Tag: painting

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.

pecha kucha redux

Well, if the weather is our friend, the Bucksport Pecha Kucha will be this coming Thursday (now nearly tomorrow) at the Alamo.

i should be practicing tonight, but a migraine laid me low for a few hours and still has not left me. (Why do they tend to come after an asthma attack?) When even the still, silent darkness got to be too painful, i decided to make myself useful since i was just as wretched resting. So, i have been doing a job that does not require much in the way of thought: putting more poems on the online store. The poems are already written and recorded – i just have to listen to them (my brain is not working well enough to remember what i wrote!), do the tags/keywords and create the product. Really, this is something half my brain can do, which is good because that’s about all that’s functioning right now.

Only, these poems have been soothing me. Mailboxes – written sometime in the past six years – could just as well have poured from my pen today. Losing cohesion reminds me that no matter how stressed and insecure this moment feels, i have fallen apart before and found a way to put myself back together. Love poem to sleep made the thought of rest and dreams, even while alone in my bed, titillate.

i am not quite halfway through this process and i have 160 poems already available. i can feel productive even while wondering if my brain will actually explode within my skull, or if it will take my skull with it into the room.

However, the real miracle is that these poems remind me who i am. In my pecha kucha presentation (titled Recreation) i will be talking about (SPOILER!) transformation on a personal and community level. This subject is immediate for me – and visceral.  The risk and change in my life over the past couple of months has been intense.

whispersThese poems have been reminding me who i am, down in my depths. When i work, the ego dissolves: i become nothing more than the words, the lines of the poem, the forms and stories. In those moments, the universe aligns and all is well. My burdens find me quickly enough when i step away from what i do – stress can overwhelm me when i cannot work. If i deviate from art long enough, i forget who i am. i become the stress, the vulnerability, the financial stupidity, the isolation. The fact that i live on a razor’s edge, like every other artist i know, because i have chosen to pursue these dreams, can feel like a condemnation of my being. Yet, when i pick up the pen, or like tonight, when i drench myself in what i have already done, i am soothed. Granted, there are things i would reword now. The chronic editor could always change something. But, they are proof of my passion.  This art pours out of me: thousands of poems, several novels, at least two dozen short stories, God knows how many pots – thousands  both large and small by now, hundreds of drawings and paintings.

i can forget that i have created much, and it has been wonderful. Tonight, i am using the realization that i am not as useless as this migraine makes me feel to inflate my heart. Let it fill me up.  Let it give me courage and hope!


In a flurry of activity,  i have lost track of time.  It took me by surprise today to see it had been well over a week since i last posted, and that i’ve barely tweeted or shared a status on facebook or google or instagram in even longer.

Nonetheless, it feels like i have been online every waking moment.  When i saw how long it had been between blog entries, it shocked me.  My computer’s keyboard is rapidly losing its letters from my typing.  dancerwithinkspotsi have been working on poetry, writing more chapters of the novel, but most of the time in front of the computer has been spent being a serious, determined business woman.

i set myself with an enormous task and have been slowly, meticulously, determinedly throwing hours at it.

It had been my goal to get my web-store online and buffed up by the end of January.  Pursuant to that end, i have added about 450 items (i should hit the 500 mark before i go to bed.)  This was truly an epic labor.  nowordsNetflix became my friend, keeping me company while i uploaded image after image.

Please, check it out.  Affordable luxuries (spoken word poetry and prose for $.99 a piece, or even less if you buy a whole collection, $9 pen and ink originals) sit beside 11×14 matted prints ($25), larger pen and ink uniques ($45-$80) and original paintings (they can be in the hundreds.)

I look forward to feedback.  I adore hearing about where people put my prints and paintings.  One of my favorite stories wdancerwithasweetsmileas from a customer who used this print as a template to redesign her whole kitchen.

The process is not complete – and at the rate i am producing pen and inks alone (and, oh, the flood of poems!) the store promises to have new stock on a nearly continual basis. Today i uploaded over 40 items alone – there are still over a hundred poems, at least two dozen bookmarks and close to fifty prints waiting in the queue to get inputted.

Maybe i will get the bookmarks done tonight.   dancingoutyourheartThat might lull me sleep with that contented feeling of “job well done.”  Or, at least, just wear me down enough to get several solid hours of rest.

In the middle of this saga, i have stolen time to work on the pecha kucha presentation (this THURSDAY at 5:30 pm!), search for a new car (as much as one can online) and use every spare moment to make art. Oh, how i have been overflowing with story and poem.  The time spent doing data entry has felt a touch more frustrating because of the other things that want to work their way out of me.

falling copyWinters can make me go a little crazy, i think.  The isolation either fuels the art or has me spin round in circles, so overwhelmed with what i want to do that i cannot focus on one thing.

Rather than spin aimlessly, i forced myself to focus on what i knew needed to be done.  And someday, i’ll feel like i’ve caught up with at least the data entry on my store.

Catching up on everything seems like a wild, crazy dream.  Plus, even if i did look about me to find everything done, i’d just dream up something new and instantly be behind again.


By Maine Hands: bittersweet closure

IMG_6357I am going to turn in the keys for the By Maine Hands popup today.

All the bookkeeping is done (only three mistakes, all caught by the same wonderful artist!), all the artists paid, and the check sent – at the request of the town – for our $263 raffle to the Bucksport Mill Crisis Fund, earmarked for fuel oil. The space itself is empty, swept and vacuumed.

Today wears a cloak of transition.

For over a month, every day was focused around that store.  I adored getting to talk to so many people – seeing what customers wanted, hearing what people dream about for Bucksport, talking about local economies.  We all share the same vulnerabilities and thanksgivings, no matter our disparate circumstances.

Ever since the afternoon of the 3rd, the popup and my studio have been depositing huge amounts of art and the equipment needed to make it into my house.  Between that mess and finishing up the paperwork for the popup, my days have been taken over.  There has been nothing left for art or writing or the other tasks of life.  IMG_6349A few poems and haiku managed to make it into the world, crowding into that space between when I collapsed from weariness and before sleep overtook me.

Instead I have been drowning in stuff.  Good stuff.  Pretty stuff.  The stuff that I have been called to make.  But, still, a lot of stuff.

So, I feel compelled to remind you that you can buy this stuff online (there will be a huge influx of work to the shop this week) and by making an appointment at my studio-in-the-house this winter.  Just email me and we can set up a time.

In all this bittersweet transition, I am still awash in gratitude.  This was such a marvelous experience and it taught me more about myself than I had expected.  It has left me dreaming like a parched man in the desert of water.  Indeed, I suspect my subconscious has it all figured out, but won’t tell the rest of me out of pure mischievousness.

As for this moment? All is well.  After I finally get this blog to publish (third try!) I will put on my snow boots, turn in the key to the landlord, and start a new page in my life.

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: only five more days!

IMG_6286We are absolutely thrilled with the response that we’ve had to our little pop up – and a little sad that we’ve begun our last five days.  However, we are still doing important work – we are still getting in new products (like pies!  syrup!) and most of all, we continue to sell raffle tickets.

Earlier, you read about why we chose to try and help the local fuel oil fund, and none of those reasons have changed.  While we like to deny it, or to push off this knowledge, the overwhelming vulnerability we humans share cannot be denied.  Lately that reality has been hammered home to me, listening to friends struggle with the suffering and loss of those they love.  The one thing we have to inoculate ourselves from the impermanence and trouble is community – our friends, our neighbors, our families.  As strange as it sounds, just making the choice to buy local can make a huge difference.  you keep a  farmer working, you feed a family, you heat a home.  We as artists, who so rarely have gobs of extra cash to throw at 5firefliescharities or problems, can donate to something like this raffle and know we are making a difference that way.

Speaking of which, Daffodils Florist across the street from our popup will also be selling raffle tickets – and they donated this absolutely adorable hat to the raffle itself, made by 5Fireflies.  We have been blessed with such good business neighbors during this pop up – Blush has allowed us to share their wifi, the Local Variety & Bake Shop gifted us with some amazing desserts, all of the popups have been eager to give directions and recommendations for the others,  and everyone has been inviting and supporting.  Local business helping local business: it makes me dance a little with delight.

Kindness, encouragement and support are miracles.  Through them everything changes. Here, I talk about much more than just supporting small business, but how we walk through our days.

Inch by inch, moment by moment, we make the world less scary for ourselves and those with whom we share it.

By Maine Hands: another eight days!

IMG_6208Already today, I have had an email and two surprised people walk in, thinking we had already closed!

We are still open!

I will be here from 10 to 7 today and tomorrow, then from 11 to 5 every day through the 3rd.  The drawing for the fuel oil fund raffle will be New Year’s Eve.

We have been having tremendous fun with this pop up, and are grateful to every customer and all those who have supported the business in different ways.

IMG_6209To the left and below are the different prizes for our raffle – all donated so every penny can support the fuel oil fund!

Please continue to support the pop ups – there are four – and other local business in Bucksport.  Granted Christmas has passed, but please continue to shop local, buy handmade and support your local businesses!


just the cardinal...
just the cardinal…
the ornament and the file - other pottery is in the raffle.
the ornament and the file – other pottery is in the raffle.



By Maine Hands: raffle and too slammed to write!

this picture doesn’t tell you that the pile of tickets is already a few inches deep


I have not been able to write lately – the pop up has been slammed (THANK YOU!  Friday night in particular was deliriously awesome!) and while the wonderful Lara Max and Lori Davis watched the store for half the day Saturday and the whole day Sunday, I found myself too exhausted to write.

But this is a good tired. The realization that this popup is making a difference in the lives of these artists whose work is gathered in this space and has the potential to make a difference through this raffle leaves me excited and grateful.

The willingness of people to buy local, buy handmade and help in the care and feeding of artists makes me dance with joy.  In this time of transition, to have people from Bucksport, the surrounding areas and those far afield – who have read about these stores in IMG_6134_2the Ellsworth American, Bangor Daily News, seen the commercials or watched interviews with the pop up organizers, Bucksport Chamber of Commerce and town officials, and then take the time to drive to Bucksport to shop at our stores – wildly encourages me.

In an expression of determination and hope, I chose my biggest vase in the store for the raffle – and fully expect that we will be able to fill its emptiness with tickets by the end of the year. (We draw for the winners New Year’s Day.) Every penny of the proceeds will go to a local fuel oil fund – we have donated every speck of art for the prizes.  (As we have been looking around, we have found two fuel oil funds helping Bucksport. Lori, Lara and I will decide if all the money goes to one or if we split it among both.  This depends on how much yoIMG_6135_2u all support this!  If that vase is full, we’ll be cooking with gas, so to speak.)

Check out our facebook page, Google+ page and my twitter feed for things in the raffle – but for now, I’ll share a couple of pictures of an exquisite bracelet – one of our many prizes – to the left.



Male Cardinal on Snowy Branch
a canvas print of this gorgeous cardinal is also in the raffle!

For whatever reason, it doesn’t look like WordPress is not letting me do links tonight – maybe it knows how tired I am and that my keyboard is all messed up  so getting each letter down is a struggle.  Either way, here are some links from the blog above:

Lara Max: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lara-Max-Artist/1556706674563331

Lori Davis: http://www.loridavisphotography.com/

By Maine Hands on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bymainehands

By Maine Hands on Google+: https://plus.google.com/105441393035680104962

asha fenn on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ashafenn

and, just for the heck of it, asha fenn on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ashafenn.artist

If you’re on facebook, or Google+, or twitter for that matter, like us, put us in your circles, follow us!

By Maine Hands: Friday and Sunday

fridaypopupsAs the poster designed by Creatively Maine says, this Friday will be alive with Music!

We are having another gathering of artists at the same time (Friday 5-7), with snacks and beverage, as well as showing off the prizes for our raffle.  We hope to see you there!

Also, we have added another little event to our schedule.  From 10 am to 12 noon Sunday, we will be offering breakfast snacks (donuts anyone!), tea and hot chocolate!

We can’t wait to see you!