I will build a small house in the woods with a library and a kitchen and a studio and a bed and when the wolf comes I will invite it in and read to it in a quiet voice with an even rhythm and a slow pace
I will cook the meat it brought me and we will lie on the floor holding the bone between us and chew our way to the centre until our noses touch
I will use a large brush to paint its portrait in gold and silver and grey with eyes closed and mouth just open
and when it is tired it will crawl onto the bed and I will lie beside it and comb its fur while it dreams
I’m making do without a printer at the moment – so the quality of these screen-shot images aren’t the best. I’ll update with better images in the future.
The theme for this year is all about the green world, the trees who stand guardian over us. the wild dance shifting with the seasons the wild pulse beating through generations from the branching root to the breathing leaf
I wonder if anyone noticed the theme of last year’s calendar…
Here in New Zealand, January is the height of summer, and while a lot of the pasture land dries and turns golden, we have an abundance of evergreen trees.
green hands hold the sky, shelter the land dance in the half-light, verdant choreography
I’m writing from the armchair in my living room, looking out over the bush and trees on property that flow seamlessly into the local bush reserve. This is the first image with the kereru (woodpigeons) I’m using for the cover.
I’m still finishing off the rest of the months. The text came first this year, so I’m scrolling through my photos to find images that resonate and connect with the text.
I’m thinking of making a pdf of the whole calendar available – my gift to the new year – let me know if you’re interested.
hold the sky, shelter the land
dance in the half-light, verdant choreography
filling the space
every window shows your face
your multitudes, your bright insistence
the falling begins
the withdrawal, the sheltering
hold life close to your heart and release the past
bright jewels fall
from your fingers, painting the ground
colours from a royal palette – amber, ruby, amethyst
release the lost ones
shelter those come home
clear a path, light a candle, set the table, close the door
deepen your shadows
rich histories beckon as we go into the dark
slow mysteries in the undergrowth, bright eyes watching
a little madness, a little wisdom
spin the compass in the midst of winter
a wild circling, a dance that keeps your heart awake
there is beauty in your ravaged body
and shelter still between your naked arms
not barren, only sleeping; not alone, the night birds are watching
awaken, unfold, arise
bathe in sunlight and transform it
green energy ebbs and flows in your veins
waking slowly, you smile
and colour bursts across the hillsides
fat, furry bees investigate your sleeves
arms heavy with flowers
you reach for the earth and greet the sky
walk the green labyrinth
end the year at the beginning
follow root and stem to the source
Unlike other years, when I’ve spent these weeks before the end of December putting together my calendar for the following year, this time I’ve started with and completed the text first.
Previously, I’ve chosen the photos that “spoke” to me, and then recorded their message. This time, I started gathering photos and realised I was choosing pictures of trees, and that there was a voice coming even though I didn’t have all the photos yet.
So I decided to let the voice speak, and I’ll revisit my selection and find or take new photos as required.
These verses begin with January and work their way to December. For those of you in the northern hemisphere, this might make more sense if you start in the middle.
And – veriditas – one of the three “v” words that have both well and truly settled into me and become a form of expression. I’ll post some work on the others in the new year.
We’ve had sunshine today, and rain, and thunder – and now the sun is out again. Reminding me that all things change, seasons pass, years too.
December is my my birth month – I always loved it as a child. It’s the month that held my birthday, the end of school for the year, the start of the long summer holiday, and Christmas. I remember hearing Santa’s reindeer on the roof once when I was about seven. I was absolutely sure of it. Now I think it could have been the Deer Mother and her kin.
Now this Sagittarian is thinking about the coming year – pulling back on the bow – wondering where to direct my attention – patient and strong enough to wait and hold – until I’m ready to release the arrow.
This is Grace – a beloved dog who lived with her family for fourteen years.
This painting of her is my absolute best painting yet – and I’m proud of it but a little nervous too.
That internal critic sneaks in with “hmm – well this is good – but can you do it again …? What if this is it…?” If only that voice could be silenced.
The only option is to keep working, keep trusting myself. And finding gorgeous creatures like Grace to motivate me and make me fall in love with the process of bringing their image into being on canvas.
I’m finding that I’m becoming more able to look at a rough shape in the early stage and “see” the thing I’m wanting to paint.
I’m working from a photo – I can see that, all the details, but I have to be able to see it in a different way – it’s as if I have to take the image inside and then project it back out onto the canvas.
And in that process things change a little – colours, composition.
It becomes real in my mind’s eye first – and then I need to create that on the canvas. That’s the challenge, the frustration – finding how to bring that inner vision into reality.
And another discovery – when I’m painting for someone else (as with this) it doesn’t feel right to share until they’ve seen it first. So I’m only comfortable sharing very early stages or oblique views – it’s as if – once I’ve started – it doesn’t really belong to me.
This time of year is full of spirit, talk of the thin veil, acknowledging ancestors.
Here in the Southern Hemisphere, we are well into spring, and I’m focusing on renewal and finding beauty.
Blossoms are everywhere, scenting the air, delicate pale pink petals on my small apple tree. The weeds are doing their best to compete, bright yellow dandelion flowers shouting from the emerald grass.
This is such an intense time, saturated colour, and the startling speed of new growth.
The flax flowers are almost opening, and when they do, tui will circle the house, then land and feed.
And I’ve been reflecting on how I can release my work into the world. This year has had such a focus on the visual. I’ve been gifting paintings to my friends. My own little efforts to bring beauty into the world. My little blossoms in the wind …
This morning began with rain, the gentle rain that collects and settles on leaves.
The photos for this calendar were all taken last year. I took another photo this morning that was almost identical – a year apart in time, but connected by rain and light.
There’s little more to say, except that, in these strange times, remembering the gifts the earth gives us could help us remember the gifts we can give each other and ourselves – gentleness, kindness, patience, encouragement.
At first I thought that was all I had to say. I felt an emptiness. I could feel myself casting around for the right words… there are no “right words”. There is only whatever you feel the need to say. There is only the saying of whatever it is you are feeling.
I feel the same rage that rises in so many women around the world. Frustration with the inequalities in our societies, with the sense of entitlement that so many express. There’s a part of me that wants to join in the cries of “burn it down!”. I don’t want to feel helpless, I don’t want to feel afraid. I’m drawn to myths of Medusa and Kali and the Morrigan. And yet I feel the witch-wound stirring in my blood, and I wonder if I can be courageous.
All I know is that I have welcomed the crone into my body and soul … and she speaks now, the wise woman, the healer, the mystic.
There’s a part of me that needs to step back, and breathe. Standing barefoot on the cool wet ground this morning, I felt calm and quiet, connected to the rain and the light.
And now – the sun has is out. I bask in her warmth and the wet ground is drying. And there were words, after all.