Monday, January 31, 2011

Guest Artist: Ellie Dowdy

Today I want to introduce to you a friend and talented writer/poet.. the beautiful and soulful Ellie Dowdy. She is a Phoenix, rising from the ashes. She is a kind, gentle person who also has Momma Bear strength in defending those she loves. 

© 2010 Dale Fox Photography

She writes from the heart, and uses ripe, powerful imagery to quicken your pulse and leave indelible footprints all over your mind. I am so lucky to know her, that I couldn't resist sharing.

On February 1st, she'll be performing spoken word at Dandelion Communitea Cafe's Diverse Word from 8-10pm. It's in Orlando, click here for directions.

I have to say - it takes guts to pour yourself out on paper and then to share it face to face with an unknown crowd with nothing but your own voice! I'll be there to cheer her on, won't you join us?

While you think about the logistics of getting to Thornton Avenue.. I will leave you with a little of Ellie's poetry:

Remind Me

In the darkest moments of my history

In the time of heartbreak and agony
remind me of what I love.

Remind me that once
she was my baby girl,
a tiny mermaid who
swam beneath my heart
and did somersaults
in that dark water-filled space
that was formed with love.

Remind me of the tender
feeling of her tiny fingers
softly grasping my thumb
and the sound her voice
made as she looked into
my eyes and cooed
in her soft, wee voice.
Remind me of the wave
of love I felt when she
said her first words and
toddled her first steps
from one loving pair
of outstretched arms
and hearts to another.

Remind me of the time
she came to me with her
arms filled with bright orange
tiger lilies - her nose and
cheeks lightly dusted
with the pumpkin-colored pollen.

Remind me of her love of
bangles, bells, and rings,
her funky way of dressing
in colorful swirling skirts
her hair cascading in tendrils
around her face…hair that
changed colors on a whim
from sun-bleached blond
to burnished auburn and finally
black as a moonless night.

Remind me that once
she walked the beach
and looked for shells
and other treasure,
that she danced and twirled
beneath the silver moon
that her eyes sparkled
with inner light like water
wearing diamonds as she
dreamed of swimming
beneath the waves.

Remind me of the times
we sat in the darkened theater
elbows and fingers touching
heads tilted together as we
marveled at the spectacle
being acted out before us.
Remind me of the taste of the
words and ideas we shared
as we tried to extract all the
meaning we could from
what we had just witnessed.

Remind me of her brilliant
words dancing across the
torn piece of paper that she
found to quickly store the
word picture that her mind
had just created and
the way her voice sounded
across the miles when she
would call and say,
“Momma, do you want to
hear a poem I just wrote?”,
as if I would ever say, ‘no’.

Remind me of her thoughtfulness
and her gentle spirit that came
to me as her body lay broken
on the rain-soaked street so
many hundreds of miles from home
her sweet voice telling me for
all time that, ‘it’s okay, Momma,
it’s okay’ - those words that I
would need to hear echo again
and again in the darkness – those
words that I so desperately needed
to believe – that she is okay.

Remind me of the loving energy
I felt as your words came to me
from another place, words that
enabled me to let go of you and
believe that the bond we have
is stronger and the place you
dwell closer than I can imagine -
the loving energy that gave me
the strength to let you go and
to say to you for all time –
“I’m okay, Emily, I’m okay”.

In the darkest moments of my history
In the times of heartbreak and agony
remind me of what I love.

Ellie Dowdy
© 2010  All rights reserved.  

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pen Sketch and MLK Day

Today had us rained out for the most part.. in the early afternoon we escaped to McDonald's with our daughter. She got some quality kid time in on their playground equipment. My husband and I enjoyed each other's company in between welcomed interruptions of high pitched laughter, squealing and quick stories. 

I was able to get in a quick pen sketch of him, in between a few of these sessions as he sat reading Time magazine. I like sketching in pen and that you can't erase! No fretting, or covering up. It will take me awhile to figure out cross hatching skills and techniques though. It feels good to flex the drawing muscles again.

Later, when the rain let up my daughter and I took a long walk with one of our dogs. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. day, as our service project we picked up all the recyclables that lay strewn in front of our development and along our walk. It was her idea and I'm proud of my little girl! I promised her that we would always take an extra bag. 

We heard a few car beeps, so if that was you - drop me a line or leave a comment!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Central Florida Watercolor Society 2011 Annual Members Juried Exhibit

If you are in the area, come by and see all the exciting work at the Maitland Art Center starting tonight through March 6th. 

Reception and awards will be Feb 5th from 2 to 5 pm.

I'll be there for the reception - come out and say hi!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Art Tribute to Haiti Earthquake Anniversary

Happy Anniversary, Haiti. 

You have survived a devastating Jan 12, 2010 earthquake and subsequent floods. Battled cholera. Your people are determined not to just extend a hand, but to look for real solutions like technology and education. They don't want to be the world's poor! They want to find a lasting way out of the mud and the tents.  

The indomitable spirit in the face of horror and tedium is beautiful. 

©2010 VP Miller, "Rebuilding Haiti: Tender Moment between Soldier and Orphan"
24" x 18", Watercolor on Paper

I was inspired to paint a watercolor that shows that spirit and tells a story. My source material was a photo taken by Army Specialist (SPC) Krista Payne, who was recording images from Operation Unified Response. The 11th Transportation Battalion (Bn), 71st Sustainment Brigade visited a local orphanage in Port-au-Prince on March 15, 2010. The Bn's Executive Officer (XO), Major (MAJ) Marci Miller encountered this young boy during that goodwill visit.  

While working on the painting, I was able to see several things clearly. The sharp lines in the boy's shirt indicated that it was new, and just taken out of the bag. MAJ Miller's fingers and fingernails were caked with dirt. The easy way she held him in her arms. The way they were looking at each other while he smooshed her cheeks. The connection they shared. 

I hope this boy is doing well. I pray the people of Haiti continue to heal as a nation. I know that Haiti itself has not been orphaned by the world. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Brave New Year, 2011

Happy 2011! 

New Year's brings a flurry of resolutions, goals and promises to ourselves and others. 
Rather than get swept up in this activity, let us take a moment to regroup.

I like Zen Habit's blog article on achieving, without goals. The gist is that without hardline goals we can be excited about getting many things done, and flexible enough to recognize when we need to change course. The excitement creates the energy or momentum to get the projects done. The flexibility is key. Many people, when locked in on a goal, will continue along just to check that item off their list. Even if it no longer serves them. Or, even if the fear or shame of not meeting their goal, is debilitating. 

Instead, why not set an intention? Intentions are a way of stating with purpose what you wish to accomplish. But they take in a global picture. They allow for creative solutions during the course of action, rather than a pre-defined program where failure is built into every step not taken. It is the middle ground between the wishy-washy, "I need to lose weight" and the rigid, "I will lose 2 pounds every week". It is a firm, well-placed target, "I will lose x pounds this year". 

What intentions do you have? We may have many that in our heart of secret hearts we cannot share. Find someone that will support you, to share your intentions with and keep you accountable. I am so blessed to have an actively supportive husband and group of artists that I meet with almost weekly. They are all "believing mirrors" or people who actively affirm me back as positive and that my dreams and actions are worthwhile. 

My creative intentions for 2011 include:
  1. I will announce the new series that I am committed to working on.
  2. I will collaborate with people who can help me on the new series.
  3. I will have an exhibit for the series.
  4. A portion of the sales will go to a related charitable organization.
Stating them here holds me accountable and it's exciting to share my purpose! Writing is a binding contract, so if it interests you, put your intentions in writing to "seal the deal".

Happy New Year, 2011!

VP Miller