Thursday, April 29, 2010

No small blessings

Venturing into the studio this morning, I was hunting brushes; specifically a set I thought I had seen while burrowing for paint the other day. If one had patience and infinite humor about everything, the puzzle which is the studio could possibly seem amusing. I moved the Christmas tree into the only quadrant of open floor, then rolled a set of drawers into its space, then rearranged objects only slightly smaller to, at last, scoot myself into a spot from which my hands could reach bookshelves and the counter where I KNEW the pastels had once rested.

The brushes were where I expected to find them, so I declared the morning a success. Oh, but there was so much more to come and, in the way of pulling on a sweater against a draft, I was immediately warmed by the not forgotten but unremembered - and vastly useful - material I encountered.

Being human, I have moments during which I fail to count ALL my blessings. I grow amnesiac about the wealth of reference volumes in our books-in-almost-every-room world. Starting in the early 70s, I built a collection of Dover Pictorial Archive titles - copyright-free illustrations collated into volumes by category, such as "Borders, Frames and Decorative Motifs from the 1862 Derriey Typographic Catalog" or "Victorian Fashion." I have used them in my work, in my volunteer newsletter editing, in projects for fun. Several years ago, I was one of a group of artists asked to donate a copy of a favorite, art-inspiring book for a fund-raising drawing. My offerings were from Dover's clip-art series.

All this studio exploration is in preparation for being half of a team, scheduled to do a demonstration on journal pages. I have been revisiting experts (real experts) who give examples and advice on their methods, as it has been a while since I produced any work that fits this description. And on the Dover shelves I found copyable words and buildings, borders and animals, faces and hands and automobiles to include as collage elements on the pages. I realized I had truly lost track of the breadth of subjects in my possession.

The unearthing of each new title added to my sense of uncalculated abundance. While I have been known to do a mental scan of supplies and see the gaps rather than the plenty, there was no way I could escape admitting it today: I am rich in resources.

It is a day of jubilee when we can look at all that surrounds us and see with new eyes. While I knew that useful bits would appear as I foraged, I was unprepared for the gratitude I felt for stumbling into my own life and discovering that, not only was the cupboard not bare, it was brimming. I felt wise that I had built such a useful collection, getting value from it many times over in the past yet having an enhanced awareness of its meaning today. I felt glad that a veil of forgetfulness had kept these treasures from consciousness, so that I also had the pleasure of happy surprise. In addition to the Pictorial Archive library, I found vintage ledgers sent to me by my sister, a keen-eyed antique picker, and a collection of Victorian scrap which had been a friend's gift.

There was a day, during some especially lean times, when I found $20 in a seldom-used purse and felt we had won the lottery; I knew it symbolized the prosperity which surrounds us. If I gave all my moments the attention they deserve, I would likely find that I always have the numbers lined up for a Bingo prize. Today I had the sense that another length of the curtain had been drawn back, a reminder that what I, what we, seek is there, within reach. Waiting for good times turns our gaze in the wrong direction. Yes, things can always get better - and they do - yet right now is clamoring for our attention. My own Oz, a magical place where dreams manifest, hiding behind the Christmas tree, and all I had to do was look.


Erin in Morro Bay said...

It is a wonderful feeling isn't it? With the economic downturn in the last year and a half, I have taken more and more to shopping and "hunting and gathering" in my stash rather than the outside world - and, like you, have found an abundance, a wealth, and veritable cornucopia of fantastic and delightful treasures.
And what fun it is!
PS - Oooo, vintage ledgers - now there's a treasure trove!

michelle ward said...

great post marylinn. love this: not forgotten but unremembered. love your perspective - always the optimist. so true that we have all we need, and we are lucky. whether it is a pile of overflowing bins, or a simple shoebox full of savored scraps, we have it within us to make magic.

yay for being half of the dynamo team. can't wait to hear how you tell of the adventure. here's to making magic, made even better in the presence of friends. xo