End of Summer, 2021
This summer, I attended an artist’s workshop in Vermont. This was my first time traveling to attend one in person, as opposed to online, and I committed to make it a productive week and worth an 8 hour drive.
The time spent on an organic farm doing yoga, hiking, writing and painting was exactly what I needed. All the simple, delicious food we ate was grown and expertly prepared on the farm. I met other artists who were generous in sharing their work and words. My instructors were encouraging, attentive and challenged us to be mindful and aware of our natural surroundings, as well as thoughtful with mark making in our art.
When I do have time to walk or hike at home, I will often listen to a podcast or audiobook. Multitasking this way ‘makes the most of my time’. Or so I thought. When assigned to hike to a spot in the woods and spend a half hour in silence, writing and sketching, I realized how much I was missing. With my eyes and ears open, I heard the back and forth chatter of birds. The stream babbled past, making not one sound but two different patterns as it rushed actively from the hill to the smaller rocks level in front of me. I touched the damp moss and leaves while feeling a cool breeze on my face. The forest smelled rich and earthy after the morning rain, a distinctive odor known as petrichor. Petrichor is the musky, fresh scent caused by the water from the rain, along with certain compounds like ozone, geosmin, and plant oils. And yes, I was so enchanted by it that I looked it up to find out more. (You’re welcome). I sat by the stream and wrote notes, did drawings and color studies of the beautiful scene around me, but it wasn’t around me, it was in me. I was absorbed in it... full of awareness.
So present, in fact, I lost track of time and the group had to come and get me.
Researchers have found that our brain lacks the ability to perform multiple tasks at the same time- in moments where we think we’re multitasking, we are most likely just switching quickly from task to task. More importantly, we are cheating ourselves, as well as others, of our full attention.
I don’t think that my response to Vermont is because it is more beautiful than my home state of Pennsylvania. I was just completely present on that farm, full of gratitude and connection while there. What if I apply this presence to all aspects of my life? What if you do so with yours?
Thoreau said, “Live in each season as it passes, breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” Be fully present where you are, right now.
We don’t need to go somewhere else and seek out nature, we are nature.
It is not around us, it is in us, and I am grateful for that reminder.
Art Newsletter, November 2020
It All Started with a Circle.
The March Covid-19 Lockdown had many of us reevaluating things.
As a busy type "A" person, much to my surprise, I was pretty ok being sequestered. The sudden world 'time out' made my life simplified in ways that both disappointed and liberated me.
Lockdown meant there were people and situations I did not have to deal with directly anymore. My time was spent with a trusted inner circle of friends and family I adore, with whom I share common beliefs and values. We had meaningful conversations, carefully planned meals and lots of laughter amid the uncertainty that surrounded us. The security of my bubble, my inner circle, helped to offset the daily reminders of chaos and mortality of the outside world. We had each other.
I am filled with gratitude for what I recognize to be a very blessed and privileged life. The great pause of Covid allowed me to ponder what provides true value in my life, what is just obligation vs. what brings me joy. I fully comprehend the necessity of genuine, vulnerable and trusted
relationships, of quality over quantity. Our inner circle is the foundation on which to build our authentic self, and in turn, a larger community of like minded individuals. With any luck, it could make the world a healthier place than it is right now.
Themes of circles continue occupy my mind and current art.
Pictured above: Lockdown: Inner Circle encaustic and antique hardware on wood panel, 18x24.