The art and craft of pysanky

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Broken Bits

Maybe it’s my “almost-an-empty-nester” stage but more and more I find myself taking stock of where I am in life, where I thought I would be at this age, and wondering what I will become in the future.  And of course those dreaded comparisons and regrets start creeping in.  The what-ifs and why-didn’t-I’s can all too easily overwhelm me and take away the joy of the present.

A while back I came across a line about allowing God to transform the broken places in your life into prisms.  Can’t you just see that?  What a beautiful word picture of redemption and hope.  That idea has been rolling around in the back of my head for a while and so I began to review my life again.  What if I start looking at my faults as prisms reflecting God’s beauty outside of my selfish little world?  How this happens I don’t know but I’m holding onto God’s goodness and grace and letting Him be in charge, or at least I’m trying to.

I love when God whispers His truth to me through my art.  I love it even more when I pay attention and actually listen.  Over the years I have collected quite a pile of broken eggs.  Some were completed and accidentally cracked.  Some didn’t turn out as I’d hoped and were abandoned partway through the process.  I couldn’t bring myself to toss any of them so they just sat in a drawer collecting dust.  Every time I opened the drawer they shouted at me that I had failed in some way.

Now what if I used those broken bits somehow?  Could I really transform them into something more?  After a lot of experimentation I can finally say yes.

GreenrosetteThese egg mosaics have been a challenge and a delight to create.  I’m still discovering new ways to improve my designs and having fun in the process.  Not only that, I will be teaching a class on this technique at the Pysanky USA retreat in Pennsylvania next week.

Pinkpurple2

So this is what redemption looks like.Matrushka

Arts Camp 2013

Arts Camp 2013 classThere is nothing better than combining kids and God and art all at the same time.  That’s what Arts Camp at Oak Hills Church does…and does very well I might add.  Our Children’s Pastor, Colleen Gray and her amazing team turn our church campus and hundreds of volunteers into a smooth-running, exciting, enthusiastic machine where nearly three hundred kids get to experience God for a whole week through arts such as Dance, Theater, Music, Visual Arts, Creative Craftsmanship, and Culinary Arts.

VA56_Pysanky-7

The seven fifth/sixth grade girls in my pysanky class accomplished much more than any previous year’s class.  Most of them finished four eggs and some more than that.  I beamed as they proudly showed their parents the results of their focused work in class.  And their excitement spilled over at home as parent after parent reported back to me how their child couldn’t stop talking about their eggs and how sad they were when Friday finally arrived.

VA56_Pysanky-13 VA56_Pysanky-16 VA56_Pysanky-37 VA56_Pysanky-43 VA56_Pysanky-46It’s an exhausting week but well worth the effort.  After a few days of restorative quiet here at home, I find myself wondering…is it too soon to start looking forward to Arts Camp next year?VA56_Pysanky-39

Passing It On

More than thirty years ago in my former life (those days before marriage and children) I worked as a registered nurse first in a hospital and then in a doctor’s office.  Another life chapter began when I started teaching Body & Soul, an international program that combines faith and fitness.  Twenty three years later I’m still leading my fitness class weekly and have also been speaking and demonstrating the art of pysanky to individuals and small groups whenever the opportunity arises.

As I reflect back on all those experiences I noticed a common thread…teaching.  I never thought of myself as a teacher before but the more I thought about it, the more it makes sense.  Even when I worked as a nurse, the part I liked best was that one-on-one time teaching.

I delight in taking complex topics, breaking them down to understandable pieces, and communicating those ideas in a simple way the listener can grasp.  I also love the challenge of coming up with different ways to transmit knowledge to help the student gain success.  And I especially love seeing that student’s eyes light up with understanding when the “light bulb” turns on at last.

Arts Camp Pysanky 2In a couple of weeks I get to teach another group of fifth and sixth grade students all about this egg art called pysanky.  Arts Camp 2013 at Oak Hills Church in Folsom is one of the highlights of my year.  Students from first through sixth grade come together for a week of fun and excitement where they explore a particular art and in the process learn more about the God who created them.

If you know of a student who might be interested, it’s not too late to sign up for this great adventure.  My class still has a few spots left and I know there are openings in a wide variety of other arts as well.  For more information, click here.

Let the fun begin!

Rancho Cordova iFest 2013

Saturday, May 18, 2013 5-9 PM

Rancho Cordova iFest 2013

iFest Flyer 2013

This fifth annual international festival celebrates music, food, art, dance and more from many lands.  Come visit me at  my table to see examples of pysanky and how they are made.Applying wax

Village Green Park

3141 Bridgeway

Rancho Cordova, CA 95670

Me on TV???

I am a “behind the scenes” person by nature.  I do not like being the center of attention.  And that sentiment goes a long way back.  In second grade I remember vividly a time when our classroom ended up with an extra red rubber ball after recess one day.  My teacher asked for a volunteer to return it to the neighboring classroom and everyone jumped up waving arms ecstatically in the air.  That is, everyone except me.  I sat quietly with hands folded thinking, ”Why would anyone want to go and do that?”  Sister Mary Vincent settled the class down and then imagine my shock when she called on me.  I began quaking in my saddle shoes as she handed me the ball.  I can still feel the terror of leaving the safety of my classroom to walk that long hallway, knock on the door and then enter the other classroom, all eyes fixed on me.  Oh the horror!

Given my aversion to the limelight, it’s rather hard to imagine myself on television but that’s what happened on the Friday before Easter.  With just a few days notice Channel 31 Good Day Sacramento’s Cody Stark and his camera man came into my kitchen to highlight my egg art.  Ch31 truckMe on live TV, just like that.  I didn’t have much time beforehand to fret and get nervous which is probably a good thing.  And talking about pysanky and demonstrating the process was easy.  While I can’t exactly call myself a television star, I can at least say,”Want to see me on TV?  Click here.”

Quilts and Eggs

The Art & Soul Gallery sits in the lobby of my home church, Oak Hills, and we rotate art through there every couple of months or so.  Currently we’re showing a collection of quilts by Debby Schnabel, a local artist, and the colors, variety, and workmanship are stunning to say the least.

Debby Schnabel, quilterI had the privilege of “hanging” this gallery, which simply means I took part in arranging the quilts and physically mounting them on the walls for display.  It usually takes two or three people to do the work of hanging a new gallery.  This time Debby Schnabel, the quilt artist, and my painter friend, Randy Blasquez, formed the hanging team.

Just as we do with paintings we laid all the quilts out on the floor to arrange them by color.  Then came the process of figuring out how much space we had and making sure we had a good flow to the whole display.  Finally, we mounted the quilts on the wall.  Whew.  Job well done.

As we worked, I noticed both Debby and Randy had an eye for color and scale with those large quilts that I didn’t have.  And both could spot a quilt hung out of level quickly.  It was a different experience for me.  My eye works best in tiny details.  Working with objects this large, I found I was out of my element.

I love seeing those quilts on the gallery wall, but I really loved coming home to my studio and working on my newest series of quilt-inspired pysanky.  To each her own!Eggs in Basket

Lightning Does Strike Twice!

product_thumbnailLast year I had the privilege of seeing a photo of my eggs printed in a beautiful calendar featuring pysanky from artists across the globe.  My son, Ryan, did an amazing job photographing a collection of my red eggs which was the featured photo for February.

This year I am thrilled to announce another photo of my eggs appears in a calendar…and once again it’s for February.  Click on Incredible Eggs 2013 Calendar to get more information and preview all the pictures.

I guess now I really am “Miss February!”

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