Summer Solstice

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The June solstice has been associated with many ancient summer traditions and continues to be celebrated in modern society. It is also known as the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere and the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere. The June solstice occurs on June 20, 21 or 22 in the Gregorian calendar, which is currently used in many western countries.

The June Solstice and Ancient Traditions

In ancient times, the date of the June solstice was an important source to help people manage their calendars and organize when to plant and harvest crops. This time of year was also a traditional month for weddings. Some societies invested much effort to establish the length of the year.

Stonehenge was built around 3100 BCE. Some people believe that it was built to help establish when the summer solstice occurred. Interestingly, the sun rises at a particular point on the horizon as viewed from the centre of the stone circle on day of the June solstice. At that point the builders may have started counting the days of the year. Many other megalith structures in Europe may have been built for similar purposes, although reasons are still uncertain.

In ancient China, the summer solstice was observed by a ceremony to celebrate the Earth, femininity, and the “yin” forces. It complemented the winter solstice that celebrated the heavens, masculinity and “yang” forces. According to Chinese tradition, the shortest shadow is found on the day of summer solstice.

In many countries in Europe, Midsummer festivals or celebrations were held around the time of the June solstice. In ancient Gaul, the Midsummer celebration was called Feast of Epona, named after a mare goddess who personified fertility and protected horses. In ancient Germanic, Slav and Celtic tribes, many pagans celebrated Midsummer with bonfires. After Christianity spread in Europe and other parts of the world, many pagan customs were incorporated into the Christian religion. In many parts of Scandinavia, the Midsummer celebration continued but was observed around the time of St John’s Day, on June 24, to honor St John the Baptist instead of the pagan gods.

In North America, many Native American tribes held ritual dances to honor the sun. The Sioux were known to hold one of the most spectacular rituals. Usually performed during the June solstice, preparations for the dance included cutting and raising a tree that would be considered a visible connection between the heavens and Earth, and setting up teepees in a circle to represent the cosmos. Participants abstained from food and drink during the dance itself. Their bodies were decorated in the symbolic colors of red (sunset), blue (sky), yellow (lightning), white (light), and black (night).

The June Solstice’s Influence in Modern Times
There are many solstice observances held by New Age and Neopagan groups throughout the world. Thousands of people, including modern-day druids and pagans, usually gather at Stonehenge for this occasion.

In some parts of the United States, events that focus on the theme of the summer solstice are held. These events include: local festivals featuring art or music; environmental awareness activities that focus on using natural sunlight as a source of energy; and family gatherings.

In northern European countries such as Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, the Midsummer Festival is one of the most festive summer celebrations. Celebrations occur when the summer days are at their longest – and in the north it is the time of the midnight sun. Midsummer festivals generally celebrate the summer and the fertility of the Earth. In Sweden and many parts of Finland people dance around maypoles. Bonfires are lit and homes are decorated with flower garlands, greenery, and tree branches.

I found this on Wikipedia- I have a fascination with all things Midsummer. Just now while I was walking through my studio, I came across this small encaustic I’d created and immediately named it Summer Solstice.

And, poof!…blog post!

 

Sunday Blues

imageJust the right shade of blue for a Sunday afternoon…another no-rules encaustic on 12×12 cradled panel.

No Rules, Just Art

20140607-220557-79557228.jpgI went into the studio and made this. I didn’t plan anything. I used the colors already on the palette; the choices based on which ones became liquid first. And I just kept at it until it was done. I like that plan.
“Faded Flowers” 12×12 encaustic on cradled panel

Just wanted to add a little color to your day.

Another image from my encaustic palette – with the addition of a couple of birds from ‘distressed fx’ app.

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On Monet’s Pond

monets pond

The Ponds

Every year
the lilies
are so perfect
I can hardly believe

their lapped light crowding
the black,
mid-summer ponds.
Nobody could count all of them –

the muskrats swimming
among the pads and the grasses
can reach out
their muscular arms and touch

only so many, they are that
rife and wild.
But what in this world
is perfect?

I bend closer and see
how this one is clearly lopsided –
and that one wears an orange blight –
and this one is a glossy cheek

half nibbled away –
and that one is a slumped purse
full of its own
unstoppable decay.

Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled –
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking

into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing –
that the light is everything — that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and fading. And I do.

Another wonderful poem by Mary Oliver.

Another encaustic by me (on 5×5 cradled panel).

Life in the Balance

inthebalance

Hi there!  It’s been awhile. 

My computer was under the weather for a bit (a virus) but seems to be doing better now.

One of the main reasons I started this blog was for it to serve as a way to a) hold myself accountable in creating art every day, and  b) to share those creations with you along with any information about the subject in the hopes that, in some small way, it encourages you to do the same.  That doesn’t mean that your art has to be the same as mine – your art may be completely different – it may not even be art at all…but the point is to “inspire” you to do whatever it is you find inspiring.  And to make time for it because it is important.

Sometimes we hear about what another person is doing and, even though we never plan to actually do what that person does, it does broaden our horizons just a tad…kind of like living vicariously through someone else or it simply offers a different perspective.  Either way…its a good thing, I think.  Keeping our minds open to possibilities keeps our minds flexible and open.  No one wants a stiff, closed mind.

I created this piece this weekend – its an encaustic.  I was trying some new techniques and I like how it turned out.  I titled it ‘Life, hanging in the balance’ which reminds me of a topic that seems to be on everybody’s mind’s these days: work/life balance. Also referred to as “WLB”.  Apparently its a hot topic and for good reason.  It seems there is a shortage of it.

How do we get back that work-life-balance?

I think the reason we feel so compromised these days, is because there is no longer a ‘start’ and ‘stop’ time to our work days.

The work day now begins BEFORE we get to work, it continues through lunch (if we even get a lunch break) and follows us home, to the grocery store, to dinner, to parties, to ballgames, to social gatherings, to exercise class…each and every day of the week.  Vacations are no longer off limits.

And when work isn’t following us; we’re following it.  We check for emails and messages each time we pick up our phones to make sure nothing has slipped past us.

It never stops.

24/7 is the new work week.

And until that schedule changes….and I don’t see that happening anytime soon – we’re going to have to figure out how to make it work for us.

About the only way I know how to do that is to ‘work in’ (no pun intended) little ‘vacations’ during the 24/7 time frame; mental vacations that open up those clogged neural pathways – to let some fresh air in.

And my way of doing that is making sure I get creative in some way each and every day – and then, telling you about it.

I’m back on duty!