Mindfulness and the Creative Process

It seems that spring is coming early this year in New England. Although, I think I heard rumors of a snow storm this weekend! Is that true? Last week I was out raking leaves from my son's pre-school gardens and the daffodils and crocus are coming up and about to bloom and are blooming there. What a nice thing to see! Hope you all are enjoying the warmer rays and longer days.

I want to say thank you to all of you who spent the time to look at my new website. I received so many kind words of encouragement and appreciation. It truly warmed my heart. Thank you!

There are a couple things going on now and in the near future that I want to tell you.

Up here in the hills of western MA, my friend, Stacey Mackowiak of Sunflower Yoga & Mindfulness, and I are offering a 4 week course exploring the intersection of mindfulness and the creative process. We will explore our inner landscapes through guided meditations and the creation of mixed portraits. For those of you who live locally, perhaps this will interest you and you would like to join us for this exploration? Starts April 26th and meets every Tues. evening, 7-8:30pm, for the next three weeks after. The course is $100 and all materials are included. Please see the attached flyer for contact info or email me if you have more questions.

Finally, there are a couple more weeks left to my March, website launch promotion. Everything on my online store is 15% off so now is great time to stock up on some cards or to buy a print for you or as a gift. Everything is set up online to make shopping easy.

I hope this note finds you all well and enjoying this transition to spring!
 

Recap 2015!

Hello! Well 2015 has come and gone and I have posted ZERO blog posts during that whole time! Wow. Ok. So how are you? Hope you had a great 2015 and that 2016 is off to a good start.

I have to say some happy, life altering events happened during 2015. One, the big ONE... my daughter, Mirela Jozefina, was born in February, 2015.

 

Being pregnant, giving birth and caring for my newborn and my two/three year old son took almost all the energy I had.

And two... as I came out of the new baby fog, I began to focus some of my time and attention back on my art business. Last fall I took the steps and began the process to create a website and online store that will serve as an online gallery and shopping place for all my original designs in their various manifestations as cards, archival prints, original embroideries and paintings.

I am very, very excited to be coming down the home stretch of designing my website with the creative, thoughtful and artistic contributions of my talented friends: photographer, Erin Long at Erin Long Photography and designer, Seth Gregory at Seth Gregory Design.  Without their help I would not have the site that is about to be launched. Thank you Erin and Seth!!!

So here we are, 2016. My baby will turn a year old at the end of February and I will give birth to another baby around the same time: WhereEarthMeetsSky.com

I hope you will visit me there and stay in touch via my blog through my new website. I will no longer be blogging via Blogger. Stay posted as I will let you know when WhereEarthMeetsSky.com officially launches. Thank you!

Alchemy Fair is happening this weekend!

Alchemy Fair

is happening this weekend! Here are some new hand embroidered sachets I made during the past few weeks to sell at

Alchemy Fair

along with my original designs, available as cards and archival prints. I'm really looking forward to being part of this special event. I think it is going to be a lot of fun.

Craft, Food, Workshops and Entertainment.

Saturday April 26, 10am-6pm &Sunday April 27, 11am-4pm

Gateway City Arts Complex, Holyoke, MA 

(92-114 Race Street, Holyoke, MA, 01040).

$6 at the door, under 12 free. 

Admission includes participation in dozens of FREE workshops including juggling, tight wire walking, fabric trapeze, pottery making, hula hooping and our Kids Kraft Korner. Check the

workshop page

for days and times. 

UPDATE: We are now officially a

St. Baldricks Foundation

Event! Come shave your head with us and help put an end to pediatric cancer! 

Alchemy

Different elements coming together to create something entirely new 

Our Sponsors

Earth Level:  

WEBS, America's Yarn Store

Northampton Beadery

Water Level:

Premiere Staffing of Holyoke

Air Level:

Artisans of Western Mass

Friends of the Fair:

The Show Circus Studio

Alotta Hoopla

BE Organics

The Celadon Studio

A Fun Morning! Valentine Paper Cut Workshop @ Knack






Last Saturday I had a wonderful morning at Knack teaching paper cut techniques to ten lovely women. I had a full house show up for the workshop and we all gathered around the table and got to work. I talked a bit about Wycinanki, Polish paper cuts. I especially focused on the Kurpie style Polish paper cut which uses a single fold, symmetrical design technique. Some students used the templates I brought to class for their design and other students created their own unique designs. Every paper cut made in this workshop was created by using recycled / up-cycled materials that Knack has gathered or that have been donated to the store. All the women seemed inspired by the class and especially by the design examples I shared from books I bought while studying in Poland and Hungary. A couple Polish/American students came to the class because they wanted to learn a little about their creative, Polish heritage. It feels good to pass on the beauty and heritage of traditions I've found particularly rich and inspiring. I plan to be back to Knack sometime this spring to teach another paper cut class. This time we will create floral paper cut designs. Stay posted for the date which I will announce here and on Facebook once I book the day and time. Thank you to Macey and Amber at Knack for having me teach this class and for taking these pictures which capture the feel of a fun, creative morning at your store.

Making Valentine's Cards: Up-cycled, Paper Cut Workshop February 1st





Last month I created the above example and template of a hand made, paper cut, Valentine using paper remnants I found in my scrap paper folder for an upcoming work shop I'm teaching at KNACK: The Art of Clever Re-Use, in Easthampton, MA. The workshop takes place in a couple weeks, on Saturday morning, February 1st, from 10am until 12pm. Spots are still open if you want to join me!

I'm really looking forward to teaching an art class again as it has been a number of years since I've been in a teaching role, encouraging other's creative energy and talents. Yes, in a past life, before I moved to western MA, I was an art teacher to middle school and high school students.

I took two embroidery classes at KNACK this fall and had a ball! It was wonderful to get out of the house on a Saturday morning. I walked into KNACK with the smell of a fresh pot of coffee brewing, greeting my senses and one of the friendly owners there to welcome us. All the workshop attendees soon gathered around the table and got to work with a wonderful and talented teacher. We all learned something new that morning and it was inspiring to be in KNACK's studio space.

I just got confirmation today that the workshop is a GO since I have enough people enrolled in the class to allow it to happen. And there are still some spots available if you want to join us at KNACK's fabulous creative re-use lounge. I included the following information taken from KNACK's website which shares all the info and links you need to find out more info and enroll in the workshop.

Class Description

Valentine’s day is just around the corner!  Make unique cards to give to loved ones (or keep for yourself!). Paper Cutting is an art form that is practiced by different cultures all around the world.

You will learn about the Polish form of paper cutting called “Wycinanki”; the Kurpie style of cutting from Poland is the inspiration for the projects in this workshop. This style cut out is made from one piece of paper that is folded in half, down the middle. You'll create beautiful cards to take home, and  learn the skills to make many more on your own.
Details 
 Saturday, February 1st
10am-12pm
Taught by Kim Wachtel
Cost: $30

Pre-registration required
Class size limited to 10
Sign up

Stop by during regular business hours to register for this class, or you may sign up online.

Register for Workshop!


Our cancellation policy can be found at the bottom of the Workshop listings page.
Questions
 Contact us! We can be reached at 413-529-0126 or info@knack.org.

Snow Days

My little place in this world is covered in snow again. As I struggled with the flu a couple of weeks ago it became warm and all the snow melted away before Christmas. It all just didn't feel right! I began to feel better and then freezing temperatures and a few flurries came on Christmas Eve. Beginning on New Year's Day the snow officially returned. The fresh snow is one of the things I am grateful for in 2014.

I have been enjoying looking at art work online that captures the beauty of winter and this snowy season. A friend recently posted art work done in the early 1900's by Wladyslaw Jarocki on facebook and I found his work beautiful. I love the contrast of the whites, greys, browns and blues of the landscape with the brightly colored scarves and embroidery accents on the traditional clothing of his Polish highlander subjects. I want to give away my black, nylon covered jacket for sheepskin, fleece lined, embroidered coats, woolen stockings, leather boots, long heavy skirts and colorful scarves and dress like these beautiful highland women.

Władysław Jarocki, Żółta chustka oil, canvas
Wladyslaw Jarocki, "Winter Sun", oil on canvas, 69.5 x 99 cm, private collection
Wladyslaw Jarocki, "Hunter in Winter", 1915, oil on plywood, 98 x 67 cm, private collection
This past holiday season I was particularly inspired by eclectic paintings and other works of art posted by a blogger at A Polar Bear's Tale. The art work posted there is so special. There are illustrations, fine paintings, crafted items and photographs to be enjoyed. All the images chosen for this blog seem infused with magic, beauty and nostalgia. The posts cover themes and the art work reflects the seasons and holidays. I enjoyed looking at this blog over Christmas more than watching a holiday movie or tv program. If you enjoy looking at lovely works of art that reflect the magic of a season I suggest that you head over to A Polar Bear's Tale to scroll through the treasures there.

And finally since this is the first post of the New Year I think gratitude is the word for 2014. I started a gratitude jar and before going to sleep I will write down on a piece of paper a moment of beauty from the day for which I am grateful. On New Year's Eve this upcoming year I will read about all the positive things that filled up 2014. Among other things, I am grateful for the love of my family and friends, the return of snow, celebrating Christmas again with my mom and dad who came up to visit on New Year's Day bearing beautifully wrapped gifts, birds chirping and singing outside on a walk and nearby my bird feeders and the kisses of my 18 month old, cutie-pie of a boy, Kazmir.

gifts on New Year's Day with snow just beginning to fall outside

garden in snow

My house in the snow



Spruce Corner






For the last two weekends some of my cards and embroidery pieces were at the Spruce Corner Schoolhouse Holiday Sale. Above are some pictures of this magical little place. I traveled "over the river and through the woods" to get here and also seemed to travel back in time.

This little schoolhouse harkens back to another time when we educated our children in our small communities in one room buildings. Kids of all ages would gather to learn together. As I set up my things for the holiday sale my mind wandered. Part of me longs to send my child to this place with other kids of all ages, with a dedicated teacher who believes in creativity and story as well as math and science. Today schools often look like office buildings or even worse, prisons. They are often big impersonal spaces filled with people and tied to the clock like a factory. Although a place like this may be filled with good teachers and love, it is just hard for me to think about how big classrooms and schools have become in their physical size and numbers of students. The system is less personal. So when I come to this space for the holiday sale, as an artist and a holiday shopper, I start to day dream about "what if?". What if our small communities in the hills of MA could open some schoolhouses like this with a dedicated teacher and smaller groups of our children? Is it possible? What would it look like?

When I walk through the wooden door the first thing that I am aware of is the quiet. There is only the sound of the crackling fire and the hushed voices of other holiday shoppers. I also quickly become aware of the lack of electricity.  The light is all natural. On a cloudy day or at twilight the space has a muted, serene quality and on a sunny day the sun casts shadows, playing with the window panes and lovely arts and crafts objects that are for sale. A fire in the big wood stove heats the space. A top the stove a pot of spiced, hot apple cider infuses it's fragrance throughout the room. The building is truly how it would have been in the 18th and 19th centuries. There is no loud holiday pop music, no glaring flourescent lights and no crowds. It's a place where I can think and where I can enjoy what I'm looking at.

If you live in the area or find yourself in western MA during the first two weekends in December perhaps you would like to shop here too? The Spruce Corner Schoolhouse is on Rt. 116 between Ashfield and Plainfield, MA. This was my third time participating in this sale and I look forward to it every year.

Here are a few things that I purchased this year. I knitted knome for Kazi, a felted Christmas tree ornament and some felting materials to try my hand at felt painting.

It's a  beautiful frigid snow day here at my home and I'm keeping the wood stove pumping as I write this.  If you look closely at the picture with the knitted knome, out the window my sentient sunflower is still standing guard over our house and garden. Her head is bowed and she wears a cap of snow. I hope you are enjoying the warmth of the season where ever you are!

Shop Local! ...handmade arts, crafts and farm on Stage Road, Cummington, MA

I've been busy getting my things ready for this fun event that I am helping put on and organize with my neighbors. I feel so lucky to live in such a beautiful area with many talented artists and farmers. Our Walkabout has become a tradition I look forward to which encourages the support of local arts and farms and the local economy. I hope some of you can make it out here to take a stroll and visit our neighborhood. Mark your calendars!

Our press release and posters are making their way out into the world. Here they are...

"Shop local this holiday season, by taking a classic fall country stroll. Visit six open houses all within a half mile of each other on historic Stage Road in Cummington, MA. This event shows the unique concentration of artists, small businesses and idyllic farms that pepper our Hilltowns. Start at 494 Stage Rd. or 556 Stage Rd. to do the 1 mile round trip tour, on November 2nd and 3rd, 11 am to 5 pm.  (** Just 494 Stage Rd is open on the 3rd.)

Leni Fried Printmaking at 494 Stage Rd. (www.lenifriedprintmaking.com) and One-Off Handcycles (oneoffhandcycle.com) have a shop and studio in their 150 year old barn. Leni Fried, an artist of over 30 years debuts her latest tree monoprints, cards and affordable art inspired by our landscape. Mike Augspurger from One-Off handcycle builds and sells a three wheeled handcycle for off road use for people in wheelchairs.  Rosemary Wessel (www.rosemarywessel.com) will have cards and original oil paintings of trees and more other-worldly subjects. She will also be showing in their barn.

Next on the tour at 509 Stage Rd. is Kimberly Wachtel: Where Earth Meets Sky Designs. You can't miss Kim's brightly colored house which reminds one of her whimsical, original handmade designs inspired by traditional Polish, Hungarian and Eastern European art. paintings and cards. Her hand made paper cuts, paintings, prints, cards and embroidered items will be for sale.

At the top of the hill at 523 Stage Rd. is the old Colonial, site of the former Stage Road Tavern where one was served grog! You can ask for grog, but you may receive a pottery tour in its stead! Steven Jones, potter, will be showing his work in this classic colonial and barn.

The last stop for the Walkabout at 556 Stage Rd is Gordon's Fold Highland cattle. Look for their long horns and shaggy manes. Eric Driver  has continued his grandfather Gordon's tradition of grazing these animals on this land.

We encourage you to feel the crunch of fallen leaves, the brisk air and warm up with cider, art and refreshments at each location. Shop local, walk local this holiday season.

See you there,
Leni, Mike, Rose, Kim, Jim, Steven, Eric and Monica..."

Christmas Trees and Snowflakes, New Card Designs, Holiday 2013




These new Christmas Tree and Snowflake paper cut images are at the printers this week to be made into holiday cards for the upcoming season. I thought I'd give you a little preview of what I'll have available at the Walkabout, craft fairs and at the stores where I sell my things and here on my blog starting in the beginning of November.

It is good to have some new items made to sell at the various sales opportunities coming up in the next few months.

I liked making these Christmas "Tree of Life" designs and Snowflake designs. Working with colorful paper, coming up with original, folk-style inspired images and symmetrical design is satisfying for me. I like the moment I unfold a new piece after cutting it for an hour or so to see if it works.






Sister Sunflower


A sunflower grew to be twelve feet tall in my garden this year. She was a volunteer. I did not plant her. She is the daughter and granddaughter of the sunflowers that grew in the same spot over the past few years. I've come to think that her presence is the guardian of the house and the land. Everyone who comes to my house comments on her. I like her strong, quiet companionship. Sometimes I go out to the garden and just stand next to her. All alone. I look at her beauty and think about how she teaches me. In return I admire her and give her a little of my company. Her flower head is over a foot in diameter. The seeds are riping and later this fall they will feed the birds, squirrels and chipmunks who will come. Her head is heavy, bent down in a pose of humility and surrender. The dazzling yellow petals have whithered away. The nights have turned chilly. Her heart shaped leaves draw inward towards her strong and straight stalk holding her upright even in the rain and in the wind. She surrenders to the season. Fall is here and the trees, birds and flowers are letting us know. It has been a truly beautiful two weeks. I can't remember a more beautiful turning of the leaves to their golds, reds and coppers. Rain came today and everything is beautiful in a different kind of way.

In light of listening to a weekly poetry program on the radio, I feel like sharing another Mary Oliver poem. I just love her work. This excerpt from the following poem The Sunflowers resonates with me. Oliver just squeezes out the truth, the essence of a thing, the essence of spirit the truth about what it means to be alive.

Like these words from The Sunflower...

"...each of them, though it stands
in a crowd of many,
like a separate universe,

is lonely, the long work
of turning their lives
into a celebration
is not easy..."

The Sunflowers: APoem by Mary Oliver

Come with me
into the field of sunflowers.
Their faces are burnished disks,
their dry spines

creak like ship masts,
their green leaves,
so heavy and many,
fill all day with the sticky

sugars of the sun.
Come with me
to visit the sunflowers,
they are shy

but want to be friends;
they have wonderful stories
of when they were young -
the important weather,

the wandering crows.
Don't be afraid
to ask them questions!
Their bright faces,

which follow the sun,
will listen, and all
those rows of seeds -
each one a new life!

hope for a deeper acquaintance;
each of them, though it stands
in a crowd of many,
like a separate universe,

is lonely, the long work
of turning their lives
into a celebration
is not easy. Come

and let us talk with those modest faces,
the simple garments of leaves,
the coarse roots in the earth
so uprightly burning.

Wholesome Transformations: A hand designed commission


My friend Bi-sek has been interested in homegrown, healthy food for longer than I've known her. She's a talented organic gardener, cook, community organizer, nutritionist, health enthusiast, environmentalist and mother. I admire her and her work as she pushes herself as a woman and a professional. She is also the founder of the community garden that I am involved with called Raspberry Hill Community Garden.

Last year she commissioned me to design the above logo for a business she is developing. She wanted something hand drawn and painted in my colorful folk style. Since her business is about transforming oneself through nutrition, my inspiration for the drawing started with a seed blooming into a vibrant flower.  I choose the sunflower because not only is the plant beautiful, the seeds are nourishing. We decided to put some images of healthy vegetables and fruit in the corners of the composition.

Bi-sek and her daughter shared a gift this past winter with me and Kaz. They would come over to my house to play with Kaz and give me a little break from taking care of the baby so I could head over to my studio for an hour, two or three to work on this project. At this time it was important for me to start reclaiming my artistic self. This project helped me do that. Thank you, Bi-sek!

You can find out more about Bi-sek's work with nutrition at Wholesome Transformations.

"My work is loving the world..." a poem by Mary Oliver


Messenger
By Mary Oliver
 
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.







All photos were taken today, a glorious September day, at the Raspberry Hill Community garden.

While on a drive this week I came across a radio show where poetry is read. The host read a Mary Oliver poem that took my breath away. I think her work is deeply beautiful and true.

My new love... Embroidery!


I discovered something new about myself this week. I love to do embroidery. I had a hunch that I would really like to do this and I was right. I've enjoyed admiring and looking closely at embroidery for a long time. Now it feels so good to be doing it!

Last Saturday I took a two hour workshop on embroidery at a new, truly awesome, re-use center/store called KNACK in Easthampton at the Eastworks building. Knack is a DIY palace. The store takes used things, sometimes on the way to being discarded, and brings new life to these things as potential and transformed arts and crafts items. I love the idea behind creating a store like this. Upcycling and reusing materials is a great way to transform items and the workshop space encourages community to learn to do things for themselves.  Here is Knack's mission statement...

Knack: The Art of Clever Reuse is a creative reuse center where you can:
  • Find all sorts of reusable materials for your creative projects
  • Take a workshop or drop in during our open studio time
  • Have a party (birthday, craft night, creative gathering, etc.)
  • Shop for upcycled gifts/art handmade by local artists
A woman named Bonnie Sennott taught the workshop. I was really impressed with her embroidered art pieces. She creates abstract images with embroidery stitches which I found beautiful and inspiring. She has a blog, Blue Peninsula Knits, which is full of her projects and examples of her many creative talents. She is a talented knitter as well as a knit pattern creator.

The photo above is of my completed project from the workshop. Bonnie gave us a template to work with and all of the materials to create a sachet. We got to try out 6 different embroidery stitches while creating this pretty, fragrant sachet, stuffed with lavender, camomile and flax seeds.

I find that doing needle work is really very relaxing to me...like weeding a garden or knitting a scarf. Repetitive, task oriented work makes me happy and puts me in a mentally and physically relaxed state. This activity is becoming a nice way to end a busy day full of child care and play, work, household chores, gardening and cooking. Plus I feel like I'm making progress with my creative practice since the sewing links up with the creative work I am now doing. It's a win/win situation!

At home, before taking this workshop, I've been playing around with simple watercolor patterns and incorporating hand stitched elements into them. I've been really attracted to the sun symbol motifs carved into wood of decorative Zakopane architectural elements and furniture in Poland. I'm making little images with gouache, paper, and thread using simple folk art motifs. Here's a work in progress at my work table.
I'll be happily embroidering as well as making new paper cuts and little paintings to prepare for the full season of craft fairs and holiday events in the coming months. I'll post more news on these events in a future blog post.

Paper Cut Wedding Invitation: A hand designed commission





In the winter and spring of 2012 I worked on a wedding invitation commission for my cousin, Bridget. She and her (now) husband, Matt, wanted a clean, organic design with fresh, spring green being the only color amid simple neutral tones. She wanted an image that was inspired by nature.

Her desire to have a clean simple design made me think that a paper cut would be the perfect medium for her invitation.

After a couple experiments and attempts I was hit with an inspiration for the design after looking through a few books from the library of botanical drawings. I simplified the idea of a curving organic branch in a neutral dove gray and added birch like spring, green leaves which attached at the ends of the branches. I cut the paper using scissors and an Exacto knife.

Using this branching leaf design I created a frame for the text in her invitation. We went through a bunch of different fonts on dafont.com and found a nice font with a handwritten, organic feel.

Bridget really wanted a tri-fold card. This design incorporated a "cut-out" postcard for attendance replies. She did not want a lot of disconnected pieces of card paper and envelopes to be a part of her invite.

The cover of the card was simply the image of the branch with leaves and the names of the couple. When you opened the card, all the information regarding the wedding was there...the announcement, the location and a RSVP card to fill in, cut out and send back. On the back of the card was some more logistical information, the address the return post-card and a place giving credit to the the designer...Where Earth Meets Sky Designs.

This project was a huge learning curve for me. I learned more about using the design programs on my computer, Photoshop and Illustrator. Thank you, Josh for all of your help with the computer programs!

A local co-op called Collective Copies did the printing for us. Despite some hiccups with the printing machine used for the addresses on the envelopes, it all worked out in the end. I delivered the completed project to a very happy bride to be.

Thank you Bridget and Matt for hiring me to be a part of your wedding in this very special way!

Folk Flower Tattoo: A hand designed commission

 


In 2011, upon return from my trip to Poland and Hungary, a woman who donated some money to my quest got in touch with me. She liked the images I was making inspired by eastern European designs. She also admired my quest to travel, learn and meet family. She wanted me to design a tattoo for her based on my eastern European Folk Flowers.

A big birthday was coming up for her and she wanted a special tattoo to mark this passage in her life. She is a talented flower arranger, has a flair for creative color palettes and creates unique, locally grown flower combinations that are used in her arrangements.

We got together to talk about what she wanted. Then I got to the drawing board.

A tattoo! A bit daunting, isn't it? Tattoos are a creative expression that are pretty permanent for a lifetime. I wanted to make sure that the design I came up with would be something she'd want to live with for the rest of her life.

I created two design options and she liked them. She took elements from them both and used them in her final design. This was an interesting process for me because I never had to design an image with the dimensionality of the human body in mind. Bone, skin, muscle...it was a cool challenge. Especially for the location of her tattoo as she wanted it to come from her foot, around her ankle (where that ankle bone protrudes) and up her calf.

Ultimately I had to hand the design over to the final artist, the tattoo artist. She would bring the image to the skin and to life. We met with her and she thought she had something good to work with. She and my client tweaked some of my color choices and varied the drawing just a bit, combining elements from both drawings, so that my work would translate to the tattoo medium, needle and ink, skin, muscle and bone.

When I got to see the pictures of the final result I was happy with how the image found a home on my client's skin. Graphic folk art patterns and design lend themselves well to tattoo art. The colors are so vibrant and beautiful. I know that my client really wanted colors that were vibrating with life as part of her tattoo.

This commission was a fun project and good challenge. I really enjoyed working with my client. I'm happy she has a piece on her skin that means so much to her. It reflects her life and her work with flowers.

Studio Time



I am making a real effort to spend time back in my studio.

Working.

The time is right to put energy into my creative practice with gusto.

Now that Kaz is over a year old, takes two regular naps, has an early bed time, and enjoys some time at the local daycare a couple hours a day, a day or two a week, there is no reason I can not get at least 6 -12 hours of studio time in every week. I know this doesn't sound like a lot but it is something. Something which is very special to me.

First I spent time reorganizing and cleaning up my studio space after using it as a home office for the past year. Now that the space is in studio mode I am back to work. Paints can stay out and works in progress are easily accessible. This is great as I sometimes need to get to work fast when I only have a bit of time to spare. A half an hour here an couple hours there soon add up to sketches being made, watercolors being experimented with and dreams taking shape.

During studio time I am taking care of Where Earth Meets Sky business. I want to use some of my creative time to get ready for craft fairs and holiday sales that happen in the fall through Christmas time. I would also like to get my cards and prints into some more retail businesses. I want to update my facebook business page and learn how to connect it better with my blog. I'm thinking about setting up my Etsy shop again since it has been dormant for the past year.

I just finished a commission I had been working on for a friend for long time. I want to share all the commissioned projects that have come to fruition in the past year and a half. I created a wedding invitation, a tattoo design and a business logo with matching business cards. I still need to finish a poster/flyer template for a musician friend. Posts to come will show the work in their completion. I will also have an organized page here on my blog which focuses on the commissioned projects that I've been hired to create for others.

Giving myself a kick in the pants to get out of my head, take action and get to work has felt really good. Creative work brings a greater sense of purpose and meaning to my life. My other roles in life are satisfying but when I put energy towards my creative practice I feel more whole and complete. The danger for me is procrastination and fear of failure. Somehow when I take action these two negative aspects become weaker and quietly hang in the background instead of blazing in the foreground. I do not feel good when I procrastinate or am unnecessarily fearful.

I have found a website that I find particularly inspiring and helpful as I make headway organizing moments of free time to create art work in the studio. It is a space for mothers who are artists called Studio Mothers. There are some good articles there for those of us looking to use any bits of free time we have pursuing creative endeavors. Really the inspiration here can be useful and translate to how one may pursue any life passion. Sometimes we just need some positive affirmation to help us along the way. This is a place I can find that.
meme taken from studiomothers.com

Summer Harvest Time Begins

It's that special time in late summer when the hard work in the spring begins to really pay off. The counters and the table in my kitchen begin to be cluttered with what was picked from the gardens in the last day or so.

We've been having fun making cordials and fermenting various items from the great outdoors. Last week we spent an hour picking the wild cherries which are abundant this year on Stage Road. The cherries are sitting in various combinations of vodka, gin and sugar to become cordials to be enjoyed this fall and winter. I have a rose cordial in the makes. Once the elderberries are ripe they will be used to make our special immunity boosting cordial. I have a batch of pickles fermenting in a crock. It's my first time trying to make this fresh fermented pickle. I got the recipe out of my new Polish cook book, "From A Polish Country House Kitchen". Josh and a friend made a big batch of dandelion wine which is aging in corked bottles in the closet. I've been wanting a chest freezer for a long, long time and just recently we purchased a used one to put in the garage. It's holding a nice amount of rhubarb, raspberries and blueberries so far. I like to look in it and dream about the good food we'll be eating this winter.

OK, lets leave the kitchen, go outside and take a look in the gardens! Right out the front door is a scramble of marigolds, geraniums, lantana, snapdragons, new guinea impatiens, canna lillies, mint, and salvia in colorful pots on the front porch.

The old claw foot bathtub is now a garden and full of canna lilies, calla lilies, dahlias, geraniums, gladiolas and morning glory.

Today I picked a whooping 13 peaches off the peach tree. My biggest harvest yet!

I created a hay bale, raised bed at the base of the terrace garden hill in which to grow squash.  The plants are quite happy as they grow and spill out over the edge of the haybales onto the meadow and hillside. It looks like we'll be eating a lot of spaghetti and butter cup squash.

The sunflower greeting the morning rays is a pretty sight. Under her grows some kale, peppers and a volunteer tomatillo.

The cherry tomatoes are just beginning to ripen.

After looking around my garden at home I headed around the block to my community garden plot at the Raspberry Hill Community Garden. The space is a very special place where the sounds and beauty of the country nourish my soul. The crickets are chirping, the swallows fly and swoop over the garden and big old maple trees line the lane. The land, also known as the Guyette Farm, was gifted to the Franklin Land Trust by Evelyn Guyette. The gardens are situated on a beautiful spot overlooking hills to the west. The sunsets are gorgeous and the cloud watching is excellent. I got a late start with my plot this year. It's my first year working the land here and a lot of sod needed to be lifted in order to create my garden beds. Finally they are all planted and beginning to really thrive. I'm growing carrots, beets, dill, cabbage, potatoes, kale, onion, leeks, green beans, cucumbers and a cherry tomato. I really love being a part of this group of talented and dedicated gardeners and look forward to spending more time here with the land and with others in the years to come.

Let's walk through the gate and take a peak at the gardens.

The blueberries are ripening in the sun and the old barn is in view over the raspberry brambles.

Cloud watching to the west.

My plot is pictured below in the foreground. All the plants are relatively young but they are coming along. I think they'll do really well growing big and strong during the warm month of August into September before the frosts come.

At home again, Kaz came out to the garden with me after his morning nap.  He enjoys throwing around the dirt and mulch as I prep a bed to plant more lettuces.

Happy August, early harvest time to you! I hope you are enjoying these golden days.

Art work by Kazimierz Sichulski


Spring, design stained glass triptych
In 1909. Pastel, tempera, cardboard. 145 x 231 cm.
The National Museum in Warsaw.

Palm Sunday (triptych)
In 1906. Pastel, gouache and tempera on paper glued on cardboard.
The National Museum in Krakow.
Girls Hutsul (left part of the triptych Palm Sunday).
136 x 71.5 cm


Hucułka
In 1906. Pastel and gouache on paper. 76 x 56 cm.
The National Museum in Krakow.

Bridesmaid (Hucułka)
In 1906. Pastel, tempera, gouache and charcoal on paper. 76 x 55 cm.
The National Museum in Krakow.

I came across some postcards in my studio recently that I purchased at the National Museum in Krakow a couple years ago. The postcards include images of some of the artworks shown above. The artist responsible for these works is Kazimierz Sichulski (1879-1942). I particularly like the paintings that were inspired by Hutsul traditional culture found in the south-eastern Carpathian mountain region. This area, for a time, was part of Poland but is now part of the Ukrainc. Sichulski was born and died in the city of Lviv.

I love the above pieces, as much for their traditional subject matter as for the rendering of the subject with rich expression, harmonious use of color and lyrical line. You get a sense of the beautiful ornamentation on the peasant dress. The lines are organic, graphic and bold. The way the cloth folds on the blouses and headscarves gives you the impression of the feel and weight of the cloth used for these traditional garments. The peasant's features are captivating as you see them here, looking, thinking and praying.

The Hutsul people that captivated Sichulski were mountaineers found in the western part of the Ukraine, Eastern Carpathian mountain region. Sichulski was not alone with his fascination as many artists and ethnographers were inspired by Hutsul traditional culture. Sichulski's artistic career was not only focused on traditional culture. He was a master of caricature and also created religious works. I am most attracted to his Hutsul inspired works.

It is not surprising to me that Sichulski studied with Wyspianski, who is an artist I've written about here on my blog . Wyspianski was inspired by traditional peasant culture in Poland as well. These artists were part of a larger movement called the "Young Poland" movement where something called "Chlopomania" occurred. "Chlopomania" is a Polish term used to describe these artist's fascination with traditional culture, folklore and peasant life. Some artists, playwrights, writers, and members of the intelligentsia at the turn of the century (1891-1918) in Poland felt cautious about, and in some instances, disgust for the modernization around them especially in the cities and politics at this time.  They desired to look to nature, return to nature and shun aspects of modern city life. The peasants lived close to nature so they and their customs fascinated and inspired artists. Some of the "Young Poland" artists, like Wyspianski, went so far as to marry peasant women. Another important aspect of this movement was the way in which artists looked for and expressed a strong national identity through traditional culture. This was especially important in Poland as the country for so long was partitioned by it's surrounding countries and political systems. Folklore and peasant life became the subject of many artistic creations. Artists involved with the Young Poland movement were working with thoughts and philosophies that were strongly reminiscent of Romanticism. The Romantic movement revolted against industrialization and the scientific rationalization of nature in artist expression. Romanticism looked to the authentic reality of strong emotion and looked back to traditions, ritual, and awe inspiring nature.

Let's fast forward to the 21st century. At this point in time another wave of interest in our connections with nature, with our farming and food, with our production of goods and even in looking at how we spend time in our families and within communities is gaining more interest and attention. Industrial farming, the outsourcing of manufacturing, and our plugged in culture needs to be looked at. Are we growing healthy food and taking care of the land that grows our food for ourselves and children? Are there meaningful jobs where a worker can feel pride in what they make? Are we sharing meals with our family and friends, having conversations, telling stories, marking important passages of time both personally and within our communties, connecting with something greater than ourselves?

Artists like Kazimierz Sichulski with their interest in and depiction of traditional cultures can show us something today. How are we feeling connected to meaning, health, communities and family and how are we feeling disconnected?  One of the reasons I enjoy works of art is for their aesthetically pleasing and/or thought  provoking effect. There is a reason I am so inspired by traditional cultures. I feel I can learn something from them and have learned something from them that brings me and my family more meaning, more health and more of a connection to something greater. With this, I think the Young Poland artists and I have something in common.


Sources: Wikipedia
               images found here: http://www.pinakoteka.zascianek.pl/Sichulski/Index.htm