Sitting and staring

Today, I'm reminded of the baseboall great Satchel Page's oft quoted," Sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I  just sits." An unexpected delay of a work-related appointment has given me the gift of a hitherto unplanned afternoon. Yes, the studio needs a good sort. The garden is (perhaps riskily) calling for seeds. I have really been planning to go through and file all the piles of receipts and GET MYSELF ORGANIZED for the new year (hardly new anymore, you might note). 

But I find myself sitting and looking out into damp, gray between-winter-and-spring air and light and I just sit.

Sometimes its good to sit.

The creative life is full of adventure (even if it only shows up on the inside of your eyeballs.) When one is a self-employed artist, there is the ever present tension between amking art and making a living and it takes a lot of juggling to keep it together sometimes. I, like many of us, simply like action, I live at full-speed-ahead.

And then I sit.

You (I) need both. You (I) must let minutes wash over us when we can. Remind ourselves that time is finite; in 100 years (unless Singularity DOES come to pass, or the Mayan calendar ends us all in a bang) everyone you know and everyone you don't know who is walking around here on earth will be gone. And so, no matter how important it all seems, it is just a drop in the bucket when you look at the big picture. So let the drops fall where they may for a few hours. Sit. think. or just sit.

One thing I am thinking about is some of the thought about romance that I am reading in Barbara Lazear Ascher's wonderful book Isn't it Romantic; Finding the magic in everyday life. Here's a quote to ponder as you sit today:

"The romantic has to believe the bread crumbs were left as a trail, that the dots will make a whole....Faith doesn't require answers but a trust that if we dare reach out a hand another one, unforeseen will receive it. That we will be made whole. The ulitmate romance. Exactly as Michelangelo painted it in the center of the Sistine Chapel ceiling."

And Yes. I am puttering around in the studio today and making some progress on the annual clean, sort and toss that I force myself to do in order to avoid a manditory appearance on some reality show or another devoted to hoarding. But I am doing so very, very softly. Like the air and the gray heavy skies. Like the seeds underground waiting for the next increment of warmth. Reminding myself to think a bit about the spiraling fossil of an ammonite once alive, then dead, buried turned to stone, washed up again on a different shore.

(P.S. Speaking of nature, the next El Cielo studio retreat/workshop is almost full-to-the-brim. If you are thinking about attending  send me an email through the contact form on the sidebar. $160 if you pay before March 1. Potluck on Friday night through Sunday afternoon, most supplies included.)

View from home and El Cielo Studio.



March 25-27

Find color, shape, form and inspired design for new surface design tools at this spring-is-sprung weekend in the blooming Texas Hill Country. We’ll do sun prints, leaf-inspired thermofaxes and screenprinting with dye, flour paste resist and more.

The Sun Shines on the Volcano

FInally, the rain seems to be letting up and we had a few hours of sun this afternoon driving into the city of San Miguel, a workhorse of a place with about a million population. We're here en route to another set of school visits in the northern area of Morazon, the part of El Salvador that had the worst impact of the war and is still less populated and developed than other parts of El Salvador.

On the way we visited a wonderful school and had a formal presentation by the students and faculty and an amazing lunch of fish from the lake at the bottom of the mountaintop where the school is (an hour down and 2 hours back up, we were told). Also on the menu -- a delicious chicken (yes, this was the real thing, a chicken that had never seen an industrial farm) soup, beef, rice, papusas, enchiladas (which are, in this part of the world are a thick corn tortilla topped with mild red chili sauce and fresh cheese) and more of the wonderful thick comal-toasted corn tortillas of El Salvador. And this was after a little snack that had been served to us upon arrival with fried yucca (the ultimate crunchiness treat of the world), papusas, sweet rich black coffee laced with cinnamon, sweet baked candied pumpkin and about 6 other dishes -- just a little snack. 

And now we're about ready to head for "the best fish soup in the world," according to our traveling coordination and SEED program director Jose.

For the wearable art lovers among you readers, here are some creations by third graders -- all with recycled materials. I'll get better pictures of these later for the WHAT CAN SCHOOL BE blog on posterous. 

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Directly above, a collaged skirt embellished with corn husks and glitter.

Top image, hat - and the world's ubiquitous "foamy"

Middle image, Project Runway weep, this is a third grader's dress.

I'll be posting more soon about the school, but for now -- just time for a brief siesta before heading for that famous fish soup.




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Infinite Variety/Creative Choice

Infinite. Abundant. Words that have both spiritual and material connotations. One of my favorite writers, Annie Dillard, speaks of the fecundity of nature in her first book of prose, Pilgrim at Tinker's Creek:

"A big elm in a single season might make as many as six million leaves, wholly intricate,without budging an inch; I couldn't make one.a tree stands there, accumulating deadwood, mute and rigid as an obelisk, but secretly it seethes, it splits, sucks and stretches; it heaves up tons and hurls them out in a green, fringed fling."

And I worry sometimes about having too many ideas. You may worry about having too few, but my experience with artists is that's its always too many. I suggest that for today, just today, you and I take a page (a leaf?) from the elm and just make what needs making, at whatever stage that is, for whatever purpose, and if the caterpillers come, or the shoot withers, or the bud never opens. Well, there are at least 5,999,999 more to come just this season.

The photo that sparked this thought  (and, now my desire to reread Dillard's classic narrative of her year on Tinker Creek) were taken on a campus walk with friend Susan on the Rutgers campus. This little garden must have a horticulture department at its source -- the variety of late summer pods, and blooms and leaves, colors and shapes and textures, is enough for a lifetime body of work. Surface design, indeed.

Does anyone know what any of these flowers are? They were all unfamiliar to me. And If that spiny leafed plant will grow in my climate, I want it. Surely that would be deer resistant!