Winter Solstice

Darkness brings reflection.  But also, I found myself slowing down more than usual the past few months as my heart, body and mind needed to rest a bit after the intensity of the last several years.  I kept chipping away at all the chores left by both my mother's and Cliff's passing.  Piles of unfinished business.  I read a passage by Louise Nevelson earlier today which totally resonates with me,

"I believe that we can clean our minds out and not carry too much  waste.  Anything that's cluttered is a constipation of some sort.  Anything - a house, a closet.  If it's clear you can put something in it, but if it's crowded you can't put anything in it.  So I always started with that kind of premise." - Louise Nevelson

I have been working - lots - it feels good to be inspired.  May winter solstice bring blessings with the promise of more light.

Finding himself...

progress - slow and steady... The evening of the day I returned to sculpt the little owl, I went home and promptly got sick.  Perhaps sickness walloped me because I actually bragged out loud the day before that I had managed the events, stress and long flights during the past year without getting sick.  Not even once...

Then BAM.  Crud.  Couched.

Maybe it had something to do with returning to the owl?

Lofty Heights and Soulful Depths

Two weeks of spiritual, artistic, scenic, meditative inspiration and healing.  I feel more-than-blessed. I laughed. I cried. Humbled. Empowered. I felt. So MUCH on my pilgrimage hike to Tiger's Nest


What a happy lot of giggling good energy - the staff at Risum Resort.

While I have zillions to share and stories abound - my internet time is limited.  Although internet is more accessible than one would think in this remote Himalyas valley, I am most often without the internet (which quite frankly is totally ok with me).  Contradictions abound and astound - but rather than being frustrated, I am amused.  For instance, plumbing in my room at this quaint resort freezes each night yet the beautiful staff girls who dote on guests who sing to themselvehave their own cell phones.

Today I completed the design for my carving.  Phew!  I say "Phew!" for several reasons.  I am rather out-of-shape creatively since life events and PTSD from the dog pack attack last year have kept me from creating.  Then too - EVERYTHING here is different.  Even simple things which I take for granted back home (like paper) are cause for a convoluted treasure hunt.  Don't get me started on tools....!  Well just to give you an idea -  back in Montana I pulled the aluminum framing square out of my suitcase at the last minute when Raymond insisted that certainly framing squares exist in Bhutan but it turns out "not so much" (the standard Bhutanese answer for many inquiries).  But I love it. 

I am slurping up the vivid culture like a hungry child.  Total immersion (another reason why blog-time hasn't happened much).  But I do manage Instagram and Facebook posts nearly daily so please follow me there.  Even if you don't participate much in either Social Media worlds, everything I post is public so you can follow and look freely.  The Bhutanese people are not slaves to time - "maybe after sometime" is also standard response - to everything.  

I like it.  Meanwhile, I will write another blog post sometime.  Maybe.  After.  Some.  Time.


McNair Hare

I enjoyed creating a piece of art from a skateboard deck.  I dug into some very old acrylic paint which originally belonged to my dear artist friend Freeman Butts.  Fourteen years I modeled for Freeman.  I was by his side when he died of congestive heart failure.  Looking back at the finished skateboard I believe I see a hint of Freeman and his love of flesh and paint: The skateboard is in an online auction to raise funds to build a local skate board park.  (LINK to auction)

The project rekindled the desire to create a series of paintings I dreamed up seven years ago.  I would love to pursue my vision of the Madonna Bunny series...

Hard to capture the dimension of the wood carved leaves in a photograph but...



IMG_4696Photos taken by my friend Andy George



At last.....! For the first time since the horrific dog pack attack last spring - I find myself actually inspired to create.  Phew...!

Life has blessed me with inspiration - usually almost more than I can bear.  My head most often overflowing with creative ideas like a room full of monkeys all wanting attention at once.  Sometimes life shuts the door on the creative room but not often and never for long.  The dog pack attack slammed that door shut for longer than I have ever experienced.  I took disciplined steps toward busting the door back open.  Patience is not my strongest suit but I had no choice.  I simply could not forcibly push myself any sooner.  I completed the sculpture for HATCH - months later than planned.  But I did not have that excited "cannot-wait-to-get-to-work-in-the studio" feeling.

Until now...

Yesterday I even blew off the demands of my desk and dedicated the day to the studio.  I'm working on the drawing for our wedding invitations (which of course is more than just a drawing for an invite).  I will post some progress photos for you (stay tuned for the finished drawing...)

More Inktober Drawings

I have never been detached from the actual mess-making part of studio life for such a long period of time.  But then, I have never experienced such a wickedly difficult crumble-down as the past months have brought about since being attacked by the pack of dogs.  A few weeks ago I grasped onto the Inktober challenge in a disciplined attempt to commit and carry-on, bit-by-bit pulling myself back toward the courageous self it takes to be creative.  I haven't missed a day.  Here are a few more drawings:  (follow me on Facebook or Instagram to see the drawings daily) I gave this little bugger to a friend who is going through some super tough stuff this year.


Between chapters...

I can't mix the sawdust part of creation with the staining and feathering stages.  Someday I plan to add onto my studio so that I have a sawdust free space for working on the smaller projects.  But for now I simply embrace the fact that my creative process has chapters.  The process of cleaning up sawdust before working with color has its benefits.  The studio and my mind go through a kind of alchemic "clearing" between stages. Before the colorful careful staining stage of creation...

Getting back into the studio

Wood chips and sawdust - feels great to be back in the studio...! I pine for my studio/creative life when I am away from it too long.  I even get grumpy like someone who has skipped too many meals or given up chocolate. But I do not actually bounce back into the studio like a dog with my tail wagging. The process is more akin to that of a mother hen who is inclined to rest up, clean house, get things in order and zip playfully about the barnyard (or adventure beyond) before settling down to the mental task of preparing to lay eggs and the commitment of sitting on them.

So I hiked. I mountain biked. I raged war on the mice that took over my cabin during my absence and I super-deep-cleaned the horrific messes the mice made while partying all over my home. I napped. Eventually I sifted through piles of mail, unloaded the sculptures, cleaned the studio, took care of my mother and caught up with my closest friends. I read a book (or two).   I ate more junk food than usual and drank more whiskey than normal.

I climbed a mountain.  The very next day I found myself back in the studio making piles of woodchips and sawdust.  Feels sooooooo good to be back at it!!!

Better than chocolate…

Fiesta of Sunset

"Fiesta of Sunset" Last week two sculptures left “the flock” for their new homes.  Several more are sold and waiting for delivery since the collectors were kind enough to allow me to show their sculptures in Jackson last month.  The “Neruda Series” of mini reliquaries – a total of 18 sculptures – were created during an especially challenging spell of severe insomnia.  Each week for several months I averaged between 20-22 hours of sleep; deprivation that taxed my body and soul til I felt like pummeled pieces except when I was creating.I left the business part of art behind and focused on the new creations and sought help from various professionals to find my way back to sleep.  All of the sculptures have titles inspired by Pablo Neruda's love poems.

"Fiesta of Sunset"

“Fiesta of Sunset” is a bright flaming-with-feathers sculpture and would be hard to give up so quickly except it went to the fabulous creative art-filled home belonging to one of my collectors.  Together we celebrated with drinks and chocolate after I arrived with the sculpture.  The opportunity to personally deliver and know the people who “adopt” my creations means much to me.  The Neruda Series fueled me with the inspiration I needed to survive an especially difficult chapter and spawned a zillion new ideas for future series.

I can't wait to get back to the mess-making soul-feeding creative part of my life!

Facing Fear

Fear is something I face inside and outside the studio every day.  Big fear.  Little fear.  Unfounded unreasonable fear.  Understandable perfectly sensible fear.   Loud obnoxious screaming fear and almost imperceptible but nudging fear. The best creative work takes me to places where I scare myself and face the fear of failure by pushing my comfort zone. Zaydee frightened by the storm

While Momma Nature was carrying on with storm after impressive storm this morning on the mountain, poor Zaydee suffered.  She shivered and quivered her way through thunder, hail and the dramatic racket of rain on my metal roof.  Zaydee crawled under my legs up and under my armpit and squeezed herself behind me on the couch.  Poor thing.

Last year about this time my nieces, Zaydee and I weathered similar storms while exposed on a ridge in the Crazy Mountains.  I had reason to be concerned in our situation.  We did what we could to minimize the potential for danger while we huddled and laughed our way through the storms before scooting back down the trail and sliding down snow slopes to better shelter.

Weathering hail, rain and electrical on a ridge in the Crazies with my nieces.

Zaydee was in the comfort and shelter of my cabin today while the storms raged outside, yet she shook as much as she did on the mountain top last summer.  Her reaction made me think of how much drama and energy I can lose at times in the studio when really the “danger” is in my own mind.

Inspired Artist Adonna Khare

Artist Adonna Khare with her Art Prize winning workBlown away by the psychological depth, sensuous surface, drawing mastery and creative vision of artist Adonna Khare – I was especially tickled to meet her a few months ago at the opening of the exceptional exhibit “Face to Face; Wall to Wall” at the Yellowstone Art Museum.  Adonna was hunkered down on a bench in front of her work – sick.  She had spent the night before in ER with pneumonia.  Poor gal.  I was suffering from acute bronchitis – we were a sorry pair on antibiotics but our challenged health didn’t dent the spark and instant good energy we shared.  Turns out she had seen my installation "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden" during her untimely hospital visit the night before.  I insisted Adonna come back to visit so I could share more of Montana with her - luckily she was already scheduled to return to work on the special installation of her awesome Art Prize winning piece in the spring. Adonna's daughter Kinsey and I enjoy a ride on the zip line...

Super tickled to have Adonna and her family stay in my humble home earlier this week.  Her sweet husband grilled steaks on my deck, s'mores were roasted, the zip line enjoyed, we hiked with her mom.  Adonna and I sat out on my deck under a thick slice of moon long after everyone turned in for the night to talk art, art world and studio lives.

I highly encourage you to check out her work: Adonna Khare

Kaden Creates at the Studio

Ten year old Kaden spent an afternoon with me two weeks ago as part of a year-end project for his 4th grade class.  He created an artwork obviously influenced by my current series but I welcomed and encouraged his ideas.  I was impressed with his intent and appreciated the reasons he offered for the various choices he made.

“My parents would NEVER let me use sharp tools like these!” Kaden said over and over (his mom told me later she counted his fingers).  I have learned when confidence is projected people (and children) most often embrace it and surprise themselves.  Being calm helps.  Mistakes?  All of art making (and life) includes mistakes.  A cabinet maker friend told me years ago that it is not the mistake so much as how you fix the mistake.”

Moments shared with young people in my studio are one of the many gifts of my profession – a treasure and a treat!