Monday, November 30, 2015

what it means

Her college application deadline
looming tonight, 
deeply, carefully, and thoughtfully
contemplating these many weeks
those three essays to write--

A great task, indeed
trying to convey 
in just a few words
the essence, the summary of a life.

Essay #3

Tell us anything else 
you want us to know about yourself
that you haven't had the opportunity
to describe 
elsewhere in the application.

Laden with heavy grocery bags,
I walk in the house
just in time to start supper--

"Mom," she quietly beckons,
"I want you to read this and tell me what you think."
Pausing and drawing near,
I lean in
and soon find myself
touched to tears,
too touched for words:

Steaming homemade wontons dipped with chopsticks into puddles of soy sauce. Field trips to Mexican and British markets. Art projects in the Aboriginal painting style. Family dinners on the floor, eating pita and falafel with our fingers. Excursions through the Roman ruins and winding village roads of Portugal. Anansi the Spider and other African folk tales for bedtime stories.

My mother was my greatest educator. It always went beyond the early reading, the advanced math, the hands-on science. It was art, music, poetry, culture. It was water for the roots of my young soul.

As a child, I thought Mom was teaching me about the world so that I could be smart in school. But as I grew, I realized it was so much more than that. All along, she was teaching me to appreciate other cultures, to value differences in opinion, to accept people regardless of ethnicity or lifestyle, to recognize the beauty in everyone and everything around me.  She was teaching me how to love.

And with those
deeply, carefully, and thoughtfully
chosen words of her heart,
this third essay--
the uniqueness of her,
she decides this:

of what it meant,
that time at home to learn with mom

and this holy gift received tonight
for this 
sometimes wondering,
sometimes doubting,
sometimes not knowing
who now is knowing

something of what those years
to the daughter
and now
to the mother,

what must truly be the essence
of that 
time we had together,

of what she
and yearned
and gave
and taught
these five homeschooled kids,

but mostly for this mom 
who tried, who needed
to learn

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Mixed Media - Place: Week Three

Trying to turn a corner with the flu that's hit me this week. Feeling pretty crummy, cough-y, and achy, but not enough to put me back to bed again. Can't remember the last time I was sick. Hoping that the flu this time around doesn't turn into pneumonia like it did the last time. Keeping my fingers crossed...

Anyway, I've been enjoying this quiet, slow, and restful time in my studio today playing and experimenting with pens and inks, pastels and watercolors, as well as creating some interesting papers for collage work. (Intending to use those in my sketchbook and my next abstract landscape projects.) I think these papers are beautiful pieces of art in their own right. They have the feel, look, and texture of ethnic batik or tie-dyed textiles.

Meaningful and fun to try to capture some of my special places. I am from Utah, but lived for three years in Portugal as a teen, and have been back to visit twice in the last fifteen years.

Sketching with pen and ink is a new experience for me. Specifically, working with dip nib pens. I think I'm really going to like this way of drawing. 

The other night, tossing and turning in my coughing fits, I had all these ideas rushing to me of meaningful places I should try to draw for this assignment. The Palace of Fine Arts in San Fransisco, California kept coming into my mind. (It has significant, quiet sacred meaning to me since our trip there in August.) Doing it in sepia inks and tones was my first impression, but I decided to go ahead and try to convey it in real-life colors. I felt ho-hum "okay" about the result and decided later in my photo editing to see how it would look if I did it the way my gut instinct directed. 

I do like that coloration better.

A mixed media interpretation of one of my most beloved cities in all of Portugal-- Coimbra. So many wonderful memories of this place.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Mixed Media Still Life: Week Three

:: This portion of Week Three challenged me to take an ordinary household or utilitarian object and turn it into something expressive, atmospheric, and beautiful in its own right.

:: An exercise inspired by the works of American artist Jim Dine, these drawings were created with charcoal, pencil, and oil bars (transparent, white, and antique white). An interesting experience creating new textures with these materials, focusing on form and observation, tonal values, and mark making. 

:: I can see myself working on a series of these in the future. Very fun.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


realizing:: that Thanksgiving is just a week from today. Need to get in gear for the holidays which will be here before I know it. 

working:: such a satisfying feeling to get most of the front yard raked this morning. Still lots more to do before the (real) snow flies.

eating:: Sloppy (lentil) Joe topped with leftover cole slaw for my lunch a little bit ago. These two flavors combined = yum-o.

watching:: gathered with Keith and Isaac Saturday night to watch Finding Neverland. That little Peter just kills me with his tenderness, cuteness, and superb acting.

reading:: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Smith). Enjoying this engaging, beautifully written book so very much. I can't believe I've missed out on this one until now.

listening:: soundtrack to Memoirs of a Geisha. Lovely.

creating:: haven't done anything with my art this week besides watching some instructional videos. I realized I needed a few supplies I couldn't find locally and am excited to begin soon now that my Blick order arrived today. Being more committed to my sketchbook has been on my mind a lot recently, but I'm finding it a little difficult to let go of my feelings of fear and inadequacy and just go for it.

going:: to see Isaac perform as Puck from Midsummer Night's Dream in his school play this evening.

playing:: Rummikub on Sunday, checkers on Monday, Battleship last night-- why is it that Isaac beats me every. single. time??

wondering:: what the morning commuters must think of this odd and interesting woman (in coat and pajama pants) pulled over to the side of the road taking photos of weeds, trees, cows, and farmer's fields...

Saturday, November 14, 2015

'round here

:: Waking up before 4 this morning, tossing and turning, praying for those that are suffering.

:: Yearning, more than ever, for peace on Earth.

:: Sweet chunks of ripe pear on morning oatmeal hit the spot.

:: College Portfolio Day (is finally here at last) for her.

:: Soaking in the art while I wander and wait.

:: Stopping for some grilled veggie sandwiches and the hummus platter sound like a good way to celebrate.

:: Exploring undiscovered country roads with the camera is my idea of fun.

:: So happy for this boy taking 8th place out of  250 participants in this morning's Math Matters competion. Way to go, Isaac!

:: Hunkering down for a quiet Saturday evening here at home. A much needed tidy-up, pancakes for supper, popcorn on the stove, and a movie sound like just the thing.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Pastel Portraits: Week Two

:: Man. This process feels like I'm wrestling a bear. (Similar to when I'm writing a poem.) But if I sweat through it and stick to it, the magic (sometimes!) starts to materialize. 

:: It's easy to look at the completed drawing and get hung up on the flaws and imperfections. But I'm learning to appreciate them for what they are. Seeing the good qualities and gently noting to myself what I've learned and how I can improve next time. It's a learning process that I believe every artist and creator (and really, each of us as human beings) experiences. 

:: So many things at work here all at once: My head, my eyes, my hand. Form, tones, colors, and line. The expression, mood, and emotion of the subject and of the drawing itself. All of what it is I'm trying to capture now coming to creation on the paper.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” 

~Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey