Sunday, December 21, 2008

And all was for and apple, an apple that she took . . .

After church today I was reminded of a 15th century English carol I first heard about 25 years ago called "Adam lay y-bounden."

Some of the folks were decorating the parish hall, what I call the church's living room, in preparation for this week and all the activities that will go on there. One of my dear friends was placing shiney, red plastic apples on the mantel above the fireplace and I remembered that carol. It's about the fall from grace and the need for salvation caused by an apple.

"And all was for an apple, an apple that he took,
As cleckes finden writtein in their book."

In Medieval and Renaissance art there was a parallel drawn between Adam/Christ and Eve/Mary. One of my most favorite Romanesque sculpture pieces is an Eve figure from the lintel of the cathedral at Autun in France. Eve looks forward with a tear in her eye, while reaching back and taking an apple from a branch held up to her by an evil, clawed hand. The Adam is missing, so we don't know exactly what the whole compostition looked like. I find it quite moving, all the same.

I created an interpretation of the beautiful sculpture in a small wall quilt which includes the snake instead of the clawed hand.

"Ne had the apple taken been, the apple taken been,
Ne had never our Savior, our Redeemer abeen."

Do you have a favorite carol? Does it bring about special memories?
Enjoy the seasons and the memories it brings you and yours.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Soon, . . . very soon. . . .

In less than a week all the colorful paper and ribbons will be swept away and the sounds of happy people will fill our homes. Christmas is coming soon . . . very soon!

My brother called with an invitation to "A Christmas Carol" and I'm looking forward to it. He and I grew up with Mr. Ebeneezer Scrooge. My dad still isn't too keen on exchanging gifts, but will pass on little pictures of Ben Franklin in crisp white envelops.

My dear husband and I don't decorate our house (too cluttered already) and we don't put up a tree. For us, this is the Season of Advent, the anticipation of Christmas, Christ's first coming and the expectation of the Second.

With Christmas Eve and the delightful children's pagent followed by the beautiful music of the "midnight mass" we usher in Christmas -- after everyone else is "over it".

Our families and our culture have forgotten how to look deeply into the quiet, still manger and celebrate the baby's coming after his arrival. It's like throwing party after party for weeks and months before the baby arrives and then tossing all the cool stuff out to the curb once he gets here. It's anti-climactic.

And the Twelve Days of Christmas are not a count down to Christmas day, but a count of the twelve short days of the "Liturgical Christmas Season" between Christmas Day and January 6th, Epiphany -- the day the Magi arrived to worship the child.

Somebody stop me, I'm feeling a bit of Scrooge coming on!

At any rate, I've been making lovely jewelry pieces to sell and to give to my family and friends. (It makes me happy to be able to make someone else happy too, after all.) I like to think of the little baubles as tiny Christmas ornaments my friends and family will wear and enjoy throughout the year.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I'm getting in the Holiday Spirit now . . . 'bout time!

It's blisteringly cold and only a week until Christmas. All the tests have been graded and the grades have been sent in. I've made some lovely jewelry pieces and have some happy customers.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

In the thick of it

I haven't posted for a while because I'm, as the title says, "in the thick of it". I gave and exam today and while doing so, had a strange encounter with a stranger fellow who asked me if I was God or Mohammad. Since I'm neither, I told him to go away. You had to be there.

I've been working on my textbook e-book and I'm quite behind. I spent most of Monday and Tuesday fielding question from student who took the exam Wednesday. I must have answered the same question a hundred time. "Read the email I just sent out -- it gives all the directions!" Actually I answered with more charity, but BOY was I exasperated!

Late Tuesday afternoon and into the early evening, I did some work in my sewing studio. I made a mitre for Bishop St. Nicholas (d. Dec.6th 346) who visited the children at our Church Wednesday evening. The miter matches the chasuble my husband's assistant uses when she celebrates the eucharist".

Wednesday evening I also shared with the children the stories and legends of the good bishop who later became a saint and patron of children and young people, sailors, pawnbrokers, and much more. The Christmas stocking association comes from one of his early acts of generosity: he overheard a father tell his grown daughters he couldn't afford a dowary for them (which would surely have lead to prostition or the nunnery) and secretly tossed three small bags of gold through the window or down the chimney to save them from such a fate. The bags landed in the stocking drying by the fire.

This weekend is going to be really busy too. This time of the year is always a whirlwind in a clergy household.

Tomorrow is all about the e-book. I better get crackin'

Saturday, November 22, 2008

You've been Tagged

Six Random Things About Myself

1. I learned to sew when I was 6 years old using my mother's second-hand cast iron Singer Sewing Machine. She gave me a toy sewing machine for Christmas, but it didn't sew properly and I got very frustrated. That's when she taught me to use her grown-up machine.

2. I'm a Native Texan, never lived anywhere else. (That's not to say I wouldn't like to live elsewhere, like Scotland, maybe).

3. My husband is a minister, making me a clergy spouse. (Life's interesting during the holidays!)

4. I don't cook. (But I love to eat -- go figure!)

5. I'm a Medieval Stained Glass expert. I know just about everything anyone needs to know about Medieval Jesse Trees.

6. I used to be so shy that I would blush if anyone even looked my direction, but now I teach a college class of 300+ students. (I think that's more than random - it's a miracle!)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Journey

A while back I was reading posts from a Pilgrimage Listserv for one of the famous pilgrimage journeys from France (well, all over the world really, but "beginning" in France) and traveling to the northwestern most corner of Spain to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostella. I've been interested in this pilgrimage since I learned of this specific medieval pilgrimage journey. It got me to thinking about our separate journeys in life.

One of the "pilgrims" was describing this long and difficult journey that can take more than two months to make on foot crossing all sorts of terrain and encountering all sorts of people. He (or she, I don't recall) said that you start off in an almost euphoric state, because it is so beautiful, because you have prepared for it -- for many reasons, but it feels easy because it is new and different.

Then, after a few days or a week, the going gets a little tougher, the terrain changes, the land is flat and dry and not nearly so lushly beautiful. There are no shady trees to protect you from the elements. There is still a special beauty. But you start to doubt yourself.

And then it hits you, you have come so far, how can you possibly quit?

Then you get excited about the end of the journey, the scenery changes again and you enter a more populated region, you almost dread coming to your destination. Well, dread may be too strong a word. It's like a favorite song you don't want to end.

The journey is physically taxing, emotionally trying and spiritually altering. You are never the same again. The journey teaches you things you won't recognize immediately, but you are changed.

Where are you in your journey? Excited about the beginning? Bogged down by the "dry spells" and/or monotony? Euphoric because you're near your destination? Share where you are.

Enjoy your journey.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Talent and Risk

I was sitting in church on Sunday and listening intently to the readings, specifically the parable about the master who entrusted his servants with varying amounts of "talents" while he was away.

You probably know the story or have heard of it before. One gets five and invests it to make ten, another gets two and makes two more. But the last servant hides the one talent he is given and is punished for not taking a risk with it.

I sometimes get lost in these parables, but this one went right to my core. Of course "talent" in the reading is a monetary term, but it also works with this thing we associate with our creativity.

I've only been acknowledging myself as an artist for about four years, but I've always created, I've always had a knack for making beautiful things. Yes, I've always had talent, but I never risked it for anything.

I don't want to get in trouble for not taking a risk, so I better get busy!

If you're out there and I'm not talking to myself, tell me when you first recognized you had talent and what kind of risks you have taken for it. I look forward to reading your comments.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Beading Frenzy

Last week I went to San Antonio for a four day conference of Art Educators. My travelling companions were eager for some diversion and recreation on the trip down, so we stopped several places, including a charming Hill Country town -- with a FABULOUS bead shop.

These ladies, each with an incredible artistic sense, were novices to the bead scene. It was so exciting to see their choices and combinations of design, color, texture, and size of beads. I'm proud I have infected them with the bead bug. I'm certain they will produce beautiful results.

It's a sever virus, though. Nadine, has been so infected with it that we have visited shops and purchased beads three times in two weeks. Today we went to a bead show that shared the convention hall with a gun show. (Wrap your head around that one!) We've also exchanged beads and I've taught her tips and tricks in jewelry craft.

I've wanted this for quite a while now: beading companions, bead buddies, jewerly junkies. Alway expanding, learning, sharing.

My resolution this year has been "to walk more boldly into my artistic self." I've been enjoying the journey!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sky's the Limit

Last May, my husband and I took a cruise, our first. We thoroughly enjoyed just about everything about it, but I was especially taken with the early morning and late evening skies. The skies from the ship reminded me of the work of my friend Pam Burnley-Schol who paints the most intoxicating sky pieces -- they are prayers.

I thought of her when I photographed the gorgeous skies and as soon as we return home, I printed out several photos especially for her.

Sunday afternoon, she and her artist-husband, Don Schol, and my husband (also Don) and I met for dinner.

In walks Pam with a large shirt box wrapped in ribbon. And inside -- I was breathless when I opened it -- were three exquisite pieces, models for larger works -- just as I had imagined my photos would look interpreted through her gift. I cannot begin to put words to my deep appreciation for the gift of such beauty -- her talent and the product of it.

I'm speechless, humbled by my part in their creation.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Messes and Creativity

Lynn Davis has done it again, She's opened her studio and told us about her messy, creative studio over on the Blog and she was asking about our messes and messiest projects. I had to answer that. Here's what I posted:

I live in C.H.A.O.S. - Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome (thanks "Flylady"). My messes my own making and I think it has something to do with having two jobs and a very full volunteer schedule. I'm a fiber artist as well as a jewelry maker, but it's my sewing room/studio that's the worst. I'll get deep into a project and then have to abandon it to go off and do one of these things on my schedule.

But my biggest/worst mess was a few years ago when I was making some Ukrainian-style Easter Egg on our breakfast table. The weekend before I had stripped the round maple table because the varnish was sticky. I'm sure you can see what's coming. I tipped over the jar of green dye and made a permanent mess on the table.

Lemons to lemonade, I painted the table white and stenciled our china pattern on it. I loved that table!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Learn something new every day

My mom always said, "Learn something new everyday." Well I've just stepped out of an Etsy Trunk Show hosted by the Precious Metals Clay group (P=MC).

Oh, my goodness! Such beautiful things. The trunk show was awesome -- such beautifully crafted pieces. Such talented artists. And they put their work out there for us to share.

And to top it all off, I was one of the prize winning participants. I won these beautifully crafted earrings from Liz Hall's Etsy shop:

I can hardly wait until these lovelies arrive. Happy, happy me! I'm as happy as can be!

Back to this learning something new thing. I had never chatted, or entered a virtual lab, I had never purchased something through etsy. And look at me now. I'm a winner!

I'm inspired.

A new adventure

Yesterday I spent most of the afternoon with two very interesting and energized individuals who now are team members with me in a new adventure. I'm going to be publishing an e-book for the Art Appreciation class I teach to non-art majors and they are my publishing team.

"I met with my editor and webdesigner" . . . I love the ring of that.

Me, a published author. I could have never imagined it.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Tapas and Talk

I'm crazy about food. For me it's almost a religious experience involving all the senses. It's especially wonderful when enjoyed with friends. And I have some fabulously artistic friends.

Last night these artistic friends (who now have a name: Everywoman) trekked to a distant suburb to have tapas and talk at Christina's house. There we had a variety of wines, lovely bread with olive oil for dipping and a list of yummies to long to describe. I was in my element!

Once we got to talking, time flew and it was time to leave. At the very end of the evening, we went to in Christina's music studio (she's a composer) to listen to a couple of her recordings. We were all so energized, we didn't feel the extreme length of our separate days.

The four of us commuting in the car ended up with nicknames too. Rene likes to "stir things up" so she's Spooner. Laura is a fiber artists so she's now Spinner. Karen does these amazing installations of walls made out of sandwich bags (no really, they ARE amazing!) so she's Bagger. And I like to make jewelry, so I'm Beader.

Spooner, Spinner, Bagger, Beader. We are "Everywoman."

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sharing the creativity

Today I was at our church's annual convention. There are always quite a few vendors who show and sell their religiously themed wares and I usually end up spending a nice chunk of change. Today was no different. I purchased an icon of John the Baptist (with his head on a plate), some beautifully hand-carved mother-of-pearl crosses for my rosary bracelets, and a gorgeous embroidered Palestinian dress, all from a gentleman who know the value of his wares.

I also talked to several "artists-types" who create jewelry. Some things were very expensive and others were sorely underpriced. I talked to one lady and while we shared ideas, I encouraged her to value her work more and let it be reflected in the price. Sometime, if a price isn't "high enough" the work's artistry isn't valued. Anyway, I think I gave her some encouragement.

Coming away from the day I felt inspired by what I saw, what I purchased, and the connections I made.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I'm not much of a blogger . . .

I can't seem to get in the habit of sitting down and downloading (or is it uploading) my thoughts into a digital format. I never was much for journalling either. Anyway, I've been happily making interesting things in my studio and enjoying the creative spirit of my "artist friends".

We're going to have a show in the spring and it will be amazing. More about that later.

The Faculty and Staff show had its opening reception on Tuesday. My piece "Peace and Caritas: Why can't we get along like peas and carrots" wasn't really displayed the way I had wished, but it still looks good and is in wonderful company. My piece is just a few paces from the Oil and Enamel on Wood with Gold Leaf triptych painted by my friend Pam Burnley Schol and they look wonderful together. Hers are incredible portraits/still-lifes of melons and shallots all tied in twine and mine are little poly-clay carrots and pea-pods with green freshwater pearls on a gold chain. We're right next to the ceramic creations of dean Robert Milnes. It's so exciting to show with such talented artists of all strips.

Speaking of artists of all stripes. My artist friends who will be showing together in the spring are from a broad spectrum of backgrounds and talents. Arvind is a documentarian, Rene is a sculptor, Karen is a fiber artist as is Lauren. Jung is a photographer, Christina is a composer (of music). And I'm a . . . what am I? I work in a bunch of different media, poly-clay, fiber, jewelry, found objects. We'll see what I become over the next few weeks and months.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Color and Light and Collaboration

Last Saturday I met up with some friends for brunch and a visit to an art gallery and the Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth. There were eight of us and most of us only knew two or three of the others, so this was a time of renewing old friendships and beginning new ones. We're all artists and we're all women. The energy from the day was very exciting and inspiring.

We visited the Kimbell to see the special exhibit of 92 works from the Impressionist collection of the Art Insitute of Chicago. We talked about the use of color and light in the works we saw on display and we learned so much from one another. I was the art historian on hand, and there was a sculptor, a composer, a fiber artist, a photographer, and documentarian and we each shared how our vision meshed with the works on the walls -- how our vision was changed by the exhibit.

We've decided to take "Color and Light" as an inspirational phrase and create a work of art to share with the group -- and hopefully to exhibit together.

"Color and Light"

Where to start?!

My training is in medieval art history and I have a passion for stained glass. Do I use that as a springboard? Do I look at the works I have created using needle and thread to create a wallhanging? And if I do, what would be the tangible subject of that? And I've been making jewelry lately too.

"Color and Light"

(What am I going to do?!?!)

Watch this space.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Spirit of Inspiration is Alive and Well!

Artemisia Gentileschi was a contemporary of Caravaggio and a very talented artist who just happened to be a woman. She is supposed to have said something to this effect: I'm not a woman artist, I'm an ARTIST!

I choose her as an inspiration for my artistic endeavors. I'm an artist, art historian, and lecturer, among other alter-egos, oh, and yes, I'm a woman. This is my blog and I'm glad you have joined me.