Friday, October 26, 2007

Falling/Flowing

It is finally fall here. After weeks of 80-90 degree days, the rain and cool temps have descended. Red, russet and golden leaves carpet my walk. Sweaters have come out of the closet and the cool, damp air is breathed deep into my lungs. I have always loved the fall. I associate it with of one of my favorite memories throughout grade school....the day they handed out the textbooks at school. No matter how much I ended up dreading those boring textbooks and the assignments they produced when the school year was in full throttle, on that first day, first week even, they were magical tomes full of knowledge and mystery. Their heft, their smell, whether new, old or used, I viewed them as keys to the mystery. Within their pages were things that grown-ups knew. The knowledge was being handed out piecemeal, year after year, page by page, to my eager little mind.

I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED learning - still do. My all time favorite was the Think and Do workbook series. I wanted to rush home and complete the whole book that first day, yet being a good Catholic student, I followed the rules and only did one assignment at a time. Imagine - think and then do. How simple, how true. We do it every day. At least we should - think before doing, that it.

I felt the same way when I stepped into the Bethesda library - a building full of books that I expected I would eventually read, yes, each and every one of them. To my young eyes it looked doable. The library opened in November 1952, the month and year I was born. As I grew, it grew. Soon they began to fill the study tables with books, then they moved the Children's book section to a smaller area (we were small people), then they announced they were building a new library. Then the new library was remodeled to enclosed more space for more books. In other words, the number of books increased exponentially. As I grew, I understood that I would never get to them all. Ha! I can barely get to any of them right now. Another reason I am taking time off.

So back to fall. Last weekend I flew home from St. Louis on a route that took me over the mountains of West Virginia. I don't know why, but it was the first time I had seen the fall leaves from this vantage point. A gorgeous carpet of russet and gold hues woven together in a tapestry. The further north I got, the greener it became. I followed the Potomac River as it wound its way, ribbon-like through the mountains and down to our Nation's Capitol. Crossing the river yesterday on my way home from visiting my parents in Virginia, I realized just how close I live to the river. Just shy of 3 miles. The very same river my ancestors sailed and traded on back in the 1600s. Back in the day, I stepped into this river at Colonial Beach, even swam in its waters. Now, sadly, it is too polluted to swim in.

You could not step twice into the same rivers; for other waters are ever flowing on to you. ~ Heraclitus. Do I want to step into the same river? I do want those fall feelings again. I want to be that wide-eyed girl again, with dreams of reading all the books, gaining all the knowledge. I do so enjoy thinking. But the other half of the equation is to DO. Now that I have grown, I realize that it is no good to only think, one must do. Learning, living life comes from the doing. And I have learned that there is as much knowledge to acquire by doing is there is by thinking. More perhaps.

Of course I still plan to curl up by the fire with a good book. One cannot always be doing. Life must balance out. I think the key is to always be eager and open to the ebbs and flows of life, the winding of the river. To be that eager child desiring to one day know it all. To be as a child, to be a beginner. One can always be a beginner. If the angel deigns to come it will be because you have convinced her, not by tears but by your humble resolve to be always beginning; to be a beginner. ~ Rilke

I'll see you when I get back from the Quilt Fesitval.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Saintly Weekend

DARN. I just realized that I never took a pix of the Foundry Art Centre. I was enamored of the place. It was such a delightful weekend, weather-wise, facility-wise, and most of all, people-wise. The Show-Me state showed me a really good time, beginning with the wonderful Laura Helling, who has directed this art center into a very integral and moving force in the St. Charles community in the 4 years it has been open.

My first delight was seeing Quilt National in the cloth - it was my first stop after meeting Laura and Joyce (the founder) and stashing my supplies in the classroom. Besides the Dairy Barn in Ohio, this is the only location that hosts the entire show. I have seen parts of it before at various locations so I was fortunate to see it all this time. And it looks like I'll have the same opportunity to see the next one again in 2009 as I'll be back to teach again!


Each day, after teaching, I left the art center to walk "home" along historic Main Street. This small town is quite a tourist attraction as it is steeped in history. Lewis & Clark started their westward expedition here. It is the oldest town along the Missouri River, and also the first capitol of Missouri. Main Street has been restored and has many shops, restaurants and delights, like a horse-drawn carriage, a glass conservatory dedicated to weddings and the unique little shop, Rock Paper Scissors. It was my destination after Saturday's class and Corey was still open long enough for me to do some damage to my wallet. I don't get out much, so everything in the shop was new to me. I gathered papers and goodies to work on overdue journals for my granddaughters, as well as irrestible artist papers to add to my paper stash.

All in all, it was an idyllic weekend. I felt instantly at home. New students became old friends before the first class was over. While I was minutes from St. Louis, highways, malls and traffic, spending time in this secluded little pocket along the Missouri River was the perfect refreshment for the soul that I needed. It gave me the chance to slow down and catch my breath.


I try to step into each body of water that my teaching takes me to, but the Missouri flows swiftly and its banks are muddy. I was content to watch it flow from my safe perch, enjoying the warm afternoon sun after my Sunday class ended. I'll miss the people and the place, but not for long! I'll be returning there in March to take a class with Laurie Doctor, an artist whose work I have admired for years. Months ago, when I first saw that she was teaching at the Foundry, I felt I needed to be in that class. Now that I have been there and heard what Laura has to say about Laurie, and felt the sense of renewal and friendship provided by St. Charles and the wonderful fellow artists I met this weekend, I know I have to be there.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ramblings

sam at the pumpkin patchI always feel like a bad blogger because I do not post any art that I: a) have made, b) am working on, or c) am planning. This is a very good point in my art career. One could say that I have "made it". Everything I do is for publication in books (mine or others), or magazines, TV taping, or new classes - in other words, I am in demand. Because of that demand, I have been travelling and teaching, writing books and writing articles for more years than I can remember. My dream came true. Italy, Australia/New Zealand, TV, cover girl. What more can a girl want? This girl wants time. Time alone. Time in the studio. Time to dig down deep again to the place that birthed those Fragments, oh so long ago.

wishes @thirteenWhen I started on this path, my life was filled with children, a newborn even. Now, some of them are having their own children. Look at dear Sam there in the pumpkin patch with my next tiny granddaughter, Riley Ann Crawford, inside of her. There's Kelly on her 13th birthday, a newborn no more. This daughter, the one I time my art-life by. Was she sent to show me the way? Should I say How time flies...when you're having fun? Trite but true. When I scheduled this next year off, I never knew that I would be spending it with 2 more granddaughters. When did my children grow up? I was there, yet I was too busy to absorb it all. And that's what I want again ~ to really feel in the moment. To have the time to record thoughts and feelings, to create art that springs from my soul and not a deadline.

Don't get me wrong. I love EVERYTHING that has entered my life since I began my journey as an artist. Deep, deep friendships, friends that are such a part of my soul, that I am not complete without them. Friendships I thought I would never experience. The magic of being there when someone in a class or a private session has that aha moment, or when confidence in her self, her creativity, slips into her life - to be present for that, words cannot explain. To know that my work is valued by others, that it resonates with their soul or brings a smile to their face. I have no greater feeling than when I can impart some of the wisdom I have gathered in this life. Two dear friends call me Buddha. Do you know how that thrills me? I have been a seeker all this life, long before I "went public." Seeking the meaning of life, the way to happiness, the "what are we here for" question. It's enough to share myself with my family. it's a blessing and an honor to share it with others.

Friday I leave for St. Louis to teach at the Foundry Art Centre. Second to last trip of the year. I'm really looking forward to seeing a new place. It's the Show Me state as well, and that is what I'll do, show and share. I feel so honored to be the teacher selected to teach there while Quilt national is on exhibit right outside the classroom doors. Quilt National....nows there's another dream that has been on the back burner. Perhaps it's time I bring it to a simmer.

This is not the post I thought I would write when I began, but it's what came out, so it must be right. Success means fulfilling your own dreams, singing your own song, dancing your own dance, creating from your heart and enjoying the journey, trusting that whatever happens, it will be OK. Creating your own adventure! ~ Elana Lindquist

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Cover Girl

My life has been so crazy busy lately, I forgot to share some really exciting news. I'm a cover girl!!! on the next issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, due on newsstands November 1st, just in time for my November birthday. The cover artwork was done for my article on rust. Remember rust? This is a long time dream come true, dating back to when I was editor of my high school year book, dreaming of working for a magazine but alas, did not live in NYC. How narrow my dreams were back then, before I understood that any dream can come true if you follow your heart. I got sidetracked along the way, but here I am checking that one off the list. I really must make a new list. The only one that hasn't come true is a new kitchen....and really, what good is that. My Thanksgiving dinners are just as perfect, my food just as tasty, my life just as full as it could be. Heck, if I can make art in my bedroom, I can cook in a 9'x11' kitchen with only 10' of counter space.

Ah, Portland/Art & Soul

sweetie-pie Karen, spreading the loveI wasn't very good about pulling out my camera at Art & Soul. I had it with me when Claudine, Karen, and Sas went out to dinner. I remember thinking I should ask the Sweet Basil waitress to take our photo, but promptly forgot. It must have been the Asian Pumpkin Curry. That restaurant is to die for. If you're local to or visiting Portland you must go. Do it for me please. yum. Anyway, back to Art & Soul. It went by so fast. I was lucky enough to room with Karen and Claudine, which allowed us to catch up on life, art and dreams of the future. We all yearn for more time in the studio which we will definitely do in 2008. I believe it is true, that if you are giving of yourself by teaching, that there is little left to give to your own art. It's not just a time factor, but one of balance. Of course, what you teach is stuff you know well, things you have been doing for years, work that you are known for. When that is your focus, it is hard to turn the tables and reach deep down inside to find what is new inside you. Hard to hear the small, still voice that beacons you to new discoveries, new meaning. It is the unknown and you must have the time to walk gingerly into the unknown. You cannot treat it like a fast food restaurant - "Two quarter pounders of inspiration to go please. And can you supersize that?" New self discoveries require preparing the soil, planting the seeds, and a long period of dormancy and germination before there is even the hint of new growth breaking ground, much less the blooming of a flower.

Time at an event like Art & Soul feels to me like watering or fertilizing a flower that already exists. Nourishment, care. Tending. What I, and everyone else who was lucky enough to attend must now do is go home, into their studio and plant the seeds we gathered at Art & Soul. Plan and prepare for the garden to guarantee its bloom next spring, summer and beyond.

I'm all about sign and symbols. I take their appearance seriously when they enter my life. I came home to this lovely piece by Mavis Leahy, who has been following my art for a long time - before blogging even. Mavis read about my son and mother and the things my family has been going through lately. This piece she made for me "she flies with her own wings" flew into my soul right when I needed it. (Thank you, Mavis) My mom came home from the hospital the day I left for Portland and is now in the rehab unit of their continuing care facility, eager to go back upstairs to her home. We're not sure if that will happen and my sister, dad and I have a conference with the social worker today. When I saw my mom yesterday, she noticed my new nina necklace right off the bat. She's always had an eye for jewelry, clothing and shoes, my mom. Do you see the connection between these two works of art? Both were handmade with love and attention to detail. Both contain those tiny porcelain dolls. I used to be a dollmaker, crafting little people, inventing personas and lives.

Last night I happened upon a house for sale, 30 miles north of here, in the country, overlooking Sugarloaf mountain. It's 200 years old, renovated, yellow stucco. The serendipity of finding this house (when we are not even looking) was enhanced by 2 other signs. It's down the street from a dear friend who I see very little of and, get this, the outbuilding, the one advertised as a possible studio, was a midwifery/birthing house in the 19th century. If that's not a sign, I do not know what is. Me with 6 children. Art = birth. Yet, and here is the sad part, we're not ready to move. Kelly is only in 8th grade and to separate her from the only home and neighborhood she has ever known would devastate her. Yes, I know she would overcome it, but Buddy is not yet ready to do that to her, or to move. It would also add another 40 minutes to my drive over to see my parents. So most likely, it is not meant to be a part of my life at this point. So I must look for the other reason why this entered my life, the other sign and symbols that it holds for me.

Any so-called material thing that you want is merely a symbol: you want it not for itself, but because it will content your spirit for the moment. ~ Mark Twain