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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Today I am losing one of my best friends in this world.  My Thai, who has been my heart and constant for these last 12 1/2 years.  

I am broken.

Friday, October 26, 2012


It's an Autumnal Bounty!
I'm finally feeling on the mend (thank you, THANK YOU!!! for all the get-well-wishes; I think that's what did the trick), so first thing this morning I slipped into the studio to finish up a few pairs of Hawthorn: Good Medicine earrings for you!  They'll be in the shoppero momentarily...
* * *

I have questions and requests for you if you'll be so kind as to oblige!
(first request)
I need a new soup recipe.
I think if BC comes home to one more pot of Tom Yum or Lentil Surprise (which it is, every time), he may resort to pizza delivery.  Have you made anything delicious lately?  It's that season wherein all I want to do is sip something hot and bake pumpkin muffins.  And run.  Actually I want to eat pumpkin muffins three times a day, and therefore I run.  It's a win-win. 
(second request)
I need the title of the best work of fiction you've read lately.  
See, here's the story: I am now once again in possession of a bathtub long enough and deep enough to comfortably fit nearly six feet of me.  Which I nearly am.  Those other tubs, the common ones?  I have to fold up like a circus act to fit inside, legs tucked at awkward angles, elbow poking over the sides, head craning around like a periscope; it's a regular show just to see me try and get into one.
But now I'm bathing in comfort and frequency, which means my book reading has just been turned up to the level marked "voracious."  And I'm fresh out.  
Please do oblige.
* * *

And I have an announcement!  
I have had the honor of being asked to TEACH at a truly powerful women's art-spirit-soul retreat next Spring!  I'll be packing my bags and heading out to Virginia to Soul Fire Retreats in February to share my brand new workshop "Awakening the Muse."  In one day sessions we'll work through ideas of what it means to build a personal, visual vocabulary, how to really listen to the truth inside and translate it into imagery!  It's a topic I've become so passionate about; this idea that each and every one of us is a creative being with a unique voice - that we have a core of inspiration that is always with us, it just sometimes needs to be dusted off and polished up.

As much as I want to post up in my little studio perch and do nothing but make art all day, I've had a deep, rumbling desire to work with women in expanding, deepening and truly delving into their own art.  I feel in my bones that I need to, want to work with artists and creatives, sharing the knowledge and experience that I have.  There will be much, much more on this front later, but for now, know that big things are on the horizon.
* * *

Wishing you a toasty, slurpy, pumpkiny, costumed weekend!
~ Umber ~

Thursday, October 25, 2012

It looks like this

It looks like this
A bright red nose and chain-drinking tea.  Avocado peels still on the kitchen counter, along with the rest of breakfast's dishes.  Robins splashing in the birdbath.  A sky so brightly grey I squint behind sunglasses.  We're nearly out of toilet paper due to the continual sneeze fits, as well as licorice tea and anything that might someday resemble a green juice.  I wear pajamas disguised as thick leggings and cable knit sweaters.  Neighbors baking sugar cookies, the scent intoxicating.  Bathing with slices of whole fresh ginger.  From the studio the peregrine winks from her twelve inches of canvas while the wolf, shadowy in outline still, leaps through a dusky sky.  The trashy remains of a manicure sparkle on thumbs, the rest picked off during a body-flu-movie-marathon.  Words of wisdom from soul sisters float against the ceiling:
"You are earth's daughter.  You are always on time.  And you are right sized for the life you wish to lead."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hawthorns - Good Medicine Rings

I ought to tell you that these rings began in a cable knit sweater, in a fine Seattle drizzle, standing under a row of Hawthorns tip-toeing into their full autumnal regalia.
Hawthorn: Good Medicine Rings
Let me back up, tell you where I began.
I've been getting to know my trees.  I suppose I've always been getting to know my trees, but now that I'm back in the land of the deciduous, I'm trying to learn their proper properties.
I don't profess to be an identification expert - far from it in fact - but I love to know who is what and what is whom and who can I eat if I'm ever lost in the woods.

Wait.  Let me back up a little farther.
Last week I had a conversation with a very wise woman who happens to be an herbalist.  She told me about her treks into the deep, wet, Washington woods, heading out on the weekends to search out specific plants, harvest them and then preserve their individual good medicine.  She said to me "this month I'm spending time with the Hawthorns, sitting with them, tasting them, listening to them, touching them, just getting to know them."  She said "you need to look for the Hawthorns; they're full of good heart medicine, good for your soul, good for your joy, good for your blood pressure too."

So I took her advice:
I came home, looked them up, strolled outside and sure enough, realized there are no less than six growing right here in my wild city property, fingery leaves swinging clusters of bright red berries.   They're slipping into Fall, slick green turning bright and brassy, padding the moss below with a golden blanket.  Higher up, the squirrels leap precariously with crimson laden twigs, stockpiling berries in their fattened bellies for winter.  This weekend I plan on collecting my own berry cache, drying some for tea, soaking some for tintures, putting up that good medicine for the dark days when my heart is heavy and I need a fresh burst of antioxidants.
But in the meantime I did as I tend to do:
Walk around in the mist.  Scour the edges of the yard for feathers.  Nibble on berries.  Collect handfuls of leaves.  Make a pot of tea.  Stare out the studio windows.  Sketch.  Write.  And then when I'm ready, sing some silver into form.

Hawthorn:  Good Medicine Rings
(sterling silver and [top] royston turquoise, [bottom] carnelian)

(you know where you can find them!)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Twelve Months, Part One

Have I mentioned 2013 is fast approaching?  Along with a host of thundering, flapping, leaping, floating, climbing, flying beasts?

Well they are.
Welcome to the first sneak peek of the paintings for the 2013 UmberDove Calendar!

I'm hoping to have everything finished and back from the printers around the end of the month, but soon there will be calendars for all!  The week before the calendars are available I'll offer up all twelve of these babies of mine, these original paintings (12'x12") on canvas.  In the meantime, sneak peeks galore!
* * *

I haven't chosen months yet for these babies, and would love to hear your instinctual feelings!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Good Morning!
Good Morning!

It's officially fall in Seattle: the streets are thick with golden leaves, I'm in wool sweaters and double cups of coffee, the hawthorn berries are ripe for plucking (hey!  has any one out there ever made a tincture with the berries?  I'm thinking of giving it a whirl this weekend...) and my new non-holy (hehe - so good they're sinful!) boots are a daily staple.

Way back, when we moved to Seattle the first time I had a friend tell me spring here would break open my heart.  It's truly lovely and I swoon like a Victorian lady under the cherry blossoms, but there is something about Autumn here that hold me captive.  It smells like wood smoke and damp moss.  It sounds like raindrops slithering through the olive leaves.  It looks like a sea of mustard and rust and fuzzy grey.  I love it.

Today feels light.

A dearest of dear friends just came to town and I've got a breakfast date in thirty minutes.  I suppose this means I ought to put on socks and pin the flicker feathers in my curls (I've been wearing them all week.  Thank you Flickers!  I appreciate you!) and brush this first round of coffee off my teeth.

I'm sending you my joy today!  Hey!  There it is!
~ Umber ~

p.s.  I couldn't help myself... I needed more Odonatas in my life!  You can find them in the shop now!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Just This

And all is right with the world
Hike it in
Sweat it out
And all is right in the world.

Sketchbook Writings

~ From my Sketchbook Writings, October 8th 2012 ~

It began like any other weekday morning.
7:15.  Cold black nose on my chin.  Sunlight in harsh vertical lines across the mirror.
And somewhere between slipping on dirty jeans and grinding coffee beans, that light turned sour.
Perhaps sour is too easy of a word.  Perhaps crushing existential crisis is more apt.
Shaking fingertips.  The taste of bile.
So naturally I did the dishes left over from last night.  Recklessly clanged vintage plates.  Angrily chopped a pear.  Beat the hell out of a pomegranate.
It's a lovely misguided logic, this belief that if the body spins in busyness, the mind will have no time to wander dark hallways.
So I poured almonds into a dry pan on medium heat.  Picked up dog food bowls.  Tidied the floor.
From outside BC called in a hash whisper.
Out front, in the tallest cedar, the one with ruddy bark that leaves bits of itself all over the cars, there was a dash.
A squawk.  A clammer of claws on limbs and feathers in evergreens.
Not more than twelve feet up, a young peregrine craned her neck back and forth looking for the squirrel she had cornered.  What ensued was a desperate dance for life, the squirrel spinning around the trunk, freezing under thick branches.  The peregrine plunging perilously through foliage, swinging tight to the cedar with a pivot off a single clawed foot.  They spun, danced, screeched, froze, crept, leapt up and down that tree for who knows how long.  Twice she sailed out close enough for me to brush a wingtip or feel that banded tail.  
I whispered to BC, 
"There are almonds burning on the stove,"
but I didn't move.
The one who came to visit
I was holding my breath for her, in her awkward juvenile attempts.  I wanted her strong, I wanted her well fed, but more than anything I wanted her to come back and visit me in this odd urban oasis of mine. 
* * *

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Some of the very first pieces of silver work I offered up were my Odonata earrings.  Wings, freshly sprouted, ready to embark upon a new adventure, airy, delicate, bright and of course, turquoise.  I kept a pair for myself, a reminder of where I began, of spreading my own wings to take that leap.

Lately the wings have been back.
They spring up from the corners of the sketchbook, they layer subtly in the background of the paintings and now, they have found their way into the silver.

I think this is no random coincidence.  If everything cycles and breathes, in, out, summer, winter, silence and song, then naturally that itch along my spine is a new set of wings.

I made these ones for you, just in case you need a little lift on the wind current when you jump.

(Odonata Rings and Necklace)
(Nevada Variscite, Royston Ribbon Boulder Turquoise, Sterling Silver, Copper and YES, why that IS enamel!)
(heading into the shop shortly...)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Day in the Life of The Dove (All Things Crisp and Bright)

[A photographic account of a single day in my life, a morning out, an afternoon in, an evening quiet]

- Tuesday October 2nd 2012 -

7:14 am 
7:49 am 
8:57 am
 9:07 am
 9:15 am
 9:54 am
10:36 am
 11:08 am
 11:15 am
 12:25 pm
 12:57 pm
 1:47 pm
2:01 pm
 3:02 pm
3:59 pm 
4:54 pm
 6:08 pm
 6:52 pm
6:57 pm
8:00 pm
8:47 pm
10:54 pm

~ Umber ~