Wabi-sabi Wastewater

Here in the studio, it’s warm, but outside it’s snowing. One of the interesting things about Lemuria is that it’s not a 4-season kind of place. It’s the weather you need, but you can’t control it. So today I’m inside, working on handmade paper bowls.

brushwaterOne of them has been painted gold on the inside, and I’m rinsing the brush in water, when I notice how beautiful the water looks. I swish the brush around again, and the gold flicks along the surface in spirals.brushwater2gold.jpg

I’m entranced. Then embarrassed. Wasting time. Not being productive. As I pour the waste water down the drain, I have another idea. What would it look like to paint with this water–to use it instead of throw it out? Won’t know, I just rinsed it down the drain.

wastewater paperBut there are more bowls to be painted, so I salvage some paper scraps, crumple them up, and dip them in the wastewater. Straightening them out, I hang them on the towel rack and work some more. Use the same paper, dip it in another bucket of wastewater. Hmmm. Looks like I have a collage background, or maybe paper for a notecard.

Yep, wabi-sabi works in art. Maybe just as well as life.

(c)2007 Quinn McDonald. All rights reserved. Images by Q.McDonald.

Venus and the Moon

It was warm enough to walk today. The sun went down while I was walking and I saw the new moon and Venus right after the sun set. The moon was turned like a cup because it’s winter still. (c) Quinn McDonald 2007. All rights reserved. Quinn McDonald is a certified creativity coach who specializes in helping people through re-invention and transitions. Venus haiku

Robyn Gordon, back at work

“Everything is connected.” The first time I heard it I both believed it and didn’t believe it. I could see how war tore apart the whole world, no matter within which border it is fought. Or how a death, no matter how private, can touch a heart across an ocean. But then again, we really don’t know people we have lived next door to for years; we don’t understand the actions of our own family.

Occasionally, belief in amazing powers of creativity blow through my window–in the form of my computer screen. Several weeks ago, I got a note from a woman in Africa, a woman I have never seen or talked to. She reads my blog. Something in the line of words, in the shape of a sentence, made her want to reach out to her own creativity again. When I read something like this, my heart stutters. I want it to be true. I don’t want the responsibility of it being true.
But then I remember: it’s not about me. Creativity is never used up. It is available to everyone who takes the spark and fans it into a flame. Sometimes it just requires a puff of air, sometimes an enormous force of will to begin creating. Or begin again. We return to an unused studio, and sit down. We choose to make meaning in our lives and we pick up the tools to do it.

Robyn Gordon exercised that will. I knew she had been awake at night, and rose to sift through writing on the busy air that hold the Internet. She came across my blog and she made a decision. She began creating again. Today, several weeks after the first contact, she wrote again. I asked to see some of her work, and she generously shared it.

Imagine how impoverished we would have been without this work. Imagine what it means to Robyn to have made this with her heart and hands. We are all connected. Thank you for your art, Robyn. Thank you for being awake and night and sending it to someone you have never met.

–Totem images by Robyn Gordon

To see another image of Robyn’s work, visit my “Connections” post at the Taverna.

Choose Your Sorrow

Norine Dresser was married to Harold for three-quarters of her life. They had an intimacy that was both amazing and funny; they knew how to make each other laugh and could drive each other crazy. Harold chewed cigars long after he quit smoking them. Last week, Harold’s heart wore out. It wasn’t like we didn’t see it coming, but no one wanted to split up the two, and no one wanted to say goodbye to Harold. His death was a loss for his family, for humor, for a little gentleness in the world.
The day Harold died, I was teaching. At noon, I was about to call the lunch break when I smelled cigar smoke. The business location was a strict no smoking area, so it was strange to smell smoke, but it was distinctly cigar smoke. At the same time I realized I hadn’t heard from Norine in a while. I called the lunch break and went to check my emails.

When I got home, I found the message on my cell phone. I keep it turned off during class, and there was Norine’s daughter’s voice, serious and tired, as if she had made many of those calls.

I began to make the card I had hoped never to make for Norine. When I make cards, I almost always make two at the same time, in case one doesn’t work out. It’s an old artist trick, to make one you care about and one you don’t.

Almost always, the one you don’t care about turns out to be far more interesting–you weren’t overthinking it, and it becomes the more natural, easy card.Moon

One of the cards (above) is dark, in grays and mauves. A quince tree shadow is on the bottom, and two curved lines cross above it. The big dipper is above, and three tears in marbled paper are on the left side.

On the other card, a moon with a tree’s shadow across it (thanks, Robin!) is eclipsing a jeweled globe. A severe leaf pattern balances the blank stripe on handmade paper.

So now, one of these goes off to Norine and her family, the other one stays with me for a while.
If it were up to you, which one would you send?

You can vote at my other blog site.

Sunrise on Art

After almost a month of working on taxes, I have the big spreadsheet completed. That means it’s ready to go to the CPA who will compile it all into a neat book of taxes.

butterfly1.jpgIt also means today is an art date. Art dates, which I learned about from Julia Cameron’s book, The Artists Way, is a time you feed your head, heart and soul on art or artistic trips. You stay out of the studio, and enjoy what feeds your spirit.

There is a Joseph Cornell exhibit at the American Art Museum and I’m off to take it in. Cornell was the father of American collage and assemblage, and the exhibit includes his poetry and some film clips.

Should the exhibit pique my interst in more art, the Sackler has a great exhibit of 13th century tea bowls. Beautiful, intricate work. And, if I’m still not finished with art, there is a dim-sum restaurant not far from the exhibits. I’m off!