July 31, 2014
“Simple pleasures feed our essential selves: listening to music, being outdoors, seeing a loved face at the door, laughing all the way, knowing we did our best work, wearing clothes softened by age, reading all day, watching a flight of wild geese, running for home, and breathing deeply. . . . Such soul food has been at our fingertips all along. We overlook ‘ordinary’ joys completely when we overextend our reach into the world of things.”
— Marietta McCarty, How Philosophy Can Save Your Life: 10 Ideas That Matter Most
July 29, 2014
I was inspired to embellish a couple of plain envelopes with little watercolor sketches after seeing a display of envelopes by Mikisaburo Izui at the Bellevue Arts Museum. The envelopes were included in an exhibit of arts and crafts created by Japanese Americans in the internment camps of 1942 – 1946. The exhibit is called“The Art of Gaman.” The concept of Gaman is “to endure the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity.”
I am drawn to the Japanese way of imbuing a sense of grace and beauty in everyday, ordinary things. It takes time and attentiveness and a calm mind, I think, to live in this way. The exhibit at the Bellevue Arts Museum shows that this sensibility did not break under the unfair and harsh conditions of the internment camps. The art created during this time was remarkable and inspiring.
On those now rare occasions when I mail a handwritten letter, I plan to take just a little extra time to embellish the envelope with a watercolor sketch. My small attempt to add a grace note to someone’s day.
Yesterday I travelled by bus across Lake Washington to see the origami exhibit at the Bellevue Arts Museum, which is an easy stroll from the Bellevue Transit Center. The exhibit, “Folding Paper: Infinite Possibilities of Origami,” runs through September 21st. I love papercraft of all kinds, and this exhibit showcases the intricacies and magic of folded paper. Many of the pieces on display were constructed from a single sheet of paper. I can’t begin to comprehend the vision, engineering skills, and artistry needed to create such amazing art objects. I was astounded and delighted by these imaginative works.
I learned that paper folding has real-life applications that go way beyond creating art objects. Scientists who want to transport large objects, like sun shields or telescope lenses, into space might engineer a folded apparatus to save space during the haul, only to be unfolded at its destination in space. Or doctors might transport tiny folded repair materials through a blood vessel, to be unfolded and applied as a heart stent. Think of the miraculous properties of the air bags in your car — another piece of origami-like engineering.
You can read more about the origami in this exhibit in a book, Folding Paper: The Infinite Possibilities of Origami by Meher McArthur and Robert J. Lang.
July 23, 2014
Sunday’s “Let’s Sketch Bay View” gave a few of us the added pleasure of a mini-garden tour by Ed Epps. He and Mary have garden plots on all sides of their home, with plenty of places to pause and enjoy the variety of colors, patterns, and natural forms.
Rarely have I seen such exuberant variety in a garden. Ed seems drawn to all manner of flowers and plants — from the odd voodoo lily, to the uniquely colored chrysanthemum ‘bright eyes,’ or to the more traditional sweet peas and poppies. Something lovely is always in bloom, and each plant is worthy of joyful attention.
Ed and Mary’s garden exhibits all manner of things done well, but surpassing all is the celebration of foliage. The foliage provides its own beauty in the variety of colors, textures, and structures it displays. I was particularly taken with the jagged-leaf melianthus, whose early leafings are folded like intricate origami (another of Ed’s interests), and whose mature leaves bring intriguing spikiness to the garden beds.
I was also most impressed with the many ways Ed incorporated chocolate browns, deep dark purples, and (almost) blacks into the foliage and flowers of the garden. It made me wonder if a chocolate garden, similar to Vita Sackville-West’s white garden, could be executed in an exciting way. I imagine cafe au lait dahlias and black leaf dahlias combined with . . . what else? Ed would be the one to pull this off, I’m sure.
Thank you again, Ed and Mary, for opening your private gardens for the participants of Sunday’s “Let’s Sketch Bay View.”
July 22, 2014
Sunday’s trip to Padilla Bay was my second excursion there. Years ago my daughter and I took a bookmaking class at the Breazeale Interpretive Center. This time I spent an hour or so exploring the grounds. There is a short path, past multi-colored grasses, to a beach overlook. A spiral staircase takes you down to the beach. The tide was out, exposing acres of mudflats, pebbly stretches at the high tide line, and eel grass.
Next I explored the Upland Trail through meadows and woods. Quite a sampling of varied habitats in s small area!
The next time I visit, I plan to walk the Padilla Bay Shore Trail, a dike path along the estuary.
July 21, 2014
Yesterday I participated in an outdoor sketching event in the Skagit Valley, “Let’s Sketch Bay View,” hosted by Edna [Breazeale]‘s Neighbors. Bay View is a village on the shores of Padilla Bay, an estuary near Anacortes, WA. Artists were invited to draw, paint and sketch from a choice of sites including the Breazeale Interpretive Center and its trails and grounds, Bay View State Park, and the Bay View community. Several residents opened their private gardens to sketchers as well.
Any day is a good day if it finds me with a paintbrush in my hands, especially after a too long break from sketching. I found a comfortable spot in Ed and Mary Epps’ garden where there was a wealth of natural subjects. It was a time for meeting a special group of friends and kindred spirits with whom I originally crossed paths because of this blog. What a talented and fun group they are! Sometimes I am floored by the miracle of friendship.
“Let’s Sketch Bay View” was well organized and the planning resulted in an atmosphere that was welcoming to artists of all skill levels. Informal, yet productive. At the end of the afternoon the participants met up at the Breazeale Interpretive Center to share their work, mingle, and enjoy cookies and lemonade. Community and art-making — a convivial combination.
For another look at the day of sketching, follow this link to the Anacortes Sketcher’s blog.
July 13, 2014
“Mid-July comes and the palette of blossoms shifts to hotter colors, as if in their vividness they were reflecting the sun.”
— Verlyn Klinkenborg, More Scenes from the Rural Life
I saw some evidence of vibrancy in the flower fields at Jello Mold Farm this past week. The deep reds and oranges of the crocosmia, poppies, and sneezeweed glowed in their jeweled presence. And the sunny yellow sunflowers were starting to burst into bloom.