Sunday, June 10, 2018

Artual (Art + ritual) for living Wendy Hollender

Wendy Hollender Drawing
“A weed is but an unloved flower.” 

― Ella Wheeler Wilcox

“It was such a pleasure to sink one's hands into the warm earth, to feel at one's fingertips the possibilities of the new season.” 
― Kate MortonThe Forgotten Garden

“Gardening is akin to writing stories. No experience could have taught me more about grief or flowers, about achieving survival by going, your fingers in the ground, the limit of physical exhaustion.” 
― Eudora Welty

Acorn by Wendy Hollender
A month ago, while I was at my writing conference, T planted tomatoes and peppers. T had grown them from our southern window over the last two months. Saddly my worries came true. I was afraid they wouldn't make it out in the community garden. I wasn't concerned about the last frost date in Ohio (Mother’s Day Weekend), but the heavy rains or lack of rain. Baby plants are fragile. The poor things were taken out by a hail storm.

I love spring in Ohio. The trees are white and purple with blossoms and last week some trees glowed with a green mist: buds about to burst into leaves. In April, T and I had planted potatoes, onions, salad food, and peas. T finds the gradual covering over of potato shoots meditative. I’m in the garden experience for the eating of beans and peas off the vine. The garden is thriving in June and unusually un-weedly for us. 
Several weeks ago, I watched an interview with Wendy Hollender, a botanical artist, teacher, and author of Foraging & Feasting; A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook. Her medium of choice is coloured pencils and uses watercolour as an underpainting. See above is one of her drawings -- very realistic. She is a teacher who puts her students at easy, because she taught viewers her method to draw an acorn. However, what really interested me was her dedication to a plant per year.

Wendy described how she chooses a plant or tree to study for the year. She introduces herself in the fall and gives a gratitude offering to the plant. This is a plant she will visit daily on her walk. Wendy next showed the viewers several pages of her oak tree study that moved through the seasons. The fall showed a branch with leaves in various stages of drying out and nutmeg and cinnamon colors. There were several acorns and around the drawings questions: How do the leaves change and why? How many oak trees are there in the world? How old to they get? She treats these as interview questions to get to know the plant better.


Get outside and adopt a plant or tree for the season. Provide an offering to it and say hi. If you are bold sketch the plant and ask questions. On the red line, share the name of the plant or tree you have adopted.


See Wendy in action in a One Minute Video “How to Draw a Cherry Tomato.”

“How to draw an acorn”

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Soulandalas: Coursera Final Project

This is my artwork I created for Healing in the Arts offered by Coursera.  Following my soulandalas you will find a narrative of how I created these pictures. 

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”
“I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don't want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift.”
Shauna Niequist

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”
Herman Melville
“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”
Brené Brown
“When someone tells me "no," it doesn't mean I can't do it, it simply means I can't do it with them.”  Karen E. Quinones Mille
“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn't try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn't need others' approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.”
Lao Tzu
“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit”
E.E. Cummings
“Risk anything! Care no more for the opinion of others ... Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth." (Journal entry, 14 October 1922)”
Katherine Mansfield, Journal of Katherine Mansfield    

“Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations


“Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird,
That cannot fly.”
Langston Hughes

“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.”
Emily Dickinson

Divine Mystery

“Because you’re a creation of God, you reflect the Divine qualities of creativity, wisdom, and love.”
Doreen Virtue

“We can see the Divine in each speck of dust, but that doesn't stop us from wiping it away with a wet sponge. The Divine doesn't disappear; it's transformed into the clean surface.”
Paulo Coelho, The Witch of Portobello    


“I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it's the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It's probably the most important thing in a person.”
Audrey Hepburn

“I don't trust anyone who doesn't laugh.”
Maya Angelou

“Life is worth living as long as there's a laugh in it.”
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables    

Self Compassion

“Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”
Louise L. Hay, You Can Heal Your Life    

“Talk to yourself like a cherished friend. Treat yourself with love and care. You are perfect, just as you are.”
Amy Leigh Mercree, The Compassion Revolution: 30 Days of Living from the Heart    


“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.”
Maya Angelou

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”
Mahatma Gandhi

“Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations    

Worthy of Love

“Life is too short to waste any amount of time on wondering what other people think about you. In the first place, if they had better things going on in their lives, they wouldn't have the time to sit around and talk about you. What's important to me is not others' opinions of me, but what's important to me is my opinion of myself.”
C. JoyBell C.

“When you're different, sometimes you don't see the millions of people who accept you for what you are. All you notice is the person who doesn't.”
Jodi Picoult, Change of Heart    

What did I do for my project?
I have been contemplating my next career journey.  My path will come to a fork in the road within seventeen months.  During this time, I’ve been exploring “What’s next?”  There are many possibilities to choose from that weren’t available when I was twenty.  In January, I began a year-long class: Come to the Fire (Heidi Sequoia Moondancer).  It is an on-line intentional creativity class to discover our sacred self.  Each week, I’m given a creative journal/art prompt.
Back in January, this month was devoted to my intentions for the New Year.  I wrote in my journal about where I was and what I wanted to bring into the different aspects of my life (e.g., spiritually, family, career).  To develop affirmations was an output of this exercise.  Since January, I have continued to explore these affirmations including what my life would be like if I embraced them fully.
You might say, this class fell into my lap.  Again being open to Spirit, I signed up.  I saw it as another way to explore my “words” by using different forms of art (i.e., music and dance).

Table:  Concepts to bring into my life:

Words                      Ideas Holding me back
Divine Mystery      Disappearance of Spirit
Laughter                      Sadness
Confidence              Distrust, Doubt and Uncertainties
Hope                      Pessimism
Joy                              Depression, Unhappy, Serious
Worthy of Love      Unloved
Strength                      Weakness
Self-Love              Self-hating and Indifferent

Why I chose my project?
My project is a combination of journaling and drawing mandalas or Soulandalas.  Soulandals is a concept that Jackie DeBlasio coined.  Mandalas are drawn over journal entry.  The design is a way for the soul to express visually what is written.  She writes drawing the repetitive designs often reveal messages that one might not recognize through word.  This art form, she believes allows one to look at the messages of the inner critic and identify if stories are align with what one wants in life.  Creating a mandala can change the story and provide a visual of what is possible.

I took my words (see table above) and began creating soulandalas for each of them.  My journal entry discussed what was holding me back, but I also wrote what my life would be like if I had this in it.  I would start the “word” off by reading quotes from Goodreads.  For example within my journal entry for self-confidence is a quote from Karen E. Quinones Mille: “When someone tells me "no," it doesn't mean I can't do it, it simply means I can't do it with them.”  I would also look up symbolism and colors associated with the words.  Again, referring to my “confidence” soulandalas, I used gold and blue associated with confidence and a peacock feather design that symbolizes: vision, awaking and (inner) guidance.
An outcome of the project is twofold.  One, I have beautiful representations of my intentions.  Secondly, as a writer I have discovered that my writing is dark and lacks in joy.  Additionally, it has identified places that need healing and a new story needing told.  The drawings have moved me to bring color into my life and to try write on different subjects.     

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Devotions: Mary Olivers Artual for living

Photo by Rachel Giese Brown
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver

“Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” Mary Oliver

“Listen--are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?” Mary Oliver

Artual (Art + Ritual) for living

The following phrase is coined by Whitney Freya, spiritual artist and healer. Whitney believes that using the medium of art is a portal to merge healing, energy, and awareness thru the practice, ritual, and play of intentional creativity. We all are creative and ultimately artists.

Before you state, “I’m not creative nor an artist,” I argue that you are. Any time you put your heart and soul into any activity or a cause you are creating art. Art can take its form as: completing a data program for quality assurance, teaching a class, showing up at a demonstration, writing an article for our newsletter, singing in the car, gardening, making colorful cupcakes for a meal train… It is a piece of yourself that you share with the world.

Think about it this way. What do you like to make? And, if you could make it all day long.... that is your art.

April is national poetry month. One of my favorite Ohio born, Pulitzer Prize winning poets is Mary Oliver. She recently published a collection of her favorites spanning over her more than fifty-year career: Devotions. What I like about Mary’s poems is her ability to make them accessible to all audiences. Her poems are powerful observations that bridge the natural world with everyday emotions—some tender and some full of joy. When I read one of her poems, I feel like I'm there with her walking in the woods or looking across the lake and can hear her inner dialogue.

Since her partner of forty years died ( photographer Molly Malone Cook, 2005), Mary has become more open by sharing herself with the public. During lectures and interviews, she talks about her writing process: walking in the woods with little hand-sewn notebooks, scribbling thoughts which come to her, then turning these thoughts into poems. She states repeatedly, “the woods saved her life.” Mary talks about how nature gave her insight and strength and wisdom. Nature gave her strength to publish.

I hold the same thoughts about creativity as Mary: “It’s a gift to yourself but it’s a gift to anybody who has a hunger for it.”

Below is one of my favorite “Mary poems” found in Devotions and originally published in From White Pine, 1994. 
Blackberry Picking by Queena Stovall (1887-1980)

by Mary Oliver

When the blackberries hang
swollen in the woods, in the branches
nobody owns, I spend
all day among the high

branches, reaching
my ripped arms, thinking
of nothing, cramming
the black honey of summer
into my mouth; all day my body
accepts what it is. In the dark
creeks that run by there is
this thick paw of my life darting among
the black bells, the leaves; there is
this happy tongue.

Artual Activity:
Take a walk in the woods with a scribbling pad. Jot down your thoughts.

At home, review your notes and write a haiku.   Be bold and share it below.

Here is one for the season from me.

Flurried gusts
Saplings revel in the snow
Elders twist and groan

Quick review: a haiku is an unrhymed three-lined poem based on a Japanese poetic form. The first line and last line has five syllables each, and the middle line has seven.

Line 1: 5 syllables
Line 2: 7 syllables
Line 3: 5 syllables
Updated 4/16/2018

Monday, March 26, 2018

Demonstration, Marches, Cookie Making

The Women's March by Marietjie Henning (2014).  

“Colorful demonstrations and weekend marches are vital but alone are not powerful enough to stop wars. Wars will be stopped only when soldiers refuse to fight, when workers refuse to load weapons onto ships and aircraft, when people boycott the economic outposts of Empire that are strung across the globe. ” ― Arundhati Roy, Public Power in the Age of Empire

“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” ― Martin Luther King Jr., Strength to Love

“There must exist a paradigm, a practical model for social change that includes an understanding of ways to transform consciousness that are linked to efforts to transform structures.” ― bell hooks, Killing Rage: Ending Racism

In her essay about Xi Wangmu, Max Dashu writes that the goddess was seen as a personal savior, protector, and healer. The common people would parade barefooted with drums and chants to plead for her help. "This goddess movement alarmed the gentry, and the Confucian historian presented it in a negative light. He warned the danger of rising yin: females and the peasantry stepping outside their place." As with many uprisings from the poor, the wealthy and aristocrats put the people back into their social order by not sharing power -- not sharing love. 

A privilege I have as a citizen of the U.S. is the right to "freedom of speech;" the "right of the people peaceably to assemble" and the right "to petition the (my) Government for a redress of grievances."  On Saturday, I walked with the youth of American to end this gun violence. (SEE U.S. Constitution and read it.)

Marches in the U.S. have long been used to plea for justice and bring awareness to a cause. Mary Harris "Mother" Jones, organized child factory workers in 1903 to march in front of city hall in Kensington, Pennsylvania. She had them wave their maimed fingers and hands up in the air for all to see.  The children were able to change the laws; no one under 16 could work.  On the eve of President Wilson's inauguration (1913) the suffragist held a parade in Washington, DC which lead to violence and hospitalizing over 200 people. The police stood and watched as this happened.  It was to be a "march in a spirit of protest against the present political organization of society, from which women are excluded." It was the press coverage of the violence against the women which would be the key.  These women acted non-violently and this gained support from the public for their cause: to be able to vote.  However, it would take additional public acts to get congress to ratify the 19th amendment in 1920.  In May of 1963, African American children took to the street to help end segregation.  The press covered their march showing dogs and firehoses blasting water at the youth.  The youth wanted to make a difference and were willing to make a sacrifice that would change the course of history.

Molly Pitcher at the Battle of Monmouth
lithograph, Library of Congress.
My first "political march" was my annual city parade.  My brothers and I dressed dramatizing the painting "Sprit of 1776."  The picture of Molly Pitcher was out of the question: 1) the cannon was unattainable and 2) three kids under the age of 13 rolling a cannon 2.5 miles along the parade route would be problematic.  I was assigned to play to flute, because that was what I played in my 7th grade band.    We were celebrating our countries 200th year birthday.  My siblings and I knew our family's history: our ancestor was an officer in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.  We were  demonstrating the need for the continued fight for our freedoms identified in the Constitution.  We were growing up in the thick of the Cold War.  However, in high school my teacher asked, "do you think the Soviet Children want the same thing too."  It made me stop and think.  In the late seventies, people shied away from marching for a cause in my city.  I found another way; I wrote my first letter to my senator.

My next march political march wouldn't be until the late eighties.  I pushed my friend M in his wheelchair in the PRIDE parade: a straight woman and her dying gay friend.  M had always wanted to march in a PRIDE parade.  He wanted to publically state he belongs without being oppressed and ridiculed for his sexual orientation.  M was concerned about my helping him be in the parade; but isn't that the definition of a friend?  Isn't this how you show love?  Since that march, I've participated in women's marches, anti-war marches and this weekend: the youth's March for Our Lives.  There is something about being with a crowd wanting a change to make the U.S. a better and safe place and place where love is acted on.


Written by,, Taboo, Justin Timberlake, Printz Board, Michael Fratantuno and George Pajon
Performed by The Black Eyed Peas


Bree Newsome 
At one of the local colleges this past week, I heard Bree Newsome talk about art and social justice.  Newsome, an artist, musician, and social activist, is known for climbing the flag pole in Charlotte, North Carolina to pull down the confederate flag.  Her act of civil disobedience followed the massacre of 9 African American's during a prayer meeting.  Newsome stated she was arrested along with a friend (white man), but her act also led to the flag being taken permanently down.  A key take-away from her lecture was everyone is responsible for making our world, our country a better and safer place to live.  Not everyone is called to put their lives on the line like Newman, but they are called to do something.  Newsome used an analogy.  The road to creating the beloved community is really a highway with many lanes.  Some are called to lay down their lives, others to write letters, others marchers, others creating posters and art, and others providing food and comfort for these activists.  You are only required to do something.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Peach Chakra

At the Market by Louise Moillon (1610-1696) Painting is a private collection

“Believe something and the Universe is on its way to being changed. Because you've changed, by believing. Once you've changed, other things start to follow. Isn't that the way it works?”  Diane Duane, So You Want to Be a Wizard

"When you reach for the stars, you are reaching for the farthest thing out there. When you reach deep into yourself, it is the same thing, but in the opposite direction. If you reach in both directions, you will have spanned the universe.” ― Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

“Through the practice of meditation, when the mind is quieted and the emotions are calmed, the Soul shines forth in all of its glory.” ― Genevieve Gerard


Last week I took a break, but I still thought of peaches.  In my quest for mixing the perfect peach color with paint, I found that there are many shades of peach: red-orange color.  You must be knowledgeable of each color's undertones.  Meaning, is the red made up of red tones or violet tones?  Your choice of yellow depends on the tones: Like goes with Like.  

In my google search for mixing colors, the peach chakra appeared.  (Chakras and mixing paint colors? I'm trying to figure out the connection.)

As you are aware, there are many chakras in the human body.  Most people are familiar with the seven.  The peach chakra is located within the heart chakra.  You have to pull away the green and you will find it in the center.  This chakra is associated with your soul.  It is your connection with the divine source and the universe.   It is a place of love and joy mixed together into a peaceful bliss

The peach chakra reminds me of the story of Xi Wangmu's peach orchard.  Her peaches took 3000 years to ripen.  Eaten they gave one immortality and access to the divine.  But, what if you didn't have to wait 3000 years.  What if you had access to bliss by meditating through your peach chakra?   


Wild nights - Wild nights! (269)
by Emily Dickinson (1830 - 1886)

Peach watercolor by Sharon Foster.  
Wild nights - Wild nights!

Were I with thee
Wild nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile - the winds -
To a Heart in port -
Done with the

Compass -
Done with the Chart!

Rowing in Eden -
Ah - the Sea!

Might I but moor - tonight -
In thee


Artural: Art + Ritual

Auntie Grace's Peach Cobbler is bliss especially warm and with ice cream:

1/2 cup butter
1 cup of flour
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 cup of milk
2 cups of cut up peaches without skins

Preheat oven 275 F

1.  Melt butter in a baking pan on the stove (9 inches by 13 inches dish)
2.  Mix flour, sugar and baking powder together in a separate bowl.  Stir in milk until there     aren't any lumps.
3.  Dump this into the melted butter pan.  DO NOT STIR.  
4.  Sprinkle fruit on top.  DO NOT STIR THEM INTO THE MIXTURE.
5.  Raise temperature of the oven up to 350F
6.  Bake 50-60 minutes or until the cake is lightly brown on top.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Longing for Peaches

Florence Dunbar Tending the Garden by
“The flavor the came to me was a luscious Sincerest peach that I once had in California. This heirloom variety needed time to ripen on the tree to achieve its peak flavor. Unlike other peaches that were picked unripe so they would ship more easily, Sincerest peaches had to be eaten right away. But they were worth it- fragrant, luscious, juice-dripping-down-your-chin perfection.” ~~ Judith M. Fertig, The Memory of Lemon

“Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring, and because it has fresh peaches in it.” ~~ Alice Walker, Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology

"The peach-bud glows, the wild bee hums, the wind-flower wave in gladness." ~~Lucy Larcom

Its a blue sky sunny day in March, but don't let that fool you into wearing a sweater and shorts.  It is in the high 30s.  By the time March rolls around in Ohio, I long for spring and the fruit of summer.  I was walking home from work this past week, and I noticed that the crocuses and daffodils leaves are pushing up out of the ground.   The effect inspired me to purchased tomato and pepper seeds to start in the house. Spring is coming.

A characteristic I share with Xi Wangmmu, we are gardeners.  Her garden is filled with peach trees; mine vegetables and raspberries.  Those who are gardeners carry similar characteristics.  We have patience to let a fruit ripen in the sun; can see patterns in the weather and try to understand what our plants may need to grow; and have a vision of what to outcome will be like--tasting a sun ripened tomato basil salad with mozzarella cheese, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  


The peach tree on the southern wall 
by Christina Rosetti (1830-1894)

The peach tree on the southern wall 
Has basked so long beneath the sun, 
Her score of peaches great and small 
Bloom rosy, every one. 
A peach for brothers, one for each, 
A peach for you and a peach for me; 
But the biggest, rosiest, downiest peach 
For Grandmamma with her tea


Chinese painting: peach blossoms
Artual (ART + Ritual)

Peach Blossom Song (Chinese Folk Song)
Arranged by Yoshiharu Morokuma