Is there any greater freedom, than a sense of belonging . . . to this life.
“When God demanded light,
he didn’t banish darkness.
Instead, he invented
ebony and crows . . . “ – Why Are Your Poems So Dark, Linda Pastan
“Pensive” is a word that has been used to describe me, yet my father referred to me as someone who would look for a pony when presented with a mound of manure. Sometimes I’ve speculated that my “pensive Pollyanna” emerged from curiously studying and occasionally “excavating” the mound.
At times, my work is construed as “dark”, and every now and then, I’ve wondered if I chose an artistic career so I might examine some of the places I’ve feared most. Having grown up in a small town, in a relatively conventional family, my experiences were limited. Yet even then, I silently questioned many proclaimed truths. Only later did my creative work shed light on some of life’s darker regions, challenging many of my long-held beliefs.
I think this piece, drenched each day in the studio’s diffused morning light, evolved from that shadowy plane. It began simply, but grew in complexity as I layered each item-- the shattered body, the dark butterflies, the Sylvia Plath verse. But not until I selected the final piece, a broken chain, did it reach its unexpected conclusion. The chain was what remained of a necklace I’d received from a family friend, someone who’d brightened my childhood days. Yet the fragment’s selection reminded me that my friend, like Plath, had taken her own life-- unbeknownst to me, sitting under a tree.
Throughout my lifetime, I’ve found my closest friends to be those who shared the darkness as well as the light. Conversely, I’ve found my greatest betrayals to be the moments I was unwilling to stand in the dark with another. Perhaps my artistic work urges me to confront that deficit.
The day I received an "award of excellence" for this piece, I felt both an affirmation for my work and my friend- an acceptance, or perhaps a reconciliation of some of the dark and light of our lives. It seemed a creative force had been cast upon us, gently freeing us from crippling expectations, many of which were our own. We, too, for a brief moment, seemed awash in the morning light.
We made a trip to see family earlier this year. Although our time was limited, we were able to see everyone. It was so nice.
During the visit, we had the opportunity to sort through some old family photos and documents. Many were familiar to me, but there were some I’d never seen. I always find the process fascinating.
There was a particular photograph that captured my imagination. It was of a young woman. I believe her family’s farm was near ours. Immediately, I knew I wanted to work with her image-- how, I wasn’t sure.
These are two of the pieces I’ve completed thus far- collages destined for a juried art show this August. They feature some lovely handcrafted paper I purchased from de Medici • Ming Fine Paper in Seattle, vintage ration stamps, a wine label, and other miscellany. I remain artistically intrigued. There is something about this young woman that I find to be quite beautiful-- a visual intermingling of strength, wisdom and vulnerability.
It’s been a year since my trip to Europe. My husband and I are still chuckling about the various methods I developed to make coffee in our leased flats--experimenting each and every day with an assortment of cups, colanders, kettles and filters until I found a suitable way to make a few cups.
Nevertheless, it was those little caffeinated adventures that inspired my article, The Daily Grind, which is included in Somerset Life’s 2016 spring edition.
Coffee and crafting-- two of my favorite break time treats.
Images: Somerset Life Spring 2016 Copyright © 2016 Stampington & Company, LLC
I’ve been making some small pocket tags recently, most for future purposes. However, one seemed to be the perfect embellishment for a bottle of wine I was trimming for a friend’s birthday gift.
The leaf is one I noticed as I concluded my morning walk. I thought it was lovely and was sure the tones would complement the bottle’s green glass, as well as the small bundle of herbs I planned to tuck inside the tiny pocket.
These little tags are quite easy to make, and they can hold an assortment of tiny goodies. I’ve embellished others with buttons, ribbon, and decorative papers. Although I used this one for a gift tag, another could be filled with a flower or herbs and tied to a napkin for a spring place setting.