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Archive for the ‘solitude’ Category

following one’s own advice?

Saturday, September 10th, 2016

Today, September 10, has been spent clearing out boxes of papers, stored since my move 2+ years ago.  The good news: there’s very little “trash”. The good news? much of what had been stored may now be obsolete. The better news: this draft blog post is still relevant, if not quite so much. Written at the end of May, it was a reflection on being at Crossroads. I no longer feel quite like that. Several exhibitions have come and gone since then – there’s been a lot of new work made over the past two years. There are two invitationals to deliver work for in the next month.

memory-mont    meditation-map   moon-1_02

***

draft post

For nearly three decades (yikes!), in one format or another, I taught, coached, facilitated – whatever you choose to name it- I worked with creative people, individually, in classes and in small groups. Whether in a formal setting such as a University classroom or professional symposiums or more casual retreat environments, my basic task was to help folks make the next move or next jump in their creative process.  Along the way a lot of processes, techniques and possibilities were shared but the underlying focus was always on each individual’s journey.

Every person is unique and each set of circumstances is very particular. Still, the basics of creative work are consistent from my point of view: learn the required skills and language, master your tools, improve constantly and most important, show up! Make one decision and then the next. Then the next. Be true to your initial creative vision, each subsequent decision should match that.

Life: Circumstances change. We find ourselves, every so often, just moving with the currents, perhaps adrift. It can be difficult (and is certainly time/energy consuming) to re-orient. Having just come through one of those multi-year situations, here were major challenges: My studio discipline was shot. The daily work habit needed to be rebuilt. I went from a decades long consistent daily practice to not being in studio at all. Part of this had to do with all that accompanies a major loss, from coping to surviving to putting myself back together, and then to building a new life. What did/do I want that life to look like? what is an appropriate life/work balance, now? I used to know the answers to these questions, has that changed? Actually, lots has changed and I am adjusting and choosing and celebrating!

Confidence, well, where did it go, if it ever existed? (Is the work any good? what happens next? how should it look? why am I doing this?  In short, all the questions we ask ourselves as we build what is generally, a very solitary work life.)

Identity: Marge Piercy said: “every artist lacks a “license”. This is true. We can self describe, self identify as artists, with or without degrees, with or without an exhibition record, sales, awards and external acclaim, but many of us face a certain sense that the outside world places little or no value on what we do. A friend once told me that what people like me do is non-essential, therefore without value. Is this true? For that friend it was. I’ve almost always had a strong sense of self, of who I am in the world, but at times the self-doubts can be challenging. There’s no shortage of reinforcement for insecurity, is there.

***Now, on the other side of this reflection from late May, I am still not in studio daily, but am creating new gardens, new pollinator habitat, new community relationships. This matters. My little cottage in Billings is on the market and has required major work in the aftermath of a renter. sigh. There’s been a lot of work at the treehouse – hooray- and here at the StarHouse. This has been the season of paint on my shoes <G>.

Some decisions have been made in light of personal changes as well as the change in the “market”.

  • Travel for teaching is no longer in the template of my life. I will miss all of you whose relationships have been so important over the years. thank you for the gifts of your friendship and for how you allowed me to see through your eyes.
  • A greater focus on putting the work into the world is important. Perhaps (if there is something to say <G>) I will begin writing again.
  • Primarily, it has to be about what happens in the studio. Without that, there is nothing to share, nothing to say.

As we approach the Equinox, colors are shifting; the habits of birds and wild critters are changing, there’s a welcome chill in the dark hours and lovely warmth in the afternoons. The higher peaks behind the house have snow. The light is wonderful.

wishing you well.

the long weekend

Monday, October 13th, 2014

hh-2    Saturday morning at Hungry Horse for the Le Griz Ultra Run (50 miles). We were there to crew for a good friend. It was a long satisfying day in a gorgeous place.

HH-am The weather was variable, with everything except snow. Tamaracks and aspen have turned a burnished gold.

talltrees   fall

Later in the weekend we walked around Lion’s Lake. The trees are so tall. The climate there, near Glacier Park, is more like the Pacific NW than the part of the state where I live. It is semi-arid here.

backyard  west

the view from the house, looking west.

roadhome the road home, today at noon. That snow capped mountain is behind the house.

**
Years ago, in Houston, a random person gave me this quip as an early birthday gift.

It was a delight to see the words on a bumper sticker Sunday afternoon.

the edge

rain, on the second of October

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

“Last night
the rain
spoke to me
slowly, saying,
what joy
to come falling
out of the brisk cloud,
to be happy again
in a new way
on the earth!
That’s what it said
as it dropped,
smelling of iron,
and vanished
like a dream of the ocean
into the branches
and the grass below.
Then it was over.
The sky cleared.
I was standing
under a tree.
The tree was a tree
with happy leaves,
and I was myself,
and there were stars in the sky
that were also themselves
at the moment
at which moment
my right hand
was holding my left hand
which was holding the tree
which was filled with stars
and the soft rain –
imagine! imagine!
the long and wondrous journeys
still to be ours.”
― Mary Oliver

hideaways

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

The theme for this month’s Sketchbook Challenge is “houses and hideaways”. It’s a great opportunity to do a follow up on the last blog post, a visit to the treehouse.

We spent a long weekend there, returned Tuesday. It was as always, therapeutic.

The interior space is quite small but the decks are expansive. Here are some views and details. Perhaps you will see how the place got  its name. From inside, every window looks out to panoramic landscape as well as the branching of the log supports.

nwcorner

the kitchen window
e-deckSouth East deck     morning

looking out to the “driveway”

    butte.nwdaybreak secorner west-dusk

 

jay

In the morning the grey jays fly into the deck for treats: bird seed or bread, or dog kibble in a pinch. Unlike the more showy Stellar Jays, they are not shy birds. This past visit we saw a lot of elk and moose sign but no animals.The dogs may have had something to do with that.

Visit the Sketchbook Challenge Blog to see other interpretations of this month’s theme, and drop in on the personal blogs of other hosts for tutorials, videos, giveaways.

Leave a comment here for the chance to win a pdf of my “Idea to Image” workbook. A name will be drawn at random on October 4.

 

p.s., with any luck at all, the GeoCounter will be back before this posts – that’s an ugly space without it.

unplugged

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

ridge2

Earlier this week, after too much thinking and not enough planning, we headed upcountry for the first time this season. Being completely unplugged and off grid provides a wonderful opportunity to *not* think, to *not* worry or plan and to *not* get bogged down in the details of  responsibility. Certainly there are chores: opening the treehouse, cleaning up the decks, moving wood and more. The difference is, for me anyway, that I can see and feel the results of my efforts when I am up there. For example, piles of firewood are quantifiable. It is easy to see when wood needs to be moved closer to where it will be used and so forth. Similarly, clearing walkways, cutting back tall grass in my “parking spot” and pruning out young trees are all tasks that need doing every year. I love knowing that I got the work done, can go off for a walk, come back and sit on the deck watching the birds, the dogs and the shifting light.

thebowl       secorner

Although my neighborhood is relatively quiet and the morning river walks are lovely and somewhat solitary, the noise of being in town is constant.  Having the stillness and peace at the “tree house” this week was a gift and a reminder of how important that deep solitude is to me. At home in town, in addition to the birds in my gardens, there is the almost constant electrical whirr of fans, of the fridge, the noise of neighborhood children, dogs and traffic, occasional sirens.

At the treehouse: the soft whirring of the jays, the cries of coyotes at night, the river of a wind storm followed by the rhythm of rain all night and the whistling call of the ground squirrels my dogs find so entertaining. Every once in a while, a large animal will move through. We hear branches breaking, the rustle of grass, the dogs might bark once or twice. This trip I did not see them but moose, elk, black bears and deer all live there, it is their home, I am just a visitor.

My next trip will be in a week or so depending on various schedules. We will stay for 5 days if all goes well. Stay tuned.

***

beau-9-3   Beau, keeping track     gracie-9-3 ms. Gracie, ready to roll, again!

The dogs were ecstatic when we arrived at the gate and they were released.

gate2

By the time I had made the climb up our drive, they had criss-crossed the ridge and met me on the deck, both in full body wag. They spent our time there on the  move, chasing and waiting for ground squirrels that live in the wood piles and downed timber. They would come back to me for a bit, have a drink or a rub, then one or the other would alert and both would take off up the meadow or down the hill. Beau would sometimes lay down for a nap (he has an “off button”), ms. Gracie would still be running had we not come home. She has the Border Collie energy and stamina. She is also still young and at an  age where she will whimper with fatigue but get up and run some more at the smallest opportunity.