My good friend, Temple, gave me a wren's nest from her front porch as a birthday gift last year. It was almost unrecognizable as a nest, but its roots and twigs have been near my painting area all year and have served as inspiration. I had a different idea for a starting place for this Twelve for Twelve series, but yesterday as I was sketching and preparing, my son Kyman called my attention to a wren that was industriously working and singing outside our kitchen window. I took it as a sign, since these magical little birds rarely show themselves. And so, a wren is what I am beginning with today. More later about the fascinating symbolism of these tiny "Kings of birds".
I have to share this Haiku, written in response to this painting by my very talented friend, Russell Mays.
In the coming year, I hope to spend more time in Nature. There is so much inspiration around every corner, and life and work have been keeping me inside way too much. The inspiration for this painting came from a walk on Gentry Creek Trail.
Sparrows have struggled through thorns in recent paintings, stared knowingly from Gothic window ledges, but here they rest playfully and at home on soft moss. Winter is coming, but as always, they are at peace.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? Matthew 6:25-34
This post is overdue. Mr. Alfred Michels, the Fiddlemaker, passed away in late September. Everyone who was fortunate enough to know Alfred instantly fell in love with his lilting old world accent and the sparkle in his eye. He was a person who lived deliberately and simply, and he left a rare and beautiful legacy for us all.
Here's a link to his obituary.
Alfred and his wife Amy grew most all their food. He worked his land with horses, just like my Grandpa used to. A filmmaker recently made a movie called "Mountain Minor" that features a fine young local musician, Asa Nelson. Alfred's horses are also in the movie, and he worked with Asa and the film crew. The movie is in film festivals now, and I just can't wait to see it!
...and did I mention that Alfred didn't just make fiddles... he played the heck out of them! He played for years with the LazyBirds, an awesome little band that is based in the North Carolina Mountains. Here he is playing "Draggin' the Bow".
I have a few reference pictures left, so Alfred will appear in at least two future paintings. Like all who knew him, I could myself blessed to have met and been inspired by Alfred Michels.
This imagery comes back again and again. Sparrows, thorns. the love that is all that remains when we leave this world.
These old Gothic Windows have haunted my dreams, but I find them excruciatingly beautiful. This is another Barb'ry Allen. One of the oldest written songs in the English language.
Barbara Allen was buried in the old churchyard
Sweet William was buried beside her,
Out of sweet William's heart, there grew a rose
Out of Barbara Allen's a briar.
They grew and grew in the old churchyard
Till they could grow no higher
At the end they formed, a true lover's knot
And the rose grew round the briar.
I've heard a lot of versions of this old song, but my favorite is my Uncle Kenny's.
My Sacred Space show is finally almost ready for opening day on Friday, August 3rd!
This collection has grown out of the Maker Series, and it explores that otherworldly realm we enter into when we give in to our creative spirit. Creative Flow is the name given to it, now that MRIs can show the myriad connections in the brain of a person in this state. Time stands still and the world is left to turn without us....
"It is six A.M., and I am working. I am absentminded, reckless, heedless of social obligations, etc. The tire goes flat, the tooth falls out, there will be a hundred meals without mustard. The poem gets written. I have wrestled with the angel and I am stained with light and I have no shame. Neither do I have guilt. My responsibility is not to the ordinary, or the timely, It does not include mustard or teeth. It does not extend to the lost button or the beans in the pot. My loyalty is to the inner vision, whenever and howsoever it may arrive...."
I travel in and out of this state more easily these days. But those times when I get brave and let it take me deep enough to listen, a painting happens that leaves me changed, like when you read a really good novel, and the world is never quite the same after that. It can be down right painful, a blessing that sometimes feels like a curse, but I always thank God, and he always takes care of us.
The Twelve for Twelve New Years Challenge has been a great experience so far. I can't say I haven't lost any sleep, but I can say it's been worth it!
This little sparrow keeps showing up. He comes unexpectedly, and he always brings a message. The first time he came was in Barbry Allen, in 2012. Then, he showed up again in the spring of 2013 when we were in the hospital struggling with Shane's diagnosis. Drawing and sketching are my way of working things out, Sometimes, when I let go and let the drawing or painting be what it wants to be, it brings a revelation. This sparrow always does, and it always brings peace.
When I'm out and about, I always keep some charcoal and pastel handy. Drawing, even for just a few minutes, provides a meditative oasis, a little escape that keeps me grounded and gets me through even the most hectic day. Back in the studio, the addition of silver or copper leaf gives the drawings an ethereal feel,