Open Studio on a Snowy Afternoon
Now and again, my brilliant friend Barbara hosts an open studio in her lovely home and today’s snowy afternoon was a perfect opportunity to get together for some art play. Joined by another, and equally brilliant friend also named Barbara (what can I say, I am lucky!) we held space for each other to explore a variety of materials laid out before us like a veritable feast. Chalk and oil pastels, crayons, markers, colored pencils, and my new favorite, the intensely pigmented Derwent Inktense blocks – water soluble sticks of ink with terrific glide.
The snowy light coming through the windows was punctuated by candlelight, and various objects like shells, feathers and photos were placed about for inspiration. Barbara read a line from a favorite Mary Oliver poem to set a tone , then we each grabbed sticks of color and had at it!
I was captivated by a photo of an owl and began my drawing with pair of eyes and feathered cheeks. Elements of sky and earth from my recent New Mexican trip made it into the picture, and two roses popped out on either side at the creature’s base. The process was essentially “hand led,” in other words, once the first marks were set to paper, I just followed my hand where it wished to go. No grand plans, no conscious destination, perhaps you could call it free associative drawing. My entire body felt beneficial effects from this – did you ever realize what a physical process art making is? It is so refreshing to get out of one’s head and into the hand.
After a bit, I sat back and looked at the image with my two Barbaras, who really assisted in my looking process by drawing my attention to a particular element, like that blue sphere in the bottom center (it represents a balanced center, a place of peacefulness, I replied) or asking me, “Does it have a title?”
When I got home, I realized that my hand drawn little creature reminded me not so much of an owl or a bird, but of a rabbit, a particular fellow who has recently departed, my dear chubby cheeked Fudge. Not a surprise that I would be processing his passing, among all the other departures that occurred this past year. Not a surprise that thinking of Fudge, thoughts of Mom and Dad and Sis gently, gracefully followed. The space was created, and they, of course entered.
The mildly snowbound afternoon, being in the presence of good company, juicy art materials, gently processing loss, well, it was all so deeply satisfying.
Stay warm and cozy. Tomorrow, on the East coast, at least, I hear the sun will be out, and the temperatures will warm. I can hardly wait for spring to arrive.