Growing Night Bloomers in the Western Reserve

 

Over the years on my artistic journey, I have seen over and over that my art is not something thing “I do”, rather it is an expression of my life and spirit. My expressions and processes take twists and turns just as my life does. Seasons of art, ups and downs, like the tides, like the passing of night and day. Sometimes I just get up on the “wrong side of my art bed”. The secret is that I must continue to make art with or without an strong inspiration and then as I continue the creative juices will begin to flow. A lot like what I have seen in relationships with those I love, a lot like my life of faith. Sometimes I just don’t feel like loving, or putting the effort into relationships and faith. But when I make a small effort wonderful things happen.

 

 

 

With my mother’s passing in April I found myself “fired” from my long term position as “caregiver”. After that came many emotions, experiences that I was not expecting. I did not realize how much of my life revolved around the role I had as daughter and caregiver.

 

I thought I was too sophisticated to have a “mid-life crises”. Long story short, as I look at the art that I produced since the loss of my mom I am surprised to find that I had put the bright colors aside and subconsciously chosen, silvers, grays and darker metallics. Possibly because for several months I walked in the presence of an ancient one and accompanied her through the valley of Death.   Seeing my mother’s small form lying in her bed of passing, I could not help but face my own mortality.

 

Epiphyllum oxypetalum   “Queen of the Night”

Growing up in Southern California my Grandma lived next door and tended a marvelous garden. One of her prizes was her Night Blooming Cereus. I remember as a child the excitement surrounding there rare blooms in the dark of night. My Grandmother was even known to invite guests for the sweet-smelling experience. With my Grandma’s passing, my parents tended the night bloomers and  continued the celebratory traditions.  Living in Ohio, I  do not have a single gorgeous night blooming cactus to my name.  However, as I look at my art garden, I cannot help but think that I am growing my own night bloomers. Creating  and tending lovely flowers to bloom and smell sweetly in the evening of my life.

 

 

On the Fair Edge of Winter

 Now that we have reached the threshold of spring, the fair edge of winter, I am finally looking back over the art which had made up my creative moments this  winter. Over the cold months I have once again found my artwork capturing the spirit of a Botanical Winter. From our windows on the woods, i I can see the  winter grasses.  Night and day they endure the frozen temperatures, winds and ice. They did not just endure but they do it with grace and beauty.

My themes this winter have  revolved around  the grasses and seeds of winter. They have such abundance and so many levels and interpretations. They are lovely. yet ignored.

They are trodden under foot and yet they are an integral part of our universe.

They are apart of the great dance of life. Our natural world revolves around the silent work of seeds and grasses.

Winter-An intimate Friend

 

The business of the Holidays is over, A few lights still hang and remind. Now the center stage is for Winter. Pure and simple Winter—Winter without holidays. A solid, unmanaged winter. In the woods we are very familiar with winter. Every stone, limb,log and creature is  the intimate of winter. Friend and foe and very familiar. This year my thoughts are on how winter is an important part of my relationship with the woods around me.  As in the natural world,all relationships have seasons. In every season I can choose to grow, learn and survive or wither and die off.For me, as a collage artist, I find an inspiration in the Bleak Mid-Winter that I find no where else.  In these cold and frozen months I find myself chasing after  subdued and frosty colors and textures. Something I would never consider in the warmer months.  Winter is a master artist teaching me anew to find the joyful patterns and pathways of the frozen times. I must try to remember this in my relationships also. Always to reach out to beauty in its many forms.

 

My Current Work- ABUNDANCE

Whistling for Rodger”, paper collage, acrylics, metal gilding, by  artist Helen Wilson

 

This past summer and autumn I have several new pieces in my studio. Their themes all seem to revolve around the idea of ABUNDANCE. Living on the edge of the woods we are constantly surrounded by Nature’s Abundance. So many leaves, so many grasses, flowers,tress, stones and living beings. Everywhere and always. This abundance fascinates and inspires me.

Skylark for the Artist” paper collage, acrylics, metal gilding  by artist Helen Wilson

 

 Summer’s abundance has come and gone, followed by Autumn’s generous spirit.

Now we are on the border edges of winter and Nature’s abundance takes on a new face.

Scheherazade and the Inner Workings of Plants

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I am often asked where I find my inspirations for my paper collages. I have to say that my themes come from many different and often unexpected places. I often find inspiration from nature, music, and  my reading.

Each winter, living on the edge of the woods, I find myself fascinated with the inner workings of winter plants. I look out the window and see all these trees, grasses, and shrubs stark, snow-covered, grey and bleak. They appear dead. Memories of their autumn splendor, spring time awakenings and summer abundance  run  through my mind. How can these vibrant plants just stand there, day and night for months, appearing dead and yet still carrying within them the spark of life? Against all evidence they are not dead.

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This morning I turned on my Scheherazade CD and decided to read up on just what plants are doing in the winter. As the music began I found myself imaging the inner workings of plants set to music. What interesting ballets or concertos could be based on these themes. I  thought my horticultural reading would be uplifting and poetic. I imagined with the music in the background and the frozen grasses outside my window that I would be transported in some lyrical manner.

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Unfortunately that did not happen. As I began to read i discovered words like tracheids, xylum, vernalization, extraorgan freezing, extracellular freezing, conduits, desiccation and freeze-thaw cycles. Not very inspiring I am afraid. Many words even my spell check did not approve of.

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So I closed the book, turned Scheherazade up louder and went back to admiring the frozen swaying grasses. As I watch their winter dancing, I imagine a tiny flame of life deep within them held lovingly by the plant’s dreams of summer days to come. And I imagine them  as ballet dancers swaying gently to the evocative strains of Scheherazade.I lovingly pick up my scissors and papers and continue to collage my thoughts about the inner workings of plants  and I join the grasses in the music of the spheres.

The Slow-Coming of Spring

 

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As I have mentioned before, living on the edge of the woods is an awesome education.

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Posed as we are now, on the edge of Spring, there are wonderful lessons to learn. This spring started early and then has been playing tug-of-war with winter for several weeks now. Its in the 60’s, its in the 20’s… the herons return and take up nesting and then the blizzards come again. The lesson I am taking from this is that nature works slowly. It is not an over-night, magical transformation into a Green and Pink loveliness. Spring is coming a daffodil at a time. Change and renewal are coming one bright green leaf at a time. We can be too busy to see the new green shoots or we can seek them and savor them.

This time of year, let us take lessons from the daffodils.

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So I am thinking about how spring comes so slowly to the woods North East Ohio. I remember Mark Twain’s quote about spring:

 

In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.

Mark Twain

 

I am thinking about the coming of Spring if people were in charge. It would be a very different thing for sure. We would pick a date, hire a PR person, get a branding agent, select a CEO, organize committees, hire a designer, an attorney and a fund raiser. Plans drawn out, hours of meetings, discussions, emails, faxes, and blue prints. Then as the date approaches, late nights, pots of coffee, fast food, frayed nerves and neglected families.

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Then, day and night, the frenzy builds until the eve of Spring is upon us. Extra workers, students, volunteers, migrants- every able bodied person.

 

Then on the first day of Spring we all wake up and

“TAA-DUH” SPRING HAS ARRIVED!

The leaves are out, the trees in full bloom, daffodils, tulips and crocus all blooming at the same time. Grass is bright and green, blue sky, nesting birds, hopping bunnies, butterflies flying across the skies. 70 degrees with just the right breeze to spread the smell of flowers and sweet grasses.. An over night transformation! This is what it would be like if we took the coming of Spring out of Nature’s Good Hands and let people do the job. I think I really prefer the slow approach and one daffodil at a time.

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Winter – A Season in Waiting.

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Over the past few years I have discovered that Winter is an ideal time to create art. When I am forced to stay in is a wonderful time for me  to take an artistic journey. While the woods outside my window seem still and dead I find my creative juices going strong. Winter invites me to creativity in it’s own quiet way.  I find myself once again learning from both the Natural world and the world of Paper Collage.

Winter in Ohio this year has been like a difficult  eleven month pregnancy.  Nature is waiting, and we wait with it.  When will the snows come? The grasses and weeds stand waiting in the fields.  The bare trees stand  as waiting sentinels. The cold woods are  like a waiting room, filled to capacity with well-wishers and wonderers. When will the snows come?  

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The old wait in concern and  dread: how “bad” will it be, will I survive?  The young wait with restless anticipation…will  there be enough  snow  to use my new sled: will the schools close? Those in the middle- wonder what  will the roads be like; and like the squirrels with their nuts and seeds set aside ,do we are have all the shovels, mittens, vitamins, salt, blankets, that we need?

 

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Winter is a time of waiting and deepening.  A time to ponder, reflect and think.  This is Winter’s invitation to all of Nature and to us.  “Take a break”. “Take a chill pill.”  Now that Christmas is over i know that before long the Spring Garden catalogues will begin appearing in my mailbox.  From past years experience, I know as soon as I open the first  Spring Garden Magazine, I will close the book on Winter and  wait for the coming of Spring.

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I will find myself dreaming of spring before I have learned all that Winter has to teach me. This year I resolve to try to stick with winter until it passes the baton to Spring. Until I hear Spring grasp the stick in its Merry hand and swiftly run on. Winter is a teacher with  millions of years of experience. Winter can teach us to let go and to not be afraid to be empty and barren. Winter has lessons about endurance and fortitude that any General would benefit from.  And Winter is an expert instructor about the Powerful Art of Waiting. The woods look dead, beyond hope and lifeless. But that is simply Winter’s great trick. Deep within the rivers, the fish sleep,  and the frogs dream. The trees are not dead lifeless things-within their walls the insects and animals are  refueling and remaking. The owls and turkeys perch in silence and the squirrels sleep and dream. The plants look dead, many cannot even be seen.  And yet  both deep within,  and barely beneath the surface, the triumphs and glories of the Spring are waiting and  and rehearsing for the Great Spring Extravaganza.