Saturday, December 25, 2021
Saturday, November 20, 2021
Sunday, October 31, 2021
Tomorrow is November 1. It is my birthday month...Thanksgiving Day and in the "olden" days it would be parent teacher conferences. A month of muted colors following October's wild autumn bowing out. November's pale faded golden corn left in the field rustles in the wind sounding (if you walk down the farm road) like a kind of orchestra of brushes. Forests and grass turn yellow and brown and along with some dusty blue-grays of the last grasses and with dark hulls and black/blue seeds flying in the wind. Everything is muted. You smell woodsmoke. You search for your mittens. A fuzzy robe feels super in the morning with your hot coffee.
We streamed church AGAIN today but are going to be in-person for communion for the first time in I cannot even remember when come next Sunday! After church Zoom coffee discussion group today we talked about "thin" places in our lives. Ya know thin places?
After a busy week we'll head down to Lemont, Ill on Friday after my class to see our 16 year old grandson, Pat, perform in his school play that evening. A radio play adaption of It's a Wonderful Life. What a nice way to start the holiday season. Just a quick trip down (about 3 hour drive) and my daughter, Julie, is coming too. We'll stay over and come back Saturday morning after brunch. I am bringing my mom's favorite coffee cake for the brunch. We'll be celebrating Mike and Marie's October birthdays too.
Next week Julie and Mark are taking us out out to dinner to celebrate MY birthday. The restaurant is called The Old Fashion. I love an old fashioned brandy sweet (once in awhile). Come to find out that was mom's favorite cocktail too (my sister tells me).
Saturday, October 23, 2021
Saturday, October 9, 2021
One of my favorite fall sketches (so far) was a walk along the road sides up north near the cabin on the 28th of September along Tippecanoe Lake. Autumn comes early in the north woods and sometimes almost 2 weeks ahead of central and southern Wisconsin. The pines lose needles too and there is a soft layer of yellow pine needles on the roads. We had such fantastic weather all week prior to the closing on Monday, Oct 4. A lot of hard work the last few days but my step-son appeared and helped out.
Then, just before we left, Julie and I took one more talk and I found a Solomon's Plume that had striped itself in a way I'd never seen before. One berry left and two minuscule berries.
Sunday, September 26, 2021
Monday, September 20, 2021
These two little rough sketches were done during an outdoor concert here this late summer at University Oaks. We had several of these great little musical events over the summer. Super lovely weather.
A lovely mid September Saturday the Madison Urban Sketchers spent an afternoon at the Madison Zoo. Gorgeous weather again! Almost too warm! 8 of us gathered to wander around and sketch a few things.
On September 18 my daughter, Julie, rode her bike down from her house and joined me in the woods to sketch the flowers and listen to the birds and just have a delightful couple of hours. Who doesn't love the prairie flowers in one more open section of the woods...beebalm, Joe Pye weed and Chinese lantern. The leaves are just at the edge of turning here in Madison now. We saw 16 ducks, 2 wrens, a murder of crows, and 3 turkeys too!
I can't remember if I've posted this sketch in Julie's garden. Her sunflowers are 10' tall at least now.
Wednesday, September 1, 2021
In other news...I've been doing a little prep for a class I am actually not teaching until next spring. But Julie and I are doing this advanced Zentangle class together and we had to write up the description of the class for the promotional materials. So I had to at least try out a few of our ideas to get the "feel" for what we want to do. Frames, Dingbats, and Cartouches will be the subject matter. The classes will be on Zoom and sponsored by Olbrich Gardens in Madison. But of course offered to anyone, anywhere. They run $15 a session and there will be a beginner class on Sunday April 3 (1-3) and advanced class on Sunday May 1, 1-3. You might want to pencil them into your calendar. I'll let you know later when registration opens.
Here's a Cartouche of an interesting button.
We are headed south back to Madison on Friday morning. Lots of fun things to do there, of course. I'll be prepping to teach a beginner Zentangle class at Oakwood on September 15.
We'll be back up one more time to close the cabin the first weekend in October. The snow could be flying by then up here.
As the title of this blog post suggests: now the end of something but always that leads to the beginning of something else. It's a spiral. Fall in Wisconsin is quite amazingly beautiful...and something we have missed being in Florida. I look forward to the colors, the apple picking and the cider...the chili and the football games.
I feel an odd sense of bewilderment as the holidays ahead show up on the calendar. Will we be safe enough to celebrate together this year? Will we all have a booster this fall? The news each night is full of seriously sad and difficult happenings. Our in-person church services have been cancelled again until Nov 1. Everyone is battling the fatigue of being harangued by worry, angst, fear, and sadness for so long. Art has been a real steadfast friend for all of us who love to create...it has given us needed reprieves. Hang on, everyone. We can do it.
Sunday, August 8, 2021
In between a full month at the Northwoods cabin where one magical late afternoon we "swam with the loons". Seriously...they just appeared among us while we were swimming on a warm windless afternoon at 5 in the evening. Swimming in and around us and making small clucking noises. We all went still with amazement. They brought their baby. What a magical moment. I'll never forget it. Loon whisperers. And then, after about 10 minutes they dove down and were gone.
The intricacies of a fancy fishing pole...the tongue in cheek sketch of a mouse trap (I set 12 every time I leave), the beauty of found feathers and a new bird, the calmness of an afternoon "tea time" on the dock with the grandkids, a farewell to an old boat that served us well for many years and now resides in Minnesota, the canoe rides in among the islands, and the BIG storm that took away our electricity for 24 hours with 6 people in the cabin! Oh my. The remembrance of so many puzzles done on the summer porch, and then the sadness of having to have a tooth removed that was cracked and infected and unsaleable. Gosh I had it for over 70+ years. I hated to lose it! And concluding with Greg's much needed new glasses!
It was a good time. We came back to Madison exhausted. But are resting up and will go back up for 10 days the end of the month. Not so long this time. In between other family members will enjoy it.
We are so disappointed in the Covid rise again that we just do not have words to express it. It's actually even more complicated now because we feel conflicted about those people who have not been vaccinated that are putting us all at more risk. So there is a sense of frustration and even anger involved now. Facing masking and isolation again? We are so sick of it. Especially when it might have been prevented.
The usually routines and fun activities which come with being in a lovely setting here at University Woods are in jeopardy too. With gatherings being limited and masking again in common area. There is a huge problem with hiring workers too. We have not had enough servers apply for work here to open the restaurant. That makes for more isolation for the folks who live here!
We try to be out in the beautiful surroundings here as much as possible. As that helps the mood.
Praying for safety and better days ahead.
Saturday, July 24, 2021
Working with the gel prints reminds me that I haven't done any for quite a long time but when I was cleaning in the studio last week I came upon a stash of "first drafts" that I left here years ago.
For those of you not familiar with mono printing...it is quite common to take first prints or ghost prints (2nd prints) and then re-purpose them with another layer or two of prints or stenciling to complete them.
So I think that most of my mono-printing will now be done at home in Madison, I am taking all the first drafts back with me and hope to get inspired this winter to go down to the University Woods art studio and spread them out and finish them!
We have about a week left here (with fun company) and then back to Madison for two weeks. We hope to come up the end of August again.
The first acorns are falling on the cabin roof now.
We had 8 loons visiting on the lake this week! (very common in July) but all but our pair have gone now. This summer the loons raised a baby which has been fun to watch.
Monday, July 19, 2021
Saturday, June 26, 2021
Graphtint pencils by Derwent. I got the initial box of 6 "tints". They are a water soluble graphite with just a hint of color. I think I am going to enjoy using them. They do also come in 24 shades but I am thinking that I'll play with these 6 for awhile first.
They are different from "watercolor pencils" which do not contain graphite. I used 3 tints in this sketch...a dark indigo shade, a Mountain gray shade and then just a touch of Ivy green around the label. It's quite lovely for studies like this. I hope to put them into my sketching bag and try them more. So easy to use with just a water brush to activate. Here's a look at the tints:
Friday, June 11, 2021
Monday, May 24, 2021
"A quiet moment in the University Woods conservancy at the Settling Pond on a May morning near the Lady Slipper"
Saturday, May 15, 2021
Not too "wordy" today blog followers. More just "the picture tells the story." We met at Julie's cute little home on Gately Terrace this week to celebrate our grandson Ben's 23rd birthday and for Greg to get his seeds into the plot that Julie is gifting us. I did a little helping in the garden...(I am the seed sprinkler).
Then while other things were happening I snuck out back to do a sketch of some of the purple flowers out in her garden. I was drawn to that color. Then decided that it might be fun to put Julie's home there too. Afterwards we joined together with the neighbors for an outdoor pizza picnic followed by a large pan of my Blueberry Buckle...Ben's favorite cake. (I think you can find the recipe on Google if you type in Ginny Stiles Blueberry Buckle.). I'm famous. Hahaha.
We are off to the cabin for the seasonal opening next week...about 5 days. I'll take some sketchbooks with me.
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Woke up at the unGodly hour of 4:30 a.m. this morning and made myself a cup of “sleepy time” tea. Which really does work by the way. I finished reading a classic book (written in 1991...which is NOT in the olden days) called A Life in Hand by a wonderful journaler/sketcher named Hannah Hinchman. I am always inspired when I read through this which I have several times. Her powers of observation are joyful.Anyway. Then I saw on my art table the teensy little feather that my friend Sharon had recently mailed me...An honest to God real envelope and stamp full of poetry, hand made book marks and then this little feather. (I seem to be in a mood for feathers right now) as I had just sketched in my journal the enormous turkey feather that we found on a recent walk in the woods. It is so hollow at the stem you can almost see right through it.So then this tiny little feather falls out of the envelope only a day or so after I find the turkey feather. From a woman whose last name is Feathers. Julie would call this serendipity. The universe is sending me a message about birds, feathers, the lightness of birds, OR the freedom to fly is maybe calling to me. I tend to want to think it's about the “freedom to fly” now (or the courage to do so.) I feel like my move to Madison is a kind of leap of faith and in doing so had so many endings and beginnings I am slightly overwhelmed. Victor Hugo’s words came to me right away:
“Be like the bird who, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings.”
Then I remember that my dear English friend, Mary Sollars, would always stick her found feathers upright into the ground when she found one on a walk promptly saying this will improve the weather! That memory makes me smile.
I did fall asleep then until almost 8 am! And now this all brought me round to the new day with a wonderful sunshine just glowing into our eastern windows. Everyone gets messages from the universe it’s just that not everyone hears them.Notes from Sycamore Tree House in May.Ginny