5 Things I’ve Learned About Creativity

Happy Imbolc!
Imbolc (pronounced em-bolk) is a pagan holiday associated with the goddess Brigit and marks the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Yay, we are half way there! Buds have formed on the clematis bush outside my kitchen window and it looks to be a bumper crop year for its fragrant white blossoms. Meanwhile, it’s a wintery 27 degrees out there, which is super cold for us west coasters. The good thing about this weather is that I spend more time inside working on my essays or down in the studio creating art.
It was on a wilderness vision quest in 2005 when I found the courage to claim the title of “artist” for myself. Read more...

Take Heart – We’re Doing Our Part!

Happy New Year! In preparing to write this year-end note to you, I looked back over 2022 at everything we created together – all the beauty we added to the world over this past year. And I was surprised to learn that we gathered for twenty-one workshops, seventeen here in The Down to Earth Studio, and four offsite (the Art Department Supply Store, Newport Paper and Book Arts Festival, Breitenbush, and the Alton Collins Retreat Center). With an average of eight people in each workshop, that’s a total of 168 (probably more like over 200 when you consider that people often make more than one thing at a gathering) paintings, collages, SoulCollage® cards, shrines, goddess banners, eco-dyed pieces, and Kintsugi bowls.
*
Wow. Let me say that again: Together, in 2022, we added somewhere around 200 new items of beauty into the world. Yay us! Read more…

 

 

The Next Buddha May Be the Artist’s Sangha

Lately I’ve been thinking about a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay), spiritual leader and peace activitist: “It is possible the next Buddha will not take the form of an individual. The next Buddha may take the form of a community, a community practicing understanding and lovingkindness, a community practicing mindful living.”
Thay’s quote seems to come to life as I witness the ever-depending sharing of art and introspection during our monthly SoulCollage® gatherings. I believe it’s deepening partly because of the sacred space in the Down to Earth Studio, but also because we all share a desire to know ourselves and one another more intimately. We want to be together in community to see and be seen, share what is real and true, and know we are not alone in this wild ride we call “life.” We are creating our own version of sangha—an artist’s sangha, if you will. Read more…

 

 

Never Not Broken at GG’s Down to Earth Studio

Have you met the Hindu Goddess, Akhilandeshvari? Akhilandeshvari (Ahh-kee-lawn-dish-vari…fun to say, once you get the hang of it) is a goddess who embodies the ability to come together and fall apart, again and again. “Ishvari” in Sanskrit means “goddess” or “female power,” and the “Akhilanda” means essentially “never not broken.” In other words, The Always Broken Goddess.

Akhilandeshvari is the personification of healthy annihilation and the archetype of unexpected change. She breaks apart in order to come back together as a more powerful version of herself. Indeed, it is exactly because she is able to break apart that she is so powerful. She does not expect that things will stay intact and the same.

Read more

Magnificent Failure at GG’s Down to Earth Studio

I have a fear of visibility . . . of being seen. I mean really being seen—for the flawed human that I am. When I think of my book being published, an iceberg of terror forms in the middle of my chest. Bearing all my deepest faults and fears in writing for everyone to see—it’s horrifying! And that’s just the emotional side of visibility; then there’s the physical side: too old, too fat, too emotional, and on it goes. In my experience our patriarchical culture encourages silence, subservience, and invisibility.

Read more

Beauty From Loss

I found a dead patch-nosed snake last fall while hiking near Cochiti Lake, New Mexico, and created an art piece with it. I know snakes are creepy to some people, but I love them; I always have. Here is an excerpt about snakes from my memoir titled, Solitude in Wild Nature: My Journey to Wholeness Through Wilderness Questing, which will be published in September 2023.
“I got down on my belly and looked closely at their lifeless eyes, studied their physical structure. Imagine being in a body that can move over rocks, grass, and water without any legs, scaled skin gliding you forward, smelling the air with your tongue. On land your belly stays in touch with the earth, so close you feel it as part of yourself. You go where your instincts take you without self-consciousness, your only mission to survive. Read more

Happy Summer From GG’s Down to Earth Studio

This summer I am feeling so grateful for the beauty that helps distract me from all the heartbreaking social, political and environmental news. I just completed my annual wilderness quest in the Inyo National Forest with the hundreds of years old junipers, pines, and aspen groves. I named my questing place at Johnny Meadows “The Big Quiet.” Being there was like time out of time. Long, lazy, warm days and a shimmering full moon at night. I was even visited by a coyote that sauntered by my campsite one evening. Time alone in nature makes me feel like everything is right with the world. Read more here…

Breaking Dishes for Broken Hearts at GG’s Down to Earth Studio

One of my sisters called me the other day and asked, “What have you been doing up there in Oregon besides breaking dishes?” It took me a moment to realize she was talking about the Kintsugi breaking and mending ceremony photos I’ve been posting on Facebook and Instagram. I laughed and said, “Well, not much; mostly just breaking dishes.”  Read more

 

 

 

Catching the Wind at GG’s Down to Earth Studio

I hope this email finds you catching the wind of creativity and letting it carry you. It’s not always in the direction that you thought you’d be going, right? One thing aging is teaching me is that I can plan all I want (and heaven knows I’m a great planner!), but the key to happiness and living a fulfilled life is to know when to let go and surrender into what is and what might be. Read more here.

In Times of Terror Wage Beauty

The art piece above is my version of the Pedernal Mountain near Taos, New Mexico. The Pedernal is the mountain that moved and inspired one of my favorite painters, Georgia O’Keeffe, as she studied and painted it from her studio at Ghost Ranch. After her death, her ashes were scattered there as a testament to the bond she felt with the mountain. I love this quote from Ms. O’Keeffe, “It’s my private mountain. It belongs to me. God told me if I painted it enough, I could have it.” Sometimes I feel like the Great Spirit is telling me…read more here https://conta.cc/3EiBzqe