Sunday, January 31, 2010

my secrets shared with Seth...Namaste

Open House at Seth's Altered Page for shared secrets

my secrets are hidden in plain view
calm quiet movements
calm quiet moments
guardians for all artists.
standing still is essential for my journey
listen with my heart
use the best materials I have available
share my moments with others...both young and the old
carry my camera daily
even to the grocery to photograph fresh flowers and vegetables I may not be able to buy today
thrift stores like Goodwills and St. Vincent de Paul...magic happens here
junk boxes and trash bins in framing shops and hardware stores
attempt to use little bits and pieces in my works
zero trash for mother Earth
revisit my travel journals...I have been blessed
a new box of crayons and colours
practice gratitude -seek balance in both body and soul's energies
say YES and believe it
see with a child's heart
Imagine and Live in Peace...Art saves has saved mine.
Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

Saturday, January 30, 2010

artist trading cards...

It was so cold that I did not want to get outside the comfort of my covers. Ken's headache had finally let up and I was grateful that we had stayed in last night...he is still a quart and one half low...I keep kidding him :o). I watched my cooking shows and had my coffee in bed but finally recognized I needed to get moving. I had made a promise and I was going to stick to my word. I arrived at one clock and there were three other artists working... I am so glad I went. I made my focus for Valentines for those little hearts in my life. Before I knew it Michelle's two smallest children came and WE all worked together ...oh what a great time I think we all had. Rena made six special atc's with her own delightful touch and Owen made three atcs but was sadly disappointed because I did not have a stamp for a monster truck he needed. I think you can tell by the photos that he made do with what he had! His mother makes the most incredible pastel portraits of a dog and a cat. Her son's girlfriend stopped by and blew us out of the water with her first trading card and continued with her collage process...Well done Brittany. Before I knew it I discovered it was five o clock and I needed to get to the grocery and head home for a quick supper. Getting in and out of the cold was the most body would not warm up and I moved ever so slowly. When I got home after six I was worn out. I laid down for a short rest and three hours later here I am...not a real productive day or was it? Study the eyes...the process...the small gifts of artist trading cards...and a home to come home to with a man who patiently waited without complaining. "The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time" and that is exactly what I did. Stay warm and hug yes HUG the people you love! Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

Friday, January 29, 2010

an art of focus...

I receive the Daily OM and yesterday the message was about maintaining focus in our lives..."all of our tools can be helpful if we use them wisely and keep ourselves engaged in all the world has to offer." Learning to filter our distraction takes an individual form of self discipline...learning to shift our focus so that our work; an artist journey remains in our daily focus. The message discuss how a negative situation contains some special wisdom that may lead to higher growth. It is learning to trust the universe and trusting in oneself as the new chapter unfolds in our hearts. Being open to the next "what if?" will attract the positive souls who may guide and support you in your new direction. Interesting food for thought as I work on my small wolf moon prayer page.

Tomorrow I am meeting some friends to spend part of the afternoon making artist trading cards ...mine will probably be small little Valentine ones to give my granddaughters. I do not try to sell mine because I love how these simple exercises in "playing" were meant to share and give away. I do know there are artists selling their wares and theirs are way better than my simple child like collages. I have cut several sheets of hand changed/painted papers and hopefully will be able to put something together that the girls will enjoy receiving. I think the weather has been so cold here...near zero but we did missed the big snowstorm south of us. Just being out with artist and I think I will take my heat immersion pot so we can have hot tea together. I keep you posted of my results...

I have finished one half of the wolf piece...the easy part... the photograph of the blue moon for January. I am hoping to hand quilt the young pup with various threads and beads tomorrow and maybe have the photos of a mostly completed prayer page. Stay warm and enjoy a hot cup of love tonight. Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

P.S. This is a quilt collaboration I made with 8th graders and is called "Hidden in Plain View"

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My field trip for more buttons...

Today the thermometer said 12 degrees but with the wind chill it dropped to zero. Still I went out to persevere and made my deliveries of the new Licking county travel magazine to the LCA gallery and Argyle gallery. I then delivered a small travel journal to my friend at the bank to give to Pam who is leaving for Australia and New Zealand next week. It should fit easily in her purse or travel backpack so all she needs to do is collect her thoughts in phrases ...then at the end of the day she might be able to gather her impressions of this spectacular countryside on both islands. I then went to Memory Lane where Virgina had found me a large Ball jar of buttons and a quart jar of old wooden spools with threads for an idea for a small assemblage. I am really excited as the exhibit is coming together...slowly yes, but I am processing each day a little closer to my installation date. Virginia 's shop is full of this and that and if you take your time and calmly stroll in the small rooms full of treasures and for me memories from my childhood in Kentucky and my grandparents kitchen. When I remember growing up I now remember we did not go out to a restaurant except once a year on the Friday after Thanksgiving we all loaded up into the red Studebaker station wagon and went downtown for a movie at the Rialto theater and then whatever we would want to try at the Blue Boar cafeteria. Now this was not a fancy place and I do not know if they are even around anymore but for eight people...six kids and Mom and Dad...this event was a really big deal for my family. I am so grateful for my friends like Virginia who scout out pieces of women's work from decades before me. I guess I am a wee bit crazy but reassigning these metaphors help me tell a story about the women I am researching in hopefully an intimate respectful manner.

My American Craft magazine came and there are several great insightful articles about contemporary artists working today. "Life is a balance between organization and chaos, and it's the same with texture."- Janice Arnold. Janice is a felt artist extraordinaire and her sculptural approach and organic influences to her felt works are both functional and fashionable. In this article she discusses her education and actually builds a yurt that resembled more of a shrine than a primitive nomadic home tent. I was totally blown away with her intrepid imagination and determination to surmount obstacles artistic and logistics and still remain true to her design with a focus on texture. This issue also covers many of the featured artists at the American Craft juried convention in Baltimore. I think if you feel that you have hit a wall in design or are in a rut...check out what these imaginative artists are marketing for 2010.

I came home and made a warming wild rice and roast pork casserole with fresh spinach and multiple vegetables. On a cold night this was a body and heart warming meal. I went upstairs to finish framing in the small 18 1/2 inch by 13 inch composition for my January Wolf Moon. I selected howlite semi-precious beads, small carved turquoise bears, mother of pearl, carved green stone variegated owls...I do not remember what they are carved from... but I think they might add an interesting touch to a native American homage. Tomorrow I will start quilting on this small quilt. For now I am going to go to bed and hide under a quilt to get warm. Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

January Wolf Moon with Bea....

I have been adding polymer colors from Germany and Prisma colors to add to my sketch of my wolf pup... she, my small wolf is not quite a year old but still aware of the surroundings and wilderness environment. 2010's January Full Moon happened to be a Blue moon...this means for this particular lunar cycle the month will have two full the phrase "once in a blue moon" was given birth. I have selected mother of pearl medallions and carved mother of pearl leaves..framing the view in the photograph ...reflective of the pure white moonlight. I am thinking of actually adding hand stitches in a variety of burnt oranges with silver metallics...along with small reflective beads in an assortment of colors. I have some pastels available to smudge on top of the deep purple and blues...I am just not sure on how to set the pigments...possibly with a dry hot iron. Please feel free to add a comment or two to express what you might see as this small work develops.

I am watching the State of the Union speech with President Obama outlining his focus for working some collaboration with both parties to make a difference in the lives of the American families. I would like to have everyone here in America to have the same Health coverage as our Senators and Congressmen. Young. old, working, disabled, veterans, the unemployed...move toward a stronger union where with changes in the education and job training we can once again producing American made products to become desirable by other markets around the world. Compromise ...can we unite for the better of the country and support the needed changes for America. I will be praying for our country's leaders to work together. Amen!

I received a call from one of my favorite little shops to let me know that one of her vendors delivered a jar of old buttons and would I like her to set them back for me. I am wondering if I will be able to sleep tonight? Hee Heee Hee! I will also deliver a small journal to a friend who is lucky enough to be leaving for my beloved Australia on February 2nd for three weeks. If I was a rich woman I would be going on this journey along with Pam but alas it is not meant to be this year. I also have to deliver the 2010 Licking County magazine to the gallery and I am hoping the marketing person is the one who is volunteering. We will have a new website remodeled by Beth at to check out all our destinations. Shop...Discover...Sleep....Eat...Relax.... Meet... and unique events to enjoy in our own back yard! I am learning that it is sometimes difficult to edit design elements for my exhibits individual works. Once again being vulnerable and learning to sit quietly to contemplate the trust I need to create in my heart and soul. I try not to panic...yet...or allow myself to feel the fear...I need to work hard every day hard every day.

It was bitter cold all day but the sun was shining down on my studio,,,the day was three minutes longer...did you notice? I need to get back to my hand quilting drawing...Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

creative voices from little children...

The painting rises from the brush strokes as a poem rises from the words. The meaning comes later. __ Joan Miro

My meetings lasted longer than I would have liked but the new people on the board show extraordinary promise and contagious enthusiasm for the possibilities 2010 brings to everyone here in Licking county. I hurried to meet my daughter and her little ones at McDonald's for a quick supper ...I chose one of their salads and the lime juice seem to explode in my mouth as I ate my southwest chicken salad. The girls were full of questions as they examined my fused glass pendant and a felted pin on my sweater jacket...did you make that? can you make me one? can I make a necklace too? It is difficult to sit down on your bottom when you are full of questions and want to do it all! Boy do I wish I had their energies!!!

I will work on my Wolf Moon tonight with soft pastels and chose the coordinating complementary colors for the composition. My dreams were guiding me last night in an Adena and Hopewell theme...I am not sure where they will lead me tonight when the house is quiet and I am quietly willing to accept their guidance my marks will become visible. This whole process comes from a theme of authentic trust...trusting in the guidance from an unknown teacher guide. I awoke this morning to a small herd of yearling does grazing outside my back door ...fresh footprints in the new blanket of softly falling snow. Once again their eyes gaze at me in a total state of trust...I often worry that this will make them more vulnerable to the hunters during hunting season. The yearling doe's silent witness daily marks the coming of a new morning on my small piece of wilderness. Imagine and Live in Peace and remember to Trust.
Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

Monday, January 25, 2010

renewal inspiration...

I found the inspiration for my renewal disco project and world without trash on the planet...a blessed Mother Earth. This was my beginning...knowing my perennial ferns will reappear from under the deepest snows and grace my small backdoor garden. Their spiritual total faith that Spring will reappear from the decay of the previous winter's ballet. I love the dew drops that glisten in the early morning on the very tips of the affirmation in soft pure greens moist from a rebirth. I will attempt to locate the finished saves if we the artists were perennials bursting through the fertile soils to greet another Spring. Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

the second part of the disco....for Seth Apter...

I was going to post the weak and I do mean weak photos of my second part of this Disco collaboration but somehow I lost them in this computer...I am hopeless at times when I get frustrated by the technology and miracle we have at our fingertips. I will try again later ...I know they are in here but finding them amongst the vast pockets of memory and photos...does anyone else ever have this happen to them in trying to retrieve specific information???

I went to show my wares...images of the Adena and Hopewell cultures and the Mounds here in Licking pens, tees, hats, bags and coffee cups. Small tokens that could be purchased to raise some additional funds for our visitors bureau center...the state of Ohio's funds is gradually disappearing due to the economy and we are fortunate enough to have quality people working and marketing the affordability and special landmarks in our sometimes overlooked for travel plans. Susan is off to New York tomorrow to invite buses and tours to come on down to Ohio! They decided on a dozen coffee cups to try for the center's gift shop...small affordable but art created by a local artist to bring in moneys for our county's benefit. Thanks to Mr. Ken he has this worked out and we will continue to seek out more affordable sources to reproduce these small items. One small baby step forward.. I read today a quote.."trust yourself" and take the risk. It is not the end of the world if it does not prove profitable but this is a small way to contribute to the works of many hands working together.

I am working on my January Wolf Moon collaboration...I am not making a doll but that is just fine. I am more of a small composition girl with the chance to embellish with my favorite mother of pearl beads, natural stones and relics from the language of symbols employed by Native Americans. I am enjoying working to flute music from Nakai and a CD from Rita Coolidge with a spiritual theme to guide my hands to make my marks. I will show you few images of my blue moon and my sketches of my young wolf pup. Have a wonderful evening and stay is snowing again...but it is still January! Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Being vulnerable...taking a risk...

Keep all the important doors open. After a major reality check this afternoon and charging $197.00 for four of my fourteen medications needed to attempt to remain in remission I had a good cry right there in my pharmacy department. Life is sometimes difficult and after the realization that this is life as it is in the moment and I need to just accept that I want to live...Live! I went through the rest of the grocery picking up fresh fruits and vegetables, tilapia, a small pork roast, milk.eggs, and the real treat... pretzel sticks. On my drive home in the rain I was grateful that we could have good foods and the opportunity to pick up and charge our medications to keep living with a chronic progressive disease like Lupus. I am vulnerable but I am still here.

This incident reminded me of my disintegration collaboration project I participated in with Seth Apter ...from the The Altered Page. From the month of January until May we were asked to make a work of art and then bury it in the ground or leave outside to demonstrate the fragility of our art materials and our very human bodies when left to survive exposure of nature's elements. I created a small accordion paper book with drawn, painted images, ribbons and fibers, collaged elements to demonstrate my affirmation for a world/ mother earth free from disposable trash. I included photographs of my children and family members and words and poetry to create a humane statement to simply express this affirmation for a cleaner, healthier planet earth for all families in the future. I buried my precious book under my purple clematis plant outside my backdoor in my very small garden of lilies and perennials. I watched anxiously as the weather raged and blew frigid winter winds and heavy snows. I feel responsible for this slow process of decaying fibers and papers and to be honest there were times I wanted to retrieve my words and marks but on May 1st I uncovered my small token of disintegration and Mother Nature to discover how resilient my marks had behaved in the ground. Gently I opened my accordion to discover several small creatures had made their shelters inside the pages of the book. The watercolors were still soft and visible and there was evidence of a slowly moving growth of a soft velvet gray mold. The pages were stuck together...possibly a reaction with the moist soils, condensation of snows and rains and the Liquitex gel medium I had employed to help preserve the words and images. The ribbons and lace fibers were still intact and I felt an intimate realization that as a human body struggles to survive against the elements of daily living...the metaphor is visible to those participating in this unique process. Suddenly I found my eyes totally aware to disintegration processes like decay, rusting ...beautiful flows of the chemical reaction in the process of rusting metals, torn bits and pieces of vintage fibers and the stories they tell. I was so aware could I have been blind to this magical transformation right in front of my eyes? Aging and the marks we wear on our faces and skin were now so visible and told a story about the manner we live our lives. I now studied faces of dear older friends and their beautiful wrinkles and smile lines with a new appreciation of the cycle of making a life and living in the present moment...the gift of life to the fullest.

Seth then asked us the artists to perform another step in this Disco project. We were to make a decision to reassemble parts of our disintegration design elements into a new work...a new articulation of bits and pieces into a new life. I discovered this would be a bit difficult to begin and develop a new interpretation on my paper and fiber assemblage. I also found myself seeing with a widen lens... to see with my own eyes the commercial advertisements and reports on how to remain youthful in a woman's appearance...this project surprisingly had me questioning the definition of beauty in our culture. My small work became like a fern fiddle..slowly unfurling to the sky's sunlight and life cycle unfolding. This perennial fern is a favorite of mine to experience when I witness this miracle opening up to a new seasons promises. This cycle of life in living in the moment. This new beginning..a rebirth is the metaphor I relive when I make my sacred marks and witness the transformation we live as artists living in a moment of time. Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart