August 2008 Archives

new article! perfection vs peace

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I have a new article published by Gifted for Leadership !


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old notions give way to new horizons

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It has been an interesting few months for me. I had to give up something. Something that I don't remember choosing, and don't remember signing my name too, but yet I held tight to. Something that I intellectually knew was not necessary, but my heart would not let go of.

A notion.

As a family we have been incredibly blessed. The culmination of our experiences have created the fabric of memory that I will gaze back on with great affection. We are healthy, we have everything we need and more. We have talents and gifts and interests that constantly give fuel and excitement to our days. We have been able to travel and enjoy leisure. We have a faith that has seen us through the extreme difficulty of having to redefine it and leave the institution we call church. The last few years have been unexpected.

But most of life is like that... unpredictable.

I haven't blogged about Daniel much of late because I was still navigating the notion. This notion was that there are certain formulas for a successful life. And it is funny because if I were to have this conversation with someone I would be the last one to subscribe to a "formula" of any kind. In fact I have always thought of myself as someone who rebels against them.

Except for this one thing.

This last spring when Daniel came home from MICA we came to the conclusion that he shouldn't go back. And that he would take a year off.

For some reason, the idea of him not going back to school right away was hard for me to adjust too. And the silly thing is in this time that we are living in, it really doesn't matter. School, I mean. Granted, my hope is that he ultimately finishes his degree, perhaps via UMD but the point is that my hope is no longer an expectation.

I am letting go of the notion.

Although the phrase, "There is more that one way to skin a cat" is ridiculous when you really think about it, the spirit of it applies to life, and is helping me dispel of my notion.

The notion that things have to be "a certain way".

I wonder how many hidden "notions" live inside our being waiting to be provoked by some little experience life throws at us that makes us wonder where that "notion" came from. But when exposed, what is revealed is something inflexible that needs to be made flexible.

Do you have a "notion" that you need to be rid of?

I am finding a new freedom in putting away some of these expectations. The best surprise is that they give way to new possibilities that you might not think of.

Daniel is doing great in his new way of life. He doesn't miss MICA, in fact when I asked him last(just because I had to keep taking the temperature) he replied without even a blink. No regrets. And as I sit here typing he is presently taking the train to his new job in downtown DC at a design firm that he is totally excited about.

Lessons of life have been happening exponentially since he left school, and we don't even have to pay for them;-)

Our life as a family as it is right now is unconventional to be sure. But I have always liked being unconventional. It keeps things interesting. I just have to remember to dump those "notions".

harvest; a training camp

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The grapes are kinda stemmy but that is mostly thanks to pilfering birds. Even after covering the plants with screens the buggers managed to get past them and feast on the best bunches. Note to self for next year...buy netting.

At any rate, this little experiment continues, as I picked, juiced and began a tiny batch of vino. The quantity is such that I will be lucky to get 5 bottles or ten splits, but I don't care. At this point it is the exercise that I am interested in. To be involved in the entire cycle has a sort of compelling charm. Yea, I admit it is sort of a crunchy granola, get-in-tune-with-the-earth kinda thang, but that's sort of the point. The fact that something takes so much time is a great reminder of the way of things outside an instant culture. And I am working on my skills as a gardner, hopefully to translate that to our bahamas project a few years from now. Everything seems to be feeding into it. Learning new recipes for cooking and feeding visiting artists to learning how to mortar a brick wall(last weekend's project), to growing herbs, and possibly bananas, coconut, and yes, even grapes. It is interesting how past experiences start to culminate, unfolding a bigger picture of what will be. Like the sum of your life. The pieces may look out of place when separate, but added up it looks like you were headed this way on purpose all along. Like you spent your life in training.

It all adds up, and it is all good;-)

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peace almost done

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Friday's painting gave way to what could be considered a finished piece. I couple of details I think I might hone still, but overall I feel pretty good about this one. It looks like this style may stick with me for a while. This one came from a deeper place in the soul. A lot like "formation" this one hit the canvas without planning prompting or preliminary sketching. It felt more comfortable if that makes any sense. It continues to be an interesting journey. And I have to admit being encouraged when Daniel told me he thought that it was my best piece so far. Something matured in this one. Cool that what I was feeling in my gut was actually validated by what he said.

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grapes!

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Well, I wasn't expecting these vines to fruit at all this year since I planted them last year, but apparently my relentless pruning and fussing over them paid off. I might even get a small batch of wine out of them if the birds don't keep eating them.

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project on sunday

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I finally got around to building this thing. I had cut the wood and stained it months ago and the pieces sat around waiting for today. Apparently not doing anything yesterday made the need to finish something even greater today. Of course I still need to finish staining the rest of the deck!!

deck trellis for wisteria

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bye bye becca

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Our special little restaurant will miss this special girl. A going away party was held after hours to say goodbye to Rebecca. After working and managing this place for two and a half years she is moving on to better things. More music and teaching and less serving wine to others. Funny how a little neighborhood haunt can become a hub of cheer, the people, like family.

The owner Walter with Micheal behind the bar, Luis and Ben, Bryan, Becca with champagne, Becca "86ed"

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frivolous but fun

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Weird saturday. Normally raring to go to launch into all projects outdoors Bryan and I instead were meant to stay inside. Although we put on our grubbies and headed outside, a few shovels worth of gravel and we looked at each other knowingly...

I guess after all the work we did last weekend, we needed some time off.

So we headed inside for a somewhat do-nothing day. Actually Bryan can never "do nothing", he just isn't that kind of guy, so he poked away at email issues on my laptop while I regressed back to a kindergarten state.

When I embark on any design ideas regarding remodeling or otherwise I tend to keep a folder of clippings of images and articles that inspire me. I did it for the rooms in our house, and the outside.

So of course I am going to do it with Exnihilo.

But one thing I have never done is put those clippings together in some fashion such as collage. I never took the time or felt the need. But I thought this exercise would be good to shake some things loose and more importantly, land on an exterior color for our buildings. It is a very big decision and I have to give that info to our builders asap. So, saturday I sprawled out on our living room floor with scissors and glue.

It felt a little silly, but also a little therapeutic.

Back to kindergarten...

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peace in process

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Artist date had me working on exnihilo stuff until later in the day when I finally picked up the brush. I am liking the movement in this piece so far.

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serious progress

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Shifting from show night to yardwork can make your head spin, especially if you don't get enough sleep, but we plunged in to saturday and sunday at full speed anyway. The weather was on our side as it was not as hot as before and Bryan and I mustered the strength to haul and set a ton of bricks.

Actually 2 tons of bricks...

Well, 4200 lbs to be exact. Each.

And that doesn't include all the gravel we shoveled and hauled as well.

Of course all that means is that upon getting up this morning neither one of us could move. It is like a crash course in body building. What is that creaking sound? Oh, it is my back.;-)


putting up the newly finished (old) handrail

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installing the drainpipe

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Believe it or not this isn't finished yet. We have two and a half more feet (up) to go on top of this. The design will change slightly as the rest will be a straight wall to be seen from both sides, not just a retaining wall. For visual interest we might just start that wall behind the existing one. Sometimes plans change as you go ;-) And then there is the lower, old existing wall that we (I) will be stucco-ing.

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bread crumbs of life

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Can't go back to sleep. The voices came really early this time. Five thirty I was awakened by what I could call "the replay". I think it is an introverted thing. If I have had a very people interactive day it tends to revisit me the next day in an involuntary playback. Every conversation of the past evening came flooding in at five-thirty. Brain engaged...won't shut up.

You think it could have at least had the courtesy of waiting a few more hours.

Oh well, it is what it is. And it isn't so bad when it was such a great night.

Although this evening wasn't publicized and no invitations were sent, there were still a few folk that came out and viewed the work. And the "magazine person" actually did show up and I actually did give an interview. And I actually had half a brain(thankfully). It was pretty cool to have someone take an interest in the work enough to want to write about it... questions about color choice, motivation, "when did you know you wanted to be an artist"?...things like that.

and then the kind interviewer said...

"Tell me about your artist retreat, Exnihilo, we would love to promote that in the magazine".

yes.yes.yes.yes.yesssssss.

This is the kind of moment I think of as a bread crumb. Not a scrap from the table kind, but the kind that lead you on a journey aka Hansel and Gretel. One activity in life might propel another and in this little sleeper of a gallery, a show in a humble frame shop has turned up more tiny steps forward.

And there was more. One woman in particular mentioned that she thought my work would be great in the Strathmore and gave me a name...

"Talk to Millie".

As well as complementing my work and graciously comparing it to early Georgia O'keefe.(my jaw dropped as she said it)

Meanwhile, Daniel was following his own bread crumb. The gallery owner, Ginger prompted him to go talk to another gallery owner down the street who had seen his painting and showed an interested in his work. So he and his girlfriend Heather headed down there for a bit to make an appearance. Another opportunity door opened just a crack.

You never know where they are going to come from but when they show up all you have to do is follow the trail...

one bread crumb at a time.

tonight!

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How many mothers get this experience!

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show held over for another month!

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I am happy to say that Mcgees Gallery decided to have my show run for another month which includes another art walk reception this friday night. I'd love to say it was because my work was so very popular that it attracted crowds of people but the truth is I think the gallery owner just didn't want to bother taking it down to hang a new show ;-). But I am fine with that as long as it keeps getting wall space!
Having said that I am thrilled(and freaked out) that Washington's Finest Magazine is doing an interview tomorrow night at the reception. Pray I have half a brain to be able to say something intelligent about the work.

And the other great thing is that in all of this we get to promote Exnihilo. All the pennies made from the sales of my work are being funneled into our pet project so we are going to be plugging it to anyone who is standing still and willing to listen. I also embarked upon redesigning our flyer to address those special individuals that would be patrons. It is a new concept for me that used to hold a sense of taboo around it. Not anymore. We will be calling on the help both physical and financial from anyone who has a heart for this kind of thing.

Hey, it cant hurt. We have the passion and creative resources. Maybe someone else out there can provide the cash. We will see...

But back to the show...
Daniel will be joining the reception this time to take questions about his work (he has one piece hanging along with mine), so it is kind of a mother and son show, which is cool. Anyway...anyone who is in the neighborhood between 6 and 9 friday night (aug 8) please feel free to stop by for a glass of wine and conversation.

ignore the dates on the card... reception Aug 8, 6-9

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closet hippie at return to forever

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What is it like to see artists who are truly giants in their craft perform live?

Awe inspiring.

That is what we experienced last night at the RTF (Return to Forever) concert. It is one thing to hear each of these guys on various recordings over the years. It is something altogether different seeing them live... together.

Chick Corea
Al Di Meola
Stanley Clarke
Lenny White

The effortlessness of their performance comes only from a well honed skill, but the child-like way in which they played with each other comes from truly loving what you do.

I bought tickets for Bryan's birthday back in June and we have been looking forward to the concert since then. It was inspiring, amazing, and of course historic as they have not played together on tour in over 25 years.

The other thing that struck us was the graciousness and humility displayed by the players. Both in speaking about one another, and in their actions toward the audience, shaking hands with those at the front of the stage.

I am finding more and more examples of folk who seem to exude humility when they have truly earned the right(if anyone does) to be arrogant. It seems that if you are at the top of your game there is nothing left to posture about!

Stunning.


Bryan and I on the lawn at the concert. I decided to wear my beloved silver sunglasses and tie-dye silk. Can you say, "closet hippie"?

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return to forever site:
http://www.return2forever.com/index.cfm

new work: valley of peace

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This one not quite done but a good start. I reverted back to acrylics for a point of reference and perspective on the two mediums. Had little intention of painting today but as Bryan left the house this morning after a goodbye kiss he smiled and asked..."painting today"?

Feeling so blessed to have this kind of encouragement from my favorite cheerleader, I cracked a few pages of Artist Way and was reminded again to "Just show up at the page". Or in my case, canvas. Having no plan but wanting to tap into what was underneath I hit a blank canvas with my pencil and what emerged was the concept of peace. Internal peace.

sketch

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underpainting

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without the grid

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grid in process

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