Dancing with the Rainbow

Perhaps the rainbow that guided us out of Albuquerque and along the road to Taos was more than just a good omen for our stay there. I believe my future was being revealed to me.

I just found out recently that one of my color heroes, Lindly Haunani, will be giving a workshop in CT, facilitated by the Southern Connecticut Polymer Clay Guild.

It’s called…………….. “Dancing with the Rainbow”.

ColorInspirations

Lindly has recently co-authored a book with Maggie Maggio, another one of my color heroes. Dripping with page upon page of color eye candy, it is also filled with color exercises designed to help you find your own color voice. I devoured its pages as I winged my way to New Mexico, determined to start the exercises upon my return. Now I find myself looking forward to studying with the master herself and I will savor every moment.

Advertisements

From the Studio

HibiscusOpening071609

It has been quite awhile since I’ve shared any creations from my studio. I’m not exactly sure why that is but I think it has something to do with knowing that I will be moving again and I am transitioning towards moving my studio towards a new living space. Even though I don’t have a moving date yet, I feel myself disconnecting from my current studio space. It’s an interesting process.

Has anyone else ever experienced that with a pending move?

The creative time I have had has been mainly spent curled up in a cozy nook in my living room and I find myself more often than not turning to pick up a ball of colorful yarn. In this transitional time, I look for soft, tactile comfort to ground and center myself.

KnittedSocks071609

A pair of beachy colored socks.

BabyDress071609

A buttery yellow baby dress.

BabyHat071609

A rose garden colored floppy baby hat.

Last week my company had its annual shutdown and I spent a good part of the week transforming the look of some old wicker furniture. A good Spic n Span scrub and light sanding prepared them for some sprayed on primer and then porcelain colored paint. I love their creamy vintage look and am looking forward to fabric shopping so I can create some plump cushions to adorn them with.

WickerChairCloseup071609

While I’ve glanced at my art journal a couple of times and sorted some beads and jewelry components here and there, I haven’t felt like creating in that direction lately. I’m sure that I will return to them with renewed joy someday in the near future.

My company will be closed down every Friday during the month of August. We started doing this last year as the summertime is our slowest time of year. It gives our staff members extra time to relax and enjoy some free time before the busy fall season starts.

In anticipation of that extra free time, I’ve recently picked up a book, “Watercolor: A New Beginning: A Holistic Approach to Painting”, from the library. The first sentence of an editorial review from amazon.com expresses the book perfectly.

“Lindsay’s approach to teaching watercolor emerges from somewhere between the traditional art world and the deep, mystic spaces of the self.”

The author Ann Lindsay encourages her students to learn watercolor through the kind of playfulness we experienced in childhood. I find that approach immensely appealing so I took myself down to the arts and crafts store to purchase a pad of watercolor paper, 5 tubes of paint and a large palette for mixing.

Time to schedule some watercolor play time for myself!

Tea on Sunday

formosablackdry050309

This morning has been busy with trying to catch up on everything from the week, especially cleaning. Now that it’s all accomplished, I can sit down with my cuppa and meditate on yesterday’s experience…

I’m enjoying a cup of Formosa Black tea, a very unique tea developed by the Taiwan Tea Research Extension Station. They crossed a Taiwanese tea bush with an Assam (India)/Burmese tea bush to create this particular tea.

formosablacksteeps050309

The leaf is very dark and twisted into long thin strands. Now that all of the plumeria and hibiscus plants have made their way out onto the backyard deck, it uncovered this beautiful little tile table perfect for showing off the black leaf and steeped dark amber colored tea.

I steeped the leaves for 5 minutes in 212 degree F (boiled) water.

formosablackwet050309

After steeping, the leaves plumped up and unfurled into quite the pile of wet leaf. This is only half the leaves!

With my first sip, I detected the slight maltiness of the Assam along with some astringency. That’s where the similarity ended. There were also Oolong flavor notes (sweet, woody) with an interesting hint of chocolate. Despite the astringency, I drank this tea plain and, as it cooled, it smoothed out.

formosablackteabowl050309

I love this little table. It’s so colorful.

Yesterday his Holiness gave 2 talks, one on the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism and the second on the Path to Peace and Happiness. Throughout his talks, he emphasized that we are all human beings together, all 6 billion of us on this planet. We all have the same goal – to be happy. And we all have the same capacity for kindness and compassion. We learn from our mother how to be warm-hearted. He used that term a lot. To have a warm and open heart recognizes the connection we have with all living beings. I could go on and on with all that he said but I am still absorbing the experience. As I listened to him talk, I felt something shift inside of myself. The message is so simple yet so very profound. Wow. I cried when he walked out and I cried when he left.

There are quite a few books out there written by his Holiness. I highly recommend any of them. I am currently reading “The Art of Happiness”.

Here are some links to learn more.

The Office of H.H. the Dalai Lama

Books in English authored by H.H. the Dalai Lama

From The Government of Tibet in Exile

His Biography

“Whether they be a president, a king, the royal family or a beggar, all human beings are the same.”

“Let us strive for religious harmony, mutual admiration and mutual respect.”

~H.H. the Dalai Lama


The conception and unfolding of a piece of art

crocus1040509

“Enlightenment is not separate from washing dishes or growing lettuce. To learn how to live each moment of our daily life in deep mindfulness and concentration is the practice. The conception and unfolding of a piece of art takes place exactly in these moments of our daily life. The time when you begin to write down the music or the poems is only the time of delivering the baby. The baby has to be in you already in order for you to deliver it. But if the baby is not in you, even if you sit for hours and hours at your desk, there’s nothing to deliver, and you cannot produce anything. Your insight, your compassion, and your ability to write in a way that will move the other person’s heart are flowers that bloom on your tree of practice. We should make good use of every moment of our daily life in order to allow this insight and compassion to bloom.”

~Thich Nhat Hanh

When I read this quote, I feel that anything is possible if we are mindful of the present everyday moments in our lives.  It is those moments that enrich our lives and make our creative expression deep in meaning and spirit.

Studio Wednesday – Art Projects

ripplescarfskeins0409091

A Spring nest of yarn.

With these 2 luscious skeins, I’m knitting a “Ripple” scarf, a pattern I purchased from Spincycle Yarns. The yarn in the nest is the Berroco “Seduce’ yarn I was talking about last week. Yum…

ripplescarf1040909

I love the contrast in textures between the linen/silk yarn and the mohair-y wool yarn. I find myself being deeply drawn to pale blue these days.

ripplescarf2040909

With this wonderful pattern, I’m learning all about “yarn overs” and how they can create a fabulous see-thru lacy look. I’m also being drawn to lacy, flowy designs.

More work on my free-form bracelet. It will be ready for the clasp very soon.

freeformbracelet040909

For the past several months, I’ve been gessoing the pages of an old datebook, preparing it for transformation into an art journal. I walk by it everyday and feel its call to add color and images and words and doodles. I daydream about what I will do. Yet, I do nothing. A couple of days ago, I stumbled across the most wonderful blog called Caspiana and posts about Soul Journaling, a 22 day step by step guide to creating a soul journal. Hoo-ray! It was just what I needed to inspire and guide me to sit down with my art journal once again.

artjournal040909

I’ve glued down my ripped up dictionary pages and am ready to write using the prompt “Today I feel…” I’ll do that tonight. Next will be gessoing over my words and doodling my name all over the first page with colored pencils and markers.

I am joyously taking the first steps in my art journaling experience.

I stopped by the library on the way home from work and have a new pile of books to snuggle up in bed with tonight.

Opening each book and sifting through its words. That pleasure and a steaming cup of herbal tea to guide me toward sweet dreams.

books0409091

Books let us into their souls and lay open to us the secrets of our own. ~William Hazlitt

Studio Wednesday

swirlpendantno1031809

In the time I have between my physical therapy treatment and my favorite tv show “LOST”, I’d like to share with you what I’ve been working on this week.

With the limited range of motion in my frozen right shoulder, I haven’t been able to do a creative activity that I absolutely love: mixing colors in polymer clay. Cranking the pasta machine is torture on my shoulder. I solved that problem by treating myself to a motor and foot pedal for my P.M. What a difference! This has opened up a whole new world for me.

I love my new motor.

My first color mixing project was to mix up some muted neutral colors for a cane I wanted to try out from the new Donna Kato book I picked up from the library. It’s called “The Art of Polymer Clay Millefiore Techniques: Projects and Inspiration for Creative Canework”.

canes4earrings031809

There’s a lot of cool cane ideas in this great book. Now that I’ve returned it to the library, I’m even considering adding it to my library permanently. The cane slices above were created with a rolled Skinner Blend plug, wrapped and squished and rearranged. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not really into creating canes because I like a more organic look to my work instead of geometric precision. That being said, there are some fun organic cane patterns to play with.

canes4earringsno2031809

I had some fun with the cane ends I sliced off and rolled around. Here’s a scrap cane that ended up looking like crescent moons from another world.

swirlpendantno2031809

Ever since I received a small piece of plexiglas in a goody bag from the first Klay Karma retreat 4 years ago, I love making swirly lentil beads with cane scraps. The larger one with the cane slice bail will be used as a pendant in a necklace. The smaller one could be used for a freeform bracelet. That would be fun to incorporate some polymer clay beads in my freeform work.

wirecrocheting031809

I thought that I’d do something different for the swirly pendant necklace. Using a very thin gauge black wire and some bronze colored size 11 seed beads, I made several lengths of chain stitch. The wire was a bit tricky to work with at first because there is no “give” as there is with fiber. It takes time to figure out how much wire to wrap around your crochet hook to allow you to be able to pull the wire through the loop. I found that working looser rather than tighter is best.

wirecrochet031809

I made some more chain stitch lengths using bronze wire and black seed beads.

This weekend I’ll work on putting my necklace together.

“Once there were two color kittens with green eyes, Brush and Hush. They liked to mix and make colors by splashing one color into another. They had buckets and buckets and buckets and buckets of color to splash around with., Out of these colors they would make all the colors in the world.”

~from “The Color Kittens” by Margaret Wise Brown

Saturday Morning Tea

honeybushvandry030709

This past week was my first week back to full-time work. I keep telling myself that this is a good thing, giving me the ability to work towards my dream of owning my own home. Still, there has been some sadness associated with things I’ve had to let go of. Time for my art, especially.

As I prepared for my morning tea today I realized that I haven’t had many reviews about herbal tea. Or infusions, I should say, because herbals are not really tea. I apologize to any caffeine sensitive readers who are interested in exploring herbal options. I will strive to be more balanced in my tea choices and if there’s anything – tea or herbal – that you want to hear more about, please do let me know.

honeybushvanwet030709

This morning I am enjoying a cup of Honeybush Vanilla, a delightful herbal with Bourbon vanilla pieces and dried marigold petals. Mountain Honeybush, Cyclopia intermedia, is a bush that grows wild on the slopes of the Kouga mountains in South Africa. The leaves of this bush are harvested and processed much like the tea plant, camellia sinensis. It gets its name from the scent of its flowers.

Can you imagine wandering through a field of blooming honeybush and experiencing that sweet scent filling the air?

honeybushvansteep030709

This herbal is very smooth so you can steep the leaves for awhile without worrying about it turning bitter like oversteeped tea. I boiled my water and let it cool a short while before steeping the honeybush for 8-10 minutes.

The aroma is of sweet vanilla without being cloying or overpowering. The beautiful pink amber infusion tastes smooth and sweet with fruit and flower underlying the vanilla taste.

honeybushvanteacup030709

I have filled this beautiful china cup, a gift from a dear friend who knows how much I love new tea “equipage”.

Every week I usually stop by the library to pick up books that I have put on my online queue. However, this week drew me back to my own bookshelf to a book I had picked up about 3 years ago at the bookstore. I remember reading it at that time and enjoying it but this time I can feel each word penetrating my psyche on a deeper level.  Perhaps it is because of all of the changes I’ve experienced this past year and also the ones I am facing in the year to come. Called “The Courage to be Yourself” by Sue Patton Thoele, it is about finding an expanded vision of yourself and getting in touch with any self limiting fears that can get in the way of that expansion. Sue’s writing style is wonderfully down to earth and I feel like we’re sitting down in a cozy place having a cup of tea together while she shares the wisdom of her own personal journey.

She has 2 affirmations that she lives by.

I choose to live my life fully.

I will never give myself away again.

A truly wonderful book. Have a marvelous week.

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked

And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was

oftentimes filled with your tears

And how else can it be?

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being,

The more joy you can contain.

~Kahil Gibran