Monday, December 23, 2013

Season's Greetings.....

May you and yours have a Blessed Christmas! 

Monday, December 16, 2013


The Illustration Friday prompt this week was Spirit. First words that came to mind when reading it was " the spirit of Christmas", the idea that something outside yourself inspires you. So in the spirit of Christmas, I'm posting a nativity scene I stitched a long time ago, back in 2009. Still love the idea, Mary resting and Joseph, as a new dad, holding and admiring the little baby, before....all the rest of the Christmas story and what was to come after.
The scene was also inspired by my own experiences, gladly handing over our daughters to their dad to close my eyes and try to get the room to stop spinning.
We had one of our daughters at the start of the Christmas season and so the verse in Luke 2...
"But Mary treasured up all these things
and pondered them in her heart (vs 19)"

is very special to me as is the memory of Jon, at every opportunity holding, loving and getting to know his daughters. Both went through daily crying fits. The oldest could only be soothed by her dad dancing with her in the living room to Micheal Martin Murphy's Christmas album...

one song in particularly was very fitting, Two Step Round the Christmas Tree.

For mobile devices go here...

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

All the pretty lights...

( I apologize for the green highlighting below- either I or Blogspot is having some difficulties and I can not "unhighlight" a few paragraph- so decided to go with it and write another post, instead of trying to "fick it" as my daughter said when she was two- and yes half the time it sounded like something else!)

Our farmer's market is continuing through the winter, thanks to the availability of some toasty warm greenhouse space at the nursery. Saturday morning, we moseyed on over there to buy our poinsettia, gets some fire oven baked pizza, from the chilled, brave and very pregnant vendor outside, think she was hoping the shock of cold might finally send her into labor, she is three days over due. Bought some locally made sausage and buffalo steak, some hot house tomatoes and kale.
Also went to a Christmas Arts and Craft show at the local brew pub where we got a few gifts and jewelry, along with some much unneeded but yummy handmade chocolate. It was a very pretty and festive day, with beautiful decorations, trees and well, prayer flags, lotus symbols along with ornaments for those who love Twitter and Facebook. What I did not see, though I didn't think about it until driving home, was a Creche or Nativity scene of Joseph, Mary and the Baby Jesus...

In fact, last year I remember also noticing the lack of the "Holy Family" amongst the decorations, I did see a Buddha themed Christmas tree though.

This isn't a post bemoaning  how we have taken Christ out of Christmas, because I'm not sure Christ has ever wanted to be the inspiration for winter time festival declared by the Catholic Church to give an alternative to the pagans who were celebrating the Winter Solstice...

God has always proclaimed his dislike for festivals, no matter how well, festive and pretty they are. In Isaiah...
 "I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts, 
They have become a burden to Me. I am weary of bearing them." 1:14

He has always warned against traditions, monuments and festivals. Why? Because as Paul says in 
Romans 1:25, it is too easy for us to exchange the Creator for the Created. 

Christmas is great, it comes in the dark of winter, when the grey skies are looming, the decorations, the lights, the music bringing good cheer. But for one, Christ wasn't even born in December. He was born during lambing season, so probably April, "the shepherds out tending their flock by night".

The other reality is that there is not much in the decorations of Christmas that actually do not have a pagan root to them, most especially the beloved Christmas tree. The tradition starting in Germany way, way, way before  Prince Albert brought it to Queen Victoria and the rest of Europe.

 It really isn't that much of a stretch, in the dead of winter, when everything else has lost it leaves between the white span of snow and grey skies, that the Evergreen would be a symbol of life, as is any light in the dead of winter...

My roots are in the far North, in Denmark and we still keep lights in the windows in the dead of winter. The light a beacon for travelers and to provide warmth and security in the darkness. It is the light, such a part of Christmas, the strings of lights surrounding our trees and framing our house that truly hearkens to Christ, the light of the world....
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming
 into the world. He was in the world, and though the world
 was made through him, the world did not recognize him. John 1:9-10

Even back in Isaiah, his coming was hearkened to with the symbolism of light...

The people walking in darkness  have seen a great light;on those living
in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Isaiah 9: 2

 I love Christmas, it is absolutely beautiful, a festive start to a long winter. A chance for families and friends to come together.There is so much history in the cultures that celebrate it. 

How much Christ is actually in this Winter Festival is our choice and it is certainly hard to keep the focus on him, I haven't even mentioned the horrid aspect of well what starts with "Black Friday" and doesn't end until "Boxing Day", whether that is packing up the old to make ready for the new or if that means a mad rush to the stores to buy even more then what was under the tree. 

But it is hard to keep the focus on him, any time of the year. Guess what, Easter is no better, the Christian, pagan and well commercial traditions in a great swirl. 

What is so important about Christmas, to quote Dr. Seuss...

"And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. 
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. 
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. 
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

Sadly, that is as close as the festiveness of Christmas will allow the contemplation to go. The sentiment echoed in classic movies like...

It's A Wonderful Life

We like the residual-ness of what Christ brings, but it is safer on the edge of it, where we have the control. 

is declared from cards, banners and lights on the hillsides of towns. But rarely is the whole verse quoted..
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14

That last bit of a downer- "on whom his favor rests". 

So why is Christmas important, if it has been so, well, adulterated? It is the time of year, if not the wrong time, that maybe, we will focus just for a moment on the story. The story of a young girl, who might have been as young as twelve years old, who God blessed and cursed with being the mother of the Messiah. God did not "clue in" everyone else, only visiting Joseph a few times in dreams. But Joseph did marry her and the Christmas story unfolded.
The Nativity scenes still needs to be set out, the scene of Mary and Joseph, with the Wise Man and the shepherds needs to hold its ground in this Winter Festival that all to easily starts to loose it's Light.


Monday, November 18, 2013

A World Unlike My Own: An Introduction

I'm really bad about anniversaries, have a hard time remember my own, plus birthdays, well other than my daughters, cause I was kind of an active participant. I was curious and looking back, this blog has been running since June of 2006, that's over seven years, I think, I counted on my fingers.

Of all the people who follow it, I've only met one person that I did not know before, through Her blog..

Jill Bergman makes the most adorable colored linecut prints of cute dump trucks, adorable kids, birds and the scenery around her home in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I got to met up with Jill and her husband while they were on a vacation in the Four Corners and love to see her at the annual SCBWI conference in LA, though she did not get there last year, entering the thrilling and exhausting world of motherhood!

Now, I see, she is back at posting fun things on her blog and finding time to make some art! Meeting her, after getting to know her through our blogs- commenting back and forth- was a real perk, but most of the people following this blog, live much, much farther away then a few hundred miles and have yet to invite me to lunch, but here is hoping!

I am still amazed I have blog followers from all over the world- Finland to Turkey, England to Australia and other then Jill and those I am related to, I have never met any of them. I hope they follow this blog, not to even out the score because I posted something on theirs, but because for the simple reason what I wrote, my photographs or art moved them, it is what artist hope for.

I have never asked why, I'm guessing. I just know it's the reason I read theirs, to see some amazing art and to see a bit of the world, that is so unlike mine.

It is also the reason I write a blog centered on the Four Corners, because this place, sitting on top of the Colorado Plateau, where the Colorado river and all its tributaries cut through the red rock to make canyons that go down is not where I grew up. I grew up farther north where canyons went up between hills and mountains.

I won't speak for others, but I am inspired to write this blog and make the art I do...

 because I am really a stranger in a strange land, amazed by the people and places around me. I just can't believe I have been writing Moonflower Musing for as long as seven years!

In the next few blogs, I intend to highlight some more of my favorite bloggers, who are all not artists by trade, but who have done a wonderful job bringing a bit of their world to us through blogging and tweeting, something new I have ventured into. What do these blogger and.....what do you call a person who tweets.... have in common, well, the worlds they have so graciously shared online, have moved me in some way, so I guess they actually are all artists.

Friday, November 08, 2013

IF: Secret

This secret place is called Lost Park, off of Highway 285 cutting through the mountains, in the middle of Colorado, headed towards Denver. This isn't an actually representation of me and Jon, it is more a combination of memories, of when we lived up there while he went to grad school.
It's where, leaning against the back of his truck, he asked me to marry him and we took many a weekend drive to get away from the big city.
I remember one in particular, after circling South Park, actually the real one, which did  inspire the horrid comic series, which my daughters love, apparently  the authors of it grew up in Fairplay, a town nearby.
But the real one, is a great wind swept valley, with rounded hills in every direction encircling it and we had spent the day driving and driving, assuming we could pop out on the other side of the park and meet back up with the main road.
Rain came and it started to get dark and almost to the main road, we hit a gate, a gate with skulls and more then one spray painted "do not trespass" pictures of guns, we sat there a long time and debated- seeing the headlights in the distance marking Highway 285 in the distance.... then we turned around and in the dark, went back the way we had come, it was a long, long night getting back home!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Growing up Dsylexic...

This week is Dyslexia Awareness Week in the UK. I happened upon that information reading Hot Key Book's blog last night.
Having not thought of such things for a long time,  I did some dyslexic "surfing" on the web, and yep...I'm as dyslexic as I have ever been- still strong in fourteen  or fifteen traits of thirty something, when ten is all that is needed.
I'm Ambidextrous- though haven't doodled with my right hand for a bit. Pretty impressed with my drawing, even though it kind of made me dizzy doing it.
I still mix up words and phrases- Feed the Whale (see here) instead of fill the well.
Still don't have a sense of direction and still don't know my right from my left.

You can test yourself (here). But can you read this?

if not flip your laptop of tablet over

Its funny, something that can be so overwhelming for so long can eventually move into the shadows and you kind of forget about it.

Perusing the web I also found...

To be honest, whenever I come across any idea of Dyslexia being a "gift" my initial reaction is to laugh, though reading and writing upside down comes is awful handy teaching kids, working across a table from them, though it freaks my husband out.
But growing up, there was no hint that I had been blessed, instead I have memories seared in my brain of spending part of my day in Special Ed, or my fourth grade teacher's look of disgust when I wore my shirt backwards or couldn't put my shoes on the correct feet. One summer I had a large R and L drawn on my hands and I was continuous drilled on my right from my left. I couldn't remember, either, after the letters faded.
I was deemed lazy by the history teacher in Middle School, because he knew I was smart and had no excuses for the grammar on my papers. Thank God for Word and spellcheck now.
But I could draw...
Princesses in ball gowns for my friends and so was not considered too much of a freak. Though when
anyone would go on about my artistic abilities, my family's favorite joke was "Don't you mean autistic?"
Which, according to THE DYSLEXIC ADVANTAGE, could not be farther from the truth!
Apparently, there is a thin sheet of cells in the brain called the " cortex" where cells, called mini columns,  are stacked on top of each other. Well in Autistic brains, the minicolumns are tightly clustered together and in Dyslexic brains they are...well loosely spaced and in Autistic brains only make connections between the minicolumns locally, where the Dyslexic brain have long connections, well, all over the place, surprise, surprise!  Literally according to one theory, Dyslexia is the exact opposite of Autism. Autistics  see the trees where Dyslexics see the forest.
I don't know how I feel about that I just read it last night, I'll let you know, only on Chapter 4.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Evolution of an Illustration...

Often people ask about the process of doing fabric collage and often while I'm doing it the idea to take pictures of the process does not occur to me, well this time I am trying.
With a summer of traveling and adventure, followed by a few quiet weeks at home,  the "whales are starting to be full" ( read THIS for an explanation) I am diving back into revamping my portfolio.
So like all illustrations, it starts with some research, these days on the web, instead of a bunch of dusty files...

I'm sucker for the big white bows and needlework on little girl's dresses from the Victorian era, so that was easy enough. As was finding  pictures of country cottages...

I had to resign myself to zooming in far enough to get the details of Goldilocks and the Three Bears loosing most of the cottage's detail. But alas what did my instructors in Art school always ask, "What is the focal point, what is the picture about," well it is about Bears and Goldilocks! 

Still needed some bears, so thought "dancing bears" would be a good thing to Google. Not! So many sad pictures of old, tired bears in places like the Far East and Russia that are still being forced to preform in the streets, their masters put a cable around their heads and through their noses, and out a slit on their face!!
But enough about the harsh realities of what is real verses what is make believe. Let see, have I ever illustrated an anthropomorphic illustration, or one that has animals with human traits? I don't think so.
Step one after the sketch is to do a line drawing of the illustration on see through tracing paper...

then I take more scraps of tracing paper and make patterns for the various piece and parts, doing the back ground first...

And then ironing them down, since the fabric has a fusible web on the backside...

Then the middle ground and foreground is laid down, and the stitching begins...

Part Two is coming, I promise....probably....if I remember!

Monday, October 07, 2013

We went to the coffee shop...

and I watched this father with his two little girls, one climbing up into his lap to look at a picture book and I so wanted to have a place to go give "alms" in thanks to God that my daughters have a father like that, that it was okay, I didn't, because I married a man who is and nothing has healed me more then watching him be that kind of a father to our girls."

Monday, September 30, 2013

Art from a long, long time ago...

Went to a fun talk this Friday at the Crow Canyon Archeological Center in Southwest Colorado, given by Michelle Hegmon, a professor at Arizona State University. Hegmon studies the ancient people that resided in the Southwest over a millennium ago and her specialty is  Mimbres Pottery, earthenware from the Mimbres river valley in southern New Mexico...

 from Archeology Southwest website
Unlike pottery from other cultural areas in the SW, like Mesa Verde region in SW Colorado and the Hohokam region in the Phoenix Arizona basin, that have a style distinct to the region...

pottery from the Mimbres Culture shows the work of individual artists...

The Mimbres Classic Period was @ 900 AD to 1200 AD and unlike the Mesa Verde region and  the Hohokam regions, which ended violent, mass death from starvation or violence, the Mimbres Culture just kind of petered out. 
The funniest part of the talk for me, as an artist, was listening to an archeologist and science types trying to put their usual "measurements" to art, doing calculation on how many artist and how long it would take to make the amount of pots discovered or known of, at the different sights. Their big mistake- that artists are consistent in their production......? Have these scientist actually talked to or get to know an artist.  
Consistent and artist should never be in the same sentence!
The archeologist did matched up the style of several artist, that drew their rabbit's ears the same, or had the same whimsical style to their antelope, which was corrected in the talk from the audience to "pronghorn". They also identified a style that they called "transitional"where a creature has the attributes of two animals....
A bird or a fish?
  We, artists, would call that "metamorphosis" and it is one more of those amazing things where cultures all over the world thought up the same thing, like....drums.
Today, the word "Metamorphosis" calls forward the images of M.C.Escher...

who in the Twentieth Century, was still playing with the ideas the Mimbres pottery artist were pondering in the First Century and those pieces are so simple, but so good...

they could sit in the Metropolitian Museum of Art, that contemporary in their design. It is such a reminder of how all art comes from the soul and transverses not only centuries and but geography.
Another example of how great art comes from the common core of all of us are Gee's Bend Quilts...

 created in an isolated community located in a bend of a river in Alabama, an African American community, barley holding on in the late Ninetieth Century and into the Twentieth...

where some amazingly talented women created amazing quilts from rags and worn clothes to keep their families warm and now, those quilts are hanging in museums around the world.

There is much info on Mimbres Pottery online and there is a Data Base, where they can be viewed.
photes noted attached to a linked website from Wikipedia Commons 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Repeat of '76

I should be working, I'm trying to, but also have live feed from 9NEWS in Denver on the other monitor. The weekend was spent looking at Twitter, the Denver Post and my home town paper.
But I didn't whip out this illustration over the past few days, this is actually an illustration inspired by another flood, called a "once in a life" time 100 year flood. The one in 1976, when I was nine which killed 144 people, I wasn't in the Big Thompson when a sixty foot wall of water wiped down the canyon in the dark of night, but my grandmother was and my family came to help her just a few days later and my brother and I hiked up high to get a first hand view of the destruction- I wrote about it HERE.
But this below isn't from thirty six years ago, this is from this weekend...

There should be a road, along side the river, there shouldn't be a waterfall at the mouth of the canyon near what is called "the Narrows", I think that is Drake, though I.D. ing communities in a canyon you have driven a hundred times is hard from the air. Like I said, my grandmother lived for many years in by the Big Thompson, we had a cabin up in Glen Haven. I was married up in Estes Park.
Funny, I feel more stress about this, then I did facing a raging fire wiping up our canyon here in the Four Corners, last fall, our house is right on the other side of the road...
But I was right there, watching the whole day the absolutely amazing fire fighters who saved my house!! and I'm concluding that being there you know what is going on, and you just get to doing what you need to, where when you are watching from afar, with nothing to do, you can well, obsess!  My family back on the Front Range are very calm and going on with their lives, none of their houses are near the flood plain thank goodness, I am heading up to Wyoming to meet up with some of them, this weekend, so will hear the stories and will be in the Front Range for Thanksgiving, when I will be able to see for myself that where I grew up is "moving on", which we Coloradoan are very good at doing, whatever Mother Nature throws at us.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Redo and redo...

I have actually been working, while I have been driving circles around the West...just on the same thing, well actually the same two things, doing them over and over again.
The story starts months ago, if  you're interested.
Last year- defined by the school year, since I am a teacher and a mom, the year starts in September and last year I taught three days a week, did the same the year before, because the year before that my illustration biz wasn't very busy, so I taught art and creative writing at a little charter school one room school house on  the edge of two Indian Reservations.
Hugely rewarding, but not so good for my illustrating, because three half days, driving 45 minutes even down a glorious canyon to get there, between my kid going and getting home from school, really leaves two days to do art and promotion and keep the house up, go to the grocery store and yoga.
Last school year, I started to feel the need to be in the studio, thanks to a out of the blue email from LADYBUG magazine and the opportunity to do this for them...
Stitching it reminded my what I really wanted to be doing  and by the end of the year, I had resigned from a charity board position, back out of other commitments and I was only teaching two days and had pretty much decided to not come back this year.
But the summer finally arriving, I hardly had any new work to put in my portfolio for the SCBWI LA showcase, where agents, art directors and editors from New York would be looking for illustrators to work for and I did not have my picturebook dummy ready for an expensive additional intensive I had signed up for on a whim.
So what did I spend my summer doing?
Well, traveling and actually redoing and redoing two illustrations that were not coming out the way I thought they could.
But the SCBWI LA conference was good for me- probably not getting new clients this year- but in giving me a deadline and a focus. Focus being I needed to revamp about everything- portfolio, website, not that what is there is bad, but that I feel a new level for me starting to come out, thus the redo and the redo, I learn in the process and so have to stitch and rip out, sometimes to the point of destroying the collage. I learn by trial and error, just would be better if the trial did not come two month before a very expensive conference, but so be it and walking away from the conference, I have a lot of specifics to tailor things, lay out of website, better understanding of color and printing, and the publishing process to hopefully make my work even more appealing.
So yes, one step forward and about a dozen back is where I am, but I now have four days, minus yoga class- that if definitely needed or I kind of go crazy- ask my husband- to be home and in the studio.
The fifth day? Well, I'm still teaching Art...
one afternoon a week. I mean how could I not get out of the studio at least once a week and make art with these cuties!
So that is where I am at, the beginning of this new year and hope to pour what I am working on over this blog- and yes twitter, go can go to @moonflowermuse if you are even wanting more pics and muses from me.