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Archive for the ‘Art and the Artist’ Category

I fiddle with flowers. Yes, I do. I am in love with watercolor and how it teams up with the colors on the paper and the brush of the artist.

I have been learning, through practice, the fun of watercolor. I am in awe of its beauty and power that comes from many committed artists who paint because they too would feel less for not painting.

I came to the watercolor paper a timid and frightened student. I remember the first time the class was drawing and painting an apple. It only occurred to me then that I had to create a round shape three- D idea of an apple. It stunned me. I wondered if I had to fold the paper into a cylinder shape.

I didn’t get the hang of it early on as I sat in amongst seasoned artists and accomplished teachers. I didn’t catch the spirit of it. But I never lost the attraction I had toward watercolor as I stopped to gaze upon creations in public places, especially medical facilities, which I have spent a lot of time in with my husband over the last two decades.

It convinced me that watercolor is truly uplifting, healing, and inspiring and truly served a magnificent purpose in and among the human population who were dealing with life and death circumstances.

I continued to paint…a little….and store my scary attempts at art down deep in my drawer or tucked away in a cardboard portfolio only to be forgotten, until the next urge came upon me to “mix color” together. There were long absences from my experiments.

Now that I am of Grandma Moses age range, I am fiddling once again, and more purposefully. A couple of years ago, I met artist Angela Fehr. This was a miracle and it kept me near my watercolors and paint. I haven’t met her in real life or a class offering, (but if she gets within a one-hundred mile radius, that may change). She lives in Canada and she leads classes online and offers many free episodes on utube.

Her teaching surrounds the premise of “I want you to become your own favorite painter.” She also refers to us as “Fearless Artists.”  She shows us the way toward “intuitive painting”, and painting that is “heart-led”.

Well, that ties right in with my spirituality and so I am all in. I’m delighted to see my “happy mistakes”  and to know so much possibility lies ahead, just for the fun of it.

Angela cautions about overdoing it and getting your idea down in a few heart-led, creative strokes of the brush, softening into backgrounds, painting in layers, oh so gentle and soft in the beginning.

Well sometimes I show up broad and noisy in my first strokes, but I am seeing where it takes me. I can’t rush the process, but just like with books…..so many images, so little time.

 

 

I am concentrating on trees and flowers at the moment. Flowers are amazing and I am never happy with them while the paint is wet. I am sure I have another failure on hand, but after it dries it is often another story. Because the paint keeps creating as it dries, and there are brand new nuances you didn’t have much to do with at all. Then, I fiddle…just a bit, in a few places on the painting. Then I see the petals, if not totally defined, at least hinted at.

I paint for the joy and happiness I have as I am in the process which overcomes disappointments and mistakes. I paint the softer side of life. I paint the gentle within me. I paint the love I extend outward to others. I paint the discovery that lies all around me, making each day new. I am pretty sure I won’t stop painting ever again.

 

The Divine — the Creator of all; Masculine and Feminine Divine —I gain so much appreciation of with each stroke. The song, “Paint with all the Colors of the Wind” comes to mind.

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GUEST BLOG 

Dark Journal 
writing.ritual & art making

Suzy Banks Baum

There is not a day that passes without me doing this:

I set out to bring the veg scraps to the compost. I pass the majestic oak. I pass the ancient maple stump that was 250 years old when the rest of its tree self fell 20 years ago. I walk on the mossy grass and murmur prayers of thanksgiving to all the spirits who hold this land. I send prayers of honor to the people who inhabited this place before me. Before the people who built our house in 1898. Before the white settlers came to this area and called it Great Barrington in 1726.

The traditional Native inhabitants of this area were Mohican. Stockbridge Mohican, as I learned from my friend Jimmy, who is a member of that tribe. Long displaced to Wisconsin, the tribe has a presence here in Berkshire County, no matter how many years have passed since they hunted, traded, and lived here. Just to the north of where I sit, stands Monument Mountain, a sacred place for Mohicans. My children went to high school in its craggy shadow. We have hiked it more times than I can recall. A few miles east is the confluence of the Umpachene and Konkapot Rivers. That land was a special meeting place for the Indigenous inhabitants of this territory. We go to those waterfalls for sanctuary in every season.

By my estimation, that Sugar Maple stood while the Mohicans still populated what is now called Berkshire County. This fact alone causes me to stop and say thank you for the shelter that tree provided then, and for what it gives to my family now.

How does the land you walk on nourish your day? How can you give thanks and acknowledge those who came before you? How does the act of breathing, step by step, connect you to yourself and help prepare for the coming winter season?

If you find yourself edgy and twitching from seasonal sensory overload, here is a small gift. It comes to you without cost, for it is the freshest and most readily accessed gift we can find every moment.
It is breath.

Place your right hand on your belly.
Place your left hand on your heart.
Begin to breathe so that you lift the belly hand slightly with your inhale, while your heart hand stays still.
Continue to breathe in this pattern, slowly. Inhale, move the belly hand. Exhale feel your belly fall toward your spine.

Continue in this breathing pattern for at least ten rounds of breath. If you feel lightheaded, please stop and try it again later.

This practice quiets my nervous system. I awoke this morning worrying about my daughter. I put my hands on belly and heart and breathed slowly for ten rounds. As I did, I saw her with plenty of strong solutions to the snag she is in right now. I saw her swimming forward in her life with strong brave strokes. I continued breathing and noticed how my mind, so quick to enter the day agitated, instead relaxed.

I hope you will consider joining me for Advent Dark Journal, a nourishing 6-week self-paced guided experience with writing, art, and ritual prompts delivered to your email every Saturday morning.

You can read all about it here.

Or go ahead and register here.
With love from my heart to yours,
Suzi

Copyright © 2019 Suzi Banks Baum, All rights reserved.
Via SuziBanksBaum.com, or at LaundryLineDivine.com
Our mailing address is:
Suzi Banks Baum
Post Office Box 224
Great Barrington, MA 01230

Add us to your address book

TO Suzi from Napkinwriter:

I needed this in this exact agitated moment, dear Suzi. I will share on Napkinwriter. Hearts and blessings to you, dear friend. I am breath…
Sue
aka Journey GIrl

 

 

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I am thankful to the readers who check in on Napkinwriter, although my posts have not been frequent for some time now. There are two reasons for this. My main work in writing is dedicated time to my memoir, Journey Girl. The second reason is I have skipped over to play time in the arts: painting, drawing, coloring, sketching and hanging out with a amazing tribe of others who cherish their art practice. I am learning many things and one of those things is that my time is really crowded much more than I ever thought it would be.

Watercolor has caught my fancy and I have so many others that inspire me that I might achieve one day. The biggest thing I have achieved is that playing with watercolor really makes me happy. And I like happy.

 

I love the beauty of flowers.

Sketching, and Ink and color are intriguing to me. I get lost in the essence and just want to hint at their beauty.

Playing with abstracts and the mix of dark and light bring new adventures upon the page.

I notice that when I am painting, I notice more things around me rather than take them for granted.

Layers — a skill to learn. Learning to trust, and my favorite teacher’s goal is to teach us to become our own favorite artist.

 

Playing with different art mediums — crayon and pencil.

Fun with nature.

Learning to draw what I see.

 

So many choices, so little time.

Fun selfie adventures.

 

Even art in the sidewalk cracks.

Anywhere I am, anywhere I go, paper and pen, paints and pastels provide amusing creative time. But I plan to start coming back to Napkinwriter on a weekly basis, for it is a joy of my heart.

 

 

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Living the Days of Resurrection

 

Guest Blog from Christine Valters Paintner
Galway, Ireland

 

A love note from your online Abbess

Take My Hand

Please don’t plant me
neat rows of rosebushes
and tulips at attention,
no manicured gardens
or crystal vases of cut stems.

Instead, take my hand,
lead me onto
rain-softened grass
which undulates like a boat
on a summer lake,

lie down with me
in a quilt of sunlight and shadows
among yellow petals, violet trumpets,
a feast for hares and bees,
let’s linger and forget ourselves

until even the tiled sky above
is cracked open by stars
and all that is restless and wild
within us can roam the heavens
howling the moon aloft.

—Christine Valters Paintner

Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,

After the six weeks of Lent and our disciplines of letting go of distractions and listening more deeply to the sacred call in our daily lives we arrive to the Feast of Easter which initiates a 50-day season of practicing resurrection. I love this sense of invitation into what it means to live resurrection in the midst of the ordinary routines of life.

I wrote this poem a couple of years ago while up in Donegal on a writing weekend. It was being held at this lovely manor house with a large grassy area out front leading down to a lake. During one of the writing sessions, the instructor invited us to go outside for fifteen minutes and see what was inspired. I wandered out hungrily, so glad for time to move outside into the summer sun, sit under a broad tree offering shade.

For me it is a poem about the longing for wildness in my life. I am aware how having everything in order and well planned can be so seductive, but the divine presence is not a God of neat rows and lining everything up just so. Certainly the Easter story many of us celebrate today reveals a divine wildness which erupts into the world beyond our expectations. Practicing resurrection in part means opening to what happens when we release our ideas of how things should unfold.

There have been times in my life when I have embraced this sense of wildness with more vigor than others. Certainly selling everything we owned and leaving Seattle for an adventure living in Europe was one of those seasons. Now living in Galway for the last almost seven years, I have a lovely and sweet life that I adore and am grateful for each day. It involves certain sacred rhythms and times of silence to listen deeply. What is most nourishing to me is a wander down by the sea, to feel the roughness of wind, taste the salt on my skin, to shake loose all the things that have become too determined, too set in expectation.

I invite you to enter this poem as a form of lectio divina. Read it through slowly and notice what words or phrases are shimmering for you. Let those unfold in your heart and listen for the sense of invitation arising. Then watch the video below and see what new layers the visuals offer to you. It is a poem of direct address to someone – a loved one perhaps or a prayer to the sacred source. What is your prayer of resurrection as we enter into this season ahead?

……to shake loose all the things that have become too determined…

 

Art by Shh

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art by Nan Rae

My journey and joy in learning Sumi-e brush painting has acquainted me with some website instruction on YouTube with Nan Rae. I find her invigorating, gracious, and owning every bit of her serendipitous journey into this art. Here is a glance.

 

DELIGHT IN SERENDIPITY!

Nan Rae – Her Journey in Sumi-e Chinese Brush Painting

In her own words: Everyone has a journey that is unique to them and it’s best followed by listening to the promptings of our heart. For me this involves saying yes to everything that presents itself and fortunately that ‘everything’ has always turned out to be something wonderful. Perhaps not visibly wonderful at the beginning but always becoming something amazing.

Of course this does require more faith in life than in following a predictable course but again, this seems to work for me. An early example of this would be when Ralph Tepedino contacted me years ago and asked if I would like to do the California Gift Show. Honestly, I didn’t even know what the Gift Show was but in my usually naive manner I said a resounding “YES”. At that time I was to share a 10 X 10 foot space with two other artists, one who sold her photographic images on greeting cards and the other a gal in England who pressed flowers and placed them on pillows, in frames and all manner of products.

Nan Rae

There I was with one small wall to display my line of greeting cards. If I cut to the chase I will tell you that within three years we were not only doing the Gift Show having three booths featuring only Nan Rae cards but the New York Stationary Show. From these two venues Trader Joe’s found me along with Ling Design in England and so many wonderful gift stores and museums that there isn’t room or time to name them. All serendipity!

Nan Rae

Every licensing contract has come to me just that way. Every commission, including the New York Philharmonic asking permission to use my artwork for their historic trip to Korea and China. I am always as amazed by this as you must be reading these stories but again, it’s my journey and it’s what works for me. A friend once told me she suits up and shows up and perhaps that is the key. We have to work hard and be fully prepared when opportunities present themselves and then be brave enough to say a resounding yes!
Find her and her beautiful paintings and classes at: http://www.nanraestudio.com

 

Nan Rae

Nan Rae explains on her website:

“An expert in Brush Painting, her works,
from her Paris experience,
sing with the joy of Impressionism.”
Nan Rae’s brush painting combines the grace of the Literati style
with an impressionist approach to color.
The Literati style seeks to transcend the mere representation,
of a subject to capture its ch’i, or life force, by using a
minimum of brush strokes for maximum effect.
No sketches are prepared and no models are used.
The artist paints with rapid, intuitive movements of the brush
that convey a “mind image” of the subject.
Sumi-e, Japanese Ink painting,
came from the influence of Chinese Brush;
the techniques and brushes are the same.

Her motto is, Live Joyfully watching her instruct it is easy to see this joy — this ch’i — surrounds and embodies her. She is joy personified.

She encourages me to “get my ch’i on!” and to watch for it in my own brush paintings.

Find her at: http://www.nanraestudio.com

 

Napkinwriter’s journey with Sumi-e is a slow, winding one filled with wonder with what is achieved in this tradition of brush painting. According to the Mustard Seed Garden book, which is considered the bible of this method, there are bunches of rules and regulations for the brush and the artist to produce a calming image filled with ch’i that the observer falls in love with. I have only mastered a few. They also list faults and I am familiar with many of them, even now in my beginning stages. I will watch and learn and enjoy.

by Sue

 

by Sue

by Sue

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April 5, 2019

I am writing the last chapter (which is not the last chapter )  to complete the writing of my memoir, Journey Girl. This chapter begins with the influence the wonderful women of IWWG (International Women’s Writers Guild and WWAM (Women Writer and Artist Matrix) had on my life and my writing. I am so forever grateful.

This is a repost

I Will Trust to Love
May 16, 2013 by Napkinwriter

Shattered Mirrors
By Susan Heffron Hajec, inspired from
Mimi Foyle,’s Shattered Mirrors
I will turn to meet my destiny,
reflected in shattered mirrors.
The world breaks
My effort is needed.
I am a humble artist
with prayerful hands
I nourish new life.
In dark corners,
unmolded clay in my hand
in broken places
molding my earthly clod
to reflect what is neglected.
I will trust to love.

Hello Napkinwriter readers. Well just a few moments ago, my blog was shattered…..I typed “glog”. That’s what I feel like now. I had expressed in the first “blank” issue of this, how many ways this workshop experience at WWAM from artist/writer Kittie Bintz had excited me. Now, I am left looking in a seeminly empty draft land to come up with my version.

Recently on MeetUp, I joined a WordPress group and missed the first meeting. This is one of the first things I want to find out how to avoid or at least be a good enough sleuth to recover it.

This experience was about creating an altar to our muse. Kittie, a soon to be retiring public school art teacher, was a vivacious guiding presence, as we mixed water color, tea lights, collage images, words and shattered glass to our creations.

The word “retired” didn’t really fit Kittie, so I suggested she was “re-FIRING” instead, and that word stuck, as I heard it repeated among the more than 50 attendees of WWAM Weekend at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs New York.

What a weekend retreat it was. But then again, we creative’s don’t really retreat from life, rather we continue to re-TREAT the world with continuing inspirations, images, ceremony and words.
The inspiration for my creation came from Mimi Foyle’s poem, Shattered Mirrors, which I share here. I live in the truth that it is indeed prayerful hands and honoring the Mystery that has healed me from my own wounded and light-deprived places in life.

I am in deep gratitude for the great gift of life I enjoy.

Shattered Mirrors
Mimi Foyle

i will turn to meet my destiny,
reflected in shattered mirrors.
heart broken open,
i will pick up the pieces
no matter how sharp
to reflect
what is neglected
in dark corners.
wounded, light-deprived,
with prayerful hands i’ll
recycle devastation to
nourish new life
art, like gardening
is an act of faith and healing,
shining for the world.
as Mystery’s greater
than the sum of all suffering,
I will trust to Love.

Related
Shattered
In “creative writing”
Art is Life. WWAM!
In “Art and the Artist”
WHAM-tastic!
In “Art and the Artist”

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Make Mistakes!

 

I have not been writing on Napkinwriter as often as usual, and that may be a mistake. But it is because I am writing full steam ahead on my memoir, Journey Girl, and I have a good chance at having it completed when Spring gets here, which may be different months for many people.

In the meantime, here are some words this morning that inspired me, posted by my artist/psychologist/friend mentor and I share them with you. One of the best bosses I had in my working life told his staff often. “Don’t make that mistake. You already made that one. I want you to make new mistakes!” I was a better person for having heard that. A person who didn’t like, but did allow herself to make mistakes in her life.

 

“Go and make interesting mistakes,
make amazing mistakes,
make glorious and fantastic mistakes.
Break rules.
Leave the world more interesting for your being here.
Make. Good. Art.”
– Neil Gaiman
*This is a beautiful truism!

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