Deep in the Art of Texas

The Storm has momentarily abated (both inner and outer) and I see a crack of blue midst all the dark grey thunderclouds. Clark is digging post holes behind the studio and I am in need of a shower after a run/walk around town lake. Foreground among thoughts floating through my Saturday afternoon brain concern two of my favorite topics: food and art. Respectively.

Last night, we ate at Lamberts, a hip, downtown Austin Restaurant which is a wonderful combination of rustic and gourmet. Their food is comfort food, no nonsense to the core, exquisitely prepared and delicious. Our dinner companions (who had just returned from Paris) thought that Lambert’s food was on par with some of their better gastronimical experiences in both Paris and the Netherlands. Ah—the fried blackberry pie and ice cream and the lemon ice box pie and the cornmeal coated deep-fried rock shrimp, to die for. On a previous visit, I had the Fried Green Tomatoes Salad which is in all ways surprisingly exquisite.

And then there is the Hacked Chicken Salad at Mirabelle and Castle Hill, french fries at Hyde Park Bar and Grill, and my daily “bread”, black bean, avocado and mushroom tacos at Taco Deli. On many mornings I go into that little “divey” place, park myself at a counter, swat the flies and write in my journal. Food and art become one there as I use my colored pencils and micron pens to make lists, plan classes and note dreams in the book. My lists become word art, elaborate doodles which I happily color, and I am oblivious to the comings and goings of others around me. Meanwhile, I forget the time, my taco has come and been devoured, I glance at the headlines in the Austin American Statesman, swat another fly and go back home to begin phase II of my day.

Eating out is not just treat or sport here in Austin; it is an inevitability given the array of affordable and delicious options around town. The eateries I name are a few among many fantastic restaurants unique to our city. Famous among downtowners, movie stars, politicans and ordinary folk like myself is Las Manitas, a Congress Avenue landmark where the aforementioned congregate on Saturday mornings to drink cinnamon coffee and eat migas. Las Manitas, Eastside Cafe, Gueros–all are part of the fabric that make this city one I love to live in, places which define what can be described as the “Austin Experience.”

Back in the studio after my morning’sTaco Deli reverie, I am greeted by a number of half-finished canvases. Looking at them I feel excited, purposeful, mindful of my obligation to finish them and let them go out into the world. The most recent canvases are thrilling to me because I am using a newly learned technique: rice paper collage. By Summers’ end there will be enough work to have a show, here or elsewhere. I look forward to presenting this work, the culmination of a year and a half. The exhibit is a way to express to friends, community members–anyone who shows up:”Welcome to my inner world, and here is what I have been doing all this time, hidden away from the hustle and bustle of the outer world.”

Wherever my show will be, I am certain that afterwards my family and friends will celebrate at one of the eateries mentioned above. No doubt I will come away feeling blessed that I make art and eat well in my beloved city.

Well already everyone know that is there a generic cialis detected with ease in the Internet. In specific on our website it is full of it. But you forget and constantly you ask.

Beginner’s Mind

I know that I don’t know anything. Interesting to keep arriving at this humble place after all the time and effort I have spent trying to master calligraphy. My quest for mastery has waned, somewhat, and has happily been replaced by an insatiable curiousity and spirit of adventure. I simply follow my intuitive muse which leads me in and out of formal writing, painting, drawing. Much of my “work” surprises me–and sometimes even makes me nervous. However, I am heartened by the messages from the Tao Te Ching: “A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arriving. A good artist lets his intuition lead him wherever it wants.” (27) And also,
” True perfection seems imperfect, yet is perfectly itself. True fullness seems empty yet is fully present.” (45)
(Excerpts from Tao Te Ching, New English Translation, by Stephen Mitchell.

How often I want to lead my students, to tell them what to do when they look at me pleadingly and ask me for help. Instead, I choose to honor their ability to discover for themselves what moves and engages them and thus try to stay out of their Way. This is not always comfortable, but seems most respectful and honorable. Also, who am I to presume to know what a student must learn? I can offer specific techniques, guidance, road-maps, inspiration, and the rest is up to them. Regarding teaching, again I turn to the wisdom of the Tao Te Ching: “The ancient Masters didn’t try to educate the people, but kindly taught them to not-know. When they think that they know the answers, people are difficult to guide. When they know that they don’t know, people can find their own way.” (65)
To all my students I try to offer the trust and reassurance that “Maybe you’ll find direction around some corner where it’s been waiting to meet you.” (Grateful Dead, “Box of Rain,” song).

I just pulled several books off of my shelves, one of which is a favorite bedside companion: “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.” A simple paragraph about calligraphy rings true for me. Richard Baker writes in the introduction:

” The Zen way of calligraphy is to write in the most straightforward, simple way, as if you were a beginner, not trying to make something skillful or beautiful, but simply writing with full attention as if you were discovering what you were writing for the first time; then your full nature will be in your writing. This is the way of practice moment after moment.”

Off I go into the rest of the day with so much more on my mind, and in the spirit of Zen, I will try to simply BE HERE NOW.

Well along everyone see that is there a generic cialis detected with ease in the Internet. In special on our website it is full of it. But you forget and constantly you ask.

This Amazing Life

I just finished May Sarton’s book “At Seventy.” I was in search of her book “A Journal of a Solitude,” at the Notre Dame bookstore (more on that in a moment), but “Seventy” was the only one on the shelf by this author. What a surprise and a delight this book has been, one in a series of Sarton’s journals. To enter into this woman’s world, to experience her observations and impressions of ordinary things like red squirrels in the cellar, romps near the wild ocean with her dog Tamas and cat Bramble was like a breath of Spring air. Like May Sarton, I daily revel in the extraordinarily ordinary things: my cats’ behavior, critters running around near my studio including armadillos, possums and a multitude of squirrels. Or, seeing a brilliant red cardinal pop in my path as I run on Town Lake is as exciting as it gets in my estimation!

I loved how May openly discusses her struggles with writing–even after obtaining success as a poet and novelist. She seems to affirm that no matter what level of experience, the artists’ life is one of constant challenge. I am also touched by her reverence toward the extraordinary “ordinary” people in her life: neighbors, friends, wannabe writers for whom she would take the time to read their manuscripts and offer commentary. She befriended so many and helped others in small and large ways: financially, emotionally and professionally. It was hard to put the book down because she opened up a world of inner and outer experience which I am drawn to. And of course, for those who know me, I am pretty passionate about journals and ones’ personal experiences.

It seemed perfect to discover May Sarton in South Bend, Indiana. I was priveledged with an invitation to teach for the Michiana scribes this Spring, and was doubly blessed by a beautiful botanical garden venue, a host of gifted (some returnees) students, and a lovely–in body and spirit–hostess who is now a dear friend. Indeed, it was altogether perfect that Anna met me at the airport after i had just finished Sue Monk Kidd’s book while the plane landed. Stepping off the plane, steeped in THE FEMININE, I had spontaneously uttured, “Our Lady”–and there she was, shining and bright in the guise of a wonderful artist and human being. We discovered almost immediately that we are kindred spirits and spent the weekend in a non-stop conversation of all the important things: love, life, spirituality, relationships, children, books. BOOKS. Anna has all the ones I have read and many more. I spent several evenings happily ensconced in her cozy guest bedroom, tucked into the most comfortable bed, with several of Anna’s books. It was here I began to read “Journal of a Solitude” and vowed to promptly go out and buy a copy. The perfect opportunity arose when we took a tour of the Notre Dame campus (which is absolutely stunning) and ended up at the bookstore the following day. Alas,” Journal…” was not available, but I came away with “At Seventy”, which proved to be a delightful companion on my journey home.

Teaching has led me to amazing places and people. Calligraphers are a special lot–generous, caring, deep, and gifted. My own community of scribes here in Austin are among the finest: dedicated,multi-talented and with hearts the size of Texas. It is wonderful to be a part of such a special tribe…..

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May Flowering Reflections

May is a hopeful month. The days are green and filled with the promise of Summer ahead, and the Winter with its long dark nights is gone. I like these rich and heavily scented days, the blooming part of the year. I bloom inwardly. Outwardly? Different story. Looking at myself in the mirror I find my challenge is to welcome the signs of having lived, the signs of aging. I think of Wabi Sabi, the beauty of rustic things–of things rusted over, wrinkled and worn. No comfort to me at all. My instinct is to run to a plastic surgeon and say “erase all of it: the tired eye bags, the crows’ feet, the sagging neck.” Feeling more empowered than ever, I want to look the part; I want strength and loveliness, not tired worry lines, evidence of many past tears and stress.

I turn to art and work out my struggles on canvas, with collage and images, words and brush strokes. Here I can “put on my best face,” which, interestingly, isn’t ever China Shop Pretty. My art, like my outward appearance,shows definite signs of life. My calligraphy is not typographically perfect–not even close. And I don’t much care. I seek a line of writing–a script which is visually powerful and evocative, feminine and mysterious–which best expresses ME. My words, my life, my experience. Perhaps, then, my approach to calligraphy will help me reconcile myself with what I perceive to be my outward physical imperfections. I can rename them as interesting punctuation marks, as living lines, as LIFE that is being lived inside and out.

Well yet everyone be aware of that is there a generic cialis found with ease in the Internet. In distinct on our website it is full of it. But you forget and constantly you ask.

In The Beginnning…

Spring is in Full Bloom in Austin, Texas. The Cactus flowers are so magnificent and outrageous this year–I even saw a cholla “rose” in a yard in Barton Hills the other day. I am grateful for these clear, cool days, a prelude to the coming heat. Everything is green and filled with possibilities. My mind is waking up from a long and restless sleep. It has been awhile since I have FELT inspired or thought new thoughts. I have dragged through my days and now, I am breathing again. Art saves the world and it certainly saves me. A daily journal–whether filled with deep thoughts or doodles–is a WAY back into my energy and inspiration. Funny that I teach what I want to learn myself.

I read a book recently which reminded me of so much I have neglected in myself. Sue Monk Kidd’s autobiographical book, “Dance of A Dissident Daughter” was like finding an old friend or discovering something that has long been shoved in a corner and piled over with junk. I have read all of her sources for the book, and experienced so much of the discontent she describes. The missing part for me has been a commitment to a WAY, a practice. That said, I quote Walt Whitman, who wrote, “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I am large, I contain multitudes.” I believe I do have a practice: it includes calligraphy and art, running and being a wife and mother. I certainly believe that spirituality does not need to be so narrowly defined, and I am realizing that maybe I have been following a WAY all along, just didn’t recognize it as such. Thanks to Kidd’s book–and the author herself–which articulates so beautifully my own experience of relationship to divinity I am able to move forward in my life with renewed zest and inspiration.

The wonderful challenge which I am taking on this year is to create a “Book of my own,” the working title of which is the “Feminine Face of Calligraphy”. I envision the book to be non-linear, with excerpts from my many journals, as well as essays on my approach to making art. I will also include personal reflections, poetry and other musings.
My hope is to inspire others who like myself want to find their own voice and their own place in the world of calligraphy, the Western tradition of which has largely been developed and influenced by men.
More on that topic to follow….

Well yet everyone know that is there a generic cialis detected with ease in the Internet. In exclusive on our website it is full of it. But you forget and constantly you ask.