causes you to compromise your Self is scarier.  I know this from experience.  A little over a decade ago, I was in a position where I had to ask myself, “Is this really how I want to spent the rest of my life?”  The answer was an emphatic “NO!”   I couldn’t articulate exactly what I wanted but I knew what I didn’t want.  That’s the time to take a baby step, when the dream is germinating but hasn’t pushed through the soil into the sunlight of awareness.  Baby steps are perfect for when you aren’t sure which direction to walk, you just know you don’t want to stand still.

Baby steps are also a great way to proceed when the journey seems overwhelming.  For example, when I graduated from college, I had a mountain of debt that seemed impossible to repay.  I had no idea how I’d pay it off but I knew drowning in debt wasn’t an option for me.  Giving up is never an option for me.  I paid $10 here and $100 there, month by month, until it was finally gone.  Baby steps.

Am I writing this for you, dear readers, or am I writing this for me?  Yes & yes.

It’s time for a baby step.  To be continued…

Curtains Make It Cozy

With the majority of my kitchen renovation project completed, I can focus on decorating (my favorite part of any home project).  I’ll admit, I’m very selective when it comes to how I furnish my home for a few reasons.  First, it’s a reflection of me.  How I maintain my home says a lot about the kind of person I am.  Second, I want it to be warm & inviting for family & friends.  Third, I know I have to live with my choices for a long time so I want accessories & furnishings to be just right.

I spent weeks looking for curtains in a style that incorporated the golden yellow, sage green, & cranberry red that were in other elements throughout my kitchen.  It’s hard to find things in mainstream stores that aren’t mainstream so I decided to make them myself.  I ordered a beautiful Arts & Crafts-style template, purchased fabric paint, & sewed the curtains so they fit the space.  I visualized the finished product & got to work making it a reality.

stencil 1

stencil 2

It took hours over the course of a few days but they are finally done.  The curtains brighten the space & make it very inviting.  I absolutely love them!!

curtain 3

curtain 1

Handmade curtains, rugs, & decorative items personalize a space.  I hope these photos inspire you to create something unique for yourself or someone you love.

Roots IV and V

My Roots series of acrylic paintings is complete & I can only sigh contentedly.  From the moment I saw these beautiful trees on a hiking trail to the rough sketches & finished paintings, I’ve been connected to these trees & happily entwined in their roots.

Roots V

Roots V

Roots IV

Roots IV: it really had a heart-shaped knothole.

Creation for me is co-creation, a union of artist & subject in a chosen medium.   When we can get out of our own way & let the process flow naturally, beautiful things can happen.  I feel that way about my Roots series.

Root Project

Roots series

Take a look at my Art Gallery page to see all my recent work. 

Check out the pieces for sale at www.etsy.com/shop/PureSusan

 

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.

Haiki-Inspired Art

Japanese bookbinding is a beautiful technique & one that I enjoyed using to make this little golden sketchbook with the bright red thread.

The special little book that inspired a new way to express my creativity.

It took a few months but I finally decided to try something totally new… Haiku-inspired poetry & calligraphic line drawings.  It challenged me to keep the work simple, focusing on the essence of my subjects.  I enjoyed this project, stretching myself as an artist.

My dancing zinnias-

Every day

a garden party.

Spider plant’s job?

Easy gig.

Sit there & look pretty.

Poised on my finger,

Free from his cage,

Eddie considers his options.