Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Autumn Limbo

As I sit here on the porch, engulfed in the foggy mist of the morning, serenaded by the sound of rain, I reflect on the past weeks and potential of the weeks to come. 

A little over a week ago, the rain was a looming foe, threatening to befall the long anticipate outdoor wedding on the Metolius River. We had planned for it for months. (I pause now as I watch an eagle chasing a seagull, wondering if they are playing or if there is danger lurking, but the eagle swoops down searching for other prey in the water.) Returning to my thoughts, the wedding thrived, with Mother Nature's forgiving hand, and we embraced the rain, the mud, the moments of clarity and pause, and the inevitability of our lack of control, over things we cannot control but wish we could.

I ponder this poignant time of year. The ending of things, the letting go, surrendering to the season. It is difficult to see through the pouring rain and grey mist. 

Difficult to see the potential that lies ahead. It is a time when one feels compelled to hang onto what remains, be it a memory, a relationship or a single leaf, hanging on by an unseeable thread of spider web. The leaf appears to be floating in limbo, somewhere between holding on and letting go. Who knows how long it will remain that way.

 I have been watching it for days, wondering when whatever has its hold on it will release it to the ground to join the others. I see this leaf blowing in the wind, wondering how the pouring rain doesn't release it from this seemingly invisible hold. The time will come when it is out of any control. In fact, the leaf has no choice at all in the matter. It has already surrendered from it's tree of belonging, and is now tethered to an unfamiliar one, for some unknown and uncontrollable reason. It is nature's way.

One gust of wind, or a raindrop strategically directed, will change everything. The leaf wiggles and floats and flies and seems to be either pulling away or surrendering to the pull. In between, there are moments of pure stillness.

The sound of the rain is all I can hear right now. It is all I want to hear. This music is so comforting, I just want to drown in it. This leaf in limbo, is all I want to watch right now. I don't want to move from this spot, for fear that I will miss the moment when it free falls, and the state of limbo ends. When the surrender becomes final.

For me, it feels like time is standing still. I sit here, feeling the pull to be somewhere else, doing something else. It feels like a "have to" not a want to. I just want this moment to never end. One by one, I watch the other coral hued leaves, gracefully falling, as they surrender to the whim of nature, as they do every season. Their dance of surrender is so natural, free from struggle. It can't be any other way.

Yet this lone leaf, attached to a tree that it doesn't belong to, is stuck, or possibly given respite for a time. It is a spent leaf tethered to an evergreen, out of it's element for this moment. Who knows for how long. 

The time will come for surrender, for moving on to the next chapter, what seems like the ending. Then the cycle of time will eventually bring a new beginning, but there is much time for that.

The winter will be long. I yearn for the permission to go inward, to hibernate, to wait for the push forward to feel like an intentional step forward. What would it feel like to just surrender to the season, to what is, to accept the endings and not know what beginnings lie ahead. To hold on for the moment and let go when it is time, when there is no reason beyond it just being time to yield to the inevitable.......

Friday, July 22, 2016

Caution, slow down, curves ahead....

I have just returned from a wonderful workshop Dying to Rust with Pam Nichols. My mind is filled with so many new ideas to incorporate into my repertoire of creating. I forget that the learning curve can throw you for a loop big time! I expected to "get it" all right away, and when trying to implement the new techniques back at my studio, I felt a bit defeated, like I had failed. I needed to slow down and take my time with this, like it or not.

Today, I awakened with a nagging headache and the wind outside was not making using my blowtorch an easy task. That said, I was determined to resolve the piece I was working on. It was a battle I was determined to win. When I looked at the progress of the piece yesterday, I saw what I thought I might need to do to make it work. Headache or not I was determined. 

Whether the piece feels successful right now, is not the issue that I feel inspired to write about though. There is a bigger picture that I was gifted with. 

Fighting the headache and the wind, I worked on it till it felt as resolved as it could be for today, possibly finished, but time will tell. I walked away from the piece and my torch, and decided to take a stroll. I thought it would possibly clear my head a bit.

I happened upon Mrs. "B", a bit up the road on my walk. I was not up for conversation, but she is so lovely and kind, I could not possibly not engage. She began to remind me of her story, which I have heard many times. I listened as attentively as if I were hearing it for the first time. She is 93, an avid gardener, and a widow after over 60 years of marriage. She re-told me her story of the love of her life, losing him, how she tries to stay active and young through her gardening, and daily walks, and how she cherishes it when her family comes to visit. She had just returned from her high school reunion with her older sister, and was excited to share this with me!

Mrs. B also reminded me that her late husband had both his legs blown off to below the knees, walking on a landmine, as he served in WWII. She told me of their meeting in high school, her childbirths, her loss of him a few years ago, and how over 200 servicemen came to the memorial she had at her house. Her husband would water ski, garden and share their wonderful life together. Clearly, she misses him deeply.

She asked me if I liked rhubarb, since she has a bumper crop of it. Mrs. B graciously invited me to come by and cut as much as I would like. I have never used it before and only know that it can be quite sour. She enticed me though, and I am up for the challenge! Another curve, with the opportunity to learn.

Later today or tomorrow, I plan to go and harvest some rhubarb from Mrs. B's garden and see if I can create something wonderful. I know it needs a lot of sweetening, but with the right attitude, a sour vegetable, like a day with a headache and challenging art creation, can be made into something creative and palatable.
My 15 minute chat today with Mrs. B, changed my outlook on my day, put things in perspective and sweetened it up for sure. Sometimes, all it takes is a little bit more sugar. I trust in this. It is all in the way you look at things, and for that I am grateful to her!  

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Day After

I awaken to deafening ears still ringing from last night's intrusive feeling of what seemed like a war zone. I sit now listening to the wind and the birds. What a difference one day can make. Solitude....I knew you were out there waiting. This is what I celebrate, the silence and the peace.......

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Seeking Tranquility

I sit looking at the serene sky, seeking visual tranquility, trying to lose myself in the jazz music I am listening to, puzzled, trying to understand why the celebration of freedom must sound like gunfire.......

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

What happens when your motor won't accelerate?

Last week I was feeling the growing inspiration to begin a new clay installation piece. My hope was to begin these last few days. My clay was purchased, my hands beginning to feel ready, the idea germinating. The intense heat set in and the inspiration waned. Instead, I opted for some time on the powerboat savoring the beauty of Puget Sound, wind on my face, in the exhilarating way moving rapidly through the water brings. For some unknown reason though, no matter how hard I tried to increase the speed, the throttle resisted and I couldn't accelerate beyond 4000 rpm. It felt frustrating as I floored the engine, it would not go where I wanted it to. I could feel the resistance, yet there was nothing I could do about it. I pushed against it and it pushed back.

I came home, after what was still a near perfect day on the Sound, satisfied, yet feeling guilty that I had yet to touch the clay. It sits in the bag, pristine and waiting. I had listened in, to what I felt compelled to do, go out on the boat, rather than work on this installation-to-be, that is about journey and the boat as a vessel for thought, movement forward, life. 

As I sit and write, I am trying to accept that some things are not ready to go full speed ahead. They accelerate, the only way they can, at that moment in time. I know the sculpture is in me, it is just not quite yet ready to come out. Maybe tomorrow, or maybe next week. For now I am going to go out on the lake in my kayak. I will control the slow, meditative speed as I move smoothly through the glass like surface of the water. As cliche as it sounds, today I will go with the flow and see where it takes me. Perhaps I will feel inclined to begin my sculpture later today. But perhaps not......

Monday, May 23, 2016

Moving from beginnings full of doubt, to endings filled with doubt

As I sit here in a place of solitude, that I have been longing for, I find it so difficult to put into words and process the feelings I have had, and the experiences I have encountered these last 5 months. The hummingbirds are more energetic than I have ever seen them tonight, and I feel like they are cheering me on.

It has been months since I have felt inclined to write. The incredibly rich, busy, intensity of my partnership with my wonderful AIR Gallery family, left little room to do much else, but totally immerse myself in the opportunity and experience of a lifetime. Four had the energy, excitement and at times overwhelming demands of four years. As stressful as it was to not only create and finish the work, take down the prior show, prepare and hang the new show, promote our event, keep it fresh and exciting, "show up" at the openings, and digging deep to find the energy to carry on, I wouldn't have had it any other way! I would not have changed a thing!

Being primarily a sculptor, the time element is only one of the challenges I faced. You are at the mercy of Mother Nature, as you slowly build your sculpture (hoping it doesn't collapse), patiently wait for it to dry, (this cannot be rushed), and then pray that she survives the firing. Then to finish the surfaces, and attach the found objects that I so lovingly collect, to complete my story. So much was out of my control, and this is not a place I am used to being. This is far outside my comfort zone, to say the least.

I recently came across a quote by T.S. Eliot that said, "If you aren't in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?" This was how this experience was for me. I never believed I had the emotional stamina, physical strength and creativity, to rise up and meet this challenge. It brought up a tremendous amount of self doubt, and my vulnerabilities and insecurities were palpable. I didn't want to let my partners down. I did not want to let myself down. I would only move forward, if I could do it with integrity, and stay true to myself. I would pinch myself and think, am I in the right place, am I cut out for this? And yet I moved forward, struggling yet smiling inside and out. I was overjoyed.

I owe such gratitude to my incredible family of artists, lead by an extraordinary man of vision, that feels like nothing less than beloved family. I dove into this experience head first. We held each other up. I heard our fearless leader, reminding me to just pause, breathe and jump off. 

The trust in my team and myself, astounded me. I would never have believed that this was possible. I have cherished every single moment of this amazing AIR journey. I have grown as an artist, a person, a friend, a colleague to my partners, and become part of an amazing art community. Most of all, I have astonished myself.

Although it has only been a month since we were suddenly forced to close our brick and mortar in Pioneer Place, it seems like a lifetime ago, as if this was merely a dream. Flying and feeling like I truly was up in the AIR, was a place from which I did not want to land. 

But here I sit, my feet on the ground, yet feeling anything but grounded. Finding the resilience to begin again, to create work at "normal" speed, to feel purposeful, to remember what it was like to be on that wild ride, is what I am reaching for. 

It truly was a glorious carousel ride, and now that I have stepped off, the brass ring seems so far out of reach, that I cannot even see it. I am not sure where the next incarnation of AIR will go, and how I will show up for it, or where my next creations will take me, but I am present.

My sculptures are put away. My boxes are broken down and recycled. My clay sits dormant, as do my hands and my kiln. I am trying to process this loss of something so wonderful. I am trying not to "cry because it is over, but to smile because it happened". Sometimes that is easier said than done.