Saturday, May 19, 2012

All Zenned Out!

Wow I can't believe it's been over a year since I posted anything on this blog. Lately I have been doing some 2 dimensional work, pencil and ink drawings mostly. I discovered zen doodling which I then mixed with my style of art, and came up with some work I really like.

I started using the zendoodling on ATCs, and quickly decided I would make them jewelry. I made a pendant for my mom, with shrinky dink film. And... for Easter I made my nieces each a pendant. Zendoodling is pretty fun, once I relaxed. At first my need to get everything right completely defeated the purpose, which is to relax and "zen out" while you work. I got it now, and while I still need to work on my zen designs, I really like the new stuff i have put together.


In all this new exploration, the Red Hook Community Arts Network, RHCAN, opened a gallery downstairs and put out a call to artist to be in a non-objective/ abstract show this month. I was immediately excited to try and make some larger work, and submit it  to the gallery for their exhibition. So that night, I stayed up all night working on a drawing based on an Artist Trading Card I had done. I didn't take a picture of the finished drawing, but here is the ATC I based it on. I have 3 pieces in the show titled "Abstractions" which opened last week. The Artist reception is tonight May 15th, 2012 from 5 to7pm. It would be nice to see familiar faces, but I m also looking forward to meeting new people as well. 


Zendoodling, and doodling, and doodling, add a bit of non-objective amorphous shapes, and that brings me to my latest work.
ZenFlorals!

I do plan on getting involved with the RHCAN and helping them anyway I can. Its a worthwhile project. A network set up to involve the Red Hook community through the all the arts, fine art, dance, music, etc. Take a look at their facebook page to get to know more about them, and help any way you can. https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Red-Hook-Community-Arts-Network/116401555104181

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Owl

Recently I have come face to face with Owl. Not in a physical way, but in a more symbolic and spiritual way. It came to me while I was meditating and had decided to do some automatic writing. With my eyes closed, I wrote down many words and phrases. Out came the word owl. I have only done this a few times and sometimes the things I write don't seem to mean a thing to me. I was a little perplexed. On this day, the owl came up several times.

I am trying to listen to my intuition, to trust it. My friend gave me a deck of tarot cards so I could hone my intuition. My assignment was to try to feel what they meant just by looking at the images and even meditating on it. After I meditated I pulled some cards and the last card I pulled was the High Priestess. There above her head was an owl. I was truly amazed.

What is this owl I am seeing? What does it mean to me? Well let's see. What jumps out immediately is the owl in the Iroquois culture is called the Guardian of the Night. One of the brooches many Iroquois silver smiths like to make is called this and it represents the owl. To me owls are intelligent, mystical, guardians, thinkers, night creatures and perceptive. These characteristic speak to me as I learn to trust my intuition. So, after Owl showing up a few more times, I thought I should look up what others say it means.

The owl was important to Athena the Greek goddess. It symbolized intelligence, wealth and status. The Egyptians, Celtics and Hindus believe the owl is a guardian. He is the ruler of the night and seer of souls. He would guide the spirits to the underworld. Other Native American Cultures consider Owl has foresight and wisdom and is the keeper of sacred wisdom. The people of West Africa believe Owl is a messenger of secrets, companion to seers, mystics and mediums.

Here are some common characteristics of Owl according to Avia Venefica:
*wisdom
*mystery
*transition
*messages
*intelligence
*mysticism
*protection
*secrets
*brilliance
*perspective
*intuition
*quick-wit
*independence
*power

Now it becomes my goal to figure out if Owl has come to me as a one time symbol or message, or if it is the next animal on my totem. Since I keep seeing it, even once today(in the background of a vlog I was watching) I tend to lean more towards the totem animal. I WILL continue to listen to my intuition. Owl has spoken!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Oneida Clans

Brandon Chrisjohn


My new adventures of meditation has brought me face to face with my spirituality, or should I say my lack of spirituality. I originally started to meditate to find inner strength to heal myself. It clearly became a search for my spirituality as well. The signs and messages I have been sent have sparked ideas for new blogs.

In my first session with my meditation coach I was gifted the wolf as my first totem. How fabulous and appropriate is that? After all, I am wolf clan, and I tell people all the time I am a wolf. Which brings me to the point of this blog.... clans of the Oneida people.

The Iroquois Nation as a whole has nine different clans; turtle, bear, wolf, deer, beaver, eel, heron, hawk, and snipe. The Oneida people have the main three, of which all the Iroquois Nations have at least these, turtle, bear and wolf.

What are clans?
Clans are family groupings, and are always passed from a mother to a child. When the Iroquois people lived in long houses, they would live as an extended family all of the same clan. Of course husband would be a different clan, but they would move in with the wife's family after marriage. Every clan had 3 chiefs and Clan Mothers. The clan mothers were in charge of keeping traditions, choosing cheifs, choosing names, leading ceremonies, and sought out when any member of the clan needs guidance.

Do the animal clans have meaning?
Each animal represents a special role in the nation.


The turtle is the foundation of the world. The Iroquois people call the earth Turtle island, because in the creation story, turtle offered to hold Skywoman when she fell from the sky to the world
Crystal T. Henry


of water below. When muskrat put the tiny speck of dirt he scraped from the bottom of the sea, Skywoman danced in a circle on his back and the land of the earth grew larger and larger.

The turtle represents earth, solidarity, strength, patience, determination, wisdom and respect.

"Turtle Clan people need a strong base where they can live and grow roots. They move slowly to teach patience; lessons learned are not forgotten. Although Turtles may appear slow, their determination allows them to obtain their goals. The Turtle is a creature of two elements --earth and water. Because of this, the people of the turtle clan share a bond with both of these. They enjoying helping things grow --plants and people, yet enjoy their freedom just as a Turtle would in the water."(Judy Robb)



The bear clan are the keepers of all Earth's medicines. Long ago, a tattered man came to an Iroquois village. He went to each clan's longhouse and asked for food and shelter. One by one the clans turned him away since they had only enough for themselves. Finally he reached the bear clan's lodge and the woman at the door took pity and asked him to come in. She fed him and gave him a place to sleep, and as he slept she found him new clothes. He was very greatful, but soon became ill. She didn't know what to do, but he told her where to get a plant which would cure him. Sure enough she brought it back and prepared it the way he said and he was better, but the next day he was ill with something else. He again told her what plant and where to find it, and how to prepare it, and everytime she cured him, he soon had a new illness.This went on for days, until one day she came back to see her lodge glowing and inside stood a healthy, strong man. He explained he was the Creator, and had chosen her because of her kindness, to learn all the cures of all the sicknesses her people may get. To this day all medicine people are from the bear clan.



The wolf clan are the pathfinders. They are responsible for guiding the members of their Nation along the path the Creator wishes them to live.They are known as the fire keepers, keepers of knowledge and information.

"The Wolf is respected for its sense and importance of family, teaching us to use our ears and be watchful, just as a family does. In nature, the Wolf seeks out and explores new situations to find new knowledge and return it to the pack." "The Wolf Clan are often the ones to whom others turn to in time of need. They have a great sense of curiosity and while they might explore on their own they prefer the company of others.
"(Judy Robb)

The wolf represents, passion, benevolence, artistic ability, generosity, sympathy and understanding.

I would like to thank my cousin Brandon, and my cousin Terry's wife Crystal for allowing me to use their art in my blog. If you want to see more of their artwork you can find them here:
Brandon Chrisjohn
Crystal Henry

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Medical adventures

I just realized it has been a long time since I blogged. These past several months have been difficult for me. I found myself on a hard and arduous path, full of briers and goblins. Well, as much as I wanted to focus on the IAGuild, more and more of attention was drawn to my health. In 2008 I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer, and after a hard year of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, I was declared in remission. In December of 2009, I started feeling bad, bad to the point it couldn't be ignored or written off as something else. Sure enough I had a recurrence.

So, after a total resistance (that is a personal resistance) to more chemotherapy, I had to relent in March and do it yet again. 6 months later I was told it is still there, smaller but still there, and a new round of chemo began. This time with 2 agents. I wasn't as sad as I had though I would be if this was the news. I didn't expect it, but there it was. What now? 3 more months? Ugh! But I found strength and hope within myself. I had a new plan, an alternative plan. Would I do the chemo, yes. But I would do other things as well.

I am going to switch tenses now:)

So here I am with new resolve and intent to help myself heal. I start seeing a meditation guide and defining my path as a healthy person and a teacher through my experiences. I am feeling good, right, empowered. And .... bam.... so sick! A bowel obstruction. The doctors are worried it is from the chemo, or worse the cancer. Now I am in the hospital giving my intestines a rest, a tube in my nose into my stomach, but it's not working. They determine the blockage needs to be removed surgically, and I am scheduled for the next day. I spike a fever and need to go in immediately. They have to remove a piece of my intestines because it gangrened, but the good news is it is all mechanical. I developed a hernia and it caused the blockage. The doctors are happy it is mechanical, the alternative was bad. Now I have to heal from this before I resume chemo. It's slow and frustrating, but a couple weeks later i start to feel better, and my leg goes out of alignment. So now, as of today, I can't walk without pain. It doesn't want to go back in, and I ask myself why? Why are these things happening? Every time I fell like I am getting ahead... well you know. But I think I know, and I am going to meditate on it before I post this, but I feel as though the universe is telling me I need to stop trying to hide.

It doesn't matter how the outside world sees me. Am I weak, fragile, sick? Does it matter if people see this? I tried to look my best and not let people know what is going on. I wore a wig and used makeup to give the illusion of eye lashes and eyebrows. People didn't know I was sick. I was pale, but other then that? Perhaps they did know, or at least suspected. I accept my path and choose to move forward from here in the light. That sounds hokey I know, but it is how I feel right now. It no longer matters to me if people know, hence the blog. I have been so tired and drained, I didn't have the energy to make myself up before leaving the house. People saw me with my choppy hair and no make up, limping around. So here I am ready to move on, out in the open for the world to see. It is time to heal, beyond my physical body.

I quick update. After I wrote this blog, I got up off the couch and me leg was back in alignment. I walked with soreness, but not pain and I could lift my leg. Is it a coincidence I decided to no longer hide and be in the open about my struggles? Maybe, but then again maybe not:)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My Guild Adventures

I have been pretty busy working on both promoting, and doing artwork and ATCs (artist trading cards) for the new guild I am helping get going. I guess I elected myself to write a blog for and about the guild, the Inspiring Artist Guild. I say this because nobody asked me to do it, but I thought it was important. It is easier for me to get the information out about the guild without being all formal or having to weasel in on Brandon's gig, which is keeping the website updated. A note here, I gladly defer that job to him.

The guild has so much potential, it is hard for us to edit ourselves. The ideas keep popping out, and we are picking the best ones and making it real. Our first official event was fantastic. We had a launch party and an ATC exchange, so much fun. I made about 25 cards, because I wanted a chance to trade with everyone. I ended up trading 12 cards and giving one to my mom. There was a lot of really great artwork, and I am very happy with what I got in exchange for my cards.

Since this is my blog and not the guild blog, on the right are the ATCs I traded away. I got some real treasures in exchange, and can't wait until the next swap!

I started with what I knew best, and what I was comfortable with, and that would be my floral designs. It abstracted from there, florals, to squiggles with floral (not posted here) to just squigs with circles to just squigs. See there is a connection! It was a lot of fun to do. Now where it takes me from here will be interesting.

Maybe next time I will tell you something about my culture, then again maybe I will have more exciting aventures in art to tell you about.

If you want to know more about the guild and see the cards I traded for check out the IAGuild blog. http://inspiringartistguild.blogspot.com/

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Paper flowers for my wedding

So It has been an incredibly busy summer and fall. Now It seems I have gotten myself into something that will take up even more of my time. I am getting ahead of myself though. Let me first tell you about my summer. I decided to do all my own paper flowers for my wedding. Whew, talk about biting off more then i could chew..... it was tough.

I have never been afraid of tedious work, sometimes i even seek it out. So when I decided I wanted paper flowers, I also decided I could do it myself. I bought a couple bottles to try out, but my sister had a BRILLIANT idea. She said we should use old vintage bottles so all the arrangements had a uniqueness to them. My cousin Angie said she knew exactly where to get them, and told us about discovering a personal "dump" her grandmother used behind her house. So, on a cool rainy day, we trekked up a hill and dug around for treasure, and did we ever find treasures. Bottles dating back easily 50 years. We found old Pepsi bottles and Donald Duck soda bottles. Who knew there was a Donald Duck soda? Certainly not me. I have to say her idea was a good one, and the arrangements came out just as i pictured.

I also decided to make all the bouquets, the flower girl basket an 2 pomanders for the older flower girls. I almost forgot the boutonnieres for the parents, but I got it all done Of course by myself turned into with my friends and family, and I greatly appreciate all the help I got. There was a paper gluing session that turned into a speed contest and I even had a paper flower social, where I taught several of my family to make the flowers as they helped me. My sister was a huge help, and when my cousin Julie flew in from New Mexico, she went right to work painting all the dogwood. My cousin Serena however, went above and beyond. She spent hours and hours the nights before the wedding helping me finish. She was bound and determined, and every time I thought I would pass out from exhaustion, she would say something like "Wow, it's only 2 am, we have a few more hours to work!" She was essential, crazy, funny and essential, busted knee and all. And just because I am Jessica, I decided to make head wreaths for all 3 flower girls and myself. I should note here, my mom made the flower girl dresses, which were beautiful, my sister made and I made the jewelry for the bridesmaids, and my cousin Angie made an outstanding 4 tier wedding cake covered with dogwood flowers.

most of the flowers

It was a lot of work, and I am not sure who noticed the flowers at the wedding and who didn't, but I wouldn't change a thing. I have so many good memories and stronger relationships because of my shenanigans. We made it through and created one beautiful day.


all dressed up

Friday, June 26, 2009

Double Curves



I love a creative challenge. So when the crafting chain on facebook finally made it's way into my circle of friends, I wanted in. The basic concept was the first 5 people who responded to a friends note, would get something made by them. Of course you in return had to post your own note and make something for the first 5 people who responded to yours. I decided to make it a challenge and come up with something new.

I sort of stare into space, and become despondent when I am creating. I "design" in my head, not always, but occasionally. My fiance` looks at me strange, and I say "What? I'm designing." He knows now just to accept it and leave me be. I knew I wanted to draw them a pendant. How? Well, that's why I was designing in my head. I was trying to not only picture it, but figure out how to make it functional.

I wanted to do a pendant with floral designs called "double curves", then add beads somehow. The only way I could think of to get the detail, was to actually draw the design out on paper. I added a leather back and beaded around the edge. I have to say, they came out even better then how they looked in my head. I love when that happens.

Now let me tell you a little about double curves. Double curves are Eastern woodland designs typically found in bead work . Today you can find them on leather, drums, clothing, baskets, pottery, jewelry, and of course on various beaded work. If you go to a pow wow hear in the North East you are sure to come across them at some point. When I was a kid (and even now) my mom used them on the breach cloths of her scale cornhusk dolls. Back then, I didn't realize they had a name or a meaning.

The basic design symbolizes balance, give and take, teaching and learning, There is a center point, at which a flower usually grows, and it branches to the left, and it branches the same way to the right.
The left side is the female side, which is for giving, teaching and nurturing. The right side is the male side, for the strength to take in and learning.

I began using double curves on my pottery. I made some plates and put the inricate double curves on them, but I always wondered what they would look like in color. The first ones I did were in pastels, but I couldn't quite get the detail I wanted, so I started doing them on black paper, with color pencils.

This drawing is mostly in blue, which would symbolize an awareness for a deeper meaning in life, and the flowers are red which stands for energy, and a love for earth and people.

I often wonder if all cultures have a symbol for balance. Native Americans have several, double curves, the medicine wheel, butterflies. Probably the most recognized symbols among the Iroquois people, are the Twins. They are the symbols of good and evil. But, that's a very basic kind of balance. I prefer the positive message of the double curves, a reminder of how we need to be nurturing, and strong at the same time.