Monday, September 25, 2017

A Thousand Years a Tree

Here is an illustration I did of an ancient tree. 

For a thousand years, the tree was a tree. Before that, the tree was a sapling and before that the tree was just a little seed under the soil waiting for the rain and sunshine.

The tree befriended birds. The tree cradled their babies in his heavy branches.

The tree shaded the ferns. The frilly plants could grow and thrive because the tree filtered through just the right amount of sun.

Once a lumber jack walked past a tree. He pulled out his ax. But then he felt something stir in his heart. The old tree reminded him of the tree he had carved his initials on with his first love when he was only a teenager. His first love had moved away, become someone else, he didn't know who. But for that summer they had been together, he had loved her more than anyone else. So, because of that long lost love, the tree kept growing.

Another time, a lightening streak shot from the sky. There was only one tree taller and the moss covered giant cracked and fell under the strength of the lightening. The tree felt sad to see his friend fall, but he still stood strong.

Someday, something would happen. But for now, the tree kept growing and growing. Inside his great girth were a thousand rings, one for each year. Someday, the great tree may have a thousand more. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Winter Fox Protects the Forest

Today was a rainy, rainy day in Seattle. The sunshine is gone and it really feels like Fall. Winter is just around the corner. Here is a Winter illustration I did recently. 

The fox has existed thousands of years. The fox has lived thousands of places. Now it is the end, the coldest winter of all. But the foxes red coat is thick and the foxes big heart pumps warm blood.

The thing about Winter is that it makes you crave warmth, but you have to create that warmth on your own. You can do this by brewing a hot mug of tea, or cuddling with your cat, or building a fire in the hearth, or wearing a thick sweater. The cold is beautiful because it just makes you more pleased to be warm.

Sometimes you need help from others to stay warm. Sometimes an ancient fox scampers from the shadows and wraps around a forest, warming the entire woods, including the little log cabin full of a family of adventurers. The family spent the day in the snow, but now inside, they feel warm and safe.

Someday the parents will grow old and someday they will be buried in the woods. Someday the children will grow up into adults who will have there own children. The children will tell there own children about the fox that protected the forest. The children's children will just think it is another story like Santa Claus- not real, or only real in the sense of the spirit of the story. The children will tell the story but will wonder if they imagined the whole thing. The children will grow old too. As they age they will dream about the fox. Finally, they will know for certain it all was real.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Burien Yarn Bombing

I found some yarn bombing/ yarn graffiti in downtown Burien. I love the look and idea of yarn graffiti....mixing something thought of as wholesome (knitting or crocheting) with something thought of as hooligan mischief (graffiti.)

I can just imagine a granny in her living room, knitting away while watching cozy mysteries on the television. Her grandchildren assume their granny is knitting them another unwanted sweater. But instead, granny stealthily sneaks out in the middle of the night and gently places her sweaters on the trunks of chilly trees instead of the shoulders of her grandchildren.

Or the anarchist kid with DIY tattoos inching up her arms and spray paint stained finger tips. At night time she crawls out the window of her bedroom in the big  house she shares with six other roommates. The open window from her bedroom leads to the roof where she sits with  her knitting needles and yarn. She spends the rest of the night knitting designs to pin on fences and over bus stop benches, while  the stars glitter above her.

Or the knitting circle at the coffee shop, the college kid who loves to crochet mini animals also crocheting decorations for the city, the housewife or house husband, all the normal people with a hobby often thought of as mundane or cute or quaint...actually contributing to a secret system of city decoration!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Saltwater State Park

I went to Saltwater State Park recently. I appreciated that the park told me to "Observe and Respect Beach Sea Life" but wasn't as keen on the park telling me "Do Not Remove Shells from Beach." I love removing shells from the beach! Over my years, I have found all manner of delightful treasure on the beach. The way I deal with the disappointment of not taking any shells home while still participating in the very enjoyable hobby of beach combing is by taking pictures of some of the coolest shells and stones I found. 

The beach itself was a beauty to behold also. Lots of mossy rocks and lightly lapping saltwater waves.

We saw some animals while there: crows visiting from the city to feast upon acres of barnacles, a stoic great blue heron and little crabs dancing upon the seashore rocks.

Once a long time ago, Native American tribes went to this area to harvest shellfish. Now there are signs discouraging consumption of shellfish because it is toxic. I don't know what happened between then and now that a once abundant source of food became labeled as toxic. But no one eats the shellfish how except those foolishly brave or curious.

There is a log cabin in Saltwater State Park that once was the home to the parks rangers. After long hours in the park, rangers would come back to the cabin and cook up a meal of baked beans or stew. They'd sit on the edge of their bed and read books about wild men exploring wild places, relating to it all within their core. Eventually they would fall asleep to the sound of the woods: wind in the trees, crickets, croaking frogs, lonely howls, the rustle of leaves. Now, the log cabin is used as a natural history museum. I didn't go in when I was there, but I imagine there are stuffed mountain lions and skunks like most park natural history museums. They always say all specimens were found as roadkill so you don't have to feel bad about the thrill of close proximity to something so marvelous as that which was once a mountain lion. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Howard and Stan use their Dowsing Rod to Locate the Water Ghosts of Sunny Valley Marsh

Here is an illustration I did recently of Howard and Stan using their dowsing stick to find some water logged ghosts. 

When Stan was a young man, he had wandered into the woods and become lost. He tried as he might to make his way back to civilization, but had no luck. Eventually, he mostly accepted his fate that he would be a man of the woods, a man of the mountains, and a man of all great natural terrains. Sometimes it was lonely. But Stan became friend of the lark, of the willow tree, of the rock tumbling off the mountain side. And eventually, Stan even made a friend who could speak normal words... his rabbit human friend Howard.

Howard was born a rabbit like any other. But one day he was granted a wish by a particularly assertive gust of magical wind, traveling from the north where magic reigned. Howard wished he was a human, but the gust of wind was sloppy and only turned Howard into part of a human. So while he walked like a man, talked like a man and thought like a man, he still had the long eared head off a cute and fuzzy rabbit.

Stan and Howard both longed for something. They both longed to go home. Stan wanted to escape the wilderness. Although the wilderness had made him wise and kind and in a way peaceful, he wanted to say hello and goodbye to all his human kin.

Howard, despite his wish, longed to be all rabbit again. He wanted to go back to the warren. He wanted to snuggle against his rabbit friends. He wanted to hop through clover filled fields.

They had heard of the Water Ghosts and their magical ability to grant wishes. The Starlings by the river had told them tales of these ghosts. So with their dowsing rod, they traveled through the woods and over mountains until they reached the Sunny Valley. The pressed their dowsing rod along the ground and when it shimmied and shook, the dug. A marshy pond spread between their fingers as they dug, and the ghosts bubbled forth.

"How can we help you?" The ghosts asked.

"We want to go home!" Stan and Howard said together.

The next day, they woke up.

Howard hopped around with his rabbit friends. He didn't remember his former life, but sometimes he would have some rather deep thoughts for a cheery little bunny.

Stan remembered everything. When he was back in civilization, he often longed for nature again. Civilization had changed a lot since he last lived there. The people he knew were different now. They were so thrilled to see him, but they didn't quite trust him. They didn't know how to talk to him or what it was and was not okay to say.

The girl he had loved as a young man had married someone else.  His mother had died while he was away. His father had married another woman, a lady with a sour expression and a desire to shoo him out the door. His brother was in the army in a far off land. His friends had all moved to different cities and places.

In a way, he was back in the wilderness again. But he had done it before, and he could do it again.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Sunshine is your Craft Supply

Fun things to do in the sun:

  • Read while stretched out on a sunny drenched beach
  • Swim in the lake
  • and make sun prints!
Sun prints are a great way to use summer's greatest resource (an abundance of sunlight) to your artistic advantage. You are basically crafting with sunlight! 

If you want to make sun prints, here is how you do it:

What you need:

  • A tray with water and a dash of lemon juice (for more enriched color)
  • Sun print kit which includes the paper and the clear acrylic sheet you use to put over your objects during the exposure time.
  • Leaves, weeds, feathers, shells, rocks and other natural objects of interest
  • Sunshine!
Step One: Collect your specimen's. With sun prints, part of the fun is wandering around and seeking out your specimens/ artistic muses. It forces you to look at the plant life and nature around you in a different way. A sunflower is beautiful in person, but it is a quite dense flower and would not look as beautiful on a sun print. Something with a translucent petal would be extra beautiful or a flower with an interesting silhouette. A rock might be really extraordinary in person, but as a silhouette on a sun print it may look more like a sad blob. All of these things are important when deciding what to use for a sun print. 

Step Two: Find a shady place to quickly pull out a single sheet of sun print paper and arrange objects on the paper in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Depending on the object, put the plastic sheet over the objects (for instance, if you were using a shell for a sun print, you wouldn't need a plastic sheet, but with things like flowers, the end product looks all the more beautiful when the flowers are smooshed against the paper by the plastic sheet. Bring the arrangement into direct sunlight. 

Step Three: Expose to sunlight for two to five minutes. 

Step Four: Put the sun print int he tray of water and let sit for one to five minutes

Step Six: let dry

Step Seven: Press under a stack of books for a couple of days to encourage the paper to flatten. 

Step Eight: Marvel at the results!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Bright, Bright Summer

Summer, in all its oppressive heat and crunchy brownness and overgrown greenery. Blue skies are always pretty but sometimes a person just wants to see the color gray.

I was at a park this summer just walking through, looking at the sunflowers with their heavy heads and feeling the sweat cling against me. Everything was blaringly green and growing. The crops were abundant but some of them were abandoned. Some times of the year are beautiful and horrible at the same time. Some places are both pretty and sad. Some people are this way too.

This park was so pretty but it felt a little lonely on the outskirts, even when I saw people wander by. But I was glad to be there to see the plants in the sun and watch the birds and moths flutter around the plants. There were dogs barking in the distance, and somewhere in the neighborhood near by the silent cats hid and waited for dark when all the dogs lumbered back home and the cats could escape into the wildness of night. 

Summer is almost over. And when it is gone, I will be glad. I remember I use to love it. The smothering warmth, the sweat, the oppressive stickiness felt like shields of freedom. Every second was full of possibility and potential. But now, it is just the same except everyone is grumpier because they are hot. We are still at work doing work things. We are still at home doing home things. I can't wait till Autumn where I can walk down the street, feel a cool breeze on my cheeks and the beginning drops of drizzle falling from the clouds. I will be able to think clearly and move with dreamy purpose. I will be able to breath in big puffs of cool air. I will feel the rain water seep through the canvas shoes on that first day I left the house unprepared, but instead of thinking "darn, my feet are wet" I'll be grateful for the cold feet and wet socks and I'll think what a delightful surprise to my day.