This is the fourth in a series of oil pastel over watercolor. See them all here.
Like hands raised in praise
they stand tall and freed
From the dripping colors
that bowed them in the breeze.
Unfettered now from leafy sails
Which bent them low in windy gales
Enabled more to endure the season
Unburdened by Beauty’s reason.
The cosmic broom has swept away
the fluff and fancies of an autumn day.
All that Beauty which weighed them down
Has been brushed clean…nary a leaf on the ground.
‘Tis Beauty too, these fingered wrists
which pierce the heavens and the mists.
And so I’ll stand among them now
with hands raised, though they bow…
In hopes the cosmic broom will sweep
away the follies that I keep,
The fluff that weighs my hands from raising
that I might freely stand, the heaven’s praising.
upon my walk…again
A Vision of Leaves
Oh to describe the leaves sparkling around me—
Chased out by the rain, falling all twirly.
I too am chased by the rain as I walk
But now I will pause to hear the leaves talk.
They whisper as they flutter and dance to the ground,
Giggles and gurgles, frolics abound.
How I wish I could capture this “vision for thieves”;
But they are not blueberries, just ripe autumn leaves.
Could I injest them, I certainly would,
But rain chases me off from where I have stood.
Do I only dance when chased by a storm?
When wind and rain nudge me off my platform?
Do I risk the freefall as a faceted jewel?
Or stay comfortable in my tree hoarding wood for winter’s fuel?
As I leave the enchantment of this leafy snowfall…
One lights on my shoulder then commences to fall…
Yet whispers something as it rests a minute:
“Keep dancing and twirling…the sky is no limit!”
Given to me on my walk as I entered a leafy snowfall near the intersection of Korner Rock Rd and Inland Dr.
I’ve been reading a generous allotment of Robert Frost’s poetry lately. It sets my mind to thinking in rhythm and rhyme. The way he puts words together, like paint on paper, gets under my skin and begins oozing out, especially on my walks. Perhaps it’s the regular rhythm of footfalls, or the infusion of nature around me…I dunno. If Frost’s poetry is indeed like “frost”- that shimmering stuff on chilly mornings, crisp and solid; then my attempts are only dew- not quite set…like jello that hasn’t set yet. I’m ok with this. The fun is in the words. I don’t labor them too much. I told my husband that they just come to me…like the leaves falling around me.
This is a story about a 9 year old creative and her
teacher mom. By way of showing off the amazing things my youngest makes, I want to give you a behind-the-scenes story…for it is truly a learning process on MY part to create a safe environment for my artist-daughter to be creative, to explore without judgment or criticism, but to also guide, offer options, and NOT step in and do it myself. This is a difficult, very difficult thing to do.
A month or so ago, Maddie had an assignment from school: make a diorama of a scene from a favorite book she’s read recently. I did not have to help with ideas…she knew exactly what she wanted: shoebox filled with all the characters from a specific scene in the Beezus & Ramona book by Beverly Cleary. She knew she wanted to crochet a rug, put paper on the walls for paint, draw the characters and make them stand up, with checkers flying all over the place.
But to get from the terrific ideas to actually being able to make them is where she turns to me and I begin to ask her a series of questions exploring all her ideas. Then to begin. She got her yarn and hook, began to crochet but started wailing when the rectangle was turning into a triangle! Of course, the wailing is in my direction, because she sees me as “help”. It really doesn’t matter what I’m doing or what i’m involved in at the moment…the creative catastrophe must be attended to! I show her what has happened, how to fix it, and set her on her way again. Rug is made.
She chooses the color of paper for the walls and begins to draw the characters. Oh my. This is where the real hard work began. None of her sketches were turning out the way she had them in her head. We discussed how this is the way it is for all creative people…that one must allow drawings (or whatever one makes) to become what they need to be, rather than what we think they should be. We talk of giving oneself the fun of making several versions and then choosing the one liked best. She pleads with me to draw for her. I draw. Nope. That isn’t what she wants (thankfully), and off again she goes to wrestle with paper and pencil until she has something she is happy with. In the end, her drawings, done all on her own, are FAR better than anything I had going, and she received a sense of self-satisfaction that we also talked about…a delicious result of having worked through the creative difficulty and won!
The only thing I contributed here in the diorama is the hot glue gun to get everything to stick, to stand, to stay put. Everything else is her, all her. I think it’s an amazing diorama!! And I do think the conversations we had along the way were a big part of her learning to be a healthy creative person. I’m hoping, perhaps in vain, that all my sighing will not be remembered in the long run.
A couple of weeks ago, she wanted to make a stuffed cat. A bit of back story here is that I had been talking about making these tube-like cats with pinched ears, a tail and a face for several months, but never got around to doing it. It was now a Saturday and I began to try my hand at what was in my head, but it really wasn’t there…not the outcome, but the motivation was lacking as well as a clear idea. So she asked if she could do it…of course!! Go to it! And she begins to talk about the ways SHE would make these cats. My daughter and I do not lack for ideas, that’s for sure! We love to talk about them. She wanted to make hers into a reality.
From the outset, she began plying me with questions…should I do this? should I do that? I don’t know, Maddie, I would say…this is YOUR project. You don’t need to bring MY ideas into being…only YOUR ideas. And so she began to look at scrap fabrics. One of the things she easily falls into is being overwhelmed with an idea. I tell her: just start with the beginning…what is the beginning for you? The body. OK. Choose the fabric for the body, work with that, and then move on to the next thing. That was just what she needed to get going. The sewing machine was whirring as she sewed the body; then turned to hand sewing for a white belly and little arms. She then sewed the ears, the face, the bottom part, stuffed it and voila! The only thing I did were the whiskers. My resolve to NOT step in and do it for her, broke down here and I just made them…but I did show her how. “Oh, that’s so easy!” she said.
The penguin was last weekend’s creation…handmade soup to nuts! The beak gave her fits at first (“the beginning” was not going so well). But she persisted as I stayed out of it. All in all, this project was relatively question-free except for help in finding some buttons for eyes (she had very specific requirements for these!… I’m just glad I had what she wanted!) and excepting a little mishap in sewing up the body. I helped sew it back together, and in the process she declared that though the body was not sewn up “right”, she thought it was actually BETTER because it gave the sense of the penguin’s wings. Yay! A flexible creative she is certainly becoming!
To be on the other side of art, the side of teaching, coaching, guiding is at once a privilege AND a precarious position. We all know the disastrous stories of kids whose creative wings got clipped early on due to careless or even cruel words spoken by a teacher, a parent, a friend. I SO don’t want to curtail her cyclonic creativity…but at the same time, I do want to teach her there’s room for patience, for slowing down, for altering the original plan, for allowing for “mistakes”, for taking breaks, for ALL the caretaking things we creatives need to practice!
When Maddie smiles, hugs her penguin, and proclaims, “Oh, I just LOVE him!”…I know she has enjoyed flying around in the world of creativity…
…and she’ll probably keep on flying!
Piano, Snippy, and Squirt…among many others. I walked into the sunroom, where Maddie had just finished practicing her Christmas pieces, and there ON the piano were two of her favorite plushies who had listened intently while she played.
Why do we ever stop carrying around with us favorite toys, dolls, stuffed things? Do we become too cool? too adult? too serious? Hmmm…maybe I’ll try to revive this in Kernersville.
Now where is that favorite doll of mine?
Morning is the best time of day for me…quiet, solitude, time to think, read, pray, write. But it is made even better when my littlest joins me. I tell her, “This is quiet time for us…you can write too.” So she grabs paper and pen and begins to write.
This particular morning she began a story about her favorite stuffed animals. They are the three she carries around with her these days, that is, if she doesn’t have an American Girl doll in her arms. She’s quite the writer, Maddie is. And a “making machine”! I’ll have to post soon all the recent creations this girl has produced.
The only difficulty with Maddie joining me in the mornings, is that after a bit of quiet and writing, she then wants to share with me what she has written. Not a bad thing…just an end to the quiet, an end to the musing and praying. But don’t we all want to share what we’re creating? Isn’t it just built into creativity to share what we’ve got going, what we’ve made, drawn, painted, written, created?
As Thanksgiving continues…THANK YOU for allowing me to share with you here in this little patch of blogland, the things I create– drawings, paintings, knitting, crocheting, thoughts, life, etc. . Thank you for visiting!
There was a time, in early Autumn, when I stood on my back-deck balcony to survey the back-yard green. The crisp, chiseled light was drawn to the only color in our back yard. The glow of these two spots caught my breath and held it there as if I were in a darkened theatre mesmerized by the spotlighted display.
On this day, Thanksgiving Day 2011, I catch my breath once again as I survey the landscape of my life and gaze on spots of glowing gratitude:
*Family. Both in my home and within a two hour radius of our home…half of whom I’ll see and hug today, half of whom I’ll hold in the spotlight of my heart.
*Friends. Those I see and know through our church family, some who are grieving this day, some who are mending…I treasure you all.
*Online friends and artists from around the world. You are bright spots as you visit me here. I treasure your comments, your thoughts, or just your presence popping in.
May your Thanksgiving Day be filled with glowing spots of gratitude.
I am honored to have a drawing of mine chosen for this year’s Honor Cards for a local mission called Out of the Garden Project. Led by Kristi and Don Milholin, this non-profit group seeks to ease the hunger of hundreds of North Carolina children in over 30 of Guilford County’s schools. I’m absolutely thrilled to have a tiny part in what they’re doing in my neighboring town.
More and more children are relying on the food they eat at school to be their main source. When they go home for the weekend, many families struggle to put food on the table. This problem is more widespread than you might think. Kristi and Don have been inspiring and leading others to band together and help provide for these families on the weekend. They receive food donations, organize it in a warehouse, pack “meals” into grocery bags, and deliver them to the schools who have applied for this assistance. You really should cruise around on their website to get a feel for what they’re doing!
And YOU can be a part of the solution as well! By making a donation of just $5 (or more), you can contribute to their ability to purchase more food and reach out to more and more children and their families. With each $5 (or more) donation, you will receive an Honor Card with the above piece of artwork printed on it and a lovely envelope to go with it.
This photograph shows you the front and back of this Honor Card, and the beautiful metallic envelope it comes with.
These would make excellent gifts to teachers, co-workers, colleagues and family members this Christmas. They are taking donations (via Pay Pal on their website) through early January. I will leave a button in the right-hand margin for you to click on anytime, to donate and receive an Honor Card. Remember, you can receive an Honor Card for every $5 if you wish….just be sure to email Don & Kristy how many you would like once you’ve placed your donation! If you only want to receive one Honor Card for a $25 donation (or 10 Honor Cards for a $75 donation, etc.), indicate that as well. They are happy to mail these to YOU!!
When you give this as a gift, you’re giving the gift of food to a child in need and the gift of art to a friend. What could be a better gift than that?
One Friday morning, a couple of weeks ago, my kids were out of school for Veteran’s Day. As I bustled around the house doing domestic things, I walked into the living room and saw my two girls curled up cozily on the couch together, each playing their DS Pokemon games. Oh my heart. <sigh> My senior girl has had so little time to just “veg” lately…it was lovely to see her taking some time to do just that with her little sister, a fourth grader. The oldest was sharing tips with the youngest on how to maneuver through the game as she herself was reliving a childhood memory of playing these DS games with her brother, who is closer to her age. My first thought, upon seeing them thus, was to draw them. But the press of whatever I was doing, quickly moved me on to other less satisfying things.
As the day wore on, I felt a sadness at not having captured that moment between my daughters. It’s a familiar feeling. For as much as I DO draw, so many moments in life do NOT get chronicled in my sketchbook, and I experience a lingering sadness. Yes, I can photograph them, then maybe later draw from the photo. Yes, I can attempt an “out of my head” drawing. But what i really want is to sit IN THE MOMENT with them, and draw…soak up the moment as if my pen were a straw through which I extract all the sweetness.
I didn’t say any of this to anyone. Just went to sleep that night wishing I had STOPPED doing whatever domestic chore I felt was more pressing, and spent the five or ten minutes to draw them playing Pokemon. The next morning, a Saturday, I was once again bustling around when I happened upon the very same sight!!! Both girls huddled together under crocheted blankets on the couch in the living room playing their DS games! What joy! What wonder that I should be granted a SECOND CHANCE! And by golly I wasn’t gonna be pushed around by domesticity this time! No sir! I dropped whatever I was doing, grabbed my pen and sketchbook and drank from that straw as much of the sweetness as I could. It was wonderful.
And I was so grateful…for my daughters, for lessons learned, and for SECOND CHANCES!
Before we leave fall color behind, I wanted you to see two other sketches made near My Field. Here I’m trying out different mediums, inspired by the One Drawing A Day book I told you about here. In these I’ve used crayons, just regular ‘ole crayons to draw with, or to put in accents here and there. The watercolor paint won’t adhere to the paper where wax crayon has been used.
It offers a sparkling effect…enhancing the glowing colors. In the drawing below, I used the crayon mostly as outline, whereas in the first drawing, crayon is used more for interior accent and texture. The first sketch is facing the entrance to my neighborhood which is right on the corner of The Field. The second sketch is 90 degrees to the right of this sign, a conglomeration of color by the road leading into and out of the neighborhood.
I already miss the sparkle of Fall…