My little Buddha out in the garden no longer has ice all over his face or snow filling his lap. He calmly sits and dwells in his eternal bliss while a white azalea begins to bloom over his head. He is a reminder for me of that quiet place within that needs to be respected and sheltered from the business of the world.
Winter is a time of rest and retreat when it is easy to spend many early mornings and cozy evenings with a favorite book or in quiet meditation. I have only recently come to realize that these moments of doing nothing....of simply sitting and watching my own breath need to be a part of my everyday practice if I am to continue to make art. In fact, I would go so far as to say that doing absolutely nothing is a necessary prelude to making art.
Doing nothing seems to be a practice I must learn over and over again, and nature is my favorite teacher in these matters. Last summer Mr. Bill planted five Cecile Brunner climbing roses along the hurricane fencing which protects our garden from the "Dudes" (we have three Doodles). The rose canes climbed up on the fence but did not bloom; this year they are covered with tiny pink buds! It will be such a gift to see them bloom this summer.
In art-making, it is sometimes a long distance between the initial inspiration and its full manifestation. Four years ago I began to envision a doll theatre....but first I had to move to Oregon and then begin construction of it in my new studio. I thought I would start building it and power on through to the finish. However, such a complex project turned out to have many phases and some steep learning curves. Four years is a long time to hang onto an idea which is dear to your heart, and since I always have five or six projects running concurrently, it has been longer than usual. In fact, it is my longest running project ever, and has required mountains of patience and frequent time-outs of noodling around to see it finally manifest in a form which is quite different from my original conception.
Now the upper and lower lettering is in place. It's never possible to tell ahead of time where the challenges lie in a project like this. Mr. Bill and I found that wood glue would not work (too much slippage) so we had to find a different adhesive and begin again. I am happy to inform you that Diamond Glaze will stick anything to anything (including all my fingers to each other) and about three minutes into the process, it is not going to slip!
The footer is now attached and the lower lettering is in place--it says "the human heart revealed." Underneath the footer and concealing the bookcase will be a painted panel eventually.
Next Mr. Bill is going to fill in the wood joints with joint compound and then I will repaint them before attaching the decorative side strips. Here is a view of a side strip:
For those of you who would like to know how to attach lettering plaques to wood, Mr. Bill has devised a method of covering a 2" x 4" with wax paper and clamping it down over the plaque after we are sure it in place and that it won't slip under the clamps--this is accomplished by holding it in place manually for the first three minutes. Come back in an hour, and voila! that plaque is NOT coming off.
Here is the theatre with some of my actors lined up:
I am currently working on the curtains for the theatre. I have had to learn to take many breaks as I moved from one phase to another in this project. There are so many choices involved along the way that things need to settle and integrate between one phase and the next. So that kind of eliminates "powering on through." Like the beautiful heirloom iris Mr. Bill's Mom gave me three years ago, things bloom when they are ready. Guess what?
Rest and renewal is so important in art-making. Like the cycles of nature which surround me, I need periods of time to rest and simply be alive in the world. This means not making anything. It means not working on my many projects. It means taking a cup of lemon tea with honey and milk out to the deck and lying down in one of the loungers there and reading for a while before I close my eyes and bask in the warmth of the sun on my face.....
"There was a time when the beauty and the music were all within, and I sat and listened to my thoughts, and there was a song in them. I sat on rocks and wrestled with the melody which possessed me. I sat and listened by the hour to a positive though faint and distant music, not sung by any bird, nor vibrating any earthly harp. When I walked with a joy which knew not its own origin....when I sat on the earth as on a raft, listening to music that was not of the earth, but which ruled and arranged it."
--Henry David Thoreau, May 23, 1854