Monarchs, Mums, and Metamorphosis in Maine

A feast before taking flight.

Nature amazes and inspires in every season. It is October in Maine, the light is bright and low in the sky and the air is crisp as the sun moves southward. Brilliantly colored foliage and hardy flowering plants give up their splendor to leaf peepers and creative wellness seekers. What could be more refreshing than a post-card perfect fall day in New England? Then, a pause and a feeling of awe as Nature’s perfection reveals the feeding habits of a butterfly.

After a summer nurtured by Milkweed nectar, the Northeast population of Monarch butterflies have completed their biological evolution from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to winged adult. In early autumn the Monarch spreads its distinctive wings with the instinct to migrate to a warm winter roost in Florida or Mexico. This robust butterfly will fly thousands of miles in its short lifetime, sailing on thermals and joining with other Monarchs as they navigate the annual return to their ancestral habitat. They have achieved their metamorphosis and life’s purpose to take flight and create more beauty, more Monarchs to pollinate and populate the flowers in season, to create and recreate.

I caught this Monarch, first when I heard and felt its flutter by my shoulder as it flew onto my porch. It landed on a delicious hardy aster with pollen-rich blooms. Providing potted plants that are flower food for butterflies and bees is one of my peak creative experiences. When the Monarch arrived on this purple blossom, there were several bees who seemed to respectfully move to another mum. Royalty had indeed arrived. I was humbled that it allowed my presence and my camera. Glimpsing these enigmatic creatures in their glory is Nature’s creative gift that keeps giving, in the moment and in the memory of its wonder. My artists’ eye and heart are full of inspiration. The Monarch is a symbol for the metamorphic process of creative instinct, persistence, and resiliency. We have only to spread our wings and trust the process, to lift ourselves up and go the distance, to take flight and enjoy the journey.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Artwork is work.

Painting is not just painting. It is looking, seeing, and recording what is observed. It is feeling and expressing. It is a way to swim in a visual medium that, like swimming, takes practice.

Being good at any creative discipline takes practice. It is called artwork because it is work. To practice creativity you need to show up in the creative moment and do the work that flow requires. It is challenging because pure creative flow can happen at any time and in any environment. It can happen when working, learning, sporting, playing, or dreaming; and sometimes when showering. However inspiration comes, creativity is a movement. It is intuition, improvisation, and innovation. Finding ways and time to get a creative process moving must complement your lifestyle. To make a sketch, note a lyric, buy an ingredient for a new recipe, make travel plans, or record a novel idea is not always easy in the timeline of a busy day. Like making time for a workout or spending quality time with a friend, when creative practice is a priority we benefit, and the creativity that we are practicing gets better and better, deeper and deeper. A creative practice is something that enriches us in an on-going process that we enjoy and look forward to doing. To master our creativity we need to practice, practice, practice, not because it is a way to get to Carnegie Hall, because it is a way to wellness. Continue Reading

Less Screen Time, More Scene Time: Look UP!

Creativity happens when you look up!

Why look down when you can look up? Why do we spend so much time looking inward at our digital screens and not looking up and outward at the world around us? How many hours a day are our eyes, hands, and brain fatigued and transfixed by technology?  Continue Reading