Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. Thomas Merton

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Good Ol' Ralph

I found this quote and wanted to share it with you. It seems appropriate to what I've been saying. It comes from Catholic Digest's "Your Daily E-Quiet Moment (

The earth laughs in flowers.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Nature's Art

Here are a few examples of the art we can find in nature. All of these things have interesting patterns, motions, or sounds that create that emotional response in me, stimulate my mind, and lift my spirit. Yes, I do tend to focus on the positive side of art. I guess that's because there's enough out there to make us feel down and I tend to be an optimist. I like to view these things from different distances when possible because it gives a variety of images. I'll try to remember to add to this list as I see things in my daily outings.

butterfly wings
pebbles in a stream
spider webs
cloud formations in any kind of weather
bird feathers
flower petals
blades of grass
ants moving in their endless columns
the songs of birds, crickets, katydids, cicadas, frogs
goats browsing in the field
orchids on my kitchen window sill
fireflies--"lightning bugs" here in the South
sea shells
an anhinga drying itself in the sun
rabbits at play
rabbits "flopped out" at rest
the surf
jelly fish
herons fishing
herons flying
bats skimming over the surface of a pool in the evening
sunsets and sunrises

More to come.

Now start your own list.

Monday, April 28, 2008

What and Where Is Art?

Success! I seem to have fixed the font problem--for now.

In my first post, I talked a little about how art can touch the spirit. I do not seek to define art, but I find it necessary to give some sort of statement about what I consider art to be. There are many sources out there providing discussions of what constitutes art and I encourage you to take a look at some of them. There is even the question of whether art can be defined. Ask yourself, "What is art?" and see what you come up with. I think our initial reaction might be that art is something that is aesthetically pleasing, but that is certainly not always the case, especially when each individual has his or her own idea of aesthetics.

Art is certainly something that touches the senses, but it does not always have a positive effect. Each of us has our own idea of what is pleasing to the senses. Beauty truly does lie in the eye [or mind] of the beholder. I say that art is that which stimulates the senses or the mind by conveying ideas or emotions in a variety of ways. There is visual art, auditory art, performance art, and art that comes from the skillful manipulation of materials. We could call this latter type of art "craft," but where do we draw the line between art and craft? Is one spiritually uplifting and the other mundane, ordinary? Is there a level of execution, manipulation, and mastery of the materials and skills that elevates craft to art? What is the difference between a craftsman and an artisan? I will leave you to answer those questions in your own way.

Rather than attempting to define art and list all of its many variations, I prefer to think about the many ways I encounter and experience art throughout the day. This raises another question: Is art that which is only produced by human beings? I believe that art, or that which stimulates the senses, is not limited to being an expression of human creativity. I believe that art also is found in the natural world. For me, art is all around us. I am surrounded by the art I find in nature as well as the art that is created by my fellow humans. Each time I step outside or share the company of my non-human companions, I have the opportunity to experience art: that which stimulates the senses or the mind by conveying ideas or emotions. To illustrate this, I leave you with a poem by William Wordsworth (another of those memorized in high school--gee, we did a lot of that back in the Dark Ages). The photo is from a few days spent at Destin last summer.

"My heart leaps up when I behold"

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began,
So is it now I am a man,
So be it when I shall grow old
Or let me die!
The child is father of the man:
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


After submitting my first post, I noticed that I had managed to change the font in the portion after the poem I'd included. I'd wanted the poem to be in a different font, but didn't realize that I had not changed it back to my original choice when I resumed my comments. At this point, I don't seem to be able to fix it. My friend gave me some neat comments and suggestions. However, I haven't had any success with trying to fix the font in the first post. Perhaps I will get it worked out one of these days. I have a lot of learning to do. Lots of exploring and experimenting lie ahead. I wonder how this one will look when I post it (yes, I've clicked "Preview"). Well, here goes!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

So It Begins

I've been thinking about doing a blog for some time, but wasn't sure that I would have enough to say to sustain it. A few of my friends have encouraged me to give it a try, so I guess we'll see what happens. Since I am new to this, I'm sort of groping in the dark. I plan to focus on the art in my life: that which I produce (including my spinning and knitting), the art I see in nature, the various aspects of the arts that I have an opportunity to experience, and probably some things like my family life, my pets, and whatever else strikes my fancy and lifts my spirit the way art does. This is a work in progress. We'll see how we progress.

I am calling this "Art in the Wind." This is a phrase that my daughter and I came up with several years ago after we spent the day at our local arts festival that is held each spring. One of
the kids' make-and-take booths featured windsocks that the kids could make using strips of Mylar, ribbon, beads, feathers, and other goodies. After she made hers, we brought it home and hung it in a tree in the back yard (I also got to make one and it went in another tree). We decided that this would be the first of many pieces of "tree jewelry" that we would make during the summer. We looked for a name to call our tree jewelry and settled on "Art in the Wind" because it is art and it blows in the wind. I liked it so much that I began using it for all my other artistic creations and eventually came up with a logo. I used a fine, broad Sheaffer calligraphy nib to draw two wavy lines, one above the other, over which I wrote "Art" and allowed the wavy lines to form the crosses for the "A" and "t." As soon as I'm a little more proficient at this, I'll try to post a photo of it.

I also like "Art in the Wind" because art refreshes my spirit like a gentle breeze on a hot summer day. And there is something fleeting about it, too, in the same way that the breeze blows past us and is gone or the notes of a song or a musical composition or birdsong give us a brief moment of artistic experience and touch the spirit, but do not linger; though tangible while we hear them, the notes are gone as soon as they are heard. Even though we can create works of art and architecture that may last for many years, nothing we create will last forever. I am reminded of one of my favorite poems that I had to memorize in high school. It was written by Percy Bysshe Shelley in the first half of the 19th century.

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

The poem is about the remains of a colossal statue built for a powerful and egotistical Egyptian ruler who thought his dynasty would last for all time. Neither his monuments nor his reign were everlasting. I think there is a lesson for us all.

I create my art for my own enjoyment and that of my friends and other folks who share similar interests or who enjoy the things I create. It is fleeting. I know it will not last. It will blow away on the winds of time, but while it is here, perhaps it will give someone a momentary smile.

(photo courtesy