Category Archives: Drawing Series 1: Things Are Alive

Things Are Alive 30

The Fairy Hill

The perfect last picture for the book is of Tiveragh, the fairy hill. The “wee folk” are reputed to appear there from time to time, but especially on Halloween. Brian and I had hiked up the road out of town from the tower to the Cottage Wood. Brian thought the view would be good from there, and it was close to home in case of a change in the weather. As luck would have it, Ben appeared and told me that there was a good view of the fairy hill just a little farther up the road. Brian kept me company as I sat on my art supply box in a cattle gate pull-off on the side of the road to draw. The next day I returned on my own to complete the picture. It seemed to me that the hill did indeed have an unearthly quality, which I hope comes through in the drawing. (Recommended reading– Meeting the Other Crowd: The Fairy Stories of Hidden Ireland by Eddie Lenihan and Carolyn Eve Green)

Things Are Alive 29

Pastures, Church, Mountain, and Sea

I’m pretty convinced by now that there is no limit to the fecundity of this part of the planet. No matter how small or how sweeping the focus, all of the senses– gross to subtle– keep unfolding more treasures, happily finding residence in the heart. For me, coming home to the Heart is what Ireland is all about.

Anda and I spent a couple hours on the beach yesterday afternoon, sewing and drawing, respectively. It was gloriously sunny. Today we walked out the road just a wee bit so that we could look down through the pastures to the church and then up into the high pastures that hold the town within them like a cup brimming with vitality. Crows soared overhead and the smell of peat drifted through the air.


Things Are Alive 28

Heart of the Glens of Antrim

I had the strong wish to spend time by the Dall River that flows through Cushendall. I had already spent a little time there and had seen a fish jump, a duck ride the current, and a muskrat disappear into a hole in the rocks. While I was drawing I saw a man fishing on the other side, hidden in the shadows. The waters are the color of clear tea and the steady flow drew me in and gave me the sense that watching the river would lead me to some secret places inside myself.

I knew I would draw another scene and overlap it with the river, but I didn’t know what it would be. I ended up in the highest room of the tower, looking out the window onto the chimneys, the street below, and the sweep of ascending pastures that lead to the summit of Mount Lurig. (The “bush” in the upper left is actually a cow.)

I had begun with two circles, which didn’t seem to contribute to what ended up looking like a flood of the town. I was inspired to put flames around the circles, and this seemed to pull it all together.

Doing this drawing has helped me to feel connected to this place in my blood and bones. Perhaps the picture reflects how I am overflowing with gratitude for being here in this magical, vital place– a place filled with people that have truly golden hearts.

Things Are Alive 27

Night and Day

Finally, my first drawing in Cushendall is finished! We had trouble finding a functioning scanner, so yesterday, Vincent at Glens Computers kindly photographed my drawing. Today the library is open and Charlotte the librarian scanned it for me. Thanks to both! Thanks as well to The Glens Hotel for graciously allowing us to use their internet.

I drew the part in the large circle as I sat on the bench by the niche of the tower. The drawing in the medium circle was done from the window of the living room, which is on the third floor. As I drew I recalled the scene from the night before, when I woke up to shouting and witnessed some fighting on the street in front of The Central Bar. Crows watch the scene from their perches in what I call the “chimney pot world.” In the tradition expounded by the Native American medicine cards, Crow is said to embody Sacred Law.

Things Are Alive 26

From Anchorage to Cushendall

It’s hard to believe that this is the last drawing in Anchorage. The next time I do my weekly drawing I will be breathing the air in Northern Ireland! This drawing has helped to connect me with our destination and our work there.

Anda’s boat from “On the Shores of Home” was the thing I decided to draw. It seems to symbolize this artistic journey our family is taking. The view on the left is looking across the street at Alice’s house through our front gate. The view on the right is our destination, Turnly’s Tower, built circa 1820. More information can easily be found about the tower on the internet. The artist residency is entitled In You We Trust. I love the title!

So, Bon Voyage to us as we embark on this adventure. And thank you to John Hirst, who offered us the invitation to be artists-in-residence in Turnly’s Tower!

Things Are Alive 25

The Hot Dog Vendor

Today I drew plein air! It was the PERFECT Alaska summer day. Warm, blue skies, puffy clouds, dragonflies soaring, tourists strolling, dogs walking, skateboarders whizzing, and… hot dog carts flaming, sizzling, and sending up puffs of smoke. I was magnetized by the one in front of the federal building at 4h and G. As I drew, I smelled mustard and onions frying. I wondered if they would have tofu pups or salmon dogs. No, but they did have chicken hot dogs, so after I was finished drawing, I downed one, dripping with mustard and saurkraut.

I sat on the edge of the long planter in front of the Federal Building, feet in the planter, behind the bushes, but with a good view of the hot dog cart. I drew the scene to the tune of chattering magpies and singing chickadees playing in the shrubs closeby. The smell of frying onions and mustard provided aromatherapy.

The hardest part was drawing the vendor, who was in constant motion. She was such a lovely lady, and she laughed with good humor to see how she had turned out– not at all as beautiful as she really was.

The end effect on me was to be in a state of open-eyed meditation. I was calm, at peace, and aware of each breath and each step I took on the walk home. I am grateful that when I give my earnest attention to drawing I often “wake up” from the dreams spun by the chattering mind.


Things Are Alive 24

Self Reflection

The theme this week was (again) the mysterious confluence of inside and outside. I drew the window reflections I saw as I sat on a bench on our deck. Our house appears like a tiny cottage from the front, but it is u-shaped toward the back, with a room on either side completing the u– inside of which is a deck. Arching over the deck is a large crabapple tree. Each of the rooms has a picture window facing the window across from it. This is quite a reflective spot! In the drawing it is not so easy to determine what is a reflection and what is “not” a reflection.

The effect of drawing so many layers of reflection and non-reflection was to afford to me a heightened awareness of my own insides. I also felt a visceral connection to the things around me. It was as if I were “inside” of them. I felt palpably “part of” the objects in my environment.

Things Are Alive 23

Sunrise on G Street

This drawing was inspired by the thought: the mysterious confluence of inside and outside. The first day I sat in a third chair on a little platform at Modern Dwellers, a chocolate-lover’s heaven; I drew the scene in the alley outside the glass wall. The second day, I drew the outside of that building, looking into the window I had looked out of– from Side Street Espresso across the street (The tiny chair in the window is the back of the left chair in the “inside” drawing.) The third day I returned to Modern Dwellers with Anda and drew the woman behind the counter.

The high point of it all was the surprise of the rising sun as I sat at Side Street Espresso. I can’t remember the time, but it must have been at least 6 hours after the sunrise I had been up for in the morning. I had a second sunrise on that day!

The moment of surprise, the second dawn, reminds me that true joy is  experienced only in the present moment. When the sense of past and future, and of here and there, converge into the “now,”  the joy I think I have lost dawns again.

Things Are Alive 22

Hope Is Alive

Brian and I spent two nights camping on the flats in Hope in our vintage camper. Hope is a Gold Rush town just across the Turnagain Arm from Anchorage. The cradling effect of the mountains, the dance of the tides, and the path of the summer sun are tranquilizing. Hope is able to absorb quite a number of people and their dogs of every description and perform its magic upon all.

I took the plunge of drawing multiple images in circles. Brian suggested different sizes. The first drawing I did was of Brian reading in the camper with the view across the arm in the background. The second drawing was my first plein air drawing (the fisherman standing in Resurrection Creek). The last drawing is of the Hope Social Hall. Inside was the beginning setup for a wedding reception– a four-tier wedding cake at the far end of the hall, decorated with live flowers. Unfortunately, we had to leave before the action picked up!


Things Are Alive 21

A Serene Spot

This house and yard have captured my imagination for years. There is no front walk; the grass goes right up to the porch stairs. The house (one of the oldest in Anchorage) and landscaping, kept up only to a point, hold sacred a past richly full of memories for a family in this town. It is a true gift, a jewel. My fears that I would be asked to move were unfounded. In five hours, the only person who approached me was Anda, on a run, who wanted a ride home.