Newport Paper Arts Festival Creations

Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. This is especially true after a class like last Saturday’s NPAF Collage Reveal technique. The participants were upbeat, kind and fun; and they created some amazing works of art. I loved every minute of moving around the room like an art doula, helping them birth their creations — so fun for me!  

 

We started the day off with setting some intentions for ourselves: Here are the words they shared: Supportive, Creative, Open, Peaceful, Playful, Open to being Open, Playful, Explore, Explore, Inspiration, Brave, and Brave! And here is the art they made. Some of these are still a work in progress, but you’ll get the idea of the beauty that was blossoming forth.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Old Crone in Death Valley

I’m writing this note to you from a hotel in Beatty, Nevada, just outside of Death Valley. A mourning dove coos a rhythmic chant outside the window. A not-so-wild burro woke me at 3 o’clock this morning rummaging through a garbage can right outside my hotel room. I opened the door to see what was going on. The beast looked up and brayed rudely at me, then went back to foraging.
I came here to visit my first questing site from sixteen years ago in Hanaupah Canyon. Last week I was in New York City, surrounded by massive glistening man-made structures and too many people who refuse to negotiate passage on the sidewalk; they hold their ground fiercely. This week in Death Valley I’m in the company of stones and mountains which also, by the way, refuse to move aside to let anyone pass. They have been here for thousands of years and, by all rights, they do have the territorial imperative.
There are very few people here. What there is, is an unfathomable number of rocks– a crash of stones. The billions of stars in a clear Death Valley night sky are mirrored by the billions of rocks on the ground, everywhere I look. Spring wildflowers bloom from cactus and bush tucked between stony outcroppings, reaching desperately to flag down insects as they fly by, “Choose me! Choose me!” they beg.
Yesterday I visited Hanaupah Canyon after a 10-mile drive over a road so rocky and rutted that the movement measured steps on my Fitbit even though I was sitting in the car. When I finally arrived in the Canyon, I got out of the car and stood absorbed in the view. I looked east toward the Badwater salt flats which lie two hundred feet below sea level, then to the west at the cascading ranges of the snow-topped Panamint Mountains at 11,000 feet, great aprons of rocky debris spreading out toward the valley floor. I heard the sound of a bird’s wings, looked up at the dark silhouette of a raven flying overhead. I breathed the silence down into the deepest branches of my lungs, relishing the solitude.
I love this place. I love the way the categorically flat land meets the uncompromising rise of mountains, forced up by the compression of the earth’s plates fifty million years ago. It is a bold and daring landscape, yet uncomplicated in its simplicity. There is flat land and there is mountainous land. There is peace and there is a chaotic fight for survival.
The sun blasted my face, already burning at 10 o’clock in the morning. Death Valley is like an old dry crone, ancient and wrinkled from baking sun, the scent of minerals oozing from her topographic pores. She holds strength and wisdom. She speaks of being true to your natural self, enduring life’s hardships and getting by with little resources.
I did not find my questing place from sixteen years ago. I thought I knew exactly where it was. Something had changed – my memory, or the landscape. Flash floods move rocks in and out of the crevices changing the topography, and memories are not always reliable.
I walked back up the steep hill of the canyon got back into the car and drove back to Beatty watching dark clouds billow up in the western sky and hover over the Panamints. I felt disappointed and silly, coming all this way to visit my first questing site then not finding it. I thought about an adage I’d heard or read somewhere: You can’t go home again.
When I got back to the hotel I googled the passage to see where it originated, and found this auspicious quote:
“Something has spoken to me in the night…and told me that I shall die, I know not where. Saying: ‘Death is to lose the earth you know for greater knowing; to lose the life you have, for greater life; to leave the friends you loved, for greater loving; to find a land more kind than home, more large than earth.” from You Can’t Go Home Again, by Thomas Wolfe
Even though I didn’t find the exact place where I’d first quested, I did find a re-connection to my love of the Old Death Valley Crone with all her austere beauty and eternal wisdom. She reminds me to accept what is, make the best of it, and live life on life’s terms.
Here are photos from my collection titled “Patterns of Death Valley.” Enjoy!

Two Girls in the Modoc ~ A Vision Quest Story

Many of you have asked how the writing is going. “Two Girls in the Modoc” is a sample of the stories I’ve been working on. I have a whole new respect for writers these days. William Faulkner said, “If a story is in you it has got to come out.” And they are coming out…let me know what you think!
After my experience in the Modoc, this 10 minute documentary brought tears of awe and gratitude. I want to go there! herdfilm.com
Coincidentally, my art piece titled “Dark Spirits Roam Free” was just accepted by We’Moon to be included in the 2019 datebook. Two horses are featured in my story and in this art, which was painted four years ago!

Top 10 Highlights of 2017!

It warms my soul to sit back and look at the whole year as a book telling a story of who I am, and how I am creating myself.
2017 marks a crossroads in my creative path where the currents of the Divine Muse took the reigns and steered me towards deeper expression through my visual art and writing. I was moved to begin weaving the stories of my ten vision quests into a book, which I’ll continue to work on in 2018.
Here are my Top 10 Highlights from 2017, may these inspire you to ponder what shaped your year.
Learning about the Kintsugi Bowl Ceremony and making the bowls for my Wild Hearts Women’s Group (to break and glue back together with gold paint in the fault lines) made my heart sing in 2017. Read a Poem about Kintsugi here
A trip to New Mexico brought me the inspiration to write a short story titled “Coyote on the Fence”. The scene wouldn’t leave me alone until I wrote the story. Read the short essay here
Two art classes with Ruth Armitage catapulted me into the realms of abstraction. Now I’m obsessed with painting rocks. Rocks under water, rocks under the earth…Rocks, rocks, rocks!
I held five Shrines for Hope and Healing workshops here in my studio. Makers created 30 shrines that now sit on shelves and hang on walls bringing more beauty into the world. “Take your broken heart and make it into art!” Carrie Fisher
Teaching SoulCollage® at Breitenbush Hot Springs with my soul friend Ann Christensen was surely a highlight in 2017. Eighteen people joined us for three days of soulful creativity, sound healing and deep introspection. I can still see the beautiful open faces around the circle!
My tenth vision quest on Modoc land in May brought me daily visits from the Antelope with a dose of animal medicine that opened my heart to living in the paradox. Read more about vision questing with the Antelope here.
The Art Department Supply Store here in Salem sponsored my first ever solo art show. I was thrilled to have fifteen of my pieces shown there. And my dear BFF, Linda West, gave me these beautiful flowers in honor of my career milestone.
Another Kintsugi Bowl Ceremony–lucky me. My friend and long-time vision quest guide, Anne Stine, asked me to facilitate the Kintsugi Bowl Ceremony in the forest near Hyatt Lake outside of Ashland, OR, to celebrate her milestone birthday. My heart was singing in the midst of all these goddesses! Look at how beautiful she is.
Will any of us ever forget where we were during the total eclipse of the sun in 2017? The air seemed to hold its breath as did we. I doubt if the effect of witnessing a total eclipse ever quite passes away. These three pieces I created are titled, Eclipse 1, 2 and 3.
I spent ten days in Mexico for girl-time with my two sisters, Lea and Dea (they are identical twins). On the last morning I took a walk along the beach. Right at my feet on an incoming wave Grandmother Ocean delivered this amazing heart-shaped shell. Another intimate gift from nature.
And a bonus photo! These littles ones are the loves of my life–great grand kids Nora and Jack, grand kids Silas and Thea– the highlights of every year! They keep me young at heart.

Shrines for Hope and Healing Workshop in the Down to Earth Studio – Take 4!

Another exquisite shrine building workshop on Saturday, December 9, 2017! What a joy to bring people together and act as a midwife to help them birth new beauty in the world. A group of five noodled, chose, cut, glued and placed for hours to create their unique pieces. Sometimes I wonder how I got so lucky to be doing this? I must have done something really good in a past life. And the world is a better place for their efforts!
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Shrines for Hope and Healing Workshop in the Down to Earth Studio – Take 3!

I realized I hadn’t posted pics of the third shrine workshop we did back in October. Another amazing day of open-hearted creativity. More, more, more! We just can’t get enough of these sweet temples of delight. We had a full house here in the Down to Earth Studio that day. Creativity vibes were floating in the air. The Muse was present and working Her magic.

CollagePlay! Student Creations

 

 

 

Humans beings are inherently creative. It’s true. Every time I teach a collage class I become more amazed at how students tear paper, dab paint and combine shapes and colors and create beauty where just minutes before there was nothing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art is very personal. Each person takes what’s in the heart and puts it out onto the canvas to express a longing or a knowing. Miraculous! And so fun to witness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I get to be the midwife who sets up the tools and instruments, encourages deep breathing and watches something be born from the Soul. Lucky me! 

My First Solo Art Show!

Paper only! An Art Challenge at Sitka

It’s great fun to create in ways that come easiest, not always comfortable to be challenged to do things differently. Every year my friend Linda and I take a class at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology on the Oregon coast. This year we took a collage class with Margot Voorhies Thompson.
My normal way of approaching a collage piece is to add paint and paper in layer after layer. Margot encouraged us to work in simple compositions, using fewer materials. These pieces are the result of working simply, with paper only. I met the challenge!

Shrines for Hope and Healing Workshop – Take 2!

 

Yesterday was another magical day of shrine making with seven Creative Souls in the Down to Earth Studio. Shrine makers worked intently on crafting every small detail, sometimes in silence, sometimes with laughter. The day just flew by as we were held in the flow; time seemed to stand still in that space. And, once again. the Down to Earth Studio was blessed with the grace of community creating together.

 

Once they are finished shrines want to be witnessed and appreciated to fully work their magic. They can bring us peace and comfort and serve as reminders to slow down and focus on what is important in our lives—our hearts, and our souls. Here are photos of yesterday’s little beauties.

 

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There are a hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground (Thank you, Rumi). We can all do our own form of ground-kissing and kneeling. It really changes the world, don’t you think?

 

And when we spend more time kneeling and kissing, our big fat egos get softer, and our hearts get lighter. We become more soulful.

 

And when we hug it’s not our ribs and arms touching, but something more.

Namaste’ Dear Ones, GG