9 x 12 World

27/08/2017

Stone1.jpgIn order to create art, I have learned, the habits of working with materials, focusing on the task at hand, and the ability to shut out all “noise” must be daily. This is one which I have lost during the years of being a school librarian. However, all is not lost. Materials – pencils, paints, and inks – and my play remain important to me, especially during the summer. Few of these materials I have kept within the confines of my “art cupboard” despite the two decades where I immerse myself in children’s literature, lesson plans, and pedagogical dictates.

While books, especially children literature has always been a part of my adulthood, a box of Crayola watercolors, Studio Series color pencils, Windsor & Newton drawing inks several drawing pencils, eraser, and sketchbook are the tangibles giving shape to my art world, small as it is, this summer.

Two stones – one from 1986 when my husband and I were on the Mediterranean coast of France; the other, a recent gift from a friend who visited as a teacher-artist on a Greek island.

The works you see here are not complicated or even well thought out. Simply, they are my summer sandbox. They are my play. They connect me with a sliver of my past history and more than this, they nurture the quiet. To be in the moment where it is only about the lines, the colors and the spaces in between.


Mediterranean stone, approx 4″ (2″ at the narrow point)

GrkStonesGrkStonesdetail

Greek island stone, approx 1 /34 x 1/2 “

written to honor my husband, MRG and my friend, BC, who gifted me with these stones
Advertisements

July4Art.part three

11/08/2016

I am reluctant to do this. Share. Having dragged out my low artistic energy into August, I admit, right here – right now – that it is a “failure.” Did I create something? Yes. Can one call it art? Yes. Did it fulfill me? No. Absolutely not. No way. And here, dear reader, lies the most valuable experience (from which I have yet to dissect, analyze, and learn).  This failure is a teaching moment for my Self.

I know and feel this: I cannot go back. Back to former techniques and past imagery.

Daylilysmall

 

evening sketch –  sitting outside

 

I know and feel this, too: I must go forward. Forward with simplicity. Forward with eyes open.


 

Do you remember being angst-ridden with the knowledge that when you returned to elementary school in the autumn, your teacher would have you write – in class – that dreaded essay, “What I Did On My Summer Vacation”?  For those of us who spent our summers at home – riding bicycles, walking to the local pool, and catching lightning bugs, the pressure to find something remotely interesting could bring us to tears while gripping a pencil covered by a sweaty palm, forehead millimeters above the blue-lined paper, while offering any deal to any saint for one good idea. Only one. Just to get through the assignment with some shred of ten-year old dignity. Not such a high bar. Do you remember?

I do. And I have finally done something interesting.side

On my summer vacation I visited my two sisters, Sister #1 and Sister #2, in Bethlehem, PA. No sweaty hands this time, but joyous fingers, not to make you envy me, not because I did something so extraordinary, but rather because of this: I found the adventure with my sisters in doing the ordinary. Oh, and being of that age – yes, that one – this list will help me recall this summer – this one delightful summer – in detail as I mellow.


The summer of 2016 with the sisters included the following “special” experiences:

  1. My favorite clothing store, In The Mood, one where previously I have bought countless items (with NO tax!) closed this year.  In its place, however, is an upscale “home goods” boutique to rival any located in Washington, D.C.  Walking into Domaci as in a dream, my soliloquy reads, “I am throwing out all my furniture, and buying everything from here!”  Yes, at my age -yes, that one – I was lustful…for the table, the floor mats, the sofas…even the damn candle!
  2. But alas, Sister #2 and I had to scurry across the street to Healing Hands where our one hour therapy sessions (not a “50-minute one hour session”…you who recognize this misnomer, understand the reference, I have no doubt!) awaited each: me, a Warm Bamboo massage, and dear sister, a therapeutic Swedish one. Never has an hour passed so quickly and so peacefully. Soft music, soft candlelight, and strong hands. Well oiled, well pressed, and well done, it was a feat to get our feet to the floor, stand upright, and totter down the stairway resuming our mundane lives.
  3. The evening brought and Sister #1 brought the next adventure to the fore – fine dinning. While this may sound trés mondain, be assured it is not. Sister #2 and I have no discriminating palates in our genes; Sister #1 possesses all of them! After much first-born lobbying on her part, and sheer guilt on our second and third-born parts, we all agreed to try a “new” restaurant located in an “old” location. Many Bethlehemites grew up with The Lantern’s steak-sandwich sauce dripping down their chins. On the very steak-sandwich spot of our past, we entered an uncluttered, cool and calm atmosphere; we entered Adagio. Have you yet eaten crabmeat in white chocolate sauce? I suggest you do. Food effusiveness –“That was really good!” – is not one of my more over traits, but I remain grateful to Sister #1 for this advocacy work.  And, it was really good.

But the heat…oh, the heat the next day. One simply had to participate in the next adventure!

pool

  1. Swimming. There is nothing that makes you feel like the brave and  intrepid explorer, than to venture outside one’s comfort zone. Sister #2 had that gleam in her eye, so we hit the open road for the pool. Oh, not the one usually frequented – the municipal pool at Monocracy, rather for one where we had to follow directions, travelling up and down the suburban lanes in the hinterlands, turning at Stop signs never seen before – all to reach the Hanover Township Community Pool. Throwing our bathing accoutrements under a magnificent locust tree swaying gently in the 90+ degree breeze, we all but ran like the twelve-year-old selves to which we had reverted, and jumped in!
  2. Refreshed and energized, I talked Sister #2 into a drive-by adventure – an adventure I had quietly kept to myself- to visit an abandoned house. “It’s right on the way home!” I cried piteously. I was driving, anyway. I confess, as a child born and raised in Bethlehem, PA, I never learned anything about a remarkable man named Archibald Johnston – or his home!  Yes, kindred Moravian College graduates – that Johnston of Johnston Hall! He was quite a man; he had quite a house. Parking the car after our circuitous drive through what appeared to be a dead end, we began our early evening constitutional across an expansive green lawn, interrupting a deer, a groundhog, and almost stepping on a chipmunk. Have you ever seen something so beautiful in your mind’s eye that it hurt? It is this house. Even in its state of disrepair -bordering on decay- it is sublime. It is an evocative place. It holds memories of the past, and dreams for a future. It left me with an ache in my heart.

house

Within a few blocks came the final adventures…

  1. No adventure is complete without the solo expedition – a late morning stroll to the nearby café, Jumbars, to meet with a former colleague. Experiencing an encounter as if time had never interrupted defies the logical order of chronological minutes, hours and days. One might wonder, “What is it about this connection that allows the threads of all those yesterdays to mesh seamlessly so that time becomes irrelevant?” Amidst shoveling fresh fruit, grilled muffins into our mouths and downing it with freshly brewed coffee, both of us shared teaching stories, tales of chickens and dogs, futures yet to be. Insulated within the familial atmosphere of this place and comforted by the home-baked love of generations (Thank you, Anna Jumbar!), time stopped. Friendship resumed.
  2. Through the years on my trips “home,” I pass a lovely bookshop storefront. It is only blocks from the sisters’ home, yet I have never been inside. Today was the day. The heat was oppressive, yet one cannot remain indoors for hours on end, no? Sister #1 and I set out for a jaunt. A quick walk only a block away. She, in her charming straw  hat; I in my “Iron Pigs” baseball cap, we were the only living things outdoors. The heat. The words “used & rare books”was my bait; the opening of the door to The Old Library Bookshop, my hook. Charming. Quaint. Air-conditioned. All of these qualities kept us there browsing for close to an hour through books, photographs, until I spied a gem. An early edition, Newbery title from 1930 – Hitty: Her First Hundered Years by Rachel Field, and illustrated by none other than Dorothy P. Lathrop. Two women I admire greatly. A gift to myself,  it is this precious book to mark a treasured few days.

And so I add here,

“I could fill many pages with accounts of that first summer – of the trips we took…of the expeditions…and of all the visits from neighbors and relations who often came to spend all day now that the weather was so fine” (Field 17).

hitty

 


 

 

July4ART: part two

12/07/2016

It is two weeks into July (almost) and I am myself moving very slowly with art; I am rusty, dear friend. My process is akin to the Tin Man (The Wizard of Oz) walking before Dorothy had the good sense to oil his joints. Thus far my stiff hand has lumbered  with pencils to:

  • draw calligraphic lines at a whim
  • color with pencils random places on the wallpaper reproduction
  • repeat these two steps on varying sizes of paper
  • reproduce a pencil drawing of the “key” onto my handmade paper (Why? I am not sure yet!)
  • use a three-hole stitch binding with two pieces of work (the simpliest, of course)
  • relentlessly ask myself, “What am I doing this for?” and “Who needs more stuff to put away?”

Letting go of reason or purpose and responding instinctively is a difficult behavior to regain after years of neglect. This process. This attempt to “make” art. This metaphor for  life.


Please note that you may read The Wizard of Oz in a beautiful color, 1900 edition online thanks to The Library of Congress.  Click HERE.

Five pints for $5.00!  Unpacking my sack from the local co-op, my husband asks (somewhat annoyed as he disdains raspberries and those petite seeds), “What are you going to do with ALL those?”  Defensively, and rather arrogantly I reply, “Make a cake.” Please note: In my life, I have NEVER made a raspberry cake.bake1

I am eternally grateful to live in the age of internet (Thank you, Al Gore.) as my immediate instinct is to google “raspberry cake recipe” before I am found out to the duplicitous baker that I am. As a librarian (who is not duplicitous) I know enough to go beyond the first page, and it is on one of the subsequent lists of hits that I find one to my liking by Elaine McCardle for “Almond Raspberry Cake.”

Today, this very day, is baking day since the husband – disparager of all things raspberry – is working on his 1963 Porsche 356c carburetor which should occupy him for some time. Translation: I have the kitchen (and the house!) to myself for a few hours. Arranging the ingredients in the Dewey Decimal order on the counter, in librarian fashion, I realize something vitally important is missing – my Motown music!  Again, grateful to Al Gore, I set the Roku for Pandora and I blast the sounds of Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, Jimmy Ruffin, and Detroit musicians ad nauseum (oh, how I miss my high-school dances!), and begin to mix this and that with a soulful beat.

cake

Suddenly, it hits me!  It really is summer…I am home having one heck of a good time in the middle of the morning with raspberries and Motown.

Summer’s gifts

19/08/2015

pencil drawingHome is where I spent my summer. Obligations and responsibilities permeated the few months. Reviewing each one on my list reminds me of how generous this summer has been to me.

  • delight at a birthday dinner with my dear friend at a favorite cafe & bookstore
  • reveling in spending a day with my sons at the National Gallery, Hirshorn Museum, & Freer Gallery of Art
  • the spouse and I – driving along highways in companionable silence –  visiting family in Pennsylvania, and a day-trip to the Queen’s Anne County Fair in Maryland
  • feelings of freedom by giving away furniture, kitchen goods (pottery, dishes, pots & pans), books, & throwing out the junk
  • intense gardening and yard work leaving a sense of deep satisfaction
  • revising ZiaClara
  • thrill of splurging on the building of a small stone and slate patio & walkway
  • relief at having the piano tuned so I can finally play it
  • and, gentle minutes spent in intimate coffees at the new, local bakery or surrounded by the lush garden in mornings on the porch with friends and neighbors
  • an cozy evening spent with women friends sharing book titles, gossip, and support
  • reading good books of my choosing
  • hearing sounds of the evening cicadas and midnight  “Ooooing” of a visiting owl

As I enter into autumn and  a new school year, I have cleared away the technology – laptop, phone, cords, cables – from my drafting table. My newly purchased set of color pencils sit next to an old sketch. This room will hold the slow pace and easy peace that I am leaving behind with the dark, dry seeds of my sunflowers. I plant them here. They are in shades of blue, green, orange, violet and reds. This garden will bloom indoors during the chilling months ahead. Evening blossoms. After the frenetic push and pull of the weeks and months that I know are ahead of me, I will retreat into this room. When the cicadas lie sleeping, and the dusk quickens into night, the generosity of summer will spill carelessly into my world.

Gentle summer

16/07/2015

echinacea

A gentle summer morning. Cool breezes brought in by the summer storms remain, and even a blue, couldless sky does not dampen my enthusiasm for the outdoors.*  I am not sure what makes one begin to appreciate one’s life. Today, I do. The flowers are spectacular this summer. Brilliant. Wild. I never take this for granted as we are surrounded by majestic ‘black walnut‘ trees. tree canopyWhen we found our house more than thirty years ago, we knew nothing about plants, trees, or gardens. The yard was a disaster. Year by year it has been tended, sometimes ruthlessly; others, with a soft touch. Always with the black walnut tree’s preferences at the heart of our decision-making. It is a fickle tree. We are limited with plantings. No vegetable garden for us. Yet, I can feed the bees and the birds, the insects and the gastropods. The cats sleep in the sun underneath the fronds and leaves. A consolation.

But, today! Today. Joy. Celebrating the sun, the sounds of cicadas, birds yelling at the cats, and the occasional hummbingbird at the trumpet vine.


*It is known by many that I prefer the Cornish weather – damp and gray, moving clouds – wind, not breezes. Could this be why I prefer to read books and view films with this backdrop?

The Uninvited 1944, black & white film was my introduction to Cornwall.  I fell in love with it. Currently, the PBS series, Poldark appeases this need for “weather,” although there has been too much sun for my tastes! Addendum: both are based on books – Daphene DuMaurier and Winston Graham.

pf6aA gracious gift to those who teach is summer.  As each one cycles through my year in education, it is time to reconnect with my previous life as an artist.  My expectations of artistic accomplishments during these brief months are quite simple – create one piece from the heart.

The artists are raising their eyebrows at this seemingly simple statement and thinking that this goal is, indeed, larger than I think.  You are quite right. Being a working artist is a nine-to-five job like any other job, yet the work itself – well, I will leave that description to other artists.

This began as a most unsettling summer.  I could not find a quiet center within myself regardless of books I read, visits with friends and family, or my love of gardening.  Restlessness permeated my days and nights. It was not until I “turned my ankle” during my relentless drive to clean up the yard that put me where I belong.  Sitting still.

More than twenty years ago I began to make a type of western “prayer flag” as a gift to those whose heart breaks or joys are difficult to contain or express with flowers and gifts.  It was a tangible way to offer love beyond my small self – an offering for the other to the universe.

Sharing this art form with you is “my creative work from the heart” this summer.  I hope it inspires those who are in need of a nudge, to adapt, improvise, and create.

 Tina Hudak’s prayer flag

  1. Choose a paper that is strong, but flexible in the wind. I use my own handmade paper for two reasons: the papermaking is part of the prayer, and I can choose my fibers and shape.pf3a

  2. Collage or create your image according to your artistic style that holds meaning.  Here, I use calligraphy, my photo scanned on handmade paper, print on handmade paper, stencils from my hand cut design.  Spray with a workable fixative.

  3. Cut “air holes” so that the flag meets less resistance from the breeze.  If not, it will most likely be torn down in a forceful wind.pf4a

  4. Reinforce the ribbon or string used to hanging to withstand the wind.pf1a

  5. At the bottom of the prayer flag, attach an object to weight it, but not enough to tear through it.pf5a

  6. Hang outdoors.  With all prayer flags, as it weathers, the prayer is released to the heavens.pf2a

au revoir

02/07/2014

Summer.  I dislike it.   Nine o’clock this morning I am awake, but motionless.  Our gentle, orange tabby taps my face with is velvet paw. Already humid with incessant sun, the insects are tedious with their constant presence.  I take my morning coffee indoors.  Entombed in my closed, cool studio, I feel uncomfortable.  No, it is not a lack of comfort – too superfluous – it is loss.

cafe2A forty-year friendship was packed up carelessly today. Thrown willy-nilly into a small box to be abandoned at the curbside.  Three decades of champagne toasts and Christmas treats, countless drives along the dull, Pennsylvania interstate to share in a  “sisters’ visit”, belly laughs and silliness with midday trips pushing strollers laden with croissants and juice boxes along concrete sidewalks  – now still.  Then, a decade of letting go, “keeping in touch”  insinuating itself between us. Stealing intimacy. Sharing an occasional cafe seated at your kitchen table. Bon mots sprinkled generously along with the sugar.

I am not blindsided, dear friend, clutching the box of memories against my heart.  I am, simply, bereft.

yellow

11/07/2013

Yellow hugs my nose breathing in the beauty of this tiny universe.

yellow fractal trans

I am loving this summer, which is a lovely surprise since it is my least favorite season. One never knows, n’est-ce pas?

Fractal made from my watercolour of a forsythia bloom.

%d bloggers like this: