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Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Monday, March 25, 2013

On Practices and Stardust

How was your weekend?  Friday morning I woke early, in the pale blue dawn, to snowfall gently piling on the boxwoods.  I sat with Sancho and a steaming mug of tea on the sofa and wrote by that watery light for well over an hour.  Journaling is a funny business: truly it is a practice that can slip by, undone, for weeks at a time.  And when I crease open the pages again, I find my words come haltingly.  I over think, I under write.  I spew out hurt and am surprised (once again) that I allowed myself to hold space for it.  "Get it out on the page" I tell myself, "expel, expel."  For truly I desire to create a life brimming with whole love and encompassing beauty in all emotional states.  I desire to see the best in me, the best in others, the best in humanity.  And that too, is a practice.
* * *
Necessary Work
Sunday afternoon the sun pressed apart the clouds and every green thing arched toward the light.  I consider myself a rather green thing, and thusly, followed suite.  In the earlier weekend snow and wind, the cedar out front had dropped handfulls of bright new growth across the yard.  I gathered them up, tucked myself into the moss and grass out back, and wrapped a handful of mini smudge bundles.  Over the past couple years, smudging has become a practice near and dear my heart.  Every day, when I step into the studio, before I pull out silver and stone, I light a bundle.  I breath in that smoke, I envision it cleansing the stick and grit of life, I cleanse my tools, my room, the four corners, and I breath out intention.  Intention that the work of my hands be honest and true, that it speak the language of earth and spirit, of love and healing, that each piece find it's right human and bring a strong dose of joy.  And so, it is.
* * *
To Stardust
To Stardust
(earrings: two in sterling silver, three in sterling and brass)

A cosmic collection of astral passages, the trace of galactic history made tangible in tidy, lobe-sized memorandum.
Circling around so many of these thoughts (the inherent good of [wo]mankind, the desire to burn bright, the interconnectivity of life and work and practice and intention), I created this small collection of earrings.  They're lofty and uplifting, swinging comet tails to help raise your chin a little higher, glowing and weathered, just like each one of us.  Some in solid sterling, some in sterling and brass, but each one unique, hammer-formed into arching three-dimensional curves.  I kept a pair for myself, because you know I need me a lift to the stars too.
(you can find the whole collection in the shop now!)
* * *
Be well today you little starlettes!
The day is too glorious to ignore, so the pups and I are off to heed her siren's call and wander a mountainside.
It's good to be back.
~ U ~

Thursday, March 14, 2013


(I made you a video!  I could spend hours talking about process, searching, finding, inventing, discarding, but for right now, I'll just let you watch)
(18" x 24" acrylic on canvas)

There is more to fecundity than simply reproduction, the nuclear spark of two cells cosmically colliding.    This is about procreation, the birthing of tender green ideas, the fertility of a mind rich with seeds of imagination, the miracle of thought joining forces with action.  This is the act of making.  This is the divinely orchestrated path of sowing concepts, that they burst into life at the first light of day.  This is the patience of voluntary gestation and the release of the chimera.  This is the art of fecundity.
* * *

I'm off to ready myself for the opening at Ghost Gallery!  I wish you could all be there; I'd raise a glass to each and every one of you, even at the risk of tottering over in my heels, giddy with champagne.
It feels good to know the paintings are hung.  It felt glorious to deliver them yesterday.  And it will fill my heart to bursting to see them tonight.
~ Umber ~

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Saturday Morning

We stayed up late playing cards and polishing off wine bottles.  Now it's mid-morning and I'm still chewing on toast and sumo mandrines, with some incredible bed head, a second cup of joe, and the warmth of a full extroversion tank.
* * *

Friday, March 8, 2013

Know Thyself

Sometimes an idea tumbles around, gaining speed, picking up subtleties, for weeks.  Then one morning I wake and know exactly what it was meant to look like the entire time.

I'm talking about the good like work of mustering courage to look deep inside, and the love to make peace with what you find.  While I've not talked directly about it much in the public forum, this chapter in my life has been much dedicated to healing.  What started with physical healing, and lead into nutritional healing, has now rounded the curve toward emotional and spiritual work.  I'm spending more time (and financial resources) on ME than ever before and I tell you true: it does take an immense amount of courage.  But it also takes peace and gentleness towards self in great doses, and for me, that is the greater challenge.  I've had courage and confidence; they've always been my allies (I chalk it up to the belief that I must have been an Amazon warrioress in a past life), but gentleness and deep self love are learned traits.  And I'm working on it.
Aren't we all though?

Know Thyself Rings
(sterling silver and raw amethyst)

A few months back when I began researching the symbolism of stones, I began collection beautiful bits of amethyst.  Raw points, hunks of rough, polished cabs, they all speak to me of peace.  Of gentleness, of the strength that is born of loving-kindness.  Then, yesterday when I woke, the vision of how I wanted to begin this work in silver appeared so clear in my mind, I could have reach up and plucked it down.  So I warmed up the studio, made a chemex of coffee, shamefully put off all emails and correspondence, and let the metal flow.
(both rings will be in the shop shortly!)
* * *
Have a glorious weekend all! 
~ Umber ~

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wherein the Painting Groove is Found

There is just

Friday, March 1, 2013

A Bit on Good Medicine

Good Medicine: Feathered
(watercolor on fabriano wc paper)

I've been speaking of "good medicine" for some time now, and it's finally coming out in watercolor.  Mind if I tell you this week's story?
Monday was rough.  Somedays are like that; the tired old voices of doubt and scarcity sit heavy upon the chest until a deep, full breath is near impossible to be had.  The old self-care tricks seem feeble and single-note.  I arrived home from banality of errands ready to write the day off, stepped out of the jeep, and into a circle of feathers ringing the cedar.  The reality of death and the truth of life cycles cut through the fog.  
Here was something sacred: 
One life in exchange for another.  I hoped it was my peregrine, grown into adulthood.  I gathered the feathers with ruddy, freezing fingers, that no part should go to waste.  I preened through them, noting small color variations, laying out a wing's worth of flight feathers.  And in that gift, I re-found my light.
* * *
Sometimes Good Medicine is straight-forward; a gift arrives in the midst of shadow and brings back the light.  But more often I find the process subtle, requiring our open minds, receptive hearts and disciplined spirit.  Sometimes good medicine is held within historical symbolism, in a stone that offers luck and protection, in a leaf that heals the heart, in a creature that teaches us to use our voice.  There is magic in belief, but just as much magic in intention and self-written mantras.  When I go nestering, when I gather those natural homes on mantles and arrange them on walls, I think of them as tiny vessels of safety, of warmth and comfort, as places to gestate ideas and plans, as home, a concept this nomadic spirit craves deeply.  Thinking of them this way brings me comfort and joy; indeed they are good medicine for my soul.  
* * *
One day I as I wore flicker feathers in my hair (ok, that's most days), I was stopped by a silver haired woman who nodded as she spoke: "Flicker feathers, from the flicker who carries our prayers to the heavens."  And now, every time I pin them into my curls I think of her words and give whisper to a tiny prayer for the day.  To me it matters less whether those prayers are actually reaching heaven with a winged creature; it is all in the reminder to pray, to breath out deep hopes and beautiful intentions, because that creates the state in which I wish to walk through my days.  
And to me, that is Good Medicine.
* * *

As a final note, I've been remiss!  This watercolor, plus the few other I've shown here and on my Flickr  (hehe) page are destined for my upcoming show at Ghost Gallery here in Seattle!  The show opens with the art walk on March 14 which means I need to keep those brushes busy!  For all you locals, I'll keep you posted with the details shortly.  Until then, the studio calls and I shall answer.
~ Umber ~