Three trees in a peaceful wintry landscape.
Acrylics on wood board, October 2017, 6″ x 6″.
I was at Chestnut Hill College on March 9, yesterday, to do a session of poetry writing. (Look here to read about the Installment Plan Poetry Marathon I am doing, and why I was at this location).
Long story short, I hadn’t realized the school was on spring break and I got there before the library opened, being on holiday hours. So I sat outside with my sketchbook in a pleasant sunny morning and here is what I came up with.
This sketchbook travels with me in my red and black plaid bag (on that day sharing it with a thesaurus and a rhyming dictionary. Sitting and drawing like this is a refuge for me – a way to create my own space in crowded or disorienting circumstances. The peaceful college campus certainly was not pressing in on me, but the disruption in my schedule could have gotten to me. I am glad I have learned to turn to art or poetry-writing in these situations. Amazing what a difference a pen and paper make.
This sketchbook endures a lot. I noticed that once again I’ve spilled something on it – the bottom right corner area, this time. I think it’s one of those protein drinks I carry around. Must remember to be more careful!
I dropped these ladies off at the grotto in Lorimer Park yesterday afternoon. The previous group had stayed for some time but have now moved on. So…it was time for some new faces.
It was a quiet day there, cloudy and windy, and the leaves are coming down in showers now, though the trees are still mostly green. Very October.
Yesterday we visited Reading, PA – the purpose of the trip was to drop off some artwork and clay at a shop there, Allison Clothing Company. Fate sent Allison my way and I am grateful – she is a spirit-reviver and I feel very appreciated by her. She has carried my work in her shop since she opened a year ago and her faith in my work has meant a lot!
Anyway, I digress. After we finished our work in town, we drove up to a local spot we’ve visited before – the fire observation tower on Mt. Penn. It is quite a landmark, set high above the city in a quiet park. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, clear bright skies and lots of sunshine.
We ate a little picnic lunch on the grounds and left two figurines there. We weren’t able to go up in the tower today; it wasn’t open this weekend, but we have done it before and the view is great.
And last time we were here, we left a figurine under the same tree as today. I was happy to see that she was gone.
We drove home. The trip takes about an hour and a half or so. There was quite a bit of the afternoon left, so we decided to stretch our legs and take a walk in Lorimer Park. We left this figurine there.
I’ve been wanting to put a clay lady on top of a birdhouse along the trail for some time (there are a few of these houses along the route) but I hesitated because I didn’t want to disturb any birds. But now I think it will not be a problem.
All in all, a very nice day. We covered a lot of ground and in doing so visited some important people and locations.
The rail trail at Lorimer Park is being extended – several miles are being added next year. Currently the trail ends at one of the old rail bridges. I can see the work being done on the trail on the other side. Looking forward to it!
I decided to set a figurine at this location. Not everyone comes all the way to this point right now, as the trail up to it on our side is not finished, though it’s navigable enough for the curious to get through. So this lady will have a lot of peace and quiet and time to think, it seems.
Post Script August 2: I returned to the spot during my exercise today and – she was already gone!
About two weeks ago, I set a figurine on a fencepost overlooking the Fox Chase Farm – it borders Lorimer Park, where I often walk or run. (Here is that account if you’d like to know more).
Now, let me tell you some more chapters to this story. A few days after the figurine was set in place, I went back to visit the site and see how she was doing. I could tell as I walked up the path she was no longer there – the shape on the fencepost wasn’t right.
Imagine my surprise and happiness when I realized that someone had taken her and left a tiny blue-green pot – very delicate, almost the color of a robin’s egg – in her place. I picked it up and saw a scrap of paper inside – telling me to take it if I wished, the same message I put into the hollow space in my figurines.
For a bit, I thought about it – should I take the pot myself, or should I leave it for someone else? I decided that I would complete a circle rather being part of a line – so I now have the little pot in my kitchen to look at and remember the feeling of belonging in some kind of ordered world, even if just for a moment.
But I also felt I needed to return the gesture. I don’t usually repeat a location, the exception being the grotto in this same park, because I want each situation to be one-of-a-kind, not rote, not a chore, not a task. This time, though, something told me to continue.
So I took this little figurine there a couple of days ago. She’s got a history – I had set her in another park, but she was too far out of sight, and I felt she’d tried hard enough when I visited here a week or so ago and she was covered with pine needles. I brought her home, gave her a bath, and now – here she is.
It’s all been such a good experience for me. I am grateful.
I’ve made some figurines from stones I picked up in Lorimer Park. They were different from this little cat figure – I painted them with acrylics and in doing so obliterated their original characteristics as stones.
While collecting those rocks, I found this one, and I saw a cat in it. I really liked the colors in the rock and I decided to see what I could do with it while altering it as little as possible.
So, this cat has clay eyes and nose, a twig for a mouth, and copper wire whiskers. Seemed to be enough.
This morning I went to Lorimer Park for my exercise, despite the light fog and a look of rain in the cloudy sky.
I decided to leave the rail trail and go along the interior paths. We had a torrential rainstorm last evening and they were a bit tricky to navigate – lots of washouts. This happens because the park slopes steeply down to the Pennypack Creek.
Anyway, I thought I’d take a figurine along and see if there was a place for her on a path on the other side of the park.
I found just the perfect spot on a gatepost in the fence separating the park from the Fox Chase Farm, a working educational farm that’s right next to Lorimer.
I reflected on how lucky we are to have this park and this farm here – because they are set right in the middle of a very densely populated urban area. You’d never know it when you’re in the park and looking out at this view.
I felt a sense of peace in setting this figurine here. The day was quiet and and the view almost monochromatic. Not many other people had ventured out – I’d only seen a few people in the hour or so I was there. The only sounds I could hear were the birds, the creek, a little bit of breeze rustling the leaves, and spatters of drops falling from the trees. It makes a real difference to me to experience this feeling and I am grateful for it.
Here is something I wrote in January, 2014. I had dedicated the month to doing clay, and I made a number of small figurines. Here’s what I wanted to do with them:
Back in the summer, my family and I placed three figurines in a little rocky grotto area in a park along a trail where I run. It had become an informal spot for remembrances, it seemed – there were other objects set there – tiles, wind chimes, a big painted wooden face. The three figures lasted about three months and then were gone. Not broken, as there were no pieces – I believe someone needed them and took them. That was great, I thought. We put three more in place. A couple of times I ran by and saw that someone had put a pile of change in front of them – the money stayed there until this group, too, were gone. Once again, no pieces – so I know someone needed them and took them along.
I have three more to put in place when I can get to the park again. And all of this gave me an idea about my figurines. I decided no longer to sell them. Just give them to people who seem to need encouragement, who I want to thank or appreciate, or who just like them and express an interest. And I also want to continue setting them out in public. People do seem to like seeing them, and if someone wants to take them home, I hope they will do so.
A lot of my plans got derailed with my hand surgery and health issues, but as I’ve said, I’m slowly working my way back. And I’ve begun putting out figurines – I’ve written about the one at Mondauk Park recently. The trail I mention in the paragraphs above is Lorimer Park, Montgomery County, PA. It’s a former rail line now turned gravel trail, and it’s beautiful – on a steep slope above a creek. The grotto is located in a cut through the hill – high walls of rock rise on each side of the trail.
I’ve walked there recently several times. And I noticed that all the clay figurines I’ve placed in the grotto are gone – for a total of nine. I think it’s great.
This time I had the idea to do something different. So I picked up three rocks from beside the site, painted them (three little versions of Mother Nature, I think). I returned them to the place I got them a few days ago. I visited them yesterday, and here is a little pictorial version of the journey.
I have been doing a little clay work in the last week. Nothing much to show for it yet, but I am glad to be back to it. Another step back into the world for me.
In January, I made a lot of small figurines with the idea of leaving them here and there in the world – places that mean something to me or places where a little guardian figure might be nice. I put a little piece of paper with a message into their hollow bodies, but I don’t leave my name. And the idea is that the figurine can be at home wherever she lands, or someone can take her away to somewhere else. Doesn’t matter. I just like the idea of them being out in the world.
Here are a couple of pictures of a group of figurines before they were fired.
On Saturday, my husband and I made a trip to Reading, PA, about an hour from our house. We had a variety of things to do. While there, we drove up Mt. Penn, high above the city, and stopped at the William Penn Memorial fire observation tower. Built in 1939, it’s an imposing structure. And we were lucky to be there on a day it was open, so we could climb to the top. What a wonderful view!
We left one figurine in the surrounding park, under a tree.
(For more information on the tower, click here)
This morning, I took a walk at a local park. I’ve gone to this park for 25 years and must have done hundreds, if not a thousand or more, miles around the loop. So I felt it would be a good spot for a figurine. I found the stump of a pine tree fallen in this last winter’s storms, and set her at its base.