Wonder Round (Nov. 18-24, 2018) by Hayden Michelle

It has been a week of looking deep within, as well as around me, taking in the abundance with a grateful heart, and searching out that which needs deepening and enriching. I hope you have all been connected with those you hold dear, with time to nurture what you hold inside yourselves…

I decided to share a photo taken during the week of circles being shared, a glimpse into the literal world in which I live. Lately, I have really wanted to extend outside of the circle, and it is a fun way to share more of what I see outside my mind :).

“I took a walk as the sun set last eve (after being inside for way too much of the gorgeous day) and I walked the dog up and down our road, pausing to take in the meticulously-kept sweeping farmland of our neighbors. I love to look into the distance and watch the cows graze on the hills, delighted when they pause from their chewing to observe us on our trek. It is nice to sit in silent gaze, although I can never resist happily greeting them and trying to have a bit of conversation. I can feel my breath grow deeper as I breathe in the spaciousness of the rolling hills and ever-changing sky. But my eyes are also drawn to the closer-up details, like the hay bales stored in rows, so perfectly rolled like the shredded wheat I used to love to watch unfold in the milk at the bottom of my cereal bowl... Covered in snow just a few days ago, with grass that had seeded and grown out through the top, I admired their sculptural forms; as the sky filled with rich orange-pink hue on our descent back home, my eyes caught sight of a swatch of blazing color through the space between the bales, a flash of bright, deep, and unexpected intensity, and I almost missed it, thinking of the warm dinner that was waiting inside. These tiny bits of waiting-to-be-found beauty are always there, and I am reminded of the abundance of goodness found between the cracks.”

“I am the first to say that what comes out of my brush in these circles is not usually premeditated— rather, shapes and colors appear that elicit feelings or thoughts in me, as art does for all who view it. Although I woke up in a happy mood, anxious for a morning with extra freedom to work, the circle spoke to other things for which I am holding space in my mind. I am grateful for creativity and the looking glass it provides, giving form to what is beyond my ability to express in word.”

“There has been much soul-searching and pondering about what makes life fulfilling on the most meaningful levels, especially as of late. Perhaps it comes as my spouse and I have crossed into our fifties and our children continue to evolve more fully into themselves and the lives they will choose... it is a powerful thing to connect to what most deeply has meaning for us, and to create our lives around those things to the best of our abilities. It is a work in progress, and I am grateful it can happen in the small and simple ways as well as the larger ones. The core message I have been returning to is allowing myself to be moved by all that is around me and within me, and working out from that center. We are each brought to life by such a wide variety of things, making the world a fascinating and diverse place.”

(this is the only image of this piece that would load— sorry for the irregularity!)

“We all have pockets of hope tucked inside ourselves, there for the protecting, the growing, the releasing. Sending energy to tend to these sacred spaces so that they may continue to sustain you...”

“When I was in that quiet pre-awakening time this morning, I was reflecting over the many ways I have been fortunate in my life— the people, experiences, opportunities, privileges, lessons that have crossed my path. I realized there are really too many too count. I want to express my gratitude to each of you for being part of my life, and hope that your day, no matter spent in the company of others or alone, is full of love, nurturing, and abundance.”

“It was posted on a piece of paper behind the desk of someone I respect and admire, three simple words that I imagine most all of us struggle to believe at one time or another (or daily). It is easy to fall into patterns of pushing ourselves to always do/be more... not in the way that helps us grow or reach beyond what we thought possible in ourselves, but in the way of believing we are not enough on a deep level. I find myself caught in that cycle more than I would like, and am working on sinking into accepting how I am in the moment... Showing up to do these daily paintings brings this up from the first stroke, as I realize I will post whatever comes out, regardless of the “strength” of the painting. It is only when I remind myself that it is just the paint, paper, and myself at this desk that I can relax enough to just let it flow, and when I want it to be done, I can release it without harsh judgement and move on with my day. Perhaps I need to write my own hand-lettered note with these words in letters large enough to see, and post it over my own desk. I do believe we are all more fully ourselves when we live in these words.”

“When I was little and the cold wind would blow through freezing dark days, my mom would always say, “Think of how cold it must be for those without homes, and for the animals who have to be out in it all the time”. Her words ran through my mind this morning as I walked the dog in pitch dark howling weather, warm and dry under my raincoat, hood cinched around my head, and returned to my warm house, ready to put on a pot of tea and sit under a blanket. How grateful I am for these lessons my mother gave which continue to teach...”

It's A Good Week to Order Prints! by Hayden Michelle

Hello, all… just a friendly reminder that my all of my watercolor circles are available in print! You can view the entire collection on instagram.com, @michellehaydenartist, even if you are not a user of instagram— it may be helpful to view them in one location to more easily choose. Because we have some time off this week for Thanksgiving, it would be helpful if you order soon so that I can take advantage of the extra time in working to get them out to you :).

As a reminder, they are available as both 8 x 10 and 11 x 14 prints made on heavyweight 315 gsm archival watercolor inkjet paper, printed with Chromalife100+ inks for longevity and rich depth of color, packaged unframed, titled, and signed on archival backing board in a clear plastic sleeve, shipped in a sturdy cardboard mailer.

8 x 10 $35.00 (tax included) (+ $4.50 shipping and handling, US/+ $8.00 S&H, international)

11 x 14 $45.00 (tax included) (+ $7.00 shipping and handling, US/+ $13.00 S&H, international)

***SPECIAL*** Order three 8 x 10’s for $90 (shipping remains for price of one print), OR order three 11 x 17’s for $120, (shipping remaining same as one print). I am happy to meet up with those of you who are local, eliminating shipping costs!

Please let me know if you have any questions or if there is any way I can further assist you. I feel grateful for each of you, especially as we are celebrating Thanksgiving here in the United States and I am mindful of all of the goodness in my life. Thank you for supporting me as I grow…

Wonder Round (Nov. 11-17, 2018) by Hayden Michelle

Yet another week has swiftly gone by and I am grateful for the weekend. Hoping all of you experience bits of peace where you can find them…

“After yesterday’s rather abstract interpretation steeped in personal meaning, my mind seems to be on a bit of boycott with this circle. I was able to start by choosing a color I love, violet, and worked out from there, combining hues I rarely put in the same space. No surprise, then, that a title did not leap out at me, except to remind myself to just let it be. Sometimes too much effort is spent on things that do not matter in the grand scheme of things. Tis often work for me to just to let things rest as they are...”

“We have been talking a lot around here about things we envision for the future as our boys continue to grow and make their own lives and we continue to cultivate our own. It is always a mix of being in the present and balancing this with hope for what is still to come. Wishing you all a positive start for the week ahead as I hop out the door...”

“This morning, music filled the room that was written by a woman (Hildegard von Bingen) almost 900 years ago— that I could sit and have it fill my ears, crystal clear as I paint, is profound. What is beyond words is feeling certain that the questions we grapple with now, are some of the same that surely were grappled with then, and for all of time. I am grateful for the space of stillness that allows me to connect to this wider history of being...”

“As each morning brings not only sunrise, but news of ongoing tragedy and devastation here and across the world, it can be hard to breathe. Words do not easily come that can begin to touch what countless beings are experiencing. There are many directly working to alleviate the suffering that comes from acts of violence, global warming effects, and natural diasasters, and deep gratitude for their courage, determination, and selflessness is held for them all; also needed is ongoing deep reflection on what each of us can do to relieve suffering in the small circles we inhabit, which radiate out into our one large shared circle.”

“I was thinking about how many things go around as I painted these elipses this morning, affecting those they touch, sometimes by only an edge— germs, news, ideas, emotional states, weather fronts... I am grateful that positive things like hope, love, and compassion also circulate in waves, holding the ability to bring a smidge of change to any given day, for both the giver and for the receiver. Wishing you all positivity in your flow today.”

“There is nothing like the first snow— although only an inch blankets the ground outside my window, it is fresh and pure white as it gently covers the branches and the blades of grass still poking through. The sense of anticipation as rain turns to chunky flakes of snow still brings me excited wonderment as it falls from the sky. Even the cats were mesmerized, clamoring for the best viewing spots on the window’s ledge, their heads twitching as they watched one after the other fall from the sky... No matter what is going on in the day, taking a few moments to be refreshed by our primal connection to nature lifts the spirits.”

“As I deemed this circle to be “finished” (coffee awaits) and turned it on it’s side (I can never quite figure out which way to orient them), it struck me how the days turn over so quickly, one into the other. Showing up to paint every morning brings me into contact with this awareness even more, not quite believing that the days and months keep progressing so rapidly, and that I am sitting here yet again, hoping something comes out. I continue to be grateful for this practice and the connection with all of you who share in this process by following along. Wishing you joy and the slowing of time as your weekend unfolds...”

PRINTS Are Here! by Hayden Michelle

It has been a labor-intensive and joyful process of both creating and preparing these daily watercolor circles for print, and I am so pleased to announce that they are now ready! They are available as both 8 x 10 and 11 x 14 prints made on heavyweight 315 gsm archival watercolor inkjet paper, printed with Chromalife100+ inks for longevity and rich depth of color, packaged unframed, titled, and signed on archival backing board in a clear plastic sleeve, shipped in a sturdy cardboard mailer.

8 x 10 $35.00 (tax included) (+ $4.50 shipping and handling, US/+ $8.00 S&H, international)

11 x 14 $45.00 (tax included) (+ $7.00 shipping and handling, US/+ $13.00 S&H, international)

***SPECIAL*** Order three 8 x 10’s for $90 (shipping remains for price of one print), OR order three 11 x 17’s for $120, (shipping remaining same as one print). I am happy to meet up with those of you who are local, eliminating shipping costs!

Please email me at www.michellehaydenart@gmail.com with your requests, including date of circle, title, and quantity. Because I will be printing these on demand due to the vast number of prints available (231 and counting!), it will take some time to get them out, but I hope to do so within 2 weeks of order (paid via Paypal— I will email you my address when I receive your order). I am doing so alongside homeschooling my children, and will do my best to print and ship out as soon as possible! Please order as soon as able, as the holiday season is most definitely upon us, and with it, congested mail systems :).

I am looking forward to seeing these circles expand out into your homes and hope you will feel good sharing them with those you love. They continue to bring me much joy and growth each day, and I am grateful for your engagement in this journey with me…

Wonder Round (Nov. 4-10, 2018) by Hayden Michelle

Finishing the wonderful paper clay workshop and sinking myself back into the flow of life out of which I briefly stepped, I happily returned home to my family, aware of the gift of belonging, creating, and having choices. There was much reflection on so many levels from the past week, which will continue to be chewed on and explored in big and small ways for months to come…

“Last evening, many of us decided to bring food back to the house, rather than eat out in town. As we gathered around the huge table and began to relax into the privilege of a generous sharing of plentiful food and drink with one another, a sharing stories and artwork began to flow. I could feel myself opening as I listened to the initial chatter rise to a crescendo of excited exchange, laughter, and exuberance, aware that the coming together brought us all more fully alive. We had experienced this already that day as our first instructor, @GrahamHayart handed over the baton to @RebeccaHuthcinsonstudio. It was a relief to gather and celebrate the work that we had made over the first 3.5 days, and then to completely clean off our spaces, move our spots in the room around a bit, and sink into Rebecca’s energy and the gifts she brings to our group. I feel deep gratitude for the opportunity to grow alongside one another, the lines between student and teacher not so important. Thank goodness we can continue to learn every day of our lives.”

“As we enter day six of the workshop, we are assimilating the methods and inspiration we have learned and deepening their application to our own ways of working. It is both challenging and a privilege to intensively tap into the space in our brains, hearts, and hands, and bring forth what is inside— much like the plowing on ahead in days of our lives that are full of a wide spectrum of feelings and experiences, despite the energy levels that may be depleted a bit in the reservoirs of our beings. Wishing you all energy for what lies ahead as we muster up here for another day of diving in...”

“On this final day of a wonderfully full paper clay workshop, I took an early morning detour to vote. My heart felt encouraged by the snaking line of cars that filled the hill leading up to the election space, only 25 minutes after the polls opened. Let us all exercise our privileged right to vote, in hopes to join together and bring more light and change to our country and the world.”

“Going to sleep last night with election news that did not bring hoped-for change in KY, I was heartened to awaken to news across the country that did bring change, and celebrate with many the historic firsts for women and minorities in our country. I look forward to engaging in conversation about this positive and empowering aspect with my sons today, aware that there is much more work yet to be done, as forward growth happens one step at a time...”

“As I am getting my feet back on the ground after seven intensive days learning paper clay, my mind is churning around and around about how I will incorporate this knowledge into my encaustic sculptural work. I know that developing that work into new ways of being is both exciting and daunting, and have had bouts of fear related to changing what is comfortable and familiar. When I can look on it as exploring and growing, the fear diminishes somewhat, and I realize I can direct that energy to fuel me deeper into the work of digging in through experimentation and growth in scale. Who knows what will happen when we open ourselves to greater possibilities that come from unearthing things inside yet to be discovered?”

“I know several who are struggling right now in some very difficult part of their lives, and wish I could ease the burden. As I painted delicate organic forms this morning, I was brought in touch with a yearning intention for those in my mind— to experience lightness of being and freedom from that which is weighty, painful, and overwhelming, even if for but a moment, and to feel surrounded by care and love like seeds that are carried by the wind...”

“This image was completely abstract, until I finished and she appeared to me— an undeniable bird form, that seemed rooted in feminine energy, waiting... it struck me how the power of our unconscious can reveal newness every time we look, and that accessing this is as simple as sitting down and letting something—anything— flow out. We can then be present to what we need to see... She reminded me of a scared elder, containing wisdom and strength, but not needing to flaunt it— rather, she appears to be open and receptive, listening to what we have to express. What do you see?”

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.”

Wonder Round (Oct. 14-21, 2018) by Hayden Michelle

This week has brought a slice of many parts of life as each day brought new experiences. It is profound how we are changed by our surroundings and daily living. I am grateful to be in a community that comes together when needed and continues to enrich, support, and grow closer, bit by bit.

(“I love to watch the moon appear in the night sky, watching the changing phases that seem to unfold all too quickly as the days pass. I think my favorite of all is when the moon is visible only as a sliver. I am amazed at the amount of light that is cast on the fields below from even that small bit, a reminder that hope and vision are possible with just a glimmer of light.”)

(“Reading this one simple word, “safe”, after awakening quite early when no discovery of the missing child had yet been made, filled me with overwhelming relief. In this small community, people from all walks of life pulled together to search for this little girl, finding her at 4:30 this morning, in the woods 2.5 miles from her home. I feel immense gratitude for Eden’s safe reunion with her family, and for the tremendous efforts put forth by so many in the search efforts, whether on foot, sharing of sustenance for those out on the ground, communication efforts that kept people informed and organized, and the prayers and positive energy shared by people from all over... such a reminder that life can change in the blink of an eye, and that people will put forth the best in themselves when called upon for someone in need. Please keep this girl and her family close, as well as all those who were involved, as they recover from this traumatic experience and sink into the joy of her finding...”)

(“As the hue of the goldenrod is fading, I have been noticing sadness at the leaving of rich color. I began pondering what we transition to inside our homes to bring light and warmth as the color drains outside, and am looking forward to firing up the wood stove and gathering around it with my family, bringing out favorite quilts made with fabric infused with memories of long ago (stitched by my mama’s hands), a time when working over a vat of hot beeswax brings comfort rather than adds to the heat outside, and the earlier setting of the sun, which makes going to sleep so inviting. What things do you most look forward to with the change of seasons?”)

(“Patience is a virtue that continually challenges me. I think that is because it is linked to trust... We all have things that require a tremendous amount of both, try as we might to change what is before us either in time, intensity, or outcome. This simple laying down of ink brought that awareness out of my muddied feelings this morning, and I am grateful to at least be able to give it form, as it always lessens the internal pressure when I bring it outside of myself. Hope you all find even the smallest of ways to cultivate patience and trust in your days.”)

(“As I sat through an entire day of orientation yesterday for Kentucky Crafted alongside 8 other artists juried in by the Kentucky Arts Council, the amount of energy in the room was palpable and the temperature of the room reflected that as it continued to rise while we eagerly soaked up new pieces of information, offerings, and support that were being offered by this wonderful program. It was invigorating to hear the path of each artist there, their love of making art of all kinds, powerful. And it was moving to hear each presenter speak about the program— exuding kindness, availability, reassurance, professionalism, and optimism, despite the fact that because of funding cuts for the Kentucky Arts Council, they have gone from a staff of 20 to a staff of 11 since June. They remain very proud of the program and of the state in which we live, and strive to continue to grow the longstanding and strong tradition of arts here, so vital to many layers of all of our lives, artist or not. As my body was registering the growing warmth in the room, I thought of how much we all come alive when we are connected to that which moves us and makes us happy, and are supported in bringing it out. I connected deeply to gratitude, and send encouragement to each of you to do what you love.”)

(“Yesterday as I was sitting by the bubbling creek, lost in my thoughts and the patterns of the current as it went by, I was greeted by the rushing up of two girls in our @redoaks_explorersgroup, urging me to, “Shut your eyes and open your hands!”. Of course, I obliged, not being able to repress the smile at being told what to do with such expectancy and anticipation (both theirs and mine!). My face went into full surprise when I laid eyes on the beauty of a fossil that one of them laid in my hand— a perfect spiral formed in a rock worn smooth by the water. A boy had discovered one two weeks ago that I was amazed by (and not-so-secretly coveting), and I assumed it had been a once in a lifetime find. To see another in my hand was thrilling, but what made it even more special was that it was being gifted to me by this child. I encouraged her to take it for her collection, but to no avail. As we walked alone along a path in the woods later, I told her how much it meant to me, and how I would keep it on my painting desk and send her good thoughts every morning as I reflected on her generous heart and spirit. She shared dear words with me, and I felt such gratitude for this depth and vulnerability of sharing.

That is one of my favorite things about homeschooling— we have many opportunities to get to know each others’ kids and have meaningful interactions with them. I deeply appreciate the trust that is built by sharing not only the parenting as we are out in nature, but the nurturing and experiences of discovery and joy. It is a precious gift, and one that truly does go both ways. I hope no matter the stage I am at in life that I stay connected to the energy of children, who make us grow bigger every day...”)

(“I am not sure why rising and setting suns keep showing up in these circles... I suppose it is because I am aware of the gift of them, each one a privilege to witness as we continue to have a body in which to breathe and see. Today I am starting over on scanning all the watercolor circles I painstakingly scanned for 7 hours yesterday, only to have the program glitch out and erase my day’s work. Clearly, this was not a life-threatening crisis, but it did occur to me that if it were my last day on earth, it was not how I would be spending it. I am working to be mindful of connecting to the joy in each task of the day, even the mundane and not-so-enjoyable ones, hoping to remain connected to the purpose behind each, recognizing it is part of being alive and growing (and did I not just have a post on patience, haha?).”)

Wonder Round (Oct. 7-13, 2018) by Hayden Michelle

Wishing you all a peaceful week ahead as I round up the last one…

(“It is difficult to find words about my circle this morning, painted mostly with my left hand. As I worked on art all day yesterday as news unfolded, I reflected on the task in front of me to raise our boys, and how challenging a world it is in which they are growing. It saddens me and makes me angry beyond what I want to write here, and so I come back to my responsibility to do the best I can to help them navigate the most beautiful and the most wretched parts of being human, and that which lies between. I am often stopped in my tracks as I field their painful questions, listen to their perspectives, and witness them remain open, curious, excited, and hopeful about life. I am grateful for the lessons they bring to us, and am so happy that we are heading into the woods today as a family, taking some much-needed time to connect.”)

(“As I painted two abstract lines this morning, they quickly became matches, ignited. As I laid in the color of energy and warmth, I pondered how crucial it is to remain connected to the light that exists inside ourselves and each other. My hope is that this will fuel our work and enable us to join with the power of others to bring light to the darkness.”)

(This morning my spouse got up earlier than usual and offered extra time before leaving for work to have coffee together, which we usually share on the weekend at a more leisurely time. I had wanted to paint first thing, and realized I could very easily do so, if I would just let go of expectation for having a well-developed circle. I could just paint for fun, which was one of the original foundations for these daily paintings. I find myself pushing up against expectations that exist only in my head, and have to keep reminding myself that they are mine to remove. Practice daily, indeed. I am grateful for the gentle nudge this morning (as well as the caffeine waiting in the French press) that sheds light on old patterns that call for release, one sip at a time :).”)

(“This circle began by choosing to use flat brushes, which I rarely use... I suppose I am drawn to the more organic shapes of a round brush, rather than the clean straight edges of a flat one. As line after line was laid down, I could not resist connecting them with some curvy tracks of water, and realized they reminded me of that game we used to play as children— Pick-up Sticks. I can remember the sound of the splay of sticks as they hit the hardwood floor, and how much concentration I would try and muster to get one removed from the other without disturbing the main pile. I was reflecting on how much this feels like the interweaving of political turmoil and the affected lives across the world, as well as some that are hitting very close to my core. Try as I might to paint lightly, feeling too tired by the emotion within to express it externally some days, the overlap remains there. Some days I wish we could just pick up the pile and start again, but it is obviously not that simple. I continue to search for the beauty and the power of the human spirit that each stick holds.”)

(“Some days we awaken not in the most repleanished space, knowing the day will proceed with good intention, yet fueled by fumes, rather than a full tank of gas— a reminder that we are human and have tides like the ocean. Wishing you all the ability to harness extra energy in the day that lies before you...”)

(“As I awoke in crisp cool air, refreshed from having slept by a window connecting me to the night breeze, I felt energized by the change and hopeful that more is on the way in circles whose impact radiate more widely and deeply..”)

(“As I chose colors to fill this space on yet another day, I reflected on the simple, yet profound, gift of being free to express what I choose to express— a privilege not available to so many in this world. I am grateful for the ability to make art, and to share it publicly. Wishing you all freedom in the ways you most need it...”)

"Outgrowth" by Hayden Michelle

“Outgrowth", (27 x 39 x 15), suspended

Although I started this piece last year, I returned to it this past summer, feeling compelled to add an additional branch to the first, as the lone branch hanging over my drawing desk seemed to be calling for a companion. I took the original photograph at a Hispanic food section in a grocery store that was filled with all kinds of fruits and vegetables that were unfamiliar to my diet, being both drawn to and repelled by the spiny protrusions that protected what must must have been fleshy fruit contained within the flat surfaces.

After printing them out in one large image, I hand-carved the entire surface, defining the spaces between the spines with line and a sense of movement. Then began the work of cutting them out into discs, hoping to soften the bristled surface.

Once the table lay full of newly formed shapes, the process of joining together ensued. I began the painful task of sewing thickly-layered waxed fabric onto the form of the branches, a process which got me in touch with the reality of the sharp edges of my needle that the spines surely possessed. My fingers sore, I thought of the many workers whose hands knew this pain from the harvest, not the privilege of creating artwork…

As each form became a pod that encapsulated the branch, a sense of satisfaction began to settle into my mind, and I smiled as I saw the forms multiplying. As often is the case in adhering my sculpture to substrates of any kind, there is an immense concentration and balancing as they come together, much like the pieces in our lives as we progress down paths.

The biggest piece of insight, however, was that this suturing is intrinsic to how we live and grow each day, yet we often hide the very stitches that hold us together and allow us to function. I made a conscious choice during this construction that I was going to intentionally incorporate the stitches in much of my sculpture, allowing them to become part of the beauty of the form, visible for all to see.

I felt empowered to enable this evolution into dimensional pods that became part of the branches, letting it remain unclear whether they emerged as an outgrowth of the branch or attached themselves from another source. Like the pods, our lives are shaped by inner and outer experiences, a fascinating process when we can witness the beauty that can emerge when pushed beyond our boundaries, remain grounded to our core, and are supported by each other.

Wonder Round (Sept. 30-October 6, 2018) by Hayden Michelle

This has been a milestone of a week for me, as I turned half a century old (which actually makes me laugh). Steeped in gratitude for my time thus far on earth, and very much looking forward to what lies ahead, I have been quite reflective in the midst of being busy. I received the good news of being juried into the Kentucky Crafted Program, which will enable me to have a booth in KY Crafted: The Market annual art market in the spring, receive mentoring and exhibit opportunities, and be listed in the KY Crafted Directory. I also got word that I was juried in to the Lexington Art League’s PRHBTN show, which will exhibit from October 26- November 18, 2018. I am grateful for the opportunities that are unfolding, and for the connections, new and old, that are part of my life. Thank you for following along on this journey and supporting me— I am quite fortunate!

(“As I awaken to the privilege of celebrating my 50th year, I feel profoundly grateful for the depth of life and love that has brought me this far— I have been gifted beyond words... And as the chrysalis metamorphosizes into being with wings, so may I continue to grow and transform in this second half century of flight. Hooray for the joy of being alive!”)

(“As I wound down for sleep after a very full day, I logged onto FB and was overwhelmed with gratitude for all the love shared with me on my birthday. I am amazed, still, that the ability exists to connect with each other across the surface of this huge world, and that we have the power to lighten each other’s days and nights through our engagement with one another. These are the positives that stick with us throughout our busy days, giving balance to the energies that are not so easy to take. They remind me to reach out to others when I can, hoping to spread a bit of love that has been so generously shared with me. Thank you all for the beauty you express in so many unique ways...”)

(“This morning there are not many words... just reflection that comes from being with what appears in my circle. Well, maybe just a few words— for the first time, I am not posting the original circle that I painted this morning. And it is not because I was not happy with the composition (although I wasn’t), but because it was not true to how I was feeling this morning. I kept trying to redeem it, change it, etc, to no avail, and decided to give myself permission to not even finish the first one— to start over. Letting this one unfold with no intention other than to not block what was coming out, revealed a very different image, and one that felt congruent with my inner. Now I can return to reflect on that which appears within. Strange how difficult it can be to let ourselves just be with what we are feeling, and not apologize, cover, or push past what is uncomfortable.”)

(“This morning I awoke to an alarm set for 1.5 hours later than usual, and then proceeded to not get out of bed for almost an additional hour. After a legitimate brush of regret/anxiety over how to get the morning routine completed before we must leave the house, I realized that once again, I can make choices that will enable us to get out on time (like painting a simple circle!). And more importantly, I realized how tightly I keep myself inside a box (that I made), and that it does not have to be this way. Perhaps the starting over on a new circle yesterday and painting the truth of my experience was a beginning for me. I am pretty sure we could all use more opportunities for breaking out of that which no longer fits, even if only in tiny steps of change. I am going to work on being more conscious of the expectations I have for myself that keep me feeling constrained, and gently or powerfully, depending on the day, greet them. Wishing you all bits of freedom and change where you can find it...”)

(“This morning I am feeling relatively empty in the reflection department, and instead, am immersed in more of a floating space in my tired noggin. Looking forward to being out in the woods today with our Red Oaks (@redoakscna) friends, soaking up the peace and beauty of nature while we play and learn.”)

(“After returning home from a beautiful surprise birthday celebration in the woods yesterday, complete with a shimmering birthday crown and singing around a cake baked from the finest sand, rocks, and leaves to decorate, I basked in the privileged glow of feeling loved. I have been reflecting on this experience and the lines that tie us to one another... It is easy to see the connection when it comes from shared world views and values, and less so when coming from different perspectives, yet the interconnection is still there. We all share the existence of being human and the experiences of loss, joy, suffering, adventure, and wonder of living day to day. Being mindful of how to balance the strong connections we have while remaining open to others that may be difficult to see is a task that is present daily for me, and one which we strive navigate with our children. No small thing...”)

(“As we continue with temperatures that feel more like summer than fall, I notice the draining of color on the hillsides... muted browns replace the vibrant greens, deep reds creep up through the tall grasses, and bittersweet sprouts up where I could not see it before. Goldenrod blankets much of the hills and is the most vibrant of all, along with the last of the ironweed, a rich violet shade which always moves me, resting nearby with its last burst of color. How I miss the intensity of color when winter comes, yet anticipate the magic of the fall that will visit before the starkness of winter lands. Day by day, the hills will brighten with pigment of their own— how I look forward to taking it in as the show unfolds.”)

(“It is difficult to find words about my circle this morning, painted mostly with my left hand. As I worked on art all day yesterday as news unfolded, I reflected on the task in front of me to raise our boys, and how challenging a world it is in which they are growing. It saddens me and makes me angry beyond what I want to write here, and so I come back to my responsibility to do the best I can to help them navigate the most beautiful and the most wretched parts of being human, and that which lies between. I am often stopped in my tracks as I field their painful questions, listen to their perspectives, and witness them remain open, curious, excited, and hopeful about life. I am grateful for the lessons they bring to us, and am so happy that we are heading into the woods today as a family, taking some much-needed time to connect.”)