Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Looking Back; Sailing in the San Juans

Bob at the helm
Last night I looked back way further than 2016, all the way to 1999, into my sailing journals from when Bob and I cruised the San Juan Islands in our little Cascade 29 sailboat, Cardaea. This is Bob at the helm on our first cruise. This is from my journal:
Seals popped up their heads to gaze at us curiously. At 7 pm, we slipped between Blakely Rock and Restoration Point on Bainbridge Island and wound our way through crab pot bouys, following a family of geese. We set anchor at the head of Blakely Harbor.
That evening, we fished a wine bottle out of the water with a message in it. The message, decorated with child drawn hearts, said,
Whoever finds this note, I will love.
A boy of about 5 on the boat anchored next to us watched with pretended indifference as we read the note.
As dark fell and the full moon peeked briefly through the clouds, we looked across the sound into Elliot Bay. Seattle was a fairy tale city, with a necklace of golden lights along the water front.
Ah, those were the days! Bob died in 2005, and I'll never have a sailing partner like him!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Awaken Joy; Intuitive Painting

When do we close the doors on parts of ourselves? Sometimes it just takes a chance word from someone we respect.

Many years ago, I drew a little person—an elf?--into a still life in art class. He just seemed to want to be there, so I drew him in. The teacher asked me why, and when I answered, “he wanted to be there”, she said, “You mean YOU wanted him there.” I don't know why, but a door closed for me then. It seemed that allowing something to emerge from my subconscious onto the paper wasn't allowed, and I've in my artwork since then.

I want to open that door back up, but how?

Today I tried out the first "lesson" in Alena's book.

I thought I'd make a Christmas card design. Alena suggests using hand made or interesting papers for the background. I made my own background papers. That's as far as I got, but it was enough! I'm back in my studio having fun! When the papers are dry, I'll do the next step.

I tried both regular copy paper, and 90# watercolor paper


Recipe for Crinkle Paper Background: 

  • Wet paper all over on one side
  • Crinkle it up into a ball
  • Drop paint on in here and there, until you have as much color as you want. Remember, the inside of the ball will be uncolored unless you take extra care to drop color deep into the crevasses.
card made with crinkle paper background
  • Carefully lay the paper out flat to dry

Monday, October 17, 2016

October Tide

Tim and I have a commitment to do Qi Gung at the beach every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 8:15. We have been going rain or shine for several years now. Sometimes a seal will watch us. Once we watched eagles mating high up in a Douglas Fir. Once we saw sea lions playing close to shore.

Sea Lettuce at Tramp Harbor
Some days are so foggy we cannot see the other side of the Bay, let alone Seattle or Des Moines. Some days feel quiet, with soft gray clouds and smooth water. Some days the rain drops make a pattern of circles on the water. Some days the sky is so blue, you want to sing.

In October, little birds flock together and practice arial maneuvers above us. A line of foam accentuates the green of the seaweed bunched at the tide line.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Walking with camera in hand

What is it about this photo that makes me want to translate it into silk?

This was taken in winter; see the frost on the piling? It was high tide at KVI beach--one of my favorite walks. I used to walk here as I recovered from surgery, with camera in hand and eyes open to the designs in nature. When I struggled with depression during the "change of life", walking with camera in hand lightened my mood. When I ran the school in my home, I made it a point to walk here once a week, to calm and nourish my soul so that I had more to give the children.

I am very fond of diagonals lately.
I love the strong design element in this photo, and the colors.  It has been on my mind for almost two years, to create a piece on silk with this inspiration. I am planning to include the finished piece in a body of work I am calling Where Land Meets Sea. It will show in May and June at Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

After the Feast: Silk Art in Progress

The Native Americans gather from all over the North West U.S. and Canada, by canoe, to potlatch,
Photo taken at Port Gamble
renew relationship ties, practice native languages, and honor traditions. Sometimes we have accompanied one of them as a support boat. If a paddler needs a break from the canoe for any reason, we are there with blankets, hot drinks, and a working toilet.

One year we met them at  Port Gamble, a former lumber town on Keystone Peninsula, for a clam and crab bake. From there, we accompanied the Blue Heron canoe to Port Townsend. Mike Evens was the skipper of the canoe, which represented the Duwamish people. His paddlers were all ages, including teens and sometimes a really young passenger. Many a lost young person has found themselves and turned their lives around with the support of the Canoe Journey.

The year we met the Blue Heron canoe at Nisqually, a young woman--I think she was 14 years old--came aboard for some quiet time. She showed me a scar on her ankle where she had carved her boyfriend's initials. She spent some time in introspection on the bunk under our NW carving of Raven, which happened to be her totem.

"After the Feast"--a work in progress
A few years later I met her again, doing a presentation about the Canoe Journey with Mike Evens. What a strong competent young woman she had become! So proud to have been a small part of that transformation!

The photo I took at the clam/crab bake reminds me of her. I love the colors and I love being reminded of the community and camaraderie of that time. I think of these as I work on "After the Feast" in silk.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Spare Change; a Widow's Journey

There's something about the places where land and sea meet, that really resonate with me. Whether sailing in the Puget Sound and the Canadian Gulf Islands or doing Qi Gung on the beach, I can't help but gather images that might later become paintings.

I am working on a series of silk pieces--partly painted and partly "art Quilt"--inspired by photos I've taken over the years. Some of these have been nagging at me to paint them for almost a decade, like this one of Spare Change on Goat Island.

Spare Change on Goat Island
Spare Change on Goat Island speaks to my heart because I took it after my husband Bob died. Bob and I sailed our boat Sea Change among the Gulf Islands in Canada for several years. Spare Change was--still is--the dingy.

When Bob was nearing death and knew he would no longer be able to sail, I told him I would sail when he was gone, no matter what the weather. That's when he knew that I would be OK. He told me he would be "the wind on my cheeks".

Bob died in July. I taught my son James to sail, and we took off for the San Juans and the Gulf Islands for a month. It was my time to come to terms with Bob's death, to learn to "skipper my own boat". There were times I was terrified to leave harbor, and James and I stayed at anchor for two days until I was ready to move on. There were times I felt Bob so close, I knew he would be a part of me always.

Goat Island is a small piece of land and rock in the harbor by Ganges, Canada, one of our favorite stops. Bob and I never landed on it, but James and I did. James and I visited many places Bob and I loved and also had new adventures.

Spare Change on Goat Island is about building on the Love and Adventuring Bob and I shared and continuing to love and to explore life.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Call Me a Tree Hugger

I have always loved trees. As a child I was a tree climber. As a young woman, I sensed a communication with an old Douglas Fir outside a friend's house. Really. I reached out to the tree in my mind, and I felt--sensed--the tree respond. Not in words of course.

Later, as a teacher of young children, I was gathering fir branches to decorate the classroom, for a unit on NW Native Americans. I had clippers in hand, but could not bring myself to cut branches from living trees. It felt like I was cutting off their fingers. In my mind, I said to the tree, "I need some greens for my classroom." I looked around, and there was a large branch full and green laying on the ground!

I used that, of course, hung it from the ceiling.  It gave us the feeling of being in the forest.

Every point of land here in the Puget Sound seems to have a Cedar or Douglas Fir leaning out over the water, like a sentinel.

I've heard that pioneers used fir or pine needles to make a tea rich in vitamin C. Native Americans used Cedar bark for clothing, ropes, to weave into blankets. The roots they made into baskets, and the trunk made their canoes. I can imagine each tree being asked it's permission before it's bark or trunk was used.

Just being among trees or standing at the foot of one gives me a sense of comfort. I feel protected when I lean against the trunk of an evergreen. Trees are like friends.

OK, call me a tree hugger. I am  not offended.