Honoring Mom

May 8, 2016 § Leave a comment

Carolyn Naught Saxton / 1920 - 1980

Carolyn Naught Saxton / 1920 – 1980

[Yes, two Mother’s Day posts today! Because it’s become a bit of tradition, I share this one as I have in years past.]

When I was a little girl, my mother was “my world”. She did all the things you’d expect a mother might do, like hold your hand, read you a story, fix meals, teach manners, dry tears, cheer you up and on. She also loved to laugh. She loved to give. She loved life, and tried to worry only on Tuesdays.

And while she left this world too soon, she left gifts. Cherished, timeless words; gifts from the heart, mind and spirit.

So on this day reserved for mothers, I’d like to share some of those words, from one of her books of poetry, The Pine and The Power. I share them with love, in honor and life-giving celebration of mothers near and far, here or remembered.

…………………………..

God help our children to transcend the dark

And walk the earth with dignity and cheer;

God help them seek the mountains, persevere

The road that twists through thorn and tanglebark,

Ascending finally where eagles mark

Their point of vision. Help our children find

Two masters ~ one the spirit, one the mind ~

And rediscover constancy of heart.

Help us to find cathedrals in the skies,

A will to walk the long uncharted mile;

(The will to find in winter’s legacy

The ochre sands from which the lime trees rise!)

Help us to know the measure of the child ~

To live in time and in eternity.

© Carolyn Naught Saxton

…………………………..

Call Your Mom

May 8, 2016 § Leave a comment

She’s a champion. A warrior. A magician. She’s tender, she’s tough, she’s imperfect and wise. She loves you when you’re winning, she loves you when you’re losing. She loves you whether you’re muddy or clean, too skinny or too fat, whether you’re cranky or witty or dull or smart.

She’ll hold you tight and dry your tears, cheer you on, teach you right from wrong, suffer your eye-rollings, worry and pray, and burst at the seams with pride.

And when it’s time to fly with your own shiny wings, she’ll hold you in her heart, forever and ever. (She’ll also still cheer you on and worry and pray, so don’t forget to call her. Often.😉 )

…………..

Happy Mother’s Day! And remember: “If at first you don’t succeed, do it like your mother told you.”  – Author Unknown

Dragons Be Here!

April 10, 2016 § 2 Comments

It takes a long time to make a book. Particularly challenging when your models have very large claws and tend to breathe fire. But the work is done; the wait is over – the restless beasts (and restless author/illustrator) are thrilled that their book is now out into the world.

With great pleasure I bring to you “Book of Dragons” – the third book in what has become my trilogy, of sorts, of mystical creatures. (Mermaids, then Fairies, now Dragons.) Along the way I came to know a few dragons quite well, and learned a lot from them. (They really like classical music, for one thing – who knew?) I hope you and the children you know will enjoy learning about them, too!

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I’ll keep you posted about upcoming book signings and/or events. In the meantime, you can head on over to Amazon and pick up a copy!

“Scary Illustrations” and Other Great Reviews

April 7, 2016 § Leave a comment

Everyone likes a great review. When you’re published by a small independent publisher, you appreciate them even more. And so, I send my heartfelt thanks to all who’ve written reviews for my books over at Amazon.

I love the 5-starred ones best (of course!), but they say “no review is a bad review”, so I appreciate them all – even the one about the fairy book illustrations being scary. (That had to be my favorite “negative” review. Because, really?)

And as I’m soon to launch a new book, I’ve got books on the brain. (Well, sure, I often have books on the brain, between writing them, reading them, and designing covers for others – but today, even more so.) So I wanted to send out a nudge to anyone who’s a fan of any of my 3 current books or my mermaid toy, encouraging you to head over to Amazon and write something sweet.

It really makes a difference, and helps get more books into more hands, especially those young ones whose imaginations are so alive. Thank you dearly!
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Going Thoreau

April 2, 2016 § 3 Comments

Pond. Woods. Cabin. Pen. Paper. Laptop. Me, and piles of unfinished writings. (Right. Thoreau didn’t have a laptop, much less electricity. So let’s call it a modern-day female Thoreau of sorts.) Wind whipping through red-budded trees, ducks squawking, late afternoon sun bouncing off royal blue water, star-studded nights and a deer (or three or four) to greet you at your door. Some fresh space for the muses.

Of course I wasn’t really alone. Aside from the ducks and deer (and, apparently, bears), there were plenty of other characters for company – a couple of boys and girls, some angels, and monsters, a flying horse here and there. There were real-live actual people too, nearby but not too near, and no one making a ruckus. No cars zipping by, no leaf-blowers or tv’s blaring. Laundry could wait, dishes were few, regular life paused. Except I did miss our cats sitting on my work. (I think?)

So, that was my five-day gift to myself – a mini back-to-nature answer to the incessant chatter of works undone while I’m otherwise busy designing things like branding and book covers for my wonderful clients. A cabin in the woods. A room with a view. Pen and paper. It was both enough and not enough. Is there ever enough time, though?

We do what we can when we can with what we have – then grab on and go.

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On Being Irish, Lucky and Green

March 16, 2016 § 6 Comments

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It’s upon us yet again – the day of dance and drink, and feasting on Irish bacon and cabbage, all to honor St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.

Of course, I’m always a little conflicted about whether I should be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. I’m not fully Irish, you see, but I love potatoes, ballads and Liam Neeson’s accent, so maybe some of that counts a little.

I’m not all that lucky either, at least when it comes to things like winning at lotteries or blackjack ~  except for the time my sister and I, restless after being cooped up in a very, very long car ride, went looking for four-leaf clovers on a remote North Carolina mountainside (because what else do you do when you find yourself in a field of clover?). To our surprise, we both found one. Then we found more. And more! And then we started finding 5-leaf clovers, and even some 6-leafers! This was magical, I’m telling you straight out. I’ve not seen a single four-leaf clover before or since (much less the five or sixers). So maybe this just means there’s always a bit of luck along the way if we take time to notice.

As for being green, well sure, it’s a great color that comes in a slew of shades, but I can’t say I’m fond of green beer. I do love green vegetables, though, so maybe that counts. My eyes are sometimes green. And I’m sure that some Leprechauns are green, but not all of them. And this is all quite confusing, so maybe we should just leave the whole being green bit to Kermit.

Then of course, there’s the name. Are we sure, really sure, it’s all about St. Patrick? … or might there’ve been a wee slip of the pen when writing St. Patricia. Hmmmm. :  )

Speaking of… Saint Pat was actually born in Roman Britain (way back in the fifth century), but apparently was kidnapped at 16 and brought to Ireland to work as a slave. (I did not know this!)  He escaped (phew!), but returned to Ireland in later years, bringing Christianity with him, appealing to both the Roman Catholics and the Irish Protestants of the land. (No small feat in Ireland… so I’m guessing he must have been charming, as well as devout.) In the process, he also elevated the status of the shamrock, by using its three leaves to explain the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).

After nearly thirty years of evangelism, he died on March 17, in the year 461. Patrick has endured as the principal champion of Irish Christianity.

And with all that said, it’s back to work ~ perhaps wearing a spot of green, feeling lucky, and dining on spuds with a whisper of an Irish blessing in my ear … whether any of it counts or not.

…………..

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

…………..saxton.potato.guiness.

 

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To Know Leona

February 16, 2016 § 9 Comments

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I loved her first because she loved my little girl. She loved her like her own. She sometimes spoke to her in French, and she called her Littlefoot, like the character in “The Land Before Time”. They were a good team, Nanna and Littlefoot.

I loved her next because her heart was real and true; her spirit as big as the sky.

We drank tea with herbs from the garden. We laughed from our bellies. We lit candles and watched the moon. We spoke of dreams. I helped heal her ankle. She helped heal my heart. I loved her language. She loved my paintings and my rice casserole. And she loved my little girl, who loved her back.

She was the mother of mothers to all in her care. Loving. Fearless. Brave. Blessings flowed from her lips like divine poetry. (Receiving a birthday wish from Leona was pretty much a religious experience.) She loved to dance. She carried too much on her shoulders. This world will miss her dearly.

She was magic. And fire.
Caribbean eyes.
Voodoo in her blood.
Gold in her heart.

She walked with angels –
Now she flies among them.

Thank you Leona, for your beautiful love and care. It was an honor to walk some of this earth with you.

 

Sorry Cupid, I Have Plans with My Cat

February 14, 2016 § Leave a comment

Valentines’s Day isn’t for everyone, and Cupid doesn’t always hit his mark.

For some, yes, there’s devotion to the whispering of sweet nothings, and the worship of chocolate and roses. But for some it can feel more like a bitter pill than a joyful tonic.

Others may simply prefer to spend the day with their cats. (Yeah, I get that.)

Regardless of how one feels about it, Valentine’s Day has a long history celebrating perhaps the most important, and often misunderstood, human condition: love.  And love will not be ignored. Poets write about it, songs are sung, paintings are painted. Endlessly. From the beginning of time to its last breath.

Whether it’s romantic love, or family love or friendship love or self love, love is what matters most. I don’t mean the love-you-think-is-love that hurts. Or the heartbreaks or the losses. I mean the fact that love heals, love lifts, love binds, love seeds and nourishes and shines a light; love enhances, love honors. It’s the root of all good that ever was or will be.

So spend the day however you like; just try to do everything, big or small, with a spirit of love. Your heart will be glad.

And while you’re at it, here are some classic paintings you and your cat can enjoy. Happy Valentine’s Day.❤

1. Dance in the Country PierreAuguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919) 1883 oil on canvas *Paris, Musée d’Orsay. *Photograph © Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, NY. *Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Dance in the Country / Pierre Auguste Renoir, 1883

 

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The Kiss / Gustav Klimt, 1909

 

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Cupid and Psyche as Children / William Adolphe Bouguereau, 1889

 

The Fisherman and the Syren / Frederic Leighton, 1858

 

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The Kiss / Francesco Hayez, 1859

 

Noon - Rest from Work (after Millet) / Vincent van Gogh / 1890

Noon – Rest from Work (after Millet) / Vincent van Gogh, 1890

Patience and Process: Part II

February 6, 2016 § Leave a comment

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The beauty of oil paints is not only the way they flow and breathe; the way they can bend and curve to your brush ‘s command like spreading soft butter or icing a cake; it’s also their longevity. A tube of good oils can last years and years and years, and I love that you can “wake up” a painting after a month or a year, the paint still pliable.

The un-beauty of their longevity is that the caps may become stubborn as a mule, or a little dog who doesn’t want to go for a walk. They won’t budge. And if you did a really lame job of replacing the cap, the paint inside will harden, which definitely isn’t conducive to a good experience.

Of course, if you’re a tidy painter who takes precise care of their tools, such as deliberately cleaning off any paint residue from the top of the tube before putting the cap neatly back on, this may not happen to you. But I’m not a tidy painter. This is kind of in opposition to my general character (a topic that could easily lead me to talk of astrological signs, but I’ll spare you…); nevertheless, it’s true.

And so, when I sit down to twist open the first glorious tube of Titanium White, the cap doesn’t cooperate. I then have to resort to using pliers and muscle, or if they fail, I’ll use fire. (First time I used fire I was pretty nervous. But it does work, briefly heating with a match just around the bottom edge of the cap. Still, don’t take my word for it, please. There are all kinds of remedies, so read up first if you find yourself with a stuck cap. And by the way, I’ve heard that running a little vaseline around the rim before replacing the cap does wonders.)

If it’s irretrievably old and crusty, the last resort would be to buy a new tube. Because of my Scottish blood and a father who taught us, perhaps too well, about re-using and making things last for eons, I’m loathe to buy unless necessary.

Luckily, today, pliers did the job. And once I’d gone out for new turpentine – which I unexpectedly did need (ugh) – I was now, finally, ready to dip the brush and slather some paint on a couple of ever-patient canvasses.

It was so much easier when everything was all “set and ready.” All the stop and go and stop and twist takes away some of the vibe. The good news is, I’m on course again.

So. Patience. Process. Progress.

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Patience and Process

January 31, 2016 § Leave a comment

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Everything’s got a process. The seasons, falling in love, solving a problem, making a meal, setting sail, etc.

So, too, with art.

With design, it’s largely a mental process. One word, one image, one “sense” can set off a cascade of ideas for the mind to siphon and distill, then execute with the clean tools of my Mac. (Not like the old days of things like rubber cement, and amber sheets for separating color, which I readily admit not missing at all.)

With illustration, it’s both a mental and physical process – lining up my tools, making physical sketches, conjuring ways to illustratively express different concepts and then execute, still, for me, primarily by hand.

With painting, it’s almost purely a physical process – brushes, paints, canvasses – along with a great deal of heart. There’s not a whole lot of “figuring” things out. The act of painting takes the lead, as opposed to the mind taking the lead.

And then, sometimes, the process – any process – gets clogged. There’s a setback. Things happen – often things that are out of our control (although, most of life is [out of our control], despite what we might like to think… but that’s another talk, for another time.); acts of God and so forth.

A few years back there was a huge flood in my studio. Took a few months to get my design and drawing stations in workable shape, which was key. Next would come the painting area. But time went by, and went by. The task was daunting, and I was busy writing and illustrating Dragons* in between client work.

Still, the canvasses whispered. Then they called. Then they shouted.

Finally, with some help, I cleared the space enough to feel I could answer their longing, incessant chatter, and right away felt better. Chomping at the bit, I would designate Saturday’s as painting day (other days were welcome, but this would be an agreed-to arrangement between me and paint). Yes! All was lining up.

So. On the appointed day, I clear off some last things from the table beside easel #1, clean it like new (a little lemon oil does wonders), grab a favorite old oversized shirt, a paint rag and one of the many not-so-patiently waiting images already engraved in my mind’s eye.

Just a few more things moved aside uncovers my marvelous palette, which I see, to my imminent dismay, is loaded high with caked on paint remnants. I decide it’s a work of art in and of itself – but will not do for squeezing fresh paints over all its hills and dales, nor sweeping a brush through assorted nooks and crannies.

And thus ended my first day of renewed painting. The mood cut short by a crusty old palette, and the need for a new one.

Initially frustrated, I soon realize it’s just part of the process. Making ready, preparing the space. There’s a ritual to it – shirt or apron, rags, the gathering and oozing of colors, the first strokes of the brush – and I hadn’t yet gotten to the place I’d been before, where ritual flows, all “set and ready” for when the spirit moves and chunks of time move with it.

Patience child, you’re almost there. Trust the process.

In the meantime, even more inspiration was uncovered by my delightfully messy palette (especially the underside – who knew?!) – just in case I needed any more.😉

saxton palette / topside

saxton palette / topside

saxton palette / underside

saxton palette / underside

 

* Side note: “Book of Dragons” is officially almost here. I have my advance copy in hand! The rest will arrive …. soon, and you’ll be among the first to know.
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