January 31, 2012

Stalling and Stoking the Fire

We actually got some snow a few weeks ago.  It was a mere fragment of the rough winter the weather people had been predicting for us for this year but enough to transform our garden gnome, the David Crosby lookalike we picked up in Le Conner WA some years back, into a masked bandit.  

It seemed like a good time to hole up inside and do some reading so I've been indulging my fascination for history.  It's like a series of endless doors: once I open one, there's always a new one waiting.  It began with the brief snapshot of the Celts in one of the Czech radio broadcasts I now listen to while I carve my blocks.  Really, you can't go anywhere in fledgling European history without stumbling across the Celts so I did too. Totally intrigued by the reverence for (and worship of) nature by these people, I gave several weeks over to studying everything I could find out about them.  

Then I came to the Slavs, similar in many ways and also very much tied to a nature-influenced faith.  Maybe there's some truth to our being influenced by where we're born and maybe all those old folk tales and myths I cut my reading teeth on have left their mark.  Whatever the reason, the idea of natural elements containing something beyond that of the visible world really resonates with me.  Of course, I recognize that the same reverence for nature is also inherent in the myths and legends of the native/indigenous people of North America and in the aboriginal societies in other parts of the world but, because I was born in Europe, it's the European version that has a greater pull on me. 

Alongside with this, I've been dipping my toes into the study of alchemy and of some of the symbolism there.  In some ways, there's a lot of overlap between this and the ancient nature-worship because the natural forces play such a huge role in alchemy as well.  There's really so much more to it beyond the worn-out images of mad scientists in dusty laboratories but, in the most simplistic terms, what it comes down to for me is, again, seeing the hidden essence of something beyond the ordinary and transforming it into something tangible.  

Anyway, this is where my mind's been at.  So much so, that I feel this huge pull to somehow bring some of these concepts into my work.  Except I haven't yet figured out how yet. I started a journal for some of the main Alchemical concepts and am hoping ideas will come from this.  

And I'm waiting.  Feeding ideas into the idea cauldron, waiting for something to bubble up.  That in itself can be likened to an alchemical process but I won't get into that now.  In the meantime, I'm taking the easy way out and the print I'm working on now is number four in the nursery rhyme series.  The first two stages are here:

I'll keep my fingers crossed that by the time I finish it, the idea cauldron will deliver....

January 11, 2012

Welcoming New Beginnings

Well, two weeks into January and I'm still thinking about what I'd like to accomplish this year. It's true that each new day, regardless when it is, can be seen as a clean slate. But I like the symbolism of the new year stretching out unmarked ahead of me. And, while I don't necessarily think of them as "resolutions", I believe goals are important. One of my favourite phrases in the I Ching is: "it's good to have somewhere to go". To me that pretty much says it all but, because I'm one of these people who like structure, I want a road map to look at whether I'm going on a road trip or navigating life. 
Lately though, I'm starting to consider I might be just a bit too attached to the idea of order and could use some spontaneity here and there. Because while some rules are crucial to getting along in society, and some rules exist because they represent the most efficient way to do something, if rules never got broken, or boundaries stretched, there would be no innovation and we'd still be in the dark ages. 
Along those lines, one of my goals for this coming year is to be more impulsive, to listen to my instincts more, and to be less bound by the structures I've imposed upon myself in the past. I have a feeling that developing some more flexibility might not be a bad idea anyway, particularly as the world we're living in seems to become more and more volatile. Agility, in all ways, seems like a good skill to develop.
Beyond this, I'd of course like to think I'll make more time for myself and my creative pursuits this year but, without wanting to sound negative, I'm not sure that will happen. Not with the demands of family and work which, the situation with my parents being what it is, are becoming greater. So, instead, I've decided to work more on learning to accept things as they are (given that changing them is not possible without more sacrifices than I'm willing to make) and not get so resentful when things don't work out as perfectly as I want. I know it's always a matter of perspective but I don't always remember it so I'm going to work on that. And yes, on my printmaking as well and I've started on a new print so hopefully I'll have some pictures to show soon. 
For now, I hope everyone's had a wonderful and hopeful start to the new year and that the changes 2012 brings are positive ones.