The year is always turning, seasons changing, fortunes fluctuating with them. This cycle around the sun, I’ve been working on a new series of stencil cuts that represent stations along the wheel, to use on ceramics, fabrics and paper. In doing so, I’ve been trying to distill down the essence of each movement in the mechanism, to get at what animates each turn. Sometimes we feel that we are more detached from natural rhythms than we really can be. Observe the power of winter, or high summer, dictating what we can do or don’t don’t dare to. If you are a gardener, you know we are subject to the whims of the same agricultural gods we’ve always been beholden to, that sun and rain bring life, and the chill of winter brings a temporary end to harvests.

Skull

Just the basics; trying to assemble images that describe the wheel of life.

Some illustrators who beautifully capture the sentiments I’m interested in speaking to are illustrators Nikki McClure & Betsy Bowen. Their imagery revels in simple experiences like planting seeds, gathering berries, going to the framer’s market, preserving the harvest and being in the company of children. Unlike these two, however, I am also interested in capturing the darker moments, because those too are of value. One thing that I especially appreciate about McClure is that she works during her kid’s nap time and after bed, just like I do, getting the hustle in despite constant interruptions.

Clouds

First, there was a dream, then growth, fruition, death and decay, then it cycles over.

This exercise is also an exploration of the 8 pagan holy days of the year, winter and summer solstices, spring and fall equinoxes, and the four festivals that mark planting, harvest, the thinning of the veil, and the return of the milk. Most Americans celebrate secular capitalist versions of these, co-opted to achieve a regular flow in cash away from our communities. But you can define your own participation and observances, reclaiming these traditions for yourself. Educate yourself on the origins of Halloween, Yule and Easter (note that the 4th of July just happens to occur around high Summer), and you have yourself a rudimentary wheel of celebration to infuse with your inspirations.

Winter

 

Winter is still a fruitful time, though seemingly bleak, necessary for regeneration.

Life comes with no guarantees, is inherently dangerous and that is precisely what you signed up for when you bought the ticket. Bad things happen, it’s inevitable, that’s what makes this trip meaningful, right? It’s how you choose to deal with the series of unfortunate events that punctuate your story that matters. We contain worlds, nothing is permanent, the only constant in life is change. It’s a beautiful struggle, be grateful for the opportunity and set your intentions high – especially during the depths of winter.

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