A Mini Basket Breakthrough

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!


it’s that time again

mandala sketchI am now back home after a really nice three weeks in DWG, though I did manage to bring a cold back with me.  So I’ve been resting and laying low. But yesterday I had some energy, so I began sketching out a possible design for a mandala commission that I’m just starting to work on.

Here’s the sketch I did.  I know that it doesn’t look like much now, but just wait.

And because, yes…it’s that time of year again, I will spend at least part of the day today sitting on the couch with Dennis watching football, but not necessarily listening to it. He, reading news on the computer or playing music.  Me, using the time to catch up on old issues of Bon Appetit, knit, play with baskets, or draw.

Today I will spend the time working on which colors to use for the new mandala.

Football and art!  Who would have thought?


Being in Delaware Water Gap is not about making art, and I need to remember that. I always have high hopes of feeling creative while I’m here, hanging out in the space where I used to paint for so many years. There is a small area that I keep carved out in the room where I spent so many happy hours and that now functions mostly for storage. I always imagine that I will feel enticed to spend time in that room sitting at the drafting table drawing and painting small things. I keep paints, pencils, charcoal, paper at hand just in case, but it never seems to happen. So accept it, Susan, and release the feelings of self-doubt and guilt that go along with not creating for two or three whole weeks at a time.

Remember that being in Delaware Water Gap is about doing lots of Reiki, selling mandalas, showing paintings, seeing friends, listening to music at the Deer Head, taking walks, and having fun. It’s about reconnecting with my history, staying connected to so many people that I love, keeping my East coast energy alive and well. And that’s more than enough.

Seven years into this process, still loving the art of being bi-coastal.


orca drawing



Watching myself…

as I procrastinate getting back into the studio after being in Water Gap for two weeks.  Yes, we have wonderful company to distract me.  Yes, it is a very busy time.  Yes, there are many weeds in the garden.  And yes, there is a knowing that I need life and some rest right now to feed what can happen in the studio.  So I watch myself without judgment (or at least try to keep those judgmental feelings to a minimum).

Watching the whales…

though the Orca “killer” whales are really in the dolphin family and have that same special power of communication.  For the first time since we have lived here, motivated by having our friends visiting, we took a whale watch tour.  It was totally magical!  A very special voyage with two Orcas choosing to come as close as thirty feet from the boat.  We also saw two whales breaching (not so common) and felt so honored.  And we saw the 100 year old Granny Whale with her daughter and grandchildren.  Oh my!  Not even one good photo, but no matter.  It is all in my heart and in every cell of my body.  And it has everything in the world to do with making art.

Too much watching?

Inside, outside, upside down.  Start to Be more.  Be the watching.  Take the lesson from the whales.  All the rest is gone!

from tree to shining tree

Here I am at home after a mere twenty eight-hour journey from the East to the West.  From the amazing willow tree across from the Deer Head in Delaware Water Gap to the huge cedar tree outside of our house.  From  a sultry Tuesday to a sunny breezy Wednesday.  From celebrating the Solstice in Anita/Interplay style to embracing summer Orcas style.  From Reiki Reiki Reiki to Art Art Art.  Time to shift my focus once again.  Making art here on Orcas and playing in the glorious garden.  Practicing Reiki in PA and feeling so happy that the art gets seen.  Thank you Delaware Water Gap!  Hello Orcas!