Tag: pen and ink

which is more true

imageThe worse i feel, the happier my art seems to get.  It is perverse.  Today, i was quiet, prayerful, melancholy, fasting until 9 pm.

i grieve over my home and dreams like one would a death, yet all the art i made while gallery sitting was almost oppressively cheerful.  Strong images of courageous women, lines imagining love, the Holy Spirit photobombing over and over.

i have been breaking but my poetry and drawings tell a different story.  i wonder which bears more truth in it?


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.


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.



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


without technology’s hum

IMG_0004Since we closed the popup, i have been avoiding technology.  All the social media accounts have lain fallow, i have not even typed in the poetry that is literally gushing from my fingers.  Not content with the solitude of the house, i have been keeping myself walled off in the newly created house-studio, locked inside what had been my livingroom and spare bedroom.

Even the kitchen seems to be too convivial for my needs.  Each time i go to do dishes, i wind up listening to music and singing – which seems at odds with the peace that i am actively seeking.

Sunday, in response to some interpersonal strife, i became truly draconian – unplugging one phone and turning the other off.

i have needed silence. i have needed stillness. However, the silence has not been that quiet – it has been filled with word and image.  My heart felt too heavy (interpersonal strife-wise) to write long prose.  Instead, i focused on pen and ink haiku. As soon as the art began to trickle out again, it turned into a flood.  In forty-eight hours, i have written about twenty standard poems and i had to refill my ink jar three times, i drew so much.  i have made over 30 tiny pen and inks – this form of art feels like a compulsion at this point.  i feel agitated when i am not making art, fully content when i am.

Today, though, i have been forcing myself to work on somewhat unpleasant jobs, taking time away from the flow of creation.  I enjoyed no fewer than six phone calls to the Healthcare Marketplace (five were disconnected midway through), two to local health insurance companies, one to my current health insurance company.  But in the end, i got new health insurance to replace the plan that the old company canceled.  The dog went to the vet – he’s lost over ten pounds! – and got his license for the year.  i got more dishes done, along with the litter, and the laundry is sorted to wash tomorrow.

Practical and necessary jobs were finished.  The weariness i feel is somewhat earned. Yet, even as i type this up, i stare at the bottle and pen.  With all my heart, i want to throw myself into drawing and forget the rest of the world.  Even through the chores of the day, every spare moment i could (including the two hours on hold for various healthcare entities), i drew with pen and ink and wrote these wee poems.

Too many were just for me, expressing my current frustrations, sadness, gratitude, hope, confusion, as well as my dismay at the cruelty and oddness of people, and repeated calls to be stronger within myself.  This art made me feel a bit self-indulgent, but it helped to create. i lost myself in the flow.  Everything else became quiet.

And, now, i am overloaded again – ready to throw myself into the search for silence.


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.

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: a day off

Hatie ClingermanYesterday was the biggest day so far with the popup – we were interviewed by the Bangor Daily News, they filmed a commercial that the town of Bucksport is so generously using to advertise this endeavor, and we had customers braving the icy sidewalks and roads!

Three new artists have come on board in the past few days: Hatie, Jessi and Dawnella.  Hatie makes amazing felted scarves and hats.  As soon as they were displayed, people could not keep their hands off them.  And because we have made a point to include all price-points, Hatie also has other items like catnip balls and dryerballs and soap that are perfect small gifts.   Jessi makes the aHatie Clingermanmazing infinity scarves and the softest headbands I have ever encountered.  One scarf on her display was so lovely I determined to find a way to buy it for myself if it didn’t fly off the shelf – which, of course, it did.  Within five minutes it had been purchased and went to a new, loving home. Dawnella makes toys and finger-puppets and various other wonderful gifts as well.  The kids we had come in after she stocked up were all enchanted by her work!

We are so excited to have these wonderful people here at our popup!  I have bios that I’ll be printing out fJessi from FXDressedor some of the members, so you can know more about the people making the art that you are purchasing when you come into our store.

Now, to today.  Nominally, this was a day off – but of course that concept is really mythological at this point in my development.  Except for the spell of time when pneumonia had me complete knocked out, I have been working as best I can nearly every waking moment since we were given the opportunity to have this store.  Admittedly, it was not all heavy lifting – you can look to my twitter, facebook and google+ feeds to see some of the pen and ink work I have made since we started the popup.  However, those images count!Dawnella Sutton  They are beautiful and something I can do even when I am feeling weary and weak.

Still, this afternoon witnessed a bit of a miracle, interrupted by a blessing. Thanks to the help of a friend who carried over my big buckets of glaze from the house to the studio, I was able to glaze two sets of dishes and probably forty other pots, the first time I have touched clay in nearly a month.

It felt like I had come home.  I adore my time in the studio.  By the end of my evening, I was filthy with ifistopdrawingglaze and had a kiln full of pottery firing away.  Deep hope kindles inside of me when I can make art – even if it is simply finishing pieces that were thrown so long ago.

At 4:30 came the blessing – I was interviewed by WERU about the popups and Bucksport!  I was thrilled with a chance to let people know what is going on and how important it is to think about things like shopping local and buying handmade.  Through this program, we have an opportunity to put money back into the community when we shop for the holidays.  That is like giving two gifts in my mind: beautifulwoman2you are investing in your local economy in a way you cannot by shopping at a huge chain.  Thus, even on a “day off” my thoughts were all about popups!

I actually can’t wait to get back to it tomorrow.  I have had a thousand ideas for pen and inks floating through my mind today and look forward to showing you around the store when you come in!  I will open up tomorrow by 11 am – and just to remind you, we are in downtown Bucksport, across from the Alamo, 86 Maine Street – By Maine Hands.


By Maine Hands: Coming along nicely!

leftsideToday, the incomparable Lori Davis staffed the popup in Bucksport while I watched one in  Orono.  All I did was drop by at the end of the day to find that the store looked even better than I could have dreamed!  Friday morning, Hatie Clingerman of Downeast Fiber Farm brought some of her amazing hats, scarves and other fiberwork.

Beth Stevens came and added more of her work this afternoon – she was leaving as I was arriving. And another new artist will be coming in to stock on Monday!  Trightsidehe store keeps growing – the wonderful energy of this project is drawing more artists!  This is fantastic!

Sadly, I forgot to take pictures of these wonderful new products tonight as I was very distracted – but, I will post pictures tomorrow morning first thing.  Truthfully, I am excited about our first Sunday.

Also, WE WILL BE OPEN NEXT TUESDAY, 11-7.  I am bold-facing that more for my benefit as much as yours.  This has had me dancing with joy!  The town of Bucksport is supporting us with advertising! They are making a commercial… so the store will be open and we will be there with bells on!  And since we will be there for the advertising, we’ll be there for you too – an extra day open!  This is a lot of exclamation points because I am so excited!

Please let us know if you have other hours you wish we were there – we are willing to be open by appointment.

Such excitement!  It has all gone to my head!


let there be light!

Power came back on thicommunion1_5x7s afternoon – while I was gone and the dog was misbehaving (or selflessly saving me from the shameful carbs in that loaf of bread.)  kisskiss_5x7

As soon as electricity re-entered my life, I had a thousand things I needed to do, now being so far behind that I can barely comprehend it.  Sadly, though, I was much wearier than I expected to be.  It was as though whatever adrenalin that kept me going through days of loading the wood stove and lugging water for the toilet and other jobs that became shockingly time-consuming without appliances and toys just communion2_5x7melted away.spiritlikebeauty_5x7

Plus, even though this should have caused another adrenalin reaction on its own, I started making a list of the things I wanted to do and wound up nearly passing out from the stress of it.  This really is an ungodly amount of work for one person. It could cause some hyperventilation.  Still, I cannot be faced with that workload and then idly fall apart.trinity_5x7communion_5x7

So, I worked with what energy I had: I started laundry (oh, there is so much laundry), queued up some social media for myself and clients, and began to add new products to the online store: $10 pen and inks, original pieces of art, 5×7 inches, that can be the affordable gift. These are the first pieces… each image goes to praise_5x7dancing_5x7the product page.

Given my cognitive problems lately,  I am almost proud: I managed to figure out which jobs I had on that massive to do list that were actually within my abilities and then I managed to nibble off a few chunks  of work.

Now, tomorrow, I must move mountains.

laughing_5x7  cryingout_5x7 simplepleasures_5x7  givethanks_5x7 coy_5x7   unrequitedlove_5x7