Took the plunge this season and decided to plant the first-ever rose bush in my flower garden. I wasn’t expecting any blooms the first year, but suddenly this beauty appeared! It smells sooooo good!! 💕
“It looks magical!” exclaimed my 10 year old friend, a recent immigrant from Rwanda, as we sat next to each other on a blanket, watching fireworks paint bright streaks across the black sky. It was another “first” for her in her new life in America. Nearby, her one year old brother and my 5 year old son sat unnaturally still, entranced (as we all were) by the sight, while rainbows of color danced in their sparkling eyes. As long as I can remember, Independence Day and fireworks have always gone hand-in-hand, precluded by a full day of fun and feasting with beloved friends and family. The formula doesn’t alter much from year to year, and yet it is one of those iconic American traditions that never gets old. At any other time of year, the list of things to be checked off and hassles to be endured might have seemed like more of an inconvenience than a pleasure – cleaning, shopping, cooking, packing, crowds, noise, heat, traffic, unpacking, more cleaning – but as my young friend alluded, there is something inherently magical about days with so much “living” packed into them that by the time you fall into bed, once you finally make it back home, you are wobbly from contented exhaustion.
Today has been the opposite of yesterday in nearly every way. Yesterday, I never stopped moving (and never minded). But today, I’m not ashamed to admit that I didn’t crawl out of bed until long past “normal” breakfast time and I’ve barely moved from my favorite chair, except to refill my coffee cup and snack on yesterday’s abundant leftovers. As I sit on my “island” surveying the aftermath of a dozen warm bodies moving in, out & about my house, instead of compiling yet another To Do list, my mind keeps calling up grainy images from my memory – bits & pieces from party games that have yet to find their way back into the correct boxes recall bursts of uproarious laughter around the dining table; red cups & star-shapped straws dotting the landscape recall kitchen countertops groaning under the weight of so much food & conversations mingling in the air along with mouthwatering aromas; pint-sized wet clothing draped over the rim of the tub recalls squeals of laughter from children running through the sprinkler in the sunshine; the half-smeared remnant of a “dinosaur eye” painted on my son’s face recalls him sitting with barely-controlled patience for the artist to finish her work so he could get back to bouncing his way through all the inflatables; and the subtle soreness of my muscles recalls the movement of my body as I performed with pleasure the duties of a hostess, ensuring the comfort & enjoyment of those whom I most love in the world and then, as the day drew to a close, finally letting go of all responsibility and allowing myself to bounce and sway however I pleased to the rhythm of live music at a riverfront festival.
Magic. Yes, indeed, there is something magical about a day that can make you completely forget everything that normally occupies the most space in your subconscious mind. The itinerary of next week’s work & school schedule, bills to be paid, household renovations to be completed, political shennanigans to fret over, crises big & small – my own as well as others’ – crying out for attention. Where did they go?
In the soft, orange light of the setting sun, last night I laid down on a blanket with my hands under my head and stared up at the swirling clouds – pure summer bliss. Presently, a few drops of rain made cool spots on my face & arms, but I didn’t care. There was nothing I needed to do and no one who needed my help. In that moment, I simply existed. I cannot remember the last time I felt so gloriously free. But a day devoted to the celebration of freedom reminded me that there is so much more to life then the acrobatics required to get through modern adulthood. We experience life at its fullest when we engage all five senses, and yesterday was a colorful kaleidoscope of opportunities to do just that. Tomorrow, I must return to being a “grownup”. But I intend to make a little more room, going forward, for embracing fun & creativity in my regular routine. Making magic wherever I can.
So much about summer to enjoy…so little time to take it all in. I’ve been a little absent from my various social media outlets the past few months & with good reason. My son started kindergarten this fall and I didn’t want to waste one second of my last summer as a ‘stay at home home mom’ with him. We truly had a blast and he is now loving school. As emotional as it was for me to send him off on this next big step in his little life, I have to admit it’s quite nice to have a little extra time to myself these days and as the cooler weather compels us all to spend more time indoors, I’m sure I will be reconnecting with my online community a lot more…instead of spending most of my time outside in my garden. Not that I regret it one little bit. It’s truly a labor of love and flowers like these make the hours of dirty, sweaty, scratchy work so worth it!
Winter & I are officially ‘on a break’. Every time I revisit this piece I’m transported directly to spring, sunshine and good vibes (even though I’m wearing 3 sweaters, trying not to rack up a huge heating bill-haha). This image is a scan that has had the brightness/contrast altered significantly to help me see all the details as I paint directly onto the original drawing, which was done in VERY light 4H pencil on white bristol board. I like the idea of leaving some visible sketch lines under the transparent layers of paint, yet having them be light enough that I can draw directly onto the art paper without having to worry about leaving unwanted marks behind if I need to erase some.
I looked out my window this morning at the snow flying wildly all around (now 6 inches+ deep) and decided I would stay home and paint flowers all day. I’m revisiting some mixed media techniques I haven’t used in many years (watercolor+colored pencil+graphite pencil on bristol board) and I want to make sure I’m happy with the finished effect before I start in on my new farmers market illustration. My overall goal with my artwork, since I took up painting again last year, has been to ‘loosen up’ and be more spontaneous – drawing and painting directly onto the art paper (without using tracing paper) and not worrying so much about ‘mistakes’ or relying on my computer for ‘touch ups’ later. Don’t get me wrong, as a freelance graphic designer, I do LOVE my computer, but with my hands-on artwork, I’m aiming for a more whimsical look (which I have not yet been able to achieve – the control freak in me, always cringing at what I deem to be ‘imperfections’ – but I feel like I’m getting a little closer with each new painting). I have to say…working with these yellow hues really warmed me up today. 🙂
Look what I just found in storage! I painted these for my very first craft show back in 2005…10 years later I’m not so sure about my decision to mount them on wooden planks with twine for hanging (probably why they didn’t sell). But now I’m really glad I still have them because I still love the ‘laid back’ artistic style (which I’m trying to get back to) and now that I have better equipment I can scan them into my computer and sell them as prints. I might just have to re-frame the originals and put them up in my kitchen.
I have a feeling I’m going to be looking at this picture a lot this winter – trying to conjure up the exact feeling I have right now as I lounge back in a tank top, leggings & bare feet, sipping iced coffee under the gentle breeze of my ceiling fan and looking forward to hours upon hours of glorious sunshine until it finally grows dark and it’s time to enjoy a glass of wine outside by the fire pit with my husband.
I hadn’t really done any ‘summer’ decorating yet and had grown tired of all the pink I’d put out for spring. So last week I dug through my floral bin and found these long forgotten shells and sand, collected from a beach in Pensacola, FL where I went to college. A few minutes, a quick scribble and a good ol’ mason jar later, I had the perfect way to brighten up my entry way without being too ‘beachy’ (since, much as I’d wish it to be otherwise, I don’t live anywhere near the ocean).
Now every time I walk down the hall I’m reminded to slow down and be in the moment. Summer won’t last forever, but I can have fun pretending it will.