The first altered book I ever did was called In the Trees. I took a memory from my childhood -- playing with plastic horses in the tree roots of the huge maples that grow in Kentucky -- and created a book with images and plastic horses that reflected the feeling of those times in my life.
Today I took three small horses out with me to Deer Island and took some simple photos along those lines. My knowledge of digital camera function is abysmal, and so I kept it very simple with only a few settings of my Canon Powershot. I had fun placing the little equines in various tree limbs, boulders, spring waterfalls as I ambled along the path. I had my childhood Stuart Marx rearing stallion(a collectible now, $45 on Ebay); a solid bronze, tailless foal that used to reside in my mother's aquarium; and, a small, sprite-like metal horse that I bought in Vienna, Austria in 1973. All seemed to prefer certain locations, the white horse on a boulder or in the grass, the brass horse on the snakey oak tree limb, the little sprite horse standing in a hillside waterfall.
I had to quiet the voices in my head that were saying "You aren't a photographer -- what are you doing?" "You should be jogging, not dillydallying -- what are you doing?" "You should be pruning roses -- what are you doing?" Seems like the critic just won't ever shut up. But I don't have to listen, do I?
What would it be like to not hear all those voices? To just feel my mane blowing in the the wind?
I am always fascinated by the beautiful California Oak trees. They come in many shapes and sizes, are deciduous or live, have sinuous limbs reaching up to the sky, or large, curvaceous branches that snake down and kiss the earth beneath them. Each oak seems to have a presence, a spirit, a feeling about it. I sometimes go and sit against one and let my thoughts fade away. A feeling of peace wells up and sometime even tears. This oriel pendant reflects my love and reverence for the California oaks. It is part of the Sacred Journeys series because of the tree's mystical characteristics. Available through my Kentucky Girl Etsy shop.
How I love my walk/runs on Deer Island -- a small little island of property owned by our local watershed company. Once it was surrounded by San Fransisco Bay waters, now there is a paved road access, and surrounded on three sides by wetlands. Waterfowl, hawks, foxes, coyotes, deer, long-eared Western jackrabbits, songbirds galore. And trees, hundreds of bay laurels and a myriad of oak tree species.
Everytime I walk or run on Deer Island, I feel nourished, uplifted, in the flow, and just plain happy. My hair flows behind me as I run through the woods, as I run by the big Bay Laurel I call "The Mother", as I pass the old Miwok middens, as I pass the reservoir with all of the waterbirds, as I am greeted and answer the hawks that fly overhead and seem to know my name. I have always loved being with nature outdoors. And this place is sacred to me. I see and greet shadows of past lovers, departed horse companions, long lost grandparents and great-grandmothers. I see the future I am moving into. And it has been for a long time, and will continue to be a source of my creativity.
Well, I think it's always like this. You get so wrapped up in who you think you are, or what you think your limitations are, and you feel trapped, all balled up, no thread to unravel, just one big ball of non-raveling threads.
But look how colorful they are. Look how complex they seem. And so happy lying next to one another. And really, you just tug on one of those threads, or bands, and POP! it comes off in an instant. POP! there goes another one! POP! POP! And another and another. All you have to do is just be willing to risk being stagnant. Be willing to risk being all tied up. Be willing to sit there and stare your limitations in the eye and say YOU DON'T SCARE ME! Something's bound to snap and shoot you into a whole new ball game. To ricochet you into motion. Go for it! What would it feel like to not be bogged down, balled up, wrapped tight as a rubberband? To just feel my mane blowing in the wind?
Well, another goal has been reached, without too much kicking and screaming! My office (much in the same disrepair as my art studio -- no pictures, sorry) has been cleaned up, organized, made ready for any future business that developes. Ready and waiting. Kind of a miracle, really. My husband's best friend from highschool came for a prolonged visit. Billy is a professional "clutter buster" -- so I set him loose on my home office. Oh my. What a beautiful thing to observe. But I I have to say that I was ready. I have a new space now -- still I need to go through some of the boxes. (Especially photos -- for god's sake -- how many photos does one need, really? And are they the ones we really want? I can think right now of specific photos I wish I still had -- I'd trade all of these for those in a minute!) I like the feeling of my office now -- like there's space for new things to come in. Like there's room for me to twirl around and sing and dance to my cat as I take a break from taxes. I like how the wall behind my computer is filled with prints and photos and art that is no longer distracting but a work of art in itself. What would it feel like to not be bogged down with stuff? To just feel my mane blowing in the wind?
Oh my god it's Thursday already! Where did the week go to? What have I accomplished for the past 3 days?
It takes a tremendous amount of self-discipline for me to do art consistently. In defense of myself, I have been slowly finishing several oriels that had been copper-taped but not soldered. I have also been experimenting photographing them with my camera and my "photo studio in a box". I am also opening up a shop on 1000 Markets, so I am dealing with various issues -- file size of images, copy, opening an Amazon pay account.
Everyday I feel the desire to create and experiment with different tools and mediums, yet I find myself avoiding the studio except for the most minimal time. Do I need to set some more goals for myself? Here's some possibilities:
How about my own Illustration Friday (create a piece of art every Friday)?
Or, an Art-Every-Day-for-a-Year challenge (like it says a piece of art everyday--EEEKKKK!)?
Or, maybe a Technique Thursday (learn a new technique every Thursday).
Then post whatever I create. An unlimited time frame seems too daunting, so maybe I'll just commit to do this for a month. Hmmmmm. What to do, what to do? What would it feel like to not hesitate? To just act? To just feel my mane blowing in the wind?
Completed 3-D Oriel (above): Smirking Buddha (the beveled glass makes his smile seem crooked. It's made with 3 panes of glass and stars are sprinkled on all levels.
Success! I can't believe it! I just took my first set of photos -- I think this is great! This is a photo of one of my newest oriel pendants: Siddhartha. I photographed it flat, on top of a handmade journal. I set up the camera directly over the pendant -- no flash, macro setting.
Look how clear it is! No glass reflection. OH MY GOD!!!! This could become addictive! It's still not exactly what I want -- for instance it appears a bit washed out. If any photo experts out there run across this post, please feel free to comment! YAHOO!!!
One of the things I have struggled with as an artist is how to "capture" the items I create. I have felt totally passive about this since I started creating art back in 1982. I never seemed to make it a priority to buy a camera: I had other more important pastimes (like riding and the upkeep of owning horses) that ate up what little money I was generating. So I reluctantly would have to beg, borrow and steal to hire someone to take photos of my artwork.
When I launched my Etsy shop, Kentucky Girl -- I made do by either scanning my oriel pendants, or even xeroxing them, then scanning those copies and uploading them to the my shop. I agonized over what type of camera to buy. I searched the online groups, the Etsy forum, asked friends who were camera buffs their opinions, and it all just drove me crazy. Hyperventilation even. I couldn't make up my mind.
Finally last summer, my brother Jesse (who is less video/camera/computer challenged than me) came in town and held my hand metaphorically, and we went out together to find a camera. A friend had recommended Seawood Photo in San Anselmo (CA), and we hooked up with the salesman Don Kennedy (who actually was at one time a real-life jewelry photographer -- imagine that!). Dan recommended the Canon Powershot, which I bought, and a "Photo Studio In-A-Box" set that included lights, camera stand, backgrounds, nylon diffuser screen -- everything I could possibly need to take plausible photos of my jewelry.
Have I unpacked the box? NO! Have I studied the manual of my Powershot? NO! This is serious -- we are talking drag your ass as long as possible here!
But tonight I'm making progress -- I unpacked and set up the photo studio. I've got my camera manual and I'm ready to rock! Let's see what happens!
What would it feel like to not be so concerned with timing? What would it be like to just feel my mane blowing in the wind?
Hard to squeeze in any prolonged moments of reflection on Sundays for me. I take a dance class every Sunday morning at 9AM. I have complained about this time for 15 years. However, when a new afternoon class was offered -- did I jump on it? NOPE.
I like my form of Sunday worship: it's aerobic and gets my heart pumping; it's sexy movement and gets my heart pumping; it's challenging choreography and gets my heart pumping. By the end of the hour I'm usually refreshed and head out into the mid-morning for either a hike or another cup of Peet's coffee. If it's a hike, I treat it like a walking meditation. If it's a coffee, I inhale the aroma and give thanks. So I guess I do squeeze in a few minutes of reflection....Hope your Sundays are a treat, too!
Box: Wings of an Angel, 2008 Annual Box Show, Point Reyes, CA
A successful day in the studio yesterday -- my friend Michael came over and photographed me at work, and just seemed to have a fun old time playing with his camera. Michael's kind of like me in that he left a great love (his, photography; mine, creating art) behind a number of years ago and is just getting back to it. Actually, I've been hammering him about it for a few years, and keep trying to create situations so he gets the chance to use it, not lose it. And I get photos of myself or my artwork. So far we are both happy about it. We may even collaborate on some piece of art together on down the road.
So, what I'm aware of is that I have achieved at least three things that I set as goals in earlier posts: clean up my art studio; meet with Linadria around marketing my jewelry biz; and have Michael photograph the studio. Yahooooo! Why there seems to be a trend here -- just set a goal in a blog entry, go see what happens, then write about the results. Intention does work -- at least in cyberworld! Magic!
It's been 4 days since the last post. How do the days go by so quickly? Was it always like this? How do women who have children and a full-time job even manage to live! Kudos to their energy and dedication to something bigger than yourself.
Speaking of bigger than yourself -- the picture above is a Custom Oriel I made for a woman, K. My customs can often be specific images -- vintage photos, Hollywood stars, favorite companion animals. But K. wanted me to make her a pendant that represented "who I really am, not the back-crippled, overweight, aging woman that I feel I am most of the time".
I let this request sit and brew for a long time, but the image that came to me was Wonder Woman: strong, powerful, aggressive, beautiful, explosive. Not the external picture of K., but of what she carries inside of her. I knew that the red, white, and blue colors of Wonder Woman were wrong -- K. tends to wear soft blues, mauves, beige -- so I'd have to think about that, too.
I started sourcing images of Wonder Woman on the internet, but I didn't like the photos of Lynda Carter and other faux Wonder Women. And most of the cartoon or anime illustrations were to distorted or angry. Finally on page 32 of the Google image search I found this great image. Black hair whipping around, leaping forward on big, strong thighs, this Wonder Woman felt like who K. was. I imported theimage into my creativity program, printed her out on matte photo paper, then took pencils, both metallic and color, and colored her uniform a burgundy. I added a Swavorski rhinestone crystal to her headband (notice this is actually a representation of the third eye?).
I then decided to try something different in the oriel construction: make it 3-D. I used 3 panes of glass: 2 flat for the bottom and middle, and the top one beveled glass. For the bottom layer of the oriel, I chose a mustard yellow ribbon that I fused with my can't-live-without sheer ribbon with gold flourish design. This I placed face down on the bottom glass -- the flourish design facing outward. The mustard yellow became the background for the K.'s collage. I glued on a few teeny weeny gold stars (used in the fashion nail industry -- I found these in a market in Mexico) in teh space where the image would not rest. Then I glued the colored, cut-out image of WW to the middle pane of glass and added more stars around her (I actualy would have added even more stars, but I didn't want to go overboard for K.s pendant.) Then I added the beveled glass and continued on with the process. And I added 2 yellow crystal bead stars and 1 silver one to the jump ring -- which adds motion and splash. This was a wonderful -- and one powerful -- pendant. I hope K. likes it!
Ah Mondays...the perfect day for procrastination. I appear to have a motivational dysfunction!
Let me see, today I pulled from my Secret Dakini Oracle Deck the card "Ganesh /Lord of Obstacles"! Ganeshappears to be stuck in the middle of a dew-drop laden spider's web. Or is Ganesh just poised to jump up and down on the trampoline of life?
Obstacles seem to be the pattern today -- everything feels sticky -- and there appears to be no solutions in sight. I went to have my car worked on, they hadn't written down the appointment at the garage. I went to get wheat grass at Whole Foods and they were out. I started to solder in the studio, and my soldering iron tip would not hold the solder and refused to clean up. If I was an astrologer, I would say the heavens appear to be in Mercury Retrograde! And, I was also in Border's today while looking for a specific magazine (no luck there), and saw displayed the book Stuck, Why We Can't (Or Won't) Move On. Really, how funny is that?
The truth is, I'm not helplessly, hopelessly mired in inertia. I CHOOSE to be! If I look at today's events like that, I feel some motion internally...and my inertia is balanced by things I did choose to do. I chose to go for a walk and run. I chose go into my art studio and organize some areas. I chose to drive to the pet store and get cat food ("Meow and thank you" says Angelina). And I have a whole afternoon to choose, or not to choose, to do other things on my list. And if I want to be mired in slothfulness, I CAN CHOOSE THAT! Yippee!
What would it feel like to not feel stuck? To push past the world of appearances -- to feel my mane blowing in the wind?
Welcome! My Mane Blowing in the Wind is a visual showcase of my art, oriel pendant necklaces, and creative musings. I have danced toward and away from art for the past 28 years. Much of the moving away from was due to what I guess you could call "artistic paralysis": I heard the muse but went internal with it instead of externally expressing it through art. But somehow my art keeps emerging and recently it seems to have taken on a life of its own. This blog is a record of that discovery.