Friday, June 23, 2023

Summer Solstice!

Gardens are an everyday refuge from the speed of life we flow into when work, family care, and myriad responsibilities fill up the hours and days of our lives.  This beautiful moment was captured by my friend, Robyn Bluemmel, author of :

Native Plant Spirit Medicine Wisdom.

Robyn sent this as a Solstice Greeting and it made me think, most especially, about heart-based friendships and how that might relate to the unique significance of bees. Soon after Robyn's message came, my friend Randall Stuart of Upon These Boards send this card created by artist Danielle Barlow. 

Then I really started wondering about the message from Bees that my friends were sharing with me.  So, I did a little re-oogling (google research) and found this insight about the spiritual significance of Bees by The Local Mystic, Sierra Vandervort:

As spiritual allies, bees often serve as wise guardians. They represent characteristics of innovation, creativity, wisdom, community, and love. If you find yourself often crossing paths with bees in nature or in your dreams, it could be a sign that you’re yearning for a change. Bees are often remembered for their hard-working spirit, so dreaming of bees could be a spiritual yearning for more progress in your life. 

...Ultimately, bees symbolize a need to find deeper alignment, whether that’s in our jobs, with our loved ones, or with ourselves.  (click HERE read the full article)

I'm going to take these messages to heart and feel deep gratitude for nurturing friendships and the communities that hold us in life: plant, animal, human and spirit beings - all part of the greater family.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Finding Poddo

If you draw, you probably have sketchbooks filled with moments captured in pencil and ink. I grew up in a family of artists so it seemed a very natural pastime. My early professional work, however, was in 3-D fabrication and is actually a more natural expression of my nature, essential when I designed and created sculptural costumes, fibre art, sets, props and museum exhibits. But through the years, I often kept a sketchbook to jot down ideas or render a brief sketch. Lately I've been developing some of those sketches to see what kind of children's stories they might want to be a part of.

PODDO (below) is a good example. At first I though he was a meanie, but as he evolved I see him as a funny little being who grows potatoes (his favorite food), is a bit clumsy, has a ready smile and perhaps doesn't always think ahead - then again, he might just be absentminded because he’s always percolating his latest invention. As you can see, I scanned the image in my sketchbook and began to develop it in Procreate. Now that I see a more realized vision of him, I can begin the story-making process - which always starts with asking questions:
  • Why is he holding that flower so gleefully? Can Poddo hear without ears?
  • Where and how did he get the flower? Did he pick it? Find it? Buy it?
  • Does it belong to someone else? Did it call out to him? Did it tumble from above?
  • Is the flower special in some way? Magic? Dangerous? Rare?
  • Is it a gift for someone? Who? Why?

I love having this kind of interrogative dialogue with a character and it's a very natural way for me to work. As an educator I've facilitated the creation of many stories using variations of this interactive process. I wonder what Poddo’s story will be? Do you have ideas for Poddo? Click below in the comment area ( click on comment to bring up the comment box) to share them. Or visit Poddo’s page to add your ideas HERE.

Saturday, June 17, 2023

A Tool for Artists...?

As a children's book illustrator I'm always on the lookout for source material that can help me generate ideas during the thumbnail phase of a project. Photoshop Beta now allows a bit of AI experimentation so I thought I'd give it a try. Below you'll see a photo I took at a wetland near me. The second image is that same photo with AI additions. This could be helpful when experimenting with illustration layouts, physical poses and background detail. I'm not a fan yet, but I can see the possibilities.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Waking Up


The long season of Covid has changed many things in our world. There are moments when I find myself dipping down into a well of blurry despair - masked by frustration - as I listen to the silly words being spoken by bellicose politicians who really are . . . Asleep.  Why else would they be wandering so blindly into the mud of propaganda-us/them-rhetoric and give their support to oppressive, deceitful behavior? Why else do they plunder the rights of others so blithely? Why else would they stand behind the absurd litany of thought-controlling actions that bans books, and women's rights and voter's rights and human rights, and denies children the simple right to go to school without fear? 

It's time for the human race to awaken and embrace the real challenges in our world, to listen to one another and work together to harvest the bountiful energies of love, compassion, understanding-and hope-created when we act for the good of all.

Home Farm

It's June, again, in Oregon. I live on a home farm in a sleepy neighborhood nestled into NE Portland called "Cully."  Here are a couple of snapshots from the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)  Home Farm where I live.  The farmers, Brendon and Lilly (and friends), just launched their first "official" CSA season.

The land is owned by a wonderful family who’ve planted pear, peach, and apple trees, and blueberries, marionberries, raspberries, and grapes, as well as many varieties of flowering plants. It’s a little oasis in the city where every month or so, live music drifts out of the music barn and into the evening sky for the pleasure of those nearby.