Saturday, February 6, 2016

Drawing Challenge: Sixes and Sevens

"Sixes and sevens" is a phrase I've heard, but never really gave much thought to.  When I found out it was this week's drawing challenge, I just had to look it up; inquiring minds like mine want to know. According to Wikipedia, "To be "at sixes and sevens" is a British English idiom used to describe a state of confusion or disarray."

The origin of the phrase seems uncertain, but here are a couple of theories:
"The phrase probably derives from a complicated dice game called 'hazard' ....These [originally five and six] were considered to be the riskiest numbers to shoot for ...., and those who tried for them were considered careless or confused."  Wikipedia goes on to say that, "A similar phrase, "to set the world on six and seven", is used by Geoffrey Chaucer in his 'Troilus and Criseyde". It dates from the mid-1380s and seems from its context to mean "to hazard the world" or "to risk one's life". William Shakespeare uses a similar phrase in 'Richard II': "But time will not permit: all is uneven, And every thing is left at six and seven"."

It's Not That Easy
mixed media, 6.25 x 5 inches

I think I understand what it means to be "at sixes and sevens".  About a year ago, I was forced to take disability early retirement, due to stress-related health problems that wouldn't resolve. I don't want to get too serious here, but my whole life suddenly seemed upside-down and backwards. Everything was  uneven and out of balance. I struggled to find some meaningful shape or form to fit my life into, some way to rise above the 'confusion and disarray', and still do at times. I spent a long time 'at sixes and sevens', but am finally starting to make some sense of it. Making art continues to be one of my saving graces.

" All great changes are preceded by chaos."                                ~ anonymous

To see more interpretations of the "Sixes and Sevens" theme, visit our hostess Nadine's blog, tinyWOOLF.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Drawing Challenge: Shinrin Yoku

Shinrin Yoku is something I do a lot, though I hadn't known those words for it until Veronica named it the theme for her drawing challenge.

Shinrin Yoku is a Japanese phrase that translates as "forest bathing."

" A forest bathing trip involves visiting a forest for relaxation and recreation while breathing in volatile substances, called phytoncides (wood essential oils), which are antimicrobial volatile organic compounds derived from trees... It has now become a recognized relaxation and/or stress management activity in Japan." (Wikipedia, Forest bathing)

Also called "forest medicine" and "forest therapy", shinrin yoku has been promoted by the Forest Agency of the Japanese government since 1982.

It turns out that scientific evidence supports the idea that spending time in a forest is good for your health.

 "A  2007 study by researchers at Kyoto University's Graduate School of Medicine found that 'forest environments are advantageous with respect to acute emotions, especially among those experiencing chronic stress. Accordingly, shinrin-yoku may be employed as a stress reduction method, and forest environments can be viewed as therapeutic landscapes.'" ("Shinrin-yoku:The Japanese Art of Forest Bathing" by Stephen Robert Morse)

 Here I am, shinrin yoku beside the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park.

My favorite  place for shinrin yoku is at Shabo-Mekaw, our 60-acre tract of gorgeous forest in Lewis County, Kentucky.

It's the perfect place to let go of my stress and just be in the moment, letting the forest 'bathe' me in its peace and beauty.

Being there never fails to calm me and give me a fresh perspective on whatever problems I may be facing. Somehow, spending time with a huge, ancient tree makes my worries seem insignificant.

So thank you, Veronica, for introducing me to the wonderful concept of "forest bathing."

To see other interpretations of shinrin yoku, go to Veronica's wonderful blog for all the links!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Invisible Influence

Invisible Influence
collage, 7.25 x 6.75 inches

"Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which  kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would not otherwise occur."
                                                                   ~ W. H. Murray, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition

"When we are writing, or painting, or composing, we are, during the time of creativity, freed from normal restrictions, and are opened to a wider world, where colors are brighter, sounds clearer, and people more wondrously complex than we normally realize."
                                                                                                     ~ Madeline L'Engle

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Weekly Quick Collage: Biosphere

collage, 4 x 5 inches

“The question is whether any civilization can wage relentless war on life without destroying itself, and without losing the right to be called civilized.”

                                                                                                         ~ Rachel Carson

“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children's children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”
                                                                                                     ~ Theodore Roosevelt

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed."                                                                                                                                 ~ Mahatma Gandhi   

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.
                                                                                                                ~ John Muir

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Weekly Quick Collage: Reverie

collage, 8.5 x 7.25 inches

Down near the bottom
of the crossed-out list
of things you have to do today,

between "green thread"
and "broccoli" you find
that you have penciled "sunlight."

Resting on the page, the word
is as beautiful, it touches you
as if you had a friend

and sunlight were a present
he had sent you from some place distant
as this morning -- to cheer you up,

and to remind you that,
among your duties, pleasure
is a thing,

that also needs accomplishing
Do you remember?

that time and light are kinds

of love, and love
is no less practical
than a coffee grinder

or a safe spare tire?
Tomorrow you may be utterly
without a clue

but today you get a telegram,
from the heart in exile
proclaiming that the kingdom

still exists,
the king and queen alive,
still speaking to their children,

- to any one among them
who can find the time,
to sit out in the sun and listen.  

                                                                                           by Tony Hoagland

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Weekly Quick Collage: Copper Cliff

Back to my weekly quick collages, and hopefully, posting much more regularly.

Copper Cliff
collage, 5.5 x 5 inches

Instead of the short quotes I usually post with my collages, I thought I'd share with you some thoughts on mindfulness and happiness from philosopher, Zen Buddhist, Episcopal priest and spiritual teacher Alan Watts.  This comes from an article by Maria Popova entitled, "An Antidote to the Age of Anxiety: Alan Watts on Happiness and How to Live with Presence", which you can find in its entirety here.

"What keeps us from happiness, Watts argues, is our inability to fully inhabit the present:

The “primary consciousness,” the basic mind which knows reality rather than ideas about it, does not know the future. It lives completely in the present, and perceives nothing more than what is at this moment. The ingenious brain, however, looks at that part of present experience called memory, and by studying it is able to make predictions. These predictions are, relatively, so accurate and reliable (e.g., “everyone will die”) that the future assumes a high degree of reality — so high that the present loses its value.

But the future is still not here, and cannot become a part of experienced reality until it is present. Since what we know of the future is made up of purely abstract and logical elements — inferences, guesses, deductions — it cannot be eaten, felt, smelled, seen, heard, or otherwise enjoyed. To pursue it is to pursue a constantly retreating phantom, and the faster you chase it, the faster it runs ahead. This is why all the affairs of civilization are rushed, why hardly anyone enjoys what he has, and is forever seeking more and more. Happiness, then, will consist, not of solid and substantial realities, but of such abstract and superficial things as promises, hopes, and assurances."

For most of us, mindfulness, or being completely in the present moment, is very difficult. Yet it seems we would almost certainly be happier if we could achieve this. What, then, is the best way to go about finding this mental state of "presence"? 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Long Time, No Post

Looking at my blog just now, I was shocked to see that I hadn't posted anything since last month's Searching for Roy G Biv.  I keep meaning to do a post, but sometimes life just keeps happening.

So for now, I just want to wish you the happiest of holidays and a blessed solstice. I promise to post more artwork again soon!