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Yesterday my little dog, Snitter and I walked up the hill to a neighbor’s house to pick up fabric and fibers she’d found for me at a garage sale last month. Here we are heading back home with a bag-full of jewel-tones.

 

People often ask me where I get all of my materials. Most of the fabric I use (I’d say 98%) is recycled. Old clothes of mine or my family’s, something I find in a thrift store or at a garage sale, or scraps left over from projects of friends or family members. My mother sends me all the end pieces of yarn from knitting and crocheted projects. Ribbons from gifts or packaging. The bandana’s my dog gets when he goes for a grooming. Old sheets, curtains, pillows, hats, boas, doll clothes, if it’s fiber and it has the right, hmmmm…. What word would work? If it “feels right,” it goes in my supply. I do have some fabrics that I am not at all certain how I might use them; but the patterns seem to be something that will be perfect one day for something. I tend to use mostly solid prints and cannot have enough different tones and textures of every color. But once in a while a oh how a pattern can sing! My favorite example is when I had a horse print I thought I’d never use but found that when the images of the bodies were cut up they made great stone. This is in my “Courage” flag which is part of the “Serenity Prayer” tryptic on my website homepage. Have a look :)



 

 





My sister is one off he premier stained glass painters in the U.S. She designs windows for churches and mauseleums all over the country and often paints details like a human face or fabric folds. So it was and is quite an honor that she chose a set of prayer flags to hang in her studio. Here she is with "The Three Graces; Faith, Hope and Love."

 


Today was actually a very challenging day. The retreat this weekend seems to have awakened my psyche to deeper layers of grieving my husband's illness, death and our challenging latter years together. I have been very grateful for lessons in Be-ing that got me through the day. Also, though my inner child kidked and screamed to be allowed to just wallow, I spent the afternoon contemplating and praying through the beginnings of this new flag:: "Wonder." Humbled and grateful tonight.



I’ve not been able to post since last week because of technical difficulties. My new internet service provider is coming tomorrow to re-install my router NOT on the opposite side of a metal plate I had told them would be a problem. Then, my 6-year-old computer crashed. Who 'da thunk?

 

This morning I met with a dear friend and relayed the story and stories of the past one and a half months. It made me realize a LIFETIME seems to have happened in this short time.It has been a summer of letting go and finally of surrender.  I am going to give a short summary here today because I will be referencing this summer of surrender in coming days as I reflect and begin to make prayer flags and paintings based on travels and sketches:

 

July 11th my daughter in her car with her dog, various boxes and furniture, me in my SUV with my little dog and furniture and boxes – we drove in caravan from NW Oregon to Savannah, GA. If you’ve ever caravanned, you know, it takes some communication and tactical maneuvers over distances. Fortunately, both of us love road-trips and our dogs are good travelers. We arrived in Savannah after 5 days on the road. Hot, tired but focused on apartment hunting for her and a friend who also wanted to live off-campus this year. Two weeks. We spent two weeks in a hotel while we viewed and they made application to apartments. That’s in Savannah, in July. When they finally found out they got one and the lease was signed, we hit the ground running to get everything moved in, purchase a bigger furniture items and get her to a place where my leaving didn’t feel as if I was abandoning her in the midst of a pile of stuff dumped in the Livingroom. In the middle of this phase, I learned my older brother had had a heart attack in Minnesota, where I was headed after I left Georgia. My first day driving solo, I clocked 15 hours and got to Hannibal, MO. The next day I met my sister in Iowa and we caravanned to central Minnesota to catch the tail-end of visiting hours in the hospital only to learn nobody had let us know he’d been released a few hours prior. I spend almost a week in Minnesota, connecting with family and the beautiful lakes. I also visited my sister’s studio and saw the magnificent work she is doing in painting and designing stain glass windows for churches and mausoleums. She also bought my tryptic of “The Three Graces: Faith, Hope, and Love” for her studio and I got to help her hang them. From Minnesota, I drove with my mom to her grandfather’s farm in South Dakota where I also met a great aunt who’d just turned 100. I had always wanted to meet her and was delighted to find a kindred spirit. Mom drove out to Oregon and stayed a week with me before I took her to the airport last Friday and then I packed up and headed off to a weekend retreat at Laurelwood Ananda Center. Oh, the driving trip, if you're curious, was 6774 miles. 

 

 


Since my show in May and June, the theme of the Broke Open Heart has followed me, as has Holding the Fire. Both are titles for specific prayer flags that were in the show. Since that show, I’ve driven from Oregon to Savannah, Georgia creating a 6774 mile loop across the country; and those two themes followed me daily as I walked (and drove) the path of letting go of my husband (who committed suicide in November 2015) and my daughter who drove her own car to Savannah in caravan with mine but did not loop back to Oregon with me. The themes seemed to combine at some point and I have come up with “Broke-open Art.” This, I believe is at last the cohesive theme to my art.

 

I graduated in 1985 from a college that gave me a BA in two fields I had chosen to study: elementary education and theology. Upon the morning of my ceremony, the head of the Theology Department took me aside and gave me a gift. Two actually. The first was a mobile made of colorful fish woven from ribbon by one of the retired nuns in her convent. It was (and is, for it hangs in my studio) beautiful in its colorful expression of the ethereal, balance, weightlessness and weightiness, held by a cotton thread. The second gift, she had wrapped in a paper towel and was just slightly apologetic in giving to me yet expressed in earnestness some inner call to do so. The second gift was a badly broken conch shell. The irregular edges where the outer shell had broken off framed an inner, soft pink, smooth chamber never seen until the shell was broke open. My professor explained that she felt I had a gift of finding hidden beauty where others cannot or will not.  I need to admit to no longer having this shell. It seems symbolic of the years of not being able to fully accept the gift my professor gave me when she reflected the gift my Creator gave me. It’s a little embarrassing to see how foolish one can be with gifts.

 

In recent years as my husband’s illness deepened and in the 9 months since his death, I reflect upon the 31 year rather circuitous journey since those gifts were given and finally find myself returning (one giant loop) to this place again where I receive them anew. I think I finally am simply accepting it now, and simply saying, “thank you.” It has been a long and sometimes difficult and dangerous journey. I am deeply grateful to have survived it and to have returned to this place once again. Humbled and wizened both. I see now that what is broke-open not only exposes hidden vulnerability and beauty but also frees the inner passion, the fire. The exterior travels of these years wove me in and out of many situations of vulnerability, beauty, passion and fire but now, broke-open, it all comes from within. Where it really was planted originally.

 

This realization has prompted a change in the title of my blog. Let us see where else it leads…


Today is the opening reception for my first gallery show. It's at Valley Art in Forest Grove Oregon. The show runs through the end of June. It contains 9 of my large prayer flags and 5 tiny flags.

 

I haven't blogged so much since last June because of events that happened shortly after the last post and then those that followed. In short, please read my updated bio on this site, it explains a little about how the year has gone. Fear and Love and Art have definitely been in concert this year. In November, my lovely husband committed suicide. Art has saved my life this year and has deepened my love as well.

Note: prayer flags are framed for the show


Today the temperature got up into the mid 90s for the second day in a row. There are places where this is no big deal. In Western Oregon in early June, it's a big deal. My house being a three story doesn't have AC because usual summers in this area maybe hit the 90s for a total of one week -- in August. The idea being a three story house sort of insulates itself enough to handle that kind of summer. But things are changing --- oh, did I mention my studio is on the third story?

 

So, today I packed a painting and supplies and brought them downstairs to work on. (I've tried to sew on my fiber collages in weather like this and the water soluable stabilizer leads to sticky (literally) situations with sweaty hands. Below is the painting I am working on for the class I wrote about a while back. It's being done using nearly all glazes. It's been quite a process. If I think of myself as a kindergartener I am fine but sometimes my ego wrestles with learning a new technique. If I let myself think fearfully, I feel myself stiffen-up inside and my breathing feels tight. If I remember to think fluidly, expansively, my soul soars.

 

At any rate, here it is mid-process. It's very different from anything I've done before in terms of subject matter as well. I'm liking the process;


California poppies
12x16 inches

acrylic on canvas

 

 


So, I'ce dropped out of the 30 in 30 challenge. I am still working on 'Copper Dancing Woman" and have actually finished and started two paintings. But last Sunday I found my 18 year-old cousin had been shot (7 times in the back) by police. It was quite a week. And that's only half of what happened this week. 

 

So, I hung in there and keep moving forward, but to start and finish a piece a day is just not in me right now. Also, I am taking that painting class I mentioned a while back where I am learning glazing, a very time-consuming technique, at least it is while I am a beginner at it. So, I found painting hurriedly was counter to something important I am trying to learn -- patient layering of shapes and colors. My hope is to create greater depth in my works. I don't want to negate that by rushing to meet daily goals for the sake of my ego, because at this point, that's what it would be.

 

So, I worked on "Copper..." again today and will post photos soon. Also, I'll perhaps post some progress on my glazing work in painting. 

 

I'll just say in closing, I wish Ebin Proctor could still be sharing his art. He was a very talented young man. He was my aunt's only child. I have only one child myself. The tragedy of such a loss (and in such a manner) is unimaginable. He had not lived long enough. She had not, the world had not had enough time with him.