Take a Break

July 8, 2013


Taking a break can be energizing even if the break is only a small one. This is true for life and art. Over the weekend I took a short break from home and went to Blacksburg to help my friend Christy celebrate her birthday. Although just an overnight, it was rich with wonderful people, beautiful weather, breathtaking landscape, fabulous food, and warm hospitality. Before the trip, I took a break from the pastel drawings I have been working on in the studio to put together a small collage to take along for the birthday celebration. It is the one posted here called Circle Note. The greenish dots are the holes punched from the piece I made last year with the help of friends, Collected Stories, which is described in earlier posts.


August 2, 2012


I don’t know what it is about megalithic stones that attracts me so, but they definitely exert a certain unspeakable magnetism that draws me, and many others, to look. Certainly there are many aspects of the structures that inspire awe and raise questions – age, weight, construction, meaning…. But the attraction goes beyond the obvious reasons to something on a gut level, something un-nameable. I just returned from Ireland where I had the chance to see some of these great stones (but barely the beginning of what that beautiful land holds!). Many of the residents with whom I spoke agreed about both the attraction and the inability to accurately explain it. The image above is a 5,000 year old court tomb on Cleggan Farm in County Galway.

My short adventure included time in Counties Donegal, Galway, Mayo, and Dublin with most of my time in the fishing village of Killybegs (for a wedding) and along the Connemara coast. The land is incredibly beautiful and the people kind. It would be hard to top the seafood, bread, beer, or music that I enjoyed along the way. A huge thank you to all who helped to make my trip not only safe and comfortable but mostly a huge pleasure!

Travel Iris

May 30, 2010

Although I have been home from my travels abroad for almost 6 weeks, I am still soaking up the benefits.  Yesterday by chance I picked up a book of haiku of Basho and read :

One of the joys

of travel – rare

talk about an iris.

Basho captures so much with so little (of course!).   While visiting famous cities and sites IS wonderful,  the greatest riches that I bring home are chance encounters, random conversations (often in broken languages), and small kindnesses.  I treasure the conversation with the older woman on the bus in Barcelona who made sure I got off at the right stop.  I delight in the memory of meeting the hang player, Alex Oses, in Parc Guell.  And I smile when I think of the photographer who helped me in the Barcelona metro station even though he had been up partying all night.  While these moments may seem unimportant in comparison to the riches of the Prado or the Alhambra, they are little gems that offer hope and connection.  The world shrinks and kindness is abundant.  So I will savor the sweetness of recent travels until the next opportunity arrives for more rare talk about an iris.

Mosaic at Parc Guell, Barcelona

Studio Envy

May 28, 2010

Studio space can be a critical factor in the working life of an artist.  The kitchen table, the corner of a room, or the space of a drawing table often have to make do.  Garages and basements can offer an improvement in square footage but not necessarily in quality of space (I’m thinking of camel crickets, spiders, mold, and damp darkness).  A dedicated room with heat, natural light, and running water nearby may seem a luxury.  But there are other possibilities…

On a recent trip to Spain I visited the Museo Sorolla in Madrid.  This oasis is a few metro stops from the historic center and main tourist area of the city.  It is the former home and studio of the artist Joaquin Sorolla (1863-1923).  The house was designed with a studio and two gallery rooms attached.  Sorolla designed the surrounding gardens.  What a gem!  The house and studio hold not only many of Sorolla’s paintings but also his collections, from pottery to artifacts. With the exception of the rooms that now serve as gallery space, the house is much as it was when Sorolla died, and the visit offers an interesting glimpse into a creative life.  This is the studio:

This is a view from the garden of the studio/gallery entrance (now the museum entrance):

And this is a view of one of the four garden spaces:

If I lived in Madrid, this garden would be a frequent destination; a place to read, think, sketch, be.  And the studio; well, I’m not sure I would know what to do with so much space!