Into the Woods

Today I am feeling very empowered. Lupus is a true mystery and it started making itself known to me right before my 30th birthday. Not until about 10 years later did treatment begin, and even now I find loose threads of mystery and get to pluck them out into the light.

We have recently pinpointed a thread and pinned it down into the light. Sometimes the process to attend to these new discoveries seem and sometimes genuinely are, quite alarming. However, not knowing is far more alarming and has its inherent risks.

With a disease whose name is from Wolf, you are always hunting in the darkness for things to bring to the light. I am really grateful for my symptoms and my doctors, they are always like hounds leading me in the chase.

They know that most auto-immune diseases start with childhood traumas and stressors that with the biological predispositions become active inflammatory diseases later. For my entire childhood, and even now this means that I virtually never get sick no flues, or colds, or bad infections, with rare exception.

It is both poetic, and I feel profound to muse over that the antidote is to go and to be deep in the woods, to seek yourself, to know yourself, to sit with yourself. Not just in the biological sense, but also in the spiritual and heart sense.

Thus, I have been very enveloped in the business of appointments and the hunt, as it were. Art is it’s own deep soul therapy for healing and coping with my chronic illnesses, and it ironically often gets swept to the side when fatigue and time chock and narrow that pathway.

I suppose I will have to remember why I would venture into the woods alone so often as a child, simply to explore and play. Everyone should play a bit every day!

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Wren Day or Lá an Dreoilín


The Eagle and the Wren once tried who could fly highest, and the victor was to be king of the birds. So the Wren flew straight up, and the Eagle flew in great circles, and when the Wren was tired he settled on the Eagle’s back. When the Eagle was tired he stopped, and–

“Where art thou, Wren?” said the Eagle.

“I am here above thee,” said the Wren.

And so the Wren won the match.

Scottish Fairy and Folk Tales, by George Douglas, [1901]

Yesterday was Wren’s day, also modernly known as St. Stephens Day, though long before Christianity and saintly preoccupations came to the Celtic Isles, it is believed to have occurred near the solstice.  The Wren’s feathers were sought as protection from death at sea, while it was also believed to be ill luck, even a mortal curse, to kill one. Yet every year, near the winter solstice, the Wren is ceremoniously hunted and killed. Even the king of the birds dies. The wren is then ritually presented in Wren Boy ceremonies, which in modern times are usually done to collect money for charity.

Wren Concept Sketch

Wren Concept Sketch

The wren is a subtle and small bird with a tremendous voice. Her name is derived from old Irish Druí (druid) and én (bird), modernly Dreoilín. She is fertile in knowledge, sight, and skill. For myself, the wren’s song has been a tremendous delight, and I always begin to feel settled into my home after first hearing one. The ever-fertile wren, whose melodious voice is ever present throughout the year,  is highlighted in the stillness and silence of winter.

Beginning of painting

Beginning of painting

Yet soon, just as the birth of the new sun represents the rise of the Oak King, Wren’s Day reveals the death of the wren and soon to be the return of the robin. The link between the two is represented in marriage tales in literature.  It is all a reminder that all is cyclical and every ending is wed to a beginning.

“The wren has the ability to release the past, leaving itself untethered to take on each new cycle in its life.”

– Miranda Gray, Beasts of Albion

Posted in Celtic Knotwork, Flora & Fauna, Uncategorized, Watercolor Wednesday | Leave a comment

Winter’s Peace

Winter's Peace

Winter’s Peace
Watercolor and Ink

Winter has a magic and peacefulness all of its own. It stirs a sense of wonder in me and I relish its stillness. It leaves me longing to be cloistered in my solitude creating and surrounded by the warmth of loved ones.

My family and friends are strewn all over; and while I often think of them, I’m not always the best at staying in touch. Modern life and technology provide a lot of distractions that do not help make up for the distance. Lupus is no help there either, but this year I was able to finish this project I started years ago and get it ready for printing on cards. I’ve enjoyed working on it tremendously.

Transfer of line drawing with detail added.

Masking with first washes of base tones. Setting the foreground tone early helps you understand if you’ve sufficiently toned the background. Once you remove all the masking, it’s nearly impossible to add more background washes.

Layering Indigo and Pthalo to make the sky recede into a crisp cold night

After toning down the sky more with a wash of neutral tint, I removed the masking and set middle ground tones

Building middle ground layers, but not so much detail to compete with the foreground.

Building layers of textures, shadow, and highlights.

Now, I am just waiting for printed materials to come in, so that I may spread some holiday cheer out through the mail!

Posted in Art Work Completed, Flora & Fauna, Tips &Techniques, Watercolor Wednesday | Leave a comment