The idea of creating a mandala for each of the four seasons came to me last January, at a time when I had been feeling pretty sure that I was finished making them. And then, the concept just popped into my head, complete with subtitles for each of them, so I felt that I had to go through with the project. Each one was worked on and completed within its own season. Much to my surprise, it turned into a labor of love, and has been an amazing and healing way of learning about myself and how I feel, as each of the seasons revealed their sweetness to me and yielded its position to the next in line. Four circles (cycles) sitting inside the larger cycle (circle) of one year. Perfect for a person like me who loves looking at almost everything in terms of circles and time passing.
Winter (Stillness) was about finding the quiet place inside myself, wrapping myself in a cocoon of silence, of safety, of protection. Finding imagery to echo Stillness was quite a challenge. But the most important lesson was to discover how much movement there could be within the Stillness of the winter months, how much opportunity for growth and change. How bright it all really was.
Spring (Tolerance) held a kernel of an idea that somehow everything and everyone could work together toward growth and cooperation, toward the promise of blossoming. But in reality, nature is messy and free and wild. There is an unruly aspect to Tolerance. Things are popping up all over the place, yet they all seem to know when and where to grow. My lesson was strong and clear. Get out of the way and let it happen.
Summer (Trust) became a way of finding renewed strength and confidence. I always love summer, since I was born at the end of July and feel my happiest during the heady part of summer that Leo rules. This year, I learned to Trust my body more and to be more grateful for it. In return, it allowed me to garden and to be creative and to keep learning about life and love, about getting and giving support.
Fall (Vulnerability) took me totally by surprise. Originally, its subtitle was Surrender, but I realized that Vulnerability was more appropriate for what I was feeling. It was supposed to have a leaf in the center, but that changed to a Falling Figure (a motif I painted many years ago). I tried to turn it back into a leaf, but the figure demanded to be seen. It is about everything being revealed in the Fall. As the leaves fall, we see and are seen. Both make us more Vulnerable. I mourn for what I have lost. I rejoice for what I have gained. It is a bittersweet time. And what I have learned is that being Vulnerable is okay. Maybe not always fun, but always okay.
This is the third Spring that we have lived in this house, the third Spring that I have seen the clematis in bloom, and the third Spring that I am getting to watch it engulf more and more of the house. There is something so spectacular about this expanse of pink spreading out over the porch on the main floor and spreading up to the small deck that is off our second floor bedroom. It almost takes my breath away. And each year I eagerly wait for it because for me, it signifies the true beginning of the abundance of green and color that is yet to come. I means that it’s time to wake up!
As time goes by, I am getting more and more in rhythm with this property that we are renting. I know what to expect now that the daffodils and tulips are gone. The lilacs are already in bloom. The heather kept blooming throughout the winter. Soon there will be irises, another happy moment. It is the rhythm of Spring and the awakening of my body and my brain. I await the lilies and the peonies and the hollyhocks as the prospect of summer entices me on these lovely sunny days.
I create in the early evening while it is still light out, and my back tells me that I’ve done enough gardening for the day. Then I can be in my studio and allow the experiences of the day to inform what I paint or what I weave or what I draw or what I read. All one.
Still a bit cool, especially at night. I move in that rhythm as well. The cool evenings invite soup or stews or casseroles, and some red wine. I allow myself to rest and am delighted that I can sleep with a down comforter on these cool nights.
The mornings are for greeting the day and the clematis!!
That is the title of this painting which may or may not be finished. Or may need some minor adjustments. Or may just be one that I’ll never feel resolved about.
I like to work on several things at once, and I like the idea of doing several paintings of the same size at one time. This was one of a series of six paintings on paper, five of which I finished last summer. But this one had me stumped then and it still has me stumped now. I keep working and reworking it. I’ll feel good about it for a day or so. And then I’ll want to tweak one little thing and that will lead to something else, and then I just keep painting until the surface of the painting starts to feel good again. Then I work on other paintings for a while, and I keep looking at it. Then the whole process starts all over again.
I keep asking what the painting is trying to teach me. Every time I work on it, I ask, “What Do You Mean?” So no matter how many more times it changes, that is the title.
What I like about this version is that the colors are a bit loud, a little blunt. That’s not usually me. There is chaos but order, too. I like that they are playing with each other, but not at odds. This piece might defeat me in the end, but I am thoroughly enjoying the process.
I made this basket last May in a workshop taught by the wonderful basket maker Judy Zugish. She has great designs and amazing willow that she has grown and prepared herself. But what I loved the most was how she encouraged creativity in all the students. No two baskets were alike, and you’d never know they were even made in the same class.
Originally, I left all the spokes at the top uncut and they completely obscured the opening. I thought of it as mysterious and liked it as a design element without quite knowing why. Then I got a critique from another wonderful basket maker Marilyn Moore who juried a show I entered the basket in. She thought that the top didn’t fit the rest of the basket which was more refined and almost classical. I did see that clearly and resolved to trim all the spokes to a uniform length. But something kept stopping me.
Then last night it finally came to me. I started clipping random spokes at less than uniform length and only clipped the ones that seemed not to fit, or stuck out too much, or were too twisted, or just “asked” to be cut. Here is the result of that. It may not be finished yet. As I looked at the photo, I could see a few more things that I wanted to do. But it is getting close to where I want it to be. Still a bit wild and unruly. But with some light getting into the belly of the basket, the sense of mystery has really only increased. As you go around the perimeter, some spaces are more open, some are more dense. There is no regularity, and that is what I am liking about it.
What made me really happy about this process was that it was one of the first times I felt that I was able to make artistic decisions about a basket in much the same way I would about a painting. Whether it works or not, whether I like it as much in a week as I do today, whether anyone else likes it, none of that matters. I had fun with the process. Taking thirty minutes to clip fifteen spokes. Time well spent, I say!
The holiday season has arrived. It’s official. The frenzy has begun. This year as always, I am caught up with everything that I have to do, complicated by my return trip to PA and all that typically entails.
So painting these little jewels has given me a way to quiet my mind and focus my energy on one single thing. At least while I was working on them. They are magnets by the way. And I had a lot of fun making them. Of course, I thought that I’d be able to whip them out in no time. But I should have known that would never work for me. Instead each one is a little world of its own and each one took me to a different place and taught me different things.
They will be available at the Hope (New Jersey) Craft Market this Saturday, December 3rd, and at the Wellspring Craft show the following weekend, December 10th and 11th.