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Friday, June 29, 2012

Sharing the Afternoon

If you were here right now...
First off, I would offer you a Friday afternoon cocktail.  You see, I have these little cans of cane sugar tonic for my g&t's and they are the perfect size to split.  Then we'd cruise out to the garden, blue glasses clinking, and squeeze every single sugar snap pea.  I'd offer you one of the first golden "sweet 100s" cherry tomatos and we'd comb the blueberries bushes (unsuccessfully I might add, as I raided them heavily this morning but I wouldn't want to crush your spirit, so I'd let you look.  I know how you feel about blueberries).
We'd come back into the cool of the kitchen and I'd put this album on the speakers, turned up loud.  I'd tell you about my run with the dogs this morning, out behind the quarry, where yellow was the color of the day.  Goldfinch, Tanagers, western tiger swallowtail butterflies, and huge puffy blooms of a wildflower I don't know.  
By this time Freyja would have licked your hand clean and Sancho would have smeared some nasty jowlie slobber across your knees (but I know you and I know you'd forgive him because he's so flipping adorable).
I'd drag you upstairs into the studio, dislodge a kitty boy and plop down in my ratty old chair.  I'd show you the big painting, the one with the barn own, the one I think might be titled "homage" and we'd both look thoughtfully at it, still crunching the last of the peas.  I'd show you my new favorite paint color, unapologetically crusted around the edges of my nails and if you were game, I'd make you finger paint right along side me.
We'd listen to birdsong and laugh at the doves who occasionally sit on the studio window ledges and peer in with their tiny heads.  I'd show you my collection of blue feathers, every one a lucky day, and have you try on the rings and necklaces in varying stages of doneness on the bench.  We'd talk about the future and how on earth do we keep ourselves in the present when change looms ahead.
Later I'd offer you a sweater and we'd drive out to a high cliff, one I just discovered, that juts out above the ocean.  From there we could look down on the birds, cross our fingers for a colorful sunset and sit in silence because there is nothing more beautiful than sharing silent awe with a friend.

Salut my friends!
~ Umber ~

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Whats and The Wheres

The Headlands
The Headlands
The Headlands
I love the pacific coast.  I mean that with every stitch of my soul.  I have water in my veins and simply can't imagine a life without rivers and seas and lakes all converging.  Sunday evening I grabbed my camera and strolled out through the Mendocino Headlands.  This particular section of coast is devastatingly beautiful, hard and merciless in storms, elegantly rugged, and breathtaking enough to bring one to their knees.  Pelicans dot the sky like sheet music and quail are tame enough to scold your footsteps.
It's Magical with a capitol M.
* * *

Monday morning I pulled over on a high cliff where wild arugula clung perilously one hundred feet above the rocky surf.  It was so... big.  The sky, the sea, the mountains rising sharply behind, the enveloping scent of eucalyptus and salt.  I wanted to photograph it for you, to try and explain what it feels like to stand on the very edge of the West and feel the infinite possibilities of breath but when I looked at the images later, they fell short.  Kind of like trying to paint the full spectrum of a rainbow with a single tube of blue paint.  You need to see it for yourself.  I say this to plant the seed in your mind; write it on your bucket list: visit the wilds of Northern California.

* * *

 These dirty hands are my personal stamp of artistry, and pages upon pages of drawings tribute to the richness of the land.  And chroma, oh the scope and mind-blowing possibilities of chroma.  I am the kid in the candy shop.  The one who did get that whiskey neat after all.
I should mention that this past weekend was officially a "research, development, collection and education" weekend.  For that I have you wonderful friends to thank; this spring and summer has been my time to invest in myself.   By that I mean taking business funds, ALL thanks to your gorgeous support, and reinvesting them in education and tool expansion.  There is no way this would have been possible without you.  And I want you to know I am endlessly grateful and that I will squander color, never hoard it.  You have my promise.
~ Umber ~

Friday, June 22, 2012

Good Friday to you!
Where ever you are, what ever you find yourself doing, I hope the breeze that sweeps through your bones smells like the sea.

I'm off for a long weekend away, filled with the promises of personal expansion, new techniques, communion with a soul sister and if I'm reeeeeeeal good, a neat whiskey in a victorian bar.
See you next week!

Monday, June 18, 2012


~ firstly ~
I need to say thanks be to you.  All those gorgeous comments, convos and emails about the Travelers collection?  They BOUYED my heart like a big ol' hot air balloon.  Ladies, you got style.  You really do.

~ secondly ~
The muse has been here.  For days upon glorious days (as well as nights upon nights of utter sleeplessness as I can not stop working through thoughts and shapes and images and colors and...) she has breathed a fire into my fingers and the world has been a whirlwind of chroma.  It should be noted here that I have been painting for over a decade now, first as a student, then as an amateur and now [as  I would gladly label myself] a professional.  In all that time I have never, EVER worked in acrylic paint.  Not once.  Even those very first AWFUL still-life-of-toilet-paper-on-crappy-panels-pun-intended-that-I-threw-in-the-dumpster-and-six-months-later-found-my-neighbor-had-retrieved-and-hung-in-her-bathroom (yes, this is real) were in oil.  Along the way I picked up watercolor and a whole number of stigmas and prejudices about acrylic.  Silly untruths handed down by traditionalist painters such as "you'll never achieve the same luminosity in acrylic" or "everything you do will look like plastic" or "oils and watercolors are the only mediums for intellectuals."
Well I'm finally calling bullshit.
I'm digging around and looking to rid myself of these prickly, binding beliefs that I don't believe.   So I dug in with both hands, cave woman style, finger painting, squatting on the floor, smearing ultramarine across my temple, swinging canvases, letting paint pool and run and drip.  I drove emergency style to pick up a few more canvases after the first four had been covered.  Food, sleep, showering, whatever.  Halos and pale drifting lotus petals are far more interesting.
To paint so freely feels like shaking off rust I didn't even know was there.
Can I get an amen?

~ thirdly ~
We screamed and hooted and roared for three hours straight on Saturday night at the Humboldt Roller Derby double header between the home and Sacramento teams.  Which brings me to the all important question: IF you were a derby girl, what would your name be?  I debated over a few (including such gems as "seal clubber" and "tank-a-ray" before coming up with the bell ringer:
"The Umber-Taker"
Come on, you know that's good.  BC landed on "Bustin' Chops" (not surprisingly for those that know him) and we both nearly decided to take up the skates.
* * *

Happy Monday you cheeky little chickadees!
~ Umber ~

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Travelers Collection

We're travelers baby.
We've got magpie in our blood and bison in our lineage.
We wear our savings on our fingers and our pensions from our ears.

That long highway?
The lonely one that fades into the watery mirage? 
We call that destiny baby.
The north wind ruffles more than our hair.
Our heart strings play banjo music.
And when we dance the whole earth spins.

The Travelers Collection
solid sterling silver, imprinted feathers, in three degrees of sass...
(you know where to find them!)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sketchbook Writings

~ From my Sketchbook Writings, June 14th 2012 ~
[after a long night of insomnia which transformed into the gift of a pre-dawn beach walk]
It's colder than I expected, a world of gray and sound and clear orbs of jelly washed up on the beach.  I can not walk a straight line here; the damp imprints I carelessly leave behind weave and warp in a pattern of crazy.
I pick up another feather, this one tinier than the last, and understand something instinctual about humanity's need to adore themselves.
I need to wear feathers.
I need communion.
I need to imbibe the feeling of flight, feel the tug of wind across my scalp and the yearning of gravity toward my airborne hips.
I need the solitude of fog to wash through my chest, spitting out those ten thousand grains of sand I managed to pick up along the way.
I need the fire of dawn to burn off these lies I forgot to disbelieve, to leave a hot core of truth in its wake.
And then I realize:
this is no longer about the walk.
* * *

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What's for Lunch

And dinner, and quite possibly breakfast tomorrow...
 I've been enjoying a number of ongoing conversations with friends who are all on similar dining trajectories these days; dairy-free, low sugar, low-to-no gluten, mostly vegan (and for me, no soy whatsoever) meals that taste FABULOUS.  Because really, what's the point in eating anything that tastes like cardboard?  I refuse because my taste-buds like to be titillated, and yes that is exactly what I just said.  
Today I give you my latest foodie obsession, the FRESH Potato Salad!  This is the second batch I've made in a week, as the first batch I served to a group of friends (meat-eaters all) and every last bite was slurped up and seconds had.
~ Fresh Potato Salad ~
(like most of my recipes, feel quite free to tweak quantities and ingredients to what you have on hand!)

You will need:
2 pounds Red Potatoes, cubed into bite-size chunks
2 Bell Peppers (your choice of color), cubed
1 Large Cucumber, cubed
1 1/2 Cups Cherry Tomatoes, halved
A small handful of fresh Parsley (1/3 Cup minced)
An even smaller handful of fresh Thyme (2-3 Tbsp minced)
5-6 Green Onions, chopped
1 Can Black Olives, drained and rinsed
1 Can Beans (I prefer black, but kidney or even garbanzo would work just dandy), drained and rinsed
1/4 Cup Rice Vinegar
3 Tbsp Mild Flavored Oil (I've used both grapeseed oil and canola, and if you really wanted to, I'm sure olive oil would be fine too)
1 Tbsp Salt
A load of fresh cracked Black Pepper (this is an approximate amount ;)

And here's how:
Place cubed potatoes in a large pot of water (enough to cover the potatoes by 2 inches), bring to a boil, then simmer for 8-10 minutes (just until you can pierce them easily with a fork).  Drain off water, toss the potatoes in the biggest bowl you own, and pop in the refrigerator to cool for about 15 minutes.
While potatoes cool, chop the rest of your ingredients (peppers, cucumber, tomatoes, onions, etc.).  In a small bowl, mix your dressing: oil, rice vinegar, salt, pepper, fresh herbs.  Pour this over the potatoes, mix well, and allow to sit for another 5 minutes while the starches soak up all that deliciousness.
Add all veggies, olives and beans to potatoes, give everything a good stir, and eat up!  I prefer mine over a bed of lettuces, but of course that's optional.  Either way, load up a good size plate because that's how much you'll want as soon as you taste it!  Extra special bonus: this keeps really well in the fridge for a couple days too.
Nom it up!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Day in the Life of the Dove: Saturday Habituals

[A photographic account of a single day in my life, a Saturday full of habituals, full of those places and things we love to do, full of sun, full of furry beast]

- Saturday June 9th 2012 -

8:23 am
8:50 am
9:19 am
10:17 am
11:49 am
12:13 pm
12:33 pm
12:41 pm
1:05 pm
1:19 pm
1:38 pm
2:13 pm
3:15 pm
3:43 pm (yeah... don't even bother asking)
4:20 pm
5:34 pm
5:58 pm
 6:09 pm
7:51 pm
 9:03 pm
10:20 pm
* * *