A glorious thing to behold after a week of fog and drizzle.  We shook our feathers.  We fluffed our fur.  We crunched our way through a frosty hayfield and watched the starling glimmer in the wind.

http://www.thenoisyplume.com/blog/2018/01/16/13527/

…just clearing the last of the projects from 2017 off the bench.

http://www.thenoisyplume.com/blog/2018/01/09/13509/

Belated but Merry

A very belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!  I hope you had a magnificent holiday.  I shut my Etsy shop down two weeks earlier than usual in order to spend my energy on some other important things and to give myself a great, wide open creative exhalation.  I managed to let the studio rest for three full weeks which is pretty unheard of for me!  If I am home, I am working.  I love to work.  I thrive when I am working.  But there’s something so special about those times when we let ourselves lie fallow like great tracts of dark earth, to soak up the sun and the wind and the rain and to spin nutrients into gold and growth.  Yesterday I sat down at my bench to blow the dust off my tools and scrub the rust from my hands and I had a tremendous sense of simply being full on rest and ready to work again.  I tinkered most of the day, not wanting to over commit myself to any of my ideas.  My compass was swiveling in too many directions and I find it’s always better to begin again with a strong sense of “THAT-A-WAY” than to spend a few days pandering to whims.

My muscles remembered my work space, the distance between tools, the swirling rhythm of the pellet stove and the staccato of birds at the feeders.  It was a lovely re-entry into work.  I’ll be in the studio again today and I’m looking forward to going gently as I tap my hammers to the beat of this new, beautiful year.

While I wasn’t working, I thought much about what I specifically value regarding creative work.  It’s not the finished products.  I like what I make.  How could I not?  It’s all a direct reflection of my life and my experiences.  I’m finding what I value more is the process behind the work (which is ultimately the sum of my living).

I drew a late season cow/calf tag for the Idaho side of Hells Canyon this year which is one of the biggest reasons I shut my studio down earlier than usual, so I could focus on my hunt — and it was a great hunt.  The territory was snowless so herds of wapiti and deer remained up in the high country which is where we had to go to find animals.  It was strenuous hiking (can I still call it hiking if I was using bunchgrass as handholds as I covered ground???) in treacherous country and once we found animals, I made a great, intuitive stalk.  I had a lucky, strong wind to blow away my noise and my scent.  The herd was bedded down, chewing on cud, puffing cold smoke into winter air, oblivious to my presence.  I had all the time in the world to set up, watch the herd and enjoy their beauty through my scope.  I was patient enough and lucky, too, when a cow stood up for me, perfectly broadside, on the edge of the herd at 300 yards.  I took my shot calmly, steadying my reticle with a sharp eye as I had practiced so many times, and it was perfectly placed.  She died well and this meat does not taste of fear.  When I finally approached her where she lay, I took off my gloves and buried my hands in the soft fur around her lovely ears and there, on my finger, was the Diana Ring I kept for myself which depicts an elk standing on a ridge in a puff of clouds and I thought, “This is a moment in my life that gives context and spirit to my work.  Without this, without my experiences and the stories of how I live, the work would mean nothing.  This would be a ring with an elk on it.  I would be making hollow objects that resound with nothing.  Because I live what I make, these objects are more than meets the eye.”

I keep thinking this very thing, repeatedly, when I am out riding Resero in the canyon, when I am running and I stop to explore a rock outcropping and find a hare skull, when I am hunting behind our birddogs in the sunshine and basalt with Robert, when I am tending my garden or my hens, when I am warmed by a sage fire in the nook of a rock safe from the claws of a ghastly wind — all of those life details matter to me and inform my work.  The point is not to to go my studio every day and make as much as possible as quickly as possible.  The point is not to tie myself in knots trying to immediately appease people.  The point is to live my life as beautifully and wonderfully and curiously as possible so that when I do sit down to work, my work is born of depth and power that comes from the true story of my life.

I wasn’t art school trained.  I quit university (numerous times) before I was taught how to be an artist (and I am 100% unapologetic about that).  I’m not sure what would have been impressed upon me but I have come to know it’s all this living I am doing that directly fuels the work of my hands.  Without it, my work would have a different truth…a different everything…a different degree of believability…a different context.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past decade at my bench in the studio it’s that I want to know that my work and my ideas are my own, that they have stemmed and branched and grown directly from the elements of my life and the details and ideas I find communicable therein.

I’m not one for making resolutions in the new year, I think every day is a new start that can be full of intention and momentum in the direction of our choosing, but I am always curious to hear about how others are approaching a new year.  I begin 2018 with a continued commitment to living my life with depth, gumption and courage and thereby creating with that same essence when I sit at my bench to work or when I stand afield with my camera in my hands.  What about you?

 

Wreath Meister

I believe the best way to decorate for Christmas (and for anything and everything else, too), is to go out into my habitat and simply collect what catches my eye.  To open my gaze to the sleepy, delicate textures of wintering plants.  To pick them carefully, one by one.  To bring those things home and translate them into cohesive beauty.  All it costs me is some of my time and the glory of elevated senses as I hunt for the bits and pieces I need to create.

This is my high desert wreath for the year, made from plants and brambles and brush I collected on the walk down to the river from the farm.  I found the sheds here, too, last winter while running the rim rock on the mesa.  To bring my outdoor home into my indoor nest is one of my greatest pleasures in life.

Moonset

to everything
a beauty
sharp as knives
when i turn my eyes upon it
it cuts to my marrow
bisects my soul
i knew this place
was lovely
at first sight
now it fills me with quiet longing
desperation
to know it better
to have a place there
in the sage
and wind
like everything else
four legged and winged