My husband and I are exploring a renaissance of art. This is not to be confused with exploring Renaissance art. That would involve going to a museum and looking at slightly overweight naked ladies painted in gold and brown tones, angles swooping overhead and all that rot. Not that staring at slightly robust naked ladies is awful, but face it, my husband gets to do that any time I step out of the tub, so it isn’t exactly a temptation to seek out more of the same.
By exploring a “renaissance of art”, I mean that we, personally, are diving into new, unexplored artistic regions. For fun. Stretching our artistic muscles. Our lives have always been somewhat artistic, considering we made a living at dance, costuming, choreography, and running a business with excessive creative thinking our only resource. Then, on the side, we were involved with gardening, writing. . . oh, the list goes on and on.
But now, we are a bit like children who have escaped one room they’ve been locked in for too long. It may have been a room full of great toys, but we’re ready to play with new things now. We have stepped away from dance, and the world is like this huge store filled with artistic wonders that we can pick up off of shelves to try on for size.
It began with our new career choices. My husband dived into woodturning. He is wonderfully talented at it. And fascinated with the medium of wood, he is creating furniture and all kinds of other wood objects. I became immersed in writing – fiction, poetry, non-fiction. You name it. But those were our choices for our new vocations. Beyond this, we started seeking artistic avenues for fun too. We discovered the Campbell school. Mark took woodcarving and I took pottery. We returned for a course in storytelling. Out side of this, I took classes on jewelry making, wire wrapping and more. Mark took gourd carving. I even bought yarn and began crocheting again, something I haven’t done since I lived in New York (where last I lived and experienced a true cold weather.) Our hands are always nimble, working at creating something new.
This weekend, we took a two-day class on how to make deer antler baskets. Don’t laugh. They’re beautiful, complex and gorgeous. Mark made his perfectly formed. Green. It is striking in its tight weave and defined pattern of colors. I chose to attempt something more rustic, and I weaved more texture into mine, including a hairy, frayed rope and a copper brillo pad. Mine is the one pictured in copper and brown tones. Don’t laugh. My odd selection of materials worked. People in the class asked if I was an artist. Ha. Nope, just willing to explore. But I was pleased that they considered my imperfect basket “artistic”.
We came home with two lovely baskets for our cabin. But what was better, was we learned all about how to drill holes into the antlers (which were all naturally shed antlers, for those of you who wonder why I, a confirmed naturalist, would want to make something out of the parts of an animal.) We learned how to make rib bases, and then, how to weave. I used to make jokes when stressed at my business –I’d insist it was just a matter of time before they would lock me up in a loony bin where I would weave baskets all day. Ha. I had that wrong. I think going crazy begins with weaving baskets , THEN you need to be locked up in a Looney bin, because weaving a basket can drive you crazy. Really. It’s tedious and challenging all at once. It took about 9 hours to make our antler baskets.
We came home, and Mark immediately began another project out of some antlers he bought last year. Not me. I was ready to take a basket break. He plans to make several more as gifts for close friends and wants to get started while he remembers how. I might do the same, after a basket break but it would have to be for someone special – a friend who adores nature and art, – because these antler baskets, while pretty, are tons of work.
My husband and I miss dance. But we have a huge, ever growing list of folk crafts and arts we want to explore and this helps covers the empty spot inside where dance used to be. I’m signed up for a course in chair caning in April. I figure, if Mark is going to make rustic furniture, I can make myself useful by learning how to make all kinds of interesting cained seats. That way, any furniture he makes for our home will be crafted by us both. (I’m a romantic, and I find the idea that we worked together to fill our home with things that have meaning rather than a price tag, rather endearing . . so shoot me . . I’m an idealistic sap).
I’m supposed to bring chairs to the course to work on, so I bought two old, wooden antique chairs at a garage sale and plan to refinish them in the next few weeks. I am planning to decoupage them so they are totally covered in this newspaper print I have from a romance flyer printed in the 1800’s. I found a penny press version of a romance paper, complete with pictures and great romance headlines and stories etc at an antique shop…. I will cover the chairs in this historical material, then put layers and layers of shellac on it so it looks as if the articles are under glass. I will then cain the seats and have something special for my new writing room. Perhaps I’ll shellac a table to match, and have it as a bistro set. The pieces will be all about romance, history and art. Such furniture suits me more than I can describe.
Let’s see, I want to take glass and fused bead making, and book making. I am determined to try spinning, dying and weaving and a few of those textile classes. Mark is worried that if I like it, I’ll demand a llama. You can make your own yarn from the fur of a llama, ya know. You can do so with sheep too, but a llama is more fun, and I am looking for an excuse to get one.
Anyway, our world is filled with art lately. It is in every corner of our home, a part of our days, and in our thoughts. For entertainment, we go to museums, galleries, art festivals or we take a class for hands on fun. It is all a part of our new art renaissance. Escaping the jail of our previous business and going wild in a productive way, if that makes any sense.
I suppose our art fascination will fade some as the weather warms, for I feel nature calling me now, and it has a louder voice than art. I am ready to hike the Appalachian trail, go kayaking, and tubing, whitewater rafting and camping. I have every intention of sleeping on our land in a tent in May when I believe our new colt will be born. I’m NOT going to miss that! Our blueberry bush is filled with tiny buds, and will spring to life soon, which means the only art I will have time for will be in the kitchen making blueberry splendor of some kind or another. I can cook something everyday and not make a dent in the abundant blueberries available on our land. I should know. Last summer, I tried. The only art we will have time for when the weather offers such choices, will be the avenues we’re pursuing by profession, writing and woodturning. The extras will have to wait.
So, art will rest, and we will turn to new adventures, the kind that are accompanied by bird songs, cool breezes, and a night sky, so black, that the stars appear to glow brighter than possible. Nature is god’s art, and frankly, it surpasses anything man can make. It certainly nourishes the soul as well, if not better. Eventually, when the bears hibernate, we will come inside again to escape the cold, and we will turn once again to artistic adventures as our pastime of choice.
Just today, as I was coming home from a workout class, I decided to stop by to feed our horses. I actually missed them and I wanted to turn them out in the second field to eat. We have a hay shortage in town and I can’t stand that my honey’s don’t have hay to munch. Anyway, when I turned onto the dusty, graveled drive of our land, two deer were standing in the street. They paused, then lept to the side, paused again, and just stared at me. They were doe . (No antlers to make me feel guilty.) I sat there until they slowly ambled off, watching with a thrill I can’t describe. I can’t wait until our house is done and we move to this beautiful, remote, world of our own. I have hope that these creatures, and others, will greet me on my morning walks. And I bet then, I won’t need to pursue artistic ventures to feel that heart pounding satisfaction of creation.
Then, our very lives will be, what I consider, a perfect work of art.