Saturday, December 31, 2011

Behold 2012: A New Year Begins!

I recently finished this low-relief "model" - which turned out to have a completely different feel from the original sketch. I am still working out the kinks for an upcoming exhibit.

Chris has been hard at work in the pottery cave adding insulation to the ceiling. My studio is in complete disarray - but soon - I will be potting and sculpting in a much warmer space! This should make our energy usage much more efficient too - which is a definite positive!!!! The studio is getting a thorough cleaning as well - which my lungs will very much appreciate. I'm focusing on a healthy work environment for 2012.

New Years Eve I began a new tapestry. I haven't done any weaving since last May when I finished my "Grass for Sarah" piece. This tapestry will have a similar feel but on a much smaller scale. Ideas have been on hold for so long. It feels good to be weaving again!

I didn't manage to stay awake long enough to see the New Year begin. When younger, I would have stayed up well past midnight with loads of energy to boot. Chris and I have traditionally enjoyed a quiet evening at home, but this year we had made plans for a guest. Her long drive was deterred by messy early-day weather and as it turned out, Chris and I celebrated alone in our own unique way. It was an opportunity for some "free" time that we had not planned on. We had been working steadily the past few days on house projects and business tax prep. Sure, there are always lots of things that need to be done, but we saw last night as a window to do something "off-list." What did we do? Chris wrote and I began a tapestry. We were so into our projects that the pre-planned salmon dinner was sidelined for a quick take-out pizza. I wove for a good six hours straight before my eyes began to get droopy. It was evident by 10:00 p.m. that I would not see the New Year in, but it was a wonderful end to 2011 - to be entranced by the magic of colorful fine spun wools. The evening was peaceful and perfectly simple.

Looking back over the past year there were many accomplishments and high points. There were challenges as well, but they, fortunately, seem a bit more blurred at this point. In 2011, I was blessed....blessed to be an artist, to study for my MFA with an incredible pod and mentors, and to work on community art. I had the fate of 25,000 honey bees in my hands, was published in a major magazine, found my protester voice again, and learned that (contrary to past belief) that I love the rituals associated with production pottery. In 2011, Bouli joined our family and brought with her a lot of love and laughter, and our extended human family grew as well. The garden was better than last year, and the ones I love are all in relatively good health. Chris has had multiple successes with his writing and has found his groove within the academic world of online ethics. Our partnership is strong, supportive, spiritual, and creatively rich. The year ended on a good note, and we have much to look forward to in 2012.

The world itself has seen major upheaval and destruction in the past months, from nuclear disaster, to corrupt politics, to the oppression of many and the earth we share. As we move forward and celebrate all that is good, it is important that we keep compassion at the forefront of decisions. Chris and I will do our part to move toward justice and healing through our art and writing, but will also savor all the gifts and blessings that we have been fortunate enough to be granted. We are sincerely grateful to all who have helped us along our path. We know that our personal happiness and success has been greatly enhanced by the kindness and generosity of others.

I have goals for 2012, but I don't make an official "resolutions" list. Most of the resolutions that people make are probably things that they would or should normally be doing on a day to day basis anyway. The passion to follow-through ebbs and flows day to day but the drive to do better, or to be a better person, are qualities that should know no calendar boundaries. This first day of 2012 will be much like any other day of my life: a few chores, time for art, good food and company. Counting my blessings.

Happy New Year to all! I hope that today is a peaceful and content segue into the next chapter of your lives, and that you embrace hope and promise for a healthy and pleasurable existence, steeped in kindness, compassion, equality, and joyfulness.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sliding in the Holidays

Interior support structure for "American Dream" sculpture.

My messy studio with a nest of tables for various projects that were in progress.

Chris at the International Gingerbread Competition....appearing very serious with his judge's clipboard.

It's a lazy Sunday morning for me. A strange feeling indeed. I have been working nonstop for the past few months whilst juggling teaching, pottery production, and MFA work. I now have a small (very small!) window of time for holiday prep and festivical (yes, I made that word up) enjoyment. MFA presentations occurred last weekend, Christmas break is upon us, and pottery production just ended for 2011 as of Friday evening. This morning I did not hurry to rise from bed and am taking refuge in a small toasty warm room, still garmented in PJ's, to write my long overdue blog posting.

The past few weeks were the big push to finish up three sculptural projects. I finally finished them last week only to realize that none of them are 100% done. Maybe it's like this most artists? Even when nearing the finish line, I think of things that I would have done differently, or an addendum that could enhance the meaning of the piece. Conceptually, these projects were forming long ago, months in advance. The hands are usually happy to take over and start forming what is only a vision in mind's eye. This was perhaps the most challenging MFA semester for me so far in that my visual kept changing throughout the project. I would feel certain at one point about a specific color or composition, only to find my hands defying the mind when picking up a brush or tool. I literally changed direction several times without consciously planning to do so. Parr for the course I suppose. But it is wild that in a course of a few minutes, despite a months'-long plan to do something a certain way, changes in a flash without preconceived notion. And, more amazingly, I felt at peace with the final result despite the lack of brooding of commitment to a decision.

So, I have three unfinished "finished" sculptures in my studio waiting for the next steps. For now though, a couple weeks of resting the mind so that I can focus on time with family and friends.

Chris and I have been enjoying holiday celebrations and traditions. We had a blast as judges for the International Gingerbread Competition. (sounds hoity toity, doesn't it?!) The annual newsletter has been typed and is making its way into cards long overdue in mailing. Friday night we watched with joy the students at school perform in "Midsummer Nights' Dream", and before I left school on Thursday afternoon, I set-up the art room for this coming Monday's Craft Day where kids will make candy cane reindeer and greeting cards. Today I continue with greeting cards (much later than usual!!!) and loading the kiln for the final pottery production of 2011. The house has been cleaned a bit deeper than usual, and soon traditional confections will be baked. A trip to the market is planned in the next couple days to purchase items for the German dish Rouladen, a most delicious recipe that I stole from childhood dinners with the Raymond family.

All is well at the Wheelock/Crittenden homestead. We are hoping for some snow but won't hold our breath. Enjoying the darkness but looking forward to Solstice with the returning light.

It is time for me to formally "wake-up", shower, open the shop, and get on with holiday prep.

I am signing off for the remainder of 2011 with a wish for everyone to enjoy a safe and joyous holiday season (Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, Christmas, New Year!!!!).

Blessings for Peace.
A short song to inspire people of all backgrounds to find common ground this holiday season.