Category Archives: Art

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:

 

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“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.

IMG_8988

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

IMG_1599

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Encaustic monotype

Making an encaustic monotype goes from seemingly random gestures to an image. A piece of paper and an image appears. It’s part improvisation, part seeing.

From encaustic  paint bar melted on the hot plate

Hot plate - encaustic - K. Chaussabel

To an image on paper

Contemplation – Encaustic Monotype – K. Chaussabel

Those bumps in the horizon

My recent road trip between Texas and Seattle, Washington rekindled my love for the wide open horizons of the west with its roads stretching into infinity, open skies and the occasional landmasses rising from the land.

Somewhere in Northeastern New Mexico - Photo Karen Chaussabel

I particularly like seeing the hills rising from this sea of infinity. And when you are driving from hours on end, it’s comforting to the eye and mind!

Those bumps in the horizon - Photo Karen Chaussabel

I have enjoyed following the movement of “bumps” in the landscape in my work.

Following the Thread - Mixed Media paper & silk

Vista II - Encaustic on wood

Mixed media on wood - ink, pastel, thread

Encaustic Monotype

New life emerging

The images that came after paying tribute to departing souls  seem to flow according to the natural order of decay and rebirth.

Nature’s inescapable cycle of emergence and growth is coming through! Spring energy is permeating my work.

Emerging Life

Life, in the form of an agave plant, is emerging. Taking hold. And its presence is being felt.  Getting a shower of qi/energy from nature. Getting a sense of renewal.

Shower of qi

New life

“Departing Souls” continued – Circle of life

“Departing souls ” deals with lives lost, and souls rising from bodies.

Departing Souls serie

Departing Souls I - MoMa Wales Tabernacle - A Book about Death

Bodies are dissolving, becoming shells, going back to the earth, completing nature’s circle of life.

Circle of life

Circle of life