I am returning to Oaxaca city sometime next year to take spanish lessons, visit artist's studios and draw. I will stay at MaryJane's Casa Murguia, which is totally charming and in the perfect location. I have been there twice now and it is a place I am falling in love with. If anyone wants to go with me, please contact me. I just returned from a week there overlapping with the Dia de Los Muertos celebration. My friend, Sarah, is the one responsible for opening my eyes to the colorful and spirited Oaxaca because she has been leading tours there for several years now through her business Hearthstone Travel. During my visit there I was in the middle of another Sketchbook Skool session, titled Storytelling, my third one now. I have completed 18 different lessons, from artists scattered all over the world, and each one offers such a new perspective. All three sessions are available online at Sketchbook Skool. Danny Gregory has launched an extremely successful business! I can't wait for the next session to begin.
Here is my cover for a book I've contemplated after spending a couple of years in graduate school, and learning how important it is to listen. Thank-you so much, to Jean-Christophe, my most recent Sketchbook Skool teacher, for his wonderful lessons on drawing, and for giving me the confidence to put my imagination to work. I got inspiration for this cover from a little gem of a book called, To Dance With The White Dog. I have always loved the natural world and animals and Granny Smith apples that I ate from my grandmother's trees, and slowing down to listen and connect.
I just finished this 24x30 inch painting of Star. Sweet Star. He still has a calming affect on me. I miss his gentle eyes. There are many layers to this painting. The colors finally came together. I've been taking classes at the Featherstone Center for the Arts in Oak Bluffs. Every morning from 9-12 there is a different class...Mondays is watercloring, Tuesdays life drawing, Wednesdays more watercolor and acrylics, Thursdays color theory, and Fridays acrylics. For a minimal cost you have a studio at your fingertips with talented instructors and fellow artists. The best thing is it's just there, and you don't have to pre-register or put down any deposits...you just show up, and as in my case sometimes at the very last minute.
A spontaneously creative summer.
Maybe today I'll make some necklaces, and if I don't have what I need there is a wonderful beadshop in Vineyard haven. It's called Beadniks. There is also one in Chicago, although I've never been to it. I just made this necklace with some Turquoise beads I bought in Boulder, Colorado. I love them on my new brown dress from Lucky.
If you don't feel very creative and you need to fill your well there is inspiration everywhere you look on Marthas Vineyard. It's an Island filled with artists and farmers and fisherman, and most everyone is just so happy to be there that they are incredibly friendly. I was dropping off some things at the thrift store in Edgartown, and a young sparkling woman with an engaging presence called hello to me from across the street. "Come inside!" she urged, "and see our new gallery with the wonderful work of a New Orleans artist!"
The artist is Chris Roberts-Antieau, and her work is wonderful and all about joy, and she had to repeat 9th grade and was not recommended for college, but she said fortunately, "she never learned what NOT to do." You should check her out.
I'm still in the middle of Danny Gregory's online Sketchbook Skool, and it's going well. During our first week we were encouraged by Danny to draw what we see, and in the second week Koosje had us doing a self-portrait a day. I discovered that these self portraits became so much more than drawing. I really had to see into myself, and face some realities like I'm approaching 60, and i've got some aches and pains and grey hairs, but that's ok.
Our third week was taught by Brenda Swenson. I attached a link to a cool little movie she made about herself similiar to some of the ones Danny makes. It's really good. She had us doing continual line contour drawings of three objects for the week. At this point I'm getting a bit behind in assignments and jumping around from making necklaces to painting cows to other random spontaneous art activities.
We are on our fourth week with our new instructor, whose name is Cathy Johnson. It goes so quickly! I have yet to watch her demo and instructional videos or to complete any of the homework, but stay tuned...more to come.
I never did actually get to "simply enjoy" this peice of toast in an epicurean sense as it was totally stale by the time I got around to completing my drawing. Danny Gregory's Sketchbook Skool course #2 started on the 4th of July, and our first homework assignment was to do a "deep dive" drawing of a piece of toast. I toasted this piece of wheat ciabatta bread two days ago, and then suddenly realizing that I needed to be somewhere, I hid it in the cabinet so noone would eat it or throw it away. This rediculous little piece of toast had the perfect amount of air pockets and gently browned edges, ideal for a drawing. Danny instructed us that it should be a pen and ink drawing, and he clearly wrote that we should omit labeling and names. Of course I added color, labels and names. I can't resist color, and I wanted to remember the exact bread so I could buy it again on my next trip to the store. I am finally settling down into a summer mode, and although it seems a bit indulgent how carefree i'm feeling, I'm trying not to care. Isn't it amazing how we struggle with the concept of allowing ourselves to slow down. Is that me or does everyone feel that way? I was talking with my mom the other evening, and she asked me what I did all day and I realed off this long elaborate list of how I took a long walk with the dogs, painted, hit golf balls, read my book and gardened when I hadn't done any of those things. They were all the things I had planned on doing. I was obviously feeling guilty about my idleness. How was I going to describe drawing toast? Especially when people all around me are working so hard. Nevermind. I'm simply enjoying and trying to be carefree which takes practice.
Now that my 23 year old daughter is working two jobs from 8 in the morning until 10 at night she's quite fatigued and a bit testy, but happy to be productive. I'm very proud of her impressive work ethic, but when I made the mistake of telling her to chill, she became a tad critical of my leisurely attitude, suggesting that I get a job. She may be right, but for the time being I'm going to allow myself to simply enjoy whatever peaceful moments of the summer I can.
I am loving Danny Gregory's online Sketchbook Skool. It has inspired me to be drawing all the time in my journal, and i have learned so much. There is a second journal sketchbook Skool beginning July 4th. Check it out and sign up! I did this drawing in the car today on our way home from the Vineyard.
I'm into my third week of online "sketchbook skool". The first week Danny Gregory motivated and inspired us by encouraging us to just dive in, and to make drawing a daily habit. His opening assignment was to tell about ourselves and why we are taking this course, what we want from making art, and what's been getting in our way, and then finally what lies on the otherside for us. He says that our stories are his stories and everyone else's too.
Our second week was directed by Koosje Koene from Amsterdam who is extremely gifted with colored pencils and watercolors. She demonstrated making sketches and adding watercolor, and she talked about our inner critics, but i really loved a video she made on drawing with colored pencils, and the importance of having patience and layering colors to achieve depth and richness.
Our new teacher this week is a wonderful and soulful Indian man named Prashant Miranda. So far he has shared his beautiful travel journals, parts of his family history, and detailed videos on the techniques of how to use watercolors. An early assignment was to draw an image to catch the essence of our day. I sketched mine yesterday in church, while listening to a wonderful sermon, which said much of the beauty in our world is hidden from us, such as the flowers inside their bulbs all winter long. If we limit what we see, we limit what we receive.
"I haven't a clue as to how my story will end. But that's all right. When you set out on a journey and night covers the road, you don't conclude the road has vanished. And how else could we discover the stars?"
The hummingbird spirit animal symbolizes the enjoyment of life and lightness of being. Those who have the hummingbird as a totem are invited to enjoy the sweetness of life, lift up negativity wherever it creeps in and express love more fully in their daily endeavors. This fascinating bird is capable of the most amazing feats despite its small size, such as traveling great distances or being able to fly backwards. By affinity with the hummingbird, those who have this bird as totem may be encouraged to develop their adaptability and resiliency while keeping a playful and optimistic outlook.
Amy Glass, posted an article on the thought catalog about men who cheat and women who let their physical selves go, and I actually read through many of the comments because, strangely enough there was a synchronicity to the timing of the subject, which in my mind has nothing to do with cheating men and out of shape woman, but everything to do with the epidemic of a lack of self-awareness and reactionary disconnection:
WOW!...is this how we connect now? I started out just going online to check my emails and was suddenly sidetracked by this article, and I am now questioning my priorities and regretting the time I wasted. Is this how we hope to have our voices heard? Through a reactionary retort to some random online blog. I'm guilty of reactionary disconnection. Recently, having woken up teary in bed, I made myself a cup of coffee and decided I needed to write a letter to my husband, feeling disconnected from many things, not just him. By the end of my letter, through the expression of my thoughts and emotions, I felt reconnected to a lightness of being...like I could get on with enjoying my life. Through reflection I realized that our habits, after 28 years of marriage, are not who we are. All this online connection disconnects me. I need human connection. I don't want to automatically turn on the television anymore...I want my husband to teach me how to play chess, and I don't want to be so busy that I can't stop and sit and talk and listen. I want to read the Sunday paper together, and share indepth conversations, and to cherish the simple pleasure that comes to us from making eachother laugh.
I want to really FEEL his hand when we're holding hands because I need his touch, and I don't want regrets or to be uncomfortable with getting old and with wrinkles and grey hair. Wisdom and age are a thousand times more beautiful than anything. I realized all this through writing a letter. I have loved being a stay at home mom, and I feel blessed that I was able to be a stay at home mom. It was my choice and now I have the choice to continue learning new things every day. My relationships are the most important thing in my life. Change is more rapid than ever, but I won't allow my priorities to change. Marriage is f...ing hard, but so are all relationships. They demand so much more than our disconnected partial attention. They deserve our attention and patience and time. Like the hummingbird we need to learn to travel great distances and sometimes even be able to fly backwards, to lift up our negativity and express our love more fully throughout our daily lives. Writing allows me to pause and clarify things. When I feel emotionally and physically connected my life is so much better. We have the ability to be more fulfilled and connected if we challenge ourselves to be openminded and receptive. We live in a world that can seem to be dominated by pressure and negativity... Practice the lightness of being, and enjoy the sweetness of life. Diconnect and write a letter to someone you love and become reconnected.
I've been reviewing The Artist's way, by Julia Cameron. Maybe Amy Glass needs to sign up for Julia's spiritual path to a higher creativity.
Yesterday I photographed this hummingbird ornament. I couldn't bring myself to put it away, and now its all coming together. The hummingbird ornament symbolizes the lifting up of negativity, the enjoyment of life and the lightness of being, which for me were recently reclaimed by turning off my computer, writing a letter, and rereading The Artist's Way. If we pay attention, connections are everywhere.
I've been making some new necklaces and wearing them around to see what kind of response I get. This moonstone necklace has been very popular, and I have to say it's become one of my favorites. These moonstone beads are so beautiful and luminescent...and expensive!
I had some time this weekend to think outside the box, and to experiment, so I played around with these photographs of trees in Adobe lightroom. I didn't spend too much time with my trees, just basically moved the color saturation all the way up and the clarity all the way down.
I don't generally like manipulating my photographs…I prefer natural lighting and keeping it simple, although I'm thinking I may need to step outside my box and experiment alittle more.
I am now open for business on ETSY! The name of my shop is Barbarazparker…not very creative, but consistent. My assistant editors, techies and nudgers were my sister-in-law and her two daughters. Here we are modeling some of my necklace designs. You can go to my new etsy account to view my one and only item at this moment. More stuff is waiting to be posted…be patient. I will be retailing only my most favorite & dependable go tos. Our throw away society drives me crazy, so I like creating art that is simple and durable. My pieces are meant to be ones that endure, items that go everywhere with you and are perfect for all occasions…with your little black dress or casual shirt and jeans.
A quote on my fridge reads: "In the stillness I remember what is important". I'm sitting at my kitchen island, alone in my house except for the dogs and cats. I've regained control over my laundryroom so I'm slowly beginning to make a dent in the overstuffed hamper. Nobody is around to borrow my computer charger, so my computer is recharging as I type, and I'm listening to Lori McKenna radio on Pandora, because noone is here to change the station. Alison Krauss and the Union Station just finished singing, "When you say nothing at all"…A smile on your face let's me know that you need me… This holiday season our house has been alive with smiles, family and friends, laughter, some tears, worries and turmoil, amazing food, the scent of evergreens, glowing lights, essential conversations, and an abundance of warm hello and good-bye embraces, but now suddenly all is quiet. In the stillness, as I watch the birds fervently fly to and from the feeders, I remember what is important…Gratitude.