When I was a kid we made sun prints simply by putting leaves on construction paper and leaving them in the sun all day. Now you can buy special paper that works in five minutes. The kit we got had a bunch of photo sensitive sheets in a blackout envelope, and a piece of plexiglass to hold the flowers down. After five minutes in the sun the sheet turns white, while the shadows remain dark, then you wet the sheet and wait for everything to develop. It was so fun to pick out all the different fronds and fuzz from our garden with the boys. And they were so giddy waiting to see what kind of shadows they made, and delighted when the paper changed color! I think I may have had more fun than the kids with these…I even tried to get a spider web on one, but all I got was a squished spider. Ha!
You can find sun prints on Amazon.
I really believe that sometimes life imitates art. Certainly we see the world around us and create beauty on the page from the files in our brains. But sometimes I think a wish and hope can be whispered into our creations that God presses into the universe, and it in return calls to us, pulling us with invisible threads until we can be taught. I painted this painting with hardly any idea of what it would end up as. I like to let the paint tell me what it wants to do. Sometimes I sit and let words come to me without trying to think very hard about what I’m saying. Poetry from my subconscious. A painting can certainly feel like poetry to me. So I don’t know if it was the sea calling me, those great monolith rocks surging up from the deep, or if I was the one who tethered them with my strings and pulled myself to them. But I found myself there with the kindreds this past weekend. I added the stars on this last one because you can’t capture them with a phone. I saw a bright blue shooting star that night! Someday I want to go back and camp and watch the Milky Way sink into the sea. The stars are incredible out there!
Oh well! The above is a painting I did while they were blooming. (It’s peonies and poppies) I never actually painted a double poppy though. I should! And here are a few shots of the poppies themselves :)
I have a canvas of earth and a garden in my heart ready to unfold its bright swirling petals. I love how we have been infused with the seeds inside to create beauty, and the tools to make our visions bloom. This has been a season of petals and stamens and color for me. I breathe and sleep their tufted forms. And I watch them burst forth along my front path and up from my water color paper. The earth returns my love to me, and as always, there are surprises and delights even I could not imagine. A gift for my faith in tending a seed, and inspiration for another jewel toned painting.
This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers
and they open —
pools of lace,
white and pink —
and all day the black ants climb over them,
boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away
to their dark, underground cities —
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,
the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
their red stems holding
all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again —
beauty the brave, the exemplary,
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?
Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,
with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
The other day Joey read this poem by Mary Oliver to me while we sat in the Horticultural Center’s garden. I was swept into it as she read. I immediately wanted to paint the ants. It was the prettiest, most exotic description of a bug I usually have a strong distaste for! I love finding beautiful ways to look at things we are frightened of.
When Harry was born I liked to call him Puck (from a midsummer night’s dream, as depicted by Arthur Rackham) for his red hair and one pointy ear. Little did I know he would live up to his mischievous personality too! His Grandma recently asked what his name meant. She figured it must mean something like her Daughter Nicole’s name “victorious” because she was victorious over her mother as a toddler :) (I had forgotten what Harry meant! I didn’t name him for the meaning, but for Harry Potter.) We ended up having a really good laugh.
And Harry may be the master of his own affairs, but he is also the funniest and maaaybe the cutest little thing I’ve ever encountered. He makes every day more exciting! And when he finally concedes to not having his way he slumps and says, “awight. Mama, I sorry.”
I adore this little pixie spreading mischievous magic in his wake!
A while ago my intense anxiety exploded into a full blown panic disorder. I would wake up with my chest aching, my heart pounding. Any decision or stress would send me spiraling into panic: numbness, hot flashes, sweat, rash, jitters, and the sense that something terrible was about to happen. My chest felt like it would explode. Every morning I would say to Beau, “I can’t shake it, I can’t shake it, Beau. I’m really not well.”
But I was still saying to myself and others, “I’m just overwhelmed. I just need to cut some things out, stop seeing so many people.”
But deep down I knew it was more. And cutting things out became everything. And seeing less people became everyone. And the boys became a burden instead of the treasure that they are. And I knew it would only get worse.
I painted this painting the day I finally went in to get help.
I felt like I was accepting defeat, but I kept hearing God say I was only sprouting wings. Accepting and allowing change.
“And the day came when the risk to remain right in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
On the first day without any chest pain I found this little Geometer moth. And the sunset had wings.
That was only a couple of days ago, and my heart is pounding and my face is going numb writing this, but I wanted to make a truthful declaration here. My life is not all beauty, though there is beauty in darkness…it is real, and a journey, and much of the light that is to come is cocooned waiting to come out. I want to try my best to let it, and I want to encourage others to be brave and do the same.