“Painting is easy when you don’t know what you’re doing, but very difficult when you do.” – Edgar Degas
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” Dr. Suess
This doctor gives great advice! Why do some of us ( Um, me ) have a tendency to shrink ourselves for the sake of being concerned what others will think ? I love it when I meet people that have moved on from the opinions of “others,” they are a breath of fresh air and an inspiration to be around.
I believe this 4th song in my challenge constitutes as a Ditty, in that it’s short, simple (and I think, a little cute). The inspiration for it came when my husband was reading inscriptions from his parent’s wedding guest book from 1948 the other day. Reg, just home from WW2, and Florence, a young accomplished bagpiper, were both born and raised and living in Parry Sound Ontario, where they remained after marrying, raised their children, and died in old age. Some of the entries in the guest book, I’m yours until butter flies, and, Yours until the kitchen sinks, written by their friends piqued my sweetness bone and I thought, why not a song with those play on words? So I did.
I’m Yours D.Brint April 4, 2021
From the moment my eyes fell upon your face
Is the moment I knew my heart had found its place
My world stopped the day you took my hand
Birds sang, flowers bloomed, there was peace upon the land
I’m yours till butter flies, until the bed springs
Till thunder storms and Niagara falls
Until tulips kiss and the kitchen sinks
When hot dogs bark and the barn dances
As the years gather and the road behind us long
There’ll be no doubt in our hearts it’s here where we belong
I wouldn’t change a thing in this life I have with you
And I count my blessings it’s me you took a shine to
I’m yours till butter flies, until the bed springs
Till thunder storms and Niagara falls
Until tulips kiss and the kitchen sinks
Till hot dogs bark and the barn dances
I took my mugs off to be bisque fired on Sunday, and I’m also looking forward to trying out some underglaze pastel crayons I bought, along with an underglaze pencil. Unlike liquid underglazes, to use crayons and pencils the clay must have been bisque fired first to make the surface hard enough to work on; so I left a couple of mugs and a vase plain as samples to practice on.
I don’t have a kiln at home, but my artist/potter neighbour down the road does. We’ve worked out an arrangement that benefits us both. So I pack up my work in a bin and run it over to her place either with the help of a girlfriend with a car, or load it into my wheelbarrow. ( Reminder, I live on a tiny island.)
The week’s also been spent settling in with our new dog Sequoia, a Boarder- Heeler cross and an amazingly smart girl! She’s taken to her new home like a champ, and is a perfect fit for us! It’s been twenty years since we lost our last dog, a Schipperke named Smokey. He also was an awesome little guy who came to us at three years old from the local SPCA. Took to our family as if he was born to us. Still miss him.
I’ve been having a lot of fun with my Sunday Original Song Challenge, although having headaches with consistent posting of the videos via Youtube! I thought I had the wrinkles ironed out, only to find another wrinkle. None-the-less, they’ll get posted each Sunday. So far this song challenge is becoming rather cathartic for me; different from just journaling and Morning Pages.
Today the sun is shining, a beautiful spring day, and beckons me outside to think over the vegetable garden plot and its preparations to be made, and to play in the yard with my hound 🙂 ~
“To practice any art, no matter how well or how badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Just do it.” Kurt Vonnegut
The work is important in that it isn’t “Important.” It’s all in the doing. Watch a toddler with paper and paint. She creates like it’s the most natural thing to do, and isn’t it? It doesn’t matter what the subject matter is and of course it doesn’t matter how it “Looks.” A toddler doesn’t care, she is absorbed in the moment, and as adults looking on we don’t care either. It’s beautiful, whatever it is they’ve made, it’s genius. Let’s be that!
Just finished the second song in the challenge! I was soooo busy this week with family (my bubble) and lots of activity, I was worried I wouldn’t get a song down before today. Worked all day yesterday on it, starting by just writing on a theme to see what would come out, then carved out some stanzas. This is a real challenge. The songwriting process is fascinating, even if the results are not. For instance this song went through a massive transformation in one day. I had an entirely different meter going, and longer lyrics. Then I tried putting a melody to it, and was having some, well, a lot of, difficulty; more I think because my guitar playing is rudimentary, to be generous. It’s ok to keep it simple! I’ve heard songwriters when interviewed asked the question; ‘what comes first the lyric or the melody?’ I think I’ve discovered I must begin with the melody and fit the lyric to it.
Pathless Road, D Brint 2021
Spent a long time passing through rooms that led down dark hallways
Through doors leading nowhere, no direction to guide me
I’m as rootless as a cloud
My heart in my hand, collecting broken pieces I thought I could mend
Pathless road don’t own me
Don’t lead me astray, and make it hard to find my way
Finding footholds made of sand and shifting stone
My hands remained empty, in the end I stood alone
Not every smile is a home
Nothing to give, but still wanting more
Pulling blood from a stone
My heart felt squandered and misused, desired for meaning
Questions unanswered, barely left beating
Then I touched down
To ground unmoving, and arms embracing
A heart’s that’s true.
This week was spent in the full gratitude of the gifts in my life. Not that each week, each moment, isn’t, but there are times when it is overflowing. When I can look at my life, and those in my life, and wonder how so much has unfolded in a most fortunate way. My path wasn’t a clear and informed one, more a bumbling, meandering one loaded with naiveté, where things could’ve gone sideways at several junctures over the years, but somehow I got lucky and landed in the embrace of grace and fulfillment. And most important is the deep thankfulness that those who were subjected to share my bumpy road have excelled, I’m looking at you Z & J, and thrive in spite of the challenges, and who give me my greatest inspiration. I am revelling in their triumphs.
To add to the gifts, I have acquired a dog. A re-homing of my daughter’s one year old boarder collie/blue heeler cross who is named Sequoia, but goes by Squilly. She’s a beauty; gentle and intelligent. My daughter and her husband’s busy life couldn’t give her the attention she needed right now, so she’s come to my little island and made herself quite to home. The timing was perfect, I had begun to look for a four legged addition to our home, and Bob and I had already fallen in love with Squilly from previous visits, and taking her would keep her in the family, so it was a good fit for all concerned.
And spring is here with its wind, clouds, sun, rain (all in one day), the promise of growth and abundance and preparing the garden for planting, something I look forward to each year. My mugs are off to the bisque fire, I’ve got a song to nail down, and I’m putting together some ideas to open my studio in May to my neighbourhood, and begin to sell some of my work. This is more an incentive to encourage me to continue to be productive, if at least to fund the material so I can continue my studio work.
“Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing.”
– Georgia O’Keeffe
Georgia O’keeffe is one of my favourite artists. And I also admire her character, she was so much her own person. And I love this quote for its forthright grounding in reality. Drop the pretence, the striving, and contortions to grab the proverbial gold ring, it’s only a mirage. Simply make your unknown known. Then take a long solitary walk in the foot hills of Taos. (ah, if only)
Ok, here goes, first song of the challenge. I’m not sure if I have the kinks ironed out regarding posting videos on my blog. My first attempt failed yesterday and I pulled the post because the video wouldn’t display, and please let me know if there is an issue on your end. ( Thanks Marilee! ) This is a project I have been wanting to launch for some time; I’ve challenged myself with an overly ambitious exercise to write one original song a week, for as many weeks as I can, and post it. This might, no, I’m certain, will result in some lame ass material, so, goofy or not, you’re welcome to watch me fumble through.
This song is in response to the front line workers over the past year. Seven Bells is 7 pm when we all went out on our balconies and decks to give our thanks ~
HERO’S D. Brint, 2021
In the light that’s slowly fading, over empty city streets
Another shift is starting, shuffled in on tired feet
And they’re close to collapsing, from long hours on the line
And they crave what their heart’s thirsting
Just an end to these hard times
Marches and angry hollers, holding out their flags of doom
Their rhetorics hard to swallow, while we drown in this monsoon
But the giving that you’re giving, all the hearts that you have won
What will shine as bright as ever, is the work that you have done
A mother without her child, a husband without his wife
Behind these walls they’re exiled, In their last moments of life
And it’s you who held their hand, when no one could be there
We’re walking through a wasteland
Littered with our thoughts and prayers
Seven Bells called us out of hiding
With shouts of praise, this war that you’re fighting
Sound the drum for the bullets that you’re biting
You’ll walk the boulevard as hero’s
Completed under-glazing my mugs. Each one different; seems I can’t repeat myself. Well, I have a couple of fruit motifs, but It would certainly be a faster process if I had set pattern or motif for all my mugs. But no. Too boring. Every piece is pondered over, held, and stared at for many, many (ahem, many) minutes before I make a mark. But, I am still exploring the process too, so I want to try different things. I’m playing with rubbing off some of the colour, and using sgraffito, and loving the process. I use a limited palette; Red, Blue, Yellow, Black, white, and for fun, turquoise. I can mix pretty much all the colours I need with Primary colours, and it’s cost effective too.
Underglazes are similar to working with water colour or acrylics, and so versatile in expression. The only tricky part is the applied colours change somewhat in the final firing so I’m never positive how the end product will look. It’s a surprise when the kiln is opened. Fingers crossed the final firing comes out well, a lot of head scratching went into each piece!
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” Pablo Picasso
So much depends on just showing up to the canvas, the page, the wheel. Picking up the instrument. Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art has a great quote by the playwright Somerset Maugham that nails it.
“I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”
Even if it means sitting and staring at the canvas, the page, etc, for an hour and a half, you show up. This is such an important key to tapping into the creative process, not to wait for inspiration or the right “mood,” but to show up, ready and open. Even it’s to stare into space for an hour, I’m here and ready. And If I become tired of staring then I start, make some move, to engage, and even if it’s crap, something may very well come out of it. If not, that’s ok, tomorrow I’ll be back at the “desk”. Same time same place.
I mentioned in a previous post I was working on a non fiction short story to submit to the CBC competition for a deadline of midnight Sunday, February 28. On Saturday I worked all day on it, a lot of final editing; moving whole paragraphs, and after I felt it was what I wanted I recorded it. I do this so I can hear back how it ‘moves’. On Sunday morning when I opened the story I discovered all the editing I did the day before wasn’t there, I must have forgotten to hit the save button, although I do remember saving it. sigh. But thankfully I had a recording. I listened to it and wrote it down, but didn’t have time to get to the submission page; my son and family came for the day, until 8:30. As soon as they left I was back at the computer to tidy the story and do a final read through. By 11:00 I went to the submitting page. It wasn’t there. Then I realized the midnight deadline was Eastern Time. Arrrrrrrgh! Which translates to Nine O’clock pacific time. Drat. Consolation? It will be ready for next time.
Then I spent two and half days doing what I shall refer to as Tech days. And it doesn’t pertain to anything creative, but did well to demonstrate the elasticity of my patience! I’ll just say it involved buying a new device to upgrade our long time woeful internet speed from 1.05 to 25, and also bought an upgraded streaming device, (two of my streaming subscriptions would no longer work on the old device) and long phone sessions with a few different providers. And some more Arrrrgh. But good to go now.
Ok, wiping my hands of all that business. Back to the studio ~
“To be a creator is to invite others to load their slingshots with rocks of disparagement and try to shoot you down,”
Grant Faulkner from his article, Overcoming Creative Wounds
Everyone’s got an opinion. We are hard wired for critical thinking, judging, assessing. It’s part of our survival mechanism, part of our Fight or Flight response. Reactions and judgements to something new or different that saved our skin, prehistoric and modern. Will this hurt me? Can I use/eat this? What the hell is that!? But in some cases it’s just jealously. Some don’t want to see you do something innovative or unique- because they didn’t think of it first!
Of course the antidote is to push through, deflecting the slings and arrows and to carry on. Easier said than done though ~
Taking a daily early morning walk is a practice I’ve begun to do, and find I am relishing this time I spend; pre-dawn, just enough light to see where my foot falls and where the pot holes lie. Where I live we have gravel roads, and only a couple of street lights. There is no traffic, no sidewalks. Only sea, and trees, and sky.
Living on a small island has a multitude of benefits, one of which is the carefree ability to walk at any hour of day or night in relative safety. Here I am among an extended family of sorts. As I pass houses I know many of the people inside who are just beginning to stir, a light being turned on, a fire being stoked in the wood stove. Many of them I’ve known for over thirty years.
If I hear a shuffle behind me in the dark, it is a deer moving from its night resting place, or an owl swooping from its oak branch perch, or just the wind.
What I love about my morning walk is the solitary time. Because it’s dark outside I’m not distracted, my mind and imagination can work. I can move my body in a rhythmical stride and it becomes almost a walking meditation. I will encounter no one on the road either, not until seven perhaps, when people are on their way to the ferry or their boats, or bringing their dogs out for a walk, or joggers.
On my most recent walk, I had a clear insight into a perspective on the story I’m currently working on. By the time day breaks I have made my way to the South end of my island to watch the sun rise, and I find some inspiration in some photographic opportunities, feeding my creativity further. These walks are like an “Artist’s Date” for me.
And as the sun rises I feel all the opportunity and potential that a new day brings with it. I’m always lifted by this, optimistic for what I could do in a day, eager to start, even if I don’t start anything of note other than the laundry. And I’m grateful even so.
I’ve been slow to understand that a belief in ones self and abilities is the foundation to everything worthwhile. And I mean slow- I’m sixty-two. It would’ve been great to figure this shit out when I was a nineteen year old art major, I might’ve gotten somewhere with it. But I saw myself falling into this debilitating pattern of believing that I didn’t have the “Real” talent or skill, or confidence. But others? Sure. They must be more, know more, smarter. I could not see myself as a professional artist. So I didn’t take my art seriously; including the art education I had received, sorry mom, dad, or any other talent I may have, like singing. I coulda gone places, I’m pretty sure now. This belief pattern has stifled years of the opportunity to build on a creative, artistic life. Drat. And thanks for nothing, hindsight.
In High school I was put into an art majors program. Upon my graduation my art teacher wrote on my transcript that I need to pursue this, that he didn’t want to see me become a Sunday Painter. I didn’t become a Sunday Painter. But maybe I should have, at least I would’ve painted once a week!
After graduation I went on to Banff School of Fine Art in Alberta for a summer session. When my parents asked would I like to enrol for a year, I said – no. I had a (fricken) boyfriend back home. I still get nauseous when I regurgitate this memory. Not the boyfriend, at the time he was great, but, me turning this opportunity down turns my stomach to this day.
An aside to that story: My boyfriend was also an art student and we went on to college together that September. In our second year he was accepted on a student exchange to Florida for the year. I wasn’t and stayed behind at our Vancover Island College. So, there ya go.
During my solo second year at college towards a degree in Fine Art, I became involved in theatre. I sang for the first time on stage, I joined a band that had a loyal following. When then it came time to continue on to University to complete my BFA, I bailed. Because I met a man. Oh to go back and slap my young self.
But I continued with sabotage. I was a champ. Every move I made where I had the potential to launch myself in a worthwhile endeavour, to finish my degree, to paint madly and mount a show, to sing, I’d never take the bait. I always felt I wasn’t enough, that I was an imposter, or that relationship was more important.
This has been my life’s pattern.
So, what troubles me is why we lack belief in ourselves. Part of us knows we are qualified or talented or skilled, but some other part of us says naw, you better step aside and let the other more qualified, talented, skilled do the thing. Even when the road before us is clear. I know I’m not alone in this, it’s a universal neurosis. How can we be our own worst enemy? If anyone should be rooting for us it should be – US! If you can’t find a supportive friend in yourself, then where? Who? Why do we self sabotage? It’s what I did throughout my entire youth, my twenties ….and thirties……and….ok, my entire life thus far.
That pattern stops here. Ok, it’s a process. I’m continuing to work through it, and I am making inroads into what has been blocking me.
I’m asking more questions than having answers for because I’m still searching for the answers. I had mentioned somewhere earlier in a blog post that I’ve been working through The Artists Way book with the goal to tease out some of these answers. It’s been instrumental for me. I still continue with writing my morning pages, a year now. I think by doing that work it has brought me to this point where I can see things a bit more accurately. It’s enabled me to stand stronger in my convictions to recover what I tossed mindlessly aside, who I am, in trade for not being abandoned. To please.
I’ve maybe disclosed more than anyone probably cares to hear, but it’s all about self reclamation here. Creative Recovery. I need to hear it. Am I exceptionally talented? Not at all. And that’s what’s important for me to understand. That it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you think I am or not. But the work I do is important. It matters.
Am I too late? No, there is no time limit, there is no age limit. It’s about picking up where I left off, except this time I have intention. An awareness about myself. Finally. But I have it, so that’s a start. That’s a good start.
Just back from Salmon Arm visiting my daughter, her husband and my two granddaughters, one of which we celebrated her third birthday.
I managed to get the final glazing done on a batch of mugs and bowls before I left. Still working on getting the size of my mugs right, and to get that perfect “Lip” on the rim. I use underglazes to create my patterns and designs, the final glaze is a clear glaze on the bisque ware.
Here are the under-glazed pieces before I coated them in the final fire glaze:
Here is one of the mugs, bisque fired and ready for final fire glazing. The size is better, I’ve been more aware to make the mugs on the large size to compensate for shrinkage. Most of my past mugs have come out of the bisque fire rather teensy.
Then there is this bowl. I was attempting my first ever large bowl when it suddenly collapsed. I was about to pull it off when I noticed it fell into a pleasing way. It had a shape. It could still be something. I thought, meh, fruit bowl?
So I left it on the wheel for a day to set up, and then removed it to a board to dry further so I could clean up the bottom. Then I painted a poppy image on it, and hope for the best! Below is the bisque fired piece.
I hadn’t played my guitar or had done any writing over the week I was away in Salmon Arm, a house with two toddlers is a BUSY house. Now I’m home, that’s deathly quiet, and back to my creative practices. On this stormy, rainy October day it was spent in the kitchen making tomato jam and figuring out what treats to make for the ghosts and goblins that will be coming by my door in a few days.