Saturday, November 14, 2015

Change is in the air...

It's in the air...sometimes we have to fall back and regroup, for our peace of mind, our sanity, our soul.  Things that sounded wonderful at the time--or WERE--grow like kudzu and choke the life out of us, or out of a project.

Many of you know that I'm in the process of simplifying and refocusing...I have been, in ways, for years.  I wrote a similar blog post in September of last year, on nurturing creativity:

Heading in this direction, I no longer take commissions, I no longer paint miniature portraits, I no longer do in-person workshops.  I don't take freelance work for magazines.  The current one will be my last book for an outside publisher.  I've said yes to things that got out of hand, got horribly complex, or weren't what I'd expected.  That will stop.

Yes, even more than it has.  I want to focus on those things that matter most to me.

For the first time in a rather long time, I'm excited about a new class idea...Meaningful Journaling.  (Meaning-full Journaling?) 

It may be quite some time before I have time to CREATE it, classes are complex beasts requiring hours of writing, illustration, video, and organization, so please be patient--but I'm aiming in that direction. 

And I can't tell you how pleased I am by your initial response!  I'll keep you updated, and clarify more what it will be about, as time goes by.

What it will not be, is a step-by-step, how-to, demo-and-exercise class; I've done that already, in numerous formats.  It will be in-depth, personal, and a sharing of how journaling has changed my life and continues to do so.  I'll include resources and a bibliography of books that support this process--some art-related, some not.  (But as an artist, and knowing how making images can change us in amazing ways, that will be our focus.)

(And yes, this post has been sitting in my draft folder for 6 months, and the idea's been popping around in my brain for much thing at a time...)

Friday, November 13, 2015

Well, hello! I'm back.

More or less, has been more than full, and mostly good, and satisfying, though with it's fair share of pain as well.

What fills me today is being ready, finally, to start working on a new class.  More than likely, interactive again, after all this time.  Those are time-consuming and exhausting, but this is something I want to connect with, personally.  Connect with the students, personally.

It will grow out of this place--a journey begun, for me, years ago in the 70s, really.

It's time.

This is what I wrote on my Facebook page this morning:

"Someone flipped a switch in my brain. There WILL be a new class upcoming, maybe two of them, I've been writing for 2 hours and ideas just keep flowing. I love this part of what I do!

This is a class I thought of doing a couple of years ago, but life--and death--got in the way.

It's time.

It will TAKE some time to pull it together, but it feels good to be so full of energy and ideas."

And I've been writing down thoughts, quotes, ideas, and plans ever since.

It will be personal.  It will be DIFFERENT.  I'm not even sure where it will take place, yet, but most likely on my old familiar Blogger.

I'm not sure what to call it, yet..."Meaning-full Journaling" popped to the forefront this morning.

But I am confident it WILL happen.  It feels right.  I am full of a serene kind of excitement, if that isn't too much of a contradiction in terms.

It's time.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Small Pleasures...'s been a rough couple of months for me and for my family.  An unexpected and too-early death knocked the pins out from under all of us; we are cocooned in our individual lives, feelings, perceptions, stumbling about and knocking into walls that are sometimes one another. I am not feeling at all able to work on my book, it requires too much organization, for now.

A great deal has happened since my Solstice post, but for now I will just say thank God for small pleasures and the simple, everyday things.  A cup of favorite tea, a purring cat, my husband's touch, the beauty of the wild birds outside my window--the sacredness of the everyday.

...a favorite pen with a fine and flexible nib...

...the beauty of flowers...

...a bird seldom seen...I was journaling about him, above...

...and always, journaling, learning, growing, creating.

The class I'm taking is called Everyday Sacred, and it is helping...I have a focus that is letting me see more clearly and let go.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Happy Solstice, all! The light returns...bit by bit.

"The Shortest Day

And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!"

-Susan Cooper.

Here's to love, and life, family and friends--a most peaceful and happy Solstice to all here.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Times, They Are a'Changin...

...and they have been, for the publishing industry, for some time.  Just got word that Sierra Club is going out of the publishing business to focus on their other missions.  Publishing has changed, a LOT, in the past 10-15 years, and they're not the only book publisher to disappear...

They had a great run, and a LONG one, with many, many wonderful books by some elegant, eloquent writers over the years.  I was very glad to be in that august company, and happy with the books I did with them--it was a wonderful experience.

The internet has impacted a lot of publishers, both of books and of magazines; it's a tough business these days; several of the publishers of my natural history books are no more.  (I'm more than grateful North Light/F & W is still around and going strong.)

 Sketching in Nature's been out of print for some time, though it had a great run--hardcover and softcover, with revisions and multiple reprints. I loved doing it...

Painting in Nature came out in 2000 and did very well too...3 print runs are not at all bad! 

The latter book was very meaningful to me; I was working on it when my first husband Harris fell ill, and when he died.  It came out a year or so after, and there are many sweet, poignant memories held within those pages.  We sat together in the woods and I painted while he read or napped...we picnicked by the lake while I drew...he was always supportive, and always proud of what I did.

My dear friend Judy Gehrlein, a wonderful artist and sketching buddy, went with me on many of the field trips--those memories are held between the pages as well.

In 2005, I was invited to speak to Sierra Club's first International Gathering in San Francisco on field sketching; it was the first time my beloved Joseph and I were alone together as well.  What a trip THAT was!  Between my stage fright and the snafus with technical issues like laptops and slide projectors and the Powerpoint presentation that J. put together for me, running late, miscommunications, and...stage fright, did I mention stage fright??  (More like terror...)

For a while there it looked as if I'd be speaking to an auditorium of a couple of hundred people with nothing but my sketchbook and a microphone.  (Thank goodness we had a couple of days to wind down after that and explore that beautiful city!)

Jim Cohee was the best editor anyone could ever have...I loved working with him, and loved finally meeting him in 2005.  Gentle, funny, talented, inspiring...the best, yep.  He's writing books of his own, now!  Just saw The Swan, on Amazon...

Lots of warm memories...

Still, it's a sad day when one of the Old Lions goes away.  You'll be missed, Sierra Club. Thanks for the wild, wonderful ride.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Life has been...LIFE!

...of course that DOES beat the alternative...

It's been too long since I've had time to slow down and just enjoy has been intense, between classes and the upcoming North Light book.  Lots of juggling, lots of confusion, lots of needing to stop and take a breath.  And of course, family stuff...

I need to get out and sketch more often!  This one is from 2009, and no, it has NOT been that long.  I was out just last week...

This is from our October trip to Bennett Spring...I did a LOT of sketches that trip!

My sweetie and the other fishermen at the spring...

Our godchild Molly Hammer, singing at the Broadway Jazz Club with one of her favorite pianists...

Copper Creek Band, good friends we go to hear as often as we can...

Joseph's English Country Dance group...

The beautiful newborn Henry!

BACON and a Buddhist prayer...interesting juxtaposition...

...and three wonderful visits with three wonderful young women--daughters of my heart!  That would be Kristin Frazier, Christiana Farabee, and Ailsa Barrett, all in the space of a week... life is good, but life is crazy.  Looking forward to breathing room December 26...

In the upcoming year I plan more journal entries, more reviews of favorite tools and books, more reminiscences, more on simplifying, more demos, more on gratitude, more mini-class giveaways (that last one was FUN!)--and who knows what else?

I hope you'll join me.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Well, nuts.

I just discovered I had comment notification on this blog going to my OLD address, which I no longer use!  No wonder I missed so many of your wonderful comments...thank you so much!  I've tweaked the settings again...

Unfortunately I discovered that some of you are still having problems commenting, and THAT I have no idea about, I'm so sorry!  I've always had it set that anyone can comment, even anonymous.

And that said, I've enabled comment moderation, because I've also gotten some spam. :( 

I don't do CAPTCHA letters or other such nonsense, I do NOT want to make it difficult for you to comment (more difficult than it already is?!?), but it may mean comments don't show till I get a chance to check them. 

That's what I do on some of my other blogs, and it works well...just be patient with me, please!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Sorting Out Life, as well...

Happy husband...

This is where we were the other day, and yes, I gave myself permission to stop doing gruntwork and do what I NEEDED to do.  I plan on more of that!
So.  Not only are we simplifying our home and possessions, but life and priorities as well.  Life is too short, things of real importance deserve our attention, and yes, it's okay to be happy!

I know, that should be obvious to anyone with an ounce of sense, but we do so often do things because we think we should, we must, someone asked, we've committed, we've agreed, SOMEONE ought to, it needs doing, we're responsible...we're trapped.  Tra la.

LONG after these things have stopped being fulfilling, long after they really, actually needed doing, long after the time when someone else might be able to do them better, and might want to have the chance, we're still plodding along.  Blinders on.

And before long we find our souls occupying a tiny corner of our own lives--all the room that's left to them.  I recently posted a link to a site about things happy people do, and it was shared widely.  This is good.  But when I went to some of the shares I discovered a disturbing number of negative comments by people who resented the idea, who thought anyone who had time must be retired (some of the busiest people I KNOW are retired), who didn't have time to be happy (?!?!)...

It made me sad.

The other day Joseph and I were talking about what I actually WANTED to be doing, right now.  (Aside from being Out There, as above!)  I told him about a silly little project I've been wanting to do, for doesn't pay, it's not "work," I haven't agreed I'd do it, no contracts's just fun.  But ya know, I don't have time for that.

He said "DO it!  No wonder all the gruntwork is sucking the life out of you right need to be doing something else, and you're not letting yourself!  Do THAT, and then maybe the Work, capital W, won't feel quite so heavy."

And so soon, I promise myself, I'll do just that.  Right after I put in a few more hours on the contracted obligation.

However, ya know, it felt great to write all this down!  That too is something I need to do.

I'm a lousy Pollyanna, really...I'm stuck in a couple of jobs that have had glitches, lately, needing far more work than I have energy for, and pretending everything is great is just too damn exhausting.

Nuts to that. 

I hope you give yourself permission to do what you really want to, as well.


Meanwhile, there's a helpful series on the Tiny House Blog you may enjoy, on simplifying!…/helpful-tips-downsizing-part-1/


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