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?

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

I’ve been working a lot at my computer lately…. too much actually, as I try to learn and understand how to be a better content contributor to this world and as I learn how to manage and maintain this new cruise-ship of a website. However, eventually  the brain can only absorb so much new information and it becomes necessary to get up and MOVE the body.

Since I work at home, I have the great luxury of just stepping outside my door into my garden and doing a bit of garden maintenance. Like many parts of the country we’ve been suffering under unusually hot and dry conditions the past 6-8 weeks so there has been a lot of watering that has been needed just to keep the plants growing and prospering. I love watering… pouring water onto thirsty ground is a very satisfying endeavor especially when the plants so willingly reward the action with beauty, fragrance and fruit. I know that gardening-as-life metaphors are as abundant as weeds and blooms and most are better written than I could ever hope to accomplish given my skills as a writer. 

But the ability to appreciate, quietly in the moment, from a place of inner wonder and delight is something we all seem capable of doing. And the good news is that at any unexpected moment, we can be caught off guard and slip into a moment of reverie which is often followed by a feeling of gratitude for being alive. Pure and simple. This experience, of feeling gratitude seems to open us up, however slightly, or briefly (or permanently in those bigger experiences) and it allows us to feel connected to something greater than just ourselves…. even if we cannot define it, there is something inexplicable about how a simple delight can open the human heart up, allow us to take a deeper breath and for a moment, forget our troubles and sit in a state of contentment.

Watering finished, I was trimming out the spent blossoms of feathery Astilbe and cutting back the faded leaves of the Columbine plants when all of a sudden, my nose was tickled with a honey-sweet fragrance that filled the air with perfume. I stood upright trying to locate the source when it became rather obvious… the tall lily that my sister had given me last year was finally in bloom and it was glowing with magic and fragrance.

 I stood still, drinking it in, eyes closed. When I opened my eyes, a butterfly was trying to do the same but the bloom was huge and even though the butterfly was large, it was not easy for it to get to the sweet nectar. I watched as it pushed this way and that, trying to reach inside the large trumpet. Finally the geometry of wings and petals aligned and the butterfly was able to slip along the petal edges into the inside of the enormous bloom for its sweet reward.

That is us, I thought… just trying to find our way to the sweetness in life. And here it is all around us. We just have to work patiently and courageously and eventually the geometry of the Universe lines up and assists us in reaching our moment of delight.

“Sure,” I can hear you say… “easy for you to feel…in your garden…. with butterflies and blossoms all around. But what about me, stuck here in ______ ” (fill in the blank with your current situation right NOW). So here’s the thing, these moments are available to us all at any time. Just take a moment to look away from your screen…and observe your unique surroundings…in your office, in traffic, wherever you are…. pause, go ahead, look now… without trying to see anything in particular, just look. There will be something that catches your attention. Let it. Dust in sunlight. The color of a co-workers shirt, the shimmering air on a distant horizon, the smell of coffee brewing down the hall…. it does not matter what it is, just let yourself be captivated. Let your attention narrow to that one bit of attention-getting stimulation. Drink it in. And realize that no matter what it is that grabbed you, it has its origins in the earth.

Everything that we see, everything that we smell, everything we sense with our bodies comes from the earth. Even the concrete, steel and plastic of the modern built world all comes from the earth in one form or another. Let that part of you that is of this earth connect to these manifestations of earth and let the boundaries dissolve, just a little so you can feel the alchemical connection between you and the Earth-as-provider of all we see and need. Let that understanding in and let it fill your heart…close your eyes if it helps you sink into the awareness…. breath in the simplicity of you and the Earth, here as connected beings in this one, singular moment.

That is it. The secret of rejuvenation, centering and appreciation is rooted in being present in the moment and using our attention to consciously focus, for a small period of time, on our connection to this earth…our home, and let that connection resonate in our being for as long as we wish.

Bright Blessings to you

Friday, July 20, 2018

FLASH SALE 30% OFF!!!

I’ve just been notified that Amber Lotus is having a FLASH sale on my calendars with a huge discount of 30% off! 

The sale is an anniversary present from Amber Lotus to all their best customers in honor of their 30 years in business. However, this sale is very time sensitive…and it expires at 11:59 PM (Pacific time) on July 22nd.

You can see the calendars HERE on my NEW website, or if you already know what they look like, you can go HERE to purchase the Fairy Houses wall calendar and don’t forget the mini calendars too! 

You can use the coupon code below only once but it is good for any 2019 dated product in Amber Lotus.

Here is the code to use to get your great discount:
30YEARS


Happy Shopping Everyone!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Hemp Faerie House now showing at the Santa Fe Art Festival!

Greetings Everyone!

I'm so thrilled and honored to share that my very special Faerie House made of Hemp is now being shown at the prestigious Santa Fe Art Festival! If you are in the area this is a fabulous venue of amazing art. I am being represented by Mia Feroleto. Do check it out if you are planning to go to the festival.

HERE is a link to the Festival's website : http://www.artsantafe.com/

I won't be attending but the house will be there. If you want to read more about how it was created, HERE is the story.



Please visit my new website!

Hi Everyone!

I am thrilled to bits to be able to announce that my new website is now up and running!

Please come on over and take a look.... there is LOTS to see!

 https://sallyjsmithart.com/


 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

My New Website is about to Launch!!!!

Yes, folks, at long LONG last the doors are about to open!

My new website will be at:  www.sallyjsmithart.com

It will launch at 12:30pm EDT on Thursday (as long as I manage to push the right button!)  

I will still use this blog for awhile as I get to learn the tricks of using the one that is already built-in and part of my new website. That blog-feature is called "Notes" in my website and you will be able to subscribe to it as well if you like. Visually, the format will be different but we'll all get used to it together.

I've loved the simplicity and ease that blogger provides for creators and readers and it may just mean that I will want to keep both going for a few months....we shall see. But all the new announcements, news and stories will go up first on my new website as that is the place that I am now going to be (online).

Anyone who clicks on to my old website ( www.greenspiritarts.com ) will get automatically forwarded to the new website once it goes live.

So there are still a few more details for me to iron out, but I hope to see you there in just a few short hours!

Take care Everyone and Bright Blessings!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Unbelievable !

Greetings Everyone! 

   I cannot fathom that it has been:
1) nearly 2 months since I last posted and
2)  Eleven years, five months and some odd days since I started blogging about my work!
 3) that this blog has received nearly 250,000 visitors over that time.

This is hard to wrap my mind around! 

The last 6 months, as you know, I've been working very hard on my new website and we are getting close to launching, which is wonderful news because I can't wait to have you see the new site. Upon launching it will have 15 different galleries to look at, just for starters! You'll also find all my books, prints, puzzles, DVD, Calendars and goodness knows what else there, all easy to find and enjoy.

Eventually there will be more information about me, my life as an artist and various tid-bits like Q&A and add-a-testimonial.  One of the things I am most excited about is that there will be an opportunity (at long last) to participate in my "Secret Sale" events. This will be a by-invitation (but VERY easy to sign up for) sale where I will have a limited number of my Faerie houses for sale. These will be available for a limited time and this will be the first time any of these houses will be available for sale.

What I'm also very excited about is that at long last, I will have a new blog which will be a part of my new website. As you know, right now I have two separate places for people to visit who want to find out about my work. It's time for it all to be under one canopy, so to speak and I can't wait to have you come and visit that too.

But don't worry, I will still post the same posts here for awhile after the new site is open (I do know how to copy and paste! :-) 

What I'm also excited about is that the new blog will be a chance for me to speak more about how I see world events, my spiritual beliefs, making and sharing connections that you might find interesting and all that sort of thing. I'm not a big user of social media, unfortunately  (or some might say I'm smart to stay away from the lure of the small screens) but I do feel loyal to my readers and viewers and I know that many of us are feeling a variety of difficult emotions in these challenging times. I want to speak to that condition more directly and (hopefully) strengthen the connection with and to fellow sensitive types who may feel challenged in the current state of the world.

I believe strongly that we are all here to make this world a better place. I believe strongly that we must find a way to make smarter choices about how we live and what motivates us to remain a positive being who understands that we are all connected and there is only one Earth and we must do a better job of caring for it, each other and the future generations to come. Some may be surprised to hear me speak this way, after all, don't I just make cute little faerie houses? Well, yes, I do but that is not all of who I am.

It is time now that we all start becoming our authentic selves and silly as it may sound, this new website that I've been pouring my heart and soul into for the past long stretch will be my way of celebrating this joyous, glorious experience we can all have, here on this beautiful earth. This will be my small contribution and I can't wait to share it all with you....stay tuned!

Meanwhile, the Amber Lotus calendars are being shipped to the warehouse as I write and will be available soon. Here are the covers and a link to the Amber Lotus feature page if you'd like to see more next years images!
 
 



 Also, if anyone collects these calendars and is missing a year from their collection DO contact me as I may be able to help you....I have some stock from previous years and I have made some customers very happy by helping them fill in their collections. Just drop me an email and I'll see if I can help.

And this final note.... I was recently told by my publisher that my Fairy House building book was co-published in France...I'm still trying to track that down to see if it is true and if it is, was it translated and can my French readers get a copy... I'll keep you posted!  

Cheers!!!
 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Underground

Greetings Everyone and Happy Spring to you!

  People have been wondering where I've disappeared to and like a bear emerging from hibernation, eyes blinking in the bright, March sun, I feel as if I've been journeying in some underground dream-time. In actual fact, I've been creating a new website and I had NO IDEA how much work would be involved in such a venture! But there is good news to report....we are getting much, MUCH closer to getting this behemoth off the ground soon!

Since I can't show you any actual, live pages, I can only share some mock-ups and tell you about what's been cooking here in the underground cave the last few months. First, there are going to be TONS of slideshow galleries to look at!  The technical challenge was to figure out how to do this in a way that would not bog down the visitor with too much waiting around for images to load. I've been blessed with some web-savvy angels and am getting clear and professional guidance on how to make this happen so visitors should be very pleased with the results.

Here is a mock-up of the new Home page just so you can see what the new look will be:





The big window section at the top will have a revolving slide show that will feature all the major areas of coverage for the website. The juiciest, best images will be featured in this short show. Below that are 6 buttons to take the visitor deeper into the website.
The Greenspirit Arts button will take the visitor to over 10 different galleries featuring images made using both my Faerie house works and my Environmental Art pieces. Just for fun, here is Faerie House gallery page:


Here you can see how the pages are blocked in and how changes that need to be made are indicated (in red) as I go along. Space for text is accounted for, but may not actually written ( as the top and bottom paragraphs this this example) just yet. The point is to get an over-all feel that is fresh, clean and welcoming. But it has been a LOT of work as every image had to be refined and prepared for web delivery which is very different from the paper/print world I am used to and have all my images prepared for, generally speaking. This translating of my images for web is what has taken such a large chunk of time to get accomplished.

  The 6 buttons on the original HOME page will take the visitor to the following sections:

GREENSPIRIT ARTS- will take you to all the Faerie houses and Environmental Art galleries

PAINTINGS- will take you to 3 galleries featuring my painting works. I am so very excited to share this part of my creative life with my visitors because up till now most folks did not know my life as an artist had a whole previous incarnation! It will be such fun to share this with you now.

NOTES- will be my NEW blog...yes, finally my blog will be a part of my website, not separate destinations like I have now. While the transition process is in effect, I will still post here however...and you, loyal readers, will still find me here with updates and news located in both places while we all get used to the new location.

ARTIST- button will take you to information about me as an artist and offer up some unusual opportunities.

SHOP- will be a big make-over...many things on offer here both directly (my own shopping cart feature) and also giving you updates and links every time a new product using my work becomes available.  A big new feature is going to be my ability to offer my images as custom-made prints for my collectors. (more on that below)

NEWS- will be the announcements section where I post updates on what is happening on all fronts having to do with my work as an artist.


As mentioned above, the CUSTOM Prints feature has me very excited. Here is that page mock-up so you can get a taste:



There will be three different galleries to go to for inspiration...Corporate/Office environments that are imaginal ways to use my work in professional settings, A Home gallery to show how my prints could bring a fresh new impulse into the home environment and a gift-giving gallery that shows how small prints can be tailor-made for special occasions or smaller spaces.

Here are some examples:








 
 So there will be lots of new content and places to explore on this new website and I can't wait for it to be done so I can share all this work (both the images and the actual website as a work of love) with you. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, please take note: I am now retiring my greeting card line of products. If you have any desire to get some of these cards, I would recommend doing so soon. I will give final warning when the website is about to switch over, but the greeting cards will no longer be offered online once the new website is up. Also, card sales now are limited to what stock I have on hand. I will make substitutions if needed to keep within similar content/themes, but my supply is getting low so order now if you've been wanting to get cards.

Also, I had some glitches with Paypal invoices last year. If you ordered cards but did not get them, PLEASE contact me so I can correct this oversight. Due to technical issues, I may have missed some orders and don't know it. I want everyone who ordered cards to get them....so if you did not, please do contact me. Thanks!

Also, for my Kickstarter Patrons....please know that the book project is still in progress. In the process of developing my website I have also been sorting thru and processing a DECADE of environmental art images and so this was an excellent time to continue work on the Kickstarter book. Once this website goes live I will be able to get back to that long-over-due project onto a "front burner" and off "back burner" status and I hope to bring it to completions soon.

I'll be wading thru this web-site building process a bit longer as I put all the pieces in place and get the whole thing up and running. It's just as complicated as writing a book...so please have patience!

Happy Spring Everyone!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Happy International Women's Day and a catch up

Greetings Everyone!

In honor of International Women's Day I share with you two images from my work as a watercolor painter: Brigid and Ceremony of the New Day.






You may be wondering if this is the right blog, where are the Faerie Houses? Where is the Environmental art you may be saying...well as I've often mentioned in my bio (when I've had to write one) before my life as an Environmental Sculptor, I had a flourishing career as a watercolor painter. These two images are from that time.

What is very exciting for me is that finally, at long last, it is almost time to present both aspects of my creative life online under one banner, on one website! The reason you've not heard a peep from me for the past 2 months is because I've had my head down working very hard on my new website. It is going to be gorgeous. A whole new website where I finally bring my two "halves" together under one tent, so to speak. I'll have more details to share as the launch date gets closer but as of last night I have finished processing all the images for all the galleries...there are over a dozen galleries with tons of images in each one and at long last my watercolor and digital painting works will be included along with my environmental art. It's going to be a lot of fun for my visitors!

So to celebrate this very special day, International Women's Day it felt fitting to share these two images with you. Brigid is of course the Celtic Goddess of the hearth, the Forge, spring, agriculture and new beginnings. In my image she wears a crown of Snowdrops and carries Brigid crosses made from grain stems. The edge of her cloak has flames and Snowdrops and in the background we see objects associated with her areas of expertise. She's a complicated archetype (aren't we all?) as she is also often associated with Sacred wells and pools so the spiral paths are representing those elements as well.

In Ceremony of the New Day, we see an Indigenous Woman who could have roamed the North American landscape at one time. She is of no particular Nation, but represents Indigenous women of all Nations. She holds a Sacred Pipe and Abalone shell filled with smoldering White Sage, along with tobacco the traditional offerings made in Sacred Ceremonies. The Four directions are represented by the four animals: Eagle (East), Buffalo (South), Bear (West) and Wolf (North)....can you find them all? Her braids are wrapped in Otter fur, one of the many Sacred totem animals particularly related to women, for they are enduring, family-oriented and playful.

So this day is a day to celebrate all women everywhere for their courage, creativity, endurance, bravery and power. The soft power of women is rising up now. The inclusive power of the circle and the spiral. My gratitude goes out to all the women and men who read these posts. Let your creative spirits soar and get ready for a busy and bright spring! 

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year to YOU!



Greetings Everyone!

Sending each of you the very best wishes for a fabulous 2018! May your year be blessed with delightful connections, surprises, achievements and adventures. May you find new ways to express your unique inner creativity and the natural delight that we've all known since childhood. May you find your way up and out of any former restrictions that had you feeling discouraged and may your inner Light shine bigger and brighter than ever before to let the whole world know that EVERY day is filled with Magic and Joy and that we each are here to celebrate this simple truth: we each can make the world a better place for all and that our greatest moment of inspiration may just be around the next corner. Let's make 2018 a year to remember for the best possible reasons!
Shine, baby, SHINE!!!


As for what will be new with Greenspirit Arts, there is a LOT in the front burner at the moment, but for now, this moment is a chance for me to say a deep and sincere "Thank You" to all who have visited here in the past and to all who continue to be curious about and supportive of my work as an evolving artist. May our journey together continue to blossom and unfold.

May the Blessings of the Light fill all our days ahead!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Equinox Spiral

Taking a few moments in the garden on the day after the Equinox to celebrate the moment when the earth is poised and balanced. Even if we cannot see it in our daily life this reminder comes round, twice each year, that we can in a heartbeat, realign.

I was clipping off the dead and dying blossoms from a Dahlia plant in my garden when I looked at the handful of browning blooms and realized that there was still some Beauty in them. I cleared a patch of moss in the shade and began to pull out the petals that were still fresh and full of colour. Arranging them in a spiral, making a bit of art in the moment was an act of defiance in a way. Refusing to be overcome with sadness (and there is much to feel sad about these days). A simple bit of making something new, even if it lasts only an afternoon can be magical. And liberating.

I invite you to make your own statement of resilience. Your own ritual of renewal. Your own re-commitment ceremony to the Earth. Go outdoors. Find some objects of Nature. Make a spiral. Celebrate the day. It's not hard to do... Namaste.

 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Cycles and circles

Greetings Everyone,

   I spent several hours this morning writing a long post about all the loss and sorrow we are all feeling due to the big events in our world recently. Even though we may not have been personally affected by the trauma we are all connected and thus all affected to one degree or another by the losses so many are now feeling in many parts of the world.

  My post however veered off in another direction from what I had originally intended to write so I have saved that one for another time. Instead I have returned to complete a post I had started a few weeks ago but had not finished. It was written to commemorate the one year anniversary of the passing of my beloved companion cat, Oliver. I wrote about Oliver's life in a previous post which you can find HERE. Now that it is the one year anniversary, I feel I can say that I have a sense of completion about my adjustment to life without his animal presence. But part of that is due to his presence in another form, however difficult it is to describe.

   Earlier this year, in the first hints of a warming season but while snow was still on the ground, I was washing my breakfast dishes and looking out on the snowy landscape and deeply missing my snow-buddie Oliver. I had read an advertisement a week or so earlier about a local fellow who was looking to find a home for a semi-feral cat named Hollis but my heart was still heavy and sore with the loss I was experiencing not having Oliver here in form, so I had closed myself off to the idea of welcoming a new cat into my home. As I stood, washing the teacup I can only say that the strangest feeling came over me, and I FELT Oliver running towards me. As part of me stood, transfixed at the sink, soapy teacup in hand, another part of me was in a warm and sunny space with my beloved friend running at full gallop towards me. I opened my arms to welcome him and he lept up to be held. His form was now much larger than he had been when he was in his body as a cat. My senses registered that he was now nearly 3 or 4 times larger and while it would be difficult to physically hold a creature as large as he was now (imagine a half-grown tiger leaping into your arms...could you hold it?) because we were both in non-physical forms, it was effortless to welcome him with a fully open heart. The sense of reunion was epic. My heart burst open with such love and gratitude to feel him once again. This was not a fantasy, it was a real encounter and I just went with it.

   We melted against one another and he let me know that he was fine, very happy and radiantly whole. I was in awe of his power and presence...and that we could even be sharing in this way, now nearly 6 months since I laid his body into the earth....yet here "HE" was...whoever he was for he was definitely no longer a cat...but yet he retained something of that form/essence perhaps just to allow me to recognize him during this visit. Eventually, the wave of reunion washed over me and tears of joy trickled down my physical and metaphorical cheeks. And I heard him speak, in English, very clearly... he said simply : "Go meet Hollis".  Gently and with a feeling of still smiling, our embrace began to melt and diffuse, like mist in the morning sun and soon I was back to the sink, soapy teacup still in hand.

  With an invitation/command like that, one cannot say "No". So I made the phone call and went to meet this "Hollis" cat. Supposedly he was shy and took slowly to people as his caretaker had warned me...but from the very beginning, Hollis made it very clear that he'd like me to be HIS person. He rolled and purred and made it absolutely obvious to both myself and his former caretaker that he wanted to come with me...even to the point of actually hopping into my car when I was getting ready to leave! (Something he apparently had never done before and has never done since). So the next day we made it official and he came home for a trial period. It was not an easy acclimation. In fact, there were several days when I thought it was NEVER going to work he was just too aggressive with my ancient kitty who cannot defend herself at all, and my other resident male kitty who was just getting used to being the new top cat now that Oliver was gone. It took several months, but finally we've all settled in to living well together.

  When the green of springtime finally came, I now knew what Oliver was up to....because Hollis is a fabulous garden kitty. He loves to supervise me whenever I'm working in the garden and he provides the companionship I was so desperately missing with Oliver's departure. I know it all sounds rather silly on one level, but on another it is quite real and wonderful. So Oliver sent me to meet Hollis and Hollis was very clear that he wanted to live here...and I've been blessed to have them both in my life. And the other kitties have adapted and now accept and enjoy a new sense of home together.

Here is Hollis in his new role as head supervisor at one of my spring photo shoots in the garden:



All of this is to say that things circle round....forms change and cycle...love remains. Some essential part of us appears to remain, and truth be told, appears to be even more powerful and radiant than what it was when contained in a form. I cannot explain this. I've even had visitations from my father that I cannot explain...one as recently as the solar eclipse of last month. These Mysteries exist for me, and for many others who have/share them. I accept them though I do not have an understanding of how it all works. I don't know how electricity works but I still accept that it is real and I certainly benefit from its powers - and pay a price if I do not respect it!

    So for those of us who have lost so much, or even for those of us who may be feeling overwhelmed by the sense of loss that is in our collective these days, my experience is this: nothing stays the same forever. Fulfillment will cycle thru to loss but loss will be transformed to fulfillment once more. The point seems to be to see beyond one or the other to gain a steady point that is beyond the tidal surges this world has to offer. Some may call this Faith or something in that vein... I think it is so very helpful to have something to tether ourselves to that is not so directly bound to this physical world so that when things get thin, here on the ground, we are not swept away in our sense of loss but can remain strong in our knowing that things do cycle. The earth will recover and rebuild her ecosystems and we all go on, one way or another....hopefully with the blessings of good companions, wherever we can find them.

 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Both-And

Be Humble for you are made of Earth.


Be noble for you are made of Stars.
-Serbian Proverb 



Dream BIG Everyone, on this day especially!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Same House, different locations - Otherwise known as: pity the editor !

Greetings Everyone!

  As you know, every year Amber Lotus publishes my images as calendars. Last year we had two sizes, the regular large wall calendar and a new mini-sized version that was very popular. I thought I'd let you in on a little behind-the-scenes peek at what the poor art editor has to deal with every year.

  Since writing my latest book, I've been focusing on making more substantial Faerie houses that are finely crafted and built to last. I am building up a collection of these houses in my studio so that eventually I will have enough for a fine art/craft exhibition (already one may be headed to an exhibition in Berlin - more on that in another post) somewhere down the road.

  Having these houses on-hand means that I get to photograph them in a variety of settings when it comes time to make the images that the calendar company will want to select from for their publications. We work 2 years in advance so the images that are being selected now won't been seen until 2019....except for you who come to visit my blog! 

  I thought you might enjoy seeing how the same house can be used in several different settings and have very different looks depending on those settings. Let's get started!

     The Golden Cottage was a house that I build specifically for a tutorial for my book. In the book I show how to make this house step-by-step. 


Now that it is finished I can take it with me to various locations and create some magical images with it. Here are four examples of how the same house can look in different settings:

  1) This is the location that was selected for use in the book in addition to the tutorial. It was high up on the side of a mountain nestled in an alpine forest where the trees were no taller than about 10 ft high. Since the mountain is shrouded in mist a lot, there was a dense carpet of moss everywhere under the trees. It was a very magical place and the white "Peace Pipe" plants were already there. I did bring in the red bunch-berries and the Blue Gentians and some of the ferns as well as the purple flowers on either side of the cottage. I loved how this house looked in this setting and the book art directors did too.  But I had more versions to offer the calendar editors....which made their job so much harder!


  2) In this version the house was set up in a corner of my rock garden. When the sun came around thru the trees overhead, it lit up this little corner with lots of color, so it seemed like a good spot to tuck in this house for another shoot. This time, the little footbridge was added to guide the eye towards the front door. The calendar editors liked this version as well... but wait! There's more!


 3) In this setting I had ventured again up into the mountains to one of my favorite little lakes and I discovered a fallen birch log on the edge of the lake that was a gorgeous setting in the early autumn sun. The log was narrow so I had to build a little moss-covered platform big enough to hold the house. I added a few twigs with fresh birch leaves that had turned a glorious gold color to help separate the foreground from the background. The two fungi are natural and were growing on the tree branch as it sat over the water.

   I had to do some acrobatic antics to hold a reflective device AND click the camera (which was on a tripod in the water) because the house was lit too strongly from the side by the bright sunshine which meant that the front of the house disappeared into dark shadow. The reflective device is a big circular hoop with fabric stretched over it that is used to bounce light into shadow areas. But in the slightest breeze it is a handful to hold as it is nearly 5 ft in diameter. So taking this shot involved getting the focus right in the camera, then setting the timer, and while the 10 seconds were counting off, getting the reflector positioned properly before the shutter released....phew!  I take a LOT of photos because most of them are not so great given all the variables....but when it DOES work..... AHHhhhhhhhhh......

And finally, before the snow began to fall, I had one more place to take this house for a late autumn shoot.


  4)  During this session, Derek Muirden was shooting some video for his Mountain Lake PBS story on the book's release and we found this gorgeous little setting in the late October sun right beside the road near my home. I had brought with me some colorful leaves and had found the red berries in a nearby swamp. The ferns were some miniature ones I had from my windowsill garden. It all worked out beautifully and my poor editor now had to decide which ONE photo to use in her calendar selection. You'll have to wait to see which one she picked!  :-)

  Now, I have a special request of you. In Amazon, one of the online places where my book is selling, there have been a few people who have written some "negative" comments. It is rather unfortunate that people who don't understand what this book is about go ahead and order it and then give the book bad reviews because it was not what they were looking for. This isn't exactly fair to my book but I cannot change or remove the reviews once they are made. One lady didn't understand what the book was and also managed to order two copies, which she did not want. Her disappointment then got transferred into a "negative" review of my book and sadly, those low ratings drag down what had been a high rating. So, I need your help if you have the time.

  The book needs some more positive reviews with more stars in the reviews to help lift the total ratings up. If you have the chance to do this, I would be very grateful. If you happen to live in the US, send me a link to your review and I will send you something. You don't have to write much, just a single line will do but the important bit is the number of stars you select for your rating as these stars are then averaged to get the total star rating we see at the top of the page. Thank you so very much in advance to anyone who can take a few minutes to help me out. 

    I will have more examples of houses in multiple settings to share with you in future posts so stay tuned! But for now, I'm getting ready to go make some artwork for and with the solar eclipse that is coming on Monday. Where I live we will not get a total eclipse this time (but we will in 2024) so I am looking forward to seeing crescent-shaped sun dapples during the peak event. I plan to do some land art to celebrate the special moment....if any good photos come of it, I'll share them here with you, of course! I hope that anyone living near the path of totality will make the effort to go and see this rare event. The last time I saw a total eclipse was when I was a teenager and it was an incredible experience....don't miss it even if you have to travel an hour or two...it is well worth it!
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.