Pretty Wonderful!

Shift 15, ©2015, 12' x 24, I recently retired from my university job as an art therapist. I decided to do this on my 60th birthday as a great gift to myself. I loved many aspects of the work but years of witnessing trauma, illness and death had taken their toll. Despite all the self-care I engaged in, I found myself prey to a variety of ailments which grew worse over time.

I love art therapy; that desire to heal is an innate part of my personality, but the balance is going to shift. Now, I'm spending most of my days in the studio making art. Occasionally,  I'll still facilitate art therapy groups, in particular the Young Adult Bereavement Art Group, which I helped to initiate.

Friends ask me how retirement is going and I answer--fabulous! I find myself as busy as ever, without having to commute and I get to devote the time I need to the craft and business side of art, as well as to the craft of art therapy.

One of the surprising joys of this transition is the ability to take time for things as simple as washing dishes. What used to be a drag after 10 hours away from home, now feels like playing with bubbles in warm water when I need a break.

In a few weeks, I'll take part in an exhibition curated by Sara Post at the Davis Art Center. Titled "Material Worlds," the exhibit looks at the materials that go into artists' work and the ways in which these materials combine with ideas to bring art into being. An enticing notion, I'm excited to see what will emerge. I'll be showing three different works, which take the botanical monoprints cut into trapezoids, rectangles and squares and piece them together, quilt like, on a hardboard panel.

Although I didn't anticipate it, perhaps the piecing together of these papers is a metaphor for taking my life into my hands and  reshaping it. So far it's working and my ailments are melting away.

A Different Kind of Summer

Still Life With Orange, 2011, H. Hunter, 28" x 32," quilted fabric

It's been a different kind of summer so far. Though it's been many years since the summer was mine to fashion as I wish, the illusion that I can do so stays with me.

Part of what makes this summer different was a decision I made to focus my energies on an art quilt show taking place in October at our local art center.  Accepting the invitation was big; prior to this, my forays into the quilting world have been few. I've taken inspiration from quilt patterns, but to put pins into cloth and stitch one piece of fabric to another--now that is another feat altogether.

All of the normal fears and then some attended me (and I know that you know them well enough from your own work that I don't have to detail them here) but despite all of that, the process has been amazing. I made a goal of creating one quilted piece per month for six months. These are works in which I can exercise my love for detail and create small areas of fascination while working at a pace I can sustain with my art therapy practice.

I'm aided by the sheer hypnotic flow of long weekend afternoons accompanied by the sound of the fan and audio books: Ape House, The Coral Thief, The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo to name a few. While my mind is captured by a good story line, my eye is free to wander and choose patterns that the more critical part of me would probably veto. My focus is also sharpened by my long time partner in art crime, Beth Rommel. We met over a year ago in Alyson Stanfield's Blog Triage class and have become fast friends, going on take part in the Artist Conspiracy. It surprises me that sharing a goal with someone over the phone (Beth lives in Georgia, I in CA) creates such a strong degree of accountability, but there it is and I'm delighted by it.

Hallie, lending gravitas to our home

In the same vein, earlier in the year, I made a goal of creating a new website; one that I could fashion and refashion according to my artwork at the time. Spurred on by an art and wine event in August, Pour for Prevention, I decided to nudge my visual ducks in a row and explore WordPress. Re-writing my artist's statement and bio was challenging (I mean how many ways can I say where I went to school? And, since my children are grown, is it too much to add cat to the description: "She lives and works in Davis, CA with her husband and ?...")

So, as the current idiom goes, it's "good stuff," a rather rough way of saying that although this summer is different; no trips to the beach or lazy afternoons reading almost a whole book, it has been wonderful, and, and at this time of my life, a dream come true.