Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Celebrating the Light in the Darkness

Last night, Christmas Eve, I went to bed thinking, Christmas is a lie. Jesus was not born on December 25th. Santa is a myth created for children and to enrich people who make and sell useless things. 

It never bothered me before. I loved the pun: Birth of the sun/Son.It seemed totally appropriate to celebrate the birth of one who brought us Light right after the solstice, when the sun returns with her light. We need a celebration in the dark of winter, what ever the excuse. And Santa is a jolly old elf who lives in us all.

This year, the realization of wars--declared and undeclared--that my beloved country is waging with DRONES!! and the damage to civilians this brings, seemed to pull the rug out from under my joy. Plastic santas and snowmen just drove home my sense of falseness.

I did not get a Christmas tree. We just finished hanging evergreen boughs last night. My gift giving this year is uber simple; almost everyone gets a special Christmas tea blend I made up. The one expensive (for me) gift I had made special for my grand daughter was rejected. She did not like it!

Sometime in the night I woke with an awareness that all over the world people are celebrating Christmas. Wishing each other good cheer. Giving each other gifts. And I remembered that one Christmas--was it World War One or World War Two?

The Germans and the Allies faced each other across enemy lines, dug into trenches, guns aimed at each other. Then someone --I think it was the Germans--started singing Silent Night. The Allies joined in. All along the lines, carols were sung in German and in--English? French? Men crossed the battle lines to shake hands. A soccer game was organized. All along the front, enemies played together, sang together, celebrated together. Thousands of men had to be transferred from the front lines because they could no longer buy into the hate stories their leaders told them.

About 4 am I thought about what people were doing all around the world. Would the English have opened presents already and be eating dinner or high tea? My brother in China would be eating lunch on the 26th, I think. In New York, the children would be waking up, excited to open their presents.

If on one day people all over the world can remember One who brought us Hope, who asked us to love our enemies for God's sake! Whose Love still resides in our bones and hearts over 2000 years later, if people all over the world remember this wonderful teacher on this one day---Wow! That is Powerful!!!

May this Christmas bring you the remembrance that Love is the most powerful force in the universe and Love never dies. May this knowing bring you joy this day and all days. 


Monday, December 9, 2013

Why Make Art?

Putting resist on Baochu and the Golden Phoenix
Twice a year, this question comes up for me. Why make art? Why do I make art? Why would anyone
buy art? Why would anyone buy MY art? What do I want my art to accomplish? I write pages in my journal while sailing in the summer with my Love, and again around Christmas time when I review the year.

The dream of supporting myself through my art sales kind of went by the wayside. It is so much easier to dig ditches, clean houses, or teach squirming young children, than to make a living selling my art! Still, the dream won't quite die.

Baochu and the Golden Phoenix
So, Last night I researched selling art. Two different masters at selling art, both passionate about helping artists to succeed, gave me two very different approaches to selling art, based on their different views about the purpose of art. And you know what? Both views--opposite though they are--kind of resonate with me.

Clint Watson, whose articles on selling art appear in his blog Art Marketing and Life, says the purpose of art is to amplify ideas. He advises starting and feeding conversations about art, and using your art to illustrate the conversation. Become the leader of your conversation, he advises. Build a community, a tribe, a clan of people around you who participate in the conversation. Begin with your existing fans and make them feel included in an exclusive group. Read his article, Art Marketing for Artists Who Want to Change the World,  in Fine Art News, for more on this.

Jack White writes books on selling art. I bought his book The Mystery of Making It, and began to glean some ideas from him. He says the purpose of art is decorative. If people buy your art because it goes
with their couch, don't knock it. Paint what sells. Of course, that assumes you have sold enough work to tell what people like.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

In Love with Stories!

It is Thanksgiving day, and almost every blog I read today and yesterday is some one's list of what they are thankful for. It's getting to be a bit much. So, as some one who is thankful EVERY day, for so much! I won't bore you with my list.

Although, something happened yesterday that really blessed me.

I am showing about 60 of my paintings on silk and watercolors at the Vashon Community Care Center through January 30, 2014.

Looking at the World Through a Heart Shaped Hole
Yesterday I went in to hang a painting in the staff room. After all, the staff need cheering, too. Pam was pushing Kate down the hall in her wheel chair, and we stopped to chat. I think Kate may have had a stroke since I saw her last, as she was barely able to mumble, and her words were hard to understand. Some how, she was able to tell us that she loves one painting in particular. Pam wheeled her down the hall, until she indicated the piece I call "Looking at the World through a Heart Shaped Hole."

I told Kate the story, that this painting is about looking at the world through love, and that makes the world so beautiful! Kate just glowed as I told her!

Love Birds
Shiwa had been turned into a bird, and his beloved, 
Humei, was no where to be found. Finally he heard her
singing. She had been buried in the mountain.  Shiwa dug 
until he opened a hole big enough to go through--and there 
was Humei! She turned into a bird as well, and they flew
happily off, free!
And it gets even better.

On the way home, I stopped for tea at the Vashon Tea Shop. I mentioned to Boo, the proprietor, that I have a show of my paintings at the Care Center. "Oh, you are the artist!" exclaimed a young woman at the next table. "I LOVE those paintings!"

She went on to tell us she has been walking with her 94 year old grandmother down the halls of the Care Center. "My grandma stops at every painting and shows me the details she loves. When we walk by again, she stops and points out different details!"

And that's why I show my work.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Telling our Stories

Building Community through Stories
November 15th
7:00 PM
Vashon Community Care Center
15333 Vashon Hiway SW
Vashon, Wa 98070

Sail Away and over 50 other paintings
 will be on dispay at Vashon Community Care Center
November - December 2013
Sail Away 
The current runs swiftly through Dodd Narrows in Canada, changing direction with the tide. To get through on a small sailboat, one needs to wait for slack tide, when the tidal current is quiet before it changes direction. Coming into the Narrows, one cannot see what is on the other side. Major changes in life are like that: one needs to choose one's timing carefully, then proceed with faith that there is something good on the other side.

Getting married at age 66 is like that.

Stories connect us. When we know some one's story, that person becomes more than an aquaintance. We have more compassion for our neighbors and feel less alone. We are more able to meet each other's needs and our own needs are more easily met. When we tell each other our stories we are building community.

Paintings tell stories. I tell my stories on silk, in vibrant colors.  My silk paintings (now showing at Vashon Community Care Center) tell stories from China, stories from friends, and some of my own stories. The paintings will be on display November through December.

On November 15th at 7pm, I will be telling the stories in some of my paintings at Vashon Community Care Center, to celebrate a show of more than 50 of my paintings on silk hanging on the walls there. I will show slides of my paintings and will invite the audience to share short stories of their own experiences and memories which the paintings might bring up.

To tell our own stories—takes courage. Will we be judged? Will our friends cease to be friendly? And yet, we need to be heard. We need understanding, to be known by those who care about us.  Will you join me at the Vashon Community Care Center to hear some stories, and perhaps share some of your own? Or share your stories here on my stories page?

Golden Pathway

We had been sailing together on the boat Sea Change, in the Gulf Islands in July. The weather was perfect; sun for warmth but not too warm, wind for sailing but not too much wind. We had been married seven years, and were still very much in love. Life was perfect. We did not know this would be our last sailing trip together. Bob was diagnosed with lung cancer that winter and died the following July.

This painting has come to mean being someplace I love, being with one I love and being loved, and doing just the right thing in the world.

Friday, October 25, 2013

She still dances at age 89!

at our booth at Strawberry Festival
my painting is in the background
Barely 5' tall and 120 pounds soaking wet (she thinks she's overweight!) this young woman is still dancing at age 89! That's my mom! She's set the bar pretty high, don't you think?

And now she plans to be in a play! I don't think she has been in a play since high school! She will be the old lady ("type casting," she says) in A Child's Christmas in Wales, adapted for stage, to be performed Dec 19-26th on Vashon Island.

That's my mom. She does Qi Gung daily, and is working on her 3rd historical novel. She plays the stock market and wins, writes a regular cooking column for a local paper. And she always has an answer when I need a natural remedy for what ails me.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I would only believe in a God who knew how to dance.

Friedrich Nietzsche
: Without music, life would be a mistake… I would only believe in a God who knew how to dance.

I have been having such fun at the Dances of Universal Peace! These are circle dances, easy to learn and to sing, from traditions all over the world,  prayers in song and motion. I love this quote from Rumi:

“Dance, when you're broken open. Dance, if you've torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you're perfectly free.”
― Rumi

musicians and dance leaders preparing for the dance

A typical Dance evening might include movements to Ava Maria from the Catholic tradition,  La illa ha il Allah from Muslim worship, a Celtic earth song, a Hindu song, and a Jewish song. Each short song is taught by a trained dance leader, then danced and sung several times until there is an easy synergy flowing among the dancers. The dances are easy to learn. Musicians accompany the dances to keep the beat and the melody.

And they are coming to Vashon! Rifaat and I are organizing for dances every month starting in January. Musicians will come from Seattle, and everyone is invited! Initially we will dance in my living room, and will find a larger venue as needed. 

musicians preparing for the dance

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Healing Memories in the Forest

A forest trail at Burfoot Park, Olympia, WA
A place of beauty, A place to heal
September 2013: I wrote this several months ago--then felt too vulnerable to print it.

April 2013:  It has been a long day. My head throbs. My stomach is in knots. Ancient sorrows and terrors have begun to surface. I need some green growing...I need some nature.

I am in Olympia training to work with people caught in domestic violence. What ever possessed me? Just because I've had experiences, like being in what I thought was a common law marriage with someone who insisted on growing marijuana illegally. Like getting busted for said marijuana and nearly losing my children. Like being on and off of welfare until I finally learned to make a decent living for my family-- and now own my home free and clear.

I thought I might have something to offer women who are struggling as single moms through some of the same issues. So I volunteered where my skills might be useful, and found that the greatest need is working with people caught in domestic violence situations.
Trillium growing in the forest

I didn't know the training would bring up those long buried memories. I didn't know how these memories would affect me physically and emotionally. I did not at first know why I am exhausted and my head hurts. I knew only that I need wild, I need green growing things, I need trees.

I drive away from the city, past the house I once lived in, a house that carries some of those memories, past the school where my children went, to the park I remember. Walking down the trail through the woods to the beach, some of my tension eases. The beauty of the woods engulfs me. I touch again that deep joy that lives within me.

Can the beauty of these woods help to heal other people? Might I share this beauty some how, through my paintings, with people who need green as I do? Who need healing experiences?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Elf Island Journaling Society: the Art of Going in Many Directions at Once

So....I spent some time this afternoon (instead of the much needed studio cleaning) thinking about where I am going with my art. The trouble is not lack of inspiration; it's TOO MUCH inspiration. Focus on one thing? Ummmmm ......How? I want to do them all! Or at least most of them!

I am tired of scarves. At least scarves for the sake of scarves. I am excited by the landscape photos I took this summer, and byWendy Pini's Elf Quest stories and illustrations. OH MY HEAVENS she is a wonderful artist! her characters rock! the expressions on their faces perfect! Her stories have depth, pathos, adventure, romance, and more! Homer, move over! I can't think of a classical writer that is better in any way, or an artist who expresses herself better!

I love Fantasy. And story telling.

Last Spring, a friend and I began a story telling group we are calling the Elf Island Journaling Society. A group of 8-9 people get together to explore a mythical place we call Elf Island, creating a story as we go. We had three meetings before we stopped for the summer, creating three stories.

And this summer when I had a booth at the farmer's market, I took lots of photos so that I can do a series of watercolors featuring the people and ambiance of the market.

And I am still interested in painting with dyes on silk. And on cotton. And using natural dyes. And


And I want to somehow share the lessons life has taught me so that others can experience the JOY that comes from deep inside. can I combine my watercolor painting, natural dyes, story telling, landscapes of the Puget Sound area, textures of tide flats, the luxurious feel of silk, character development (visual and written), and my experiences at the market all into one focus?

What if.....I made Elf Island the focus. I can write stories and do illustrations for those stories. I can create a whole visual culture for Elf Island, complete with art motifs, clothing, mythology....a written language......

And I don't really have to do all the creating. Perhaps there are others who would like to join me?

Friday, September 6, 2013

After Three Days Alone

I woke up this morning wondering, am I still married? Did we really do that thing--that Wedding thing? Is it really REAL??

I get that way after the third night sleeping alone. Maybe because being married is still new.

We are not sharing a house full time yet. He has a house and business north of Seattle, and I live on this island. He's moving over, slowly. Getting his house ready to rent out. Taking care of business. Wishing he was always here. But he's not. Yet.

Then I look at our Vows, framed and hanging on the wall by the door.

           On this day, June 22, 2013
   Suzanna Leigh and Rifaat Rich Osborne
                declare that we will,
with the help of God and our friends and family,
          be true and faithful partners, 
 creating a living and growing life-long union
    that expresses and is an instrument of
                      Divine Love

Yes. Yes that's it. That's what I am about. What we are about together. Creating a living and growing life-long union that expresses and is an instrument of Divine Love.

---And he just called!

Friday, August 23, 2013

OK, So Who Am I TODAY? Thoughts on Business and the Artist

I'm in Limbo once again..... Sometimes not even sure I am an artist! I mean....there is so much else demanding my time!

Summer's nearly gone, tourist buying season nearly over,  and I just can't seem to get the hang of this business thing with art. The demands of business don't fit with how I want to spend my time, what I want to create. The things I want to do don't bring in income, and I'm not sure I want them to.

One of my scarves at
 the Heron's Nest, Vashon, WA
I've been reading Sacred Economics, by Charles Eisenstein. Some of what he talks about I've known inside for quite sometime. Business based on constant growth is not sustainable for the planet. Not ethical for the people. Business thinking means privatizing the things we used to get for free, the "commons", so that some one can make money--and we all need to make money so that we can pay for the things that used to be free. The idea that I need to make an income with my art or I'm not really an "artist" is born of business thinking. We are defined by what we do for income.

bullharky! I want to create art for the joy of creating art and to give to those I love. But I can create so much more than my loves can absorb! Then what?

I'm tired of making scarves for the market. I think I want to return to making beautiful that which is needed. To design patterns on the cloth for the clothing I wear, the curtains for my house. What else?

But I do miss those extra few dollars the business brings in. Is there a balance somewhere?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Discovering Community in the South Sound

Sailing on Eli-Oh this year, we added a whole new dimension to sailing.

When I've sailed the South Sound before, it was pure peace. Except for brief conversations with strangers, it was just me and my late husband or me and my son. And it was nice. Peaceful. Like a Quaker Meeting or a Buddist retreat, or a ....well, just pure peace.

 This year we had the Peaceful times, yes, and we also had community.

We visited family: we dropped anchor in the shallow waters of Van Geldern Cove and rowed ashore to a family gathering in the little town of Home. It was wonderful to meet my new husband Rifaat's aunts, uncles, and cousins, and to hear family memories shared. I fell in love with a little girl less than a year old named Jewel, and her parents, Mindy and Steve.
the galley on Eli-Oh
We visited old friends: The next day we sailed into Olympia to visit with friends we had not seen in 30 years. We tied up at Boston Harbor Marina, where people took shelter from the sun under awnings and listened to music, talked with strangers, nibbled on freshly grilled hot dogs. Children and dogs played on the beach, fishermen bought bait, people sat on benches on the docks and visited or just sat. Some one sang and strummed on a guitar.

As I was recovering from a long sail in too much sun, some one called, "Anyone interested in splitting a 5 pound salmon?" I was. As I carried my half down to the boat, I met a woman coming up the dock. "Oh," she said, eyeing my salmon fillet,  "you got the half salmon." I split it with her and ended up with just enough salmon for our supper and a little for omelets the next day. Perfect for a galley with no refrigeration.

Every morning, James, who has a ham radio license, tuned in to a marine network. We listened to people all over the Sound checking in from their boats, giving weather reports. Sometimes it was "fog so thick I can't see 100 yards", or "It's a beautiful day here. Bright sun, not a cloud in the sky, no wind." (Hunh? bright sun and no wind is not so beautiful to this sailor!)

We had some mini adventures, too. Sometime in the night while tied to a bouy at Penrose Point, we heard splashing. In the morning, the dingy was full of water!  Did an otter or seal visit us during the night and try out the dingy?

We hoisted it up by the spinaker halyard to dump out the water.

On Tuesday, we motored back through the Narrows with gps, compass,  and chart to guide us through fog so thick we could not see either side of the pass! 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Still Married...

One month anniversary this past Sunday. Still married. Still loving it. Still living in Bliss!
That's my boat in the background!

Adjusting to this being "married" is making me embarrassingly spacey, though. Thank goodness my friends are so forgiving!
After the ceremony, we literally
 sailed off into the sunset!

 It's the sorting things out.
 NOW what is important to me?
 NOW how do I balance the overload of things I need/want to do?
 NOW how do I set priorities?

Only just tonight was I finally able to get back into the studio and create beauty! My previous attempts this month were dismal failures, but tonight I was able to turn these ugly failures into something beautiful! 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Wedding

I cherish this from dear Khadija
Rifaat and Suzanna
on their day

A STORY: Many people attend weddings but not everyone there is really "at the wedding" but if you stand at the door and listen, you can discern who was "really there." The first person exits, remarking to his friend, "What a great wedding; all of my friends were there." That person wasn't really at the wedding. A few minutes later a second guest exits remarking, "What a fabulous wedding. The food was incredible!" That person wasn't at the wedding, either. Finally, a third person walks through the door saying, "BARUCH HASHEM! Thank God those two got together!" THAT PERSON was really at the wedding. SO many times on your day I heard some version of the third guest's exclamation and I wholeheartedly agree! Thanks for including us all.
Love  & MORE LOVE,

Friday, June 14, 2013

Creating THE DRESS--a Wedding Dress Dyed with Flowers

OK, so I can't sew. Will I let that stop me from creating my my own dress for the Ceremony? Well..... Only God is perfect, so....I'll give it a try. From scratch. Except for actually growing the silk worms and weaving the cloth.

I love silk charmeuse. It is so luxurious!
I ordered 4 yards of silk charmeuse from Dharma trading.
Found a pattern that looked simple yet flattering at the local thrift store.

Picked a bag of blue iris flowers, broke off the stems and any not blue part, and soaked them in cold water for a week.

Even after 2 stays in the dye pot, the charmeuse took up so
little of the dye, that it is more silvery than blue
The cloth arrived 12 days before the ceremony. Everyone is so excited about the ceremony! It is being called a wedding, even though Rifaat and I have decided not to register our relationship as a marriage with the state of Washington or to call it a marriage. You see, to "wed" is to be united; "marriage" is a legal term. I don't want to be "married".

I even get a bachlorette party! Sufi style, with semazens turning!

Oh, the dress.

Charmeuse doesn't take up the dye as readily as crepe de chine, so even after two times in the dye pot, the silk is just a silvery blue. Very nice, but so light it makes me look washed out.

It is now 8 days before the ceremony. It will be a Quaker/Sufi ceremony, with traditional Turkish music, the Lord's Prayer in Aramaic and in English, and Quaker style Silent Worship, out of which we will say our vows.

8 days.

The birds are so beautifully singing! And have the flowers ever been so lovely?

The Dress

I practiced sewing the facing on some left over Charmeuse, then tackled The Dress. Practiced painting the rose.

Painted a rose on the front using Colorhue dyes, which don't need steaming.
Painted over the rose with soy wax to protect the color.
Pinned the shoulders and sides together and dipped the dress in Jaquard Red Label Silk Dye, Royal Bue.

I used the Jaquard because I like the way it runs and seeps, and the blue is truer right away. The Colorhue blue looks purple until it is painted on the silk, so it's hard to judge what color you will get.

The Dress pieces still dripping after dipping in Royal Blue

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

To Wed or not to Wed? To Marry or not to Marry?

I don't need to be married. Bob left me in good financial shape. I am happy with my life.

Oh, wait, I was feeling a little lonely before I met Rifaat. It has been 8 years since Bob died. And there is something about being with Rifaat that transcends friendship. Something about the synergy of our core beliefs and energy.

But still. To marry?

So, I've spent the past several months looking into the whys and wherefores of being married. After talking with several lawyers, and--most importantly--with our own inner wisdom, Rifaat and I decided not to register our relationship as a marriage with the state. We want to keep our finances separate and to create a living, growing, life-long union not mired in the assumptions--sometimes unconscious--that marriage entails. I do not recommend this solution to everyone; being legally married to Bob was definitely the right choice at that time.

Some things we considered:
our ages and life expectancies
health insurance or lack of
social security -- how much each of us has invested
property -- each of us has a house promised to our heirs
debt responsibilities
current income projections
Our values and core beliefs
Our children and family needs

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tea and Coreopsis Dyes on Silk

tea dyed with itajime on left,
antiquie silk in coreopsis on right
Wonderful results!
I especially like the itajime (where I blocked the dye with ovals clamped onto the folded silk de
chine) dyed in tea.

I couldn't get the whites to show up in this photo. Please imagine the lightest colors are white.

The antique silk dyed in the coreopsis didn't show the itajime pattern as well, but what a wonderful effect I got accidentally from where the metal clamp touched the silk!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Natural Dyes: Tea and Coreopsis

Oh, man! I forgot to mordant the silk first! The colors won't be as deep, but hopefully, there will still be enough color to make a difference.

Suni's sister from Korea is visiting. She came over to do some dyeing with me this morning. I showed her how to measure the aluminum sulfate for mordant and to bring the water to a boil before adding the mordant and the cloth.
the tea from Yunan province in China
comes as a compacted disc

We soaked the silk de Chine and the antique Japanese silk in this water while we made a dye bath from tea from my trip to China in 2009  and from the coreopsis flowers I got from Laurel Boyajian.

silk in the tea bath
the tea leaves have been strained out
We folded the still wet cloth and clamped it with   plexiglass disks to block the dye. Then we submerged the cloth in the hot dye baths. We will leave it overnight and take it out tomorrow.

silk in the coreopsis bath

When I took Suni's sister back to the green houses where Suni works, Suni showed us some iris's we can try for dyeing tomorrow!

It was only after I got home that I realized I had forgotten to add the mordant to the boiling water before adding the cloth!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Tea Culture and Tea Bag Cocoons!

There's just something about a good cup of tea with a sweet friend! Even better when that friend's art is on the wall above you! Today Beth Reiter's tea bag cocoons grace the walls of the Vashon Tea Shop as we sip our tea and discuss promoting our art work. She tells me:

These small pieces of art were created using dried tea bags. Each was opened, cleaned, filled with cotton and a treasure, then sewn, and sealed with beeswax. They hold wishes for your good life and can be hung a kitchen nook, above the bed, in a window, on a rear view mirror.
Add your own wishes.

Kind of like a cocoon, they hold dreams and shapes of the future. Each cocoon is opaque so that you can sort of see what's inside, but not completely. A nod to the unknown. 

Every tea bag has the unique markings of its particular brew. Some have the rich, dark markings of chai and others are more subtle, like chamomile.

I had been saving tea bags for a while and didn't know what would become of them but I loved seeing the different patterns that emerged so I kept saving them and eventually they became cocoons. I hope you enjoy them!
They make great gifts for friends and family or for your very own self!

Beth is a Vashon Island artist who creates delightful shrines and other art  available on etsy.  If you would like one of her treasures, a custom shrine or tea bag cocoon, or have questions about her work, please contact her at this email:

Monday, April 15, 2013

Standing in the Gap

copyright suzanna leigh 2009
The ducks are gone. In December --and for years-- there have been 200 or more at Tramp Harbor where I
do Qi Gung in the mornings. For months now there have been only about 35, although it is the season when the ducks come in their highest numbers.

The shellfish are dwindling. Clams and oysters, once so abundant in the Puget Sound, are not reproducing.

Where is the heron that once fished at the tide's edge?

I feel grief for a world unraveling. For the innocent dying, innocent people victims of war, innocent birds, victims of a changing climate.

and yet

copyright suzanna leigh 2013
I am happy--Joyous even--in my personal life. I create beauty in my studio. I breathe good clean air at the beach and in my own back yard. I dance with friends. I swim with my grand daughter.

copyright suzanna leigh 2013
And I am in Love.

Grief and Joy in the same cup.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Hiding in this cage--poem by Kabir

I took time this morning to enter the silence deeply, inspired by the Woodcarver story (Feb 21 post). That is the place I want my art to come from, that deep place of Silence. The place beyond judgement, beyond concern for gain or success.

From this place I remembered the name Hazrat Inyat Khan and checked him out on line, finding much that resonates with me. And then I found Kabir: 

hiding in this cage
by Kabir

English version by Sushil Rao
Original Language Hindi

hiding in this cage
of visible matter

is the invisible

pay attention
to her

she is singing
your song

Monday, March 25, 2013

Playing in the Studio--an ART Weekend!

Ginger Landree, Chris LeCocq, me, 
and Elizabeth Blake. 
I'm still high. Three of my art buddies came Friday evening for dinner and stayed the weekend, painting on silk! Left to right are: Ginger Landree, Chris LeCocq, me, and Elizabeth Blake. Ginger is looking a little apprehensive because we spilled a bottle of red dye and some landed on her. My green rug may never be the same again, but hey! It was well worth it! I can't think when I've experienced more joy!

I fell in love with Chris's sun!
We Shibori dyed scarves Elizabeth brought, then experimented with resists including a salt solution, and with dyna flow fabric paints. The shibori dyed scarves we did with Jaquard red label dyes are stunning!

Chris LeCocq's Sun was done on an embroidery hoop (hence the white circle) with pebeo water based gutta on silk treated with a salt solution. She finished it off with a very fine point  Bic permanent marker. Then she gave it to me!!

Saturday evening we watched a video of artist Terry Turrell at work, and got even more inspired.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Life can be so dam scary!

I am so dam scared all of a sudden, uncertain about so much in my art business, in my proposed marriage, and in the direction of my art.

Especially the proposed marriage part. Did you notice that handsome man in my last blog post? I am going to marry him.

ACH! Did I really say that? I am 65 and I'm getting married?! Why?! I don't need the financial security. I don't need the social acceptance. I'm terrified of losing my hard won independence. I love making my own decisions without interference from some one else. I love having the house to myself, eating when I'm hungry (or not), thinking my own thoughts through without interruption. Answering to no one but God. Having quiet time whenever I choose.

So why am I getting married?

Well....there's this man, this warm hearted, intelligent, creative, hardworking, resilient man who loves me dearly. Some one I can laugh with, share my innermost thoughts with, praise God with. Someone who knows my history and loves me anyway. Some one who knows my faults and still thinks I'm wonderful. Who shares my values. Some one I can open to fully and know he will never hurt me deliberately, that he will be careful and responsive to me. Willing to face the hard questions life delivers, who will not shy away from the difficult conversations. A true hearted man who will be there for me.

So why the panic?

I am terrified of losing my hard won independence.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Waking up to Spring!

And some days it is warm enough to enjoy outdoor markets!
Here is my love, Rifaat, at his booth in the
Freemont Sunday Market, Seattle
Can you feel it? The sap is rising. Yesterday we saw an eagle carrying a branch several times bigger than herself across the water to build her nest. The buds on the quince are swelling pink. The ducks are mating. And I'm in love, too!

Finally, after a long winter of not being able to focus on the projects I want to do and the classes I want to teach--finally--just today--my brain woke up! Today I did preliminary planning for classes I want to teach in silk painting, and for two projects I want to do.

I want to do a co-operative project with a middle school or high school class that combines:

  •  Observation of the birds and sea life at my favorite beach
  • A study of it's history--what it was like before the white man came as well as when the pilings supported a dock that welcomed a ferry boat
  • Art projects expressing our findings to the community, with an exhibition in a public place.
and I want to draw on my years of sailing in Puget Sound to bring to land bound people an awareness of the water, of what the land is like from a water-based perspective. I want to fill in my years of notes, photos, and paintings with new observations this summer, sailing my little Cat 27 into small harbors and rural places. I want to do a new body of work, paintings on silk or cotton,  to give people in this region a different perspective of this beautiful place.

If you would like to know when I offer classes and how these projects are coming along, I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter. It comes out by email about once or twice a month.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Woodcarver's Story--Thinking Like An Artist

This story is from the teachings of Chuang Tzu, a Taoist master who lived 2500 years ago:

The Woodcarver

Khing, the master carver, made a bell stand     
of  precious wood. When it was finished,
All who saw it were astounded. They said it must be
The work of Spirits. 
The Prince of Lu said to the master carver,
"What is your secret?"

Khing replied: "I am only a workman. 
I have no secret. There is only this:
When I began to think about the work you commanded
I guarded my spirit, did not expend it 
On trifles, that were not to the point.
I fasted in order to set 
my heart at rest.

After three days fasting,
 I had forgotten gain and success.
After five days
I had forgotten praise or criticism.
After seven days
I had forgotten my body with all it's limbs.

By this time, all thought of your Highness
And of the court had faded away.
All that might distract me from the work
Had vanished.
I was collected in the single thought
Of the bell stand.

Then I went to the forest
To see the trees in their own natural state.
When the right tree appeared before my eyes,
The bell stand also appeared in it, clearly, beyond doubt.
All I had to do was to put forth my hand
And begin.

If I had not met this particular tree
There would have been 
No bell stand at all.

What happened?
My own collected thought
Encountered the hidden potential in the wood; 
From this live encounter came the work
Which you ascribe to the spirits"

from A Hidden Wholeness by Parker Palmer

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Blood on the Maple Show is on line!

Blackberry #1
I got so excited by the colors and shapes of fallen leaves this fall and by trying out itajime techniques for dyeing silk, that I made something like 33 paintings and hangings to celebrate! These are beautiful little paintings, all one of a kind originals. 

The profits from the sale of these pieces during February and March all go to the Backbone Campaign. Some have sold already; 24 of the small 6" x 6" paintings, those not sold yet, are now available in my etsy shop. I have raised $175 (after show expenses) through sales. My goal is to raise $500 at least. Can you help me get there?

Why the Backbone Campaign

Well, when I  designed my own home and ran a school for young children, I came face to face with regulations that made me realize how difficult it can be to build and to live using materials and technology that are earth friendly. While things have eased a little, there are still a lot of hurdles. Bill Moyer, co-founder of the Backbone Campaign, ran into a bunch of regulatory roadblocks  when he spearheaded a community solar project. As a result, he is focused on working to change some of those laws and regulations that blocked this project.  I want to support him in that.

These paintings, reminders of the beauty of nature, are small enough to brighten a spot over your desk or on a narrow piece of wall,  delighting you for years to come. They make nice gifts for a man or a woman. Do check out the selection on Suzanna's Studio on etsy! Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Spiritual Journey Through Art

Sun Eyeby Sharon Rowley

My Mission is this:
 My art inspires in people appreciation for nature and for each other,  connecting them to the Divine Joy within and to their own Inner Guide. 

Sometimes I feel this is too....airy fairy.....too...presumptuous a mission, so I LOVE it when I see this in other's work.

Here is another fiber artist, Sharon Rowley, who is doing this with her art! Sharon's work will be at Lila Yoga Studio in Seattle, February -April.

Opening reception is Sunday, February 10, 2pm - 4pm.

Contact Sharon for additional viewing opportunities at:
To see more of Sharon's work, please go to her website at

Lila Yoga Studio: 2812 E. Madison, Seattle, 98112

Hope to see you there!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Blood on the Maple online soon!

contact me if you are interested in buying this one
leigh.suzanna at
DAng!!!! just got 32 photos ready to up load into my flickr account so that you can see the paintings I have up at the Tea Shop--got them all labeled and ready to actually upload and go live--and lost the page!! I closed my browser by accident!! Arg!!

Well, at least I know how to do it now! Please do be patient with me. I am really excited to show you this body of work and to give you the opportunity to own a piece and in that way contribute to an organization working to change the systems that keep us locked into earth destroying behavior.
This one sold opening night!
Just a reminder: all profits from sales of this body of work during February and March go to the Backbone Campaign.

I am donating all my time creating these and will only take out for cost of materials and any fees associated with selling.
The wood frames these are wrapped around were donated by Rich (Rifaat) Osborne.

All these paintings are 6"x6", painted on silk with dyes that have been steam set.
They are priced at only $45, to make them easier for you to buy.