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Hello Adventure

“As you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm. Jump. It is not as wide as you think.”*

 

Not the jump-out-of-an-airplane kind of adventure. Not diving with sharks, and most definitely not (ever) climbing anything resembling Mt. Everest.

No, this is an adventure of heeding the voice that shouts “go that way!” when staring at one of life’s crossroads.

Sometimes we listen to that inner voice. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes it takes a while for the message to get through.

Well, I’ve been listening. For quite a long time now. And despite its ever-growing volume, I, naturally (as any rational person might), had plenty of perfectly tidy reasons for resisting what I’ll call the calling of my soul. Things like: It’s not practical, not sensible, it might be lonely or I might fail. And those things may be true. But no degree of stewing or planning, and certainly no length of talking about it, lessened the feeling that I was being led somewhere else, and that a leap of faith was required. Reasonable or not, resistance was futile. It was time to answer the call. To say “yes”. Period.

And with that realization – that acceptance –  my anxiety and indecision fell away. Poof!  The “where” became clear; I would go back to the southwest. It’ll be my Sedona: Part II. Confirmations appeared. Synchronicities. Opportunities. Details began to align. Amazing.

So. I’ll soon be trading tree-lined suburban streets for red rocks and cactus. Shingles for adobe. Manhattan’s high-rises for big wide skies. With my sensible list out-maneuvered by a relentless push for greater creative expression, I’m full-tilt trusting my gut and hoping the universe has my back.

Of course, yes, there’s a stack of bittersweet that comes with it. I’ll miss being close to the sea. I’ll miss my Japanese maple and tending my sweet English garden out front. The swings hanging from a big old oak tree. Copious amounts of tea and conversation shared with friends. Hot fudge ever present on the stove. (Wait. Actually, that probably won’t change.) Walls that expanded and rooms that comforted. This is the home where I raised my daughter, my heart filled to overflowing. Twenty of the more than thirty years of my graphic design business happened while here. Books were born into the world. Paintings were made. Heartaches healed. Joys. Tears. Laughter. Magic. If a house could love, this one did. Some of my best years lived here, so there’s been some “good-bye” that’s had to happen.

But I’m reminded that nothing is permanent. I’m reminded that a spirit denied becomes cranky and impatient. I’m reminded that we must, indeed, be true to ourselves.

And as I leap across Joseph Campbell’s proverbial chasm – it could be my imagination, but – it seems the universe is dancing. A new chapter begins; adventures await.

*  Advice given to a young Native American, noted in Joseph Campbell’s “Power of Myth”.

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"Scary Illustrations" and Other Great Reviews

Everyone likes a great review. When you’re published by a small independent publisher, you appreciate them even more. And so, I send my heartfelt thanks to all who’ve written reviews for my books over at Amazon.

I love the 5-starred ones best (of course!), but they say “no review is a bad review”, so I appreciate them all – even the one about the fairy book illustrations being scary. (That had to be my favorite “negative” review. Because, really?)

And as I’m soon to launch a new book, I’ve got books on the brain. (Well, sure, I often have books on the brain, between writing them, reading them, and designing covers for others – but today, even more so.) So I wanted to send out a nudge to anyone who’s a fan of any of my 3 current books or my mermaid toy, encouraging you to head over to Amazon and write something sweet.

It really makes a difference, and helps get more books into more hands, especially those young ones whose imaginations are so alive. Thank you dearly!

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Going Thoreau

Pond. Woods. Cabin. Pen. Paper. Laptop. Me, and piles of unfinished writings. (Right. Thoreau didn’t have a laptop, much less electricity. So let’s call it a modern-day female Thoreau of sorts.) Wind whipping through red-budded trees, ducks squawking, late afternoon sun bouncing off royal blue water, star-studded nights and a deer (or three or four) to greet you at your door. Some fresh space for the muses.

Of course I wasn’t really alone. Aside from the ducks and deer (and, apparently, bears), there were plenty of other characters for company – a couple of boys and girls, some angels, and monsters, a flying horse here and there. There were real-live actual people too, nearby but not too near, and no one making a ruckus. No cars zipping by, no leaf-blowers or tv’s blaring. Laundry could wait, dishes were few, regular life paused. Except I did miss our cats sitting on my work. (I think?)

So, that was my five-day gift to myself – a mini back-to-nature answer to the incessant chatter of works undone while I’m otherwise busy designing things like branding and book covers for my wonderful clients. A cabin in the woods. A room with a view. Pen and paper. It was both enough and not enough. Is there ever enough time, though?

We do what we can when we can with what we have – then grab on and go.

mug

writings.bags.buttercream

buds1

rowboat.butter2

roadX

treeshadows

teaandcomp

 

 

 

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On Being Irish, Lucky and Green

week64.peace_celtic3

It’s upon us yet again – the day of dance and drink, and feasting on Irish bacon and cabbage, all to honor St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.

Of course, I’m always a little conflicted about whether I should be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. I’m not fully Irish, you see, but I love potatoes, ballads and Liam Neeson’s accent, so maybe some of that counts a little.

I’m not all that lucky either, at least when it comes to things like winning at lotteries or blackjack ~  except for the time my sister and I, restless after being cooped up in a very, very long car ride, went looking for four-leaf clovers on a remote North Carolina mountainside (because what else do you do when you find yourself in a field of clover?). To our surprise, we both found one. Then we found more. And more! And then we started finding 5-leaf clovers, and even some 6-leafers! This was magical, I’m telling you straight out. I’ve not seen a single four-leaf clover before or since (much less the five or sixers). So maybe this just means there’s always a bit of luck along the way if we take time to notice.

As for being green, well sure, it’s a great color that comes in a slew of shades, but I can’t say I’m fond of green beer. I do love green vegetables, though, so maybe that counts. My eyes are sometimes green. And I’m sure that some Leprechauns are green, but not all of them. And this is all quite confusing, so maybe we should just leave the whole being green bit to Kermit.

Then of course, there’s the name. Are we sure, really sure, it’s all about St. Patrick? … or might there’ve been a wee slip of the pen when writing St. Patricia. Hmmmm. :  )

Speaking of… Saint Pat was actually born in Roman Britain (way back in the fifth century), but apparently was kidnapped at 16 and brought to Ireland to work as a slave. (I did not know this!)  He escaped (phew!), but returned to Ireland in later years, bringing Christianity with him, appealing to both the Roman Catholics and the Irish Protestants of the land. (No small feat in Ireland… so I’m guessing he must have been charming, as well as devout.) In the process, he also elevated the status of the shamrock, by using its three leaves to explain the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).

After nearly thirty years of evangelism, he died on March 17, in the year 461. Patrick has endured as the principal champion of Irish Christianity.

And with all that said, it’s back to work ~ perhaps wearing a spot of green, feeling lucky, and dining on spuds with a whisper of an Irish blessing in my ear … whether any of it counts or not.

…………..

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

…………..saxton.potato.guiness.

 

saxton_week29.52weeksofpeace

 

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Patience and Process

saxton_patience.child

Everything’s got a process. The seasons, falling in love, solving a problem, making a meal, setting sail, etc.

So, too, with art.

With design, it’s largely a mental process. One word, one image, one “sense” can set off a cascade of ideas for the mind to siphon and distill, then execute with the clean tools of my Mac. (Not like the old days of things like rubber cement, and amber sheets for separating color, which I readily admit not missing at all.)

With illustration, it’s both a mental and physical process – lining up my tools, making physical sketches, conjuring ways to illustratively express different concepts and then execute, still, for me, primarily by hand.

With painting, it’s almost purely a physical process – brushes, paints, canvasses – along with a great deal of heart. There’s not a whole lot of “figuring” things out. The act of painting takes the lead, as opposed to the mind taking the lead.

And then, sometimes, the process – any process – gets clogged. There’s a setback. Things happen – often things that are out of our control (although, most of life is [out of our control], despite what we might like to think… but that’s another talk, for another time.); acts of God and so forth.

A few years back there was a huge flood in my studio. Took a few months to get my design and drawing stations in workable shape, which was key. Next would come the painting area. But time went by, and went by. The task was daunting, and I was busy writing and illustrating Dragons* in between client work.

Still, the canvasses whispered. Then they called. Then they shouted.

Finally, with some help, I cleared the space enough to feel I could answer their longing, incessant chatter, and right away felt better. Chomping at the bit, I would designate Saturday’s as painting day (other days were welcome, but this would be an agreed-to arrangement between me and paint). Yes! All was lining up.

So. On the appointed day, I clear off some last things from the table beside easel #1, clean it like new (a little lemon oil does wonders), grab a favorite old oversized shirt, a paint rag and one of the many not-so-patiently waiting images already engraved in my mind’s eye.

Just a few more things moved aside uncovers my marvelous palette, which I see, to my imminent dismay, is loaded high with caked on paint remnants. I decide it’s a work of art in and of itself – but will not do for squeezing fresh paints over all its hills and dales, nor sweeping a brush through assorted nooks and crannies.

And thus ended my first day of renewed painting. The mood cut short by a crusty old palette, and the need for a new one.

Initially frustrated, I soon realize it’s just part of the process. Making ready, preparing the space. There’s a ritual to it – shirt or apron, rags, the gathering and oozing of colors, the first strokes of the brush – and I hadn’t yet gotten to the place I’d been before, where ritual flows, all “set and ready” for when the spirit moves and chunks of time move with it.

Patience child, you’re almost there. Trust the process.

In the meantime, even more inspiration was uncovered by my delightfully messy palette (especially the underside – who knew?!) – just in case I needed any more. 😉

saxton palette / topside

saxton palette / topside

saxton palette / underside

saxton palette / underside

 

* Side note: “Book of Dragons” is officially almost here. I have my advance copy in hand! The rest will arrive …. soon, and you’ll be among the first to know.
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A Plethora of P's: (the final eight)

proactively punctuating life with the plausible, powerful possibilities of positive thought presented through a plethora of “P’s”.

– ♥ –

Wa-la! Here are the final eight of one hundred P’s in my “Plethora of P’s” series. But how did it come to be, and why the letter P, you might ask? With the original intention of creating an alphabet, I soon found my mind overflowing with “P” words – most of which were falling in line with my beliefs in Positive Thinking – add to that my own name beginning with a P – and well, one thing led to another and yet another series was born. I suppose it was “inspired”, as most of them are – from where I’m not exactly sure, but if it’s fun, positive, and allows me creative freedom, I go with it.

I do hope you’ve enjoyed them. 🙂

 

#93: PotteryP_pottery

Pottery has the admirably dual qualities of beauty and functionality. Designed at the discretion of the maker, each piece is essentially a vessel of creativity – figuratively, through artistic expression and simultaneous usefulness in a variety of practical ways – and symbolically, representing the womb; the carrying, giving and nurturing of life. 

– ♥ –

#94: Planets

P_planets

If one wants to be awed, all one needs to do is look up at the night sky. What’s there is unfathomable – billions (upon billions?) of stars; planets within universes within galaxies within more galaxies. Distances the mind can not comprehend. Possibilities of life – similar or very, very different –  in far, far, far away places.  Star Trekkian ships and Star Wars-like creatures are only fantasies, but … are they? Beyond our sky, beyond the stars and beyond the planets lies the truly Great Unknown, and amazement on an enormous scale.

– ♥ –

#95: Parachute

P_parachute

Here’s to safe landings!

– ♥ –

#96: Prolific

P_prolific

Abundantly fruitful. Profusely productive. Being prolific can as easily be a vineyard, a garden or a tree, as a poet, an artist, mathematician or scientist. There are no bounds, just rich creation.

– ♥ –

#97: Paperclip

P_paperclip

Perhaps the most talked about invention ever, and one that needs no explanation. (But, who DID invent the paperclip?)

– ♥ –

#98: Poppy

P_poppy

Ah, the alluring poppy. Its brilliant bursts of color and tales of mysterious concoctions make the poppy, all in all, a happy flower to behold.

– ♥ –

#99: Perspicacity

P_perspicacity

noun
1. keenness of mental perception; vision, insight, acumen. 
Keep your mind sharp and kickin’. Bend and stretch those mental muscles! Read. Do crossword puzzles and number games. Play scrabble. Study things. Ask questions. Listen, a lot. Stay curious. Always, stay curious.

– ♥ –

#100: Puppies

P_puppies

Because just the thought of puppies makes most people smile. 🙂

……………………

(See all 100 Plethora of P’s here)

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Tea, Guacamole and A Blanket

saxton_tea.sand

Intention: Early morning Sun Salutations. Long walks along the shore; the wide, cream-colored beach hedged by flowering dunes and solid, old homes with weathered shingles and thick white pillars holding up wrap-around porches. Bike rides and ice cream and warm sea breezes fueling inspirations that spread themselves like butter, page after page, in my notebooks. Skin, tingling and alive from the surf and the sun. Hair in happy, salty tangles. Laughter as the sun makes long shadows in the sand and friends share a toast to the tides; to each other; to the red glow on our shoulders (pass the aloe, please). Meditations under the moon; breaths keeping time with the rumbling, tumbling, humbling waves.

Reality: Early morning drizzle followed by chilly, windy torrents. Cold; did I mention, cold? My giant-sized, fluffy red blanket and I step, daily, onto the thick-pillar-adorned porch to admire the angry sea’s spectacular beauty; this week she’s a pounding, twisting, frothy tempest. My blanket-bundled self takes 20 yard walks to the bench at the top of the beach, finds a dry-ish spot to watch the sky for signs of sunshine. Friends arrive, singing “the sun’ll come out, tomorrow…”. My girls, generally hunkered down with their laptops and phones, are otherwise perfecting their omelette and smoothie-making skills. We eat exorbitant amounts of whole-wheat tortilla chips with guacamole dip. We find that Scotty’s fresh flounder tastes just as good in stormy weather as it does in good weather. Thank goodness I remembered to pack the Scrabble board and card decks. And my red blanket.

But still, it’s not enough to see the sea, I need to stand close, near the edge (but not so near to risk dipping my blanket in the surf) ~ so we venture time and again onto the wide, cream-colored coastline and marvel at the ocean’s extraordinary magnificence. My blanket and I enjoy tea under the eaves by the flowering dunes. We read. We take pictures and post them on Instagram. During a break in the unforgiving wind and rain we settle into a comfy spot on the soft sand and attempt to write in my notebook.

Drip.

Drop.

“Oh cruel fate . . . why do you mock me?”

Surrender.

So it’s short walks, no bikes. Ice cream, no warm breezes. Writing inside, not out. Skip the aloe. And despite the lack of shadows for five straight days, we do laugh; and we share toasts to the tides, and, mostly, to each other.

saxton_seagull.silo

saxton_flowering.dunes.foggy

saxton_mygirlsonbeach

saxton_clam.shells

saxton_blanket.sea

“Serenely full, the epicure would say, Fate cannot harm me; I have dined to-day.”
– Sydney Smith (1771 – 1845)

 

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Fun With Apples

Fruits may very well be one of the most universally painted subjects. Fruits, flowers, landscapes, portraits – all very classic.  But fruits in particular, ah … they’re full of delicious secrets, hidden like magic beneath their splendid curves, their dappled, imperfect skins protecting succulent juices dripping with nutrients, new life at their very core. They are marvels. God’s candy. Delivered fresh every season. And to the artist’s eye, something entirely pleasing, century after century.

For me, it’s always been pears and apples. Grapes are nice. Peaches, too. But apples and pears are my favorites. So I delighted in some apple-picking last weekend, and pulling out my handy-dandy iPhone for some on-the-spot shots. And since I’m now an expert, I share with you how to have fun with apples:

First, you go to the farm and walk to the apple orchards. You see your favorite variety (SunCrisps), and just because it’s a beautiful day, stop and take a few pictures. Then you start picking.

Next you take a selfie with your daughter (< insert your own favorite person) (well, she takes the selfie); pick a few more apples, put ’em in the basket, take ’em home.

Then you notice the afternoon sun streaming in lovely ribbons through the kitchen window, grab your camera and shoot a few  more shots of your freshly picked produce. Added bonus: you get to eat your prize. All in all, a pretty sweet way to spend an October day. Costs little, inspires much.

But it didn’t end there, because I thought I’d share some apple art into the mix here too. for a real apple fest. Enjoy! :  )

floating.apple_sm2.sig

apples.tree.sig

apples.slant.buttercream.sig2

saxton.apple.leaf.sig

apples.clos.sig

apples.table2.sig

apples.table1.viva

apple.strokes

saxton.bowloffruit.cropped.sig

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Earthly Pursuits

saxton_whatdidyoudo

Thank heavens there are people like my really smart nephew with a passion for math and statistics; for people who strive to climb Mt. Everest and people who want to be dentists or race-car drivers. I’d be awful at these things (among others) and quite frankly, am grateful someone else has these bases covered.

When you get right down to it, we’re all creative beings. We’re in a constant state of creation, our atoms and molecules and who knows what other sub-this-or-that particles in perpetual motion. What we do with all that varies, of course, from person to person, just as it varies from flower to flower, bird to bird, bug to little bug. Even a winter tree, barren and cold, is feverishly feeding its roots, growing beneath the ground; each tree uniquely carrying out its creative urge. So there’s all this activity going on, a momentum of endless, ever-evolving, ingenious energy, all the time, day and night, year after year.

Okay, I’ve tired myself out thinking about all that! But, hold on, the good news is I don’t need to go any deeper with it; even if I could, I don’t need to fathom the inner workings of this amazing swirl of life we’re part of. All I have to do is my part. And you, yours.

And more good news – we can choose what we want that part to be. And within those options ~ a whole giant vat of them ~ there’s a leaning, a desire, a knack for certain things more than others. And I would venture that those leanings show up unbidden, no matter where we live or under what circumstances ~ our inner callings will find a way to emerge, and they usually show up when we’re little kids. We arrive in this world pre-packaged with a personal set of affinities. And they never leave.

But then we travel life’s twisting roads, and for one reason or another, may un-do some of those natural tendencies. Some are fortunate to retain the connection, some get lost. Maybe it’s strife, maybe it’s what we think others think we should do; a million detours and distractions, a million at-the-time good reasons that lead one away from that core, that essence. But it’s still there ~ I’m certain of it ~ and it’s never too late (or too soon) to revitalize.

If you’re wondering what that calling is, or if you even have one, ask “what lights you up?” Then tap in and get on with it!

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