Madison

A little bit about "Meanderings"...

i thought you'd enjoy a little background info about this new series of abstract watercolor paintings i've been working on.  you can see them individually on my Saatchi gallery.  they started off as experiments in colour and as i finished off several of them, i noticed that the colours had some specific geographical roots.  

"Meanderings, No. 1" and "Meanderings, No. 2" have definite roots in the winters of Wisconsin.  my years in Madison taught me to survive the stark cold colourlessness of the Wisconsin winter, yet i found so much beauty in those winters and i hope the small bits of colour coming through reflect that.

"Meanderings, No.3" and "Meanderings, No. 4" were inspired by my recent visits to the beaches of Massachusetts.  rather than focusing on the water, i was drawn to the rocks that were being washed by the waves.

"Meanderings, No. 5", "Meanderings, No. 6" and "Meanderings, No. 7" so clearly have their roots in my years in Kenya.  the browns, reds and yellows will always evoke my childhood there, but i think the vibrancy of the colours are from looking back with the lenses of memory.  Kenya will always be a place of beautiful bright colours.

these paintings are also about the process.  most of the time, i start out a painting or art piece with a definite finished image in mind.  with this series, i had some idea, but left the colours to spread as they wanted to with the spreading of the water.  it was really freeing to not be concerned about how the colours would spread and to find surprising interesting details in the way the colours bled into one another.

the days have been cold and bleak here, so i have been filling my mind with all the colours you see here.  hope they bring a spot of colour into your day as well. :)

Hope

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"Hope" is the thing with feathers -

That perches in the soul -

And sings the tune without the words -

And never stops - at all -

 

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -

And sore must be the storm -

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm -

 

I've heard it in the chillest land -

And on the strangest Sea -

Yet, never, in Extremity,

It asked a crumb - of Me.

 

Emily Dickinson

 

i think this poem best captures what i've been feeling and thinking lately.

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it's been a while since you've heard about the teacup installation, but they are on the move again. :)  and this time, they are traveling all the way to NYC!!  it's kinda crazy - i will give you more details later, but right now, i'm packing them up in a box.

❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

we're struggling with the winter here.  every morning, it's a battle getting everyone out of bed, bundling up in all our winter gear before heading out into the cold.  i don't blame the kids wanting to stay in bed all day - i mean, who doesn't with all this cold and bleakness that won't go away?  but i'm trying to find the sweet spots and here's a couple of them in the midst of all the white and the grey and the brown.

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here's to spreading the love, despite the cold!  happy valentine's day to you all!  thank you for hanging with me here and i look forward to sharing what the future holds for me.  let's keep searching for those sweet spots.  these yarn hearts can be found in the Wingra School playground.  i believe they were made by the students a while back, but they are still as vibrant as ever and have survived the winter quite well.

btw, free shipping ends tomorrow at my etsy store - remember to type in "YR2014" when you check out!

Bittersweet moments

i have often wondered why the "bitter" comes before the "sweet" in bittersweet.  i like to think that the sweetness heals the bitterness and helps alleviate some of the pain or sadness, so it has to follow the bitterness.  i have a couple of bittersweet news to share.

the first one is definitely more sweet than bitter: 5% sad and 95% sweet.

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i packed up one of my paintings and sent it off across the ocean to another continent.  sad because i am always a little sad to say goodbye to something i have created, but like i said, only 5% sad.  95% of me is very excited at the thought that someone connected with my work and wanted it. :)

the second bittersweet moment isn't so sweet, 50% sad, 50% sweet.  a couple of weeks ago, my husband and i took a trip to Boston.  this is a shot from the plane as we took off from Madison at twilight.

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and this is Boston.  here's the bittersweet news: our family is moving there this summer.  we are sad to be leaving Madison - Madison has been so good to us!  and yes, the winters are brutal and long, but our lives here were full and we gained so much.  our two youngest girls were born in our house here and our little family has grown so much during our seven years in Madison.

but it is time for us to move on.  and Boston, i hear, is a great place to move on to.  we are excited about the future and all the new things we will learn and experience.  if you know people or places in Boston that you think i should know about, do let me know!  i would really appreciate that.  i am all for getting as much info about a place as i can before i move there.

What i've been seeing lately

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i had no idea how noisy snow can be.  it creaks and groans under the tires, it crunches and squeaks under my boots.  thanks to the famous polar vortex, i am learning properties of snow i'd never known before.

there must exist a language that has multiple words to mean our word "snow."  there's snow when it is wet and heavy.  there's snow that doesn't even melt when i blow on it because it is so cold - instead, it flies away but it isn't soft, it's cold and hard like tiny bits of glass.  there's snow that feels like cream cheese under my skis.  there's snow that flies against the face like powdered sugar.  and there's snow that melts and then freezes so hard, i can't even scrape it off the sidewalk.  i wish there were different words for snow so i can describe to you how the crazy temperature changes in our winter here has taught me to appreciate the complexities of snow. 

and while i still feel rather frozen (like Anna, from Disney's Frozen, when she enters the trading post in a frozen dress), i have come to respect winter.  you still won't find me raving about how i love winter, i will always remain a Kenyan at heart and in my bones, but i have a grudging respect for this season that is so harsh and so beautiful.

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and when i am cooped up inside, i pull these out:

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not only do they warm me up, but it cheers me up to be reminded that i will see such colors and flowers again, in the not-too-distant future. :)

Dreaming of the year ahead

i love the beginning of a new year.  the year stretches out before us like a new journey to be explored, full of unknown surprises, days to be filled with daily living as well as special moments. i also enjoy looking back on the past year, touching on those moments that are memorable and in some ways, marking the journey that is behind me.  and like most people, i love the idea of making a list of new year's resolutions...except, i never do make that list.  i love reading other people's lists on Facebook, nodding at the wise goals and resolutions my friends come up with, intending to try some of them myself.  but for some reason, lists elude me.  

but this year, i do want to try to hold onto one thing: thankfulness.  i want to cultivate gratefulness for life, in myself and in my children.  so often, life seems to hurtle by.  i want to savour those moments that will be really important.  so often, i seem to be distracted by the stresses and the negative things.  so often, i see life through the lenses of pessimism.  so often, i'm discouraged by all that is wrong in life, all that needs to be fixed.  i'd like to see life with more optimism and part of that, i have a feeling, begins with a thankful heart. thankfulness for the fullness of life.  because when i am thankful, all that weighs me down seems to disappear.

so, first off, i am thankful for winter (!!).  we are having a brutally cold winter here in Madison, so it's easy for me to be extremely grateful for a warm house and a working furnace.  but i know the cold months will take a toll on my outlook on life come March and April, so i am more determined than other winters past to keep a positive outlook.  having grown up in Kenya, i never learned any winter sports.  and every winter that i have lived in Madison, i had an infant to take care of, so i didn't learn to ski until last winter.  i was still rather shaky last winter, but this winter, i finally feel like i am truly skiing.  i'm hoping my newfound love of skiing will help me to embrace this nostril-freezing-cold winter.

many challenges and changes are ahead for my family and me this year.  my desire is to live through all of it, the good and the bad, to the fullest.

what are some goals you have set for yourselves this year?

and if all else fails, we can always dream.  afterall, "dreaming is free" - isn't that so wonderful and freeing?  so i leave you with Blondie's "Dreaming." ;)

 

Teacups at Crescendo

it was wonderful to have my teacups at Madison Central Public Library, but their time there has come to an end. over the past weekend, i installed them in a new location - Crescendo, on Monroe Street, just across from Trader Joe's.  it's exciting to have the teacups at Crescendo, a place known not just for what you can eat and drink there, but also for the great live music and concerts.  i do hope you will check out Crescendo - the teacups will be there through to the end of November.  the dark walls of Crescendo work beautifully with the white of the teacups. :)

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can you spot the teacups inside?

can you spot the teacups inside?

What I am listening to lately

so i've been sort of on a roll with my writing. i have started working on a new story. some days, the words come to me so fast and i'm barely able to keep up.  don't you just love it when it's like that? when what you want to say is crystal clear and sharp.  but i know there are those other days, when it is agony sitting before the computer, wondering what on earth i am trying to say.  so, while i'm on a roll, i'm going to take advantage of it. 

and while i am writing, i have been listening to this music:

 

 

 "Noble Heart" is my favorite song right now on PHOX's album, Confetti. go to their website and you can hear lots more great music! oh, and another reason to love them - they are a local Madison band. :)