Go to Sleep

Sleep is a magical, mysterious thing. Magical in the way it happens naturally and revives, rejuvenates, and heals.

Mysterious to me because I sometimes wonder where people go when they Go To Sleep. That’s such an odd expression if you really think about it, as if we are indeed going to another place.

Where do we go when we are asleep? It’s  almost as if we are absent, missing, or traveling somewhere else inside our head to places that others can’t see or imagine.

Sleep seems like the border between life and death — the borderland between the conscious and the subconscious.

I’m always been interested in tapping in my subconscious, but it was only later in the life that I even thought to try.

One of the first things to trigger this idea for me was reading Dorthy Brande’s Becoming a Writer. She suggested starting to write immediately upon waking, and making every effort not to fully wake before getting some writing on paper directly from the uninhibited subconscious. Although most everything in the book is completely relevant today, it was written in 1934, so I can’t remember how she said to deal with bright lights from a computer monitor 🙂

Actually when I wake in the middle of the night, I try to turn down the brightness of my iPhone or computer monitor. Later, I started to apply this to drawing and would draw by nightlight or candlelight so as not to wake up too fully before I sketched out a few ideas on paper. I know another artist who keeps a sketch pad by the bed, and upon waking, draws in it before he ever opens his eyes.

I read Becoming a Writer as part of a class called “Image and Text” that a good friend and talented writer, Jo Van Arkel taught years ago. It combined two loves of my life, writing and visual arts, and has continued to influence my work to this day.

Recently I came across a blog post on Meg Worden’s blog about a online class called “Lens on the Human Condition” with Bindu Wiles that would combine iPhonography, iPhone apps, portraiture and creative writing, so I signed up.

During an online discussion someone mentioned the most revealing self-portrait are naked, but I was taking photos and falling a sleep one night, and the next day looked at the photos and thought how even naked, we still have poses, affections, and inhibitions. When we are asleep, we are maybe in our most natural, uninhibited state. That’s what got me wondering where we go when we are sleeping and really, what we are.

So I wrote a poem about sleep. Then the difficult task was to develop an image to express the same idea.

Asleep we are
a dream, a memory, a murmur,
a nightmare.

a wrinkled cheek,
a leg twitch, a cocoon wrapped in bed cloth
waiting to be reborn

or heaven bound.
Closed in the dark, alone
we are ourselves.



The photo was taken with an iPhone camera, converted to black and white in Snapseed, and tinted with color in Pixlr-o-mantic. You can see some of my other mobile phone experiments on Flickr where I’ve been spending a lot of time lately.


Winter Solstice

Last night we got up at 2 am to watch the lunar eclipse on the winter solstice. It was a crisp night and the moon was positioned perfectly for watch everything right from our back deck – nice of the universe to put on such a spectacular show with front row seats, no charge. Lots of tea and hot chocolate made it better. Mochi was crazy about getting up in the middle of the night and running around the yard.

As the earth passed between the sun and the moon, the moon turned a strange color of orange. Russ got some amazing photos with his camera and tripod, but I can’t really take good moon photos with my camera.

So I took a different kind of photo towards the end of the event of moonlight through winter branches. There’s something about cold winter air, leafless branches, and moonlight that gives me a sense of stillness and clarity of thought.

Stranger in the City

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I like to explore and photograph art in other cities, then try to write up some kind of original blog post about unexpected finds, like these in Philadelphia, Portland, Seattle, and Kansas City. I don’t know why I’ve never thought to do this in my home town — guess the old cliche of something being too close to notice is too true.

Last month I heard about a blogger who recently moved here from LA and after talking with the husband, I got inspired to put on my stranger in a strange land glasses and walk around town. Partly this was motivated because I’ve been trying to document public art in our region and get it listed on our Springfield Public Art blog.

But as these things go, the quest took on a life of its own. In attempts to profile public art works in their best light, I started visiting different city and park sites many times at different times of day and night. Getting out of my car and walking side roads I hadn’t traveled before was also a great excuse to get outside and soak up the wonderful October-November weather and brilliant turning of the leaves.

Since winter is just around the corner, there was an urgency to capture as much on camera as I could before the grass and leaves were completely gone — and the project became a little like a trophy hunt. And though most of the photos I was trying to get were rather didactic, I couldn’t help but stop along the way for other photos of lonely spots, unusual or forgotten things, and as my friend Christine says, “all things absurd, ironic and delightful.”

Here’s a few of my detour photos in the gallery below. Click to see larger.

As my collection of photographs has swollen out of control, I’ve been learning to use Aperture to organize photos – a very handy program indeed!  I’ve also been learning to geo-tag them and have gotten immersed in the world of Google maps and Google Earth — but that’s a whole other topic I’ll have to finish writing about tomorrow.

Fresh Flowers

There’s a little flower shop called “Blossoms” right on the way to the studio. I stopped there for the first time the day of the mariachi party last Monday, to get some things for fresh flower bouquets for the bar, buffet and restrooms.

Surprisingly I found big sewing machines in the back, behind the flowers, and then realized that there is an upholstery shop in the same place, run by the same woman.

There are so many flowers blooming in our yard right now, but it’s nice to be able to stop at the flower shop and pick out a few things to add into arrangements.

Here’s a few other odd things sitting in the front lobby of the studio today. The little wooden man is a working maquette for the 23′ tall Kinetic Man by Russ, and I made the ceramic pots a long time ago.  It’s nice being surrounded by art, but there also something wonderful about fresh flowers.

Spring Clean Fever

Madly getting ready for a big ArtsFiesta! banquet/party. It’s a lot of work to clean out space for 100+ people sit down for BBQ plus all the other extemporaneous musical activities.

It’s tough to know what to do with leftover Halloween snakes, some 30 feet long.

And there’s lots of wood to move. Never know when you might need a couple of hundred spindles.

I’ve been trying to get the mannequins to dress a little better these days, but they don’t cooperate very well. Their arms and legs just don’t want to go into the clothes I pick out for them.

I must admit that getting ready for the event has forced a lot of spring/summer/fall cleaning on us — that should have been done a long time ago! And it’s interesting to find accidental sculptures that happen along the way.

Fun with Old Family Photos

My mom’s birthday is coming up, so I recruited the help of my brothers and cousin for a little party.

So my cousin Debbie sent me old photo albums, and Chris scanned a lot of old slides…

and I put together a cartoon birthday invitation using Comic Life by plasq.

I love this program! It’s so fun to use, it makes funny cartoon noises when you delete things or stretch your photos.

Happy Birthday Mom!