Almost Showtime!

Yes, I am a creativity junkie. But then you already know that, don’t you? My upcoming Holiday Fair is NEXT WEEKEND Dec 2/3 and I still have embellished boxes and original watercolors and sumi-e paintings and greeting card sets to finish up and package and oh my!!

Betsy Schulte-Fessler will be joining me with her wonderful repurposed lamps and globes. My favorite is the Studebaker lamp made from a car jack. Its just plain cool! There will be lamps made from oil cans and lamps with Edison bulbs. And they will all be lit up so you can see them live.

I rarely do in-person shows, so please come on by and say hello. Purchase an Earth Prayeras a gift for a loved one or yourself. Support a local artist who supports the earth with her work. And remember to scroll all the way down to hear about “Podlette.”

Creatively Yours,
Annette

Oh yes, and did you hear? We are now the proud owners of an off-road capable tear drop trailer! It’s our new base camp for adventures into the wilds of this beautiful planet. The photo to the left is from our first night of camping in it in the Mojave Preserve near the cinder cone area. Podlette needs a name – send your ideas! 

 

 

 

 

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Desert Wildflowers: Part 1 Amboy Crater

Wildflower hunting in the desert. Dust. Heat. Color. Life! I’ve been wanting to see the desert bloom for a long time. We usually head into the desert in the fall or winter. So when my partner and I realized we had time in our schedule to duck out for a long weekend and the blooms were starting to happen, well beastie truck practically packed itself.

  

Our first hunting expedition led us through Amboy, California which is a 1950s ghost town with one gas station and Roy’s – a motel ala museum complete with a canonical sign. We topped off Beastie’s tank while I took in the still-as-it-was motel lobby complete with a small carousel horse and a 1950s couch. Oh my such delights!

From there we drove a short distance to Amboy Crater which was in full bloom. I fell in love with wildflower hunting with my first step on the trail and the joy of finding beauty hidden where you least expect it. Seeing the scrubby, grey, dried out creosote bushes of fall and winter transform into green leaves and yellow blossoms which litter the sands around the plant with little golden petals.

Finding fast moving many legged beetles with an odd sort of iridescent shell until I suddenly realize they are covered in pollen and thats why they look like that. Coming around a corner and sending a lizard flying with its tail curled way up in the air. Then watching as it stops and checks me out. Then look out, there are two of them racing down the trail!

Peeking carefully under and around the bushes to find green grass mixed with little fiddleback sorts of flowers that come in yellow or white or blue depending on where you find them. Always keeping an eye out for snakes. Dancing as I walk on the earth trying to avoid tiny yellow daisy flowers while enjoying them out at the same time.

We hiked towards the crater wandering with lots of stops on the way. It was very hot and little shade and I am not one to perch in the desert sun without serious wilting. Thank goodness there was a breeze and a couple of shade stations to sit in out of the sun. As it was, I did get overheated by the end of it.

That said, I did a number of little sketches of flowers and a couple of larger watercolors attempting to capture the lovely fields against the mountains and sky and clouds while the man wandered about with his camera. The fields were golden yellow against the greenery and the mountains with groupings of white and purple and pink scattered about.

The fields were alive with critters happily doing their thing. Ravens talking to us. Lizards. Beetles. Birds. Lots of bees and insects flying about. People have said you can’t really understand how much the desert comes alive after the rains until you see it transform and they are right. It’s as if a light switch was turned on and suddenly everyone is dancing and growing and blooming. 

My flickr album is here.

Next stop: Mojave Preserve

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Am I Still Holding My Piece of the Red Thread?

Alien Skin Rock

Facade.
An alien skin over your own
Hiding you from the world
Keeping your secrets safe
To walk in your own skin
Let your heart sing
Be you, only you
And you will loved.

I’ve not written for a while because life took me off on another tangent. One that felt like I was being derailed, distracted, and pulled away from my work, my piece of the red thread.

My wonderful, beautiful, creative daughter had a very rocky start to high school. Anxiety. Stress headaches. Tears. Anger. Overwhelm. It took weeks to figure out what was going on. It’s been very hard for her and very hard for me. To watch someone I love who has all this potential and brilliance flounder and sink into a miasma where she is entirely stalled out in her life….it rips up my heart big time.

I’ve run through the gamut of mom guilt trips: feeling hugely responsible, frustrated because I can’t just fix it, annoyed at the way it derailed her, wondering how I contributed, wondering how I missed this pattern in her all these years, feeling helpless, annoyed at how western medical just wants to hand a 14 year old drugs, annoyed at her father for his genetic contribution. You name it, I’ve been walking it.

All through this, I asked, What is wanted? I wanted an intention to guide my energy and my heart. I had a trip planned to Idaho and Montana for a week in the midst of this and I went because I needed the break, to step away for a bit. And so, there on the side of a river one day, my intention emerged:

To support my daughter in learning how and moving through transformation.

If you’ve read my blog you know that I know this transformation stuff. Its what I teach and what I paint. I’ve been through major change in my own life. But my hesitation, and I did have one, about engaging in what I teach with my child was because I felt I was too close. Yet spirit made it clear that this was what I was to do. Relief and clarity are mine – I’ve felt like I now have a light shining on my path forward.

I came home and went to work supporting her, talking to her therapist, putting routine and boundaries in place, and generally just being there with her to laugh and cry and keep taking one step after the other. I have not worked on my art updating my site or finishing watercolors and greeting cards or creating videos for online classes or any of the other projects I have on my list to get done. Part of me has been beating myself up about that. Feeling like I am not doing my work.

So what do those of us who work in the Intentional Creativity movement do when we feel like this? We ask. And so, I asked,

Am I still holding my piece of the red thread?

YES.

The answer surprised me but perhaps will not surprise you. The answer included letting me know that doing all that work to get my art out into the world is important – but it has its own time and path. And right now I AM doing my work. I AM holding my piece of the red thread. 

Being there with my daughter as she walks this path IS doing MY work in the world right now in this present moment. Its about loving my daughter in all the ways she needs so she has the opportunity to heal herself so she can live her life fully and with love and happiness. Tears as I write this…

I needed to hear this. I needed to recalibrate myself with my own inner purpose, with my own piece of the red thread. Recalibration comes in many ways and I am grateful whether it comes with rocks or rose petals strewn down my path so long as I know which direction to walk in. 

Rocks from Glacier Flathead Lake

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A Creature of This Planet

crocus sketch terra sophiaI drove up to the land on Friday morning. By the land, I mean Terra Sophia, the land where my mentor Sue Hoya Sellars lived up in the Anderson Valley. A gorgeous, peaceful 20 acres of hills and valley, trees and clouds. Rain and winds were predicted for Friday and Saturday, possibly even thunderstorms.

I wasn’t entirely sure why I had decided to come up here. My partner was out of town; my daughter off for the weekend. Perhaps thats why my brain offered up this idea of heading out of town for a short retreat off the grid? Or perhaps there was something under all of that?

raindrops in puff ballsRegardless, when I got up to the land, I was still wondering why I had driven three and half hours to spend two days by myself. I got out of the car and unloaded, put on my hiking boots, and then went for a walk on the land to say hello. I wandered – almost as if I needed to find something to do.

It took some time for me to settle – finally I  laid down on the earth, closed my eyes, and then sighed deeply. Maybe I don’t need a reason to come here. Maybe I don’t need to find something to do.

Maybe its ok to just be present…

To the song of the wind in the trees.
To the sound of the ravens cawing.
To touch the seed heads on grasses dancing in the wind with abandon.
To the feel of the earth crumbling in my fingers.
To watch the dark clouds rolling past the tops of the trees.

Ya think?

I wandered, sketched, laid on the earth, made myself some dinner. Slowly slowing down bit by bit by bit. Stopping to take touch little yellow flowers. To notice rain drops on whiskered balls of fuzz. Until I just stood still on the earth breathing in the essence of stillness letting it fill me up.

raindrops in spiderwebI put out food for the deer and one came by while I ate my dinner. We shared a glance and each went back to our sustenance. I could feel the sentience of the land and how it welcomed me. Letting me drift about until I settled.

By the time I woke up the next morning, I was grounded into the earth. I went for a long walk down to the creek through all the scrub and branches and downed trees. Hunted for wildflowers and had a conversation with a lizard. Dodged rain showers and sat in the transient sunshine. I was in connection with all the creatures and beings around me and it felt right and good and healing.

I needed to ground deeply and so the land had called me to come to her. To stand on her earth. To open my heart and feel the connection that is always there in my heart come to the forefront. To remind me that first and foremost I am also a creature of this planet in all her glory. That the human world is only one aspect of living and sometimes not a very important one despite its roar and demands and tugs.

fairy wingBy the time I left this morning, I was at peace. I packed the car and fed the ravens and deer. Then I knelt down and put my hands on the earth to thank her for nurturing me. And there, next to my hand was a fairy wing covered with dew.

Magic does happen,
Annette

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Jack Rabbits and the Tides of Life

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What is nourishing you today?

What are you nibbling on?

Bringing into your system?

Yesterday I went for one of my early morning walks in the Palo Alto Baylands. The last couple times I’ve been there has been this little thought in the back of my head about jack rabbits that keeps cropping up. Wondering if I will see any this spring or not.

As I walked along, I lifted my head up from the path at one point, and there she was. A small jack rabbit looking back at me. I stopped and went silent and just watched. She swiveled her ears about and then gently hopped forward into the grass. I paused and then began walking slowly and as I got closer to where she had hopped into the grass, I could just see her eye peering out at me. I said good morning to her and kept walking.

Cool, I thought, I’ve had my sighting of jack rabbit. I walked on, stopping to sketch as I went. Then at some point, I turned around and began walking back to where my car was parked. I came around a curve in the trail near where I had seen the jack rabbit and, lo, there were two of them watching me!

I stopped and grounded and went silent again.

Then slowly opened my sketchbook and asked if I could draw them. They said yes and went back to munching on grass. Clearly the thought of me sketching them was not threatening. So I sketched away until I noticed they had stopped eating and their ears were straight up. There was no one behind me but way down the trail the other way was someone coming towards us. Way down the trail. And he clearly was not seeing what was around him.

The two rabbits stopped what they were doing and watched with their ears.

My presence did not appear to disturb them so I continued to sketch. The man continued to slowly get closer. I thought perhaps he would notice me looking at something but no, he was not very present to his surroundings from what I could tell.

When he was within a dozen feet of the two rabbits, they suddenly darted into the grass and the man jumped and noticed them. He was clearly surprised as he walked past me. I took a few steps and looked back. One of the rabbits had scampered down the trail from the other one who had simply gone straight into the heavy grass. The rabbit who has run further down the trail waited for the man to pass and then came back out onto the trail, took a long look at me, hesitated for a minute, and then scampered back past me to where the first rabbit had gone into the brush and disappeared.

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It was comforting to see that I am not so terrifying that the rabbit has to wait for me to leave to rejoin its companion.

Rabbits move by leaps and bounds, have the ability to both freeze and become invisible and move very fast when needed. They are considered good fortune and a sign of fertile abundance. Rabbit can help you attune to the tides of movement in your own life as well as the lunar cycle. 

happy creating,
Annette

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The Gift of Sumi-e

Sue sketching on the Seine River in Paris, 2014
Sue sketching on the Seine River in Paris, 2014

Yesterday was Sue Hoya Sellars’ birthday; she would have been 80 years old. Sue was my mentor – the one who taught me how to do sumi-e sketching. How to sketch in nature and connect to the essence of what I was drawing or painting.

Yesterday early in the morning, I drove up to Russian Ridge Open Space near my home and walked up the hills through the lush wildflowers that have sprouted this season from all the rains. I had my backpack full of watercolor paper, watercolors and my pens at the ready. My small daily notebook was in my hand awaiting inspiration. I wandered up the hills, stopping to take pictures and to draw.

After getting almost to the top of the trail, I stopped at an intersection. My plan was to go to the top of Borego Hill, but another hill beckoned and so I stood for a moment feeling that tug. Then placed my feet on the trail and climbed up the lightly used trail to the other hill. Checker bloom, lupine, poppies, vines with white flowers – the profusion of flowers was breathtaking. I got up to the top of the hill and looked out over the rolling vistas of green, and then planted myself on the earth and brought out my watercolor paper. I asked what wanted to be drawn and got to work.

After my first sumi-e lesson with Sue many years ago, she told me to go home and practice sumi-e every day for at least 30 minutes. Mind you, I had a young child, a crumbling marriage and was in the midst of writing my master’s thesis. I didn’t know how to find another 30 minutes in my day!

Yet, somehow I stuck with it and found time to practice. The whole idea of connecting to the essence of a plant or creature or rock tugged at me. Sitting in front of a leaf or rock or flower became a way to meditate and ground myself. A way to connect to the essence of this amazing planet we walk upon. It became prayer – earth prayers.

Gradually over time, I began taking a sketchbook with me when I went for a walk. I found a cool ink brush cartridge pen to use that I could carry with me easily. I made myself pull out my sketchbook everywhere – even when I felt embarrassed because I wasn’t “any good”. Soon I was going for walks just so I could sketch. I realized with time that THIS was my work in the world. This connecting to the earth, this honoring of the essence of these things that asked to be drawn.

I got better and more confident and learned how to draw leaves and trees and stones and birds and wildflowers. How to use the tip of the brush to make fat lines and fine detailed lines. How to create a leaf in one stroke. How to capture feather in all its beauty. How to draw a line that flew like the birds I watched.

Somewhere along the way, I began posting my sketches on Facebook and started adding words to them which turned into poetry. I published a set of greeting cards as an experiment. And now, I am developing a line of meditation posters based on these earth prayers and poetry. They want to go out into the world and do their work; my job is to give them wings.

Sue didn’t know that putting a sumi-e brush in my hand and sitting me down in front of moon shell would end me up here. What she did is believe in me and that can take a person anywhere they want to go.

Thank you Sue. May you walk in the cosmos knowing my earth prayers are flying to meet you.

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Humming with life

Humming with Life by Annette Wagner
Humming with Life by Annette Wagner

Sink your toes in
Open your ears up
Listen with your heart
Every single leaf is alive
Humming that song of life
Let it resonate through your being
Until you’re humming too.

From the Palo Alto Baylands, April, 2016

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Where the Earth Speaks to My Heart

New Day, New Way, Palo Alto Baylands
New Day, New Way, Palo Alto Baylands by Annette Wagner

Land. Earth.
What is my connection to our earth?
How has it changed since I was a child?

I’ve been musing on this. You see, I just sold the last piece of real estate I owned. I am no longer a “property owner.” I don’t know if I will own land again in that sense, though I suspect I will. But for now, I do not own land in that sense.

Yet, I know I have connections to this earth that speak to my heart. That nourish and replenish me in many ways. It has always been this way.

I remember….

Playing in the redwood groves when I was a kid, clambering over the odd growths and stumps, turning them into forts and castles. Yelling and laughing and imagining up a storm. Feeling the majesty of these huge trees all around us as we played our games.

There was such a peacefulness to walking down the hill to the redwood groves, pursing animal trails, checking out the berry vines to see when they would be ripe. Noticing how the seasons changed the leaves and the weather. Being alone in the quiet.

IMG_1555I remember….

Burying watermelons in the sand at Capitola Beach. Of splashing and swimming in the waters of the lagoon when the river wasn’t flowing out. Walking along the waves on the ocean side looking for shells and stones. Stepping on the bulbs in the seaweed to see if I could make them pop open.

These days I head to Stinson Beach with my daughter as a retreat from the noisy world we live in. We walk the shoreline, meandering through the detritus of the tides. Pointing out jellyfish. She pirouetting across the water as it recedes. Me sketching a shell or a sand crab. Chasing each other, getting wet and sandy. Linking our arms together and laughing. Walking into town for soft serve ice cream and french fries. Watching movies until I fall asleep before her. Reading a book while sprawled on the warm sand.

Grandmother Ocean is where I feel at peace. Where all the worries and tensions just drain out of me and I can truly relax. Standing in the waves hearing Grandmother talk to me nourishes my soul. It feeds me and soothes me and settles me. All the things that do not really matter just leach out of me and into the sand and the water and waves and I feel cleansed and whole.

I remember…

Walking on the land at Terra Sophia with Sue Hoya Sellars. Down the hill to the little grove where the mosses cover the old redwood stumps like green velvet with little curlicues. Setting up easels and painting the hills on the other side of the valley. Finding deer bones and skulls tucked into the oak leaves. Sitting and drinking tea on a quiet misty morning.

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When I need a more daily dose of earth talking to my heart, I head to the local bay lands bird sanctuary. When I first started walking there, I thought the flat trail and landscape were boring and I would just walk for exercise. Then I began to notice how the big while pelicans with black tipped wings showed up in the summer and led fishing expeditions on the waterways. And how the geese appeared in the fall and honked and waddled all over in groups, always checking me out. I saw shy jack rabbits early in the morning. Weeds that bloomed into delicate blossoms. I filled sketchbooks with ink drawings and poetry.

Now when I walk down the trail at the bay lands, I can feel the literal noise of Silicon Valley falling behind me. I tune into the music of the bird calls, the wind ruffling the tall weeds, the sound of my feet on the path. It grounds me and calms my system and I can muse and think again. Perhaps this is why I call my sketches Earth Prayers – because I feel like I am praying to the earth when I create them.

What is your place on the earth where she speaks to your heart?

Mountains of Waves by Annette Wagner
Mountains of Waves by Annette Wagner
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