Simple.

I am lying when I say that I need to be on Facebook all day in order to do my job. It's a distraction. There are only a few directed tasks I need it for. Beyond that I can minimize the chatter. This morning had been one of good food, a hot shower, no distractions, and fruitful work/ideas. Here's to less distractions!

EncaustiCamp

I hope you are following along on my awesome epic creative road trip

Just over a week ago I took a break from traveling to teach at EncaustiCamp with some of my favorite people! Want to share some of that lovely experience with you! 

I recently gushed about how much I love wax over here on Teahouse Studio's blog. I have a class coming up at the studio in Berkeley in a month. 

My classes at EncaustiCamp were awesome. I was so moved and humbled by the students' response to the project I planned for us. The general idea for the class - Bare Soul in Wax - was to paint a background or simple painting and then smash a hole in it with a hammer, then mount a box on the back so wax and objects could be embedded in the hole. Since the paintings are so moving and raw with images and color bursting out of the painting, we took some time to consider the parts of life that make us feel that way. Starting with some writing and reading some quotes, I invited the students to bring some intention or memory into their work. The results were moving and beautiful. 

Camp wasn't only about the classes. We went on a wine tour, cheese sampling, were visited by Karl Kaiser, and I spent some lovely moments in the woods. 

Karl Kaiser and his 100-layer work!

left: my first Banana Slug!

 

Stay in touch if you want to join us next year. 

Check out my Berkeley, CA class August 18&19 if you're in the area. 

Home From Spain

I know I've been home from Spain for 4 months now, but Home From Spain is the title of my show in Northampton right now. I am showing the paintings I produced in Spain and tonight I am giving a talk about my work and my time in the residency. This is a culmination to the experience and that feels nice. 

Maya Stein and I are sharing the space on Market Street. She is running an open mic night and doing a writing workshop. A fun collaboration. 

a book i just made at Artfest of papers collected during my travels this fall

Looking forward to seeing some of you tonight!

Artfest 1

Artfest is over. I finally got here and this was the last one, so it is over in more ways than one. It has been fabulous. A huge celebration of creativity. A giant dive into messy making. A lovely string of moments of laughter and hugs. More soon.

A New Kind of Teaching

first class in my studio

I have really been enjoying teaching encaustics over the last couple of months. Which is good because I am scheduled to do quite a bit of it this year. I am teaching in my studio, New Hampshire, Oregon and California (to be announced soon).

teaching

I started my in-studio classes in January and have developed a little group of students that are signed up for multiple classes. They are an inspiring and beautiful bunch!

studentsstudent work

I thought it would take me longer to get into this part of my career, but the doors opened and I stepped through. It was just meant to be. Teaching is engrained in me. It comes naturally and the little butterflies in my stomach just before a class only balance me out. 

working, work, and our furry companion


the collage class out at Wishstudio in Newburyport last weekWishstudio class

Paper Treasure

the whole table...covered

Usually everyone agrees that it would be nice to never worry about money. And when I think of treasure I do still tend to think of gold, rubies and pirate ships. But when I traveled around Europe this fall it wasn't fancy objects and jewelry that I daily sought to collect. It was paper. Enough paper to make any mixed media artist drool.

modern maps

old photos from Madrid, maps, wrapping paper, and original handwriting envelopes

My two favorite finds were a handwritten ledger and a piece of a gregorian chant.

The handwriting in this ledger is just amazing. There were little notes of scribbled calculations stuck into the pages of ledger too. 

flourish

some calculations stuck in between the pages

I have always loved the oversized sheets of gregorian chant from the middle ages. The notes and words are painted onto animal-skin vellum (probably from the 17th or 18th century). This piece had sadly been cut...but that made it affordable for me! 

a slice of very old chant music


notice the brush strokes that wrote the latin

This stuff never fails to get my creative juices flowing. Hope it inspires you too!

2011

last january

Last year I wrote a new year's post about everything I was looking forward to. There was so much hope for a good year and so many plans I couldn't even share yet. And it was an amazing year. 

the contrast of february: lots of snow and a trip to Ecuador

But the reality is that there were a lot of hard stretches. Personally, this was a hard year. From where I stand I can see the magnificent high points AND the very low points that no one else can see. I am glad to celebrate the high points but looking back I cannot ignore the hard stuff – the low points and all the work it took to get to the high points. The highs were amazing but I feel like the lows were pretty low.

Does it have to be that way, I wonder? If I want the peaks do I have to go so low in between? Maybe. I am looking forward starting Louise Gale's ecourse again next week and going through the exercises she has created to honor the past and look forward!

And where I am now feels hard. I am trying to be brave, but change is hard and stressful. I find solace in I knowing I am on the right path and I feel it promising a beautiful future. 

ice climbing in march

So on to the celebrating. Looking back these are the mountains I climbed:

- Seek Your Course: idea to launch in 6 months! What a ride that was! And it continues to grow and evolve. Lots of exciting developments on the way in 2012. 

- It was a beautiful winter full of snow and snow shoeing. Tried ice climbing and loved it. Planning on doing more this winter. 

cape cod in june for the encaustic conference

- Finished my 5th year of teaching. It was a hard year, especially once I started Seek Your Course and spent all my extra time in that, but good.

- Applied for artist residencies and got into two. Chose Spain. 

seek your course launch party in july

- Attended EncaustiCamp in Oregon in July. What an amazing group of people! So creative and uplifting. 

- Asked to teach at EncaustiCamp 2012. So excited to be offering a class I really love and that is so personally fulfilling for me. Want to join me?

falling in love with oregon in july

colorado on the way home from oregon was lovely too

- Quit my job teaching with mixed feelings. But certainly not looking back.

- Kickstarter success. Raised over $2,200 for my residency in Spain. Supported by 39 people. Still feel blessed.

then there was that flooding in augustcoastal trip in august (lauren with poppy on the beach)

- Lots of time spent with friends and family this year. As I looked through photos I realized just how awesome it has been.

- Finally climbed Mt. Washington and partially completed the Presidential Traverse in New Hampshire. 

mt washington, nh in september

the summits of mt perdido and ben nevis

- Europe and my artist residency. Where to begin reccounting the exciting times and accomplishments? I guess climbing Ben Nevis in Scotland (highest peak in the UK) and the 11,000'+ Mt. Perdido in Spain tops the list. And my residency provided an infusion of time into my painting practice. An amazing experience. And I saw the Queen of England. Icing on the cake.

- UPDATE: How could I forget? My Shows! Seeing my art hanging in Spain, New York, Miami and here in my town.

spain in octoberthe queen in november

Looking ahead, this is what I am looking forward to in 2012: 

- Teaching Encaustics: in-studio classes here in Western Massachusetts, East Coast workshops in February, April, & May, EncaustiCamp in July, and ...

- Headed to Artfest in Seattle in March. Ben and I will explore the northwest together too. His first time.

- Really hoping to make it to Texas (for the first time) in September for the International Encaustic Artists conference there.

- Participating in a couple of artist groups – one local, one virtual – to build community and have some accountability in this self-employment thing.

- Working on the house. This has to be the year of finishing this place or I WILL go crazy.

- SYC developments. Connecting more creative people with the learning opportunities out there!

our neighbors here in december

NYC Windows and Show

top left: Ben skating at the Chelsea Pier skatepark; right: Anthropologie window in Chelsea; bottom left: street art in Chelsea

This week has been extra busy with participating in a group show in NYC thrown into the mix. But the chance to see the city all dressed up for the holidays was a treat. Some amazing designers have pulled out all the stops to bring block after block of inspiration. I am completely in love with Christmas decorations in general and am a total sucker for the over-romanticized illusions of sparkly magic that are associated with Christmas. And that is exactly what these windows were. It was really nice to see at least some of them Thursday before the reception for my show. (BTW, that zebra is made out of paper!)


Christmas Windows. left and bottom right: Bergdorf Goodman; top right: Barneys New York's Gaga's Crystal Cave


Clockwise from top right: Tiffany's Christmas Window; subway stop; decorations in Trailer Park Lounge on W 23rd; Anthropologie display in Rockefeller store


Anthropologie window display at Rockefeller


High Line at night

My parents joined Ben and I in the city. After window gawking and some delicious food we headed to the reception for the show. I had seven encaustic pieces in the show Exposure at the Ceres Gallery in Chelsea. The turnout was great and it was a fun evening of mingling and chatting about my work.


My work in the show at Ceres Gallery in Chelsea

These are two new (and bigger) pieces I have done since I got home from Spain. I am really enjoying working larger and want to try even bigger. 

These two pieces really deal with experiences around memory since now my trip abroad is all memory. I am amazed at how quickly some memories become cloudy and leave behind a sense of vacancy. On the other hand I am also very aware that my memories of my trip float around in my head and fade in and out of the consciousness on a daily basis. Most of the trip is still fresh and still informs my actions and experiences here now. So that's where these pieces come from.


New Work: Steeped in Memories (encaustic mixed media, 24x30")


New Work: Vacant, Fleeting Memories (encaustic mixed media, 24x30")

Today is Christmas Eve and I spent a few hours at my parents' house cooking for tomorrow. Always a nice time. Looking forward to amazing food and the joy of giving tomorrow. On the menu is Beef Tenderloin, Mussels, Scallops, Spicy Chipotle Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Vegetables, Baked Potatoes, Fruitcake Trifle, and a giant Cherry Apple Pie I made. Getting goosebumps just thinking about it. Merry Christmas!

Waxed Christmas

My work comes to me in visions: flashes of idea that brew below my consciousness and then burst forth when matured. The other day I saw encaustic Christmas trees. So I went in search of a form I could paint on and found paper mâché cones. And today I painted on a cone shape for the first time. It was a challenge, but completely worth it. 

I painted a total of four Christmas trees. The two in the picture above have a lot of accression/texture built up. The one I am painting in the pictures is very melted and drippy. The fourth, which I did after I called Ben in to snap some pictures, is green with white lace stencil over it. Stenciling on a cone shape was also challenging, but fun. 

I also made sets of little encaustic coated blocks (you can see them in the above picture). Each set includes three blocks that stack from biggest to smallest resembling a Christmas tree. The words "Merry Christmas" are transfered onto the two biggest blocks. 

I am making all of these things (along with prints, originals and shirts) to sell at the Wishstudio Make Shop Mingle indie artisan trunk show tomorrow! If you are in Eastern Massachusetts please come! 21 Middle Street, Newburyport from 10am-3pm.  

On another note, I really need to look less concerned when being photographed. I look...bothered? Way too serious. 

La Fragua: I say hello, you say goodbye.

 

I am home again but I have one last post about Spain. 

First, bar food. Something I absolutely miss. I made a little video over two evenings of bar food in the pueblo. Basic food to them but I thought it was amazing. 

 

On one of my first days in the pueblo I was told by my housemate that it would be best if I greeted any local people I saw on the street. So anytime I biked or walked by a person I would say "Hola." It proved to be a good suggestion for sure. Especially the older people would stare/glare at me – the stranger – until I said hello, when they would break into a broad grin and usually say "Adios" or "Hasta Luego." This exchange always made me chuckle to myself. First of all, I always thought it amusing that even if the person didn't know me and may never see me again, they would often say "See you later." Secondly, the fact that I was saying hello and they were responding with goodbye always brought a smile to my face and the Beatle's song Hello Goodbye would inevitably start playing in my head. "I say hello, you say goodbye..."

Speaking of goodbyes, I made this video in my last days in Spain. I tried to capture all the last glimpses and pull them all together. 

 

the grass was all dead and yellow when I got to Spain...by the time I was leaving the grass was growing again

I'm not sure I have quite enough distance from the experince to properly reflect on it. And yet I also worry I will forget some part of the experience and it will fade into the past like it never happened. Ridiculous fears, I know, but there nonetheless.

Today is Thanksgiving here. Despite feeling still in the middle of reentry and readjusting I am still feeling very thankful. I am so thankful for this time I had abroad...and at the same time I am thankful for being home. Happy American Thanksgiving!

La Fragua: Tipografía Workshop

the work of one of the other participants (click to enlarge)

My residency was supposed to end of Nov 9 – one month after I got there. But shortly after I arrived I realized a couple things: I love Spain, I am more and more intrigued by illustration, and an illustrator from Madrid was coming to La Fragua to each a workshop the weekend after I was supposed to leave. So I decided to stay another 5 days. Then my mom decided to come visit. So along with teaching my workshop for two afternoons last week and my mom and I also participated in Tipografía with Silja Goetz

participants and teacherSilja is an illustrator and has a lovely resume of big names who have published her work. And along with being good at what she does, she is also a lovely person. I always appreciate meeting people who couple talent with warmth and a willingness to encourage others. Silja guided us through creating a-typical typography and willingly gave feedback throughout the process. 

working on our typography projects and enjoying the beautiful weather

student workstudent work (click to enlarge)

I was feeling a little melancholy about leaving Spain and the pueblo, so the phrases the end and the beginning came to me. This past weekend felt like the end of so much and the beginning of so much. The end of Spain, spanish, my residency, and my time abroad. And yet everything feels like it is just beginning. My work is beginning to take form and my time in my residency gave it momentum. 

I feel like my time in Spain has given me so much. When I think about it phrases come into my head like: Spain has given me wings to fly; Spain has given me legs to walk on, Spain has given me a path to follow, Spain has given me a boat to sail in. All of these things are a start. The start of a journey. This is the beginning as well as the end. 

(click to enlarge)(click to enlarge) 

And so my typography is rich with metaphor. I created the beginning from seeds piled up between rows of new sprouts of wheat. I created el fin (“the end” in spanish) from the curly tips of dead plants on stone. And the earth seemed to acknowledge my meaning. el fin blew away and the seeds of the beginning were carted off by ants – food for the masses. There is such power in metaphor. 

blown away and carried away (click to enlarge)



My mom took advantage of the warm weather and extended growing season. She created GROW from stones and planted flowers in the letters. 

grow by my mom

Mid-day on Saturday we got the change to see the cloisters of the convent. Really special.

On the last day we did a group project. Each participant was given a letter of L-A F-R-A-G-U-A and a uniform size to work with. I decided to capture La Fragua in drawing for my letter A (and thus to practice drawing because it still terrifies me). I drew the buildings most significant to my time there: the convent, the garden, the workshop, my house, the pilar (washing pool), the castle, and a few shops I frequented. In the end I was quite proud. Yet again I had surprised myself and wondered why drawing scares me so. 

my A (click to enlarge)

My mom, of course, did what she does best and created a beautiful garland of flowers and leaves for her U. 


a rough idea of what it looked like all together

We had a lot of fun just hanging out too. The energy of the place and the participants was relaxed and playful. I took some video footage to try to capture the moments. 

  

In short, the weekend workshop was wonderful. Totally worth staying for. 


La Fragua: Home Exhibition

I am currently sitting in the Madrid airport waiting for my flight to London. The blog posts have stacked up in the last 10 days. Just as I predicted this past week was very full and went very fast. My mom was here with me for the last 9 days. It was really fun to have her along. But more on that later...this post is about my show.

Last week I had a solo show in the pueblo of the work I created this month. This is what I wrote about my work in the show:

This current series of work is narrative and personal. Each piece starts with the intention to record an experience - an encounter, an emotion, or a memory – the things that make us human. Maps or other paper items are often found in the paintings to trigger a memory or thought and are placed in the painting to symbolize a person or experience. In this series most of the paintings include a home. The home symbolizes the self and the paintings tell the story of searching for the safe, loving feeling of being home. For the last couple years I have been searching for self-acceptance and self-love thus building my home, my place where I can feel safe inside myself. But I have also been searching for places in this world where I can feel safe and be myself. So the paintings often tell one of two stories: the struggle to find my place of safety inside myself or in the world.

The paintings are all done in encaustics – hot pigmented wax. The wax allows me to create texture, embed paper, and carve lines to build up and unify the paintings. I have been using this medium for three years and feel it best communicates the emotions in my work.

 

To help transport you all to my show I made a video. The footage is from the opening and then I included still shots of each of the pieces in the show. Enjoy!

 

 

The week of the show I also taught an encaustic workshop. My mom attended along with three women from the village. They had a lot of fun playing with the wax. I taught them the basics of working with wax, inscising, collage, stenciling, and accression.


me, my mom, and two of the ladies from the pueblo


News & Updates

We interrupt our regular La Fragua Artist Residency posts to bring you NEWS.

It is really late, but time is moving faster now and there are just some things I need to get done so up late I stay. I have a bunch of news to share and tomorrow will be a busy day and then early Saturday I am off to meet my mom in Madrid. So, news comes now!

 

1. I will be part of the group show Exposure at the Ceres Gallery in Chelsea, NYC from December 20-24. Looking forward to being down there with the holiday lights and showing off some of the pieces I have be working on here. If you are in the city please stop by. Reception is Thursday, December 22 at 6PM.

2. I will also have two pieces in the Projects Gallery's Square Foot Art Basel Miami show November 29-December 10. Wish I was going down there to see it. Someday.

3. One of my pieces was included in an article by Crystal Neubauer in the November/December issue of Cloth Paper Scissors. The article is about painting with encaustics on plexiglass. Crystal had us try it out at EncaustiCamp this past July and the pieces were then included in the article she was writing. 

mine is on the left; the lovely Sue Stover is on the right

4. Speaking of EncaustiCamp, I am absolutely thrilled to be one of the instructors at this year's EncaustiCamp in Oregon in July. I will be teaching a class on how I break through my cradled panels and add 3-dimentional objects into my pieces. You can read more about the class (Bare Soul in Wax) here. Registration starts November 10, but you can plan out what classes you want to take now on the new website.

5. When I get home I am going to start teaching very small encaustic workshops in my small studio. If you are in the Western Massachusetts area and would like to learn encaustics stay tuned or leave me a message here.

6. My cuminating exhibition here in Spain starts tomorrow (the main reason why I am super busy). It will run for a week (until I leave) and includes most of the paintings I have done here in Spain. I will post pics and a movie next week. I will also be teaching a workshop here next week. Looking forward to introducing some non-artists to painting with wax with a translator and my mom by my side. Should be fun. 

7. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, my suitcase finally arrived. I ran across the courtyard and shouted in delight when it showed up Monday. It has been a long fight to get someone at Parcelforce to care about my lost suitcase and at times I worried that is was gone for good. But it is here now safe and sound. The core of my art studio on wheels has arrived for the final days of painting. 

I made this video when I was still reeling with excitement and feeling overwhelmed at having it back. It is pretty funny...I'm a little crazed for sure. 

 

La Fragua: Full

The big things and the little things.

The feeling of a full life always brings my mind to the brink of exhaustion. I want a full life and so I absorb, I plan, I learn, I try, I jump, and I go. I open my eyes and take in everything. I open my mind and process the details. I stop and think about why and how. I paint and don't like it. I paint and like it. I paint and wonder if liking something is important. I get frustrated and go back to thinking. I find a better path and keep going. I get tired.

Life here in my residency is full. So full.

 an evening of exploringdinner at Javi and Gaby's home

birds, the main occupants of the castle

La Fragua's harvest of olives; Javi is currently soaking them to remove the bitterness and then we will marinate themthe rainy season has begun

A piece of my heart is still in the United States, but the experience here is rich and oh so meaningful.  

I have been painting a lot. Throught the down days I have come to learn the importance of moving forward – entering the studio each day to do something – and that something always adds up to something good eventually. I have begun a series of simple paintings that really focus the intentions that I have for each piece, each metaphor. The images are getting stronger and I like that. Still moving forward and getting somewhere.

losing my head (12x12" on panel)

beautiful things (12x12" on panel)

Almost completely forgot about the video I took a couple days ago. 

And as you can hear in this video, my suitcase has been found (tags had fallen off evidently) and it is on its way. We will see just when it gets here. But at least it is not lost!

La Fragua: Glimpses and Updates

pomegranates for juice-making tomorrow (and another plant for decoration)

It is getting late here and there is a big festival at La Fragua tomorrow. The festival combines agriculture with art, food, and music...everything La Fragua is about. I am still loving it here. Finally feel some momentum with my art (more on that below).

This was going to be a quick update, but there are so many photos and video clips I want to share. So much inspiration and loveliness. So here it all is in a big lovely pile. 

First, a video of me taking about a typical morning of trying to do stuff and not really getting anywhere fast.

The thorn that punctured my bike tire. Seriously one sharp plant!

The Market, Gourmet Foods Shop, and the Carpenter (and the pig!)

love this pink bicycle...and an old man was riding it which made it that much cuterA video of the plaza at sunset. The birds are incredible in this video. Give a watch! This was yesterday hanging out with Gaby and Uma.

These guys were hanging out next to the road when I was biking to the convent this morning. I just love those bells.

Pablo made Rosana and me an amazing Italian dinner the other night. I made the antipasto platter under his direction. His sauce was amazing!

Dinner and Dancing with Pablo and Rosana

So now for an art update. 

Yesterday and today I finally felt some energy behind my work in the studio. I had energy and intention. Last week was hard because everything was new and my supplies were (and still are) lost and I had to find everything. This week I had a bad cold at the beginning of the week and so I focused on sleeping and eating soup. Now I am feeling better and moving forward. 

I feel momentum, which is great. In particular because two days ago I was really hoping that I would find my momentum and get going. I actualy wrote:

"I am hoping that I am pedaling uphill, because I am working but it feels hard. I am hoping that this path is not actually flat and I am just weak. I hope the path I am on is taking me up so that at some point I will be able to coast down with momentum and start painting with furvor and results. I hope this is the uphill."

And it seems that was the uphill. I spent a lot of time thinking about my paintings, sketching and staring at my materials trying to figure out the best ways to make do with what I have. Well, I feel the hard times have lead to fruitful times again and for now I am moving quickly. Today I stayed at the convent until after dark. I painted for about 7 hours. Riding home in the dark with the stars was beautiful, but a little scary. 

Some of my latest work here: (and they do link to larger versions this time)

Pilgrimage (12x24" on panel; encaustic and oil)Losing It 1 & 2 (12x12" on panel; encaustic)When All Feels Lost 1 & 2 (12x12" on panel; encaustic mixed media)Climbing and The Garden (some fun warm-up pieces I did; ~7x7" encaustic on panel)Lay My Head to Rest (12x12" on panel; encaustic and oil)No Plan (12x12" on panel; encaustic)the convent as I was leaving this evening

 

La Fragua: Garden and Gallery Tour

to feel different (aprox. 8x8" on paper)

Yesterday you saw the workshop in my video about making wax medium. So this is a tour of the rest of the space at El Convento de Santa Clara. Still have to do a tour of where we live and the village, but this is a start. Also have some footage of working at the convent that I will put together soon as well. 

I am actually not feeling great. I think its just a bad cold, but I took the afternoon off and made soup, watched Glee, and slept. Going back to bed now and hoping to feel on the mend tomorrow. 

I had a good conversation yesterday with a woman at Parcelforce about my suitcase, but she said she would email me and she hasn't. I'm trying not to feel discouraged again. I was really hoping for some news. I made a little piece about my lost suitcase today. I just played around with backgrounds and mixing wax with oil paint today since I didn't feel great. 

come back to me (7x7" on panel)

La Fragua: Being Here

the castle reflected in el pilar (the washing pool)

I arrived here at La Fragua in Belalcázar a week ago. Life here is beautiful. There is so much to appreciate everyday. I have time and space to think and create. I have a beautiful place to work and a beautiful place to live. I have a bedroom with a terrace that overlooks a castle. I have internet so I can stay in touch with friends and family and blog. And I have amazing things to see and eat, which is what most of this post is about.

It took a while to get all my supplies together, but now I am mostly there and starting to paint. It also took a couple days to get acquainted with the pueblo, or village, and learn where to buy bread, meat, cheese, produce, and other groceries. I also took a trip to Córdoba on my birthday last Thursday. Javi and Rosana from here at the residency were going for an art opening and I used the opportunity to get a lot of my supplies and to see the famous architecture there. I will post about that trip soon.  

a view of the full moon rising – from my terrace

Being here is a full sensory experience. Right now I am writing from my desk in my room. The windows are open to my terrace and the castle on the hill right outside the pueblo.

the view I wake up to, work to, and love

I hear water running from the old stone pool (el pilar) – where women used to do their washing before the days of machines – flowing into the stream down below. I hear pigeons – always pigeons cooing – and when I am at the convent the sound of the pigeons reverberates against the stone and permeates everything else. I hear hundreds of other birds twittering and chirping (the castle is a favorite home for them). I hear the rooster. I hear the bell which tolls the hours. I often hear dogs barking, cats meowing, the workers building a house a couple doors down (which often is my morning wake-up call), children yelling, babies crying, greetings and instructions yelled in spanish, distant cars and 4-wheelers zipping around the hillsides. I hear how all sounds echo and travel here because we live in a world of tile and stone. I hear a chair scrape and the door shut on the other side of the house.

around the pilar

my house is the one with all the white arches on the terrace; my terrace is the top one

the whole view from my terrace

I see the hills closest to me covered in rows of olive trees. I see the farther hills covered in yellow grass because the rains have not come yet. I see flocks of birds flying from tree to castle to rooftop. I see white stucco houses with courtyards, archways and terra cotta tiled roofs. I see stone walls – old and new, maintained and crumbling. I see the plant I bought for my terrace’s table with its pink and orange blooms sitting in the bright orange pot I bought too. I see children on laptops using the free public wifi in the plaza surrounding the washing pool. I often see adults, children, dogs, cats, and an occasional horse. I see the house they are building and I watch the progression each day. I see the castle. I see the crumbling stonework, the grass growing on the top of the walls and towers, an old archway, the detailed pattern of the more elaborate stone decorations on the main tower, the graffiti sprayed onto the stones and on the little white house that sits in front of the castle, and the giant nests of storks (which have flown south to Africa for the winter; the nests sit on top of almost every tall building or tower in the pueblo). I see all of this framed in the two white arches that form the outer edge of my terrace. 

a walk around the castleproving my badass-ness and climbing an old arch (there was a path, but yes I was on top of that)

the ruined white house in front of the castle

I taste the many wonderful foods that are typical to eat here. I taste the almonds, eggplant, onions, tomatoes, basil, beans, peppers, and garlic that I gather from the garden at the convent and cook in various ways. I taste fresh oven-baked bread. I taste farm fresh eggs. I taste cured ham, which in the states we know as prosciutto (and evidently I have only had the poor quality packaged variety; going to get it fresh cut tomorrow). I taste olives – olives stuffed with garlic, olive oil, and whole olives. I taste cheese and there are only fresh and gourmet cheeses here that beg to be savored and paired with various other foods. I taste rich, local wine – mostly red (white wine here is strong and sweet but tastes almost like it is mixed with vodka; they call it fino). I taste Pablo’s homemade empanadas filled with meat, vegetables, olives and hardboiled egg. I taste tapas sandwiches made with different combinations of sardines, tuna, anchovies, meat and cheeses. I taste fried calamari, tiny eggplants in vinegar, fries covered in cheese and hot sauces, potato and egg torta, fried nuggets of tuna salad, smoked salmon and raw cod with tomato paste on bread (“spanish sushi”), potato and tuna salad, fried cod and so many other tapas (I will write a whole post on tapas, promise). I taste dulce de leche, coffee, and almond gelato. Most recently I tasted Fanta soda made with real lemon juice and real sugar. 

TAPAS! (clockwise from top right): patatas bravas and calamari, garlic stuffed olives, shrimp and vinegar marinated eggplant, olives and cheese, "spanish sushi" raw fish on bread, potato and tuna salad, tuna in sauce, manchego cheese and crackers. cooking

I smell tomato sauce that Rosana, my housemate, made from the tomatoes in the garden. I smell basil every time I come and go from the convent because it grows by the gate. I smell hot olive oil when I cook. I smell baking bread and cooking meats when I bike through the pueblo. I smell the frying dough of churros in the churreria. I smell all the amazing foods I have eaten, as smell is part of taste. I smell tobacco smoke because almost everyone here smokes. I smell the sunscreen I try to remember to put on my face everyday. I smell the stinging stench of manure when I bike past the farms. I smell hot beeswax when I paint and everyone comments on how nice it smells. I smell the scent of the soap Ben and I bought in Barcelona and the smell of the new soap I bought here – both different from the soap I use at home. I smell dust and exhaust. I smell earth and plants.

churros in hot chocolate

around el pueblo

snack time: almonds from the garden

I feel sun warming me all the way through – constant sun.  I feel the warm air blowing my hair back behind me when I ride my bike. I feel the wax and the textures I create with it. I feel the ripeness of fruits and vegetables. I feel the readiness of pasta. I feel the ancient stonework and wonder what stories it could tell. I feel the wind when it blows mightily through the convent. I feel the cool tile beneath my feet. I feel the coolness inside the stone buildings contrasting with the intense heat outside. I feel the heat of the day give way to the cool of the night, only to slowly come to hot again the next day. I feel the blister on my foot from walking all over Córdoba. I feel where I stubbed my toe yesterday. I feel where I scraped myself the day before. I feel sharp grasses scrape my ankles as I walk around the castle. I feel the peeling skin on my nose because it seems to always be a little burnt. I feel hot showers relaxing and refreshing me. I feel the new leather of the purse and the weight of the thick silver earrings I bought in Córdoba (the city is known for leather and silver). I feel the heavy bags I bike with as I bring supplies to the convent and vegetables home.  

a visitor at the convent today

the reason I am here; first paintings in Spain

Every morning I wake up and greet the castle outside my window. Every morning I feel eternally grateful to be here. 

Europe: Inishmor and Muses


Dún Eochla - a circular fort on Inishmor

I have a confession to make. When I think about the possibility of being robbed on a city street I always clearly envision myself pulling off some wicked ninja moves to show the thief who is boss. I see myself leap over cars and doing somersaults over fences to get back what is mine as I swing my leg up to smash his jaw and use some special moves to flip him with a single twist of my wrist. In my head I am a ninja.

 

I caught myself envisioning all this in the last couple days and finally today it surfaced enough into my consciousness that I just had to laugh at myself. A lot goes on in my subconscious mind. The more I focus on it and the more I hone in on the humorous and serious insights in my subconscious I am realizing that my subconscious mind is my muse. The things that I imagine and conjure are often what I paint. The funny stuff is the sense of humor I really didn't think I had. It is fascinating to me the more I slow down and pay attention to it.

 

About the Island

 

I feel myself slowing down. I feel myself finally realizing that this trip is no longer a dream – I am living it. I feel myself starting to reflect more and notice patterns in life. I still feel the insatiable desire to explore and try everything. 

 

Before I left my friend Michele told me that my mantra for this trip needs to be "Eat the haggis." Try everything. Get the full experience. A good mantra. And yes, I will try haggis. I will be in trouble if I don't. 

 

Waves breaking against the cliffs next to fort Dún Aengus
I absolutely fell in love with the island of Inishmor. Today we rented bikes and biked around to see the ancient forts that remain still. We said hello to cows, donkeys, horses and dogs. We watched the waves crash against the cliffs for a long while. We ate lunch in a fort dating back to 1100 B.C. We cruised down rocky paths and panted up steep hills. We drank pints and ate fresh fish. It was lovely and worth even feeling super sick on the ferry ride back to our car today...my special anti-dizzy meds had worn off. I'm fine now.

 

Tonight we are in Galway. Took in some wonderful Irish music and dancing tonight (made a little movie!). Will post that tomorrow hopefully. Goodnight!

 

* Keep going for a short video by Ben of the waves crashing against the cliffs. *
Dún Aengus (Initial wall was built in 1100 B.C.) and the surrounding cliffs
Dún Eochla and the newer fort/lighthouse at the highest point of the island.Ben on Dún Eochla with the village of Kilronan in the distance.

Late Summer

More recent work: Vulnerable (12"x12") and Torn (10"x10")

We leave in the morning. Yikes. Here are some late summer shots that were just too good to not post and some recent work. That's all I have time for right now!

Posts from Europe coming soon.

Our friend Elliot's birthday party. He and his wife live on a beautiful farm.