Welcome to MissouriBendStudio!

This is an online journal of my artistic investigations and a way to communicate about my work, ideas, quandries and queries! I welcome comments and conversation and do hope you enjoy these musings. My artwork is available in my shop MissouriBendStudio on Etsy.com or on my website.


Monday, January 17, 2011

The Echoing Circles of Time

Hope you all had a fine weekend! I'm back reporting from the studio today.  I must give thanks to Fiona Dempster of Paper Ponderings (a wonderful blog you can find here) for a quote from Madeleine L'Engle she posted on the 13th of this month.  I haven't gotten it out of my head and it continues to wind it's way through my being and now I see it coming out through my hands.  I requote it here so you'll know what I'm talking about with the rest of this post:

"But there is something about Time. The sun rises and sets. The stars swing slowly across the sky and fade. Clouds fill with rain and snow, empty themselves, and fill again.  The moon is born, and dies, and is reborn. Around millions of clocks swing hour hands, and minute hands, and second hands. Around goes the continual circle of the notes of the scale. Around goes the circle of night and day, the circle of weeks forever revolving, and of months, and of years."

The Small Rain by Madeleine L'Engle

I've always been aware of the cycles that run as constants through our lives, giving us continuity, a certain comforting predicatability, but this quote somehow grounds me as one soul in a continuing ever-growing circle of time.  Even though things move in cycles, I'm somehow used to thinking of time as linear and that I form a link in a chain whose beginning and ending I cannot begin to see.  And yet, life is circular, not at all linear and in the studio, as these things percolate, I begin to draw simple forms which make me think of tree rings....circles of time...or ripples on the water...more gentle circles flowing out, sometimes imperceptibly, toward infiinity.

The other day I was in our little stacked-wide-and-high studio storage area...there to fetch another handful of the yummy Johntimothy hand-made paper and I saw peeking out from under the stack an old unfinished drawing.  This was a ghastly thing, from a brief moment in time when I thought I should be working bigger, and so I got it into my head to stitch four sheets of this 11x15" handmade paper together.  Just dumb....I knew then that my work was about intimacy, but you know those moments of making something you feel should be made rather than the thing that needs to be made.  Of course the piece was ungainly and I'd folded it up and stuffed it into this bin.  When I pulled it out, I immediately saw the circles everywhere, the gingko leaves (even then symbols of time and memory for me) and knew that I was looking at the start of maybe a dozen small drawings.  I immediately commenced to cut the thing up and have begun a new series of work.

Not surprising, it's meditative and intuitive as I make marks and draw, thinking through my hands. I'm trying to have three of these little 5x5" pieces ready in a couple days to photograph, so I can send them to the show in New Hampshire. There will be a larger series of them and I'm not sure what it will be called, but I will know when the name announces itself.  It's best for me not to try to think of what it is to be called, as naming is a thing that should come from the work itself. I know the name will quietly knock on my door to announce itself when the time is right.

a work in progress

Meanwhile, the afternoon was spent (FINALLY) taking down the Christmas tree and putting everything away.  Everything is circular....didn't we just go through this activity of quietly wrapping each ornament in tissue paper that is now quite falling apart (yes, just about a year ago) and wasn't I looking out a window at the deep snow, light fading on cottonwood trees, the frozen mist floating over the river...it's just like last year and the year before.  

I'm reminded now of my blogging friends, some of whom have recently lost loved ones, other of whom have watched natural disaster threaten their homes.  These are the cycles of nature at work and we must recognize them for what they are....part of the endless circles forever revolving.  At once a comfort and a terror...nothing is permanent...everything evolving.  See you tomorrow...


  1. What a lovely series you've made from your past 'mistake'. Wonderful!

  2. That quote haunted me too. It seems to be a theme for me lately, cycles and circles. I wonder if the linear concept of time is something you shed with age? As a kid you want to get away from the past as fast as possible and move on to bigger better things. As a young adult, you are always looking forward, thinking of life in terms of advancement and achievement, to which any backwards look or move would be anathema. Then you reach a point where your value system changes and you make peace with the past and the future and just start existing in the here and now. Then time stops being a straight line, and even stops being a matter of cycles and circles, it just IS, with every moment, past present and future contained within you at all times. Lately when I repeat certain activities, like you with your annual putting away of holiday decorations, I don't so much feel a sense of repetition as return, the way one of those braided rag rugs can be seen to come back to the same point on the circle, but every time it does, the circle has grown and changed. And just the way everything it was at the beginning is still there with each new row added, I feel as if all my past selves are with me in every present moment. Wow, who knew I was so spiritual? Thanks, P, for this post! And good luck with re-working that piece. Seems it picked just the right time to re-appear!

  3. Julie...thank you very much! I'm anxious to see where this series takes me! Thanks for your comment!

  4. G.....I guess you're right...it may be a function of age that we begin to really experience the circular nature of things. One become more aware that time is no longer stretching out in endless lengths before us, but is cyclical...you're metaphor of the braided rugs is a perfect example. And yes, the awarenss of the past selves always being with me is there....a slow accumulation of selves. Often when we engage in these cyclical rituals, such as taking down the tree and putting the ornaments away (each of which has its own story, its own past and with us a shared history) I think about who I was a year ago and what was happening in my life and I project too into the future and wonder where I'll be and what my life will be like as my future self, in a year's time. So interesting....thanks for your great comment, G.

  5. this going round and round is [mostly] comforting...means that every journey i go on is simply a long trip home

  6. I sometimes work big just so I can cut it up into smaller pieces. There is something wonderful about parts of a whole.

  7. India....yes, that's quite a lovely way to look at things!

    Soewnearth....I think I must have been slowly realizing this myself, but hadn't quite acknowledged that starting with a part of some larger whole is a really nice way to work. It allows for some random happenings that are often a pleasant surprise. Thanks for this comment...you've got me thinking!


I'm happy to hear from you...comments and questions are welcome!