Sunday, May 29, 2011

I stopped by the Herb and Plant sale at the Pomeroy Living Heritage Farm in Yacolt, WA last weekend to buy herbs to replace those I lost in the late frost this year. I love this festival, with its large selection of herbs and native plants and related garden art booths.

But the best part is walking through the grounds at the farm and visiting with the farm animal and strolling the peaceful herb garden. This is a favorite place for me to sketch, but mother nature was not cooperating with me this day. It rained and drizzled and made me wish I was born with webbed feet.

The herb garden meanders behind the old farm house. Cedar chips lined the paths and sent their perfume throughout the garden.

There are peaceful places to sit and watch the birds flit through the trees and bushes and sip a cup of hot tea.

And the animals can't wait to say hello as you pass their pens. Could it be the free food from the dispenser that kids drop inside the enclosures that makes them look forward to a visit?

This small baby was by himself in the pen looking a bit lost without his mother.

And look at this regal pose she stepped into when I pushed the shutter...almost as if she is auditioning for Charlotte's Web...

Te old blacksmith shop is age-worn and speaks of history and of times past when this was a working farm.

I loved this stutue of St. Francis of Assisi in the garden holding an olive branch.

And what a lovely fairy village! I think I will have to create one in my own garden...who knows...I may find a fairy family to grace my garden!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Menucha and the Portland Art Collective

Twice a year the Portland Art Collective members gather for a weekend of laughter, friendship and making and sharing our art. Last weekend was our spring gathering at Menucha in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. From Friday night through Sunday morning, we shared our stories and our art, walked paths through spring blooms and old growth forest, walked the labyrinth in meditation and sang old TV theme songs in multiple off-keyed other words, we had so, so much fun.

Forget-me-nots graced the hillsides in full bloom. Plants and trees bloomed alike, despite our winter like spring.

A moss and fern laden bench peeks out of the greenery inviting passerbys to rest among the trees.

Each day we hurried to the dining hall for delicious meals when the dinner bell sounded. Luck Judy got to ring the old brass bell to summon us for our evening meal on Saturday...

The majority of our time we spent in the "Greenhouse", where we played with every manner of art. Lorraine and Laurie delighted us with a class in how to create a hidden Belgian binding (more on the book in my next post).

Dayna had this cool collection of fun mixed media pieces to play with and create fabulous art.

And Diane created paper and began cutting out her bird ornaments that were so popular at our show last December.

This is a fabulously talented group and I feel blessed to be a member. Is there anything better than sharing art with like-minded friends?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Making a Dream Come True

Crystal Neubauer Encaustic

I once had a vision of becoming a full-time artist...throwing caution to the wind and giving my dream a chance to come true. I could see this future so clearly...establishing myself, building my reputation, moving forward according to plan...and then came the recession....and my dream was postponed, diminished and impossibly out of reach. I'm not saying I'm giving up...I can't do that...just that for the next few years, progress towards that dream is going to be like slogging through quicksand...impossibly slow. But having had my own dreams thwarted, I have become an ardent champion of others who are seeking to follow their dreams.

My fellow artist, Crystal Neubauer, has a chance to make her dreams come true. This amazingly talented artist from the Chicago area, has been accepted to participate in the ACE (American Craft Exposition) show. She needs only to raise the funds to pay for her booth fee. So until May, 20, 2011, she is taking 10% off the purchase price of her artwork on both her website and ETSY store, as well as providing free shipping.

So please visit her blog and read of her journey in becoming an artist. Please browse her website and ETSY shop and see her amazing encaustic work and give her a shot at realizing her dreams if you are able. If not, please send her words of encouragement and help a starving artist make good her dreams!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Learning to Take Life Easy

After a long winter of rain and cold and a spring that has accumulated a rainfall that totals more than we usually have in a year, everyone seems to be a bit out of sorts....even Amazing Grace...everyday I hope for sun on my days off and today my prayers were finally answered.

The sun was so bring that it's cheery light woke me early in the morning and I rushed to get outside and drink in the heat of the sun and putter in the garden.

I put together some hanging baskets from potting plants I'd bought hoping for a day like this.

I weeded my herb garden from which I am already cutting chives for my potatoes. In the bush nearby, I can hear baby birds crying for food and see a pair of white crowned sparrows flying in and out, worried that I am too close to their babies.

There are storm clouds moving across the sky...soon a few drops of rain begin to fall...and fall...and soon I am sopping wet, but I still see sun on the horizon, and I want to keep working...keep sifting the rich earth through my fingers that makes me feel alive again.

I bought this tree at Monterey Bay Aquarium several years ago when I attended Art and Soul at Asilomar. Everytime I look at it I think of the beautiful bay and charming shops of Carmel, CA. It loses its needles every year and I hold my breath until I see them arrive again the next year, hoping it will continue to grow and keep the memories of those happy days.

I've started to clear more of the grass away from the flower beds and create a path of potted plants that can be brought in to winter.

But finally I lose the sun and it begins to hail and I retreat to my car and decide to have a late lunch at Mon Ami, a crepery downtown that has a deliscious Pear, Ham and Brie crepe. I claim an outside table under the eaves and gaze up through the trees at the low grey clouds.

I savor each bite of my crepe and sip my black tea and meditate on the day...on how good it felt to have my hands in the earth and feel the sun beat down on my face...and how grateful I am to still have a place to call my own.

I kick back and rest my feet on the neighboring chair and give thanks for the little and big things I have in my life while listening to the birds in the nearby trees sing of their own joy at being alive.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

By the fabulous sea...

A bit over a week ago, a friend and I took advantage of another friend's offer to stay in her beach home for a weekend on the beautiful North Oregon Coast. Just breathing the air here lightens your load and allows you to breathe deeply of the sea and rugged shores teeming with wildlife of the sea, land and, as in the case of the above warbler, the air itself.

After settling in, our first stop was the beautiful Cape Meares located just outside the quaint town of Oceanside, Oregon. I was for the first time in years without cell phone or internet service and luxuriating in the ability to feel guilt free in avoiding the computer and phone messages.

We were greeted by the sun, a rare site here for the last year. Felt so good to drink in the heat of the day and take in the beauty of the wildflowers, bravely blooming despite the unseasonable weather.

We walked the trail to the Cape Meares lighthouse, no longer functional, but still stately on its precarious cliffside perch.

Off from the shore, the seabirds circle the rocks where they come each year to nest. I hoped to see a puffin, but instead saw gulls, terns, cormorants, ducks and geese in the air and the sea. A few sea lion heads bobbed up and down in the water looking for food.

The savior of a thousand ships trying to navigate the rocky Oregon coast now stands silent, but with a fresh coat of white paint and crystal clear lenses, it takes little to imagine the lighthouse in its heyday with two keepers manning the light at a time.

A small sparrow sang to us as we walked by, not much concerned with the human foot traffic that walked by in fits and spurts. We were joined by a pair of bird watchers from Texas who were travelling the country together.

Finally we ran out of sun and reluctantly headed back to the beachhouse for a good night's sleep.

THe nest day we spent a bit of time exploring the galleries of Cannon Beach before taking a walk down the beach itself to the famous Haystack Rock where the puffins nest. We were treated to another beautiful summer's day as we entered the beach where this small creek joined the ocean.

You can see Haystack Rock in the background of this photo....seemed so far away but we beachcombed as we walked and were there before we knew we knew it.

But alaw, this was the only puffin I saw at the rock, although the rock was teeming with all kinds of birds and alive with the calls of both adults and babies.

The tide pools were exposed by the receding waves and full of life such as this anemone...

or these huge starfish, clinging for life to the rocks until the tide comes in again.

Each step along the beach brought new discoveries and a new appreciation for the diversity of life found everywhere in nature.

Soon it was again time to call it a day. Back to the house and photos of the sunset from the deck and a warm, crackling fire and home cooked meal.

As we prepared to leave the next day, I found these banded pigeons in the top of a nearby fir tree, ruffled up against the cold morning air.

and on the way out took time to photograph the wildly blooming skunk cabbage alongside the creek near the road.

We left refreshed and ready to return to our landlocked homes with many memories to savor until we can breathe the sea air again.