Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Moveable Feast in the Forest

"Ridges #2", watercolor on paper, 2011

There is a conversation traveling around weblands about the 
art of blogging. Terri Windling over at The Drawing Board 
referred to it as the "moveable feast", and the name has stuck. 
It has traveled winding paths from John Barleycorn Must Die to 
The Drawing Board, to A Mermaid in the Attic in Australia.
 It started with Howard and Rex of John Barleycorn Must Die 
and their around the table interview with Rima Staines 
of Into The HermitageI invite you to track back along 
the path to find many morsels of inspiration.  

March ninth marks my year anniversary of blogging, and I'm getting
 in on the conversation and telling a bit of my story about how and 
why I blog. Though I set up RavenWood Forest many months
before, I used it only once as an information board for a 
Summer Solstice event here. It sat idle for a long time 
until I had traveled around enough in the world of blogs 
to see the potential. 

When I discovered Rima Staines,Terri Windling, Midori Snyder
and the Journal of Mythic Arts a few years ago while looking
 for mythic artists to show my students, everything changed. 
I was instantly inspired by the beautifully visual worlds
 on each of their blogs, and began a journey down the 
many paths they laid in their link lists. I became quite
obsessed, really, though it was exactly the traveling 
I needed to do to offer my students rich and inspiring 
resources for a new class I was teaching, 
Myth & Symbol. 

"Orange Evening Sky", watercolor on paper, 2011

I'm not sure how it happened, but one day I decided that it 
was time to begin blogging in earnest, and I took the plunge. 
As my one year anniversary approaches, I reflect back that 
I had no idea how much this endeavor would gift me in 
inspiration and connection and how it would support my 
creative process. When I moved to RavenWood from
 Providence in 2003, I left a vibrant arts community, 
my 1100 sq. foot studio, and many, many circles 
of professional artists like myself. Coming here, 
I was making the choice to move close to my source, but 
also to move away from conversations, critiques and a 
community that very much understands creative process. 

"Wet Sky", watercolor on paper, 2011

I've discovered that blogging is an important part of my 
process. Christina over at A Mermaid in the Attic 
writes "I do not live in a close-knit creative community, 
and I can hardly accost a stranger in the street 
and force them to listen to the song I've just 
written or look at the painting I'm working on and expect 
an intelligent coherent comment." Having left my creative 
community behind, I have come to understand that 
blogging, for me, provides a format to write about my 
process and be witnessed. I have looked back at older 
posts and my work and seen threads of connections 
I might not have without the sequential 
nature of blogging.

I find that seeing my artwork online, in a new format, 
is a way of seeing it anew. Like the old trick we professors 
often advise our students - if you have been working so long on
 painting and you no longer really SEE it, look at it in a mirror.
 And, of course, as Christina says above, its also helpful to get 
responses. When I started doing a series of spiral drawings, 
I found the comments quite interesting. They continue 
to give me insights into the spiral form - I love 
the things that people see in them. 

"Afternoon Mists", watercolor on paper, 2011

I'm participating in conversations in several overlapping 
online circles. The mythic artists buzzing around the 
artists and blogs mentioned above, and many of 
you who follow here, and the stitching, dyeing 
circles rippling out from Jude over at Spirit Cloth.
The richly inspiring communities which I now 
touch into not only help me feel connected once 
again to artists, but also continue to support me 
to be a better teacher. I am continually pulling out 
my laptop during class to show a student some 
unusual use of materials. Blogs give my students 
access to artists who are in the trenches and who
 are talking about it and who might not yet 
be published in a major catalog or book. 
This is a gift and an invaluable resource.

There is much more to say, and I'll continue my musings
 another time, as this post is reaching "mermaid proportions!" 
(You'll need to follow the above links to get the reference...)
By the way the heater is working GREAT, I've never been 
warmer in the studio in winter. All the paintings in this 
post were made in the last two weeks, 
I've been in there a LOT!

I'll leave you with some images from my afternoon walk 
with Pasha. The first in many weeks since finally he 
can walk on top of the frozen snow. I sounded like a 
freight train walking in my snowshoes today on crusty, 
icy snow, but it is still necessary as even with much 
melting from last week we still have several feet. 

Pasha was so excited, he raced WAY up these trees,  

and down in a long, gentle slide all the way to 
the ground. I've never seen him do that before! 


kd said...

Happy Anniversary! and so glad for Ravenwood Forest, for the opportunity to see your work, to get to know Pasha (and you) and to know there are other creatives out there finding community this way. The dreaming nomad (aka Nomad dreaming) was begun originally to keep me connected with family and friends scattered all over the world, but has also given me structure and focus while bringing me new friends and the community of fellow wild spirit celebrants. The nomad has helped me through challenging times but above all it allows me to share joy and magnificance.

chicory cottage said...

happy upcoming anniversary! pasha's such a sweetie, especially in that last picture. i enjoyed your ridge paintings; one of the things i've wanted to do is to capture the blue ridge (haze and all) in a woven piece...maybe a tapestry of some kind...looking at what other folks are creating helps give me oomph to keep creating, too.

A mermaid in the attic said...

Wandering in to warm my hands by your new heater! I love that this Feast has already flitted from the UK to Australia and on over to the US...where will it be tomorrow?! It is such a joy isn't it, to be able to see the work others are doing, discover new and exciting techniques, find answers to questions you didn't even know you had. But most of all, to know there are others out there who are also wandering these strange and sometimes overgrown by-ways, creating, writing, painting, singing, WHATEVER it is that feeds their souls...even when sometimes it is hard (especially financially for many artists)! Those who've gone ahead leave signposts for the rest of us and we know we're not alone.

Hmmm, we may not have a new word for 'blog' yet, but it looks like we have a new phrase for overly waffley and long-winded posts...oh well, I shall wear it proudly LOL!

Christina xxxx

A mermaid in the attic said...

Oh wonderful and serendipitous! The 'word verfication' on that last post was 'fareaten'. How perfect for a 'moveable feast' criss-crossing the world!!

Sweetpea said...

A thoughtful, thought-felt post...thank you for carrying the torch forward on this close-to-my-heart subject :>]

Rowan said...

Congratulations on your first year of blogging, I always enjoy your posts. I shall follow some of the links later when I have more time.
I'm glad that you are nice and warm in your studio now, your time there has been well spent, I really love the painting called 'Wet Sky'.

Terri Windling said...

A wonderful post, and a tasty addition to the Feast. Congratulations on your upcoming anniversary! It's always a pleasure to walk in your woods, along with the magnificent Pasha.

And now, like Christina, I wonder where the Feast might move to next.... Perhaps Midori, in Tucson, might be persuaded to chime in...?

-- Terri

Post script:
I imagine that Hemingway, staunch realist that he was, might have taken exception to myth-and-fairy-tale obsessed artists appropriating his title"A Moveable Feast"...but he too understood the need for artistic community, for all that he liked to present himself as a rugged individualist.

ArtPropelled said...

I look in wonder at Pasha gazing up at me from the wooden bench ...snow all around. Here I sit sweltering in the heat of Summer and wondering what on earth I would do without the connections I have made within the blog world. I too have found my art community on line. A community I have not found here in my home town. It has been a revelation! Glad you are snug in your warm studio and creating such beauty. Ridges and Wet Sky bring me good memories. I always feel very close to nature on misty or drizzly days. Lovely post Valerianna!

Kimberly Wachtel said...

How exciting! ...A nice warm, comfortable studio and new work. I love looking at the watercolors, beautiful. I also love reading how you are looking back on your first year of blogging and what connections, friendships and community you have made. I'm hitting my year mark with my blog this month as well and have been thinking how much it really has allowed me to grow in new ways and how I enjoy following and looking at other creative lives. This "world/dialogue" is very important for creative types to have a broader community of interest and support. Thank you for sharing your meaningful thoughts!

Lynn said...

Wonderful! Thank you for sharing how you came to establish your beautiful blog.

I'm so enjoying pigging out at this Moveable Feast.

I have found that since moving to Germany from Canada, the blogs I follow have been giving me a much needed connection to creative people in so many areas of the arts. It's a good feeling to be able to connect in this way, and share thoughts and images and ideas.

Congratulations on your blog's anniversary just around the corner! I'm so glad to have discovered it.

Mo Crow said...

thank you for the morning cuppa Valerianna and enjoyed the walk in your snowy woods with the gorgeous Pasha.
I love watching all the different creative processes (be they writing, painting, jewelry making, music making... whatever) develop over time, blogs are like those David Hockney photo collages in action...
or as a wise glass artist said to me many years ago,
"The fun is in the process the outcome is just debris"

Michala Gyetvai (Kayla coo) said...

Congratulations on your year of blogging.
I agree that the online art community is an amazing source of encouragement,goodwill and inspiration.
It is wonderful to share with others all over the world and it shows how important and universal art is in its many forms.
Thank you for sharing your art community and artist way of life.
M x

Windsongs and Wordhoards said...

Hi Valerianna,
Well I never,I started my blog last March too! I have also been enjoying the various threads of this blogging conversation and finding a lot that rings true for me too.
I love the series of paintings here, as ever just breathtaking in their emotiveness and atmospheric beauty. I especially love the delicate softness of the trees half obscured beneath the mists.
You certainly have been busy in your studio! Just wonderful paintings...
Carrie :)

Medieval Muse said...

The new heater seems to have fueled your artistic temperament to perfection. Love the new work - truly amazing. And Pasha seems to be answering the call of the inner wild cat! I would have been a little nervous watching.

Beautiful post!!!!

Umā said...

Happy blog anniversary to you Valerianna, it is always such a pleasure and inspiration to visit you here!

Valerianna said...

Thanks, everyone, for the anniversary well wishes!

kd - "wild spirits..... joy and magnificence - absolutely!

chicory cottage - I'd love to see what you come up with for your ridges in stitch or weave, interesting.

mermaid - yes, great feast we're having... I LOVE the fareaten word thing, how funny! I'm forever noticing those strange words and feeling like commenting on them, but then think people might think I'm a little batty. I love words, especially those whacky ones!

sweetpea - you're welcome and thank you. Chime in, chime in!

Rowan - Do track back along the links if you can, its a great discussion and a wonderful circle of folks if you don't know them. Interesting about that "Wet Sky"
painting, I didn't have the paper I usually work on and was ready to give it up when I saw another way of working with it. Its not as rugged as the other paper, but I think I could use it occasionally. Glad you like it.

Terri - "the magnificent Pasha" - I like that! True about Hemingway, but, he's an ancestor now, and maybe more "mythic" in his new elder state!

Artpropelled - Hard to imagine sweltering heat! We've had SUCH a cold and snowy winter here. I'm counting on an art sale or two to pay my snowplowing bill! Its tripple what it usually is for the month, grumble.... Interesting that so many folks are talking about finding their creative community online and not at home. Its great we have one of them, too bad we couldn't find both!

Kim - Wonder if you'll make art in my studio while you're house and Pasha sitting? Its nice to have you both as one of my online and local communities.

Lynn - I have some licorice tea if you've overdone things with your pigout... a good, soothing herb for internal systems. Love seeing your icon on the feast post comments... I'm seeing my "tribe" all around these days.

MoCrow - I love that image, a David Hockney photo collage in action, perfect!

Kayla coo - Its a great pleasure to share with you, I get so inspired by your work. You are one of the folks I often show students who are wanting to branch out in their use of materials...

Swan Artworks - Maybe you'd like to add your dish to the feast? Thanks for your feedback on the recent paintings, I thought I'd be going somewhere different, but these small paintings are calling me to do larger ones in the same vane. I just bought new paper today and will be in the studio again at the end of the week to see how large I can go with these. Technically, the larger I get, the harder it is to maintain the smooth transitions and keep things evenly wet to blend the trees in. But I'd love to get them as big as possible, we'll see.

Medieval Muse - Having heat and a LOT of pent-up imagery has possibly been a good thing. Pleased that the work speaks to you. I'm excited to get back to work Thursday.... And how 'bout that Pasha! It was amazing to watch. I don't get nervous watching him climb trees, he's an expert, but its the tightrope walking across the railing above the spiral staircase that drives me crazy!

m - thanks, and maybe someday we'll actually see each other out and about in our local community!

illustration poetry said...

and im so happy to have met you through blogging.
you do wonderful art, really, wish i could paint like you.

wish you a lovely day.

illustration poetry said...

oh, and your cat... im just in love!
(i once had a lover that was a cat)


Unknown said...

V - You have captured so many of my reasons for loving the blogging art world - contact with other artists thru their wonderful blogs is a boon to my island-bound isolation. I count myself so lucky to have an inspiration like you as close as my laptop. Your recent work is outstanding, by the way - thank goodness for your new heater.
Hooray for Pasha up the tree!

chris a said...

Happy anniversary! I too have been partaking of the feast and leaving my calling card a bit more than usual. I feel very fortunate to have discovered so many inspiring artists and writers through their blogs. Your landscapes are beautiful, and Pasha is stunning! Thanks for the wonderful images and words.

Velma Bolyard said...

those paintings are worth waiting for! the heater, though late coming (or so it seems) has warmed more than a studio. fine paintings, especially wet sky and ridges.

Bree said...

Happy anniversary! I have visited you here a few times and so enjoy your words, images, art. I always click away with a most wonderful feeling of kinship. I began my blog nearly a year ago too, with the hope of one day finding a community of artists online. It is powerful to know that we are not alone, especially as so many of us make the things we make in solitude.

Valerianna said...

Sympathy - thanks, your words are quite meaningful coming from such a talented painter! And, of course, what can I say about Pasha? He's definitely my love-cat!

susan - hi out there in you island-bound place! I totally agree... such magic comes out of this thing I carry around with me - a whole world/universe... magic!

Christina - thanks for stopping by and thanks for the feedback on my new work... and always welcome comments about the kitty cat.

Velma - thanks!

Bree- Definitely a challenge as an artist to spend so much time alone in a studio...! Thanks for stopping!

gz said...

Good to meet you (via Rima)and your cat.
Ravens wood feels good. Here we have Ravens walk, through woods and around mountains

Acornmoon said...

Congratulations and celebrations on your anniversary. There was an interesting discussion on the radio the other day about community and what defines it. It seems to me that our blogs do connect us in a very real way and community is no longer defined by geography.

I only have to look at the other comments here and the blogs that you mention and I have entered a familiar world.

Your landscape paintings always remind me of Japanese wood engraving.

angela recada said...

I love this blog, and how you see the world!

Heather said...

I came here via Jude, it's lovely to visit your blog. I live on a remote island off the coast of western Canada, and being able to connect to the rest of the world through my laptop is so crucial to my creative process. Thanks!

Tammie Lee said...

it looks as though your warm studio is behaving like a wonderful muse for you! your art has wonderful feeling to it and lovely to see.

I have read some of the blog articles you have mentioned over the last couple of days, so it was fun to read your post and your feelings and thoughts about blogging.

wishing you another wonderful year and beyond of blogging!

Valerianna said...

gz- thanks for coming over for a visit. I like the sound of ravens walk..... sounds like a place to visit.

acornmoon -ha, interesting, I've not thought about an association to Japanese woodblocks, however, I grew up in a house with MUCH Asian art, my parents and grandparents are/were collectors.

Angela Racada - thank you!

Heather - Does sound like a computer would come in handy where you are! I'm not that remote, however, it can feel like it if I want it to.

Tammie Lee - Thanks for the feedback, though today and yesterday I wasn't QUITE as successful as last week, I don't think. Though it will take some time to really SEE what I painted today.

Barry said...

V-I love the way artists can continue to discover each other and be energised by the sharing that goes on through the blogs. Websites are ok for advertising what we do but blogs tend to share who we are. Thanks for sharing including a glimpse of work in progress. Go well. B

Jacky said...

Wonderful watercolours .... I especially love 'afternoon mists' (something we dont really experience in Australia - at least where I live).
Enjoy your lovely *warm* studio.

Yvette said...

thanks to Jude I landed!

Gwen Buchanan said...

Oh I have so enjoyed your mystical landscapes and your painting table .. and can't forget your sweet cat friend.. I used to have a cat named Chantzee that could have been a brother.. never has been a cat that could replace him.. best to you..

Cozy Knitting said...

Where to begin? I found a link on Spirit Cloth, and you have opened my eyes with new links. I love your watercolors and sculpture. I cannot believe that I described my visual trip last week in meagre words, but then I found you had painted them! It has given back to me that I, too, can try to visualize again through watercolors. My kitty loves to walk with me in the woods. His inner wild cat is released, and he becomes the mighty hunter that he is. Thanks for your blog; thanks for sharing your thoughts; thanks for your work.

Clare Wassermann said...

ah I have just discovered you. Your paintings are making my mouth water! Funny huh? Anyway hello from Middle England

Nikiah said...

Great post and thread on this subject I enjoyed it very much. Your new paintings have me breathless! Etsy is calling you to open a store,and I will be your first buyer~
I also wanted to let you know that I added your blog to my resource/links page as I really love coming here and wanted to give it a shout out!
Bright Blessings

Ursula Achten said...

I nod heavily to every word you've written!
Blogosphere is all about inspiration if you're open to see it!
I'm happy, that you passed by and left your trace. So I was able to have a look at your wonderful house and be blown away by your watercolours. I'll surely be back!

Ruthie Redden said...

Valeriana, I have been following the crumbs!

It is indeed amazing to read of the different ways folk have been changed by this blogging place, there is something almost magical at work here. In truth i think it shows the depth of connection that folk can discover when freely sharing experience, words & images. So very powerful. I too live in a place where connecions of this kind are few and far beetween & I will forever remember the day i first stumbled upon blogging for all that i have gained in my life, the connections, the inspiration & the friends. x

jude said...

i think back to my reason for blogging. to try to communicate something through cloth making, and actually the blogging about cloth making has been a test of just that. i think i learned a bit about communicating. it's the form, the conversation part, an interactive diary. i think it is quite valuable.

Karen said...

Happy 1st blog birthday to you.
You have created a wonderful place here. It's a joy to come and see what you and Pasha are up to in your stunning magical forest. Long may your journey continue. I'm sure time travels faster in blog land? Don't you think?
Hmm...I feel I must add my thoughts and join in with this 'moveable feast' soon. ;) xx said...

This is a specific comment about your cat, Pasha. I believe he is a Maine Coon. I also have a cat, Sugar, that looks a lot like your guy. We did not know what breed he was til he was about 1 1/2 yrs old. It took that long for him to fill out and take on his Maine Coon properties clearly. This is a wonderful breed. It's like having a happy puppy for a companion, but better, because they always smell good and don't bark. In fact they hardly even meow.

Valerianna said...

Barry - yes, very true. Thanks for stopping by!

Jacky - I don't know what I'd do without mists... I get carried away, they so transform the landscape, filling the space and bringing such mystery.

Yvette -I've been to your world quite a bit, I love your work. Glad to share some with you here.

Gwen - Pasha is surely one of a kind... more so than other kitties that have lived with me, though they've all had their ways. Glad you enjoyed the paintings and the table.... !

Cozy Knitting - Oh DO take up watercolors again!

Clare - Never had THAT response before, but, why not?

Nikiah - thanks, and thanks!

Uschi - Thanks for the enthusiasm!

Ruthie - Oh, glad the ravens didn't eat the crumbs along the way before you got to the trail's end. Its a long journey from either Australia, or Dartmoor, whichever way you came, who knows what wood you might have been stranded in if they had!

jude - absolutely, that's why I love your blog, the conversations you invite with your students and followers are rich, indeed!

Karen - thank you, and I do hope you'll chime in, its been an inspiring feast.

juliasews - Yes, Pasha is a Maine Coon. Pasha, like your Sugar, also took a while to mature into his full mane, etc. I guess that's also a characteristic of the breed - supposedly they mature more slowly in the first couple of years if I remember correctly. And they are surely not dogs, but have some good, spunky pup qualities! Though in his elder years, Pasha is meowing a LOT more....

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