Embracing Your Second Grade Self

The last thing I expected when I started the Doodle Arts and Lettering class was for it to remind me of lessons I learned from the book Walking in This World by Julia Cameron. Lessons like the importance of staying in touch with your inner child.

It’s odd that as we “grow up” we lose the confidence and hope we had as children. Too often it’s replaced by fear of failure and self limitation. We forget to celebrate the little things and dwell over the mistakes we make for far too long. Many of us compare ourselves to others and let self-doubt hold us back from creating.

If we’re aware of it, it is possible to tap into the spirit we had as children and believe in ourselves and what we have to offer the world.

I have to admit that I wasn’t looking forward to the second lesson and drawing a whimsical dress to represent a second grade girl. My drawing style isn’t whimsical or cute and I was tempted to skip it. As it turns out, I’m glad I didn’t.

I was hooked as soon as the instructor explained the reason she wanted us to draw a symbol of a second grade girl. In second grade is that we had no fears or limitations, we just had some skills believed anything was possible. “Embrace your second grade self.” What an interesting idea not only in art, but in life.  The assignment might be to draw a whimsical dress, but the lesson is something completely different.

The first step was to create an entry with the phrase “I embrace my second grade art girl,” written in it.

I’m not sure why, but I knew that it would take me more than one attempt to complete this part of the lesson. Not because I was trying to be perfect, but there were three versions of the drawing inside of me.

Version 1:

embracing my second grade art girl_take one

Version 2:

I embrace my second grade art girl_version 2

Version 3 – in progress:

embracing my second grade art girl version 3_1

I painted the background blue and green for version 3. The purple background is for the next part of the lesson which is to complete the entire phrase.

“I embrace my second grade art girl—I know she’s in there somewhere—She’s the most Free Spirited I ever was in my Whole Life—She has skills—She is Playful, Fearless, Curious, Excited and Free — I am Her.”

A friend of mine always says that what I draw symbolizes something inside of me and I think that may be true. The past several months have had their challenges and it’s been difficult to remember to take time to look at life through childlike eyes.

The Doodle Arts lesson has been a good reminder that each step of the way I am gaining more confidence in myself and my future is bright. I’m now looking forward to drawing the dress. I don’t know how “whimsical” it will be, but I know it will be mine and I will embrace the symbol of my second grade self.

It’s been an Artistic Winter, but – Is it Spring Yet?

Holy buckets I’m tired of winter!

I will say that this winter has been very good for one aspect of my life. The long winter nights have been conducive to spending quality time with my ink journal. I’ve also joined a couple of artist’s groups on Facebook which has turned out to be both fun and inspiring.

I’ve met some great people and it’s fun to sign onto Facebook and see the latest ink journal entries, doodle art, and mixed media pieces. There are so many amazing artists in the world, it boggles my mind.

When I started drawing in my ink journal, I called each entry a ‘doodle.’ What I didn’t know or appreciate at the time is that doodles aren’t just the shapes someone draws on the edges of a notebook while they’re waiting for a boring meeting to end. Doodling is an art form and an excellent way for me to relax.

I learned about an online class called “Doodle Arts and Lettering” through one of my new Facebook groups. On a whim I registered, bought the supplies, and started the lessons.

Each lesson includes an extra doodle assignment at the end, the first one was to draw nature, specifically leaf inspired doodles.

leaf inspired black and white doodles

The drawings for each lesson will be completed in a journal. I’m using a small journal with watercolor paper. The assignment to create cover art was a little intimidating, but I’m pleased with how my cover turned out.

cover art_first journal_February 2014

I’m in love with the white ink that spells out the sentiment for the class, which is to “Let it Flow.”

An interesting and unexpected outcome of participating in the online groups is an increased feeling of confidence in my own artwork. It’s freed me to try new colors and combine techniques and to use real life as inspiration.

five daisies

Five white daisies morphed into four brightly colored abstract sunflowers bursting out of a green and blue background and framed by swirling purple curly cues. I guess that’s what one would call an interpretation. 🙂

dancing flowers_3

The bright yellow, blue, and purple sunflower bursts pop out of the background and remind me of creativity and ideas bursting out of an imaginative mind.

Participation in the groups and the online class has fueled my courage and my imagination to go beyond drawing flowers and experiment with new ideas.

This drawing started out as 4 wavy swooshes and it somehow turned into a psychedelic serpent or snake.

swirling serpent

I’m guessing it’s not what most people would expect to be on the page behind the “Let it Flow” cover, but it is and I think that’s quite cool.

Another interesting thing about keeping an ink journal is that I can’t wrinkle up and toss aside the drawings I start and don’t like. They stay in the pages of my journal and more than one of them have turned into pieces of art.

A failed attempt at a rose turned into a vivid blue sunflower bursting with life.

burst of life

An abandoned flower peeking out from the corner of the page gave life to ribbons of color and light.

Bursts of Color and Life

Last night, after a particularly stressful day, I created this hypnotic web of colors out of an “X’d” out center of circles. I’m not sure if it represents emerging from the eye of a storm or feeling like I’m caught in a web.

eye of the storm

It reminds one of my friends of the “Wheel of Fortune.” I like that image, maybe if I give it a big enough spin, my winter of flat tires, power outages, and car repairs will end and the Spring will be full of prosperity and joy.

Here’s to Spring!

One Thing I Know….

As many people do, I struggle with seasonal depression – sometimes referred to as SAD. Mid-December when the days are short and the temperatures are cold the world around me becomes heavy and it becomes increasingly difficult for me to get out of bed in the morning. I’m fortunate because I understand what’s happening to me and can take action to lessen my feelings of sadness and anxiety.

This winter has been more difficult than most; its extra cold and snowy and the sun seems to have run away to the Caribbean for the winter. I’ve no doubt that major life changes such as becoming an empty nester are also contributing to my feelings. The good news is the days are getting longer, I discovered light therapy, and a new outlet for sharing and engaging my creativity.

A month or so ago I bought a lamp that mimics natural outdoor light and have been using it daily. I do believe the light therapy is helping. At first it seemed  little strange to have a bright light shining directly on me for 30 minutes every morning and again in the evening, but now I’m used to it and almost look forward to it.

I stumbled onto the creative outlet quite by accident on Google+.  It’s called the #onething creative challenge and was started by  Katherine Tattersfield and Drew Myler (you can learn more about it here).

It’s self paced, anything goes and the goal is to create one thing daily, weekly, or whenever you get to it – it can be drawing, sculpting, writing, taking pictures, knitting, cooking…. etc. Then you post it in your feed using the#onething  hashtag. I was inspired by the wide range of entries and the camaraderie among the participants.

My first contribution to the challenge was my most complex and intricate ink journal entry so far. Undulate is the word that comes to my mind to describe the movement of colors and patterns through the middle of the drawing.

hearts and tears_7

My second creation was a simple drawing in my journal accompanied with my sentiments about creativity.

One thing I know
is that we are all creative
it just takes a while for some of us
to realize and accept our gifts.

onething

The #onething challenge has already made a difference in my life. There’s a great energy among the people who are participating and it’s prompted me to once again take out my camera and take pictures of things that catch my eye.

Many people don’t see or understand – is that there is inspiration everywhere, and often-times in the least expected places, like the pavement in front of the gas pump.

I’m not sure why there was this lone shoe-string curled up in the shape of a heart and abandoned in the asphalt – but it caught my eye and I’ve no doubt that it’s the inspiration for some really fun drawing.

photo 3 b& w

I took a deep breath before posting the picture from the gas station. The positive and supportive comments about the picture made my fears of being rejected, laughed at, or even worse ignored seem almost silly. But we all know how real those fears can be.

Yesterday was my fourth day of participating and the snow covered ornamental grass in my front yard was my contribution for the day. One person said it made her think of cotton candy.

snow covered natural grass

Today’s blog post will by my #onething for today. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to keep up the pace of contributing something every day, but it’s been a great spirit lifter.

I’m thankful the days are getting longer, the sun is shining today and I’ve found one more thing to help me through the season and feel less sad.

Hurry and arrive spring, I’m ready to take my camera out on the towpath again.

this makes me smile

The Art of Meditation through Ink

Several months ago I was at Michael’s looking for inexpensive writing journals for my sometimes daily stream of consciousness. I found a few, one of which was clearly oriented around sketching and painting rather than writing.

Sketch, draw, live, express- Sketch book cover

I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it, but at $2.00 the price was right and I figured the inspiration would find it’s way to me when the time was right. The unlined pages of the journal intimidated me for months.

My only experience with drawing outside of a classroom setting was after I learned how to make handmade paper. The pieces of handmade paper turned into tiny canvases and the imperfections in the paper were the foundation of many beautiful abstract pieces.

I started using only black ink and sketching things that were familiar and felt comfortable  to draw. For whatever reason I drew trees, trees, and more trees.

tree drawing on handmade flax paper

I don’t know what prompted me, but I was inspired to add color to the drawings and the trees took on the colors of fall through the use of watercolor pencils.

tunnel into fall

Even the most “perfect” pieces of paper were full of wrinkles, creases, and uneven textures.  The veins and arteries that ran through each page were the foundation for the shapes that emerged from my pens.

abstract ink drawing on handmade paper

The drawings quickly became more about the process then the outcome. The world and my worries disappeared for a few hours each night while I put pen to paper. The colors, shapes, and possibilities mesmerized and comforted me. It was a sad day when I ran out of handmade paper. (one of these days I’m going to make more)

For a variety of reasons my creative self went into hiding after I completed my last ink drawing on handmade paper in March. Then one night in September an image came to my imagination so strongly I had no choice but to try and release it onto paper.

tulip ink drawing

I was so thrilled with how my flower turned out that I stopped drawing again. I know that makes no sense, but it’s what happens to me sometimes. When I create something beautiful it makes me wonder if it was just a fluke and I talk myself out of trying to create something new just in case it was.

The funny thing about my ink journal is that there are no dates and the entries are completed in anything but a chronological order. I’ve even given myself permission to do the unthinkable and use an abandoned entry as the beginning of a new piece.

a work in progress_0

The outcome was surprising.Bursts of Color and Life

The backside of each drawing is almost if not equally as beautiful as the front; an unexpected and delightful bonus.

Sunflowers in Winter

Sunflowers in Winter - The Reverse Side

The recurring theme throughout the journal is sunflowers. I’m not entirely certain if I continue to draw sunflowers because I know how, or because they were the subject of my first drawing, or because they are a symbol of happiness. Maybe it’s a combination of all three.

I don’t suppose it really matters.

The Gift of Life - Ink Drawing of a Sunflower in Bright Inks

My ink journal is not a place where I create masterpieces or finished works of art. It’s a place where I let my mind wander and rest at the same time. It’s where I express myself without words with my medium of choice – ink. It is how I meditate through art.

I can’t wait to see how my latest meditation piece turns out.

hearts and tears_3

Just Draw and Don’t Worry if It’s not Perfect

I’ve been off the grid (and out of action) for a while from an artistic standpoint. I finished a series of drawings and now I’m not sure what to draw, and I have no idea what medium I want to use.

I do know that I love ink.

I do know that I love charcoal.

I do know that I love water color pencils.

I do know that I love to combine odd mediums together and I think collages are wonderful.

What I don’t know are the basics – I’ve never taken a basic drawing class. When it come to art classes, I jumped from being in third grade  to being a 50 year old taking an intermediate class that involved learning how to draw a sunflower and capture the intricacies of shading.

sunflower_first drawing in over 20 years

The next class introduced great anxiety and the concept of two perspective drawing. The angles and shading were almost enough to do me in, and then my instructor challenged me to do the background trees in ink. (so glad she did)

progress on perspective_07_finaljpg

I had no idea that there was such an ability inside of me.

I spent last summer learning how to make paper

adding pressed petals

And then I got brave enough to draw on it – in ink {gasp!}

ink tree on handmade flax paper

And then I drew some more – my drawings became very abstract and I think my feelings poured out onto my handmade paper, through black ink at first and then through water color pencils.

tunnel into fall

I swear I’m addicted to the permanency and the vibrancy – it’s very counter intuitive for a perfectionist to love a medium like ink. Once you put it down on paper, there’s no turning back.

"abstract ink drawing ribbons of joy_final"

I finished a series of ribbony dresses on hand made paper.

photo-22

So now what?

It’s a big question for me.

Since completing my last project, I’ve felt completely uninspired.

A childhood friend and very talented artist gave me some food for thought recently. His observation was  that my drawings had become formulaic – hmmmm.

I felt like every ribbony dress was unique, but maybe my mind knew what the outcome was going to be all along

Truth is, that when it comes to drawing, I feel like I’m a stranger in a foreign country. It’s like I can speak the language, but couldn’t read a street sign, newspaper or book if I had to. As a result I feel completely lost unless I’m drawing something very abstract or someone is guiding me along the way.

During our Facebook chat, my friend advised me to, “Get some manila paper, charcoal, a chamois, and a kneaded eraser and draw with a one song limit on the piece. One loud rock song!”

“You mean, just draw? Draw something that’s unfinished and imperfect? But I hate creating imperfect things,” I replied.

“You paint once you quit trying. How do you paint the perfect painting? Become perfect and then paint. Becoming perfect is NOT an option so eventually you have to just paint. Draw something alive, old shoes, work gloves, a tree in the wind, a self portrait, something…”

It was sound advice and I think the sneakers count.

I’ve registered for a class that fits the photographer and writer in me, but doesn’t advance my drawing. I can’t wait for the class to start, but I think I’m also going to  seek out a beginning drawing class to take this fall. It seems like some basic training might be in order and would help me feel more at ease with the concept of drawing.

In the meantime I’m going to take my friend’s advice and “just draw.” I think it’s time I turned my porch back into a summertime studio.

summertime art studio

Superbowl V – A Championship Year

Five years ago today, I boarded a plane in Omaha, Nebraska and landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was a bittersweet day and one that set in motion a series of changes in my life that I never could have foreseen.

“Did you land safely?” he asked.

“Yep, I’m about to head north to Bensalem and I’ll check into the hotel,”

The conversation paused while the wave of applause and cheers subsided.

“Wow, sounds like it’s quite a party.  I can’t believe I’m missing it,” I said.

“I know first time in almost twenty years, hopefully you can find somewhere to watch the game and enjoy it.  Good luck on the new job tomorrow, give me a call and let me know how it goes. I’d better get back to the game and guests,” he replied.

The first day at my new job included introductions to my new staff, a tour of my new apartment (which looked nothing like the pictures online), and an outburst of tears when I discovered the fact that I’d improperly packed senior pictures and they were covered with scratches.

Five years later I’m writing this from my new office, which is located at the top of my stairs.

15_linkedin and a whole new world

The pups are in their place, sleeping soundly at my feet while I type away – the clicks on the keyboard are a constant sound in the house.

19_my assitants romeo and annie

It would be easy for me to look at the past five years and say that moving was a bad idea.  A near foreclosure, major changes in family status, and the helplessness I felt when we first moved as I watched my youngest son experience severe growing pains in a completely unfamiliar environment top the list.

There were times when I felt like moving boxes was a bigger challenge than moving mountains.

ceiling to floor boxes
ceiling to floor boxes

But somehow the space magically transformed into a little slice of paradise.

finishing touches

There were days I questioned myself as a parent and doubted my choices. I’ve come to learn that we all do.  The smiling faces of my beautiful children is a constant source of joy and realization that what’s important is the communication about the choices, not the decisions themselves.

NYC in the rainy cold at Christmas

At the age of fifty, I learned to laugh out loud, with joy, and without embarrassment.  I began to understand that life is meant to be celebrated.

the gangs all here

I discovered the gift of writing and that the color of my soul is the sun.

perfect reflection of clouds at sunset on Big Sand Lake, MN

I now know that there’s more than one way to experience a visit to the zoo.

butterfly

And a walk through the neighborhood can reveal unexpected treasures.

fred the frog
fred the frog

I’ve learned that it’s never too late to learn something new and that we all have the capacity to amaze ourselves.

029 final sunflower_cropped

I know how to “batten down the hatches” and draw strength from candles in the storm.

candle in the storm - ink drawing on handmade paper

When I started this blog a year or so ago the title “It’s a Whole New World,” was the biggest understatement of the century.

Each of the past five years has had it’s ups and downs and in one way or another they’ve been a winning season, but this past year has definitely been a championship year.  I have a feeling, the upcoming season is going to be even better.

The Beautiful Unknown

"Abstract ink drawings on handmade paper - embrace the unknown"

Sometimes we can panic and fear about the unknown, when all we really have to do is to fully believe everything is working absolutely perfectly for us.  Our job is to let go and allow amazing experiences in to our lives.” [Dr. Ann Quinn]

I don’t know about you, but this is sometimes easier said than done. Yet I know based on my experiences, that the less I try and orchestrate things that I’m uncertain about, they nearly always turns out better than I could have possibly imagined.  In fact often-times the outcome wasn’t even in my imagination and is completely unexpected.

It’s a lesson that I seem to need to learn repeatedly and be reminded of often.  I guess it’s human nature to have doubts and to worry that ‘this time’ things might not turn out for the best.

A few months ago, I started drawing on my hand-made paper in ink.  It started with a handful of drawings of trees and sunflowers, just in ink.  As my confidence grew, I began to add watercolor pencil into the mix of drawings. This evolved into a trilogy of drawings inspired by the perfection or the beauty within our imperfections.  This set included not only ink and water color pencil, but landscape color pens as well.

Each phase of my exploration in drawing has come with an unexpected lesson in life and a bit of self discovery.  I truly love working in black and white, there’s something about the contrast and lack of color that is romantic and somewhat mysterious.  Ink seems to have become my medium of choice (at least for now), and it was a little strange for me to feel drawn toward adding color.

My latest discovery was a set of brightly colored pens that are a wonderful compliment to the softer landscape colors.  The contrast between black and the vibrant pink, blue, green, and purple is amazing.  As luck would have it, I had three more pieces of handmade flax paper that were each uniquely different, but similar enough to inspire another trilogy.

It became an evening escape and the best word I can use to describe the way the kaleidoscope of colors and shapes emerged is unexpected.

Each of the drawings starts with a blank piece of hand made paper created from flax.  I use the creases and pieces of fiber, the curves and the crinkles as  guides for my imagination.

The first drawing has a bit of a hot air balloon feel to it.

"abstract ink drawing_hot air baloon"

After one of my friends told me that her daughter saw a mermaid in the second drawing, I decided to name it “Under the Sea.”

"abstract ink drawing_under the sea"

I’m a geek when it comes to my drawing and I love taking pictures of it while it’s in progress.

"Abstract Ink Drawing on Handmade paper - Ribbons of Joy_step 1

After the first night of working on the third piece, I thought, “hmmmmm it’s nice, but there’s no way it’s going to be as pretty as “Under the Sea.” But after the second session I began to wonder.

"abstract ink drawing on handmade flax paper_ribbons of joy_step 2"

Ink is an unusual medium for me to love.  As a perfectionist, it usually feels uncomfortable and even down right scary to know that there’s no opportunity for a do-over.  The fear of the unknown and the potential to make a mistake can be crippling and can even keep us perfectionists from trying.

"abstract ink drawing_ribbons of joy"

With one corner to go, I let it rest for a night while my imagination processed the possibilities.

One of the reasons I’ve enjoyed the process of creating these drawings is that it completely absorbs me and there’s no room for self doubt or ‘real world’ worries.  I simply let myself go and follow wherever my instincts tell me to go.  I really don’t think about which color to use, I feel it.

I finished the final corner and a wave of sadness and a thrill of completion crisscrossed over me.  Sad because I was done and thrilled because it was beautiful.

I found myself reminiscing about how scary it was to even start a drawing just a short time ago. It occurred to me that just like life, each drawing starts with a blank page and even when the artist has an image in mind, the final piece often takes an unintended direction.

The difference between when I let go and trust my instincts and enjoy the process rather than fighting to reproduce a predefined image  is like night and day.  The  parallel to life struck me as uncanny.  When I trust myself and really believe that things are unfolding as they are meant to be.  When I quit trying to control things, and let go of worry and panic the outcome is as amazing as a beautiful piece of art.

“Ribbons of Joy” seemed to be an appropriate title.

"abstract ink drawing_ribbons of joy"

There is Perfection in Imperfection

"Seasons of learning - Ink and Water Color Pencil Drawing"

I am a Renaissance woman in more ways than one.  The past 3 years and in particular the past twelve months have been explosive and I’ve discovered things about myself that I had no idea were a part of me.

One of the most interesting discoveries has been the fact that I’m an artist in addition to being a writer, a business woman, and most importantly a mom.  I’ve been posting pictures of my projects and experiences throughout the year.

It still boggles my mind to think that I dipped my toe into the proverbial water and took a drawing class less than a year ago. Since then I’ve taken 3 more drawing classes, a print making workshop, and I learned how to make paper.

In the past months I’ve discovered that I have a passion for working in ink.  For anyone who knows me, this is completely counter – intuitive.  I’m a perfectionist, if there’s a chance that it won’t turn out right; I’m more inclined to not even start than to make a mistake.  So ink, particularly on my hand made paper seems like it would be an unlikely creative outlet.

Earlier this fall, I combined various things that I’d learned and I created my very first book.

""- ibeth's first book - ink and water color pencils"- ibeth's first book - ink and water color pencils"

This started out as a drawing and turned into something quite different – I changed course along the way a few times – the biggest being that I cut all of the edges off of the cover and made the edges of the ‘book’ uneven and well – like the edge of a forest.

I finished my last class of the year a few weeks ago.  As our last project Anne had us create an abstract drawing using a most unusual approach.  The process will be a separate post, but the outcome was quite intriguing.

Abstract Drawing Ink and Water Color Pencil

True to form, I didn’t finish it during class time and it took me more than a few sessions to complete this drawing in ink, water color pencil, and a bit of white charcoal. I can’t describe it, but this drawing unlocked something within me.

A few weeks ago, I started drawing a trilogy.  Only I didn’t know it at the time.  I sifted through my stack of hand-made paper from the summer.  I held a thin piece of paper made from flax up to the light.

I saw crinkles and creases. I also saw trees and teardrops. It was as if my pen had a mind of it’s own as I began to trace along the creases and crevices to create patterns and mystique.

"Seasons of learning - Ink and Water Color Pencil Drawing"

After I finished it I sorted through my paper and found another piece with similar imperfections.  Too thin to write on, too many creases to be of value, but just right to create on.

"emerging from the woods - ink and water color pencil drawing"

I found one more piece of perfectly imperfect paper in my stack, refreshed my paintbrush water and let my imagination do the work.

"ink and water color pencil on flax paper"

Who would have imagined that I had exactly three pieces of paper that were equal in their imperfections and in their potential for beauty?

A Candle in the Storm

candle in the storm - ink drawing on handmade paper

Last night I learned the hard way that one should not try and write a blog post while under the influence of fatigue and preoccupation.  I wanted to write about my experience during Sandy, but I was so busy wondering whether or not we’d be affected by Athena that I hit “publish” way before the post was done.

The dilemma – trash it or try and fix it?  It didn’t seem like deleting it was the thing to do, so I tried my best to fix it by keeping it short and sweet and changing the title.  All in all, a confusing experience and I don’t plan on repeating it any time soon.  About three seconds after I published the post and before I “fixed” it, Katie’s email arrived.

“I think this one got published a little too soon or something went wrong.”

I burst out laughing and called to tell her my tale of blogging woe.  We had a good chuckle about it and in the end concluded that it was OK because it was truly a “musing and random thought.”

The good news is that Athena didn’t hit my area as hard as they were predicting and although I’m not thrilled about the snow on the ground, I couldn’t be happier that I have power and there is sunshine in the forecast.

a little snow after Athena - Trees still have leaves

This morning I pulled up the pictures I took the night Sandy hit and thought about that day and the days that followed.

I realize now that I was completely unprepared mentally for the storm.  I stocked up on water non- perishable food items because my mom and dad told me I should.  Although there were plenty of warnings that hundreds of thousands of people would lose power for up to a week, it didn’t occur to me that we’d be among them.  My point of reference was Irene, during which we lost power for a grand total of three hours.

I can’t decide if eerie or surreal is the better word to describe the hours leading up to the actual storm. On Sunday Christian helped me batten down the hatches and secure everything we thought might turn into a missile or be damaged.

On Monday we rolled up the rug in the basement and put all of the electronic gadgets as high as we could without disconnecting the network of cables and cords.  I tried my best to concentrate on my projects and research but every time the porch door banged and bumped against the house my mind wandered.

I finally gave up and Christian and I decided to take advantage of our power and cable access.  We took a risk and made microwave popcorn that had expired in May (we threw out the package that had an expiration date of 2010) and watched Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter followed by The Incredibles.

The  first movie was surprisingly entertaining and we made it through the entire show without interruption.  Lights flickered and teased us during The Incredibles, but we made it to the very end before the house went black.

I’d forgotten how dark it is when there is no power.  The tiny beams of color from televisions, laptops, modems, and whatnot keep rooms from turning pitch black even if the lights are turned out.  Fortunately I knew exactly where the lighter was and could quickly light some candles.

fireplace by candlelight during Hurricane Sandy

We played cribbage by candlelight, not an easy thing to do.  The most challenging part was trying to figure out whether or not I was moving the right peg.

cribbage by candlelight

“It’s weird to think that people lived like this before electricity and batteries,” I said.

Christian responded, “It explains why they went to bed at 7 o’clock.”

It wasn’t much past 7 when we decided to call it a night and get ready for bed. It was disconcerting and more than a little scary to watch the white curtains dance with the wind by candlelight. The flickering flames added a haunting quality to the night.

candles I knew that if the wind was strong enough to blow the curtains on the inside of my house there was no way we would wake up with power.

We were lucky.  There were quite a few branches down in our yard; but no live wires, no trees, and we got power back within less than three days.

I’m not sure why but I didn’t take any pictures of the aftermath.  Maybe it’s because I don’t want to remember it or maybe it’s because I’ll never forget it.  Instead of taking pictures of fallen trees and sparking live wires my album from that day contains the candles that provided light throughout the storm.

One of my friends challenged me to embrace the experience and find a way to let my artistic side express it.  In an “artistic moment,” I took this picture of one of the candles in my bedroom.  I liked the way the flame reflected against the copper color metal and cast a soft-star shaped shadow against the wall.

candle in the stormOver the next few days the image of this candle and the warmth of the flame and shadows inspired me to capture this Candle in a Storm in ink on a piece of my hand-made paper.candle in the storm - ink drawing on handmade paper

I’m extremely happy and thankful to be warm and safe.