Wonder Round (Oct. 21- Nov. 3, 2018) / by Hayden Michelle

The past 2 weeks have been full with an exhibit opening, preparing for, attending, and regrouping following a workshop in paper clay in Lexington, KY, @Encausticastle (with Graham Hay and Rebecca Hutchinson), as well as the midterm election. Needless to say, I have been occupied elsewhere, and am happy to post this hefty review in images, grateful for the opportunities that have crossed my path, the lessons learned, and the furthering that I know will come as I move forward. It is nice to be home…

“Some days I think our minds just want to be left alone, free to paint or make things without any intention other than to be. Because I am drawn to finding meaning out of most anything, it is a bit of work to relax and just move my brush, keeping my mind quiet so my hand can be more free. Such a simple thing we can do for ourselves, yet it is challenging to quiet the chatter. I am fascinated by what we bring up from our unconscious to be seen, heard, touched, experienced...”

“Yesterday in the late afternoon, I walked on our land as the shadows became long, casting a glow across the tall grasses that were gently swaying in the wind. The sky was a pure and crisp vibrant shade of blue. When I turned to face the side of the slope on which the sun shone, I was met with dancing orbs of light that seemed to glow and sparkle with a bluish-purple cast, surrounded by bright white light. It was striking, and I realized that it was one of those moments that was better taken in with my eyes than my camera. I stood quietly and absorbed the experience of the light, color, movement, and energy, and thought of how difficult that would be to capture in paint. And this morning I realized that it doesn’t really matter how well we capture something we are creating in terms of accuracy—it is the act of acknowledging and recording what we see, feel, know, and experience, and enabling the ability to make those connections when we bring it outside of our minds and into the space in front of us. It served as another reminder to paint gently and with the intention of reflection, not self-judgement.”

“This one spoke to me of light going outward from its simple form. As each day goes by and I watch people radiate bits of light despite the difficult stories they hold within, my respect for the tenacity and goodness of people deepens and moves me...”

“Although this title may sound random, it popped into my head as I was adding in the blades of grass at the end, feeling there needed to be more aliveness in the circle. It reminded me of being little and intently searching and searching for friends and siblings hidden behind their carefully chosen nooks and crannies and the relief that followed when finally able to call them out into the open. How like these blades of grass and children we are, coming out of hiding to be seen in the light, grow, and begin again.”

“Early the other morning, I finished my circle and decided to take the time to fill an empty paint tin with colors I mixed myself. It’s empty stark white pans had been beckoning to me for months as they lay waiting to be filled. And every time I’d had the urge to stop what I was doing to get out my tubes and begin filling, I went on to another more “important” task that lay waiting on the same desk. I could not stop smiling as I squirted blob after blob into the squares, mixing with toothpicks and making a big mess, making myself more late for the morning by the minute. And I didn’t care. 

It was such delightful fun to bring new color into my palette, which has been making me feel rather bored. And it was such a simple thing to allow myself to do— breaking out of not only my morning to-do’s, but opening up a new array of colors to sink into... What a visual metaphor I can carry with me— giving myself permission to break out of what I expect from myself, calling upon what comes from within rather than just from what lies in front of me. May we all give ourselves permission to add new colors to our palettes!”

(Today I simply let the pigment flow, one into the other, much like we are influenced by each other as we go about the hours of our days and weeks. I am grateful for the influence of positive energy, compassion, and the kindred spirit of shared journeys, which help to balance the difficulties present in our lives and world. May we strive to add beauty and support to each other along the way...”

“Once in a while I have an experience in which I very much feel like a fish out of water. It is interesting how my first reaction is one of intense discomfort as I try to get air into my gills, and then slowly come to realize that if I flop around, perhaps I can make my way back into the water. It is easy to revert back to patterns that started in school years, thinking we should do something to fit into what is presenting before us. And it is reassuring to snap to and realize it is okay to be different, and even more so that we do not have to apologize for who we are.”

“Percolate is not a word I use often, although I love how the action of it reflects what happens in our minds as ideas, thoughts, and insights that are swirling around become more clear to us as they seep into consciousness, ready to be enacted upon. It is a word that makes me happy, reflecting the infinite power of the mind. (And it makes me want to go and make my coffee :)).”

“Faith is a powerful word and means many things to many people. For me, it is one that is closely related to patience and trust, and is a work in progress. Art helps me practice the concept daily, a safe way to deepen my understanding and connect to myself, others, and the oneness that we share. In times where darkness is heavily present in the daily news, I remind myself of the importance of holding on to faith so that we can gather the energy needed for healing and change in our world.”

“This is one of those mornings where my mind has much swirling around in it, but I can’t seem to find words that reflect this painting... so I am doing what I sometimes used to do in social work— give people permission to state the obvious. Just speaking where we are at with someone who is listening, whether it is profound or has been said a hundred times, brings connection with the other and strengthens the experience of shared humanity. Like the shimmering gold in the paint pan I found removed from my tin and lying in my desk drawer, I wish you all moments of being seen and heard.”

“As we celebrate the last day of October with Halloween, I am reminded of an assignment given in an oil painting class 30 years ago (how did that happen?!). The instructor challenged us to celebrate new beginnings in our composition, rather than focusing on the death and fear related to Halloween. It made me as happy then, as it does now, as today I leave for 7 days of learning paper clay! I love clay but have only dabbled in paper clay, and am thrilled to have the privilege to sink into an expanded medium! I am psyched to meet the gifted instructors, the other artists attending, and to be staying in the @Encausticastle (even on Halloween night!), where it will be held. I will do my best to paint each day, but may have lapses in posting and responding, due to much energy output being used. Wishing new beginnings to all of you as we leave this month and enter into the next...”

“At the beginning of day one of our paper clay workshop @grahamhayart at the lovely @Encausticastle, we gathered as unconnected dots from all parts of the world and life, bringing with us diverse backgrounds unified by a common hunger to learn more. Being part of the formation of group dynamics is always fascinating, as new energies emerge, cross, and blend while also remaining separate as we deepen into our personal goals for the week. I look forward to getting to know each person more, and to see how we grow both as a group and as the individuals with the privilege to dive in... www.grahamhay.com.au/www.pbsartist.com”

“As we greeted day two after getting our feet wet the previous day, we sank into a rhythm, punctuated by bursts of excitement as we were inspired by each others’ ideas, sighs of relief when hypothesis tested yielded pieces that did not fall apart, exhalations (and a few words) of exasperation when they did (fall apart), and lovely long periods of silence, when it was clear that we were in a flow. All parts made the day interesting and full as we continued to explore this amazing medium of paper clay and the expectations, encouragement, limitations, and emotional states that showed up. But the times of silence were my favorite— not only because I crave silence, but because it was there because of being fully engaged in what each of us were doing. It made me smile repeatedly, grateful for the time, space, and energy to learn together. Now to go downstairs and check on what fell apart last night!”

www.grahamhayart.com.au, www.pbsartist.com”

“Before I even transferred a 24-inch sculpture from the workshop studio to the garage yesterday, making room for new exploration in my allotted work space, I could feel its fragility. As a kind participant helped me balance it as we headed down the steps, I could feel the shift of its tall walls happening, and alerted her that it was going to fall over. Although the purpose of its creation was to explore different building techniques, joins, and composition, I had spent two days laboring over it and was not exactly wanting it to break. But as it began to topple, falling into many pieces, I surprised myself by laughing, despite the helplessness of watching it crumble. Although there were elements of things I was curious about and attached to, overall it was a structure I normally would not have built. 

I realized I felt more free by not having to continue working on it, transferring it home, or looking at it, and removed some parts that felt connected to my core and could be integrated into new work. Impermanence is an inherent part of being alive, and sadly, the letting go is not usually as light-hearted as this. I am reminded of the daily struggle of balancing new and old, living and dying, growing and becoming stagnant. Perhaps I will bring a small recreated sculpture with bits of the broken to my desk at home as a reminder of this experience. I am grateful for the gentle lesson that allowed me to ponder this side of letting go.”