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What I See: Healing Hand Mandala

image I am thoroughly enjoying collaborative art making, or image dialoguing with friends and colleagues. This is a photo of a healing hand mandala that my colleague, Jacqueline and I made by passing the paper back and forth at various intervals after work one day. Wanted to share it with you – it makes me happy to look at it and reminds me of how rich life can be when you trust the process and the loving, respectful flow of relationships. When you relate to one another in different ways, it’s fun to see what new discoveries arise.

Happy Sunday, Happy March!


What I See: A Wolf, A Parrot, A Bear – Oh MY! Friendship Mandalas


Once a month, usually on a Saturday morning, my dear friend Esther and I meet together at a local coffee shop with art materials in hand and set about to have a dialogue in images. What we do is an adaptation of the Open Studio Process I have been studying this past year. We set an intention before we begin, the overall intention is to honor and nourish our relationship through art making. Individual intentions might then be ” I allow myself to be seen and loved through my art making, ” or ” I am open and playful as I explore these art materials” You get the idea. image

We each have a paper with an empty mandala or circle drawn in pencil. Then we begin, with each of us adding an element , working for about 20 minutes at a time, then exchanging drawings. Once the exchange happens, we carefully look at one another’s drawing and respond by asking the following questions: What does it need? What does it make me think of? How does it make me feel? or simply by letting our hands follow the process. Esther began her image above with two girls jumping rope, I piped in with the third purple skinned lass and parrot, and so on and so forth. I love how Esther gave the parrot a tree, complete with a Grandmother spirit watching over their antics. image

In this image, I began with the bear – I can’t quite tell you why – the girl on an island under a tree, and a colorful little fish, watching with an attentive eye while blowing bubble creatures. Once again Esther gave the girl two friends, a home, a campfire and even a boat as a way to get on and off the island.  I love this scene, it’s wildness and it’s protective, fortified enclave, it’s silliness and it’s seriousness. Let me invite you to do a friendhsip mandala with someone in your life with whom you can be seen. I promise it will nourish you and remind you of your riches, over and over again.

What I See: Three Foxes

photoOpen Studio Process – brief drawing with chalk pastels on black construction paper.

Intention: I savor the experience of drawing and relax into it.

Witness: Little foxes, there you are again!

I continue to explore the fox symbolism from my dream images , no longer in a snowy venue… Dad’s birthday was November 3rd, he would have been 94. It will be two years since my sister’s death this November 15th. One remembers these anniversaries and takes note of these milestone moments. Drawing helps me slow down and honor the feelings and the memories in the midst of this busy fall season.


What I See: Duo

IMG_4104July has been sans blog posts; however, it was a month replete with gifts from the sea. Hubby and I found a duet of moon shells as we meandered in divergent paths at the water’s edge and then found one another again, each with a matching prize.

IMG_4102I‘ve also been re reading Art is a Way of Knowing by Pat B. Allen and engaging in the open studio practice during the breathing spaces in life. The following quote is from her chapter entitled: Knowing Sculpture:

“You have discovered sculpture if you have ever picked up a piece of driftwood or an oddly shaped stone. Something in your inner experience resonated with what you picked up with that particular stone. …Images that are necessary to us come in all sorts of ways, for the soul never tires of trying to make itself known.”

IMG_4093I enjoyed spending some time with the shells this morning, positioning them in various ways and distances from each other, noticing the light, the shadows, the ridges and the curves. The nuance of color is both subtle and dramatic on the surface of each shell. The same, but different. I like that there is not only an inside and an outside, but a channel or bridge that links the interior with the exterior, making me wonder what is enfolded within. Mysterious shells, invitations to contemplation and discovery. I like how you look resting on my husband’s drawing board, with the history of his energetic markings and smudges from past engagement with color that provides a backdrop for your beautiful, earthy tones. How funny, earth tones from the sea!IMG_4101I like how you feel in my hand, resting just so in the center of my palm, a round little house, fragile and strong, an oasis in time. Thank you for showing up.


What I See: Evanston, Illinois

IMG_3857Ever since I heard about Pat B. Allen’s Open Studio Project, I have been hankering to attend her workshop series located in Evanston, Illinois. Finally, last weekend, I was able to participate in one of the facilitator workshops about establishing your own personal practice. What I didn’t expect was how enchanted I would be by the city of Evanston, Illinois. Since I arrived quite early before the workshop, I had time to explore the town a bit, and – nerd alert! – the public library was at the top of my list. Pictured above is a beautiful installation piece which inhabits the library’s stairwell. This library is top notch, from the children’s room to the “Most Wanted Books” section to the research floor. I spent a leisurely hour or so perusing shelves and researching archives for information about the Eleanor Club in Chicago where Mom lived in the late 1940’s. More on this in another post. IMG_3871Strolling about I wandered onto the campus of Northwestern University and came upon a charming chapel, now used for recitals. These windows caught my eye. IMG_3881Walking towards Lake Michigan, I was astonished to find a sandy beach beneath my feet, just blocks from the downtown streets that are chock full of shops and eateries. One clearly beloved place was Bennison’s Bakery and I snapped a view of this young woman decorating a cake:IMG_3860The vibrant colors reminded me of the purpose of my trip, a weekend of intentional art making at the Open Studio Project, an easy walk from the University grounds, as you head towards Chicago proper. Here’s a shot of their light filled gallery:IMG_3907IMG_3867I must mention the Lucky Platter, where my colleagues and I had a few delicious meals. (The apricot flakey will take your taste buds to heaven) After an afternoon of sculpting with tin foil and masking tape, we felt right at home here, where the ceiling is embellished with little balls of aluminum foil. The humble sparkle adds a whimsical ambiance and those who served us made us feel right at home. As a matter of fact, I felt very welcomed by the city of Evanston, with its cozy downtown, international flavor and friendly folk all around. IMG_3908To be honest, I didn’t even mind the delay at O’Hare Airport. It’s sunny and colorful concourse with public art displays gave me yet another terrific experience during my trip to Illinois. Needless to say, I plan to return again soon!

Easter Morning Stroll

photoAn Easter morning chat with my daughter made me realize that all of the holidays over the past two years have been marked by a visit to the cemetery. Seven minutes from my door to garden niche, it’s about as convenient as one could wish for. I don’t go for convenience, it truly brings me peace. I suppose it is still hard for me to imagine a holiday without Mom and Dad and even without my sister, beloved and scorned Queen of Chaos that she was to me.

I went there today, watered the purply, fragrant hydrangea I placed there about a week ago, and said an Our Father and a Hail Mary, because I know that Mom would like that. I touched the cool pink marbled surface of their plaques, realizing, for the first time that our surname, Dage, Americanized Chinese, when read backwards, spells “Egad!”  I looked at the dates on all three plaques, 2012, 2012, 2012 and  thought, well, this is fitting – Ye Gods! Egad! What are the odds for all three to depart in the same year? Funny the thoughts that strike you on a quiet, sunny Easter afternoon. Makes one yearn for a simple Easter egg hunt, a dress trimmed in lace, and white patent mary janes of years long past.

As I took a stroll around in the sunshine, I caught sight of a family grouping of gravestones, each with a different saying. My favorite, pictured above was “It’s just as easy to rejoice.”

What does rejoice really mean? To be glad, to thrive, to be well, to be in joy. I quite like that. A good thought to keep in mind, alongside the memories.

Egad! Rejoice!



What I See: Footprints of a Single Bird

Time spent to pay attention to details such as the footprint of a single bird 

IMG_3640With the polar vortex on the move, be well, be safe, stay warm …