This morning, January 1st, I sit at our dining room table looking out onto the desert landscape. The January sunshine brightens the hills and Joshua Trees beyond the fence.
The desert landscape can be harsh and yet peacefully soothing in a crowded world. During recent years, I have been especially grateful for the solace of the open paths in a natural setting.
Wow! 2024 lies ahead of us! As I typed the date in a new computer file, I was struck. So…at this traditional time to reflect and make future plans, my heart and soul are filled with appreciation for the past year and relatively empty landscape lying ahead of me. My path at the moment is uncluttered, and I am hopeful about a few markers ahead: visits with our grown children, a couple of art shows and vague travel plans.
I wish to keep my inner critic positive. I can be quick to judge and complain a bit. The opportunity to encourage other artists and friends has been a joy. I want to linger on that path.
This morning the “cha-ching” of an Etsy sale informed me that the last of my Paris Sketchbook Calendars sold! (There are still three, I believe, at a local gift shop, Rainbow Stew). What a delight this activity has been! This was my 6th France Sketchbook calendar with the first in 2018 shared with family and friends. My intention is to begin painting early for the 2025 calendar. This year’s calendar is filled with sketches made in Paris in October 2023.
A few of my paintings completed in 2023
My decades in the desert have informed my art, and I will continue to paint what I know well, Joshua Trees and native shrubs that I see daily—in the glow of sunrise and sunset and the myriad of weather conditions. Time away from teaching has given me an appreciation for the angle of the sun shifting slightly each day. With amazement, I remember how Úrsula Buendía, the old woman in 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, hid her blindness by shifting her chair in minute increments each day to face the sunlight.
I have an enormous new bucket of gesso and quite a few new canvases. Landscape visions dance in my head! I also love painting people, and I am participating in a Faces & Friends show at the Beatnik Lounge Joshua Tree. (My work below is the upper right- seated portrait of our daughter.)
In December, I was delighted and surprised to be featured in a Los Angeles publication, Shoutout LA in December. You can read the interview here.
As I enter 2024, I contemplate paths – and aren’t we all reminded of Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken:
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
I often turn to Scripture for wisdom. This week’s reading of John 9 (healing of the blind man) led me to the following insights:
How can you boost the arts in your community?
I recently learned of the demise of our local high school’s music department. We all know how visual arts have been undersupported in schools and recent years have not been friendly to group activities. Two of our most popular art galleries, Josua Tree Art Gallery and Gallery 62, closed this year. On a positive note a new art association, Hi-Desert Artists, is in the birthing process. I am pledging to continue to foster local artists and projects.
Ongoing Zoom Gatherings
I continue to lead weekly Zoom groups. Cross pollination of art ideas lifts our creativity and development – and moods! The option to meet at home with others from different locations is a true silver lining! I also signed up for a 30 day online writing challenge with Erin Gafill and Tom Burningham who led our Tuscany Retreat last fall-what a treasured gathering!
Desert Calendars available
A few of my Joshua Tree and Raven calendars are still available at my Etsy Shop and at local stores: Cactus Mart, Rainbow Stew, Soul Connection and Raven’s Book Shoppe. I have been honored to sell my calendars and artwork in these lovely shops owned by wonderful friends!
Encourage /look for ways to help
My challenge to you is to encourage (or keep encouraging) others, as an intention. A popular French greeting at this time of year is “Bonnes Intentions” - rather than resolutions. Whatever your stage in life, there are those who will benefit greatly from your enthusiasm: young children, loved ones, grumpy neighbors, fellow artists, the less fortunate in your community. If this is hard for you, just select one or two to greet more often this year, perhaps visit and to help in a very small way. A little cheer and support go a long way. Encourage your artist friends, too!
Let me leave you with a wonderful podcast by my friend, Krystal Kenney, which has a good discussion on support of the arts. I love how France supports artists and the contagious attitude of the interviewee, Josiah Woodson, about sharing and collaborating with other artists! It ends with a lovely jazz number! La Vie Creative Episode 384!
EP 384: Josiah Woodson: Grammy award winning artist and multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire
Wishing you the best!
Inspired by all of you,
January 2024 marks 6 years of blogging about creativity, well-being and encouragement. Thank you to the many who have visited my website! I welcome comments and questions.
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