Sunday, August 2, 2015

St. Elizabeth Sketch

Last Thursday Christina and I biked through Norwood and then stopped to sketch St. Elizabeth church.  The church was built in 1903 and is a stunning structure.  It was sold in 1995 to Vineyard Central and they now offer services, but you can also rent it for weddings, concerts, and camps.  From the photos I saw on their website, the interior is just as amazing as the outside.  I hope someday I get to see the inside.

I found this website that had some beautiful writing by Eric Hansen about this church.

"She has eight large stained glass windows, two rose windows, and two strained glass domes, all combining to let in a subtle natural light. She is also in a state of disrepair. The roof leaked – and was allowed to leak – for several years. She has had severe water damage, and large patches of plaster have come off the walls. Brick columns are exposed, like underlying bones.

Elaine and I attend Vineyard Central services there.  I am convinced St. E’s is a Sacred Space. She is for me and Elaine, and she seems to be sacred to others as well. Visitors are always moved by her beauty and brokenness and (perhaps) feel the presence of God within her surround."

If you would like to visit this church it is at the corner of Mills and Carter in Norwood, Ohio.  You can see Christina's awesome sketch here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Reed & Stone

Last week I decided to make my friend Margot a belated birthday gift.  She is very crafty herself and I wanted to make her something handmade so I thought I would have a go at wrapping rocks with basket material.  I have literally been collecting rocks for years and have jars and jars full of them.  Plus I used to be a basket maker and have a plethora of unused reed that has not seen the light of day since we moved here twelve years ago.

I have had this idea in my head since I saw the work of Del Webber on (if you haven't visited Elsa Mora's website you must go!).  Del's craftsmanship is amazing and I would love to learn how to do some of the more complicated wrapping techniques.

As you can see below I ended up making three so far, but hopefully this is only the beginning.  I would like to experiment with working in metal pieces or buttons.

I also loved photographing these.  Everything came together perfectly.  I have owned (and never used) these place mats for years and my mom had just given us a flower arrangement for our anniversary that included chrysanthemums.  It is so much fun to arrange all the elements and to see how they interact and come together to create something totally new.  Also, the light on the back porch was lovely and although you can't hear it through the photos, cicadas were singing in the background.  The photo below is one of my favorites...maybe because it reminds me of a piece of sushi.

As I was weaving around the rock below it reminded me of making God's eyes when I was young.  I can still picture my awkward and wonky creation hanging on the family room wall.  I think it hung there for decades.

I usually like to end with a quote but I couldn't find anything that perfectly suited this post so I wrote a short poem.

Around smooth stones
I spin cocoons
The stone and I transform

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Oyster Mushrooms

Last weekend when I went to the farmer's market I fell in love...with a mushroom.  We were standing in line at the mushroom stand and as we were waiting for the person in front of us to finish their purchase I spied it from afar.  Some times when I see something I really like I have to look away.  I think, "No, I couldn't have seen what I just thought I saw."  And then I peak back to look again.  "Oh my gosh!  I think it really is something that is so exquisitely beautiful it gives me butterflies in my stomach!"  And that is what happened last weekend. 

As I scanned all the mushrooms lying on the table before us there was one that was so stunning I couldn't believe our luck!  I started to feel nervous about the person in front of us..."What if they buy MY mushroom?  How could they not notice the treasure that lay right before their eyes?  "What if they decide to buy it at the last second?"  I let out a sigh of relief when they finally walked away and we approached the table.  When George asked me which one I wanted I pretended to non-nonchalantly point out the most incredible mushrooms on the table.  The mushroom vendor put it in a bag for us.

When I got home I was busy with other things and it was several hours later before I had time to find the camera.  When I found the brown bag I thought, "Oh, it probably wasn't as awesome as I had imagined it to be."  But when I pulled it out of the bag I was not disappointed. 

At first I thought it was one giant mushroom, but it was actually two mushrooms back to back.  As I took them apart I marveled at the lovely forms.  As I looked at the brown mushroom I couldn't help but think this mushroom was a masterpiece of asymmetrical balance.  When you looked at it straight down it formed a round mass composed of perfectly spaced stalks that appeared to emerge from the one below.  And each stalk was formed of thin vertical "gill" lines punctuated by a thick brown horizontal "cap" line.  The play between the vertical and horizontal repetition and scale blew me away.  And the effect of so many stalks reaching skyward gave the effect of joyful, repetitious exuberance.

As I flitted about the porch moving things around to get the right light and fretting about aperture and shutter speed, my neighbor John and husband George were forced to listen to me "ooh" and "aah" over our fungi bounty.  But I think they too saw what amazing objects these mushrooms were.  And I even coaxed John into being my hand model.

Shortly after the photo shoot George took the mushrooms in to make dinner.  He made a lovely oyster mushroom pasta meal that was super delicious.  Oh, and I forgot to say that we signed up to be part of a mushroom CSA.  So every week for the rest of the summer we will be getting mushrooms!  If you are interested in signing up you can visit the Probasco Farms facebook page and contact the owner, Alan Susarret.  There is an article about his business here.

I hope you can forgive me for including too many photos in the post but I couldn't help myself.  What's a girl in love supposed to do?

Monday, July 6, 2015

Cincinnati City Hall Sketch

I had a great time on the fourth of July sketching with my dad.  I have been pestering him for a while now to go with me and we finally made it happen last weekend.  We wanted to go to Findlay market so I picked Cincinnati's City Hall because it was close.  After we sat down and started sketching we both realized that this was no easy building to sketch.  Whoever the architect was, they must have been mad or brilliant or both!  There are unusual jut-outs and the number of windows groupings changes all over the place.  If you have never seen this building in person it is well worth a trip downtown.

When we got back to the house we put on some nice music and inked and colored our sketches on the back porch.  I think my dad enjoyed it and I thought his sketch turned out awesome!  I love his bold colors and lines.  Hopefully this will be the first of many sketching outings with Poppy.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Krohn Conservatory Sketchbook

I am excited to announce the Krohn Conservatory will be selling mini-sketchbooks with a sketch I did on the cover.  The sketchbook folds to a 5 1/4'' square and will be sold in their gift shop.  This sketch is one I did with Christina Wald and Amy Bogard about a year ago.  You can see the whole sketch here.  Sketching is a great way to enjoy the Krohn.  I think it helps one to slow down and really see the plants and animals.  So if you visit bring your pencil and paper or buy a sketchbook!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Taft Ale House Sketch

Last Friday Christina Wald and I went sketching at the Taft Ale House.  It was a rainy day so we decided to sketch inside.  If you haven't been to this rehabbed old church made into a restaurant/bar then you need to go.  The renovation is quite stunning (you can see photos here).  I enjoyed their attention to all the details from the wallpaper, to the chandeliers, and even the toilet paper holders. 

Their logo is of Taft sitting in a bath tub.  If you don't know the story, Taft was a rather large man and may have gotten stuck in the White House bathtub.  An extra wide bath tub was also requested for him on his trip at sea on the USS North Carolina (more info here about these stories).  The logo for the restaurant depicts Taft in a bathtub holding a glass of beer.  You can visit their website to see their logo plus their food and drink menus. All in all a very nice way to spend a rainy afternoon.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Miami Whitewater

If you live in Cincinnati and have never taken the Miami Whitewater bike trail then you are missing out.  And the same might be said if you take the bike trail and never get off your bike, which is what I normally do.  But last time I went I let myself stop more often and I was literally "pulled over" several times by some amazing plants like the nodding thistle above. 

I know many of the plants in this blog entry are considered invasive weeds but that doesn't mean that I won't marvel at their form and structure.  The prickly, large head of the thistle in the photo above is really quite remarkable in its compact boldness.  And the many-armed star-burst structure of the wild parsnip below is also striking, but in a totally different diffuse and airy way.

About two-thirds of the way around the bike path there is a picnic table where we usually stop to take a break.  There is a horse trail that runs behind it and as I walked along the path the color, symmetry, and elegance of this spiderwort (an Ohio native) caught my eye. 

“The women loved everything that grew on God's earth, even weeds.
She knew that even the weeds were capable of doing miracles she never could.”
- Emily Flim

Some of the wild parnsips (above) grow quite tall.  This one was about my height.  I love the repetition of form and scale in this plant.

The plantago below is certainly considered a weed by most everyone.  But there was something so lovely about its ephemeral, white tutu and riotous bloomers that I had to take its photo. 

I am always in awe of what I see when I slow down.  And I think this applies whether one is on a bike ride, a walk or just going about one's day. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

"Spring"field Antique Show

Last month I went to the "Spring"field Antique Extravaganza with my parents.  I usually take a zillion photos but this time I only took one.  I didn't think I was going to post it but I fell in love with this rusty, orange beauty.  Plus, I couldn't resist the pun.

I also usually buy my share of little knick-knacky items but below was my only purchase.  Well I should say my mom's only purchase for me.  It will replace the particle board drawing table I drug up from the basement.  A definite improvement I must say.  Thank you mom!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Art Exhibitions

I am so excited to be participating in two juried exhibitions this month!  The first exhibit is the Zanesville Museum of Art's 71st Ohio Annual Exhibition.  And the second is the Art Comes Alive show that will take place here in Cincinnati.  If you are interested in attending either exhibit see below and click the link to the exhibit pages.

 71st Annual Ohio Exhibition at the Zanesville Museum of Art
June 11- Aug 21
620 Military Rd.
Zanesville, OH 43701

Art Comes Alive
June 20- July 24
310 Culvert St., 5th floor
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

California Retreat

Last week I went to a meditation retreat in California.  The nice thing about traveling to the west coast from Ohio is that it is easy to wake up early and for this night owl the morning light is quite a treat.  Every morning before breakfast I took a nice stroll with my camera.  The first day I didn't go very far because I was obsessed by how the sun was hitting the weeds along the road.  I sat down to photograph the pineapple weed below and then noticed the clover next to me.  In every direction I looked, the light was hitting every thing in the most spectacular way!  

I thought about doing a whole post just about the pineapple weed above and took dozens of photos of it.  I love the way the light illuminated the conical lime green orbs. 

At least once a day I took the dirt road in the photo above and ended up at the oak tree below.  One day I tried to have a rest against it and ants crawled all over me.  I had to strip down to my skivvies and give everything a good shake.  Luckily it was just me and the wild turkeys doing our dance.

I was also quite impressed by the size and beauty of pine cones along the road.  And I felt lucky every time I found a "star" dandelion like the one below.

I also have to mention the amazing colors of the muscle-red wood and peeling bark of the manzanita tree above.  Every one of the manzanitas had such character and strength - maybe from living in such a dry environment.

My friend Jodi and I also found lots of oak galls on our walks.  They reminded me of the Japanese art form of creating shiny balls of earth and water called Dorodango (check it out it is awesome!), although I prefer the cracked, earthy appearance of the galls.  If I made mud balls I would want them to look like this.

After a week of soaking in all this beauty and sitting in meditation I realized that the mystery both surrounds us and lies within us.  Whether you prefer looking out or in, it doesn't matter...but look at it...notice it...for it permeates everything... everywhere... at all times... if we only have eyes to see it.

"After chopping through dense salal and hacking off ironwood bushes for an hour or so, I stopped, exhausted. I found myself standing motionless, intensely aware of all of the life around me, the breathing moss, the chattering birds, the living earth. I was as much a part of the woods as any millipede or cedar tree. At that moment, too, I was aware of the mystery." -Margaret D. McGee

"Existence is a mystery.  We aren't here to solve the mystery...we are only here to see that we are the mystery." - Matt Kahn