Between Days

Today is a “between” day… the day between Father’s Day and Summer Solstice. I am grateful for having had my dad in my life for the first 19 years. He encouraged my art, my persistence, my patience, my curiosity. He taught me to be outgoing, fun, friendly. He laughed with us, played with us. He took me to beaches and horse barns and events. I loved him dearly. I know he is always watching, helping, loving and supporting me, even though he left this physical life long ago.

Tomorrow is Summer Solstice. That, too is a special day, marking time on nature’s clock… I am taking tomorrow off from my “job” to do my real work. To go to the studio… to dance, to live, to celebrate life! And I will not be alone…

This post is from last summer and it speaks for me still:

About the Labyrinth ~ and how I work.
Many questions are asked about the artwork I produce and how I work. Taking time to answer a few, let’s use the Labyrinth as a starting point.

First, someone asked,
How did you find so many stones to match in color, shape and size?
The short answer: Keep my eyes open, go where there are a lot of stones.
The long answer: I think of the beach near my home as Creator’s art supply store, full of wonderous materials for making art and finding beauty. With 31 MILES of wilderness beach at my feet, it is rich and abundant, filled with colors and shapes. Lake Superior’s beaches offer some of the most colorful stones on the planet. The inventory rotates with storms and wave actions, thus it changes regularly. Often, I think of the beach as “my studio,” a wide open space, full of creativity and a place to “play” with ideas.

Where do your ideas come from?
Short answer: Creator, being inspired by a word, a group, or an experience. Ideas flow easily when I am in touch with Joy.
Long answer: The week I created the Labyrinth, I had set aside time to celebrate the completion of Denise Linn’s 28 week Soul Coaching course. There were 700+ participants from all over the world. When I want to fully connect spiritually, I go to the “beach studio,” where the energy flows freely from all directions of the universe. It is where I meditate and express gratitude for all that I am blessed with. As part of this day’s celebration, I knew that Denise was in California, offering a celebration ceremony for the entire group, and we had been told of the date and time. It was during this time I went to the beach.
The Labyrinth was not what I had “planned” on doing this day. It just “came” to me. It was cold, windy, and I was wearing snowmobile clothes to be warm in the wind in April. A “perfect” day at the beach!

A small part of "my beach studio"

It's easy to find materials at this art supply store!

I had planned to simply meditate and perhaps build something small, yet monumental, as a momento of closure for the group and my participation. Searching for large stones to build something simple, I began once again to notice all of the beautiful flat round stones around me. It felt as if each stone represented a participant in the course, and they each ”spoke” to me with color and shape. As I gathered stones, I still had no idea what form they would take. Sitting with a small pile of stones and rubbing my hands together, the North wind was freezing! I had to get moving to stay warm.

Then I realized the wind was my ally! It was creating fresh canvases for me to “draw” on. A hawk feather blew near – Hawk – my personal keen eyed helper. I placed the hawk feather upright in the sand, where I first began to build… and it blew away while I was gathering more stones. It only blew a few feet away, to a better canvas…! I stood the feather up once more in the sand, as a blessing to the group and a sign from Creator – build here – do this!
And the labyrinth took form… each stone placed, guided by commitment, inspiration, joy and gratitude for 28 weeks of participation with a group of people I’ve never even met in person, but with whom I was strongly connected. The Labyrinth emerged, evolved after that, effortlessly. As each stone was carefully placed, it was as if I was taking another step in the Labyrinth – Walking Stones.
When I was finished, I looked for the Hawk Feather – it had gone with the wind!

How do you get the stones into such a perfect circle, spiral?
Short answer: Practice, practice, practice.
Long answer: I decided, at age nine, that I wanted to learn to draw a perfect circle without a compass. I spent weeks, one summer, practicing every day. I drew on newpapers, discarded envelopes, on the backs of letters. I drew with pens, pencils, crayons, chalk on sidewalks, drew in the dirt with sticks. (Today I would probably be carted off and diagnosed with OCD.) I was determined to be able to draw…better! Learning this skill has served me well. I can draw almost anything, with anything, on anything!
Did you draw a spiral first in the sand?
I did not draw the Labyrinth. I can “see” the shape I want and place things where they need to be to form that shape. In this case, I created a “drawing” using stones as dots… connecting the dots, connecting the people, connecting energy…

How long did it take to build the labyrinth?
Short answer: A few hours, an afternoon.
Long answer: My whole life. Learning to draw, learning to express myself in visual form is an ongoing process of practice, learn, do, be and practice some more. I “borrowed” part of this answer from Alexander Calder, sculptor, inventor of the mobile, the stabile and an artist with a great sense of humor! In an interview, someone asked him how long it took for him to create a simple line drawing on a paper napkin. They had seen him draw it in a few seconds, but when asked how long it took him to make such a beautiful drawing, he answered “A lifetime.” He was in his seventies, I believe, at the time. His answer helped me realize that we bring our selves, our life experiences, our sense of humor, our love for people, AND a lifetime of learning art skills to the making of art. The more I have developed my skills, the easier they are to use.
The Labyrinth continues as a project. I will continue to watch it and take more images of it, to see it in different light.

Why do you do this kind of art?
Short answer: It inspires me and it’s fun work. (It’s also how I make my living.)
Long answer: It is environmentally friendly art. Using what nature offers, I build, I draw, sometimes I paint, using the colors of the stones as a palette. It is a way to be active and outdoors, moving, thinking, planning. It requires that I be cognizant of the patterns of weather, time of day, movement of the sun and light. It engages my senses and sensibilities, fully, and time clocks become meaningless. Noticing the sun, the light become reminders of time to rest. (Oh, and my sometimes growly stomach!)

Where the Labyrinth lives - for now!

6 Weeks Later

Then, later, I photograph, over time, letting nature change the image. Different times of day, different light, makes a whole different picture. The wind moves the sand, creating a variety of textures – changes the canvas. I love watching these changes, often very subtle, sometimes very slow. The Labyrinth still exists, at this remote beach, and in an ongoing series of photographs.

Questions? Please ask… there may be an answer.
Comments? Please do!
Thank you for asking, reading, visiting, enjoying!

Betsy Lewis

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2 responses to “Between Days

  1. Great post and one that shows how much you take care of yourself. I love the Q&A session and the easy way it all unfolds. Thank you!

    • Thank you so much… sometimes interviewing yourself after others ask questions is fun and funny. 🙂 Helps me stay in touch with my love for my work, even on the difficult days, when things aren’t so easy….

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