Thursday, May 15, 2014

Sticks and Stones

How do you fill your days?
You may well ask.
What are your long term goals?
To become a better artist.

Rowan Moore Seifred
 Stick Pile #1

For the last 3 or so years I have been trying to reconcile my identity as a graphic designer with my identity as an artist. The process has been interesting and the outcome, a complete surprise.

Rowan Moore Seifred
  Stick Pile #3

This journey began with my first life drawing class in over 20 years in 2013. Drawing and painting got me back into thinking about art making. I read somewhere that you should never think about the why of art making when you are making it. They are two different activities and should not get mixed up together. That used to catch-me-up and stop me dead.

Rowan Moore Seifred
 Looking south on the east perimeter. Piles are 20ft apart.

Now I see things in simpler terms. After 20yrs, my time on this property is likely limited and so I want to  immerse myself in it while I can. It made sense that my statement would involve this place.

Rowan Moore Seifred
 The first 3 piles run south from the north east corner of my property.

People are starved for nature. It's being destroyed but it's everywhere too. Growing up between the cracks in sidewalks, sprouting in gutters. Art is there too, waiting to be called upon.

I caught a snippit of a headline that an eco conscious art curator I know commented on, and it made me re-visit the stick piles I began making when I first moved here.  And there it was, an idea I had had long ago resurfacing and the right moment. I have been waiting and watching, biding my time.

 Forest selfie with cedar debris.

My plan for the next 2 years, (I picked 2 because that marks a major milestone in my life as a parent) is to create a series of these stick piles around the perimeter of my 5 acre property. I am not going to think about why. I am going to pile things up and see where it goes.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


I begin this in my living room on Saturday morning listening to a groovy collection of John Zorn music. New to me and highly compatible with my current state of mind. There are tulips blooming everywhere, the leaves are emerging and the mountainside is changing shape and color with every moment. The garden is coming together here and at the Urban Farm. The Japanese maple outside the bedroom window that reminds me where I am in time is greeting me with delicate chartreuse leaves extended on flaming red branches. On the nights when the moon was full and the night was clear the tree was black and white as if covered in snow. Waking and seeing it at first, I could not believe my eyes. It took a moment for my brain to understand that it was moonlight and not snow after all. I heard some good poems read and I saw a few concerts and reconnected with the dreaminess of listening to art performed. By chance we got a hand-me-down piano, something I have wanted for a long time but was not sure I could afford. My neck is healing. It has taken awhile and it is still not quite 100%. I am feeling reclusive, selective about who I see and what I take on beyond what I am working on. I think it is a healing response and at the same time I think it is a transition period for me.  Taxes—the most recent obstacle to my creative pursuits— are done. And today I am washing my office floor—preparing the space for work. Space to work gets lost in the chaos of life; hidden under paper, place mats and unopened bills. The truth is the cleaning is all part of the practice and that is why when the thought came to me to wash the floor, I said yes. This is an important part of my daily practice, saying yes to doing things, whatever they are. I stop myself all the time and consequently things have backed up on me, I take too long to do things. I am too sporadic. So the idea of the practice is to add consistency to the behavior I am working on developing. Why is it so challenging to give myself an hour a day where I take time to move my creative—non-work—work along? This is the hurdle, making time and doing it. Taking the time and sinking-in to do the deep work, without losing touch with everyday life, that is what I wrestle with. It feels like losing control but I know the only way to explore creatively is to let go, really push off from the dock and float alone into the darkness of the catacombs where it all originates from.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Stop gap

I am not dead. I am not ill. I am reflecting. Nothing new there but maybe there is a new depth to the reflection. At any rate, many things feel a bit trite at the moment like quippy little blog posts like this one. As you were.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


This is what I am trying to achieve. The sensation of lying on my back staring up at endless openness while standing upright in the modern world. The sensation of sun on my face when skies are gray and complicated. The sensation of boundless joy while performing the mundane tasks of simply being alive. So far so good.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Drying plastic sheets for Nuno-Felting.

I'm super off track with the blogging. I am in deep self-care mode at the moment. I suspect I will live to procrastinate many more things, the painting, the writing, the endless crafty endeavors. Work is the answer. More work, more making, more sketching, more seeing, more doing, less thinking, less talking, less weighing, more breathing. I got invited to join a group of artists meeting to discuss art and the process of making art and the reality of being an artist. Initially I felt that it was what I wanted. I even thought the invitation had come to me in a sort of divine way. I went to one Salon style gathering and there were many very interesting people there but I felt ill at ease. I feel suspicious at the very idea of the thing. Is this normal? Is it just me? It takes a lot for me to get out into a group of people and I generally reserve the energy it takes to do this for clients and family gatherings but off I went. I even shared my work, I read a piece from this blog as an experiment. People were supportive but I felt hollow afterwards as I tend to. I am suspicious of this need to seek attention for things I have made. I connect it to bowel movements from childhood. My mother would applaud my stinky efforts. It mattered and it felt good to me and to her, both our jobs done. I don't want to talk about making art much in the same way I don't want to talk about my sex life or my bowel movements in public. Yes, I have sex and I really enjoy it, I spend quite a bit of time thinking about sex, I dream about it, I miss traffic signals thinking about it. I don't want to talk about it though. It's private. People do not want to listen to me talking about my sex life. I think making art is the same thing. I want to do it, not talk about doing it with people who have their own methods and manias, fetishes even, sexual and artistic. I enjoy the intimacy of art making and I believe the creative process is a solitary one and I am okay with that. I am superstitious. Whatever creative gift I have been given (as I write this I am stunned that I even thought that, a gift from who/where) I need to protect and explore for myself alone. I can't speak about something that has no form, wrong words could dissolve the gossamer waves of whatever it is that might ooze out of me given half a chance. So I will continue to plan and make and if you run into me, let's not discuss art or sex or shit or blood. All those things are implied. Let's agree to discuss the discussable, the dog, the swans returning from Russia, the new buds swelling in the unusually warm weather and how grateful we all are to still be at this beautiful party.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


I am back to walking despite the bitter cold. The question of purpose comes up not just for me but for others in my milieu. The young are confused and misinterpret their daily acts as trite and unimportant. I often think if only X would happen then I could do Y, Z. Well here's a news flash. X is happening! I picked up trash today on my way home. I picked up a big plastic cup, a plastic sheath from one of the salmon reparation saplings that flew off in the wind, and an empty bottle of vodka before I found a discarded grocery bag to put it all in. I filled it up pretty quickly. I have been meaning to do this for a long time but haven't. The trash annoys me. Beer cans, coffee cups, fast food bags that like magnets pull the dog off course. So today I did it. It felt good, and it gave me a totally different perspective on my walk. I may never write a great novel and there may be no purpose to any of it but I will be able to walk down my road without hating humanity and that's something.

P.S. Someone on my road drinks a ton of 100 Proof Vodka in plastic mickey bottles. I hope it isn't a kid.

Friday, January 31, 2014


On Sunday it was frosty and clear once the sun came up over Sumas Mountain. It felt good to be outside and I took pictures of the frost. I am planning a garden, such as it is covered in black plastic and spare tires. I helped at the Urban Farm on Saturday and came away feeling good about everything. We will have a kick-ass raspberry crop again this year and I have plans to throw in a 20ft row here at home too. We made a rough list of things to grow in the garden, things we think we can handle. Beans, peas, cabbage, kale, the basics. Meanwhile I felt nervous about Monday's surgical event but what can you do, time moves us along and now it's 4 days later. The rain started up again and I wouldn't have walked even if I could have. Tomorrow I will try again.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


I am rowing along my feet are my oars
row, step, row, step, breathe, breathe, breathe.
Merrily, merrily.
I saw seven eagles flying, trill, trill, calling.
Two white capped adults and five mottled juveniles
above the creek. I called to them,
my head tipped back compressing my delicate vertebrae
exposing my white lumped neck.
Hello eagle brothers what a fine day it is.
I bet you can smell the rotting salmon all the way up
in those cottonwood trees. They trill, trill,
call back to me soaring overhead. Showing off
feeling good because of this sudden sun that has
pulled us all out today and made us joyful
when we should be afraid.

As someone who has considered cutting things short
stopping midstream so to speak but fearing the end
incredulous that it all must end in happier times.
I feel lighter now, knowing how it might end
a lump begins somewhere and there you go.
An answer to the question.
An end to the unknowing
but miraculously
step after step, row, step, breathe, step
with my eagle brothers alive above me
and my salmon sisters dead on the creek banks
getting ready to smell as soon as the air bloody well
warms up, and it will. Hope rows along side me.

I am linked to them, the eagles and the bare trees
my flesh exposed, no more or less important.
I am in the flow and that is the point.
And I will row hard like my salmon sisters swam hard
follow my purpose which for now is the simple
act of breathing, stepping, striding, rowing.
Moving when it is time to move,
waiting when it is time to wait.
Sunning myself when the sun
calls me out into the world
along the creek beneath the trees.
My soft neck bared and open
so that the eagles might pull free
and devour what is
unwelcome in this once perfect body.
Trill, trill, call. Step, step. row. Breathe.
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