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Sunday, January 31, 2010

For the Birds

I have so many things I want to share with you, but for now I'm sitting quietly in the eye of the hurricane, sipping tea with my slipper-clad toes up on the heater, aware that as soon as the glistening porcelain base of my mug shows it's translucent lettering, it's time to move.

I've been coaxing along the last few pieces, tidying up my show statement as well as the statements for the individual paintings. Tomorrow begins the official installment in the gallery. In all honesty I'm on pins and needles with excitement to see my work hanging on those crisp white walls, I'm already so proud of each piece. Each of the 35 paintings I should add.


That's a few.

And throughout these last few days, I've kept this one close by, a visual reminder of one night a kindred soul said to me (having heard these words from another kindred), "hold on baby girl, you're gonna make it."

Receiving Messages: Hold Fast
12" x 4"

I feel good. We're almost there.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Inspired By:

Hiroshige's "The Plain at Suzaki"

The treeline behind the house at dawn
Instinct vs. Conscious Decision

Listening to:

Guatemalan Fair Trade coffee beans
English Breakfast tea with milk and sugar
Fumé Blanc

Homemade whole wheat bagels (with pomegranate jelly - TASTEBUDS HAVE DIED AND GONE TO HEAVEN)
Extra Sharp Cheddar

Thinking About:
Taking a run as soon as I return from the barn this morning
Buying a new tea kettle (I may have accidentally burned mine out yesterday)
Photographing new work, the first two pieces in "The Virtue of Instinct" to show you (but I'm a tease and it will have to wait until tomorrow)

Lusting After:
The scent of the ocean

On My Desk:
A very round orange ball of cat
A silver wing from South Dakota
A melange of sharpies and scissors neatly corralled in ceramic planters
Two cabochons of Dendritic Opal (I couldn't help it, they were so beautiful with REAL scenes of snowy mountains and two black ravens and a few scraggly winter firs, and I had to buy them just to touch and hold tight)


Friday, January 22, 2010

Receiving Messages

One evening, as dusk melted into the tree-line and the dim sparkle of distant flames began to glow overhead, the gal of ferns and moss strolled out into the fields. Her feet felt full of pins, her knees ached to run, and deep inside her abdomen danced a hard ball of adrenaline.

She was wrapped up so deep inside her self, she almost tripped right over the quivering cottontail bunched up in the fescue. "Excuse me," he said as he sat his ground. The gal quickly stepped back and mumbled an apology, something about Distracted and Flight and Need to Run. The cottontail looked kindly at the gal and said "No, I don't think that's it at all. I think you need to stop. To listen. To be patient." The gal sighed shakily and raised one eyebrow. "But I don't have time to stop, I have these deadlines, these dates, these hundred hands pulling, these few stomaches grumbling, these thousand shining bullet points on the shackles of To Do. I have to figure it out Now. I have to. I have to."

They stood an eternity, eyeing the six feet of atmosphere between them. Two hot saltine tears hit the grass. In a voice so quiet the gal wasn't sure if it came from the ground or the sky, the cottontail said "Wait. You can not run and fight at the same time. Those wispy trails of inspiration are not impressed with your hurry, you can not chase them down, you can not grab them with a clenched fist. Wait. They will come to you, they always have, they always will. But you must wait."

He combed one ear as he watched the gal. He nodded at her silence. And then with a flash of white tail and a dull grassy thud he was gone. But the gal stood still. She would wait. She would wait with all her heart and all the faith she could muster. And it would come.

Receiving Messages: Wait
6" x 6"

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Notable Bits

* Wearing half-chaps (those "top part of the boots" looking business) makes me feel Fancy, especially when said half-chaps are worn and scuffed, extra supple and fit like a glove.
* On the backside of those jeans now exists a horse-nostril-shaped smear in alfalfa-green that will most likely never fully come out. I don't mind.
* That orange croissant in the background is actually a kitty boy getting his "Thank God we finally got to go out for the day" roll on.
* What you can't see are my bones, which feel light as air today, like they might pick up and dance themselves a little jig just because they can. I think that's what riding does to my heart.

The Elusive Shower Beer

The Elusive Shower Beer. Yep, that's inside the curtain, all steamy and sweet-smelling of calendula and lemongrass.
It's almost like all of you are in this old claw-foot tub with me.


Monday, January 18, 2010

A Winter's Walk in Miniature

Sometimes I see the smallest things, and I wonder, how do the others pass on by?

Thursday, January 14, 2010


We're 22 days out and rapidly counting.

The show I've been painting for, writing about, sketching on, working towards for the last 8 months is almost upon me. The flyers just arrived. That must mean it's official.
opens February 4th.

If you have a second, lend a thought to my brushes. We're working hard, trying to remain calm, to press on, to finish the work I've begun in utter honesty, sincerity and heart. I am striving to remind myself daily that I will get everything done. AND I'M KEEPING MY FINGERS CROSSED TOO.

February 5th, I plan on sleeping.
'Cause Lord knows it's not happening now.

(From my official show statement; still in progress)


It's time to examine the small things, the minutia of our worlds, the microscopic connections. The fast firing circuit of information leading from the curve of a single found feather to our ocular-endings to the cosmic knowledge that this was a life worth noting. This leaf you cradle in the soft palm of your hand is a delicate map.
Look closer.
Those lines are a blue print; this is the story of a single seed, the radiating tree rings, photosynthesis, symbiotic companions, parasitic lovers, cyclical growth, the burst of life and the release of death.
Look closer.
Your palm is a mirror; those wispy veins pumping hard tell the story of your visceral experience, the crush of life on your skin, the imprint of nature upon your retinas, the shared knowledge that we once were.
It's what we have in common.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Good Monday Morning

Well at least I hope it is for you too. Mine came early (earlier if you count all the tossing and turning waiting for the alarm to sing), dark and absolutely dreary out. But when the alarm finally let out its [overly chipper for an alarm if you ask me] bing-bong I neatly leapt out of bed and into my jeans.

Because I'm heading out to play with horses.

Back in a past life in California this was the norm, and honestly, a chunk of my heart and soul has been lost these last few years without them.

I can't wait to come home smelling like a horse.

I hope your Monday is off to just the start you need too, and if not, just pour that second cuppa.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Musings, Mutterings and New Work

This is a long one.
You might want to refill your beverage.

I had a conversation over Christmas that has really stuck with me over the last two weeks and I feel that I need to share my train of though here in a confessional-sort-of-way.

I believe that part of being an artist is to feel life most keenly. This means the ups are sometimes magically high, laughter and mirth bubble up from your toes and the cup of joy runneth over. But this also means the lows feel that much more potent, crushing and dark. Sadness and frustration steal any semblance of eloquence from my tongue and I sit mutely. Writing in that place is akin to lancing a boil: that dark substance that has inhabited my body but is not a part of me must be released, bled dry, given exodus before I can stitch the wound and begin healing. I do not see this as all negative. Rather I find that the rawest parts of me lead the way to the most profound revealings. Many of my most "important" paintings (edit: important to my self-awareness-development) I've only been able to finish after a near existential crisis which lead me to new knowledge and renewed faith. In the struggle there is growth.

Which leads to what it is I really need to say:

I need the dark confines, those hard pages of my sketchbook to hold my secret murmurings safe. Not safe from anyone or anything, but safe for me. It's a subtle difference but one that means the world to me. As I begin this new year, renewing my focus and instating new goals, I wish to share ever deeper the lessons I learn though this thing I loosely term "art making." But there will be things I can not share publicly in order to maintain a safe boundary around myself and the great wide world. There will be days (as there always have been) when I can not bring myself to engage via the internet because my melancholy runs too close to the surface, and I wish more than anything, to be allowed to feel that genuinely.

I know you understand, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Now, in exchange for allowing me to get that off my chest, I want to share some new work that will be flitting it's way into The Shop pronto.

Our Lady of Quiet Tidings
6" x 6"
Our Lady herself (the original painting!) will be soon residing in the shop along with prints in her likeness. I have always harbored a love for religious iconography of all persuasions but particularly that which has to do with storytelling (creation stories, the annunciation, exchanges between mortals and immortals, the ascension, I could go on). I do not believe that we as humans are the only beings to give and receive messages, in fact, I believe that we can receive our messages anytime we're open to hearing them. I believe the collective wisdom of nature offers the richest lessons in true faith and honest love, and I can hear it all on the trill of a small beak.

Santo DeeDee
4" x 4"
Along with Our Lady, Santo DeeDee and his likenesses will be chirping right over to the shop. And believe you me, he has a trill unlike any other.

Searching the Forest for the Trees
5" x 5"
I don't know that I can live without this one. We had a long talk this past weekend; as I sipped tea and listened to Jeff Buckley and poured out my soul to this little painting, she opened her eyes and saw me so clearly. I need to live with her. However, she also has consented to prints in the Etsy shop, and is ready to view your path clearly when your lashes are too soaked with emotion to see.

I feel quiet inside. I think it's time to retreat to the joy of my filberts.

Peace this afternoon friendlies,
- Umber

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Why Hello There 2010

Well if I had any thoughts of major diet change resolutions for New Year (and I didn't) they're officially off. January first and I ate a home cooked, finger lickin' blue cheese burger slightly larger than my own face.

** In other news, my very favorite Mme. Bookling has organized another one month Flickr group, Our Daily Bread, and it's absolutely not too late to join. Plus, it will basically be a one month-long confession of all that I eat and that's ALWAYS fun! **

I'd like to show [off to] you two of my new very favorite companions, The Brothers Grim. They're still trying to decide just where they'd like to reside in Dovely Estates but I have a feeling they'll commit to some stretch of wall sooner rather than later if for no other reason than to keep kitty noses far, far away.

Hello Brother Nip,

Welcome Brother Tuck.

The Brothers have lead quite the death (life just seemed like an unfair pun, agree?), traveling half-way around the world some 60 odd years ago, seeing their fair share of cotton batting and taxidermied pals, ending up in a shiny papered box under the Christmas tree with a big ol' K written across it. My dad is the best. Also, it takes a special family to get really excited about giving and receiving skulls but we've got it down to an art. I was nearly teary. Actually, pretty much any gift box containing bones is guaranteed to make me squeal with delight, but I'll let you analyze that later.

It's the simple things.

That said, Hello New Year!
I'm ready for you.
I've got big plans for you, knowing you have even bigger plans for me. I promise to give you everything I've got and then some, to reach ever deeper into my heart and soul, to try to sit still longer, to love in earnest, to remember my blessings, and keep my hands outstretched, open, awaiting all you have to pour into them.

Welcome I say.
Let's do this.