new work

A Band of Mothers

In art, as in life, sometimes the journey leads us in unexpected directions.

Such was the case with the twentieth kimono in my series.(you can see the entire seriesand how it came to be here )It has been a long and exciting journey with some very unexpected twists and turns and as so often happens the journey has been as important as the destination. Over a year ago (evidenced by scibblings in my journal) I started entertaining a final kimono in my series, commemmorating all the mothers, in my life. I started with the most obvious: my mother, my sister, my aunts, cousins, nieces, teachers, role models, friends …….those who mothered, not only my body, but my spririt, my mind, my soul, my heart, my art. The list kept getting longer and broader until it encompassed Mother Earth herself! Symbols of so many different aspects of these mothers percolated through my thoughts, including needles, garden books , letters, photos, fabrics, even clothespins! The “stuff” increased and the imagery became more and more complicated. The world events of the past two years created a complicated backdrop that included mothers visiting their children through hospital windows during covid; the mothers and grandmothers of Ukraine and the beautiful Polish women who welcomed them into their homes; bluebirds and nuthatches in their springtime nests around our home, the novel I was reading about the women of the Great Plains, young women giving birth, family stories…..all spoke of motherhood to me. Everywhere I turned I seemed to be met by mothers and their strength and beauty.

On an unusually warm early spring day, I sat near a star magnolia in my yard, and drew.


That’s usually where my head clears best and my heart can see through the clutter. This magnolia in all its pure white beauty spoke to me of life and motherhood. The branches were twisted and complicated. Some branches bore new buds not yet open right alongside spent brown and withering flowers. Some branches even had greening leaves. “Simplify, simplify, simplify

, “the magnolia said. I drew and then started to paint. Then I painted some more. I awakened at night sure I knew what direction to take to move this painting that had no real direction into a kimono, only discovering after another day down another path, that it too was not the right one. I “auditioned” ways to develop the core painting: weaving, piecing, stenciling, quilting, stitching by hand and by machine. I ended up rejecting them all after hours of unsuccesful attempts. The process itself became an integral expression of motherhood. I felt like the birth of this kimono was unlike any I had done before. I was in a very long hard labor, knowing as mothers do, that even the pain of creating is part of the beauty of motherhood.

kimono image and magnolia flowers
For All the Mothers

The final image here was done in memory of the women (and some men) in my life that mothered me each in their own unique way. It is really very simple but has layers that probably will only be recognized by me, or some very perseptive soulmate. It has been an amazing journey as this piece came to life. Every stroke of my brush awakened another preciouos memory. I am filled with gratitude.

Will it be the last of my kimono series? At this point I am not sure. At one point I thought #10 would be the last. But they kept on coming. I hope to stay open to the possibilities of things to come………

Land of the Wild Passion Flower

Land of the Wild Passion Flower

Sometimes multiple interests come together in a single painting.  Such was the case with this piece which combines my interest in nature, art, and native American history.  Phew!  All in one little roughly 9×9 watercolor.

butterfly on a passion flower
Depending on Beauty

The image is of a gulf fritillary that has a unique relationship with this flower, commonly referred to as the Passion Flower.  Both are beautiful creations in themselves, but what is so interesting is that this little butterfly MUST lay its eggs on this particular plant because that is all their fussy  little caterpillars will eat!  This is just like the relationship that monarchs have to milkweed.  My practical side says, how inefficient, how unwise to be so dependent on a single food source.  Could it be that these butterflies need beauty in their lives too??

And there is more to this story. The Cherokee who used to inhabit the very land I live on here in southeast TN called the fruit of the Passion Flower “u-wa-ga” and the area around the river where it grew was called “u-wa-go-hi,” which means “where the passion fruits grow.”  To English speaking folks this sounded like “o-co-ee” and so the river became the Ocoee River and the land nearby was called Ocoee, which is where I live.  So I live in the Land of the Passion Flower!  There is so much in this story that I love, so I had to paint it and I finally did. I have painted the flower several times but this is the grist time I have included the fritillary as well.  Purchase information can be found in the Birds, Butterflies, and Beasts gallery or in the Blossoms and Blooms gallery.

Solar Flare

abstract sunrise or sunsetOn a weekend following a number of days doing relatively non-creative tasks, my insides demanded some play time.  A very energizing exercise for me is to do one of my woven paintings.  To do this, I generally paint two paintings, often on yupo, that have some similar elements in color and/or line.  Yupo is a synthetic material that has a very hard non-absorbent surface that does not act at all like traditional watercolor paper.  It is hard to control but results in very vibrant lively color that I love to work with.  After painting and letting them dry well, I slice the two paintings in opposite directions  and then weave them back together.  The fun part is that I never quite know what the finished piece will look like.  Ok, it’s not always fun but it sure can be interesting…..This is one of those surprises.  It could remind the viewer of a spectacular sunrise or sunset,  thus the title “Solar Flare.”  The image itself is 10×14 and it is matted and framed to 16×19.  You can see more woven watercolors here.

A poetic inspiration

painting of early dawn
Dawn in the mountains

“In Gentleness and Kindness”

I was introduced to Mary Oliver several years ago and since then have grown to love her poetry and recognize it even before I read the by-line.  Her writing is full of awareness.  The day I painted this I had read her poem “Why I wake up early”    From that poem came the title for the painting.  It just seemed like such a good way to start a day.

 

The darkness of the morning news

painting of a dark landscape
Embracing the Darkness

“Embracing the Darkness”

I’ve been working small during these days turned to months of the pandemic.  I work fast too without analyzing or questioning the strokes that find their way to the paper.  Some times it takes days or longer for me to understand what my hand has revealed.  That was the case with this painting.  It came after a particularly dark and depressing morning news.  We have a lot of those lately.  I felt rather down with it all, with thoughts like “why art?”  “why bother?” creeping into my thinking.  This morning I looked at it again and the words of Wendell Berry came to mind….”In the dark of the moon, in flying snow, in the dead of winter, war spreading, families dying, I walk the rocky hillside sowing clover.”  A friend reminded me that clover nourishes the soil.  Ah, yes, I said.  And art nourishes the soul.

Welcome

Sycamore treeI decided to give my blog page a little lift with its own name.  I’m calling it Sycamore Notes and some day I will explain where that comes from. (see a more recent post for that) For now, know that it is based on my belief that art can be something that lifts us out of the ordinary and inspires or challenges us.  So here I will  “go out on a limb” and share new works that are being added into this site’s  galleries or tell you about coming events and opportunities, or share techniques I use;  or perhaps I will  share a thought that I feel needs to be shared.  My hope is that this will become interactive and to that end, I invite you to share your thoughts or questions as we proceed.