Inner Heat

As I described in earlier writing, as a girl I had an imaginative alter ego who I simply named Barbara Cowboy. Her existence in my imagination and play took place decades before the theory and language of current day Feminism and Spiritually were formed. And Her story continues….
She had the gift of making fire. I have never seen anything like it. I would gather whatever I could find, often hastily constructed into a loose mound. It did not matter what the fuel was made of, stones piled in mud topped with a handful of green leaves, dry sticks and grass, wet twigs, frozen pine cones, algae strands collected from a slow running creek. Barbara Cowboy carried a source of heat deep, deep inside Herself. Like a coal stored deep in the ashes of the world, kept bright, smoldering.

I noticed that She never seemed to get cold, even when the temperatures dropped, and sleet blew in horizontal streaks across a landscape. She did not own a coat, or heavy skin to drape over her back. Her only cover was a serape-like blanket in colors of ochre, with striations of green, blue and white interwoven in colorful rows. I would often watch her unfurl it from a pouch in her saddle bags, throw it around her shoulders like a market shawl and throw me a quick grin and a wink as She wandered ahead leading her horse. In the most inclement weather, her hands were warm, downright toasty. Raindrops and snowflakes would dissipate on her skin, and rise like clouds of vapor to the heavens. Internal heat, always present, always warming. Never too hot or too cool. She made fire-tending look as easy as taking a breath.

In some spiritual teachings, the hands are identified as having the gift to begin and end all sorts of manifestation in this world. With our left hand, we receive what the universe offers us, and with our right hand we release or send these gifts to others and the world. I often witnessed Barbara Cowboy extend her right hand to make fire. She did not seek to receive anything from the world to make fire. She used what was inside herself, her internal flame, and would merely reach out to gift it to whatever fuel lay before her hand. Be it dung, waste wrappings, improbable fuel choices….it didn’t matter. A heat would be released and ignition … the bright flames of transformation would rise. Without effort, simply and freely given. Simply by using INTENT to give to herself the warmth she needed.

Build your campfire and throw onto it your personal garbage, limited self perceptions, feelings of not being seen or heard. Throw your sense of unworthiness on top of it all and reach out your right hand. Release your heat, buried beneath the ashes of your world. It’s there, believe you me. Release your fire as a gift to the universe and watch the flames of your own transformation reach to the sky above. Then turn around and walk your path with your left hand held high. Let out a whoop!

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Self Reflections

I was born into this world 64 years ago today. It has been a long journey around the Medicine Wheel, and I now find myself in the North at this period of my life. Crone, now Wise Woman … a title I now wrap myself in like a skin laid upon my shoulders. This time of the Wheel is one of wisdom, introspection and freedom. My walk with Mother Earth has been with me since I was small. She was part of my environment, but more in my imagination and within my play dreams. I had an alter ego whom I named Barbara Cowboy. I was born in the 1950’s when choices for women were limited. One could grow up to be a housewife, secretary, waitress or an airline stewardess. Women did not have the language or words for Feminism or Enlightenment.

I had an alter ego which I named Barbara Cowboy. She was no little girl but a full grown woman and feral. She could wield a knife with precision, wore pants with leather chaps, could ride a horse bareback without reins and knew the names of the plants and critters in her world. She jingled as she walked, with silver conchos and bracelets on her wrists and her hair was braided in a thick tail down the middle of her back. She lived outdoors in all kinds of weather and whooped when the storms moved through. She walked through my dreams at night, and went before me in my play time. I wanted to be HER when I grew up. I have always considered Her my guide, an avatar, so to speak and She was/has been with me as I grew into my adulthood as a woman.

1519973667143I’ve made lots of poor choices in my living, but when it came to building a career direction I chose to follow Her guiding compass. I attended college late, as a single parent with two young daughters in tow. I voraciously gobbled up classes in botany, biology, ornithology, mammalogy, ichthyology, dendrology, forest ecology, soils, hydrology and anything else that piqued my understanding of the natural world we live in. I completed degrees in Wildlife Biology, Forestry, and graduate studies in Wetland Ecology. I have worked as a botanist, restoration ecologist, big game biologist, wetland specialist, plant biogeochemist and physiologist. I know the names of critters, plants, soils, herbs and understand a bit of how this miraculous world wags with its large nutrient, water and atmospheric cycles. My breath is Mother’s Breath. My Heart will forever be with Her…… And, I can wield a knife with great precision……

 

Stoned Frequency

Not doing much “art” right now….My muse has placed my hands in my lap. She will wander back when She is ready, I really don’t worry about Her when she wanders off to muse alone….
I did, however, build myself a powerful piece of jewelry. This necklace contains a nuummite crystal as the central pendant. Now Nuummite is the oldest mineral on this planet. It was created 3 billion years ago from volcanic origins and is named after a volcano in Greenland where is was discovered in 1982.
Nuummite is a stone of personal transformation, increasing the frequency of synchronicity or the sacred geometry of timing and intuition. Nuummite is a stone of tremendous grounding, attuned to the elemental forces of Earth that can be drawn upon in times of need. It is an excellent source of energy with a strong electro-magnetic field. It aligns the subtle bodies, strengthens the auric shield, and is fiercely protective against negative energies, manipulations, and environmental pollutants.
It is useful in over-all healing and tissue regeneration, and to relieve pain and discomfort associated with headaches and degenerative disease. It may be used to purify the blood and kidneys, and to alleviate infections that are slow to heal or recur. Regarding emotional healing, Nuummite is a powerful stone to locate and retrieve parts of your lost child, and integrate it back into the Self for healing and wholeness.
I coupled this pendant with additional semiprecious stones for the root chakra (hematite, oxblood, tiger eye); sacral chakra (mouakite, garnet, red agate, jaspers); solar plexus chakra (sunstone, amber, yellow jade), heart chakra (Green adventurine, rose quartz, ruby in zoisite); throat chakra (sodalite), third eye (lapis lazuli, labradorite) and smoky quartz for the crown chakra.
Talk about a resonance! Not sure when I am going to release it from my grasp into the world…… Enjoy!inCollage_20180227_115715404


 

The Eye as a doorway into the Soul.

I am not one to really mimic nature. The original form built by Mother is majestic, beautiful, extremely complex and outside-the-box. Yet here I am attempting to make a pair of eyes for a sculpture, and need to rummage around in what I have on hand to create them. I live in a place where a 24 mile round trip is required to purchase basic hardware goods. So I’m a bit unwilling to use fossil fuel to purchase some epoxy to make a pair of eyes. A search through all of my stuff at home revealed a jar of clear gel topcoat hanging out in a drawer.

So, first I outline a large set of eyes using permanent markers and color the outer ring using colored pencils. I seal them using modge podge and then drop a single bead of aceylic gel right onto the “iris” of the drawing. This allows for a transparent thickness over the central portion of the eye and diffused the iris a bit along the edge. I think this gives it a bit of a more “natural” look. After drying, I build up the surrounding eye area with another controlled blob of gel. I will continue to build up the layers over the period of a day until I have a nice convex shape. Stinks to high heaven (I don’t like the smell of nailpolish), soI need to put them outside to dry. Will post the finished product when done! inCollage_20180207_090851323

Creating Art is so much like Life…

I found myself in a conumdrum this morning when working on a paper mache sculpture of a large bird. I want to put some fine feathers on it, but was not able to find what I was looking for as a tutorial online. Most of what I found on very excellent paper sculpure sites were recommendations that seemed just too heavy and thick than what I am looking to do.

So, I began to fiddle, ripping up small pieces of paper to curl them and place them on the head of the sculpture. I fiddle, wiggle, pinch, push with whatever I have on hand to make things work. I struggle, persist, initiate, and feel triumphant in the smallest of success. I moan, grind my teeth, get peeved and feel thwarted when the project does not unfold easily…….Easily? Why should I have a paradigm that process SHOULD BE easy? There is 20180204_114342no guide to show me what to do, no booklet with instructions I can follow….this project is all on me to unfold. So I place a few shreds of paper on the bird. Lovely, I think….only to realize that they are too thin to withstand handling and time itself. A weak point. Resolving this weakness takes more brainstorming and digging through the tools I have in my studio. I have decided to use gesso and modge-podge to thicken the paper strips and toughen them up.

It’s kind of like Life in a nutshell. I have an inkling of how to make something happen in my life……..let’s say for example, learning how to self-love. There are lots of books, tutorials, video guidance out there about the subject. I can glean some preliminary ideas about how to approach the subject. Yet I still have to go through initiating changes in my paradigm, struggle to remember to be mindful of food, water and movement during the day. Much less learn by trial and error what works best for me. I have to address my weak points in order to be successful, and need to look around in my Life to find the ingredients to use to shore myself up. Meditation, prayer, timers, chalk boards for reminders, even my dog who reminds me to get out and walk. I am never sure about what will work best for strengthening my own fiber and resolve to change. I have to try things and ideas out, apply them and see what works.

 

The Artistic Process in Montage.

It takes hours of work to create a single photographic montage. I work with all of my own pictures, taken in Nature at one time or another. I carry a small camera with me most places, and my partner often will here me say “I’m going out to take some pics….just look at that sky (moon, lighting, birds winging by etc)” while donning my coat and hat. Most of my photographic elements are taken right in my own neighborhood. For example, this is my most current piece for my montage series “Gaia”. I plan to create symbolic visual art pieces that depict the emergence and transformative processes we go through as true human beings while on this planet. This piece depicts our final journey here…..being transformed back into the Earth after death.

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The piece is comprised of a total of 7 different photos.. and does not include the days of construction it took to create the paper mache skull. The final product may look simple to inCollage_20180126_081659752

to the viewer, but I clock in hours, days to create a single piece. I utilize multiple photo editing programs to edit photos, create transparencies, combine colors, cut, layer and blend them to the desired effects. I hope you enjoy my work. My work will be available as cards and small posters on my Etsy store FoxMtnFolkArt this spring….. stay tuned!

The Human Journey of Transformation

Just a follow-up on my most recent post. I’ve developed another montage using the paper mache mask I made last fall. I am designing and creating a new montage series this year called “Gaia”. I plan to create images symbolic of the emergent and transformative phases of being a true human being. This montage is symbolic of our last journey on this beloved planet….

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Life in Death – an Artistic perspective…

“Life in Death”
Paper-mache Construction (2017)
B. Donohue

I constructed a paper mache mask this past October in honor of All Souls Day (Nov 1st) and Dia de Muertos, celebrated on November 2nd. At first, I attempted to paint the mask in the tradition of Hispanic artisans, but found I could not. I am not Hispanic, and it made no sense to me to attempt to mimic one…..

I am however, a collage artist. I applied my skill to try and explain what death means to me….. I looked at lots of pictures in magazines and chose those images that had a symbolic resonance about death and dying. Death is as much about Life as being born. Everything on this planet is birthed into being, and everything passes away. Nothing and no one is free from this Transformation.

I need to explain that I “borrow” symbolic images from a variety Peoples. I mean no disrespect to anyone or any culture in doing this. I am of mixed heritage, with my genetic makeup comprised of Spanish, Mexican, French, English and Irish roots. I simply believe that symbols are part of the human subconscious and is a language we all can understand.

I began my collage layers at the top of the skull using pictures of the dark night sky with stars. We come from starburst. My next layer laid down over the forehead was of dawnlight, symbolic of Life awakening in us as well as in all living things. I chose the image of a hummingbird feeding on a flower on the forehead. Hummingbirds have many symbolic meanings, but the Taino tribes of South America saw the hummingbirds as a symbol of rebirth. In fact, the hummingbird was the symbol for the one who spread life across the world.

Pink roses grace multiple locations on the mask. Their symbolic meanings were first recorded in Greek mythology. It was believed that roses originated from Adonis, who was the deity of plants and rebirth. Pink roses symbolize gratitude, grace, admiration, and joy in life.

On the left side, you will find the Coyote and Deer. In Native American stories, the Coyote is an important messenger of personal transformation Not all Native American stories see the coyote as only good or only evil, but most believe he represents a balance. Balance cannot exist without both good and evil, life and death, beginnings and endings. In Celtic symbolism the Deer is both male and female – the Hind is the feminine aspect who can access the fairy world and teaches humans about spirituality. The butterfly is a symbol of change, joy and color. The exquisite blue butterfly was considered a miracle of transformation and resurrection. The Bluebird is a symbol of the angelic realm. It’s meaning is one of happiness grace and delight.inCollage_20180125_191828649.jpg

New Montage Series: GAIA (2018)

New art forms take time to unfold. I’ve been teaching myself to make photographic montages for the past month. It was a spontaneous expression, I never even thought about working with photographs before. I have been working in collage and montage for 2 years now. All hand made, cut out pictures from magazines, glued to sharkboard or cardboard mounted. The process takes days and are quite unique. For example, I finished a “Holy Card” series of 15 smaller pieces which depict teachings from my Catholic background as a child. The montage below is titled “The Garden of Gethsemane”. It symbolizes the story of Yesuah’s betrayal the night before he is killed. Red is an important color in Hebrew traditions and represents “life in the blood”. Mars at the top symbolizes agitation, strife, aggression. Each item used in this construction is cut out by hand and pieced together.20170523_152524

I have applied this concept to taking photographs and layering them using multiple photo editing programs. The current montage series relates to my love of Mother Earth, and reflects my interest in Nature as a biologist, botanist, ecologist and herbalist. A real different medium to work with, especially with taking photographs. This piece is comprised of 5 different pics: A selfie of me, trees in my back yard, a sunset over Ash Creek, a photo of clouds and another pic taken using crystal reflections. IMG_20180104_065015

This one is titled “Heart Song”. I have a few posters and cards to be added to my Etsy store for purchase. They will be available at the end of January…… enjoy!

New postings for a New Year

I want to update my blog post to include the jewelry I have posted on my Etsy storefront named “FoxMtnFolkArt”. I know that folks have been trying to gain access to the site, but I am a little bit in arrears in catching up with my blog post and sharing sites.

I had a conversation yesterday with my older sister, and she recommended that I clarify who I am and what drives me to make the jewelry compositions I create. For example, I am currently in the process of creating a montage series called “Gaia” this year. I plan to have the series printed up as stationary cards and perhaps small posters. She did not understand what the word “Gaia” meant or the theory behind it…..

First and foremost, I am a biologist/ecologist at heart. My artistic expression is seated deeply in the science and physics that explain our world. Gaia is a concept formed in the 1980’s of the Earth functioning as a living organism, having a consciousness of its own. It’s natural systems work just like any other organism it has created on this planet. The earth breathes, digests, respires, has internal checks and balances to keep it healthy. I took my first class on “Global Ecology” as a graduate student at the University of Nevada Reno. I still have the book. My eyes were opened to the theory of Gaia as I studied the complexity of her chemical and nutrient cycles and delicate interactions of the atmosphere, oceans, geology and biota of this place. My respect for this planet became entrenched within my heart at that time.

My interest in rocks and geology came about from working in mineral exploration with an exceptional woman, Dr. Nancy Parduhn-Jackson. She (We) built a company named Cerus Exploration Technologies Inc. located in Sparks, NV back in the late 1980’s. She specialized in soil bacteria, more specifically Bacillus cersus, a microbe which has evolved with the capacity to survive and thrive in metalliferous soils. I was hired on as a laboratory assistant and to develop the use of plant tissue analysis through biogeochemical assay to locate buried ore deposits. Our combined exploration techniques were surprisingly successful. This work took us into the field where we laid out sampling grids for collection of soil and plant samples. We spent a lot of time looking at the ground, and rocks in particular. Nancy taught me so much about geology….jasperoids, jadeites, beryl, altered andesites etc. Rocks that had been changed under high temperatures, pressure and water in the mantle of the Earth crust.

My geologic learning was a natural influence in working with semiprecious stones. My own curiosity has lead me to expand and learn about the electromagnetic fields of the earth, the vibrational frequency of atoms, and the vibration within matter and all living things. Although the theory of chakras is introduced from India, the idea of energy centers within the human body makes sense. The new physics of string theory and the effect of planetary electromagnetism on the human body is being studied…..fasinating stuff to this nerd in sheep’s clothing. So, back to jewelry creation…..

I use semiprecious stones in my jewelry. I understand the resonance principal behind Crystal healing or stone healing. Although empirically it is difficult to prove that wearing a quartz crystal will enhance the vibration of the human electromagnetic field for balance and healing, I can understand the probability that it could. That is why I create jewelry with stones identified by various sources to resonate with various energy centers of the body…….

So now you know where I come from when creating my art pieces. Visit my storefront on Etsy…..FoxMtnFolkArt. Enjoy!