Saturday, February 27, 2016

Weekly Quick Collage: Yellow-legs in Manitoba Slough

Yellow-legs in Manitoba Slough
collage, 7 x 5.5 inches

The love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth, the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only paradise we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need, if only we had the eyes to see ...  No, wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, as vital to our lives as water and good bread.                                                                                         
                                                                                                    ~ Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

It is only when we are aware of the earth and of the earth as poetry that we truly live.

                                                                                         ~ Henry Beston, 1935, Herbs and the Earth

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Drawing Challenge: Cocoon

This week's drawing challenge, hosted by Patrice, is COCOON. An fascinating concept to me, since much of my art has transformation, or metamorphosis, as a continuing theme. A cocoon is something that protects and provides safety as that process takes place, until the new, transformed being is ready to emerge.

Chrysalis I

I am currently in a particularly transformative and difficult period of my life. Major change is always a challenge for me; it feels safer to cling to the status quo, to stay where I am rather than venture into new territory. For many of us, change is scary.  For me, it is a struggle not to let that fear rule my life.

Chrysalis II

I recently read a truly moving and inspiring post about fear on Crystal Neubaur's wonderful blog. Her writing on the subject is both eloquent and thoughtful; it gave me some important insights and made me feel less alone.  I strongly encourage you to read this wonderful piece here.

One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn't do.                                                            ~ Henry Ford

There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.                                                                                                 ~Anais Nin

Head over to Patrice's beautiful blog to see more interpretations of COCOON.

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!