Thursday, December 30, 2010

Year's End

Thank you for stopping by.  I hope that 2011 brings you peace, joy, and fulfillment on the very deepest level.

As we count down to the year's end, I want to get caught up and post some things from my sketchbook.  Read below if you are interested in what's going on with me : )
Planet Hollywood Pen

Tombo Sketch from a Photo by Walker Evans
Fruit Basket
Self Portrait (sort of)
The Hairdresser's Table
Central Valley Orchard
Art Space--Before
Art Space--After

My art space is in my kitchen.  The great thing about it is that I don't have to go out of the house, I can bring my laptop in, I have a separate space for office work and another space for cutting mats, AND I can cook while waiting for things to dry.  The down side is that I don't have a lot of room for spreading out while working on multiple projects and can't leave things out forever.  Fortunately, my husband is really patient with my mess.  The tabletop easel and the post-Christmas sale organizers from Michael's have really improved my storage and flexibility.  If I paint in the morning, I can sit in front of the window for good light.  I can also stand at the island that you can barely see on the left.  I'm really happy with the new arrangement!

Yesterday I was reflecting on a column in the morning's local newspaper.  The columnist, a food writer, talks about traditional New Year's resolutions and how the goals we set often smack of a certain grim, guilt-tripping, negativity.  So rather than talking about all the personal flaws that she wants to root out, change, or overcome, she has reframed her forward view into something much more positive...what would bring joy, happiness, inner peace.  Things that will increase the quality of life.  She starts her list with farmers markets.

I agree.  Farmers markets not only offer good quality organic (or lightly treated) produce to the consumer, they allow small scale farmers to stay in business.  I LOVE our local markets...the beauty of the colorful produce, cheeses, fresh seafood, meats, honey, etc. and the friendly interchanges between the sellers and buyers.  Plus you can get a good cup of coffee or something to eat, listen to good music, and watch or sketch all the passers by.

Also on my list of things that I look forward to, are good for body and soul, and will increase my quality of life in 2011 are:
  • spending time with family, especially that adorable grandson
  • doing LOTS of art and continuing to explore art as a spiritual path
  • offering workshops that help people open up to their innate wisdom and creativity
  • learning to cook really yummy (I'm serious, no sacrificing flavour) recipes with high fiber, lots of veggies, and low fats.  This is going to be an adventure, not deprivation : )
  • enjoying both the preparation, publicity, and travel on the El Salvador service learning trip in June (see
  • taking pleasure in dancing, swimming, biking, and other forms of movement
  • building community through Alternatives to Violence Project, East European Folklife Center, my Quaker meeting, local dance groups, and both real and virtual art communities
  • doing an art show during the season of non-violence
  • feeling great
  • reading good books and talking with friends
2010 was a very interesting year for me, involving momentous events.  I am so fortunate that even when really difficult things were happening, I had the love and support of so many friends and acquaintances.  More than anything else, I want to continue and deepen those relationships in 2011.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Never too late to post last week's doings...I do have a new watercolor project coming up that will take the rest of the week to complete and a baby blanket that may become my life's work.  Meanwhile here are some of the gift projects that were completed by the 11th hour.

I love that most of the gifts were made rather than purchased this year.  It gives me the greatest pleasure to make something and be thinking about the person that I am making it for.  I was able to stay out of the stores for the most part, so I kept out of the holiday shopping frenzy, in spite of the fact that I did make a trip on Thursday to locate things I hadn't gotten around to.  The book store and art store were fun, though, and don't really count.

Lemon bars and stained glass cookies.

Applesauces, mint jelly, brandied peaches, plum sauce and plum syrup, all from our own fruit trees.

Bookmarks front (watercolor and ink)

 Bookmarks back

 Wrist warmers from wonderful, fun yarn purchased in Mendocino last summer.

For myself, Christmas was warm, low-key, and full of love.  We opened gifts, ate tamales, and played board games, staying inside by the fire while it poured down rain outside.  There's more to come with more family in January. I received such thoughtful gifts, including a tabletop easel!  

I've been wondering how the rhythm of the last two weeks in December would be for me as a newly retired person.  When I was in education, I would work intensely up until the break, spend the time between the last day of school and Christmas in preparations for the holiday, and then take a day or two after Christmas to read my new books and sit around in my new robe or flannel jammies.  Then I'd take a day or two to be with friends and another day or two to go back into the classroom or the office to get ready for the next push. 

Things haven't changed that much, except that I'm preparing for an Alternatives to Violence Project workshop instead of going back to school.  Also, I need to get myself the book and jammies so that I can spend a day hunkering down!  It's gray out today, but the rain has stopped so it will be a good day for a walk.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Out With 11 Things

Whew, it's been busy.  I've been sketching, knitting, baking, and doing some journaling, plus getting all the Christmas things ready.  Here's my latest journal page and some reflections on an earlier Reverb prompt...
Happy holidays, we'll see each other as we can over the next couple of weeks.  Best wishes for a fulfilling and joyful 2011.

(arches paper, acrylic, image transfer, collage, stamp, ink)

11 Things. Reverb, Day 11

What are 11 things your life doesn't need in 2011?
How will you go about eliminating them?
How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

Here are the 11 things I would like to release....

Thing 1: 25 pounds of body weight.
Thing 2: Pain in my arm and shoulder.
Thing 3: Old school stuff in the garage.
Thing 4: Old clothes in the closets and junk in the drawers.
Thing 5: Front and back lawns.
Thing 6: Headaches.
Thing 7: Trying to fix people.
Thing 8: Taking on things I don't really want to do.
Thing 9: Being judgmental.
Thing 10: Resistance to doing morning pages.
Thing 11: Too much time at the computer.

For the first step, I will do a real or vitual smudging ceremony, which one depends on whether I can get my hands on the sage. First, the sage and I will spend a little time together in my meditation area. Then I'll put each of these things on a small piece of paper, burn it with the sage torch, and let the negative energy be borne away with the smoke. After that, I'll take the torch into the garage and around the house.

The sage smudging ceremony is a cleansing ritual to establish positive energy, clear thinking, harmony of thought and healing. As the sage burns slowly and the smoke is released into the air, the negative energy sent away along with the smoke.

Obviously, I need to undertake other more concrete steps to make these changes. I'll post the list in my journal so that I can refer to it often and check on my progress.

I invoke the light of the God within
I am a clear and perfect channel
Light is my guide

Barbara B. 12.20.10

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Time of Completion

I'm taking my last watercolor class for the semester tomorrow and we are to bring in all the things we have worked on since August. As I line them all up in the spare room so that I can see what needs a mat, I'm so glad I took this class. I'm pleased with the progress and the new things that I tried, AND I I was able to see my way to finish some things that have been hanging around for awhile, and here are two.

The Air is Clear Out Here
This one was done completely without brushes. Q-tips, toothpicks, stirrers, and a plastic fork were used to apply and spread the paint. It was really fun! It sat for about 4 weeks before I could figure out what to do to finish it. Don't know how well is will show up here, but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

Fish, Fruit, and Fall
This is one of those that hung around unfinished for a year before I was able to finish it. Do you have any of those? I was really stuck and had been painting for only eight or nine months, so didn't have the experience to know what to do. I hadn't put in the background view through the windows and I had the values all wrong for the window mullions and the shadows. I was all hung up on making it realistic and got defeated with how it wasn't looking like the real thing. At one point (because I often work on the kitchen table) I spilled coffee all over it! I rinsed it off and kept it because I loved the rainbow trout, both the real one and the painting.

From time to time I'd take it out and have a look. Finally, it started telling me not to worry about what the real view is from the window, that it wanted fall foliage. Then it said not to worry about whether the colors were real, just darken the mullions so that the shadows aren't so strange. I've learned a lot from working on this one, and maybe the most important thing is to be patient and wait. It will unfold in its own way and in its own time. What a sweet lesson that is, and what a joy to bring this one to completion.

Barbara B 12/15/10

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Surrender is the Word--Reflections on 2010

At first I had a lot of resistance around participating in reverb 10 (not enough time, already doing creative everyday, already doing morning pages trying to finish up the Artist's Way, already doing much reflection in Worship Sharing groups, already trying to art journaling, already having resistance to the physical stress of music practice and the emotional stresses of finding my way with a new group of musicians), but the prompts have been seeping in to my consciousness and I've gained so much by reading a couple of other people's responses that I think I'll respond as I'm moved and able. Even if one doesn't respond in writing, these make really nice meditations.

The words that encapsulate 2010 for me are acceptance and surrender. The words for 2011 will be surrender and transformation, surrender being the bridge from acceptance to transformation. The image traces some of the events in 2010, you can follow the gold ribbon through the year. The spring was marked by the juxtaposition of the joy of our first grandchild against the whole involuntary retirement situation which threw me into a cycle of grieving that I realize has just now come to the stage of acceptance and surrender as my life is redefined. During the summer and early fall, the fruit harvest and canning kept me busy, focused, and gave me a sense of purpose so I didn't have time to think about how the school year was starting without me.

But, between last March and now I really have moved through the 5 stages of grief: denial at first (how could this be happening to me?); anger (how could they be listening to lies and misinformation?); bargaining (what could I and those who believed in me do to change the situation?); deep sadness (we can't do anything to change the situation, what will I do now, how can I hold my head up when there are people who think so badly of me): acceptance (well, there are plenty of people who do love and trust me, there are other things I can do with my life, I won't let others define who I am.) 

The surrender part has to do with finding out more about who am I and what do I love outside of a work life. Art is emerging as a major theme and so is service through listening, facilitation, and conflict resolution. I think that a synthesis is coming and that there will be a clearer metamorphosis in 2011. There are several books to read yet and processes that I look forward to engaging in, and I'm finding that as I participate in these, my spiritual life is very yeasty---I can feel something happening. Surrender has to do with not trying to figure it all out right away and letting it unfold.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Riding the Air

If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.

--Toni Morrison, “Song of Solomon”

Accept, be, surrender—all of these terms imply that there are times that we

rest, integrate, become dormant and that we will be given great, effortless power.

Sometimes we spend so much effort trying to become, resisting, pushing, forcing

that we lose our sense of who we truly are. I want to dance like a maple seed,

turning and whirling on the wind, coming round right.

This piece started out by placing a finger labyrinth under wet paper and doing a rubbing with a brayer. This particular labyrinth is is one that I really love, called “The Dancing Woman”.

I wanted to play with color and added blue and silver acrylic (mixing them with water and pouring them onto the wet paper.) As the colors began to dry, I began looking for collage and black line images that I wanted to add, and came across the ballerina, the muse, the musician, and the line from Lord of the Dance. I wanted to create an image of feminine power, transfoming the “lord” of the dance to the “muse” of the dance. After completing the collage, I found the Toni Morrison quote. There is a wonderful translucent quality when the piece is held up to the light.

Barbara B 12.6.10

Monday, December 6, 2010

Joy and Sorrow

This week has been a real mix of ups and downs, both emotionally and art-wise. Early in the week I had great fun playing with the “air” theme and doing some silly sketches around those. On Saturday, I took a workshop (Conversations with the Muse) on using acrylic under painting, clear contact paper to transfer black-line images, and then collage and journaling into art journals. This was a wonderfully meditative and creative experience, resulting in the journal piece “Right of Passage”.

As I was heading home from the workshop, I received a phone call telling me that my husband's cousin died unexpectedly on Friday. We were close to her, so this is quite a blow...a life that was far too short. As we sat with our feelings and waited for more information, I was able to generate another journal piece to express some of my grief, “Fly Away Home”. I'm grateful to have a way to get those feelings out and to remember some of the gifts that our cousin brought into our lives.

Barbara B. 12.5.10

Fly Away Home

Dear SJLK (1955-2010),

All I can say is, you will be missed. Your wonderful singing voice, your acting talent and beautiful design sense. Your fierce love for your family and tender bond with your grandson. Your sense of humor and the ability to hold us rapt when you tell a story. Your sufferings, struggles, and efforts. Your religious faith. I have loved you since becoming a member of your extended family more than 20 years ago, and your absence leaves us with a huge hole.

I need to believe that you are in a better place, one with only love and no pain. Fly away, dear girl, fly away home.

Barbara B. 12.4.10

Right of Passage

She is dancing up to an opening, a doorstep.

The musical measure shows an upbeat, a hint that something is about to come.

She wonders, “If I cross the threshold, will it keep my dreams from taking flight? Or will passing through open me up to dreams I never even knew I had? Is this threshold a one-way portal? Is there no turning back?”

The whooping crane is her angel, guide, guardian, protector. It is centered, grounded, looking though the gateway.

She must own her right to make the succeed or to fail, it doesn't matter. Either way, taking the risk is her decision to make. She will be guided, guarded, and protected.

Barbara B. 12.3.10

Air Play Sketches 12.1-12.3.10

Air Head........................Aphrodite Putting On Airs........Air Stream Dreams