Westport Sketchbook: Town Crew

Yesterday’s post included a drawing of a boy mirthfully discovering a downed tree. Today I am happy to post our excellent Town Crew working hard to clean up after the storm. Children can play around the trees, but the town crew has to keep the town safe. In these sketches, the crew dealt with a tree which had snapped near the bottom and fallen into another tree. I had walked the dog around this tree for a few days after the storm, not looking up, and somehow never even noticed it. I was really impressed with the crew, the way they worked together to deal with the dangerous trunk of the tree. I had never drawn a cherry picker before.

The crew had to deal with enormous amounts of branches and trees, dangerous electrical wires and poles down.

It was interesting to me to really look at the bucket truck. I usually just go by quickly and don’t notice much about it. The man in the cherry picker had to use a chain saw.

They had to coordinate how to hook and loop a rope so they could get the tree to fall in a certain way, I think.

I was amazed by the skill of the crew and the equipment. All this stuff goes on so everyone in town can do whatever they need or want to do, never necessarily realizing how much work goes into just keeping the town’s roads safe. Especially after a storm like this one, I feel I’m more aware now of how much goes into organizing and maintaining a town’s safety.

Westport Sketchbook: Forest Dweller

I sat down along the stonewall at Winslow Park, wanting to draw the majestic and inviting open gates on the south/east side of the park. I was thinking about the old world beauty of the enormous, triumphant gates, their elaborate finials so decorative, when I heard laughter over to my left. Where a tree had fallen in the storm a few weeks ago, a little forest dweller scampered. The boy was running up and down the enormous trunk. I heard him call out that he’d discovered something great. The way the roots were pulled up from the ground, a spectacular cave was opened up, and he could enter this cave at the roots. The roots, instead of going deep into the soil, were now sticking out sideways like a giant claw, and the “cave” was the open space inside the bottom of the tree where you could go in “about five feet” according to this forest dwelling child. When does anyone ever get to know what it feels like to go inside a tree like that?

I immediately began to draw this scene. The gates at Winslow draw you in, and once in, you never know, you might discover something really exciting. To see a color version of this drawing, go to www.westportnow.com

Friday Angel (stitch by stitch)

At times, drawing with thread provides for me a deep meditative way of creating. This is an angel, part of a sewn triptych. This work is unfinished, as I’d like to alter the found material I used a bit more. This angel is serious, unwavering. You would not pray to have guidance from an angel and then take this angel lightly by not “listening” to your very core. I made him this way because when I’ve perceived angels or dreamed of them, they communicate by looking directly at you, yet do not speak the way we do. They don’t need to. There is a solemn quietude blended with seriousness of purpose and gentleness, all directed at you in a pure form of powerful energy. I know each angelic energy is unique, but to me, they all have this one kind of ethereal and active presence. I offer this angel to us for Friday, and let me know if you get any messages or signs!

Frog Shaman and the Claddagh Ring

In my twenties, I had just come out of a disastrous youthful relationship and felt that on my first footing out into the world as a young adult, I had stumbled miserably. I was feeling very low, and wondered if I’d ever find my “true love” as I so wanted to. I had a ring which I wore, from a trip I took to Ireland, called a Claddagh ring. The ring design shows hands meeting, with a crowned heart in the center. One was to wear this ring to show marital status. If you were not married, you wore the ring with heart facing outward (showing that you were available). If you were married, you turned it in so the heart faced inward (you were taken, betrothed). Each day I wore my Claddagh ring so the heart faced outward. I was “scripting” for what I wanted, signaling the universe that I was ready and wanted to be married, to find that true love. If you don’t ask, you might not receive, and so I did this ritual everyday. Each day, week, month that went by, and year, and then another, I felt sad that I still had only met friends, or dated, but the relationships did not  develop, and still I was not married. Then one night I had a dream. I stood beside a dusty lane in a pastoral setting. I saw two people walking along this lane. As they approached, I saw that one of the people was a great “Frog Shaman”. I saw that he wore a big head-dress shaped like a frog’s head. He wore a robe. He was talking intently with the other person. I watched as they passed me, and then the Frog Shaman turned to me and said, “Take that ring off! Do not wear that ring anymore!” And he kept walking. I was shocked and when I woke up, I put away that ring for good.  I immediately looked up what frog means in Native American animal medicine. Frog, I learned, means cleansing. Somehow, I needed to cleanse myself of the energy of feeling as though I lacked my “true love”. I needed to get rid of that notion, and that ring. I don’t even know where it is now. I realized that the ring was signaling not what I had intended which was that I was open to true love, but rather that I was “lacking” something, lacking true love. Who wants to weigh themselves down with the feeling of lacking something? I was doing myself in by keeping that ring on! I am grateful to the ring, and to the great Frog Shaman who showed me how to switch my thinking and my feeling. ( I re-discovered I loved being myself, and living with a sense of joy enough that it was okay to aspire without feeling “lack” and the drama of fear. And, I found my true love).

Westport Sketchbook: Pinewood Derby

I brought my sketchbook to my son’s Cub Scout Pinewood Derby. This is when small wooden race cars (made by the scouts) are placed on the top of a sloping track, and speed down the track under the finish line. It all happens in a matter of seconds, and nobody really knows (I don’t think) why certain cars win and others don’t. But everyone tries to figure out the best design for optimum speed, and most every boy (and his dad?) want their car to win very badly. Very serious racing! I loved watching the children at this event. The scouts were in constant motion. I had to draw very quickly. Their ever-changing poses were an inspiration. Humans are beautiful.

The track, the intrigued siblings (they were included and even given ribbons at the ceremony!).

As the boys waited with anticipation, the adults who run the troop placed blue tape down (“Don’t cross the blue tape!” was heard over and over).

Poses shifted as each boy waited for his car to be placed on the track.

All of these children are strikingly beautiful.

The adults who volunteer to run this event and others are very dedicated and they put so much into the effort.

The baby present (one of a few) was excited about all the excitement.

Waiting, watching…


The boys as they have grown over the years in scouts show their maturity sometimes, and a natural grace.

See a color sketch of the scouts in www.westportnow.com


“Some nights are fairy nights

Before you go to bed

You hear their darling music

go chiming in your head;

You look into the garden,

and through the misty grey

You see the trees all waiting

in a breathless kind of way.

All the stars are smiling;

they know that very soon

The fairies will come singing

from the land behind the moon.”

from SOMETIMES, a poem by Rose Fyleman

This painting was part of a meditation and Spirit Painting I did recently for a little girl. I had felt very compelled while concentrating on this child, and so this painting was created with her essence in heart and mind. Healing others is what came up during this Spirit Painting, and I felt this child will be learning how to take the negative (sometimes illness is seen as a big, scary negative in life) and meet it with positive (wellness and light) and see the gift in both. In each, there is opportunity to learn.

Tree Spirit (middle piece of triptych)

When I look out the window, I see faces staring back at me. Faces in the trees sweetly acknowledge me, their features created by the way branches and leaves come together, or in the way vines wind around limbs reaching skyward. This is the middle segment of the triptych “Tree Spirit” in the exhibition at the Arsenal Center for the Arts. I painted her because I know her. She’s benevolent, mysterious and adaptable. She’s just out the window.

Arsenal Center for the Arts exhibition: NEW VISIONS

This is a detail from one of my paintings, TREE SPIRIT, part of the NEW VISIONS exhibition at Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown, MA (Boston area). Other artists are Maggie Stern (a dear friend of mine), Maureen Cook, Kay Hartung, Joan Mullen, Mark Peterson and CJ Stevens. The opening reception is tomorrow. I’m really excited for these painted “signs of spring” to be seen publicly after being in the studio for a while.  I’ll show more of the work on illuminara.com after it is officially unveiled. I keep looking up at all the trees, none of them budding just yet, not quite…can’t wait…

A Child’s Light (Spirit Painting in the making)

I am painting a Spirit Painting for a child who I have not met. At this stage in the painting, I felt so compelled to do “ancient light”, the light of the world as it has given sunshine to the planet long before our understanding of time. This child has knowing as golden as the sun and as ancient as wisdom itself. I can’t keep painting, have to stop and just “be” with the love in this child which found it’s way into the art at an early stage. I might have to start another for her, and see where it takes us. I started to communicate with Derrick Hayes on FB, and he had no idea that I was basking in the thought of light, of golden rays from a prayer/meditation about a child, and he did this little poem with my name, “Elaine”, which I took as a sign (kiss from God):

“Every Light Assures Individuals New Excellence”

Derrick was tapping in to exactly what I was feeling. How a child’s light, inner glow, brings out the best in us if we are seeking enlightenment, there it is. To read more about Derricks life of poetic wisdom, go to: http://www.derrickhayes.com