Saturday, October 3, 2020

Sitting on the cusp of The Deep - a long reflection about where we are

 



Greetings Everyone,

Warning... this is a rant of sorts which I have posted on my website blog

Like so many who are navigating these unknown and sometimes dark waters, I'm having trouble staying on course. Staying afloat. Keeping connected to what matters. What needs to be done. Mainly because there is a dissonance between what this artificial, built-society says I must do and what the Natural World is saying, whisper soft, to my heart that we now must do if this world as we know and love it, is to survive.

Sometimes it's as if I'm sailing thru the mists, hand on a slack tiller, no wind to fill all the sails I try to raise to find a breath to get me moving once more. But the mists are thick. The stillness relentless. The uncertainty and fear rising up in my gut seems to be the only things that are moving. I know the safe passage is out there, I just can't find it in this fog that now envelopes much of our collective.

To be a creative person right now is more challenging than ever. To be a creative person who deals in the art of sweetness and light while (much of ) the world is plunged into murky gloom seems a Herculean effort at times. To be a creative person who relies on moss and green and flowers in a literal drought that has seen the hottest summer on record dehydrate the familiar places in the beloved forest to a crackling brown... nearly did me in this year.

I work with the spirits of the place, the Elementals and Energy Beings of the landscape and I'm here to say that they are suffering too....but mostly we are so caught up in our own dramas that we cannot hear their soft voices in our din. The Earth is in great need. GREAT need. This I believe is what "The Great Pause" (as some have called this past 9 months) has been about. I do not pretend to know how these things work, but the message for this pivotal time for our humanity and for the glorious garden we call Earth, our only home, is that we must make different choices. Now. We must stop thinking we are helpless victims, small ants in a relentless machine that knows only how to grind us up. For money. To line the pockets and bank accounts of the rich and powerful. Unable to stop our own destruction.

This is the one truth we all spend a great deal of effort and time denying: we have only one Earth. We all arrived here full of the purity and innocence that blesses each new life. A fresh start. A clean slate. What have we done with our greatest gift? We've fallen under the hypnotic spell of the economic machinery that sucks resources out of everything (our own souls included) and converts those resources into this thing we call money. The purpose of the machine is to convert everything into money. Trees, fish, minerals, animals, view-scapes, creativity, your own children and time itself. The Machine will convert it all into money and money-making. It's what our society is hell-bent on doing and it tells us relentlessly that we must comply, we must participate, we must play by it's rules or we are losers. We will be a failure, a reject, a nobody if we don't play along and do our part to make money for the machine.

This myth has been driving our collective for hundreds perhaps thousands of years. Certainly it took a big leap forward with the rise of the Industrial revolution when the machine got hold of our great-great-grandparents bodies and took them off the land and put them to work in the factories. That was the beginning of the Great unrooting, when we began to lose our vital linkage with the Earth, our home. We started to think that our little buildings and towns and cities were "home" and we called them that, forgetting that ALL of it, everything that we make or manufacture comes from Mother Earth. We fell under the spell of the machine mind and began to equate money with happiness.

"If only you had more money, then you'd be happy/safe/secure and loved" became the drumbeat of the machine and we listened....oh how we listened. And we became believers - big time.

We now stand at the most pivotal crossroads of our human experiment. We now are so many and so inculcated into the machine mind that science can confirm that we alone, the human beings on this planet are killing the very home we need to survive. If we were the only thing that relied upon this earth that might be a just ending to our little story, but the real crime here is that we are not alone. Millions upon millions of other creatures, from fungi to great Blue Whales also call this place home and we are killing them too.

I believe that Nature Herself has given us this moment, this virus to stop us in our tracks and give us a space, a pause to reflect and realize that we can chose a different path from this point forward. Many in Europe have embraced this moment and are making real, honest and deeply meaningful changes in how they live their lives so that they generate less waste and pollution than they did before. They understand that if we live in democracies then we must chose better representatives and leaders who will work for the planet, for our values of mutual justice and equality. We stand poised at the cross-roads, especially here in America.

In one month Americans will chose down which path we want to go. The choice is simple and clear. One path will be towards our own oblivion having capitulated to the powers of the righteous individualists who think they are above the laws of karma and Justice-for-all. They are cult followers of the Machine Mind and they believe their destination of power and wealth over all others is what their patriarchal god has ordained for them. The other path, though quite imperfect, has the glimmer of hope twinkling in the distance, enticing us forward into a new reality, one where we confront the machine mind and start to dismantle it at every opportunity.

I believe in the inherent goodness of the human heart. I believe that we all come here wanting to make this a better place. I believe that we all want to give and receive love, security, respect, justice, and meaningful purpose to our lives. I believe we all come into this earth loving our fellow creatures and that we are living our best lives when we are living in harmony with the natural rhythms and laws of Nature. I believe we are all hearing this calling now that we have been temporarily stilled by the virus that has stopped our entire built world in it's tracks.

What will you do to answer this call? What will you do to bring the world back into balance - your own world and the greater one we all live within? For Americans, we have a pivotal choice to make in the coming days. Who will we elect to speak for us? For the Earth? For our future?

To quote the great spoken word poet Shane Koyczan   from his piece titled "A Tomorrow"  ( which I invite you to hear by clicking on this link HERE  ) listen when he says:

… “This is just a reminder that depression is a self-loading gun

  we all have to keep checking the safety on

because when indifference has drawn

a chalk outline around our compassion

it means the next thing we lose

is each other.” ….

 

Chose wisely my friends. Chose as if your life depends on it, for it does. Chose as if the lives of your grand-children depend on your choice now, for they do. Chose now to believe the science, that the Earth is in great need and we can turn this trajectory around if we all work together and be our best selves. We can.

We have but one home. It is beautiful. It is magical. We must do better to respect and protect it. We start now.



Saturday, August 8, 2020

An invitation to join a world-wide meditation TONIGHT at 8 pm local time

 

Greetings Everyone,

I know this is very short notice. I literally JUST found out myself. There is an open invitation to join a world-wide group to meditate for the healing of our world. If you would like to join in with us, there is a specific format we are all asked to observe. The details can be found HERE.

Come join us if you can. The program-workshop will be repeated tomorrow on August 9th in case you miss tonight's event.

If you want to read this in your home language, this link takes you to their webpage that offers the same information in a variety of languages

Here is the core of the invitation from their website:

" Our intuition, dreams and exchange tell us that right now humanity stands at one of the decisive crossroads. One road leads towards a complete robotisation of our society and control over the individual. The other road leads towards co-creation with the beings of this wonderful Earth, those visible and invisible, and towards peace among peoples of the human race. 

A relatively large group is needed to express the decision, which of the two paths we want to walk in the next years and onward towards the future. We believe that each of us collaborating here already made her or his decision to follow the path of life and freedom. The purpose of this telepathic workshop is to communicate our decision to the beings of the Earth and the Universe and to ground it in the body of the planet as well as within our body. We do this as a holographic piece (fractal) of humanity as a whole. "  -from "Telepathic workshop "At the Crossroads"

 

 

Saturday, August 1, 2020

SUPER 30% off sale for a limited time! Stock up now!

Dear Readers,
  Like you I've been challenged in learning how to live with the new parameters of life due to this pandemic. But creativity has been my guideline when all else seemed unfamiliar. I'll have more to share shortly on the goings on here in my studio but I've JUST received word this morning about a super duper sale at Amber Lotus, the wonderful company that publishes my calendars and I HAD to let you know! Here's the scoop:

You can order any calendar related products from Amber Lotus from now till August 5th at 10 pm, pacific time and get THIRTY percent off !!! This is as big as it gets when it comes to discounts! 
You can get my latest calendars, of course:
The NEW 2021 Wall Calendar is only $10.50 !! (click on the image to see more)
https://www.amberlotus.com/fairy-houses-2021-wall-calendar


Or the New 2021 Mini Calendar is only $5.60 !!
https://www.amberlotus.com/fairy-houses-2021-mini-wall-calendar


There are loads more items available at this great sale price and you can read all about them in my new blog post on my website HERE

Don't miss this generous sale! Calendars make wonderful gifts and these will surely uplift the spirits of friends and family near and far.

Stay safe,

Bright Blessings



 

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Of Reliquaries and the Sacred Time we are navigating together


I must confess that the desire or ability to do any writing for this blog has been most elusive in the past 6-7 weeks. Like everyone else I’ve watched in profound sadness and with feelings of helplessness as so many families have faced such loss and tragedy dealing with this new pandemic. The loss comes in many forms and no matter what sort of shadows of sorrow, fear or disorientation have crossed your doorway, we are all in a profound moment of pause.

It seems to be an opportunity most of all (for those of us who have the luxury to not be on the actual front lines of this ravaging virus or the economic shock waves that will be difficult to ride out in the coming months) to take stock and ask ourselves some crucial questions about just exactly how are we going to take up our lives again when are able to do so.

As an observer of the intersection of the visible and invisible worlds, I cannot help but notice a few things about this moment…and yet finding the words to articulate what I am seeing and sensing is very difficult….but I shall try. Modern human beings have been hypnotized by the hollow promises of capitalism as it is currently imposed upon the globe for nearly 150 years now. The decision to value money(and therefore profit) more than the vital, living resources of this planet will be our doom if we do not change our ways. This moment of global pause comes just as the global movement towards questioning capitalistic values and Ecocide was starting to take hold in the likes of Greta Thunberg, the Green New Deal, Polly Higgins and all the other voices which were beginning to rise up and speak out (and be heard) on behalf of the planet. I do not think this is an accident.

 
Invisible forces have a way of reaching into the psyche of human beings and teaching from within. That process works best when human beings slow down, disengage from the busy outer world and take a pause. It can be in a few minutes of deep breathing. A dozen minutes of meditation, or yoga. An hours-long quiet walk in a park or out in nature as you can find it. It can be in a day off from one’s normal routine brought on by illness or unexpected weather events. We’ve all experienced times in our lives where we took a “time out” and allowed ourselves to connect with our inner thoughts and feelings. It is in that liminal space which opens up in those quiet moments when the invisible forces can speak to us and move us to make deep and lasting changes in our lives…usually for the better.

 We are currently collectively experiencing a “time out” like no other in living memory. That this moment comes when all of those who speak for the Earth are saying that we are poised on an edge like no other cannot be “just” a coincidence. I believe we are being asked by Nature itself to stop and listen… to pay attention to what we know is true and have not been able to face: that modern life as we currently live it will kill our beloved home and the plants and animals with which we are supposed to co-exist. I know this is difficult to hear. Like everyone else, when I face the facts of climate change I feel overwhelmed and powerless. I feel guilt and shame. I feel that no matter what I may do it won’t make a difference.


I’m here to tell you that those feelings, while they may feel real are not true. Nature has profound capacity for healing if it is just given a chance to do so. We have been shown that over and over again in these past few weeks as news reports came in talking about all the positive effects people were noticing in their immediate environments due to the shut-down of “normal life”. The canals of Venice were transformed and wildlife was cautiously returning to the tranquil waters. The air in Delhi and Beijing were clearer than anyone could remember. The trampled vegetation of Instagram hot spots was recovering to lushness once more thanks to a lack of too many tourists. Birds were being seen and heard in places where no one thought they lived. There are literally hundreds of such stories all around the world. Nature is speaking loudly thru these examples saying : “Look how I can heal if you just give me a chance!”


So we have to ask ourselves: When we start back up with our daily lives what are we going to differently so that our lives can be a more cooperative/harmonious collaboration that respects the Earth, her resources, her creatures AND all human lives across the globe? What are we going to commit to radically changing in our own lives to bring ourselves back from the brink of Ecocide?


What needs to change is us.

(To read the rest of this post, please head on over to my website to read the full blog and watch a movie from the Findhorn Foundation that I think you will enjoy. Just follow the link below)

https://sallyjsmithart.com/notes/from-the-heart/of-reliquaries-and-the-sacred-time-we-are-navigating-together/

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

A time for Prayer and action

(From my new blog which you can find HERE )

 
   Like many sensitive souls around the world, I am feeling overwhelmed with the suffering and turbulence that is our lived experience at this time. To give some perspective – there are people that I know, you probably do as well, who can ignore the raucous sounds around them and filter them out with relative ease. The radio or TV can be blaring and overwhelming to my ears when I walk into their space, but they don’t even hear it and begin carrying on a conversation. I cannot filter noise in that way. It is painful to me.

   In the same way, when there is great suffering on the planet and great loss of life, particularly the loss of animal and plant life due to natural or human-made events, I FEEL it in my soul. It is a weight and a pain in my heart that I cannot lift or ignore or deny. This, I know is the shadow side of being able to feel the beauty of nature to such a profound level… it is the cost, the price of that gift. I know most folks can feel a certain sense of loss for human life when tragedy strikes some person or group of people…and we all mourn these losses together especially if we feel identified somehow with the loss. For me, because so much of my heart is wrapped up in the natural world, I feel the grief more acutely than most when Nature is in pain and struggling.

   When the Tsunamis hit Indonesia and Japan, I was in deep despair for a long time. When the oil well burst in the Gulf of Mexico deep sadness prevailed for many weeks. When Hawaii was altered by the volcano burning and birthing the land it affected me too. The same thing can happen to me when I hear of massive agricultural losses due to flood or fire…it is a strange form of suffering that affects me and mostly I don’t speak of it much…but try just to work my way thru the passage knowing that all things change and that no matter how dark and gloomy it may feel now, it will be better eventually… until the next thing arises…but it too will pass.

   But things are speeding up now it seems. The pauses and respites between calamities and disasters seems to get shorter, the tragedies deeper and some of the losses, due to extinction level events are almost impossible to bear. What is happening now in Australia is hitting me (and MANY people like me) extremely hard … and I live on the other side of the planet! I cannot imagine how those on the front lines of this devastation are coping.

   So, to turn my grief into action (always a good healing tactic) I have created a small piece of art which you are welcomed to share and use if you like. In addition, I’d like to share some reputable charities that could use our help if you have the means to make donations. If not, Prayers from the heart are equally valuable if not more so and cost nothing only a moment of your time. The power of Prayer cannot be discounted… there are many anecdotal stories and actual scientific studies that affirm the power of prayer, especially collective prayer… so perhaps this is a good time to be reminded of that power and participate if one can.

Here is a list of organizations that are in need:

Kangaroo Island holds a special reserve where rare species are nurtured and helped towards recovery. Unfortunately they were his hard by a big fire. You can read about their sanctuary and their efforts HERE and donate HERE

The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital specializes in Koala rescue and rehabilitation. You can read more HERE.

WIRES native animal rescue has a useful information page with many ways to donate HERE

The RSPCA of New South Wales is fighting to save wildlife, pets and all domestic animals who have been affected by the fires. HERE

Once the fires have passed there will still be years of recovery work ahead for these organizations. The land will not be able to support the animals for a long time ahead, so expensive restoration and relocation projects will be needed. Please do not be swayed if it seems they have already received considerable support – the need will be ongoing. Or you can find other organizations that perhaps are not as well advertised that still need help. And equally important is to pass along this information to your own social networks, it really makes a difference. Thank you.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Holocene Twilight

This post may be disturbing for some readers. I make no apologies. As an artist who creates visions of idyllic fantasies I often question my purpose and my work. I have spent much time “soul wrestling” as one of my teachers calls it… the process that happens when we are waking up to an uncomfortable truth yet we do not yet have our course of new action/purpose fully charted yet.

Watching and listening to the Climate Crisis protests this week-end has been so deeply moving. That this was conceived of and organized by the youngest members of our global humanity was so inspiring. Greta’s fearlessness and tenacity show us that nothing is impossible if we just decide to make a difference, be mindful of our choices and then take persistent, focused action. And do not give up!

I dedicate this work to her spirit and to all the people who are rising up, speaking up, and supporting policies and people who are on the frothy edge of this transition…may the wave continue to build and may we all pull together to change our course before it is too late.

EDEN HOUSE:
An idyllic home set in an abundant, lush location brimming with life. Golden sunshine dappled thru the apple tree on the edge of the clear water, dragonflies hovered and zoomed… it was heaven on earth and we had our place in it all beautifully made.

Holocene Twilight
















As twilight settled, we were blissfully unaware… but something was wrong and it was of our own making.

Holocene Twilight

At first the shock of what was happening so suddenly made it impossible to focus or understand… was this a dream? How did this happen? Yet it was clear…. our home is burning.

Holocene Twilight

















Will it be too late?

Holocene Twilight
















I urge everyone:
  • educate yourself to what the science is saying
  • stop denying what is happening to our planet, to the oceans and to wildlife
  • figure out what you can do in your own life to make positive choices that support a better future
  • read, read read. Listen, listen, listen. Be humble.
  • Be fearless. You are not alone.
  • support politicians who support policies that protect the earth, wildlife and indigenous cultures
  • use your power as a consumer to bring about positive change. Plant-based dining is here now because consumers demand it. Electric vehicles are here now because consumers demand it. The cost of solar panels has dropped phenomenally in the past decade because consumer demand has businesses scrambling to make a good, clean living.
  • question all the ways you have been programmed to want “stuff”. Capitalism as it is currently built is unsustainable.
  • do not give in to hopelessness. We built this problem, we can solve it. The time to act is now.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Too close for comfort

Greetings Everyone!

I have a new post in my blog over on my website. I'll let you know why I sometimes make Faerie house images that look like this:


Come check it out by clicking HERE.

Have a great week!

 

Monday, September 2, 2019

A new post about my photo editing process

Greetings Everyone!

I've just written a new post over on my website blog which talks about how I go from this image:
 



to this one:



As well as a few other tidbits of news. Come and check it out!
 https://sallyjsmithart.com/notes/news/photo-editing-a-before-and-after-example/

Cheers,

Sally

Monday, August 26, 2019

New post available now in my website blog

Greetings Everyone!

I have a new post available in my blog on my website. Here is the link:
 https://sallyjsmithart.com/notes/greenspirit-arts/faerie-houses/the-haicyon-hydrangea-days-of-summer-fairy-house/

And here is the image...enjoy!

 


Saturday, August 3, 2019

The Rose Cottage

Greetings Everyone!

So sorry for the long gap in adding new posts to this blog....I don't mean to be leaving my fans in the dark, it's just that I am making fewer posts here because I am posting more over on my new website. If you'd like to catch up with my latest blog entries over there, please come and visit me at:
 https://sallyjsmithart.com/

I have a new Faerie House that I've just completed, the Rose Cottage. My first blog post about it is HERE.

And I've also posted a new video about it on youtube which you can watch HERE 


And if you want to get all my latest blog posts, I hope you'll sign up over at my new blog... to get to the sign-up page, just click HERE.
The sign-up process has to be EU compliant so don't let the big form scare you off!  :-) It just means that your data is very safe with me and that I will never sell your data to another company or have 3rd party advertising on my website that might capture your data as you visit.

I'll try to continue to provide updates here for when I post over at my new blog, but as you can already see, I'm not always good at following thru on that process. 

Bright Blessings to All
 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

A rare opportunity to win one of my houses!!!

Greetings Everyone!
It is time now to reveal something I've been working on for a wee while...and this is your chance at something special!

I've been invited by the Sheldon Museum in Middlebury VT to exhibit my Fairy Houses in conjunction with a very special retrospective exhibition featuring the work of American Landscape Architect Dan Kiley. As part of this special exhibition, one of my best (and diminutive) fairy houses is being raffled off by and to benefit the Sheldon Museum. I've made a very short little video showing the little house from many angles and showing the TWO lighting options that will extend your enjoyment of the house should you be so lucky to win it. I've never made a house with white AND colored lights before so this makes it truly a one-of-a-kind....though to be fair, ALL of my fairy houses are one-of-a-kind!

Here is the video:

Here is the direct link to purchase raffle tickets: http://henrysheldonmuseum.org/events/the-dewdrop-bungalow-fairy-house-raffle/

Here is the link for more information on my show: http://henrysheldonmuseum.org/exhibits/whimsical-wonders-fairy-houses-from-nature-by-sally-j-smith/

If you happen to be traveling to the area, and Middlebury is a magical little Vermont village with LOADS of things to see and do, then be sure to stop by the museum to see all my houses that are on display AND catch the Kiley exhibition...it is extraordinary and well worth the visit. The photography alone is breathtaking. The images on the web page do not do justice to the clarity and beauty of the actual prints...they are mesmerizing! The museum also houses a great kids activity area so parents can stroll thru the collection while the kids are playing in the children's area. It's very sweet and cozy.

If you are unable to travel to the museum but would still like a detailed description of all my houses that are on display, you can download this PDF of the catalog of my works presently on exhibit. Please note - the highlighted links in the PDF do not work as links.
2019 Fairy Houses for Sheldon Museum Show_updated 5-22_

Anyone can purchase tickets for the raffle as the house is small enough to ship. I wish everyone the best of luck... someone WILL win this sweet little house! AND you'll get bragging rights too because it will be in the 2020 Amber Lotus calendar which will be available later this summer. When the calendar comes out, I'll show you what I mean. Until then, enjoy the video and give it a "like" if you can. It helps in the world of Youtube.
Bright Blessings Everyone!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Re-starting my art book project

 (This post is re-printed from my blog on my new website: https://sallyjsmithart.com/notes/news/re-starting-my-art-book-project/

I hope you will come over to my new website if you've not already visited before to see what I've made for you!)


Winter is the quiet time in this part of the world. But that does not mean work stops for anyone who is awake and needs to keep warm!  The daily rhythm of feeding the woodstove, the cats, the birds and then sitting down to do my work has a comforting and simple cadence. When warmer weather comes, it will be more of a speedy dash to just keep up with spring bursting forth, but for now, we who live close to the earth know that this is the time to take on important projects, dive deep into thoughtful reflection and if at all possible, finish creative efforts that were put on hold.

I have just such a project which has been on a back-burner for far too long. It began years ago with a Kickstarter fund-raiser and I've had to put the project on and off again so many times it's begun to sulk in the corner, feeling as if it will never have wings. I knew that when I said "Yes" to my Fairy Houses book with Quarto publishing, that my own personal book would have to take a back seat...but I never imagined it would take this long to bring back into active status once more.

Thankfully, the experience of working with my editor and all the production crew for the Fairy Houses book has taught me a lot. AND, what is also true is that my fairy house and environmental art-making never stopped, so there are literally hundreds of new images that need to be reviewed and considered for inclusion in my new book which I have titled "Enviramagination". This has meant basically going back and starting over...never a fun way to pick up an on-going project, but it was necessary this time.

My original image collection for the book was going to have to be reconfigured to make room for dozens and dozens of new images.
The first iteration looked like this in miniature:

I used hundreds of tiny thumbnail cut-outs to assist with the selecting process and to figure out how to piece them together to achieve the flow of images that I wanted. I had decided to use only two basic formats: either a large vertical or paired horizontals that would be on any page. But as I looked closer I realized that switching back and forth between only these two options made for choppy viewing...at least it felt that way to me.  I tried adding a third squarish frame option and that helped smooth the transitions between strong vertical and strong horizontal images.

Next I tackled the backgrounds. Here is an example of one of the backgrounds I had previously developed for the book:

I had made dozens of these patterned backgrounds to echo the subtle transitions across all the seasons.  While I loved the details and textures that went into making the various backgrounds, I made a sobering discovery: though they looked great on my monitor, when printed, the pages all became darker, muddied and the central images lost their power. This was very discouraging because I had invested a LOT of time in making over 2 dozen backgrounds that I thought were going to make a magical book. Instead, as watercolour painters will understand, I had too much "paint" in the visual mix and the results were a muddy mess. Production on the project halted while I assessed what to do. It was rather disheartening because I so wanted to complete the project, but it was a mess and I knew it.

Then Quarto approached me with their Fairy Houses how-to book concept, the contract deal was signed and I had to focus all my attention on that book.  My own book project would have to wait.  But waiting has brought many benefits.

With the new moon of last month I gave a serious review to all the old files and decided to send them all to the virtual shredder so I could begin with a fresh, clean slate.  I had an idea to use very faint whispers of design elements in simple, pearl greys which would appear behind some, but not all of the page spreads.



I set about making some test pages and seeing how they looked on the screen and printed on the page. I am pleased to say that this approach has proven to be fresh and exciting and I'm now forging ahead with new vigor and enthusiasm.


Here is an example of an old background (above) compared to the new background (below) :


Here is another example with multiple images:



 and here is the new layout with the fresh background:


I think this approach works much better as now all the color on the page is concentrated in the images which is where you want the eye to focus. And the subtle greyed design motifs will soften the overall presentation and add dream-like whispers to tie the pages together to follow the ebb and flow of the seasons in a more subtle way.

What is also of great benefit is that I have acquired some new photo-processing software by On1  which I have taken many months to learn how to use and it has enabled me to refine my images to a much higher degree and make them glow with depth and detail that I was unable to produce before.

So not only will there be better backgrounds, but there will be more images which are distinctly better in quality than what I would have been able to produce a few years ago. I know the wait has been too long, but I hope that with all these improvements, the wait will have been worth it.

Now I must get back to work.... I have a book to create!!!




Thursday, February 7, 2019

Of Ice Discs and Blood Moons

(Apologies in advance- this post was written earlier and did not get published immediately. Life got busy and the eclipse is long passed.)

As I write this, the full moon has begun her passage into the shadow of the earth and we, in this part of the country have just endured our fist big snowstorm in several years. It is bitterly cold outside and we thought we would still be enshrouded by the storm and miss the eclipse event, but it has passed and the velvety black of night holds the moon as she makes her way into the veil of the earth. Such magic this is!
Circling CirclesTotal Lunar Eclipse_NASA
I have been of few words here in my blog of late and to my readers, I apologize. Life in the north woods has been more challenging as I slowly relinquish the strength and vigor of my youth to advanced “middle” age. Things take longer to accomplish than they did a decade ago. The weather is not as reliable and predictable as it once was. And all the chores of winter still must be done. Heating with wood takes a great deal of time and effort but I enjoy most of the ritual. Preparing for winter requires many steps and tasks that cannot be overlooked or you will not do well once the deep cold hits. Fortunately there was just enough time to complete all the vital chores before the big snows came this week-end. Tomorrow will be the big dig-out, but for right now, the woodstove is pumping the heat of the sun which the trees stored in their limbs and trunks and I am very grateful to have the gift of that stored energy warming my home now.

Circling Circles
Pinecone fire in the woodstove
There have been a predominance of ice circles in the news these past weeks. If you are not familiar with the phenomenon,

 here is a link to a big one that formed in a river in Maine:

https://bangordailynews.com/2019/01/14/news/portland/giant-ice-disc-in-maine-river-attracts-attention/
and here is one of the earlier ones that was discovered in Scotland:
Ice pancake photo by Michael Traill

 https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-46757826
We had one too under the bridge that goes over the Boquet river just down the road from my house. Unfortunately, it had grown too big and the air had became too cold and it stopped spinning and froze up. I got to see it the next day and even though it was no longer spinning, it was still eerily magical. The lines you see in the snow were there when I took the photo….the last remnants of the flowing water was  just able to seep up the edge of the wheel to mark the snow above.

When the wheel stopped turning – click on image to see full size

So as the moon dons her deep red cloak overhead and the formerly bright shadows on the snow dim and shudder in the howling cold, I am feeling humbled and blessed to simply be alive and able to witness these enchanting moments of haunting beauty.
As for my work, the making of Fairy Houses continues. I have a very special one I hope to photograph soon. I have been needing good snow for the image and so far our winter has been rather brown and drab. After this week-end and 16 inches of fresh, glittering powder I am eager to find just the right place to take the photos.
I am continuing to work on the Kickstarter book as that project has been way, way overdue.  There are so many great news images to put into the book that I’ve had to anguish over which images to let go of in order to bring the new ones in. It’s a bit like trying to freeze the river of time…you cannot, you can only make adjustments to each new bend in the river and keep doing your best.
There is another very large, long-term project that I am embarking on as well, but I am unable to discuss it right now but eventually I hope to share it all with you. My readers and supporters have been so kind and generous to support my work year after year… it means more than you know. Recently I learned that thanks to all of you, you have put my calendars in the #1 and #2 ranking in Amazon under the Architectural calendars category!  Thank you so much as this is a big honor and difficult to achieve, but your support has made it happen!

The moon is just about fully eclipsed now, so I am going to sign off for the moment and don my down coat and warm winter boots and go out and stand under the stars and bear witness to the Great Mystery; the spinning of wheels within wheel and circles within circles that hold us together and keep us expanding out with our curiosity and our creativity. May you continue to find and nurture yours and may you find yourself being surprised by something delightful and unusual in your world wherever you are. Magic is everywhere, you just have to be open to letting it reveal itself to you.

Bright Blessings to one and all

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Of Land art, other artists and dealing with criticism in perilous times

From my blog on my new website - https://sallyjsmithart.com/notes/

(warning this is a rather long post)
   spiral of leaves on slate Recently I had the misfortune of receiving a very hurtful email from someone I had previous thought of as a friend. Emails are slippery forms of communication and poor ones too, as I'm sure we've all come to experience at one time or another. Things get taken the wrong way. Or too much is said in a heated moment. We are instantly hit with regret the second AFTER we hit the "send" button.
 
   So it is entirely possible that the person who wrote to me may have been thinking she was being helpful by offering me "professional" advice about my work. But instead what I saw being offered was a series of cutting remarks, each one finding fault in my work from her supposedly vastly "superior" perspective .

   As artists who put their work out there for the public to view and see, we get these sorts of reviews from time to time. Frankly, they suck. Not because the person is right (though they sometimes may be) but mainly because (as in this case) such messages do nothing to acknowledge the true vulnerability it takes to bring one's work to the world and put it out for all to see. The act of being vulnerable is becoming more and more difficult these days as those with a loud and angry voice seem more bold and justified and speaking "their" truth without carefully considering how it feels to be on the receiving end of such speech.

 a spiral made from leaves and lfowers on a bed of moss
      For those of us who happen to be highly sensitive types  (see this movie trailer for a beautiful movie about the topic  HERE   ) the days of feeling the internet is a wonderfully magical world full of diversity and opportunity are coming up against the Dark side of humanity and we are seeing social media (and all media) grappling with a mean, ugly and dangerous force that appears to be getting unleashed upon us. My former friend's email was soaked in that energy.... the righteousness streak that so many now feel empowered to put forth without taking into account how much words can hurt.

   a spiral of leaves and flowers on slateHow do we deal with this anger and righteousness? How do we deal with painful remarks made from a place of pain, masked as empowerment and "free" speech?  For myself, I go first to seeking my own inner guidance system. How do the words make me feel? Good or bad? If good do I deserve to receive these words of praise and support? Have I made good effort over time or done something useful/helpful/meaningful that has helped another?  If so then I am grateful that my actions have been well-received and have brought something positive to someone's life.

   If I feel bad by what has been said, I reflect: do the words have any basis in fact? Have I caused harm? Betrayed a boundary? Disrespected myself or another? If so, then I take stock. Ask forgiveness.  Make adjustments. If however their words do not apply to what I have done in the world, then their words must not be ABOUT me at all, but more, they must be about the pain that the speaker may be in. It is important to be able to take responsibility if that is appropriate for the feedback I am receiving....but equally important is to realize that the feedback may not have anything to do with me, except that I am a convenient mirror upon which to spit. But I am NOT the mirror. None of are. We are uniquely ourselves.
 a spiral of sunflower blossoms floating on a pond
    So when my former friend tried to cut down my work as an environmental artist, saying that I should try to find my own voice instead of emulating the works of far better land artists, it took me back a bit. I was very hurt. I looked within and took stock. And interestingly ended up reading some of my own words on the subject which I had just published on my new website: (link to page)
   ..." For those people who may feel that environmental/land artists like myself are merely copying other land artists who have come before I would say this: of course you are entitled to your opinion, however each person who piles up pinecones in a forest or seashells on the beach is expressing a primal desire which is enshrined in the human experience: humans want to make beauty with nature. We have been doing this since we started applying ground stones and berries  to cave walls. Certainly some artists are more gifted than others and some artists have had enormous commercial success with their work…which they deserve for all their cold, early mornings and frozen fingers when the rest of the world is snug and warm.
  But just because one land artist’s piece may remind you of another artist’s work, be assured, none of this is meant to be “copying”. It could never be actually because no two stones nor sticks are the same, therefore each artist has their own relationship to the environment and the materials that landscape presents…and we each have our own way of working with those materials that is a discovery process of its own. " ...
A circle made from dandilion seed heads in a green meadow at sunset
   So dear reader, if you have come this far in today's blog post, I am exceedingly grateful for your patience and perseverance in allowing me to share this moment of painful exposure, and my options on how to process the pain. 

    Some profound words also came thru today form one of my former astrology teachers and I would like to direct you to his "Cosmic Weather report" post...which you can find HERE.  Here is a snippet from his post that really spoke to me today:
"Though it can sometimes seem meaningless, your life has a purpose that is both uniquely specific to you and generic to the species. The generic part that we all share is that you came here to express the love packed into your soul. The personal part is that you have to find your own authentic way to do that, which will put your shoulder to the wheel." - Mark Borax

    For myself, as silly and fluffy as my environmental work may seem, it is the work I have been given to do... to create some sort of reminder that life on earth is meant to be a co-creative experience with and in honor of the earth herself. And that we as a species need to do much, much better at respecting the delicate balance that is provided to us here on this gorgeous planet we call home. We are out of balance with the natural eco-systems that have shaped and evolved the beauty we see. We must not ruin it further. Most land artists innately know this and their work is an expression of the deep love and respect they have for the natural world. We seek to raise up the collective awareness about the fragile beauty of the earth and our need as a species to be more diligent in using technology and resources more wisely and protecting what we have still from further damage. It is a big task. Let's get busy and each be the change we want to see.
a view of the earth from space

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Tiny Matters (from my new blog)

  
(re-printed from my new website: https://sallyjsmithart.com )

    It has been a strange summer so far. For us, it is now official; July 2018 has been the hottest month on record according to the local NOAA weather station. And it was very dry too. I know that weather is not climate, but I also know that things are trending in a direction that implies big changes are happening right in our own backyards. Anyone who has lived in this region for more than 20 years can see the changes themselves in the weather, the animals and even the plants. It is all unsettling for those of us who live close to the earth and love the diversity with which we like to track the seasonal rhythms.

   Here where I live, one of the things we'd look forward to in mid summer was the hatching of the toad population. This generally occurred in mid July. Sometimes the 3rd week but most often it was right in the middle of July that we'd see them appear....the tiniest of perfectly formed toads. So small that 2 could comfortably sit on a dime with space in-between them.

   It was a milestone we could always count on, like the arrival of the first ripe strawberries, or fireflies in June. Or hearing the Whip-o-will up on the corner by the deep forest, or the first song of the Tree Frogs in May. All harbingers of the cycle of summer. Just as the goldenrod starting to bloom and monarch butterflies signal the subtle shift in the tilt of the earth's axis towards autumn. But the toads were always a highlight. There would be scores of them all around the perimeter of the house....probably due to all the great toad holes all my gardens provided. There would be so many that I'd have to warn visitors to mind where they stepped because the tiny creatures could not get out from under a footfall in enough hops, so we needed to be careful.

   But this year was hotter than ever. And drier. And though I kept hoping to see them, the tiny toads remained elusive. I suspected it might be a "bad" year because I saw only 2 adult toads in my garden all spring/summer which was for me a record low number. Still, I was hopeful that perhaps the toads where just hiding deeper in their holes or under the leaves due to the scorching sun. And I waited. And waited. And began to give up hope.

   Then last week the weather turned and we had a few damp, grey days...and some vitally needed rains. And finally, today, nearly 2 weeks late, I spied 3 baby toads in the garden and was much relieved though I know that being 2 weeks late may mean they may not have the right kind of insects to eat, or they may face larger predators since the snakes and birds did not slow down their raising of young. So, when I find them, I rejoice and move the ones I find in the driveway over to the gardens, hoping that will help them survive a little better.

   I'm reminded of the story about the thousands of starfish washed up on the shore after a storm and how one person was tossing them back into the sea to save them. A passer-by stopped and commented about how futile the gesture was... how it ultimately could not make a difference because too many were washed up and would die anyways. The first person just stooped and picked up another starfish and threw it in the water. "Maybe" they said "But at least I can make a difference for THAT one".

What difference will you make this week, for the tiny things of this earth?

Welcome to the enchanted world of Environmental art and Faerie Houses sculptures created by Sally J Smith. Here you will find photos of the artist's unique art-forms and hear some of the stories from behind the scenes as she shares with you her creative process.