Twelve Months of Flowers

December 1, 2015 § Leave a comment

If only it were true. Unless you count holly berries, there’s really not much in the way of floral color in northeast winter months.

But “Twelve Months of Flowers” can be had via art prints, from the series published in 1730 by renowned British horticulturist and author Robert Furber. Mr. Furber’s name is highly attributed to these exquisite prints, and while I’m grateful that he had the insight, substantial research and knowledge (and, no doubt, the funds) to produce the collection, I’m mostly interested in the artistry.

We had two of these prints hanging in our dining room during my growing-up years – one May, one November, the months of my parent’s birthdays. Admired by all, they adorned a modest space with a rich, subtle elegance, (and now that I think of it, may have had an influence on my own interest in drawing things botanical) ~ but in all those years, while we probably did, I don’t remember talking about the artist. Regardless, for some reason they lodged in my mind’s eye today ~ so I went looking.

First of all, they are hand-colored engravings, produced by English engraver Henry Fletcher from paintings of Flemish-born artist Pieter Casteels . (They also produced an equally stunning second series, Twelve Months of Fruits.) Each work is a glorious detail of plants in seasonal bloom, with each plant numbered, and, at the time, a list of the corresponding names. More than 400 plant species were featured. This was no small project.

And so a few centuries later, I thank them ~ all three of them: Furber, Fletcher and Casteels ~ for their fine, luscious collaboration of study, talent and skill. They are so beautiful, I might even venture to call them a labor of love. But that’s what art is.

TwelveMonths1_sm

TwelveMonths2_sm

TwelveMonths3_sm

TwelveMonths4_sm

TwelveMonths5_sm

TwelveMonths6_sm

TwelveMonths7_sm

TwelveMonths8_sm

TwelveMonths9_sm

TwelveMonths10_sm

TwelveMonths11_sm

TwelveMonths12_sm

Art and Tragedy: 11 Art Works from 9/11

November 19, 2015 § 7 Comments

Recent global events have been a harsh reminder of the savagery that exists in our world and how that brutality can, and does, infiltrate our daily lives. It is far-reaching and unfathomable; its senseless wreaking of horror and devastation is wearisome.

Our hearts ache, we mourn deeply. We are sickened. And yet, we have no choice but to carry on with our lives – life, by nature, urges life – and for us mere mortals, our battle cry might even be to “carry on”, to refuse to live in a state of fear. But we really don’t stop grieving for today’s, yesterday’s, or any tomorrow’s that may carry this awful weight of sorrow, anger and frustration.

And we don’t forget. It’s like a hard line drawn in time: Before and After. Here at home, every time an act of terror succeeds in killing, events from 9/11 come roaring back into our minds, like an unwanted but necessarily indelible imprint.

As such, I’m also reminded how the artists of our time process these events – and I’m particularly reminded of the 9/11 ten-year-anniversay retrospective exhibit I was honored to share with some remarkable artists on September 11, 2011; each artist contributing their awareness of the time as well as contributing to a broader, long-term healing.

Some of the art lifts us, inspires us. Some carries deep symbolism. Some fearlessly ensures we don’t forget. Some recounts and catalogues. Some of the artists are quite well-known, some are not. All are gifted statements and expressions from the heart.

A friend recently suggested I post some of that art again. I can’t say exactly why, but it seemed a good idea. I chose 11 pieces, simply because the number feels right, to honor the artists, and in some way the victims, and all who care to make a difference in this world of ours. (For all artists’ works from the 9/11 retrospective and full descriptions, you can view the online catalogue, here,).

And I say yet another prayer. That good wins. That love wins.

richard

 

joel

 

carole

 

duda

 

jose1

 

patricia

 

ultra

 

milton

 

nemat

 

yoko

 

jose2

 

Prayers for Paris

November 14, 2015 § Leave a comment

saxton_peace.paris

Prayers for Paris – and all the world. For the madness to end. For good over evil, for light over dark, love over fear. For peace and compassion to dwell in the hearts of humanity.

Life is precious. Terror needs to stop.

A Plethora of P’s / #88, 89, 90, 91 & 92

October 18, 2015 § 1 Comment

proactively punctuating life with the plausible, powerful possibilities of positive thought presented through a plethora of “P’s”.

– ♥ –

#88: Plucky

saxton.P_pluckyPlucky. Such a lively little word. Even better, it means something pretty good: it’s about showing courage in the face of difficulties or danger.

Sometimes it’s okay, and even necessary, to let someone else be brave. But sometimes we need to don our own capes and be our own source of courage.

– ♥ –

#89: Penmanship

P_penmanship

The physical, pen-in-hand act of writing is not only a form of communication, it’s a form of self-expression; another window into the soul. There’s also the value of hand-eye coordination, thinking patterns, and better comprehension when writing things down “painstakingly” by hand (not to mention knowing how to spell and use proper grammar and punctuation without spell-check tools). Doctor’s aside (why is this?), developing good penmanship is a plus any way you look at it.

I wrote an essay on the subject of cursive writing earlier this year, prompted by news stories that penmanship may be (or already has been) eliminated from childhood school curriculums. I feel pretty strongly. If interested, you can read that here. Meanwhile, please, write on.

– ♥ –

#90: Pets

P_pets

Cats and dogs are probably the most common pets in any family, and with good reason. They provide companionship and are scientifically proven to increase our well-being. They love us, they teach us. And they make us better people by caring for something besides ourselves!

– ♥ –

#91: Pyramids

saxton.P_pyramids

With three equal sides, the pyramid, or triangle, is the most stable form in our world. (Example: A three-legged stool is much harder to knock over then a four-legged one) In sacred geometry*, the triad symbolizes the trinity of life, of substance, intellect, and the force that drives it; it’s the point where matter, and consciousness connect with the higher realms. And according to Plato, triangles form the basic building block of the entire universe. That’s some pretty impressive stuff about the humble pyramid shape.

And then there’s the math: There are 5 types of triangles: right triangle, equilateral triangle, isosceles triangle, obtuse triangle and acute triangle – but no matter their shape or dimensions, the sum of all three angles always adds up to 180 degrees. Nice.

*Sacred Geometry is a term used to describe patterns, shapes and forms that are part of the make up of all living things and that regularly occur in nature. It is system of universal design in which the energy of creation organizes itself into form.

– ♥ –

#92: Pickles

saxton.P_pickles

When I hear the word pickle, I can’t help but think of Arlo Guthrie. (“I don’t want a pickle/ Just wanna ride on my motor-cickle…”) Now that I’ve dated myself, let’s move on.

Pickles are a flavorful, low-calorie vegetable high in vitamin K. This is good news for all the people who adore pickles, and too bad for me, as I’m only an occasional fan of pickles. The conditions have to be just right. My grandmother made her own pickles. Sweet pickles, they were called, and they were well-loved. Still, while I loved my grandmother’s home-made bread and just about everything else she made, I slithered away when the pickles were served. Same goes for pickled this and that. Pickling is clearly not my favorite flavor. It placed me in a bit of pickle to admit I didn’t like pickles. Maybe no one noticed.

 

……………………

Only 8 more Positive P’s to go!

(until next time, you can see the ongoing Plethora of P’s here)

New Season, New Shoes and Life on Mars

September 30, 2015 § 3 Comments

There may be life on Mars, have you heard? While we’re pondering that, there’ve been visits from the Pope, world leaders convening, and rare lunar eclipses eclipsing. Big stuff.

saxton.peace_moon-red

And somehow in between all that, seemingly small by comparison, our own lives happen. Everyday lives stitched together with various versions of joy and struggle. An ever-changing tapestry of our individual here and nows, hopes and dreams, fears and glories.

Life happens in moments, in thoughts, in conversations (and if you’re Italian it also happens in meals). It happens while your house needs painting and your front walk needs paving and your faucet needs fixing and your clients need tending. It happens while holding the hands of your spiritual sisters during hard, mind-boggling times. It happens while sharing stories with old friends and recognizing a kindred soul in the eyes of someone new. It comes as a hug from a child, a butterfly landing on your hand, a laugh, or a cry. When you read, go for a walk, talk to your pets. It happens when you’re alone. It happens when you’re not. It happens when we do things with love. There’s nothing small about any of that.

And I had no idea I’d be going in that direction ^ when I started writing this post. I’d meant to point out the changing of seasons, tie that in with both the evolution of my next book and the fact that the shoemaker – me – finally made her own new shoes –new website (well there, I just mentioned it), and how so much can transpire in a month’s time, even while you’re immersed, head down, in dragonry and a whole bunch of design and wondering how and when you’re going to deal with your crumbling walkway.

I guess the point is to embrace your here and now. Do your best. Stitch well. Pay attention to your heart. And, yes, believe in magic.

PS: For the record, I have no interest in visiting Mars any time soon. There’s plenty of life right here.

Needle_and_red_thread.

 

A Cupcake For You

September 1, 2015 § 7 Comments

peace_cupcake.saxton

Because it’s my birthday – a cupcake for you, and wishes too: That thought by thought, and action by action, this nutty, misguided, confusing, troubled, hopeful, amazing, strange and beautiful world may become a better place for our dreams to thrive. That we all choose to participate in the unfolding of what brings us our own individual peace. That we take a bite of something good and make a delicious offering of that something to ourselves, our friends, families, neighbors, co-workers, and those we pass on the street. That we uplift and respect and care and appreciate. That we smile on one another more.  That we experience more of whatever brings more joy and more peace, more often, into our lives.

Outrageous Happiness #18: Do Stuff

July 9, 2015 § 3 Comments

outrageous_adventure

Accept invitations. Go places. Be spontaneous. Break routine, crack your shell, burst your seams a bit! Say “yes” to adventure. Do stuff you haven’t done before.

For someone whose nose is usually found inches from the grindstone, I do love a good adventure. I’ve been known to “up and go places” (mostly pre-motherhood, I will admit, but that will change…) – occasionally up-and-staying longer than expected. Two weeks in the Greek Islands turned into four. A week in Sedona turned into nearly 6 months. Africa called, I answered; hippos and lions growling in the night, guards with spears outside my door (trusting they knew how to use them), hot-air ballooning over the Maasai Mara, dining on a long red cloth sprawled out on the plains.

Granted, there are some adventures I’ll never take. Climbing Mt. Everest? I’ll gladly leave that to those who like to dangle from high ledges and don’t mind cold-to-the-bone. And while a stone’s throw away, I’ve managed to skip New Year’s Eve in Times Square. (Something about crowds and – yes – cold, again.)

But an outdoor summer concert in the rain, complete with impromptu slip’n slide tarps? Sure! A whirlwind trip to southern California to be part of the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday bash? Absolutely! A chance to meet friends I’ve never met? Big yes.

Memories made. Bonds of friendship strengthened. Things to gripe about (after all they’re part of the experience too, like air travel… ) but mostly, Things to rejoice (did I mention the Dalai Lama?:) ). Sharing time with wonderful people; excellent. Making a scene of hugs and laughter and non-stop talking in Santa Monica with friends-I’d-not-yet-met but feel I’ve known for lifetimes; priceless. Gratitude. Gratitude. For the opportunities, the generosity and kindnesses, the fun, the enrichment.

I could have easily not gone. I have too much work; too little time. I have too much responsibility and not enough money. I’m tired. What if this, what if that. But sometimes you really just need to say “yes”. Because what if it’s wonderful?

Caveat: Saying yes to adventure doesn’t have to be Africa or half a year on an unplanned artistic sabbatical, or a good seat for the Dalai Lama. Truth be told, there have been times when a trip to the grocery store felt like an adventure. Reading a fabulous book can be a marvelously grand adventure. Calling someone you haven’t seen in ages; an impromptu outing to a local watering hole; a bike ride with no plan; walking the unbeaten path through the woods; choosing the road less traveled; wearing the purple hat; taking those singing lessons, volunteering at an old folk’s home, reaching out about something you’ve thought of doing but never knew how to start. No matter how large or small, it’s taking steps into the unknown, uncharted, unpredictable.

Adventure is a thing of spirit that beckons us to leap and stretch our wings. It can fill our hearts with gladness, our stomachs with butterflies, our eyes with wonder – or simply shift the mood of a day, a week, a year. It’s an unleashing. A chance to breathe new life into our veins. A chance to feel outrageously happy.

In our busy, overly compressed lives, adventure is throwing caution to the wind for a little while. But even just a little while can be like ripples in a pond, the effects reaching farther and deeper than we imagined. Planned or unplanned, we grow. We won’t be the same. And that’s called living.

adventure.VW2

How’s your Outrageous Happiness going?

 

Stars & Stripes: A Visual Tribute to the American Flag

July 3, 2015 § Leave a comment

In May 1776, Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag. A year later, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act, establishing an official flag for the new nation:

“Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”

However, between 1777 and 1960, Congress passed several legislations that changed the shape, design and arrangement of elements on the flag, eventually settling on extra stars and stripes to reflect each new state. This broad span of time without specific guidelines resulted in many design interpretations – which, in a way, also reflects the deeply rooted sense of freedom so cherished by Americans. The expressions were rich and proud, eventually evolving into the flag we pledge allegiance to today.

Carrying that theme of evolvement forward, in 1986 I discovered a beautiful book by Kit Hinrichs, called “Stars and Stripes” – a compilation of exceptionally creative American Flag images created by some of the finest graphic artists of our time. I found it absolutely delightful, and a great tribute to the creativity and talent that abounds amongst us – and the creative freedom we’re able to enjoy in this great land of the free and home of the brave.

Below are just 13 samples of the many ingenious designs from that book honoring our American flag.  Enjoy, and Happy Birthday USA!

flag1flag2flag3flag4flag5

flag6

 

flag7

flag8flag9flag10flag11flag12flag13

all images copyright of creator

A Plethora of P’s / #87: Peony

June 13, 2015 § 6 Comments

proactively punctuating life with the plausible, powerful possibilities of positive thought presented through a plethora of “P’s”.

– ♥ –

#87: Peony

saxton.P_peony2

Dear Peony ~ Your bloom is brief, and your heavy heads droop low under the weight of folds and folds and folds of petals – deliciously soft, intricate petals going every which way, having blossomed from tightly packed, perfectly round balls to form, perhaps (if there could by such a thing), the perfect flower – oh, how I adore your sweeping grace! You are elegance and beauty; you are divine.

saxton_peony.bulb1

peonies11

peonies1

peonies10

peonies9

peonies8

peonies7

peony.sidewalk

peonies6

peonies5

peonies4
peonies2

peonies12

……………………

(until next time, you can see the ongoing Plethora of P’s here)

What Is Art?

May 19, 2015 § 4 Comments

saxton_toomucharttoomuchlove

After creating this poster for my Facebook pages, someone asked me to define art. You might think I’d have a ready answer, but no. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve given it much thought, which is equally surprising. I liked the question though, and what follows is an expanded (rather long-winded!) version of my reply:

Art has varied definitions, I suppose, depending on those doing the defining. As an artist myself, I didn’t always appreciate art, because it was “something I just did” ~ I didn’t consider it a statement or a dramatic emotional expression, or even that it might do something other than possibly give pleasure. I didn’t question why. I didn’t scheme about what I’d do with it. It was simply woven into my being. The same way I have hazel eyes and wild hair; it just is.

That said, my own leaning seems to have been to create art that represented, or imagined, or inspired beauty; even, perhaps, a sense of hope. But that’s me. I know that not all art reflects beauty ~ it may reflect a social condition or an intellectual or philosophical position; it may be confrontational; it may be humorous; it may be elegant or raw; it may be positively ugly to one, pure loveliness to another. It can be painted or crafted or performed; made by hand or machine or both. It can be abstract or figurative; coming from a deep well of spirit, a spark of consciousness, a passing thought or a well-formed concept. Its roots know no economic or cultural boundaries. It transcends, disturbs, balances. It’s a driving force, a balm, an evocateur. It’s so broad as to be nearly undefinable.

But what I’ve come to realize ~ surprisingly late in the game ~ is its value; that a world without art, a world lacking the creative expression that can touch souls in ways otherwise skirted, unseen, unfelt, or trapped, would be a much more dry, sterile place. If there were no paintings, no music-making, no dance, no story-telling, what a very different existence this would be. (The mere thought of its absence feels dark and repressive!)

Art is life, breathing. A passionate, textural experience in this business of being human. An extension of who we are, often with an unwitting power to affect others ~ to inspire, to explore, to uplift, and sometimes, even to heal.

We need it. We need it to buffer the madness; to soften realities or shape new ones. There are such seeds within art, able to plant tonics for the soul, heighten awareness, ignite hearts, raise vibrations. Art is record-keeping and diary-making broadcast from individuals to the world. Shouts in the wilderness, relief from chaos, a connection to the divine. It moves us. It’s entirely personal in origin and yet has the ability to somehow matter to others.  It does matter. It matters a lot.

However we define it.

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time”. ~Thomas Merton

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the creativity category at saxton studio blog.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,336 other followers

%d bloggers like this: