every morning when i wake, i can roll over to my right and see a lovely tree outside my southern window. in autumn it is a riot of bold yellow color; in spring, soft froth of green; in winter, bare branches reaching upward to the sky. this morning it was shrouded in fog, and thanks to the phone charging beside the bed, i was able to snap a quick photo to capture the quiet of a moment, soft and grey and white. one photo can then go from that, to this: and then from that to this: so many different shades of sepia and grey, colors that soften what would otherwise be a very ordinary day. a lot of people i've known here - transplants from another place - grow deeply dissatisfied with living here when winter rolls around. they grumble and talk of moving, and most of them do. i cannot understand. the seasons are powerful here in the mountains, and bring me great inspiration and clarity. when winter settles in, i relish walking with walter on bare bone trails, i treasure the time to see the lay of the land for what it truly is without the added trimmings of green vines and leaves, come spring and into summer. i used to detest winter, and the cold, until i moved out here to the middle nothing else and began watching the short, quiet days of january and february pass quickly beyond these southern windows. something inside of me shifted when i finally decided to embrace that which does surround me outside of myself, to savor the beauty of the changes in our seasons. it wasn't difficult to make this shift, once i chose to find the beauty rather than the pain. i wish it were this simple, this easy with everything else that collides with all of us in life.
towards the end of last year, i made a big decision to take an online workshop, something that is new to this gal who lives out in the netherlands where computer connection is touchy at best, who has in the past not been able to view a video, to see large resolution photographs sent on to me. i am a horrid student, anyway: the few times that i've taken a workshop, i've laid unrealistic, enormous expectations on myself, am the last one in class to finish a project (or the only one to not finish what we had set out to do), for the ridiculous reason that i'd vainly assumed whatever i made would be the best i had ever done. being an art instructor by trade did not help with this, in the least; in class, flanked by enthusiastic students on either side, i floundered and flopped as each of them sailed. a busy teaching schedule prevented me from ever having time to take a class myself at the larger art retreats; lack of funds for something as luxurious as art lessons was another obstacle i had to navigate, to overcome. my own "style" is something that has unfolded, developed, and evolved in the thirty or so years that i've been creating mixed media art; and trying to break free of my own rigid assumptions about what i'm supposed to do - in art, in life - is a self imposed mold that i'm trying with all of my might to hammer and crack open like a very hard shell. sitting in a classroom, working on lessons is foreign to this fifty five year old artist/instructor; working on art as a lesson in progress is something i've not taken or made the time to do in a good ten years. What I Hope to Be, 2002
this is a big year for change, i'm promising myself that, and one of those changes involves setting enough time and funds aside to grow artistically, even when i don't have the extra money to spend on something like art. ( i want to grow in other ways, too, that always goes without saying; too often, though, i've set the art far back on a burner to grow lukewarm, even cold). i'm not teaching nearly as much this year as i have in the past; and for the first time in the years that Artfest has been held in port townsend, i won't be heading out to teach. this absolutely breaks my heart, as this is its final year, and i had been the one teacher who had never missed a year. the one. daddy's death in the middle of may, and his rapid decline in the months of winter and spring, prevented me from meeting workshop proposal deadlines that so quickly rolled around two weeks later, at the end of may. not having to set aside the usual time in march/early april for workshop preparation, for the vendor sale, for the trip itself, is opening up another door and window for this coming spring. and now i do have that time to take the workshop i've wanted to take for so long. it begins today; it begins. like any new student, i have the usual butterflies, the self doubts, the need to organize and set aside time in the day and evening to dedicate to something other than the usual household duties/errands/studio work. how grand!
vines on a blue wall in an asheville parking lot, taken yesterday in the rain
by engaging myself in something completely beyond the borders of myself, by blending that border so that what i learn, what is new, what is scary but fresh, what is a change from old, from predictable, from what was then and needs to be now, then i hope i'll be able to focus even more closely on the small and everyday beauty, to see and recognize what's out there, to acknowledge the sacred and the grace of living each day of this earthly walk through life. it is a short walk. i want it to count, every step of the way.
i will be teaching several times this year - once again, at art and soul in portland in october, in june at valley ridge art studio in wisconsin, and in later october on the east coast in an intimate workshop that is still in the planning stages (stay tuned for that!!). too, i'll be returning to the Tin Shop Artist Studio in breckenridge, colorado for two beautiful weeks in august, and will be teaching some sort of day workshop there as well. the teacher side of me still stands tall (all 5'2") and proud; the student continues to learn as i walk and listen and contemplate and see. i hope you'll continue to walk through life alongside of ever-evolving me.