Things to Draw: Ducks Diving Underwater, Abstractly

Ducks Diving Underwater, acrylic on paper, 8 1/2″ x 5 3/4″

Although the prompt was for ducks, I couldn’t help thinking of cormorants. I grew up with a book called The Story About Ping, which is, indeed, about a duck. However, the scene that has always stuck with me was about cormorants.

“Then came a boat full of strange dark fishing birds. Ping saw them diving for fish for their Master. As each bird brought a fish to his Master he would give it a little piece of fish for pay. Closer and closer swooped the fishing birds near Ping. Now Ping could see shining rings around their necks, rings of metal made so tight the birds could never swallow the big fish they were catching.”

From the book, rings and all…

As a kid, I felt sad for the cormorants and relieved for Ping that he didn’t share their plight. It was an early lesson in servitude and freedom. Rereading it now, I think of contemporary economic realities; many of us work for others and struggle to achieve true financial self-sufficiency in a system designed to hold us in service, often without our even realizing that that is the case.

Things to Draw: A Tin Man…

A Tin Man with a Broken Heart, Broken but Still Working, ink and colored pencil on paper, 8 1/2″ x 5 3/8 “

I swear I didn’t go fishing for this one. I’m trying not to be that self-indulgent. He’s pretty cute and forlorn though, huh?

I can’t say I don’t relate a leetle bit. But hey, this is how creative folk deal with the vagaries of life…we make songs and images and words of it all.

A Thing to Draw and a Journey

An Old Hotel, ink on paper, 5 3/8″ x 8 1/2″

Hi there. Sorry for the radio silence. It’s been a week, and by that, I mean a helluva week. It’s also been over a week since I last posted, which is technically a breach of contract, since I committed to posting at least once a week when I started writing this blog. I am apologetic for that, but I am also working on not minding, or at least, not holding it against myself. Beating myself up for mistakes I have made is an unconscious habit of mine, and while I consider it a fairly human habit, I am really, seriously working on it right now. Forgiveness is the theme of the moment.

Forgiveness for hurting others in the struggle to support myself. Forgiveness for hurting myself in the struggle to navigate life.

Unlike in California, spring exists in the mountains of Arizona. It looks like this, among other things.

I took a trip to Arizona to visit two of my closest friends for their graduation and to give myself space to start healing from a recent choice to leave some one that I love to pursue my own path. Spending time with old friends is both a balm and a new ache. I am blessed to know so many wonderful, strange souls. Being in their presence reminds me that there are indeed others who find science poetic and nature hilarious, art impossible to live with and impossible to live without, and the whole tumult of being a human just absurd in general and therefore fantastic. It is hard though, figuring out where to look for such people away from the moth light of academia.

A home once mine in a town once mine.

This is one cornerstone of the forgiveness puzzle. Understanding that the struggle to find community, purpose, and affirmation post-college is not a failing on my part, but an almost unavoidable aspect of life for those of us who have the privilege to pursue and benefit from higher education. In college, you self-select to meet people with similar interests, values, and goals, and then come together underneath the banner purpose of your school and major. At Prescott College, we were “for the liberal arts, the environment, and social justice.” It’s a damn good crowd of passionate, opinionated, proactive, and magnificently humorous people. And I miss them. And I miss the shared momentum and joy. And that’s okay. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be stressed. It’s okay to wonder how I will ever get by in life when I some times feel so alone on the path. I’m not truly alone, and it becomes easier to move through moments of loneliness when I’m not caught up in resenting myself for them. This is what I am learning.

Alligator Juniper (Juniperus deppeana) is recognizable by its unique checkered bark and ability to incite wonder and acceptance in the hearts of observers.

And then there is forgiveness for love lost and love given away. For hurting some one I care for. For being so angry at myself for choosing to leave that I did it utterly unskillfully. For missing him even though I made the choice to be on my own. For berating myself for all of the above. And even for this: being chaotic and confessional, rather than steady and unswayed. I wrote an essay once relating myself to a forest and its fire cycle: we go up in flames so that new seeds may germinate. It’s an apt and a comforting metaphor, but at times I can’t help aching to be calm and resolved instead of wild and reckoning. To be even instead of tumultuous. To be some way other than the way I am. Forgiveness for that. I can feel it growing among the embers.

Thanks to pinyon-juniper woodlands and the butterscotch smell of Ponderosa pine trees for cradling me in my sadness. Thanks to you all for love and patience.

A Thing to Draw!

Kinetic Energy, watercolor, ink, acrylic, and graphite on paper, 5 3/8" x 8 1/2"

Look! A Thing to Draw! In this case, TtD: Kinetic Energy. It’s been a while, but Things to Draw are officially back. Woohoo! My plan is to do one every Friday, which generally means it will appear here on Saturday, so keep an eye out.

In addition to that awesome development, there’s also this awesome development: I am now a self-employed artist. I’ll feel a lot better about that statement when I’m actually making money, but I have to be patient and remember that I’m in the investment phase of starting a business. I find it strange to think of my creative work as a business, but where commerce is involved, and it must be for me survive, business it is.

More to come soon!