We are hungry for beautiful. Hungry for worthwhile, soul-gratifying experiences. We know on a visceral level that our lives cannot be complete without such encounters and adventures, but we often do not stop to realize how near at hand they are.

Time and again I am drawn to the allure of nature to fulfill these parts of me that long to connect in meaningful ways. These parts of me that desire to feel grateful. That wish to embrace wonder and seek miracles. That seek unfettered, authentic joy. All of these things can be found in abundance in nature.

I live in Maine. The seasons are bold, and impossible to ignore. Each one offers up unique gifts.

 

•••

Spring

• the unlocking of frozen earth giving way to regeneration and new life. the…

• babble of the river

• far-off cry of the red-tailed hawk

• rich, loamy smell of damp woods

• fresh foliage

• a carpet of velvety, blue-green grass

• golden lustre of blooming forsythia

• musical incantations of the vigorous peepers, singing on end, all night

• sunny windows

• delicate, paperthin blossoms of native serviceberry shrubs (also known as sugarplum or juneberry or saskatoon) that grow naturally in the Maine woods (I transplanted from my woods the one you see in this post). In the summer it bears sugary-sweet, delicious purple-red berries that taste much like blueberries. I’m planning to make a wild sugarplum pie with them.

• startlingly glorious returns of my crocus, daffodils, tulips, hyacinth, ground phlox, scilla siberica (called ‘spring beauty’), and leucojum (the white bell-like flowers in this post)

• nature’s plant medicine, as found in the daffodils springing up all around my yard. I have made medicinal infused honey with the roots (the how-too on my personal IG account @drawn•to•the•river) and I’ve been enjoying their new tender greens in my morning omelets, in salads, and on our Friday-night pizza.

•••

Keep your eyes open today. The beautiful is near and at hand.

XX

Grit. I have been contemplating this word. What does it mean to have grit, as a personal trait? The dictionary tells me it is synonymous with courage, bravery, pluck, mettle, backbone, spirit, strength of character, strength of will, moral fiber, steel, nerve, and fortitude.

Having grit won’t necessarily mean the same thing to everyone. I thought about what significance it has for me as I composed this purely iPhone photo art, Joan. As the work evolved and emerged through creative process, I was able to unearth my angle on grit, to become clear about my thoughts and feelings on the subject. Indeed, we are great mysteries unto ourselves.

Life experiences, some of which I believe we design for ourselves before we are born, are meant to teach and evolve our spirit. Yes, they can be painful and challenging. It seems the greatest life lessons often are. But the trick to allowing them to teach us, is to not resist them, but embrace them. To give in to them. To go soft. To not allow these happenings to turn our hearts bitter and hard, but instead to allow them to shape us into something stronger, better, filled with love.

By going soft in this way, we become open. We allow the learning to occur. In turn we become wiser. Stronger. We become more Light-filled and at peace. We become love. ‘Light-warrior’ comes to mind.

That is what grit means to me.

I ask you, and I ask myself this same question… Your life experiences… Will you allow them to harden you? Or will you choose to go soft and let them in and allow them to make you wiser, stronger, better, love-filled, and more evolved?

•••

 

Sharing Some Art:

• One of my iPhone pieces is currently part of the exhibit Mira Mobile Prize :: Earth – Our Panet, at the MIRA Forum Gallery in Porto, Portugal until May 13th. If you are a history buff, you might find the story of this gallery quite enchanting.

• Off-the-beaten path, artistic cinema is something that deeply enriches my human experience. I love it. Crave it. Seek it. I recently watched Her. Have you seen this film? It’s beautiful. Disturbing. Moving. Entertaining. And raises a lot of questions about technology and artificial intelligence advancements, relationships, and soul. Quirky. Unique. I enjoyed it more than I suspected I would. In fact, it’s now on my list of favorites. Oh, and Joaquin is nice to look at (even with his mustache).

• I am looking forward to seeing this film about one of my favorite dancers. It won best documentary at the British Independent Film Awards. Talk about a person with grit! And, just in case you didn’t contribute to one of the 19.5 million views of Sergei’s breathtaking performance to Hozier’s Take Me to Church, you can watch it now. He’s redefining the art of ballet in a big way; a great example of what an artist can do when he or she pushes boundaries and breaks rules to serve a creative purpose. Very exciting that he is forging this new path for the next generation of ballet dancers.

• I am drawn to certain books. They stand out and almost glisten on the shelf. That’s how I choose my books, and most of the time, it works. I found The Winter People at a thrift shop last week and have not been able to put it down. A mysterious, other-worldly, thriller ghost story that weaves narratives from past and present together in surprising ways.

• These paintings.

 

Thank you for visiting.

XO


Bumping along the backroad frost heaves on the drive to my art studio, I grapple with an idea for a new abstract painting.

 

charcoal • pencil • paint

 

My planning quickly gives way to more loose, vague impressions of how I might use these materials in ways that please me; with complete freedom to do as I wish. Abandoning expectations. Experimenting. Following creative instinct. Embracing an organic process. Being unconventional.

 

tubes of rich pigment • old wooden floors • an imperfect pottery vessel

 

Objects and artwork I encounter as I meander the old mill’s artisan studio floor are potential inspiration. Like a library of shapes, shadows, and color swatches. I pass by them as I walk the way to my own studio, but I don’t pass them by. I notice. I photograph them.

 

•••

 

My studio is quiet. Waiting. Inviting me to dive in and make a creative mess. I start with a splash of hot pink paint on the palette. Just because. Maybe because it was Monday.

I pause for a sip of coffee and the opportunity to space out on the meditative view of the deep, flowing river beneath my windows. The black water is laden with chunks of floating, melting ice; last traces of a cold Maine winter (at least one can hope, as it has snowed here before as late as May).

It’s hard to pull my attention away, so I don’t. Instead I linger. The relaxation that sets in when I’m with nature is delicious and addictive. A good kind of craving to have. I observe the reflections of the clouds and the trees in the water and marvel at how their shapes shift as the water moves.

I in turn feel a shift inside.

I feel softer.

Lighter.

Roomier.

Illuminated.

 

•••

 

I sit down and paint something I need to feel.

 

XO, ~Susan

 

A Big, Vulnerable Share:

Unveiled. My new website. You may have noticed the transformation of my online space here, which has unfolded over a period of several weeks after going live with the bones of it. There were lots of kinks to work out… both technical and aesthetic. I did the work myself as I have the skills to do so and I wanted full artistic control. This new website is responsive, in that it will adjust to any device you view it on. Essentially, I have created four different versions of my website in order for that to happen (for desktop, laptop, tablet, and phone).

A few fresh things on the site that I am smitten with (in addition to lots of new design factors). A map of sorts…

• a palette of silver and gold mixed in with hues of violet and moody blacks

• Parallax, which works on desktop and laptop versions. Notice it on the home page, where you get a peek of me in the woods… the effect is like a window into that world, which opens and closes as you scroll.

• a more attractive newsletter form visible throughout the site

• a nifty memo-style contact form on the Inquire page. Lines instead of boxes for the fields!

• a new header image on the blog page (It’s kind of long, so hopefully you’ll still find the actual posts with ease; if you’re reading this, I guess you did!)

• newly refurbished galleries under the Work link in the main navbar. Here’s the iPhoneography one. Click on the gallery thumbnails for full-window viewing.

• an About page which I hope will allow you to better-get-to-know the person behind the art.

• a new section called The Painting Studio, which also includes a peek into my studio via parallax. Yup, I do love to paint abstracts in addition to my main love of photography. Intuitive painting is a form of meditation and release for me. I’m discovering an organic approach that works well for me. One that involves a lot of water, patience, imperfection, and trust.

 

I think it’s time to pause, pop the cork on a little bubbly and celebrate the new site! Cheers! Happy Spring, Lovelies!

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