Saturday, August 31, 2013

Magic & Transformation in the Forest


There's always a healthy dose of mystery and magic in the forest, but August at 
RavenWood was an enchanted month. First, the amazingly talented Lauren Raine, 
artist, mask maker and ritual performer came to the studio to share her wonderful 
creations. A few folks gathered to see a collection of Lauren's masks and to listen 
to her speak about her work with the archetype of the Goddess and her traveling 
mask project. What an evening! The studio was alive with the charged energy of 
her amazing creations. See her web site here, her beautiful blurb book on her Masks of the Goddess project here and her blog post on her visit, here



Lauren now lives in Arizona, but for many years, lived not far north of here in Vermont. We met originally through our blogs, but soon discovered that we have many people in common. It was wonderful to have her here to share her masks and to walk with her in the forest that she had come to know a little in photographs. Lauren's masks are very powerful and travel around the country to be used by performance groups. She is 
quite generous to share her extraordinary creations with groups working with the 
Goddess archetypes, and what transpires because of this generosity is amazing. Do 
follow the link to her web site and go to the "Gallery" and follow links to some 
beautiful images of her masks in performances. 







I enjoyed seeing my paintings behind Lauren and her masks, and wished I might 
be able to make an enormously large forest backdrop for a mask performance... 
I love that idea. 




I took most of August off from the studio enjoying a nice long visit from my 
father and a quick one from my sister and niece. The weather was glorious - 
warm, sunny with low humidity. Though I wasn't in the studio, I completed a 
big project that I have been dreaming all summer - a stone patio in the 
Woodland Garden. With stone from the neighbor's stone pit and several trips to 
the river, a patio took shape.   


Pasha took on the role of the overseer, when not sleeping, that is. 



Eventually, smaller river stones will fill more of the cracks along with mosses and 
some alpine plants. Just a bit of edging stone to do still, and another trip to the river 
for small stones. The transformation of this area from mostly post-construction sandy 
soil to stone patio is quite amazing. I'm looking forward to the softening the mosses 
and plants bring.






Being so busy with guests and outdoor projects kept me out of the forest for a bit, 
but last week, Pasha and I wandered amongst the mosses, giant ferns and a huge 
variety of mushrooms. Days and nights are filled with the droning hum of crickets, 
and though it is loud and inescapable, it seems soothing and grounding to walk in 
the thick of it. 





















Truly a magical August at RavenWood - I settled into a peaceful flow, forced myself 
to take weeks off to restore and renew before my teaching year resumed. I did  
a newsfast, was only on the computer for short stints, and spent most of the month 
outside working, or sitting in the filtered sunlight under the big beech, sipping kombucha and allowing the humming cricket sounds to do whatever magic it does. 



42 comments:

Lynne said...

Those masks are absolutely stunning and look appropriate in front of your wall of paintings.
I like your natural stone patio and look forward to seeing it age and soften with the addition of flora.
And I especially love how Pasha accompanies you on your walks. That is a very special bond you two share :-)

gz said...

It does feel good to change ones working dimensions sometimes (ie 2 to 3) .Gives a fresh insight when you return.

over the rainbow said...

This is a beautiful post.....you live in a magical place. It has given me pause to wonder more deeply about where we pick to live.
Lauren's masks are transformative....I can totally see your backdrop!

Gwen Buchanan said...

Hi Valerianna, an exciting month altogether! Masks, visits, creating... Love your stone patio. the kind of outdoor project I love to be involved in.. working with natural objects. It feels really good.

My daughter has been won over by kombacha too.. she always has a batch on the go.

jude said...

love that last photo! it all came together

Kimberly Wachtel said...

Nice to see some pictures of the mask workshop! I agree...I'd love to see you paint a backdrop for her goddess masks and see the two creations work together in some kind of performance. Your patio turned out so nice! I would love to have tea out there with you sometime this month!

Tammie Lee said...

your August sounds wonderful
as i looked at your photos i thought
trees
and masks
masks
and trees
quite wonderful!
your stone paths are quite inviting
lovely Sept. to you~

Valerianna said...

Yes, Pasha and I are two peas in a pod... something like that. He knows how to be wild and gentle at the same time - and deep and thoughtful - just my kind of guy!

Valerianna said...

gz - yes, its a good practice to play around dimensionally, definitely!

Valerianna said...

It took me a bit to get here, but I appreciate this place and its wildness after a long stint in the city!

Valerianna said...

Hi Gwen - I love those projects, too, so concrete ( ha, or in this case, stone), one can really see the accomplishment. I love that about art, something really happens. I also love moving from inside to out and continually interacting with the garden and land... I know from seeing photos of your place that you and John love that, too!

Valerianna said...

Yes, that last photo has it all.... including the crickets.

Valerianna said...

Easier than an enormous watercolor might be an enormous print of one!

Valerianna said...

... and PS, come for tea, soon.

Valerianna said...

I can't quite wrap my head around it being September, and today is really sticky and not my weather cup of tea... looking forward to a bit of cool air soon!

Nancy said...

Oh the swirl of the last pic! Love it.

Susan Christensen said...

Dear V - Your patio is something really wonderful which you and Pasha will enjoy so much! Always such a pleasure to stroll vicariously through your part of the Forest. Off to visit the amazing mask maker; happy September to you, sus

Sandra Dunn said...

Your patio turned out so cool!!! Wow!
So happy to hear about your peaceful, fun and productive month. And a visit from your dad!

Wishing you a beautiful September!

Barry said...

VA - beautiful light in your forest; love the stone patio - must be energising to have the studio used for works such as the masks. Go well. B

Starr White said...

Wouldn't it be lovely to have an art installation outdoors with those wonderful masks displayed on the trees as you walk through the forest. Giving the spirits there faces. I love that idea.

I'm very impressed with your stone patio!! It looks fantastic, and I look forward to seeing it enveloped in soft green over time.......

Velma Bolyard said...

i can imagine where the patio will grow, so good for you to be very present to family and friends and enjoy that thoroughly. i know your students will benefit from that, and so will you. lovely photos of the mask, and the tree paintings.

Mo Crow said...

oh V! such magic you weave through the ether
namaste

grace Forrest~Maestas said...

the masks in your studio with your Work and energy...Perfect
and oh. just oh and oh, the patio. stone. just makes me feel so so Good
to think of your bare feet there...

Raquel Somatra said...

Lovely. Your home and land remind me of my shaman mentor's-- full of trees and leaves and cat paw prints, of masks and paints and traces of wild magic everywhere. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Sending blessings

rivergardenstudio said...

Your August does look magical, from your beautiful forest, to your guest artist and her masks, and then outside again to your stones. Food for the imagination everywhere!
roxanne

Jeri Landers said...

Traveled over here from Gwen's place. I love the forest "courtyard" you have created. The combination of flat stone and river rock is one I have always loved. It may be possible to lay something similar using broken concrete and river rock. (The concrete is often easier to come by, for me, than flat stone) But it is the woodland surrounding your patio that really adds to the beauty, great job!

layers said...

You always have so many beautiful images at your blog posts.
I want to thank you for leaving such a supportive and heartwarming comment at my blog post on trying to get back into my studio after a long bout with health issues. I truly appreciated your words of comfort.

Valerianna said...

I tried a few times with that shot!

Valerianna said...

Thanks, Susan, glad for your visit!

Valerianna said...

Thanks, Sandra - now if I could only get myself to do the final touch of edging on the patio, that would be great... I've been driving around with a few bricks in the back of the car as the heat and humidity has returned and I haven't felt like working in it!

Valerianna said...

Yes, energising is a good word for it, what its like having others bring their magic to the forest!

Valerianna said...

I love that idea, too, Starr... in fact, if Lauren had been here for longer, I would have liked to have done a gathering where people put the masks on and walked around in the forest. That would be so magical!

Valerianna said...

I do hope I'm well refreshed and full of good connections once I am back teaching!

Valerianna said...

Thanks, Mo!

Valerianna said...

I think bare feet on the patio stone will have to be tested out next summer, but until then, you can imagine me with soft clogs on there!

Valerianna said...

Thanks, Raque, its an honor to live amongst the wild magic here.

Valerianna said...

Roxanne - the challenge is to bring that magic through all the seasons... and most challenging, while I'm back in the world of institutional education. We'll see how I do with that!

Valerianna said...

I love that combination of flat stone and river rock, too... luckily, I live in an area known for its stone and my very generous neighbor with a stone pit was a big help!

Valerianna said...

Thank you, Donna, and glad you are feeling better!

Caterina Giglio said...

you captured the august magic very well and your stone patio is wonderful, I finished mine last year and i know how much work it is, but so very worth the effort...

Linda said...

I love your pictures of the forest... as well as Pasha...beautiful cat <3 The stone patio came out beautiful...I love small stones with the large..it is hard work but very worth it..Thanks for sharing the photos..:D

ELFI said...

les peintures et les masques se complètent.. superbe!