This year I want to create more, and consume less. I am a somewhat reformed magpie in terms of material stuff, but I want to address other kinds of consumption -- my constant nose diving into the national news for instance. It’s an addiction that is chomping into my creative life as I scramble to look at the news each morning. My husband is a writer, and pulled me out of this self sabotage by sharing a snippet from a recent interview.Read More
For several years my husband and I have hosted a writer's residency from May to October/November for established writers on our property called Aspen Words Catch and Release...Read More
I am a wildflower stalker, albeit a haphazard one. My dedication falters when learning proper nomenclature. My mother started me on this path when I was a child. We hiked in the same hills where I now live --the Colorado Rockies -- and before each hike she would load the nylon hunter orange drawstring backpack with sunscreen, sandwiches ,water bottles, army surplus rain ponchos and always, always the battered, thumbed wildflower guidebook. The sandwiches would be smashed and inedible by lunchtime but we weren't allowed to complain. How could we with those views, these mountains, that meadow of flowers?
My mother taught me all the quaint names -- bread and butter, monkshood, elephant pagoda, false sunflower and Indian paintbrush. We had to stop on each hike and peer at flowers and ponder their identification. Of course she was also teaching us reverence, but I only cottoned on to this as an adult. Now it's karmic payback as my own kids suffer my abrupt roadside pullovers to snap a photo for later identification. In their minds, I think the needle of my eccentric scale is now well beyond unusual and has leaned into embarrassing.
But the bottom line is that my mother slowed me down and taught me how to look, really look and notice the ant on the stamen, or how the wind moved the leaves on a stem or how to be astonished by how many hues one blossom can capture. She developed my artists's eye as we explored the natural world. Someday I will get to thank her.
I have different hats; I'm a mother, I'm a woman, I'm a human being, I'm an artist and hopefully I'm an advocate. All of those plates are things I spin all the time. Annie Lennox
I have always loved hats.
Years ago I shared a studio space with two tweaked women in Soho. Their collective level of imbalance was hard to handle and at times I had to flee when they were both present in our joint space. I would walk through Soho to regain equilibrium and stumbled on a wonderful store called The Hat Shop.
As I tried on one hat on after another, the exceptionally stylish proprietress Linda Pagan (she is often snapped by street style curator-at-large Bill Cunningham,) and I started to chat, and instantly fell into step.
She then placed a particularly fetching felt hat -- reminiscent of Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca --on my head, and said : “You know, men really do love hats.”
I walked out with that hat--and a new friendship. She taught me that wearing a hat is not just a practical part of your wardrobe, but essential to the creative spirit. She believed that a worthy hat carves space around its wearer, marking her as an individual in a crowd. And she is a testimony to this belief in her own life. She travels on a shoestring to remote pockets of the world, is a voracious reader and is curious about everything. She eschews status fashion and shops at flea markets and vintage sales -- her signature style is an art all its own.
When we moved to Colorado, I saw less of good friends like Linda but kept my hat habits and collection. I soon learned that large hats give way to baseball caps in mountain towns. Some people think my big hats quaint, and still others think I live in another century. Only my dermatologist gets excited about my sombrero addiction.Every spring I visit a local and very talented milliner and get a new hat for the upcoming sun season -- either for stepping out on the town, or strictly for rugged outdoor rambling. Together we pick out the trimmings, decide on brim width and style, and she transforms the raw straws into portable works of art a couple of weeks later.
Isabella Blow said it best:” I don't use a hat as a prop. I use it as a part of me.”
Just living is not enough....one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower. Hans Christian Andersen
The gardening catalogues are clogging up our post box and I am daydreaming about my gardening future. I’m beginning to feel the earth move under my feet, even through a foot of snow.
Conservation InternationaI's "I need nature" campaign is a household hit, and our kids love the celebrity takes on various "personalities" of our natural world. The film shorts make a compelling reason for why we all should be conservationists.
My favorite features Lupita Nyongo and makes me long for my flowers, the Mojo Garden (our garden) and summer. You can find Lupita as flower below, but don’t miss PenelopeCruz as water either.
I avoid the term "bucket list. " It's just too hackneyed and the word bucket is not visually compelling enough for me. But I am an inveterate list maker. I keep To Do lists. To Be lists. To Go lists. To Read lists. Painting Title lists. Quote lists. Good Song Title lists. Potential Dog Name lists. To Fix lists (this one encompasses the spiritual and the mechanical.) And the Artist Residency list.
Attending a residency is still years away, but we host our own writer’s residency with Aspen Words: http://www.aspenwords.org/about/history. We don't have extra studio space to accommodate fine artists, but since writers' needs are more streamlined, we provide space for a handful of writers every year. We turned a former rental apartment into a writing retreat, and the writers-in-residence stay in a bucolic setting in Colorado. Aspen Words handles all administration, such as the selection process, the parameters for applicants and all other quotidian details. Our job is much easier. From May to November, a published author, poet or playwright with a looming deadline arrives to a full refrigerator and works in solitude for a month. Every now and then a dog will stop by for a visit or the resident will come up for air and join us for dinner. But they are guaranteed peace and quiet, and they get it.
Despite their popularity, the notion of -- and need for -- artist residencies is still a fugitive concept to many outside of the creative realm or to those who support more mainstream philanthropy. Space and solitude are essential ingredients to creative process. Artist residencies provide this opportunity to work and retreat from the constant tug of the outside world. At least temporarily. There have been many benefits to our own venture, not the least of which is meeting so many dynamic, wonderful and engaged writers. We are more passionate than ever about artist residencies and the need for them in this increasingly frantic world.
The variety is endless – there are the established and famous residencies like Yaddo http://www.yaddo.org; the McDowell Colony http://www.macdowellcolony.org; Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture http://www.skowheganart.org; the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown http://web.fawc.org/program or Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts http://www.bemiscenter.org. The competition is fierce for these alpha residencies (and those are just a few), but there are many others, including the quieter and more obscure ones (like ours) that serve one artist at a time and are not year round. Many of these can be found in a comprehensive list for all disciplines at the Alliance for Artist Communities. Their mission: “The Alliance gives a collective voice on behalf of its members, small and large, that leverages support for the field as a whole; promotes successful practices in the field; and advocates for creative environments that support the work of today's artists.”
Their website: http://www.artistcommunities.org