The Real. The Raw. Failure on Mt. Hood. [VIDEO]

I know some people have nightmares of being naked. A manifestation of vulnerability. I don’t usually. I dream of failure.

I dream over and over of failing a college class that I forget I’m taking. This dream comes so frequently that every month or so I ask my husband if I’m enrolled in any courses just to clear my mind. I haven’t taken a class in years.

In the last few weeks I’ve been feeling very drawn to honestly and vulnerably telling stories of my fears and failures. I can attribute part of this to being at WDS, where stories of vulnerability and bravery go hand-in-hand.

Someone once told Ben and I that our climbing was like a perfectly constructed team building exercise in which we were being stretched to work on our most pressing communication issues. We thought we just had a hobby.

Climbing pushes me to my mental and physical limits and stirs the pot so that I face my ugliest shadows and worst fears. Especially my emotions around failure.

This video is about the raw, real emotions that I felt during my attempt of Mt. Hood last week.

This is not a reality tv show. I hate that vulnerability and emotional responses are being dumbed down by the prevalence of this brain-rotting phenomenon. This is me. My journey part way up a mountain and the wash of exhausted emotion I encountered en route. Keeping it real.

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. 

Listening

Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It's time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes: and leap!

(from Defying Gravity)

To maintain sanity I am fliping back and forth between a high-energy Glee soundtrack and listening to the soundtrack of the natural environment. 

I leave tomorrow. I leap tomorrow. Or have I already leaped?

Last night about 20 of my family and friends gathered to help stuff 1400+ envelops to give away on the first leg of the tour. It was one of those moments that I felt connected and held...and also realized the enormity of what I am doing on this tour. Those moments have been sneaking up on me. They are thrilling...in a good and in a scary way. 

So here I go. 

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

 

About To Jump

I am standing on the edge of a cliff. I have made the decision to jump. I know I will miraculously grow wings and fly, or maybe land in that mysterious net that appears when we need it, or plunge deep into warm and soothing waters that will carry me, or something like that. But right now from here I can still see it all laid out before me - the plan and the unknowns.

I can see that I have started something. The next 5 months of my life will be about a road trip. A leap of faith. A giant journey recorded on the internet. A spinning of a web connecting thousands of people. A coming together. A world of unknowns that will become known. 

I am one of the ones who always has to jump. I never regret it. I only ever regret not jumping. 

I wonder sometimes if the urge to jump will leave me someday. But that seems like such a distant question for another time so I choose to ignore it. What happens will happen. 

Right now I am jumping. 

The Blur. The Rush.

Traveling always seems to allow time to play tricks on me. These last couple weeks here in the Northwest have really flown by. They kind of feel like a blur. We did a lot of relaxing and exploring, but also a lot of working. I am talking about Seek Your Course wherever I go because I believe in my company and in our mission. And so I work and that makes time speed by even faster. 

Now our trip has come to an end. We toured the NW and enjoyed it. Part of my grand plan to move out here and Ben is no longer so opposed. He has seen it and approves. There are a few places we would love to live and I hope we are lucky enough to do so. 

one of my aunt's many elephants

I am continuing to fight the feelings that I am alone in my work. I would love to find a team to build around me. Seek Your Course needs a team building it up. I tend to be inpatient so I am fighting this and trusting that the team will come. 

I was thinking last night about walking like an elephant...slowly, steadily, with intention and an internal compass. Then I remembered that Ganesha, an elephant, is the remover of obstacles. I've been dwelling on these thoughts to help me move forward. 

another remover of obstacles

I will post more about Artfest soon. Or at least link you to my SYC posts about it. 

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.

Finding Green

So we went from snow to desert and then back to the lush green western side of the Cascades. We have spent the last couple days in Portland, Oregon. We have seen friends, eaten great food, drank great beer, driven all over the area to see as much as we could, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

 

Today we spent an hour around the N. Mississippi Ave area. We ate at food carts and then saw some awesome shops, including these.

at Flutter (#3948)

 

at Flutter (#3948)the window of Sunlan Lighting (#3901)at Pistils Nursery (#3811)

And I have been getting in my babytime. We are staying with a 5 week old and he is precious!

Lyon (son of Erik and Katie)

Finding Snow

We are on the road! Ben and I are exploring the NorthWest before Artfest next week.

Just a quick post to tell you the epic tale of driving through the Cascades here in Oregon.

As we headed from the Salem, OR area towards Sisters, OR we received a call from the lodge we had reservations at saying that there had been an avalanche and there would be a long delay to get to the lodge. Being us we continued on knowing that there was only one road to Sisters. The roads weren't great because it was still snowing, but thankfully we had gotten upgraded to an SUV with good tires and 4WD. We were all set. And it was beautiful. 

waiting in line to get through the pass

We waited in a line of cars trying to get through the Santiam pass, where the avalanche occurred, for less than an hour before it opened. Some people had been waiting for hours. Here is the local news story with a photo of the vehicles that got trapped in the avalanche. 

Snow Eater!!! This giant snowblower was intense!

We got here safe and sound and have been enjoying another round of snow. Went snowshoeing yesterday and saw the beautiful Mt Washington.

This has been our stop for R&R and it has been wonderful. We are here at The Lodge at Suttle Lake because of a Groupon deal which included a suite, wine and cheese socials, and a couples massage. Feeling rejuvenated and ready to travel again today. 

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

Adrift (where the sea is taking me)

florist in London

Being in Europe was like being handed the keys to a speedboat. My life was suddenly filled with new sights and sounds and I was moving. Even when I settled into a routine in Spain life was still beautiful and rich with momentum. Everything was new. I had amazing food, language to absorb and attend to, new things to snap photos of everyday, and a constant bubbling of excitement.

At a Tea House in LondonA cloudy skyline, royal ironwork, individually wrapped sushi and Wicked!

Now I feel like I took the speed boat out onto the open seas and the motor stalled. Try as I might it just won't start. I'm back home and the momentum is gone. Somedays the speed I felt before seems like a distant memory that might have been a dream. My trip does kind of seem like a dream. I've been home less than a month but that time away feels so distant and the feeling of being back again seems to shadow all that happened.

The Pipilotti Rist exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in LondonAt the Southbank Centre...I would take this residency any day!

I even saw the Queen during my dreamy adventures!

I am back and the sea is calm but insistent and I wonder where it is taking me. Without a working motor taking me speeding ahead I am noticing the things that make me uncomfortable...feeling those feelings that I don't want to feel. The doubts about whether I am in the right place in my life. The fear of loneliness and rejection. Some days I feel like the sea is pulling me in various directions just to mess with me. 

But then again there is evidence that the sea knows better than I do. There is evidence that the sea is taking me places I could never have planned to go. I am learning to take advantage of this open schedule and self-employed lifestyle. I am scheduling time with friends, inspirational trips, and making exciting plans but not quite finding enough time to paint yet. It will come. I will insist.

Sarah Ahearn Bellemare's show in Northampton (and her daughter, Ada)

Some guerilla knitting found near my home.

A day at the new Wishstudio in Newburyport with Mindy Tsonas

So I am learning to be adrift. I usually have one mode: Go. (And then there is Crash but I try to pretend that doesn't happen.) This feels like neither. This feels like a mix of fate and adventure. This feels like real exploration...not the kind on a trail but the kind in the jungle with no map. The kind that comes with uncertainties, unknowns and fear. I shall be brave and find out where the sea is taking me.

 

 

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. 


Travels in Spain with Mom

My mom arrived in Madrid on an overnight flight on November 5. The opening for my show had been the night before, but regardless I woke up early, caught the 7am bus to Cordoba, a 9:30am train to Madrid and she was there waiting for me. I was so thrilled to have her in Spain. I knew she would love it and she did. 

We stayed in Madrid for two nights. On our first day we went to the Real Jardín Botánico gardens, the Prado Art Museum, and did a little tapas tour of our own near the Puerta del Sol. The Prado was a little overwhelming, but amazing. The tapas and wine were fabulous. 

Real Jardín Botánico

The next day we set out sights on El Rastro Flea Market, the biggest in Europe. We walked and shopped until we dropped and we estimate that we only saw 1/3 of it. It really is a flea market like no other I’ve been to. You could buy antiques, art, jewelry, leather goods, cheap electronics, memorabilia, scarves, clothing, or Moroccan imports. The range was incredible. We both became pack mules laden with goods. 

 El Rastro Flea Market

some antique stores in El Rastro

Later that day we did some more shopping. I bought a wheeled carry-on bag which is serving me very well and served then to carry all the treasures we had bought at the flea market. My mom found a couple pairs of awesome shoes including low purple boots which are adorable. 

(click to enlarge)

While shopping we noticed beautiful evening light hitting some of the buildings over our heads so we raced to the palace gardens and joined a growing crowd of people at the overlook watching the most stunning sunset. Fiery orange and yellows blended perfectly into the richest blues and purples with a dab of pink for good measure. 

We ended the day of shopping with more tapas and more wine. Here is a little video I made with some more street music and some of the food we ate.

 

 

From Madrid we headed to Córdoba in a first class train car complete with tapas. 

I must say I really like Córdoba. It is small and manageable, but with plenty to do. The first day there I took Mom to the mosque. I had of course been there before (here and here), but it was worth going again. Not quite as surprising the second time, but rich with history and atmosphere. I also took Mom to Santos for their famous tortilla (spanish omelet). 

street scenes in Córdoba

After doing the things I had already done, we indulged in a couple hours in the arabian Hammam Baths complete with tea and massages. Oh my, I could do that everyday. Five pools at three different temperatures plus a steam room and a giant heated rock slab to lie on. One of my most relaxing experiences yet. 

After some Moroccan food we wandered around the city.

 

The next day was Tuesday and more was open. Our first stop was Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (a fortress/castle) with its climbable tower and extensive gardens. My mom especially enjoyed the gardens after watching a freak fall snow storm burry hers a couple weeks ago (complete with the loss of power for 5 days!). In Córdoba the trees still had leaves, the oranges and pomegranates hung promisingly, and giant koi swam around looking for food in the pools. 

 alcázar


gardens of alcázar

After the castle we went to explore the 13 patios of Palacio de Viana. I quickly decided that I would definitely like to live in a house with 13 patios. Absolutely. Where’s my winning lottery ticket? 


 I shot some footage to really capture the beauty of these gardens and structures.

 

After the palace we headed to the bus station and boarded a bus for the countryside. With full bags we arrived in the pueblo of Belalcázar for a a few days of finishing my residency. 

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


La Fragua: Trip to Granada (and Córdoba)

This past weekend I took a trip first to Córdoba for a few hours and then to Granada for two nights. I’ve settled into the town here nicely and really love it, but I decided that I really should see something else since I am here. I am going to see Madrid properly this weekend with my mom when she arrives, but either Granada or Sevilla were a must too. So I chose Granada.

Friday morning I took the bus to Córdoba from our little pueblo. As I walked to the bus I started to panic. I thought I heard a bus is the distance. I tried to quell my fears by telling myself that there are lots of big vehicles on the road that might sound like a bus. The bus wasn’t due for an hour, or was is 30 minutes? No one seemed to know for sure. And that was the real reason for my anxiety. Online timetables and local information seemed to not agree. And that made me nervous. I am used to everything running like clockwork, but here it doesn’t. Here things happen when they happen and that’s about all you can really count on. 

In general I like this. In general a world with less pressure and more room to enjoy the simple and beautiful things of life is better. It pushes me to let go and slow down and love this single, precious life I have. It teaches me to be more patient and respect the paths of others. It shows me just how insignificant my plans are in the grand scheme of things. But when it comes to busses - damn! - I wish they would reliable. 

As it turned out the online timetable was correct and I was indeed an hour early. I had two churros and fresh squeezed orange juice in the cafeteria while waiting. And then I sat my the road in the freezing cold just so I would miss it. It turned up right at 9am. I could breath again.

I spent most of Friday in Córdoba. I went to the medieval synagogue, archeological museum, and did some shopping. I mainly bought clothes and scarves because I have so few here and the European styles are awesome. But I also bought these pink boots. Not my typical purchase. I am still kind of staring at them and scratching my head. Why did I buy them? I don't know.

 the medieval synagogue in córdoba


the tiny San Bartolomé church in Córdoba...honestly the most amazing tiles I've seen anywhere

some amazing artifacts at the archaeological museum 

eating octopus my first night in Granada

Saturday was my big day in Granada. I went on a tour of Alhambra and the Generalife gardens in the morning, walked around the Albayzín district in the afternoon, took a brief nap, and then went back to the Generalife gardens for a night visit. It was all amazingly beautiful. 

Palacio de Carlos V...a renaissance edition after the catholic kings took back over

the gardens outside the entrance to the Palacio Nazaríes

I took so many photos in the Palacio Nazaries that I had to make a slideshow. 107 in total, so sit back and relax. It's worth it!

 

From the Nazaríes Palace we went to the Generalife Gardens. 

my glimpse of the snow capped Sierra Nevada mountains before the clouds came in the hedges and fountains of the Generalife Gardens

the summer palace

Part of why I went away this weekend was to be moving. I love bus rides, train rides, or even driving. Movement always seems to clear my head and unblock the words and images in my mind. I love how the land swishes by and the gentle rocking of the machine soothes me. I feel the tension ease and the smiles come as I watch sheep running through the field, observe the natural rise and fall of the hills and valleys, and spot each pueblo far ahead across the fields before we come to it. 

Running water does the same thing. Sitting by or walking along running water unplugs something in my brain and calms me. The movement and the energy from it has great power in my life. That’s one of the reasons I love my bedroom here in the pueblo so much – I can always here the water running from the Pilar below. And also why I absolutely loved the Water Stairs in Generalife.

the water stairs (there is video footage of this too!)

My tour was moving so fast that I didn't get to shoot any video (though hundred of photos) in the Nazaríes Palace so I started shooting in the small Summer Palace in the Generalife gardens. Got a little bit of night shooting in too, but it is not fabulous.

 As the video shows, I went from the gardens to Alcazaba – the fortress – and then down into the city before returning to the gardens at night.

Alcazaba

the view from Alcazaba

courtyards and terra cotta roof tiles

the streets of the Pomegranate City (granada is pomegranate in spanish)

The city was full of amazing street art. Full murals could be found all over the place. I didn't get great pictures because most of it I saw from the busses, but here are some wonderful shots on flickr. This is one I saw while walking around.

street artsmall stone paved streets, good food and good views...and proving I was thereAfter a nap it was back to the gardens. 

the summer palace at night

Again, too many photos to just put into the post. This slideshow is much shorter (only 21 photos) but beautiful in its own way.

 

I wish I could have captured what it was like to walk through the darker parts of the garden. But maybe there is something about drifting alone, silently through room after room, arch after arch of evergreen hedges that needs to be experienced for oneself. I think it is a journey that would actually be different for everyone. So I sealed the memory in my mind. Standing alone learning how to enjoy solitude in the night accompanied by the sliver of orange magnified moon sinking below the horizon.

I feel things changing, shifting. My time here is speeding up. More people are arriving before I leave and the house is going to fill up. My calm days full of silence are dwindling. So much change makes me a little uneasy – like a big wave – but I just need to fight the panicky feeling and boldly ride the wave home. And at the same time I crave being home. I think I just know the ride home is going to be a little more chaotic than the easy life I have gotten used to for the last few weeks.

I would come back to Spain in a heartbeat. I absolutely love it here. But right now, honestly, the holidays are calling me home. My dad turns 50 a few days after I get back. And there are pies to bake, traditions to keep, a house to decorate, parties to plan, more paintings to paint, shows to prepare for, and gifts to make. Holidays in New England are something I look forward to every year. And this year I will actually have time to enjoy it. The more snow the better. It was a snowy halloween so I’m hopeful for a White Christmas.

just another alleyway

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: Trip to Córdoba

The famous arches of the Mezquita de Córdoba

During my first week here in my residency Javi, Rosana and I took a trip to Córdoba...and it happened to be my birthday. La Fragua was having an opening for a show in Córdoba, which gave me a chance to gather some art supplies and seeing an amazing city. I am going back this week to see more, but this is what I saw on my first trip a couple weeks ago.

Let's start on the outside of the Mosque. La Mezquita de Cordoba was built on top of a ruined cathedral in 785 AD, but then when the Christians took back over in the 16th century they put a catherdral in the middle of it. So it is called the Mezquita-Catedral. It tells the story of change in the city. And it is absolutely stunning.

 

one of the outside doors of the mosquePuerta del Perdón: the 14th century gateway to the Mezquita/Mosque

As you go through the Puerta del Perdón you enter the Patio de los Naranjos, the Patio of the Oranges. I especially loved the aqueducts that delivered water to the orange trees.


Patio de los Naranjos (and dome in the Puerta del Perdón)aqueducts to water the orange trees

And then you go inside. And all the archtectural styles just mash together into something completely unique.


one of several painted domes


 

part of the maksura, muslim prayer enclosure


dome of the maksura

left: the cathedral; right: arches of the mosque

What struck me the most were the patterns. My eyes hurt from staring through my camera lens.

I was in awe of the great variety of patterns covering every surface

After spending a good, long time soaking up the mosque I explored the Juderia (jewish district), had a slice of Santos' famous tortilla (a giant cake of potato and egg), some tapas, and genuinely enjoyed Córdoba. I also did some birthday shopping for myself.

sights around the cityAnd then we went to the opening. The show features an audio composition of women talking about their mothers and the sea. It was composed by Hiroya Miyura. You can read more about the installation here

Top: the audio installation complimented by mirrors; left: leaving the show; bottom: tapa and drinks afterward

A fabulous birthday.

La Fragua: Tuesday is Market Day

orange and purple carrot at the tuesday market

I posted a little about the market in one of my other posts, but today I took a tiny bit of video too. And more photos. It really is wonderful to have so much good food...and cheaply!

Today I bought:
1 bundle of chard ... 0,50eu
1/2 kilo of handcut cured ham ... 9eu
1/2 small wheel of cured goat cheese ... 4eu
1 filet of white fish ... 1,28eu
5 carrots, 1 bundle of spring onions, and 1 bag of spinach ... 2eu

The goat cheese is great. Strong and bold. As it should be. 

Lunch today was sliced tomatoes from the garden drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt with fresh bread, cured ham, and goat cheese. 

Dinner tonight was leftover lentil leek soup that I made Sunday with seeded bread and goat cheese.

I am going to pan fry the fish tomorrow for dinner and sautee the greens to have with it.  

queso...goat, cow and sheepI do love food.