Tag: drawing

soft velvet color

Today, i gave myself two tremendous gifts:  time and kindness.

For weeks, i have been stuck inside turmoil.  My mind and heart have been agitated, spinning like laundry on a particularly violent spin cycle, even with huge swaths of meditation. Non-art work has seemed like an incessant presence, demanding more time than my flesh can comfortably give. For now, though, none of this toil digs me out of the hole in which i find myself – or if it does, i am trying to shift a mountain with a teaspoon.

So today, i meditated for hours, interspersed with seven poems.  i didn’t use tonglen, or any other of my standard meditations, i just fell backward into stillness and silence until my spirit stopped screaming, until the urge to tear my clothes and cover myself in ash over losing my home and studio passed, until the words began to weave through my arm again, coming out fingertips still holding the pen.

Once i had come back to myself a bit, i gathered up my pastels from the house and brought them to the studio.  Truthfully, i should have thrown or glazed.  But i am exhausted. When i am in a state like this and i push myself, i make more of a mess than art.  Loading the kiln took all i had, so i let myself paint with pastel.

It has been years since i used them, probably since i was still married.  As i think about this move, i have been prioritizing the things to keep and the things to let go.  i was wondering where pastels fell on that continuum, and now i know.

image
from long ago… maybe ten years old

The soft, velvet color moving across the hardboard seduced me.  i will be keeping these ridiculously fragile shards of brilliance.  May my painting be more joyousness and coy love, like today’s effort, than the sorrow of the self portrait done so many years ago.

Art, poetry and meditation nourished me today.  i find myself grateful beyond words.

twenty minutes

raining i just used up all the hot water in the tank doing the dishes and it will take twenty minutes to get some warmth back.  The limitations of my hot-water heater has given me a chance to blog.

Part of the reason that the dishes had stacked up for so long was that my injured hand could not hold the dishes well or without significant pain.  The other reason is that when confronted by the desire to make art and the need to do dishes, the former almost always wins.  At any rate, while i cleaned plate after plate, rejoicing over my left hand’s healing, i started mulling over the other things i have not been doing as i should: blogging, posting on social media, just generally reaching out even to my customers.

Part of it has been a conscious choice as to what kind of art i should make. i am aware that what is welling up inside me contains sorrow and fear.  The decision is whether or not to give those emotions a stronger voice.

Years and years ago, a friend typed in a lot of poetry for me when i was having health issues that made the job impossible.  Those poems contained vast despair, interspersed with moments of bliss.  Watching how she reacted to that collection silenced my pen for a bit, even though she kept thanking me for the rare poems of joy.  Then, a couple of years ago, someone blue hairwas looking at thespirit_goddess paintings to the left and shook his head, saying no one wants to see pain.  By that time, my art had already shifted toward things like the holy spirit to the right.  Despite whatever internal grief i suffered, my art channeled happiness.  So i smiled at my friend’s advice,  because, somehow, i had already taken it.

That is, until this winter.  i cannot count the times i stopped my hands from drawing or painting or sculpting because i sorrowknew the things rumbling about in my mind would produce art like that to the left which flooded out of me six years ago.   Art can be a purging – an exorcism of grief and sorrow.  This helped heal my soul all those years ago.

If i want to be honest about my experience of life, there will always be a bit of art that will evokes the darkness.  Sometimes, even when i give myself leave to create something just for the sake of my sanity, the joy still peaks out.  A drawing of howling despair turns into song. There will also always be joy – peeking through even during the hardest times.

This is not one of the hardest time.  i know that, deep in my soul.  i can go back to poems written years ago and realize how much sunlight has conquered the sorrow.  An indefinable, unconquerable strength has kept me going this winter and for that spark of grace i am wildly grateful.  May it continue to keep me slogging through.

However, i have made a choice, for myself alone.  i don’t think i am going to quiet the art that would come forth, even when i know it might be soaked in blues.  The cost of keeping it bottled up is too high – for it stifles what other art that would come.

 

stealing time

A thief again,
i have been stealing
from my obligations
to other people
and giving time
to myself.

i hide away,contentment_alt
turn everything off
but the sweet stilling music.

Guilty like Robin Hood,
i steal from those tasks
that gobble up days in a mouthful
and give a few intimate hours
to mold a figure in clay,
to let these words
flow across the page.

Reality struck me like a blow
last Tuesday –
the ten thousand chores
on a dozen to-do lists before me
will never go away.
One task accomplished,
three rise in its place.
Requests and demands
will always come
like moths to a flame,
the light of energy and ability
being irresistible.

i have to learn to say no.

Even better,
i must learn to state
“not now”
with singular clarity and purpose.

In my heart, i begin to believe
that i am fully valuable,
deserving of peace and art.
Even without that justification,
the results are profound:
after a few quiet hours,
i feel restored.

Even the mountains of toil
for the benefit of others
do not feel as heavy
with ink staining my hands.

Jesus and $10,000,000

movetomyheart  thisboldfiercemadness It started two days ago with a varmint. Something is in the wall upstairs and in order to make life easier on my tenant (for i am aware of how much sleep deprivation sucks,) i bought things to capture or smite said creature. Alas, yesterday i got home from the errand too late to do anything with the supplies.  However, i awoke with determination today.  Sadly, following the recommendation to put the trap in the basement (the most likely place the critter got in) meant i had to shovel a path to the basement door.

lovelostAnd that is when my back started to be unhappy. Three shifts between shoveling and then laying on a heating pad with one break to go to the bank and i was done. It took all my strength to get to the couch – going the extra four feet to the bed was out of the question. i realized i wasn’t going to be writing when i had left my pen on the table at the wrong end of the couch and could not get myself up to retrieve it. Back onto the heating pad i slumped, when almost immediately a neighbor called. The phone chasinglovewas just out of reach and my attempts at psychokinesis were still a disappointing fail. valentinesdancerMy cell phone (which cannot hold a call at home, but can text) was beside me, so i texted her – she said we could talk tomorrow – at which point the dogs went insane. Barking, growling, racing through the house, dancing.  “OHMYGOD!”  They kept barking “SOMEONEISHERE!”

i don’t care if someone is here, i texted to my neighbor and a friend with whom i was also messaging, it could be Jesus with $10,000,000 and i still can’t answer. i just can’t get up.

Don’t worry, came the response, Jesus would just shove what he could under the door and come back tomorrow.angelandspirit

dancewithspiriti found myself grateful for friends, for having a sense of humor when i can’t quite manage standing, for the snow that was coming so i wouldn’t feel guilty about going nowhere tomorrow so i can be gentle to my still screaming back. About an hour ago, i had to push myself to get the dishes done in case we lose power in the blizzard they keep predicting to hit.

Yet, physical complaints could not dent my joy. Today was a lovely day. i wound up getting a tremendous blessing. In the middle of this irritation, while moving from heating pad to cool, from prone to sitting up, i made some lovely art. It is Valentine’s day and i thought to make images of love – not love of a person specifically, for that is not my situation, but love in general, love that was lost but still lingers, dancing with Spirit, or alone, but filled with the rhythm of love. Even in this cobbling situation, i could at least draw dance. And that made me happy.

Just a reminder about yesterday’s blessings, if you missed it on my twitter, facebook, linkedin or Google+ feeds.  Any purchase ($10 or more) on my online store is 20% off with the coupon code HUZZAH! to celebrate getting credit card processing set up independent of paypal!  Woo Hoo!  If i got too mopey when i couldn’t sit up and draw, all i had to do was think about that… and huzzah! If you want one of today’s pen and inks before i get a chance to put them on the store, just email me at asha@ashafenn.com

Now i think i have the strength to make it to bed.

dancers

i amdancer drawing dancers, more and more dancers.  It seems like every time i sit down with pen and paper, another dancer comes out.

There is something about that fluidity of movement  – an ease that i only get through the lines of my pen, or the velvet of paint going across the canvas, or the arching beauty of a pot taking form under my fingertips.dancer4

We find grace in our own peculiar ways.  Some people can hear the gentle refrain of music and move their bodies in ways that make the rest of us feel awe.  Some can navigate a kitchen, making a meal that is as complicated as conducting an orchestra, with everything done on time. Some can take strange knobby bits of metal and make an engine that works seamlessly.  dancer3Others are able to weave words into tapestries that can evoke the strongest emotions in the readers.

Perhaps i feel this fascination because i cannot quite manage to dance well, but i follow the movements of dancers with the eyes of the artist and poetry in my soul.  From the dervishes swirling to ballet to free form movement that seems impossible to my dancer7confused legs, this act of art is like a treasure.  The immediacy of it feels like a gift – that movement as it is in precisely that moment – can never happen again.  The river can keep flowing but it is never exactly the same.

At night, alone in my house, with the music turned up so loud that i am glad none of my neighbors are close enough to be bothered, i dance.  i know it is graceless and lurching, and sometimes involvesdancer2 falling or unexpectedly slamming into walls, but i don’t care.  i am seduced by the beat. As i dance, i sing loudly and often out of key. Indeed, this evokes marvelous wholeness of being.  It brings me into joy, no matter how i felt when the music started.

i might not be good at dancing, but i fall into it, drunk on music.

The dancers i draw, they are better at it than i am.  Perhaps, they are not actually more graceful or more talented dancer6– but in my perception, they have the audacious confidence to be open-hearted, open armed and move no matter who sees them or what happens.  They are fearless in every way that i can put into ink.  They celebrate their union with creation – the wholeness of being that is expressed through limb and gesture.

Secretly, or perhaps not so secretly now, i draw these dancers to create the same confidence in myself.

Often, i find myself thinking that if i can dream it, i can manifest it.  To a degree it works – i have been able to change much about myself, become a stronger woman over time.

Perhaps, someday, i will be able to dance, if not with more grace, but with more unashamed zeal.dancinggoddess2

dancewithwildjoy

Take Life by the hand…

take life by the hand - lead it in a dance of Love - open-hearted joy
take life by the hand – lead it in a dance of Love – open-hearted joy

So much has happened this past year, that i can barely process it all.  A lot of things i took for granted were stripped away.  Those last shreds of stability (or the delusion of same) disappeared.  Going through my poetry and blogs from the last twelve months, what i see is a clarifying fire – a lot of what i thought was important and what i assumed would be my path’s easy choices became either irrelevant or unreachable.  i have been humbled by my own failures and limitations.  i had to adapt – i am still in the process of adapting, in fact – and this has been neither smooth nor free of whining.  (And here is my first gratitude: for friends that held my hand and let me break down in anger, frustration and fear.  You rock!)

join us in this dance - wild joy of word and line - melody of dreams
join us in this dance – wild joy of word and line – melody of dreams

What shocks me the most, though, is how much my art changed while i was going through this intense time.  If i am honest, this transformation began a long time ago. Even during my divorce there were pieces of strength and determination amid some of the most sorrowful paintings and grief-drenched poems i have ever created.  For years, i languished right on the edge of the pit, never very far from falling in even when i danced with happiness.  And when i fell, oh, how i fell. i could stay down there for ridiculous amounts of time, thrashing about powerlessly.

Very slowly, over months and years, meditation and the retraining of my brain started to work.  In a way, i don’t think this will ever be fully finished, although i hope i am wrong. So far, though, each time i get over one hurdle or come to terms with one weakness, i find another.  Somehow, i developed a seemingly endless series of habits and assumptions that need to be questioned, shaken up or eradicated.  Still, i began to be more content for longer and longer periods – even when the same difficulties kept flooding my life.  Loneliness did not disappear, the financial instability did not resolve itself, the troubles with anxiety did not simply dissolve, vanquished by sudden bravery.  However, this year, i found a way to enjoy the moment even when the big picture crumbled to pieces.  When i read my words or look at my drawings – particularly these pen and inks – i do not see the sorrow or suffering.  i see the hope, the bliss, the determination that might be madness.

i do not exist - except in these words and lines - where i come to life
i do not exist – except in these words and lines – where i come to life

Maybe i overdosed on stress this past summer.  Perhaps i finally surrendered my last illusions of control. Maybe after 1,000 hours of meditation even the dimmest bulb can get some light. Either way, i have found myself more peaceful and more shockingly joyous in the middle of crises than i used to be when things were going well.  First, my art became joy, even when i felt nothing like that at the time.  Then i started checking in with myself and discovered the joy and peace were really just there, hiding underneath the wild fear and habits of doom.

For this, i am more grateful than i can say.  i know i am not  anywhere near done.  i keep practicing kindness, practicing gratitude.  When i forget, or get too busy, i feel myself sliding back into places i want to go.  This practice has become what poetry and prose have always been – a foundation on which my sanity rests.

On this New Year’s Eve, i could give you a hundred things i wish would change, ten stormandsunthousand that i want to do, i could wax on and on about how i don’t know what to do about my business or where the future will lead me.  My imagination can conjure the most desperate, terrible futures as well as ways everything could change, if i want to invest in fantasies.  i could do all those things – but i don’t want to.

What i want to do is make more joy through pen and ink, through clay, through oils and acrylics.  i want to throw myself into the sanctuary of words not because i have to hide myself there lest i crumble into despair, but because it is wonderful, exciting, hard work.  i want to find that speck of unexpected kindness in the middle of uncertainty.  i want to laugh with friends and hug my dog and pester my cats with love.  i want to enjoy this improbable happiness when so much has gone wrong.  i want to keep growing as i have this year.

And for those desires, i also give thanks.

Have a lovely New Year – and if troubles find you, if they find me, may we all find the sparks of loveliness inside them.

By Maine Hands: hoppin!

We have popupboardthe board!  Pledge to shop local and get the most value for your money!

There are three ways to enter for this: you sign the board and write your information for the drawing.  You can take a selfie and then post it to the Bucksport Bay Area Chamber of Commerce’s facebook page or you can go to the Chamber with your reciept!

Things have been hopping this morning!  There were people waiting for me when I opened at 11 – and the praise we are getting from customers, the interest in the store itself and the requests for something similar to continue past January 3rd are really heartwarming!

So far it has been a lovely day, and it’s not half done – I’m going to be here until 7 pm.

Then, on the way home today, I’ll pick up stuff for tomorrow night’s event!

 

By Maine Hands: our first day open

IMG_5797 I just want to write a quick blog, to beam a bit about how great today was, before I head for some much needed sleep.

Today was the first day of our pop up – and our first items sold were earrings by Stephanie Murphy, to the left, holding another pair, and a greeting card of the Cardinal by Lori Davis below.  Don’t forget to check out Lori’s website, either.  We made plenty of sales after that, but the first ones are always special.

For some reason, that Cardinal seems to be the theme image of this pop up! I kept watching people stop,Male Cardinal on Snowy Branch open mouthed, as they saw the cardinal through the window. It was fondled and purchasedin a various forms: as a card, a small print, a large canvas wrap.

However, my favorite sale today was to a little girl, maybe six years old.  She very carefully went through the whole store IMG_5882and decided on two of these polymer clay crystal nail files (to the left, below) for her mother and grandmother’s Christmas presents.  She was very serious about her decision, first figuring out what they might want, then determining how much each of the nail files was, how much she would have left, and then she decided to take the plunge. Her large brown eyes stayed very serious as she reached up to the counter to hand me her purchase.

There is something particularly wonderful when a kid realizes that buying handmade and shopping local is a better deal than taking her money and buying something cheaply made in a big department store.  She left with her gifts, beaming.  I could not have been smiling more broadly myself.

Once I got home, I started working on a press release and sent it out to everyone I could think of.  Now, I am ready for rest – and for a fantastic day tomorrow!  Our first Fabulous Friday – An Open House.  Starts at five, goes until seven!  Remember we are right across the street from the Alamo, so you can come by before your movie starts!

On the menu: two types of tea (Earl Grey Creme, Apple/Lemon/Pomegranate with Earl Grey mixed), cider, cookies, popcorn with sea-salt and olive oil and more.  We can’t wait to see you tomorrow!  Opening at 11!

 

By Maine Hands

logo7_sepiaBucksport has given artists and craftsmen a great opportunity – they are supporting Pop Up stores through the month of December.  There are a host of us that will be in one – called By Maine Hands – that will be directly across from the Alamo theater!

Right now there are fourteen different artist and craftsmen involved.  We are hoping to have our grand opening on Small Business Saturday, and we will be constantly adding stock throughout the month of December!  I am ridiculously excited and somewhat intimidated at the thought of getting a store together in days.

Keep posted for more information.  I’ll be giving lists of people involved – the hours of the store – and so much more.

disjointed and confused

I feel somewhat disjointed from my art right now as I frantically learn CSS.  I knew XHTML and PHP but keep running into glitches with CSS.  For whatever calling outreason, my coding seems to be possessed.  Since I could not even begin to figure out what is going wrong, I have been throwing information at my brain and hope something will spark an epiphany.

But eventually this will manifest itself in a luscious new website for ashafenn.com

However, what the small parts of my mind that refuse to engage in this coding nonsense have been thinking about, during the near week since I last posted, is that art truly is a refuge.  While I teach myself this new skill and have bug after bug show up in my coding, I feel disjointed, confused and wonder how I lost so many IQ points.

When I take even a few minutes of break to write a poem or sketch on my iPad, i feel restored almost instantly.  The impossible becomes almost viable.  My heart heals and my spirit feels soothed and my energies feel aligned with the universe.

Until I sit back at my computer and see that the website template did indeed change – just not to what I wanted and not in any way I could have expected.  Then I am right back to disjointed and confused.

This too shall pass.  I will eventually either figure it out or ask the right person the right question and the ones and zeros will fly through the patterns I have designed as though they have been greased with oil.