Drawing Hands

dandelion

Drawing and painting hands can be one of the banes of an artist.  Urgh, she says, as she works intently to make a hand that looks like a hand.  Even drawing this very basic hand was challenging.  The fingers, in relation to one another, folded over the palm.  The palm, the wrist, the forearm.  Not so easy as it might appear in this photo.

I find it interesting that an artist, who draws portraits or any aspect of the human figure, does a study of a particular feature if she wants to improve her craft.  She could spend years, literally, and not have mastered the hand, the eye, the ear!  An artist can decide to render certain features of the face or aspects of the body in an abstract way.  And that’s acceptable too if it fits with the mood of a piece.

Or hands can disappear beneath a fold of fabric, into a pocket, overhead into the ethers or off the edge of the substrate, imagined.  If need be, you can resort to collaging them in if you can make it work.

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Really, though, an artist wants to gain some mastery of hands and that comes with making studies, giving them attention.  At this time, that’s not what I want to give my attention to.

At any given time, we are called, as artists, to sort of follow our bliss or in these precarious times, to sense what the need is.  Artists, poets, writers, musicians have a calling and that seems to be to tend to the times in which they live.  Sometimes, they hold the conscience and the consciousness for their particular generation(s).  In fact, we all do…but artists have a way of tapping into that which begs to be seen and heard.

 

Mystery

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It was strange to see this cat girl emerge.  She was painted just before the time that women were donning knitted pink cat hats.  They were called “pussyhats” and worn in the 2017 Women’s March on Washington DC.

A little recent history lesson from Google:

A pussyhat is a pink, crafted hat, created in large numbers by thousands of participants involved with the United States 2017 Women’s March. They are the result of the Pussyhat Project, a nationwide effort initiated by Krista Suh and Jayna Zweiman, a screenwriter and architect located in Los Angeles, to create pink hats to be worn at the march for visual impact.[1]

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As an artist, have you noticed this…not only does your art respond to the political and socio-economic climate, but sometimes it is almost predictive.  Artists, poets, writers, creative beings have a heightened sensitivity.  It’s no surprise that they can tune into something before it hits the press.  And express it through their art.

Obviously, my girl’s hat isn’t pink–but the concept of woman merging with cat, with her wild nature–and yes, she has magic–are reminders to myself.  A woman is an enigma to the male of our species.  Rather than men fearing and trying to dominate what they don’t understand, why not honor her?  Why not seek her out for wise counsel?  Why not be curious to know her more deeply?  Why not recognize that she has gifts to share (that he does not possess) and lend value to them?

That men are making most of the rules, guiding the politics of our lives, belies the fact that women comprise over 50% of the population in America!  2019 census shows 168.08 million women versus 161.48 million men!  When are women going to realize that they have more power for change than they are exercising?

There are so many things in place in our society (and world) that we know are morally wrong and socially unjust.  Women know this deeply…if they could gather their courage and unify their voices, change for the good would occur.

What is something you, as a woman alive today, are called to take a stand on?  How are you going to align yourself with what you know to be true and correct?  Is there an action you know that you need to take?  One step at a time…dare to take the first one.

 

 

 

Poetry Today (in Perilous Times)…1

Wouldn’t every previous generation say that they lived in “perilous times” or as in the Tao, “interesting times” at the very least?  So many of us have a connotation of poetry as  an archaic (if not boring) language and irrelevant to “modern life.”

How do we get potential readers to cross that chasm of calcified thinking regarding poetry to a reinvigorated and revalued view of poetry?  Is there a place in a relatively newly minted culture where poets and poetry are elevated, revered?  That poetry activates both one’s emotions and values could be one reason that it isn’t welcomed in a society that wants to control its constituents.  There isn’t often comfort in living outside the box.  However, there is power in it.

How does anyone realize that within him/herself, perhaps a dormant inner poet or artist lives?  Sometimes the inner poet comes to life out of despair.  Nothing else seems to suffice.  Nothing else calms or soothes.  Sometimes, she is revived through love.  Sometimes, it is when change is forced and the hand you’ve been dealt doesn’t seem to have an open door–poetry can provide the doorway.

Poetry is not only a bolster for the faint of heart.  In fact, poetry is for everyone and especially in these times.

Consider Wendell Berry, novelist, poet, essayist, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer, an earth-connected poet of our times.  I love his bit of a poem about salad

“Wash your hands, get them good and clean,
Hurry and find a basket
Let us gather a salad, and so unite
To our passing lives this seasons fruit.”

How relevant is this four line stanza to your daily experience of life?  These days, you better be sure to wash your hands!  Of course, too many of us don’t have a garden to gather lettuce leaves for a salad.  Perhaps there is a farmer’s market nearby or at least a marketplace that gives you that feeling.  However, you gather your salad fixings, to pause and remember our unity to the food that we consume is like a prayer.  Our lives are fleeting and the food we eat to sustain us lends quality to our lives (or it doesn’t)…well, it’s all expressed in this stanza.

Poetry can bring awareness and value to the things we take for granted.  It provides the pause we need in our overly busy lives.  Giving attention to such things makes for a more conscious society.

 

 

Conscious Ceremony

In our workaday world, it isn’t often possible to slow things down.  Depending on the demands of your life, your stage of life, where you live, etc., it may seem to be infeasible.  However, years ago, in the midst of a growing family and work outside the home, I began to claim time apart.  I converted a space in the roughly finished garage as my art, craft and sewing studio.  Giving myself this physical place, A Room of One’s Own, facilitated both my creative and contemplative process.

Back to the idea of Conscious Ceremony…Did I mention that I love the morning?  Especially on a day when I don’t have to rush out the door.  I’m working at minimizing adrenaline rushes.  This morning, before I get caught up in the momentum of the day, I’m going to harvest cherries from the cherry tree in my backyard.  This fleeting seasonal gift from the earth–if I don’t pick them soon, they’re going to be overripe or for the birds.  Then I’m going to blend the best cherry smoothie.  Sip it slowly, now, as I greet this day.

When I move into the day, sloooowly, I am able to bring a feeling of ceremony to my activities throughout the day.  Surprisingly, when I start the day in this way, I seem to “get more things done” if that is the goal.

As poets, writers and artists, we deepen into another level when we take such time apart.  Not something crammed into an already jammed schedule.  But truly A TIME APART.  There is a leisure to this  non-ordinary time, as if we had all the time in the world and could actually savor the moment.  This is how we deepen and evolve as creative beings.

This morning offers time enough to write my blog, to write in my journal, to practice drawing, to make my list for the day.  And, to be a witness to the determined sun rising over Quail Ridge.  All of this is ceremony!

Expressing the gratitude I feel for the beauty and appreciating the many wonders is ceremony.  Sipping this amazing smoothie, reveling in the generosity of a tree that shares its gifts with me–this nourishment to my body, mind and spirit.  Such a pure gift.  Deep awareness brought to the morning activities–this is ceremony.

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Taking Time Apart, Conscious Ceremony, can take five minutes or as long as you choose for your busy life.  It’s really the pause that you invite in as you move into your day.  Awareness, gratitude and presence do seem to be the key ingredients of this pause.

The Mournful Moon

Conversing with the moon. Have you noticed how she shines fully and boldly on everyone across the planet?  We all share the same moon!  That really is profound when you consider it.  We witness her fullness and watch as she wanes, then seemingly hides over the course of her cycle.

Today, where I live, she is mournful.  (Alright, that’s my attempt at personification, for perhaps it’s me who is mournful.)  It seems that most humans don’t see her as anything other than a lonely, cold flat disk in the sky, without purpose.  There is so much ignorance.  She is not included in the daily conversation with humans anymore…as if she wasn’t even there.  They don’t consult her.  When shall we plant the new crop, and then when is the best time to harvest?  Very few humans ask her opinion or search the sky to collaborate with her.  They rarely notice her influence on ocean tides (perhaps a few old salts (sailors) do.

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Except for some women who refer to their monthly menstruation cycle as their moon time.  Perhaps a few of these women take a time out as was practiced by indigenous cultures.  Those cultures recognized a woman’s moon time as a time of exceptional power and vulnerability.

Except for poets.  Poets find a purpose for the moon.  The moon has always inspired poetry.  Poets remind us that the moon exists as more than a lost disk floating in the vast and starry sky.

To The Moon
by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth,
Wandering companionless
Among the stars that have a different birth, –
And ever changing, like a joyless eye
That finds no object worth its constancy?

Except for astrologers too.  Astrologers love the moon.  That dimensional and soulful orb.  The moon, womanly, intuitive, concealing and revealing.  Her mystery…or is she a “he”, the man in the moon?
Why do we put the moon outside the limits of our lives when we all share the same moon?  Actually, the same sun, the same air, the same water…the same planet–our earth home.  Spaceship earth–according to one Buckminster Fuller, architect, systems theorist, author, inventor, futurist.  I’m getting off track here.
Except for songwriters too, they love the moon.
Writing Prompt:
What about you?  How do you relate to the moon?  Follow your whims, your train of thought and write about the moon.

Find and Follow

Is there an artist, past or present, whom you admire and want to get to know?

If you’ve gone to art school or had English as your major, it is likely that you were introduced to artists, poets and writers, some with whom you felt an affinity.  Once you graduated and moved on, did you lose track of this favored creative?

Whether or not you went to art school or had English as your major, why not choose an artist that you admire as your “mentor” of sorts?  Follow his or her career, become so familiar with their art, their process, their life that they feel like a friend.

One of my favorites, not especially because of her art, but mostly because of her creative lifestyle is Tasha Tudor.

(Click the play arrow and then click on “Watch this video on YouTube” above and it takes you directly to the video.)

Viewing this short video, you might think that Tasha Tudor lived in the 19th century.  However, she was born in 1915 and died recently, in 2008.  She illustrated children’s books.  She lived in Vermont, off the grid, making her own clothing and keeping a garden that photographers have loved to photograph.  One published book being Tasha Tudor’s Garden, by Tovah Martin (author) and Richard W. Brown (photographer).

For me there is something romantic about  her lifestyle.  Though I can see it is a labor intensive life, it is an inspired one.  Living close to the earth, experiencing the natural rhythms seems to be an integrated, ethical and grounded way to live.

And yes, it seems like a thing of the past.  That someone could create that lifestyle in these times doesn’t seem possible.

Creative Contemplation:
Have you found and followed an artist or writer’s career?  Or looked to one for your own inspiration?  If so, what about this artist’s life attracts you?  Why have you claimed them as your “mentor?”

 Please post the name of your favored creative person under comments if you like.

Any Poem is a Feast

…to which you have a response.

In writing a poem, you feel a certain “release” and when you read or listen to poetry, you may experience a visceral understanding of this poetic language.  Don’t take my word for it.  Spend some time reading the poetry that attracts you.  There are so many poets, past and present, each with a unique voice.  Chances are that you are going to find one that resonates with you.  Or, that your own poet’s voice is straining to be heard.  Give it the opportunity…there is free verse, personal poetry and all varieties of poetic form (or not) to pour your poetry into.  It’s a sweet exploration, isn’t it?

Reading a poem, it is best to sit with it for awhile.  Until the thrum of it touches your being.  A poem is a meditation if you allow it to be.  A great poem can almost be too much to savor in one sitting.  And certainly, if you read many poems in a row, you are going to walk away from the experience feeling pleasantly or unpleasantly glutted, like after you’ve just finished a holiday feast!

It is recommended that you portion out your poetry.  Let one poem follow you around throughout your day like a little dog sniffing at your heels. You might discover that one poem could be quite enough.

Here’s one for today:

The Well of Grief
by David Whyte

Those who will not slip beneath
the still surface on the well of grief

turning downward through its black water
to the place we cannot breathe

will never know the source from which we drink,
the secret water, cold and clear,

nor find in the darkness glimmering
the small round coins
thrown by those who wished for something else.

Listening to David Whyte reading his poem many times over, I have a sense of “wafting”.  With each repetition, I descend into the “well of grief”, traveling through the layers of the poem and within myself.

Poetry has this power and provides this opportunity.

Contemplation:
If this poem has appeal for you, do let it follow you around throughout the day.  If not this one, find a poem that touches you and claim it as your “loyal pet for the day.”