Last Friday, I spent several hours on my favorite island, visiting some of my old haunts. It was the first sunny day since we marked Summer Solstice on our calendars.
I sat under a hawthorn tree at the edge of a vast meadow ringed round by evergreens, and gave thanks for this place of sacred solitude. I was utterly alone (no other humans, I mean!) and felt completely safe and cradled by the love of the island. I cloud-gazed. I listened to the song of red-winged blackbirds. I pulled up a clump of wild garlic and deeply inhaled the pungent scent of its bulbs. I noticed the iridescent wings of dragonflies flashing in the light. I felt the sun on my brow and the breeze on my cheeks. I nibbled on a handful of fresh-picked raspberries from a neighbor's garden. I watched a swallowtail butterfly dance up to the tops of tall cedars then circle back down to the meadow again. I gave thanks for this most holy place and time.
This was my Solstice celebration.
Last week I gave myself the gift of an art retreat — five days of getting up and knowing there was nothing on my plate to do except make art, all day long. Heaven.
I haven’t done any artwork at all since I finished the last Gaian Tarot card last fall. I’ve been wanting to learn the ancient process of encaustic (painting with beeswax) for the past three years, but didn’t allow myself to try it out until I had finished all the GT cards. I even signed up for an encaustic workshop on Whidbey Island (not too far from me) last September, then had to cancel because I had too many deadlines at the time.
I became fascinated with the medium when I realized its possibilities — you can build layer upon layer of collage, paint, and embedded objects, with layers of beeswax inbetween. All the layers are translucent and the bottom layers are somewhat obscured. You can scribe lines and textures into the wax, and you can scrape back parts of the top layer to reveals color and pattern underneath.
It’s messy and tactile and makes room for happy accidents. It’s about as different from colored pencil painting as you can get!