Random splash of light coming through the front door light.
Random splash of light coming through the front door light.
New year’s resolutions
Yeah, I’ve made a few. Nothing really big and only one or two life changing.
I remember back in 1988, I had separated from my first husband and divorce was pending and I was afraid of rushing into something permanent with whoever came along, so my resolution was to not get married that year. Well, it turned out I wouldn’t find someone that I would want to get married to but I did get involved with someone who would have a lifetime impact on me. I got on a motorcycle with the wrong person and he broke my body and now I can predict really bad weather coming. I could also have died in that wreck and that gives me a slightly different perspective on things even now. My resolution that year didn’t change things but what happened to me did change my perspective on life.
A few years ago, I threw one out there that I really felt I needed to do. I was feeling something was missing in my life. And I felt like that something out there was somewhere in my reach if I could find it. My resolution that year was to get in touch with my inner artistic child. And a few months into the year, I got an invitation that would change my life again.
I had attended a gallery opening a couple of years before and been introduced to a lady who friended me on Facebook a little while later. She is a local artist and every once in a while would prod me to go somewhere or do something that sounded like lots of fun but I couldn’t go/do that because I have to work for a living for a company that has little interest in personal development and such like. She had offered a workshop that sounded interesting and a few days before it started, I asked if there were any openings left, I would like to attend. She said it was canceled because not enough people were interested but she was having a get together at her studio and would I like to attend? I said I would and that’s when I met the Roadside Gypsies. My inner artistic child was giddy with the chance to play. Being an introvert, I mostly watched and listened the first night. They thought I was intimidated and might not be back, when someone asked me as I was leaving if I would come again, I answered, yes. Most definitely.
Since then, that group has fed my soul and pushed my art in wonderful ways and I have learned so much. Because of her, I have met a whole nother group of artists that have pulled me to other fulfilling things and places. I attended Art Camp in Manzano, New Mexico three times and plan to go again next July. I have enjoyed getting to know a number of other artists in other mediums and had fun collaborating with them on projects and just knowing them and experiencing things they have been involved in.
But, the local group has stagnated. Due to circumstances, they have stopped meeting. And I am left feeling left behind. It turns out, I need the group energy to really be inspired and do the work. And doing the work is what’s required to be an artist.
My inner artistic child has wandered off again. If I yell, she comes back to visit for a few minutes but I need her to stay a while. I need to make a place she wants to come into and play for more than a few minutes.
Oh, I’ll visit Pinterest and go down dozens of rabbit holes and find all sorts of things that look fun…but I don’t have/make the time to do the work. I have several project that would be fun to do. Things I would like to try. Things I really want to do, big things. And little things. And none of them happen.
And I’m really wanting to make a place where I can call that child back again and say “wanna make mud pies? I got a bucket of water and this spot looks like good dirt. “
Art Camp 2017
I woke up at the usual work time, 5:30 and got on the road by 7. I was planning on spending the night in Amarillo but when I got there it was lunchtime and I couldn’t see spending half a day just sitting in a hotel so I decided to drive on to Tucumcari and spend the night in one of the cool old hotels and breakfast in a diner we ate in before. Got there and it was only 2. That’s still too early to stop. So I thought to drive on to Santa Rosa. Getting gas, I checked how long to Manzano, it was only going to be two more hours. Why stop now? So I made the whole drive in one day. I arrived at camp at a little after 5, lost an hour due to changing time zones, so that makes it an 11 hour trip.
I had been texting Susie Monday, the person who runs the art camp, and she said it was ok for me to arrive a day early and as it happened, I got to the front gate at the same time they did. Several people had already made it there and hugs went all around. I got my little blue cabin again and got settled in. We had build your own tacos for dinner and watched hummingbirds fighting over the feeders. The bird identification debates have begun.
I got to bed and slept ok until the nearly full moon shone in the window like a spotlight right on my head. I had to get up and cover the window. I will have to switch sides and sleep in the other bed.
Today was an open day with nothing scheduled because it’s the day everyone is supposed to get here. I got to rest and take it easy, had a nice nap in the afternoon. Susie made a trip into Mountainair for groceries and I was one of the people who went along. We did a little shopping and I found a couple of fun things to buy.
The last two campers got here right before dinner, and after dinner we had camp orientation and the history of the camp itself. The nearly full moon was almost round and very bright.
The workshops got started today, Junanne did a very comprehensive overview of the printing techniques she is doing here and then Dale did a basics talk on what we’re doing for metalwork. Then lunch and get started making art. Dale was first so we got our ideas going and banging done (you do a lot of hammering on metal to punch holes for the design and smooth out edges). When Dale’s time was up, we had to stop banging for Junanne’s printmaking.
The well pump started having problems and couldn’t keep up with demand today.
After dinner, a few of us drove down the road a little bit to the place a house burned in one of the local forest fires, to look for bits of melted glass, or rusted metal or flat stones to use in our mosaics the next day. The nearly full moon rising over the flatlands was beautiful near sunset.
After a semi-restless night, I woke up about 4:30. By 5, it was starting to get light so I got up. The water tank had a chance to fill up overnight and I was the first person in the shower and it was a very nice shower. Hot and cold and plenty of pressure.
After breakfast and workshops, we went into Mountainair for a mosaic workshop with a local artist. We spent 3 hours picking out pieces and putting together a mosaic. They are fairly large, mine is about 18″ square. That’s a lot of real estate to cover with pieces of glass and ceramic. I ended up using mostly glass with a ceramic dragonfly in the center. There’s also a tiny bottle in it so I can put a little bouquet of dried flowers.
While that was going on, Erik drove into Albuquerque to get a new pump for the well. In working on the well, a piece of wall fell and broke a pvc pipe and that ended the water. Erik, Dale and a local plumber/handyman went through a box of parts and found a fitting that will fix things, saving Erik another trip into Albuquerque. Hopefully there will be enough water for showers by morning. Dale saved the day!
The moon is totally full tonight. We’re blaming the water pump problems on that. It’s the Full Buck Moon which is when the buck deer have antlers in velvet, growing.
I slept all night and woke up about 6. For breakfast this morning we had salmon and bagels and fresh fruit. And of course, plenty of coffee.
Because of the threat of rain, the visit to the top of Capilla Peak was changed to lunch today so we load up and start driving at 9. We get up there and do our morning movement/stretches at the pavilion at the top, then do a nature wander up and across and down and see flowers and grasses and butterflies. A few people actually make it to the top of the fire watchtower to talk to the woman who stays there. Looking to the west, you can see the Rio Grande riparian corridor. Then lunch, then head back for workshops.
It rained about dinnertime and things cooled off nicely. Pasta dinner then open studio and I did a little drypoint of a cactus leaf and helped with a couple of things and got my mirror frame finished.
As I walked back to my cabin, I looked up and the moon was between clouds and the clouds looked like silk gauze or batting draped across, all smudgy and silver gray. Breathtaking.
Silver bright moon rises
Through smudgy swathes
Of black silk clouds,
Lead bright sky between them.
Wind sighs through the pines
Carrying the fragrance
of pine and sage.
Hours later, the moon finds me again,
Awake and alone.
Today is the last full day and all projects have to be completed today. I finished one last night but don’t have time to complete another one so today has been a kind of piddle day for me. Other people have finished things and have produced some fabulous pieces.
We had a nice rain in the middle of the afternoon which cooled things down for a little bit.
Before dinner, Junanne and Dale and Carissa had things for sale in the main house. Dinner, then we had a talk on the back patio on herbal medicine by Katherine White who is an herbalist and curandera. Then the last open studio night.
Junanne was packing things up in the barn and Dale was getting a massage so Junanne and I were trying to be very quiet. That’s hard for us to do. She was cracking wise in a whisper and I was trying to laugh silently. Every so often, I had to go outside and let it out. Then about the time Dale’s massage was over, a big June bug flew in. Junanne was using a piece of white cardboard to try to knock it back out the big door. With no success. Then I started hitting it back with my hand. By that time hysteria had taken hold and everybody was laughing. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. It felt good.
This morning, all gets packed up and loaded to leave. Linens in the washer, goodby hugs exchanged, flight times planned.
The plan was for me to go with Susie into Mountainair to get the mosaics so I could take home the other two from Fort Worth people who are flying home and can’t take them on the plane. Then leave and drive to Amarillo and spend the night. Well… track of time was lost and things took longer than anticipated. By the time I could have gotten away, I would have arrived in Amarillo late, so Susie twisted my arm and I am staying another day. Tonight I get to sleep in the house and help eat leftovers. Things are quiet now and I got some rest this afternoon.
Down to just a small crew this evening, Linda cooked asparagus on the grill and we had that and various bits of leftovers blended together and it was all quite good. We ate on the side porch and one of the deer, a buck with antlers in velvet walked by and the coyotes gave us a brief serenade.
I loved this week and all the creative energy and women working on things together but it was exhausting. It was so nice to just sit and be alone on the porch. After dinner, we watched an old movie with Goldie Hawn and Steve Martin and laughed all the way through. Then bedtime and I got to sleep in a real bed, and that was also fabulous. (The cabins have a wooden platform that folds down and has a cushion on it but it’s not very wide.)
I slept very well and woke up about 4:30 which wasn’t so bad, it let me think about things I’d done and people I had been with for the week and then the birds started waking up and the sun started coming up and I heard someone else moving in the house and I got up. Linda was making coffee and we ate yogurt and leftover fruit salad and had more coffee then the others went down to the barn to work on cleanup. I gathered my stuff and after goodbyes, headed out.
I decided to stay off the interstate for a while and took the back roads which was more interesting and way less traffic. I saw two pronghorns standing by the side of the road. Years ago I would have seen several herds of a dozen or more but no longer. Made it to Amarillo by 3:30 and stopped for the night.
Woke up at 7:15 and on the road by 7:45. Made it home by 1.
I still have my mosaic to grout but Brian says there is some kind of grout you can get in a tube and squeeze it in so we will have to investigate that. I think I will use gray. Or I will just use some grout leftover from doing the kitchen floor.
All in all, it was a good trip, I met some new people, renewed friendships from last year and got to know some people better. I got invitations to come visit people and places, and start thinking about next year
This is something a little different, taking collage to another step.
A collagraph is a printing technique where you make a collage and then use ink to print it. There’s more steps than that to it but you get the general idea. Here’s two examples of the collages and the resulting prints. The edges of the pieces collaged on hold ink when you wipe it clean, then transfer to the paper when you run it through a press. The print is always reversed from the collage.
Here are the collages, the one on the left is called Garden District and the one on the right is Art House Film and that is actual 35mm film strips I used. This gives you a sense of scale, these aren’t very big.
Thursday morning, I woke up too early and got up early and still didn’t get on the road till after 7:30. Picked up Layne and we got on the road about 8:30.
Uneventful trip, we stopped off at Cadillac Ranch and looked at the cars. The spray paint on them is in layers inches thick. There are spray paint cans by the cars, there are two dumpsters filled with empty spray cans. The paint chips off in chunks with layer upon layer of colors.
We crossed into New Mexico and stopped at the visitors center to get maps and they also had books laying on the counter. Layne and I picked up a couple of them and were flipping through them and the lady said “You can have those. Or those. Or those.” We each picked up several books, and some of them are nice hard cover art books. We felt like we were robbing the library.
We drove into a storm.I love a storm in the desert but not so much when you have to drop to 40 mph and follow the lights of the truck in front of you. But it washed the Xterra clean. And after we got through the storm, about 5 minutes later, I looked at the hood and it was dried.
Finally got to the camp and caught the end of supper. After a little confusion on where to park we got settled in. The little cabins are about 10 feet by 8. They have two bunk style beds, one on each side, they fold up against the wall if one person wants more room.
I got settled I and got my dragonfly lights hung up and my bed made and went to bed.
I didn’t sleep that well and finally woke up around 7.
I got dressed and headed to the main house to use the bathroom. I was partway there when I heard someone yelling “don’t walk this way, go back!!!!” There was a bear in front of the house! And it was a stubborn bear, it did not want to move on. It took someone driving a car over to make it run off. And I was halfway to the house when it came back. At that point, I figured the house was a better bet so I approached from the side and made it in.
We finally got it to leave the area by honking car horns and a bear horn.
So breakfast was a little late and I was totally unprepared for workshops. But it all turned out ok.
Our morning workshop was metalworking with Dale Janssen. The first project was making night lights with a sheet of copper. She had several templates to choose from but I had found a dragonfly stencil and used that. We punched holes and bent the metal and smoothed the edges and she flamed them for us. We used epoxy to put the clip for the light on it and today we will put it all together and see how they work.
Suzie Monday did a talk on using the iPad to make art on. Then we played a little with AirPlay and Airdrop.
After lunch was a workshop on linocuts and collagraphs or you could work on your nightlight again.
After two bad nights sleep I was having trouble seeing straight so I played with pictures on my iPad for a while before getting out a little piece of linoleum and doing a design.
During the evening gathering on the porch, we watched the birds, identified several of them and talked about many things. After dinner we had a campfire. Stories were told and marshmallows were roasted.
On the schedule for today is to go see some petroglyphs. They are accessible to the public but you have to have a guide. I know he got frustrated by the various speeds of various women.
The site was incredible! Lots of symbols, some common and some unique.
On the way back, we stopped in Mountainaire for a box lunch and to browse the stores and galleries. Things were bought and carted back to camp. I found a wonderful animal shapes necklace to buy.
The afternoon’s project was to make a luminaria with Dale. I used designs from the petroglyphs and drew them freehand on the copper and when we were finished punching, we flamed them and then painted some chemical on them to turn the copper green blue.
The bear made an appearance again at the main house and was finally scared off.
Dinner was pulled pork and the debate about Black Headed Grosbeak versus Spotted Towhee continued. (This was finally resolved by determining both were present)
After breakfast today, we went on a nature walk around the camp. Of course, we had to pose for a group picture before we left, and another one on the walk.
We saw lots of interesting stuff including where a bear did what bears do in the woods. He seems to be eating something with lots of tiny seeds.
After the nature walk, a few of us walked down where a house burned in a forest fire 8 years ago. We found melted glass, bits of rusted metal and a long snakeskin. Good encaustic additions.
For one of my encaustic efforts, I used things I had picked up on my walks. It looks pretty cool. For another one, I used some Chinese writing on paper and alligator juniper sprig and bark.
Then it was time to get back to Dale’s metalwork. I have rolled the cylinder for my luminaria and it has been sprayed with clear coat twice now. It’s ready to rivet together tomorrow.
Our dinner was planned for the peak of the mountain. Having 4 wheel drive, I volunteered again.
The road goes on up past the camp to a camping area and fire watchtower at the top of Capilla Peak.
We watched and heard a storm roll in and got dinner eaten and then had to drive down in the rain. I put it into 4 Low, 1st gear and overdrive off to keep my foot off the brake. The road was slippery in places and had water running down it. Thank you Brian for teaching me how to drive offroad!
I expect I will sleep well tonight. I hope. At bedtime, it’s still raining and cool enough I put another blanket on the bed.
This morning, we finished our luminarias and started the next project. I chose to do a small box and as it worked out, I used 6″ flashing, so I made two, each 3″ high. One turned out better than the other. I used upholstery tacks to fasten these together instead of rivets. The better of the two will be for Daddy.
Today was the day to finish all projects and get everything wrapped up. It’s the last full day.
Suzie has many decks of cards so after dinner we did a group reading, everyone choosing one card from three decks. After that, I chose a random card from a random deck.
Tomorrow, it’s time to say good bye and leave this wonderful place.
By the time brunch rolled around, half of us had already gone. So the art show and tell was small and we all fit around the table for eats. Suzie had cooked the most amazing cheese grits with New Mexico peppers.
About 10, I had finally gotten all my stuff, Layne’s stuff and Junanne’s stuff all loaded up and drove out.
The drive went smoothly and about 30 minutes out of Tucumcari, I called a friend in Amarillo and made arrangements to spend the night.
We had a lovely visit, went to bed early and visited again in the morning.
I got away from there by about 10 again and finally got home at 4. It was a long day.
All in all, it was a wonderful adventure, I learned more about making art, met some wonderful people, some of whom I will see again, saw some beautiful scenery and had a grand time all around. I also added 6 birds to my life list.
I will do it again next year if can.