Yesterday was the Winter Solstice, the day in the northern hemisphere when daylight is shortest, exactly one full year after the ancient Mayan calendar rolled over and began a new cycle. 2013 has been a new beginning for me, a year when I have manifested my decision to start plein air painting, and to become a full-time artist at least two days a week by the end of the year. I cannot say that my two-days-a-week of being a full-time artist are 48 hours in a row, but rather, a few hours here and a few hours there over the course of the week, but most certainly taking up at least 16 “work time” hours. Not all of it is actually the production of artworks; some of it is framing and presentation, of course blogging, Facebook networking and looking at other artists’ works and art news, studying, taking a workshop, supporting the arts by attending openings and events locally, and giving art instruction. Another significant part is the nourishment of my spirit, which I have come to realize is closely tied to my life as an artist, and must be factored in as a necessary investment of my time. As I become aware of various energies and energetic systems, I find my senses heightened, and my creative energy has become more of a compulsion, so that I don’t just WANT to create, I MUST create. My joy has multiplied exponentially.
I celebrated the Winter Solstice yesterday with a group of dear friends who share a commonality of spirit. First we had breakfast at my house – cantaloupe, pineapple,cheese, croissants, and coffee and hot tea – with stimulating conversation punctuated by a visit from a young man who said his name was Ryan, who seemed to appreciate our conversation but wouldn’t have anything to eat. He did say it was refreshing to be treated nicely. He gave us some literature from the Jehovah’s Witnesses. His visit was limited by our plans to meet another dear friend at a labyrinth nearby, our intention to be walking it at the exact moment of Solstice, which was 11:11 AM Central Standard Time. The labyrinth is on private property in a gated community, and we had received permission to use it.
After Leslie read us an invocation to set Sacred Space, Caroling began her walk, and after a respectful distance each of us followed — Maddie, Mary, Eda, Leslie, and myself. This labyrinth meanders in a complex, continuous path from the outside to the center, with 11 circuits through four quadrants of a perfect circle. You eventually end up in the middle, and then make your way back out again. Your mental state is your own — some ponder the great questions of the universe, some simply commune with nature. You can walk as fast or as slowly as you want, and if you have a question in your mind, by the time you are done with your walk, you probably have some clarity, or at the very least, peace. We walked as individuals, as slowly or as fast as we wanted, sometimes overtaking each other, sometimes completely stopping for a moment or two. Sometimes we passed by each other on adjacent paths, or even met each other on the same path, always acknowledging and honoring each other, perhaps with a nod, perhaps with a bow, and occasionally exchanging a sweet hug, mostly in silence.
My thoughts in the labyrinth often returned to review the changes in my life over the past year, especially spiritually and artistically, growth in so many ways, strengthening of old relationships and forging of new ones, some of it hesitant, some of it bold. Eileen, Cheri, Donnelle, Felicia, Michael, Colleen, Beckie, Melissa, Susan, Miffie, Ginny, Jennifer, Bob, Steve, Saramae, Sean, Anne, Ed, Weezie, Sandra, another Mary, Pat, and so, so many more, a whole crowd of people, from the past too — were your ears burning? And as I walked the winding path, it occurred to me that this path was familiar, hadn’t I been here before? But of course I had — the path right next to me, where I had just been, had the same scenery, but it was a different path, and I was on another, sometimes going the same direction, sometimes the opposite direction, sometimes in light, sometimes in shadow, a metaphor for my life, a metaphor for my year. My mind would wander, and then return to the present moment with the birds flitting and chirping in the surrounding forest, and my friends playing and pondering on their walks nearby, and I would have that odd feeling of deja vu and realize I was still here, on yet another circuit of the labyrinth, another circuit of my life, beginning another year of growth and expansion.
My goals for this new year are simple: to continue on my present course, and to take as many workshops as I can afford, from plein air artists whose work I admire. So far I already have signed up for a workshop with Laurel Daniel and one with Morgan Samuel Price and I confess, I am more than a little excited about this. It’s going to be a fantastic year! So to all, Feliz Navidad, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukka, Joyous Kwanzaa, Magical Solstice, and Happy Holidays! And also to all, Happy New Year!
The above photo of my friends in the labyrinth, was altered using a photo app called “My Sketch”. The plein air paintings below were completed in mid-November, the first two, and the other two this past week, in mid-December.