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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Land Tribute

Land Tribute  (the second in the series)
Land Tribute (the second in the series)
I've been a bit obsessed lately with thanking the land.  The earth we both tread upon, the terroir that has grown us into the bodies we possess, the landscapes that mold our existence.  I am, in my heart of hearts, a documenter.  A recorder of sights and scents and travels and passages.  This piece feels like a narrative for your heart; a story of wind currents and wild grasses, of rippling leaves and red-tailed hawks.  There is substantial weight but simultaneously so so much room to breath.
Land Tribute
(the second in the series)
(100% sterling silver)
(and of course, you can read more about it over in the shop)
(this may be too many parenthetical comments)
* * *

In other news, the move north is fast approaching.  I'll be leaving well before dawn tomorrow morning, logging a few hundred miles with a thermos of hot coffee and a trough of chopped fruits and veggies.  With any luck I'll weave through the rivers and cliffs of the northern California-Oregon boarder, slip through Portland before traffic hits, cover that long, straight stretch of I5 through southern Washington and reach Seattle in time for cocktail hour.  And with lots of luck, I'll find our new house.  I've got one week to do it and could use all the crossed fingers and well wishes you can muster!  That said, be well birds, and I'll see you next week!
~ Umber ~ 

Monday, July 30, 2012

4:30 pm

It's 4:30.  Do you know where your doberman has been?
(crackle crackle)
We have a 754 on some illegal pond swimming activity.  Perpetrator is sopping wet, smelling like stagnant river and will be leaving a trail of duck weed.  Beware of clean jeans, recently mopped floors and white sheepskin throws.  Over and out.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Horse for the Journey

Equus Ring
This is about the journey.
My path, your path, the way they converge mountaintop in the setting sun, the way we each have to pick a careful trail through the detritus of shifting plans and outcroppings of trials.  It's the sharp gulp of air across the tongue, the heady rhythm of a gallop, the wind blowing through every hidden layer.  It's the way memory is recalled in scent and sound: the crunch of oak leaves under hoof and the smell of late afternoon grapevines.  It's about wearing grime under fingernails as proof, about those frayed pony hairs you braided into your own.
Really, this is about holding a streak of horse-fire in your soul.
Equus Ring
Last weekend I had one of those moments of insistant intuition, those moments where one has to drop EVERYTHING else and leap into the abyss of an idea.  I sketched and drew and sawed out this tiny thundering herd, not entirely sure where they would gallop but positive they needed life.  As they began to take shape, I thought about everything that the horse symbolizes to me; an open road, the afternoon sun, the start of a fresh journey, soulful travel and above all, the intimate connection with the wild.  I think when one had horse-fire in their blood it never leaves, but always courses with a whinny and a snort.
Equus Rings
The Equus Ring
(100% sterling silver)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sur Le Banc

Sur Le Banc
The sun is shining and four little silver ponies are running underfoot.  I'm off to give them a bath, a polish, a sip of cucumber-kale-lemon-juice and then a good gallop behind the cattle fields.  Tally ho!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Tree Hugger

I am a luck dragon
Five Things Friday (Tree Hugger)
It's Friday!
Have you hugged your tree yet?

I gave mine a squish, then greedily ate as many blackberries as I could find, and topped it off with every single ripe cherry tomato.  Really the garden is just a big cattle trough for me to wander along, snacking here and there a couple times a day.  Other than greens and zucchini, not much makes it in the house.  We're a whole family of omnivores; the puppies beg for strawberries, the kitties gnaw the snap peas (true story), and I eat carrots with the stems springing from my mouth like a jaunty pipe.  Kind of like a rabbit... hmmm...  So here's the question: what type of animal ARE you?  I'm afraid I'm some sort of piggy-rabbit-thoroughbred hybrid.  All legs and ears and quick rooting nostrils.  At least something like that.

Cheerio you summer thangs!
~ Umber ~

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Elevation Rings

Elevate Rings
sterling silver and nevada varicite

Rise up as if you were Hawk.
Lift your eyes and scan the horizon.
Acknowledge what you see without judgement.
Feel the wind, smell the air, hear the zephyrs.
* * *
If you've been here a while, you'll know I like to create work as personal reminders to myself.  Kind of like tying a string on your finger but so much more potent.  The words above are my loose personal interpretation of the lessons I've followed from an incredibly wise woman.  May we ALL elevate our heads, our hearts, our sight!
(in the shop now!)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


I finished her this morning.  Actually, I was close, so close late last night, painting with the windows open to the dark.  I brought her downstairs and hung her on the bedroom wall, facing the end of the bed, because when a painting is this close, I like to sleep with it close by.
When thunder shook the house in the wee hours and lightning blazed right through my eyelids, I awoke to the sound of a torrential downpour.  In the hazy black of night the owl glowed softly, just enough for me to sit up and make out her outline.  I felt safe.  Held.  Communal.
I'm still working on the official words for this painting, this Homage (for a great many of my paintings I like to write story-titles, a bit of poetic prose that serves as companion for the paint, as another doorway in which to enter a the painting), but I want to tell you some of the raw, perhaps unraveling, untidied thoughts behind it.  
It starts with this: we're moving, again.  Back north by the end of August.  We've known the move was eminent for months, and while it is deeply bitter-sweet, I can not deny that I know this chapter of life is drawing to a close.  So for months now I've been soaking up the land, willing my cerebral cortex to perfectly imprint the shape of every hillside, the bend of these redwoods in the wind, the scent of this dirt, the sound of this particular mix of flyers, the color of my river at sunset.  I've been promising to never forget, and offering thanks after thanks for all this land has gifted me.  It has been my place of healing, a place of quiet, of deep breath, of salt and tears and emotional stretch-marks.  It has been a refuge.  
But still.  I know in my bones, the time has come to leave the nest.  
So this painting, like so much of the work I've been creating through of late, is my small offering of gratitude to the land which has cradled me so well.
Tonight I know I'll sleep deeply under her guardian gaze.

(acrylic on canvas, 3' x 5')
(please please click on the image above - it will take you to my flickr page wherein you will be able to see this image MUCH larger!)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Gemma Grace
Gemma Grace
Gemma Grace
Now I know some of you may want to put up a fight, but I tell you true: my niece is the cutest little one year old dumpling on the face of the planet.
* * *
Happy First Birthday Baby Girl!
Your freshly smitten Aunt Umber

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Current List

I am just about to head into the studio; the pickle pot is warm, those berries are now history, the puppies are sleepy and the day has turned shockingly cold and misty for July.  But first I thought I would share a list with you, a list I sat down and took the time to write out over a cup of chai.
(and on that note, tell me if you're interested in the BEST recipe for a completely herbal, vegan "chai" - I'll gladly share)
I've been sparse on the web lately, sparse on words in general, but pouring every ounce of energy into the studio.  It's a building period, a time of stretching and growing, even if there is not too much to show.  I'm striving for deeper, richer, maybe a little raw around the edges, freer, lighter, and ever, ever truer.  Thinking on all this, I put pencil to paper and wrote out a short list of my current inspirations, those things I am thinking on, meditating on, working on when I sit down at the bench or tie my apron around my neck.
I'd love to share them with you.

~ The Current List of Inspiration ~

~ The lilting, curving, swooping flight patterns of swallows
~ Wild fennel blooms
~ Topographies, radiating landmasses, concentric circles
~ Vultures
The rich, undulating minty green of variscite 
~ The alizarin stain of raspberries on skin
~ Medicine wheels, cyclical imagery
~ Night creatures
~ The venation patterns of dragonfly wings and arugula blossoms
~ Wild grass seed heads in both their tightly woven geometry and nonsensical sprawl
~ Key holes, tiny windows, mysterious pockets that hold whole worlds within our world
~ Barn owls, always barn owls.

And sometimes, they all come together.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Bit Like She-Ra

 A few days ago this mug arrived via post, straight from 1986.  It's nostalgic like wearing silver moon boots with your pink ballet tutu.  It makes me feel a little bit like She-Ra, my ultimate childhood hero, and of Rainbow Bright (I'm reminded of the day I lost her fuzzy little rainbow friend at the laundry mat - this was one of those traumatic 5 year old tragedies that haunted me for years).  All I really wanted back then was a white unicorn with a multi-colored mane.  And maybe to find out that I was actually a princess, but if not, meh.  Truly I wanted to be a warrior more.  
So tell me, because now I'm curious: IF you were there, what was your best memory of the 80's?

By the power of Grayskull,
~ Umber ~

And p.s...
I've just placed a handful of Traveler Earrings in the shop for your flirty lobes!
I just realized this was my 500th bloggity blog post!
And of all the deep things, artsy things, things of beauty and life, I hit this mini monument talking about She-Ra.  So freaking awesome.