Take That First Step

My sketch of a woman in NYC

The New Year is almost here.  Well, hello 2011!  What has passed is in the past, 2010 will be no more. Hopefully everything we’ve learned during 2010 will sustain us, make us more aware and conscious.  Greeting a new year is like stepping forward anew into the unknown. Sometimes it means taking a first step toward a goal, toward a dream or a wish. That can take a lot of courage, especially because claiming and naming our dreams is to be exposed, and to perhaps stumble (no big deal, just get back up!). My wish for everyone is a wish for dreams to come true, hopes and aspirations to be realized, and that all of us have the courage to walk on and face whatever life brings us.  This drawing I did years ago of a woman in NYC, wearing sensible shoes and seemingly about to step toward some vast, open space of light, seemed like the right sketch for New Year’s Eve.  Happy New Year everyone!

Sleep, Baby

This is my sketch of my newborn niece in Scotland, 1994

One of the holiest subjects to draw or paint is a baby. New life is so sacred, so innocent and yet in need of protection and nurturing, so much so that I cannot imagine approaching a more noble prospect for capturing life in line and shadow.  One of the most moving aspects of Christmas for me is to imagine we’re all that holy baby in need of protection and nurturing. Approaching others as though they, too, are originally and mostly that holy baby (somewhere in there!) I think is to value human life essentially just because there is an original dignity and delicateness about life that must be honored. To be human is to be first a baby who will not survive without being nurtured. As we grow, we make choices which define us on our journey, as life happens to us and around us, and honoring the newborn inside is essential to self-love. Anyone holding a new born knows that baby will need a lot of help along the way in life.

Ice Skating in Westport (and Sketching People)

Last winter, I brought my sketchbook and drew at the PAL (Police Athletic League) ice rink at Longshore and loved being in the midst of all the activity. It’s enthralling to capture as much as possible while people move around. I had to get into a zone, almost like a trance. I didn’t talk to anyone, and put all my energy into drawing every move before everything changed. I had to do several sketches of the tables and chairs prior so I’d know generally how to lay out this area on the page. This drawing is one of my favorites.

Dream Journal: My Spirit Guide Dream

In 2004 I had a dream of an African American Spirit Guide. He came to me several times. His energy was not about conditions, but more about acceptance. One day I was meditating and asked to see some specific things from the Spirit Realm (I thought it wold be great to have an apparition of Mary, for example!).  That night I had a dream, and this Spirit Guide yelled at me. He said, “Don’t push the river! Don’t mess with the time!” I understood that I was being TOLD not to ask for more than I was ready to handle, and that if I did ask, then I was manipulating my own will, which the universe must answer and in so doing it mucks up things because there was/is a plan for me to work along with the universe (rather than pushing for what I think is best).  I talked with my Cherokee mentor about this dream. She said, “Yep, you got yelled at.” She told me the pig with the figure 8 in the dream was all about food and infinity, about having the ability to survive on earth. We all have to start getting our own sources for food in order to thrive (grow gardens and self-sustain together).

Aliens Visiting This Christmas?

This is a jacket cover from a book I illustrated by Gregory Maguire. With recent reports from all over of UFO sightings, I’m wondering if this is a premonition Gregory had.  What a wild and quirky Christmas it would be if aliens really did visit this Christmas. Let’s hope only the nice ones would drop down to introduce themselves.  I’ve been intrigued by these recent UFO sightings, especially the one in NYC a month or so ago.  We never did get a very good explanation of just what those things were in the sky (weather balloons don’t cut it!).  Personally, I experience my own sightings I cannot explain. Some things I’ve seen are what I call “robotic entities” (they have some personality, are almost like toys or cameras) and some others which are geometric, holographic and seem SEVERELY intelligent, and without emotion, which is off-putting. Others are what I would call very like our own basic life structures (protozoan, insect like).  These are like our own microscopic life forms, but they’re not cherubs so I’m not sure I like them. I don’t know what to make of any of these things, and my husband can’t help shifting uncomfortably when I admit to seeing such things, and who can blame him?!  But then I just tell him, “They’re hovering over you sometimes!”

Outdoor Art Installation: Chinese Mountain

As an art instructor years ago at Paideia Summer Camp in Atlanta, Ga., I created an outdoor installation piece I call “Chinese Mountain”.  I found an enormous military parachute the size of a football field (well, almost!) and just had to figure out something to do with it. I opened it up outside, cut it up and began attaching it to the play structure in the school playground. I remember the thrill of how it changed everything about the landscape, it was like a giant silk palace. Light and shadows were so dreamy when you ran under it.

What does it conjure for you? The photographs of it feel different from the way it felt standing in front of the great expanse, it felt less like a giant web than it does in this picture.

The back view, where the white light that came through the panels shows. It felt so uplifting. I remember being so glad I was working where creativity and the unconventional could be appreciated.

And then the artful, unique and extraordinary children made doing this creative installation even more stellar for me. Look at them, the inhabiters of the parachute Chinese Mountain.

Penguins (and Children) at the New York Aquarium

This is a sketch from 1994, at the New York Aquarium.  The children would run up to the glass and watch the fish and at another, watch the penguins. I noticed the similarity of movement, or essence of movement between the children and the penguins, who had a child-like quality. It makes me wonder about self-consciousness and innocence, instinct and conditioning. The penguins are being themselves, moving without intended design (they’re not posing as far as I can tell).  Very young children move about with the same freedom of expression, but also my intentionally pose, as they generally love to mimic. While I was sketching, adults never rushed up to the penguin window and wiggled around or jumped or twirled. I wonder why do we get conditioned to appear reserved most always as adults? Honestly, I would rather use my energy in other ways so I refrain from jumping up and down for that reason (I sat and sketched and watched everyone else move around, for example). Looking at these penguin sketches now after all these years, I see that sometimes, a penguin looks like an adult human, sort of tired and stooped over.

Whimsy Cards and Inspiration

I’ve been making cards called “Whimsy Cards” and was very much inspired by someone who commissioned several of them. This person is very creative, and has a sophisticated style. It is especially gratifying to appreciate someone and create for them, to be inspired by them and see imagery that would match the feelings they give you.  I realize all art for me has to do with inspiration and with emotion and with gratitude. In her honor, I made a new set of whimsical cards, called “Whimsy Cynthia” which I cannot post until I’m sure she received them in the mail.