The string game is a metaphor for relationships. I am interested in the way we are interwoven together with other people. Our ability to maintain healthy connections with other people has much to do with our ability to communicate and keep our hearts open. We need other people in our lives in order for us to realize our potential as these other people need us to come into theirs. We learn how to relate to others as children with in our family structures. I needed the help of my two daughters Rose and Pearl to create this painting. They were patient with the slow process of taking different poses to find the "right" one. They had to get their hair ready and find outfits that would look good together. I needed the help of photographer Phil Schaafsma to shoot this photo and do the necessary color corrections to make it an accurate reproduction of the painting. The painting itself works because of the built in relationships such as the way the figures relate to the landscape, and to each other. The color harmony was also carefully considered in the process of making the painting. This winter has had me thinking much about how we live our lives interconnected with so many people that we often take for granted. I want to sensitize myself to my need for others and my need for God and live each day in a continual state of thankfulness. Thank you for taking the time to visit this image and to consider this humble thought.
The book of butterflies went missing some where in the course of making this painting. I have looked everywhere but it remains lost. I went to the library thinking I could find a replacement but none of the books that had available on butterflies looked any thing like the one I had misplaced. Setting up the pages with all the butterflies in rows is a method of presentation that must of fell out of vogue long ago.
This painting has to do with how we take in information. It is about looking and listening and ultimately about tuning into the sublime, something children do so well. Pictured here are my three of my own girls, Rain, Dove and Grace. They were very patient with the slow process of getting into the right outfits, having hair brushed and sitting still. The sitting still was probably the hardest work for a group of little girls. Fortunately we had the use of a camera to help gather and preserve information to build the painting. I have been looking to my own children now for many years for inspiration. I feel like I could be on this track for as long as they are willing. Eventually they will all be grown up and I then I will move onto my grandchildren.
We are buried under a heavy snow fall here in MI and that is just fine with me because I have a nice little cast iron wood stove in the carriage house studio with a stack of fire wood piled up under the stairs.
I am working on a new series of paintings that are going into a deeper place than I have been able to go before. I am taking my time with each piece and letting it collect all the rich nuance and detail I can give it. I have turned some kind of new corner in my studio practice where I am more patient to let the piece take as much time as it needs. I have begun to use the camera to help me gather information and to give me another way of looking.
Brenda and I are taking the train into Chicago next week to look for a new gallery there. If you are the praying sort, pray that God gives us wisdom, timing and favor.
This painting is in a very slow process of being finished. I have a photo here of it in progress. Since this photo the painted has been sanded and rubbed down with medium steel wool. I like what happens when the painting acumulates many layers over time. Mistakes and things a little off and then corrected. An area scraped down and repainted. Every time there are corrections and reworking the painting gathers more mystery, more poetency.
We played a show with Brie Stoner and The Soil and the Sun last Saturday at the Living Room on Division Street next door to Sanctuary Art Gallery. It was another show I had the special distinction of being the oldest person in attendance (probably by around 20 years). Live music is a great inspiration. Brie played slow quiet songs that were very powerful. Her voice really gets to me. The feeling with her performance is intimate and spiritual, devotional maybe. The Soil and the Sun create a feast of sound. Lyrics seem almost throw away because the potency comes from the layers and different textures of sound they build into each piece of music. They do a lot with dynamics, coming down to quiet whisper and then back into big room full of multilayer sound swell. Listening to their music reminds me of swimming in Lake Michigan with big waves. We are planning to return to this venue February 12 for another show with The Soil and the Sun. We will begin with a potluck at 6 and the music will start at 7:00. Put it on your calendar.
This woodcut got started the other day when Grace (8yrs) was working with me in the studio. She wanted to make prints of the blocks she had cut a few days before. I pulled a chunk of crummy plywood from the fire wood pile for her to begin a new block and I had the idea to try a similar piece of wood for myself. I really like how the texture of the wood presents itself on this print. I like having kids around sometimes when art making because they help you remember to play around and that's when it's best. I printed this Queen and King on a piece of wall paper. I friend of ours gave us some old wall paper sample books for our art prize project last year. I didn't know what to do with it at the time but the longer it hangs around the more uses I seem to find.
I have been working to get the house ready for our Family X mass art show. This means a lot of de cluttering, cleaning, and even painting walls. I have been having a good time working in the studio on collage and colored woodcut prints. Sometimes it takes a while to really get in the mode of creating. It feels like getting a fire started in the wood stove. Some times it doesn't happen quickly but takes some extra coaxing but I always manage to get there eventually.
I am feeling that cold weather stay inside and hunker down vibe settling down on the Beerhorst house. When the season moves into winter you just don't have the interaction with peole like you do in the warm seasons. Going inward, lonelyness, introspection, art making, wood fires, water freezing in the rabbits water bottles, writting letters, pumkin pie and bread baking. What ever is happening to the garlic and tulip bulbs under the ground right now is some how also happening to us and it is a needed dark underground work that will enable the bloom to break out in the spring. For now it is the time for my old corduroy coat, knitted scarf and soft leather gloves that still need mending.
We got the house painted this month. We had a lot of help from neighbors and friends. I love the colors we picked. (Thanks to you Brenda and all the thought and searching in that direction.) We really needed to get this done because not only were the current colors drab but the exterior was really getting ragedy from weather and sun which was just about to turn the corner towards some serious damage to siding and trim. There is something about scrambling all over every inch of your house that leaves you with an appreciation and understanding of the place where you live. I am so glad we didn't have the money to pay some one else to do the work that was rightfully ours to do. Poverty truely opens the door to heaven and keeps it swinging.
I feel like I have returned to the studio after a long time of doing other things. Our art prize project PLan B took me all over the place building bike powered generators and sand and gravel water filters. Neither of which really worked. I loved our summer/fall and now it has given way to winter. The carriage house is extra cozy these days with the wood stove going and a big wood pile out front. I am excited about this years family offering for our xmass show the first weekend of December. If you live near by come and visit us for the show. If you can, make the trip into town. If you are far, far away visit through flickr and Etsy (studiobeerhorst)
I really like this painting and feel like I want to paint my own version on it.I have only recently made my way back into the studio to paint in the past few weeks. I like the way the figure is squeezed into the frame up against this piece of furniture. I like the clumsy way this painting is done yet everything is so solid. Just a little bit of green.
I created this wood cut print for a young friend who is a working blacksmith here in Michigan. He has no aspirations for college or getting that "good job" because he is already doing what it is he loves and he is one of a growing tide of people about the very important task of reskilling themselves to fulfill the necessary needs of . So many people in the western world spend much of each day of their lives at work that is not at all essential. This is a big problem because we are about to move into an era as a culture where it will soon be about the essentials; food and water, shelter, and clothing. It will be people like my friend the blacksmith who can make finely crafted knife of quality steel that will be sought out on a daily basis while the intellectual property rights lawyers will be stumbling down the lane begging their next piece of bread.
I believe we are about to experience a very different future. Our culture is about to make a radical shift -the large % of our western population is not in the least prepared for. We were born into a world engulfed in the modernest love affair with efficiency as was typified by Henry Ford's assembly line. We were quickly drowning in everything from Art Van furniture, Big Macs, divorce lawyers and credit car applications. We have gobbled up our natural resources at a dizzy break neck speed and we are just about to hit the wall. In fact we have hit the wall and we are now in that slow motion stretched out split second of crash dummy whiplash as home foreclosure rips through the cities and the suburbs and Wall Street tumbles into a sink hole of no return. America is the Titanic. The ship has already struck the ice. The gash has overwhelmed efforts to hold off the icy water. The ship's captain, his personal valet and the chief engineer knew what would happen in the next two hours but the rest of the ships passengers are picking out their dresses and straightening their ties getting ready for dinner.
We are working with a team of people on an Art Prize project called Plan B. This will be a home spun eco village on the bank of the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids Michigan in front of the Gerald Ford Museum from September 22-October 10. Sand and gravel water filters, a bicycle powered water pump, bicycle powered PA system for our performance stage, hand sewn tents made of used bill board vinyl, a puppet theater, black smith, leather worker, rocket stoves, chickens, rabbits, green house and container vegetable gardens....
We are seeking to create a powered down model of what our future could look like where technology is once again something regular people can tinker with and understand, a world where people not only work together but eat together and tell their stories. We want to create a place where we can become human again and hand off a culture to our children that has a future. Come and join us!
Originally uploaded by roses&pearls
I love this little film that Pearl made this summer of Shepherd skateboarding out in front of our house. It is really cool when siblings can team up like this and make things. There was no direct parent involvement in this project. Pearl simply followed a creative hunch and Shepherd was willing to be her subject. It is important for artists to learn to observe and she has done that. It is important for an artist to discover the art in their own environment and Pearl has done that. It is also important for the artist to work until she has a technical proficiency and I believe she has done that as well. As a side note, the percussion in the music for this film is provided by a tap dancer. The band is Tilly and the Wall.
This photo was taken early spring when our boarder Rusty was traveling and we moved his drum kit up into the living room. We also purchased a small PA system around the same time. With the a drum kit, electric guitars and a PA in the living room it was kind of weird and cluttered but we did do a lot more messing around with making music for that month. We have since moved everything downstairs and we just don't play as much now. Darn!
It is interesting to me how messy creativity is. How it has to do with taking action and moving things around. But it also makes me think that inaction is necessary as well. Taking time to stare off into space. Time for quiet. open spaces. I laid on my back for awhile in the back yard on our wooden bench next to the cedar trees. I was watching the limbs of the trees and their leaves blowing in the wind. A big soft dance over my head. It doesn't yet come natural to me to be still and rest but I keep leaning into it because I want to become more human. I want to have an organic life not just eat organic food.
Maybe we need to get those instruments up into the living room again for awhile.
I have been working for a while with this theme of clusters of houses and buildings all crammed together on the page. Lately ladders have made there way into the mix. I like the image of the ladder as a symbol for our need to connect with the divine. Also, I think this series has something to do with my hunger for a greater sense of community in my own urban living experience. We still have so many neighbors that we will never seem to know. It is as if there are these huge invisible walls that cut us off from each other. We all go about the patterns of our separate lives without any real attempts to connect with each other. This morning a woman came onto my front porch and called to me through the window as I sat writing in my journal. She asked me to call her a cab as her car had broken down somewhere near by. I did call her a cab and offered her a chair on the front porch while she waited. A little later she wanted a glass of water. After about a half hour she asked me to call again to make sure they were really coming and I did that too. The cab eventually came and took her away. It was awkward and an interruption but it was also nice to be able to help a stranger/angel? this morning.
I have been interested in getting an old reel to reel tape recorder and seeing what creative doors it could open for my musical journey. I really like the idea of circling back to technology that has become obsolete and forgotten. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it has something to do with a romantic draw to what is old. Maybe it has to do with a desire to throw hooks into the past that can keep the present connected to what preceded it and those provide depth and perspective. Maybe I just miss some of the things that where around when I was younger.
The development of magnetic tape and its ability to record sound changed everything for our culture. There was a time when music was only performed live and when the string stopped vibrating and the mouth was closed the music was gone, done, over. With electronic recordings we were given the option to have music playing while we washed the dishes, while we laid in bed trying to go to sleep. I suppose popes and kings had these options but not the rest of us. I wonder what it was like when in early times without radio,without TV and without sound recordings. Were there more people making their own music and entertainment? Was music more pure somehow? Were peoples lives more potent, more "real" somehow? It makes me wonder if we have dulled our senses by always having some form of entertainment filling up our otherwise more empty spaces.
Last night we had a band rehearsal and worked on just one song. The song is called "Broken Dreams" We played the song over and over with different tempos and different arrangements looking for what sounded the best and also to just see where the song wanted to go. It felt like hard work to me. Making music,making sound, creating a story, a puzzle, going off on a journey. All of these were happening last night and there is no recording of what we played except for in our brains and our hearts.
We are really loving the return of Spring to Michigan. The kids have been jumping on the trampoline over at the neighbors. Rose, Pearl, and neighbor Rose Shaw went in together and bought the tramp last summer. It just got set up again.
Yesterday Grace and I planted peas in the back yard garden and lettuce in the tin tubs that serve as good containers for our greens. The new bunny we were given this winter just had her first litter of 6 little bunnies this morning. They are beautiful and tiny with only the slightest hint of fuzzy hair in very pink skin.
I have moved my art making back to the carriage house from out of the basement where the cold weather had driven me. I make a fire in the wood stove in the morning to take away the chill and let it burn out before lunch and let the sun shine do the rest.
After a long hard winter like we just lived through, the warmer weather has new sprouts of life coming up everywhere.
Rose and Pearl both have a day to be in charge of the cooking. Rose has Wednesday and you can see here here at work making a coffee cake that actually ended up going to a potluck gathering that night. It is a great help for Brenda and I when the girls take over the cooking and they always seem to take it seriously and make something wonderful.
The big chopping block standing on its side is hard maple and plenty husky. It stays in place when you are chopping on it. It was a recent curb find. As you can see here we have a lot of cast iron skillets because I love the way they evenly distribute the heat and there classic look. There is a brush hanging up we use to paint on glazes for bread or scones. The bowl behind the chopping block covered with cloth is moistened oat meal we leave on the counter to ferment. The covered jar is fermented kombucha. The apple peelings went to the bunnies. The Doe is due to have her first litter next week.
We love our kitchen and use it off and on all day long. It is the heart of our house and the computer in the living room where I am writing this blog may be the brain.