Harvest of the Heart

“As you learn to live by heart, every choice you make will become another way of telling your story, calling your tribe, and liberating not only your heart but the hearts of others.” –  Martha Beck   http://ow.ly/OiQJA

I read these words by Martha Beck​ and see the sequence of choices that led to the creations of “Harvest of the Heart” – a body of work in encaustic monotypes that evokes the bounty of nature, ripeness and my childhood in the countryside in France.

It started with a pause, and stillness. I was on a creative retreat where nature was the heart of the experience, as a studio, a subject and co-teacher.  I paused because I did not quite know what to do, where to go, so I stopped for a moment.  Then I took a step, rather tentatively. I gazed down, spotted a feather and picked it up. I gaze up and see this small wild apple, still green at the end of a branch.

Apple K. Chaussabel

Apple
K. Chaussabel

I found my inspiration, or rather it found me!

I sat down on a big boulder below the tree, feather dipped in ink, my hand following the contour of this fruit, over and over.

Nature notes - apple

Nature notes – apple

 

I loved the ease, the gentleness of this find, of this encounter,  and I felt it also in my hand, in the contact between the feather and the paper. There was a certain tenderness. It was echoed by the presence of a statue, hands cupped, an orb resting in them.

Nature Notes & Statue K. Chaussabel

Nature Notes & Statue
K. Chaussabel

 

 

Holding K. Chaussabel

Holding
K. Chaussabel

In hand, and in my gesture,  I was following my heart, connecting to memories of my childhood spent in the countryside in my native France.  Those memories were more vivid at this point time as I had moved to Texas where the land was flat, arid and felt very foreign to me. Suburban life added another layer of challenge to the experience…  Here I was, on this retreat in the Eastern Townships in Québec, in a natural setting that brought all those feelings to the surface.  Ink and feather in hand I was retracing, and recalling my roots, steeped deep in nature.

It is a process that continued, grew, beyond time and place.  Back in the encaustic studio, “Harvest of the Heart”, emerged from pools of molten wax, spreading and sinking into paper – along with a touch of pen.

The making of a monotype K. Chaussabel

The making of a monotype – Harvest of the Heart series
K. Chaussabel

I grew up harvesting cherries from a cherry orchard, vegetables from my parents, grandparent’s gardens.  Abundance was shared. We gave and neighbors brought and shared what they grew, raised.  Our family also gleaned chestnuts,  foraged for wild blueberries, raspberries, mushrooms.  There was a bounty from nature, wild and cultivated that permeated my childhood.

This is the story woven into Harvest of the Heart.

Harvest of the Heart Diptych Encaustic, Paper K. Chaussabel

Harvest of the Heart Diptych
Encaustic, Paper
K. Chaussabel

Harvest of the Heart Fullness I, IV, II Encaustic, Paper K. Chaussabel

Harvest of the Heart Fullness I, II, IV
Encaustic, Paper
K. Chaussabel

It is a story I get to share  this coming July for my debut at The Island Gallery.

There is a natural unfolding, an ease, just like the beginning of this journey, to showing  Harvest of the Heart for the first time, here on Bainbridge Island.  For I have found, for the first time, since leaving my native France, a place where my French country roots are alive, once again. It has been a long dormancy for sure! The taste of the local harvests offered by farms, food artisans, neighbors and friends, has awakened them!

I am deeply grateful for nature’s offerings as well as for those who share their bounty with me.

Harvest of the Heart Encaustic, Paper K. Chaussabel

Harvest of the Heart
Encaustic, Paper
K. Chaussabel

Harvest of the Heart Encaustic, Paper K. Chaussabel

Harvest of the Heart
Encaustic, Paper
K. Chaussabel

Harvest of the Heart Triptych Encaustic, paper, pen K. Chaussabel

Harvest of the Heart
Triptych
Encaustic, paper, pen
K. Chaussabel

Opening night is July 10, 2015!

 

Framed and matted pieces are available through The Island Gallery

 Ste 120, 400 Winslow Way E, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110 –

(206) 780-9500  – http://theislandgallery.net

SHOW CATALOG:

 

An Invitation

“When the going gets tough may I be quiet. May I steep for a while in stillness.” Katrina Kenison  –  What a lovely invitation.

It takes me back to a time, not long ago, when that was all I could do. It wasn’t easy to come to term with but I am glad that I did let that be the way. In the process I learned and came to a knowing that being present with what is is an active process! It is also a form of self-care, an offer of gentle, kind, support towards oneself.  Like a warm loving hug.

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Being Moved Series – K. Chaussabel Mixed Media on paper

Holding our heart, gently, tenderly.

K. Chaussabel

K. Chaussabel

Katrina Kenison’s reflection for On Being with Krista Tippett continues on, beautifully. Here is the link: http://www.onbeing.org/blog/when-the-going-gets-tough/7351?page=1#comment-1632177

This is a link for my post about Stillness, with more images that embody my experience: https://karenchaussabel.com/2012/08/13/stillness/

EXPLORING! – Showing Feb 1. to March 30

Exploring!

Showing at the Gallery at Grace   –  February 1 to March 30 –                   8595 Northeast Day Rd., Bainbridge Island, WA 98110                  Phone:(206) 842-9997                                                                                    Hours: Tuesday – Friday 9AM to 4PM & Sunday 8-11AM

Exploring! is the story of an encounter. It is an encounter that took place in the silver mining city of Zacatecas, Zac. Mexico. In the midst of the ruins of Ex-convento San Francisco, now Museum Rafael Coronel, stood before me a majestic specimen of agave americana (century plant, maguey in Spanish). It was large, full of life.

agave

Agave Americana – Zacatecas, Zac., Mexico – Photo Charlie Quinn

 

I was struck by its presence, its vitality. This plant embodied strength, resilience, rebirth and that spoke to me, deeply. It still does.

This is the starting point for Exploring! I followed this thread of inspiration through different media. I explored form and feeling by printing, painting, stitching on papers of various kinds, with encaustic, ink, fibers. It is a body of work that represents my delight in exploring, tool in hand, heart open.

Exploring! Artwork List & Prices

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K. Chaussabel - Exploring! Images - Jan. 30 '15 copy 2

iPhoto

K. Chaussabel - Exploring! Images - Jan. 30 '15 copy 2

“The Vital Obstacles in the Creative Process” – Reflections on my creative journey

“The Vital Obstacles in the Creative Process” – These words definitely caught my attention when I recently saw them posted on the FB Page of On Being with Krista Tippett!  http://www.onbeing.org/blog/the-vital-obstacles-in-the-creative-process/6311#comment-add-form

It is counter-intuitive to associate obstacles with any kind of positive light, yet it can be. I know that, deep down. And I learned that early on in my art practice. As a matter of fact, reading the following quote by Wendel Berry really brought my creative journey into view and made me pause and reflect about the energizing role obstacles have in my creative journey.

“It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.”

I came to creating art from that point very point of not knowing what to do!  As a new transplant to Montreal, Canada, I was looking for something to do. That’s when I came across the description of a course about creativity that caught my eye. Little did I know at the time that signing onto this class would lead to a journey of cultivating creativity on many different levels.

I knew very little beyond some high school art class about art, materials. So I was definitely stepping into unknown territory at the time, with little to no expectation but one, to try and see.  And try and see I did, over a few months, then year, then years and I have kept going ever since.

Try and see. That’s my motto.  And in the process what really I got trained in is the art of founding my way around obstacles and into new territories. I learned that early on. When I started painting, using brushes felt awkward in my hand, so one day I stopped. And I started using socks instead! The socks really did it for me! I had a more immediate contact with my painting surface. As a result, I felt freer with my gestures. I found an ease and it made my creative explorations fun and liberating.

I see my creative explorations as encounters where obstacles turned out to be  catalyst for change, and stepping stones for new found partners in materials, techniques. Early on, I found that using canvas was getting in my way, so I switched to paper. That was a very happy change for me. I found a whole new range of gestures and mark making. I could draw on it, paint on it, collage, stitch, print. It is a material that really took me, and still does take me, on many creative explorations. And I love that.

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Red Hot Purpleness – Encaustic, pastel, dictionary page – Karen Chaussabel

 

Tree of Life serie

Encaustic, pastel, pencil on amate paper – Tree of Life Serie – Karen Chaussabel

Stitching my heart out - K. Chaussabel

Stitching my Heart out – Thread, silk, pen on paper-  K. Chaussabel

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Paper, thread, encaustic, pastel, ink  Mixed Media – Au coeur – Karen Chaussabel

In the process, I find what works, often because of what doesn’t.  When I signed up for dry point printmaking, I discovered that doing quick gestural work is hard. Making a mark with the etching needle on copper plate requires a stronger touch and one that involves friction. Both went against the grain for me and that made me realize how much I cherish fluidity in material and process! It challenged me to find my way. And I did, with chine collé. The first time I dutifully went by the rules of keeping the thin rice paper within the confine of my printing plate. After that I took a certain pleasure of picking paper larger than my printing plate. I also started using different types of paper, including paper I had painted on before.

IMG_8977

Mixed Media Dry Point – Untitled – Karen Chaussabel

The best discovery in playing outside the box was the star-filled-evening-sky effect I got from using cyanotype paper for chine collé!

Red Wood Constellation

Red Wood Constellation – Dry Point Chine Collé – Karen Chaussabel

I have to say at the time I felt a great sense of having overcame a challenge. And with it came a sense of having stayed true to myself. That was a great learning moment and one that became a compass for me. I learned to flow around the obstacle, I learned to find my way. I consider that a very valuable skill -in art and life.

 

 

 

 

 

At home at the beach

It’s been sunny and warm these past 10 days and here in the NW it’s something one celebrates and embraces, wholeheartedly!

I went to the beach and took some sketching material with me.  I picked a very large log to sit on and take it all in, the sky, sea, marine air, scent of the roses, birds in the marsh singing.

It all felt very nurturing. And I felt I could settle in, and be. Be, with ease. Aware

Being gentle and finding heart shapes around me resonating with that gentleness in my own heart felt very supportive, heart warming, inspiring.

The words “unexpected beauty”  carried on in a very real way for me when I gazed down and saw a  rope nestled against a young rosebush stem and log.  It felt like the perfect spot to set my sketchbook in. It made me see my quick, in the moment, gestures, in a new light.  They are very much heart conversations. And seeing them cradled in this manner, made me feel a tenderness for those pieces.

The process of seeing my pieces cradled in this manner, presented in an impromptu ephemeral art show at the beach, made me appreciate my sense of creativity, my ability to make myself at home wherever I am. What a heart warming, soul tending moment this was and still is.

This experience certainly contributed to my sense of trusting and knowing that while the outer home is not clearly defined for me at the moment, the inner one is in the making. To be continued!

Stillness

Stillness. It found me.

It did not feel easy, nor comfortable at the time. It came out of anguish. And one day, it appeared in my work. It’s one of those doodling moment that had a lot to say…

Image

There it was right in front of me. I saw something soft, calm in the image and it brought me comfort. I saw an air of serenity that reassured me, an air of contemplation that invited me in. It really felt like the only way to go, was to step in… and step in I did, and not for just a moment, but for a long while, a long long while. What I found is that it takes discipline to stay in. Stillness is where I find everything. And it’s not so comfortable to be face to face with fears, sorrow, hurt, whatever is. It takes courage to look at what is hard. It takes heart to acknowledge all that is discomfort. It draws me in further…

ImageI

In its midst. I find yet another way in. Surrender. Surrender to what is. That, I am finding out also takes resilience. Lots.

Staying in stillness takes discipline and in that discipline I found the art of cultivating patience. I came across an article that spoke of patience as “an active state.” I completely agree. There is a lot happening in stillness, more than what meets the eye…
I find it’s place where being compassionate and tender towards myself is being supportive.

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It’s the cradle where I can honor what is, release with kindness what no longer serves me.

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Stillness, it’s a safe place to honor, cherish and release what is.

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And in that journey, a transformation takes place.

An opening of the heart.

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Making space. Making way for the new to step out.

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Vibrant. Renewed.

Lighter. Open larger to life, in and out

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Stillness. It’s the space for embracing all of what I am, for letting patience guide me gently. It’s the fertile ground for growth, for finding the blessings in the winter in my heart and soul. Stillness is the vessel from which new growth sprouts forth.

Within the clay of the heart

It’s been a year of heart explorations. In far away places like China and also close to home working for the first time with clay.

All I could do at the beginning was to hold the clay, cupped in both hands. Holding it was my way of getting to know this new material. I took my time holding the clay between my hands. It felt like a quiet, peaceful meditation.  Clay  in my hands, I listened, stayed with not knowing what to do, and then it came. I knew what to do. The feeling the clay resting in my hands, following their contours in a heart shape, is what spoke to me, what made my heart smile.

This is my first heart creation.

Coeur Emeraude - Emerald Heart - K. Chaussabel

Others followed.

The heart is an ocean - K. Chaussabel

I enjoyed  scratching marks into the glazes. Those marks remind me of thread….

Finding the thread of the heart - K. Chaussabel

Seeing a space growing within the heart.

Expanding from within - K. Chaussabel

Getting a sense of “ag borradh”, a gaelic phrase that mean life about to break through.

Life coming forth - K. Chaussabel

“When the new plant breaks the surface of the ground, it is a gift of the hidden wisdom of the clay.” John O’Donohue – Eternal Echoes

Vibrant life emerging - K. Chaussabel

A journey, with wisdom of the clay, blessings for the heart, to be continued into the new year.

Knowing

I came across a poem, Black Bowl Dreaming, by Leila Philip and found particular resonance in the verse towards the end: ” a life spent knowing, through the hands.”  That is one of the most important experience I had early on in my creative explorations and it’s a teaching that stays with me. It’s starts with being present with what is, showing up with that and letting the hands get to work. That’s when I encounter the “knowing.”  I don’t look for it, rather it finds me.

This week,  I noticed that when I work with clay that I am more willing to be patient, unhurried, enjoying a leisurely pace! It’s rather different for me for I usually like to work quickly.  A slower pace is also reflected in my latest creations on paper.

Taking the time to stop and reflect.

Untitled - encaustic & thread

detail

Being with what is

Untitled - watercolor

Like fall outside, slowing down, taking stock of what has been harvested

untitled - watercolor & pastel

untitled - watercolor & pastel

Knowing it is fall, outside and inside.

China sketches – Qi/Life energy

Practicing Qigong has been part of my life for a few years now and ever since I started, figures appeared in my work.  They closely followed me in my explorations of Qigong. They express some of the movements I learned, or just overall feelings of being alive, of tapping into Qi, life energy, that exists within and around me.  Being one with wherever I am.

” I am part of a greater whole  and it is part of me” – Prayers to the Great Creator Julia Cameron

Qinqcheng Shan, Sichuan - Inside one of the temples of this sacred Daoist Mountain

The China trip was a Qigong study trip and my sketchbook filled up with related images.

Gathering Qi

Group practice

Cultivating heart Qi

Heart Qi

Radiating Heart Qi

No boundaries between in and out

Surrounded - Wei Qi

it gives wings!

China

I just came back from a two weeks trip of a lifetime to China where I studied Qigong and visited numerous historical sites and temples. I am still processing all I saw and experienced….

One of the experiences that stands out for me right now, is walking up many many many steps to reach the top of Eimei Shan, a sacred Buddhist mountain.  Stepping up and up and up, through the forest, in the fog, I was keenly aware how magical and extraordinary an experience this was for me. I took a moment to celebrate  where I was and it was captured in this picture:

Pausing to express gratitude and Joy - Eimei Shan - K. Chaussabel

And these are my first creations since I came home.

Moved - Encaustic on paper- K.Chaussabel

Moved - detail - K. Chaussabel

Moved - detail - K. Chaussabel

Moved- detail - K. Chaussabel

“We are life’s music, so let us dance.”

Julia Cameron – Prayer to the Great Creator