Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My definition of sanity:

Over the past two years coffee shops have become my preferred way to ease back into social interaction and civilization. Everyone needs a respite from their daily routine... and since my daily routine often involves a distinct lack of amenities it's not surprising that I gravitate towards couches, baked goods and caffeine whenever I get the chance.

I had coffee shops to look forward to when I hiked the Appalachian Trail... would the next town even have one? Would it actually be good coffee? What would I eat there? Iced or latte? (All of these things could occupy my mind for hours while I walked. Hours!) A few times, I even took a day off from hiking and stayed in town solely because I wanted to spend more time at the local coffee shop (rough life, huh)! I had coffee shops and smoothies to look forward to every time I hiked out of the woods this summer; smelly and dirty I'd plop down in an air conditioned world of almond milk and iced coffee and breathe a sigh of contentment. I'd literally spend an hour's pay on one smoothie... and it was worth it. Right now my favorite spot is a tiny health food store/coffee shop/bakery located one town over from where I work. It's in an ancient building with a tin ceiling and it perches right over water that is rushing towards the Pemigewasset River. The two owners know me by name and sometimes they even let me lick the spatula when they are testing out new frosting in the bakery. It's a lovely place to hide out and enjoy sunlight and watch the water flow by... hiding from the 60 guests currently bursting out of the seams at the lodge I call home.

And so sanity for me is now colored a deep and liquid brown and scented with espresso.

ps:  I can't quite tell how many of you are visiting here for the art content and how many only care about hiking and adventure... and who is actually content with the haphazard mix of my life I currently keep throwing at you. So the blog is going to stay as it is and we may as well soak up all the art we can because in two months my life is going to dwindle down to what can fit in a backpack (yes, again). Consider yourself forewarned!

(I'm also soaking up as many lattes as possible until then as well.)

Monday, January 30, 2012


It's my birthday! Twenty eight years and one day fully present on this planet... and while I can't say it's all been good I can say that as I grow older I learn to be more and more appreciative of life. It's a pretty magical thing.

Friday, January 27, 2012

In which I justify my rock collecting tendencies: it's ok because it's a trend!

So there's been a bit of a mineral and gem trend going on in the art/design world lately... and I dig it. (See what I did there? HA.)
 Collaged images by Amber Ibarreche (top image)

3d objects by Lydiaka Shirreff (image above)

 Layers of wax by Keetra Dean (image above)
 Incredibly realistic painting by Carly Waito

And an image by Lucas Grogan that I am choosing to interpret as a geode.

Some of these images are via The Jealous Curator, some are probably via Art Hound and the rest have been sitting in an inspiration folder on my desktop languishing without proper accreditation. Whoops. All of the images that are actual artwork are documented, though!

And holy cow it's Friday yet again. See you next week... I have epic hiking plans and art making in store! Ps: if anyone has any cool rocks they'd like to get rid of... I'm your woman.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The surfaces of things.

I inherited my dad's old rock collection. And by inherited, I mean that I unearthed it from a closet and promptly installed it among my own belongings without asking permission. When I was little I used to spend hours sifting through rocks, collecting ones that interested me... I still collect rocks and pebbles to this very day.

Rocks embody this quiet sort of pantheism that I follow without much of a doctrine. Edward Abbey sort of sums it up here:

“I am pleased enough with the surfaces - in fact they alone seem to me to be of much importance. Such things for example as the grasp of a child's hand in your own, the flavor of an apple, the embrace of a friend or lover, the silk of a girl's thigh, the sunlight on the rock and leaves, the feel of music, the bark of a tree, the abrasion of granite and sand, the plunge of clear water into a pool, the face of the wind - what else is there? What else do we need?”

Sometimes it's easy to forget just how lucky I am to have tactile and visual appreciation of the world around me. The small pebbles I stash in corners of my desk and shelves are a tangible reminder.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Sometimes on frigid winter days all you want to do is hibernate and eat. Occasionally I give in to those urges. The other day I made oatmeal molasses bread with leftover oatmeal... A LOT of leftover oatmeal. This resulted in eight loaves of bread and a desire to get rid of a few of these loaves and eat something cozy. So I made maple bread pudding with cranberry apple compote. I adapted the recipe from here (less sugar, no praline topping), and made up a topping from leftover fruit that was on its last legs. I am pleased to report it at least temporarily made me forget about the negative two degree temperature outdoors that I woke up to.

The temperature the past few days has been much more mild... but that hasn't stopped me from eating more of this.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pieces of the sky.

Never fails to soothe me. And after this weekend of work, do I ever need soothing.

Top image is Tim Frank Schmitt via I'M REVOLTING, second via a now defunct tumblr, last two images are mine... squirrelled away from the fall as tiny scraps of emergency peace of mind.

I'll return to my regular 7 am posting schedule tomorrow... rough start to the morning today!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Still playing favorites.

I love the shapes and materials that Martin Puryear chooses to make his sculptures. There's an evocative simplicity that trumps standard minimalism. He is most definitely my (second) favorite artist. Learn more here. Images sourced here and here.

Happy Friday! I'll see you again on Monday. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A not so Lonesome Lake (how I spent my days off).

 Do you know what's even better than company? Unexpected really great company.

I hiked up to Lonesome Lake expecting not loneliness but at least a very quiet (and cold) time... and instead had conversations, warmth and company, all very much needed.

I'm pretty over hiking by myself. (Although that didn't stop me from hiking up to Lonesome alone at night in minus ten degree fahrenheit weather... an accomplishment that sounds way less bad ass when I reveal it was less than two miles and only took a half hour.) It was good to have friends show up.

Still working on that balance between art and having a social life and hiking and solitude and isolation. But the last few days felt good. (Despite having zero productivity in terms of artwork.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Foraged: Mullein

Verbascum Thapsis is quite possibly the best plant, ever. It is incredibly soft and fuzzy and is a pleasure to touch. First-year plants form a rosette of large, velvety leaves that are up to 1 foot long and in the second year a velvety flower spike grows as much as 8 feet tall. (You can differentiate this plant from Lamb's Ear by the fact that it grows in a rosette and Lamb's Ear just grows in clumps.)

In the 19th century Mullein had dozens of (awesome) names: "Hare's Beard", "Jupitor's Staff", "Feltwort", "Ice Leaf", "Beggar's Blanket"... to name a few. “Candlewick plant” refers to the practice of using dried mullein leaves and stems to make lamp wicks (the use of Mullein as torches dates back to Roman times, if not even earlier). There is also the intriguing name “Hag Taper.” In the midwestern United States, Mullein is more pithily known as "Cowboy Toilet Paper".

Mullein is a plant with a long and varied history of use (Pliny the Elder describes it in Naturalis Historia) and it is still often available in health and herbal stores. Both the leaves and flowers contain mucilage, which is soothing to irritated membranes, and saponins, which make coughs more productive. “Quaker rouge” refers to the practice of reddening cheeks by rubbing them with a mullein leaf, and a yellow dye extracted from the flowers has been used since Roman times as a hair rinse as well as to dye cloth. (I totally tried the whole Quaker rouge thing before I even learned that phrase just because they looked so cozy... a little scratchy, but also kind of pleasant. You just can't help it. This plant's leaves are like a snuggly blanket.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Peredvizhniki

Did you know that there was a group of Russian artists in the late 1800's called The Wanderers (or The Itinerants)? No? Oh. Me neither actually, until last night. I dig the name. I kind of wish I could travel back in time, join this group of renegade artists who in protest at academic restrictions formed an artists' cooperative and you know, just travel the countryside being cool, painting en plein air, posing for a portrait or two...perhaps indulging in a reckless love affair. Ivan Kramskoi? Pretty good looking guy. Also hello there, Andrei Ryabushkin. And Arkhip Kuindzhui... you're not so bad yourself, either. These were definitely the hipsters of St. Petersburg.

Sidenote: you know you need to get out more when you find yourself checking out dead painters... I'd wander the countryside with them any day, though. ANYWAY. There's an interesting mix of folkloric painting, portraits of the wealthy, landscapes, urban poverty and warfare. But I'm just going to leave you with a landscape or two. And my imaginary boyfriends. (It has been a long, bleak winter devoid of socialization, ok? Try not to judge.) Paintings are by Nikolai Yaroshenko and Arkhip Kuindzhi. The devastatingly handsome men are Ivan Kramskoi and Andrei Ryabushkin. (And yes, you know your dating life is in shambles when you are contemplating time travel.)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Somewhere in Narnia...

or my backyard. I kept expecting to see a lamppost or a faun the other day though. Which is always a nice feeling of anticipation.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Aron Wiesenfeld

Mysterious figures, evocative postures, landscapes that feel remote and hushed... everything about these make you want to learn what is happening and why. See more here: Aron Wiesenfeld.

ps: I've just decided that I need this man to illustrate the graphic novel autobiography of my life. There's just one problem. The novel would be way cooler than my actual life.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I Wanted

I wanted the past to go away, I wanted
to leave it, like another country; I wanted
my life to close, and open
like a hinge, like a wing, like the part of the song
where it falls
down over the rocks: an explosion, a discovery;
I wanted
to hurry into the work of my life; I wanted to know,
whoever I was, I was
for a little while.

Mary Oliver

Sunrise at Guyot Tentsite, White Mountains, NH.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dream big dreams.

Every now and then I get discouraged and frustrated and I start to second-guess myself. I wonder how the hell I'll ever be able to afford to do all the things I long to do, while working for less than minimum wage at a seasonal job. I ask myself when I'm going to stop floating from one unrealistic plan to the next. I can't answer these questions. All I know is that I want a life of mountains and solitude and joy and adventure. I can't see myself caring about a paycheck anytime soon, and so I need to stop being frustrated and worried by limitations and just keep keep dreaming those big dreams. Because what is life without adventure? The answer is something I can't imagine anymore.

Here's where I've been dreaming about lately:

the Pacific Crest Trail
New Zealand
Photo from Torres del Paine by superkoyron.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Adventure envy.

MADE IN ICELAND from Klara Harden on Vimeo.

This is gorgeous, stunning, and incredible. Make yourself a cup of tea or coffee and carve out 15 minutes of your morning to fall in love with this adventure. The music is wonderful, too. You know what? The title of this post? Untrue. I can't even bring myself to be jealous. I like this THAT MUCH. (Although man, do I ever wish I was hiking in Iceland right now.)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Shona Macdonald

She had me at the title Arc of Wilderness (first image) and then sealed the deal with mesmerizing topography paintings and gorgeous waves made from envelopes. See more of her work here.