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.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Moving Rivers and Changing Trains

The Canadian geese are migrating, which is always a memorable sight, especially on the river. Their honking fills the air as they congregate on the sandbars by the thousands, then suddenly take flight....a moving cloud that undulates then dissipates as the birds gather once more on the water's edge. Delightful!

As you may or may not have noticed, I've been absent for a couple of weeks. We had a visiting artist from the Art Department staying with us and, while enjoyable, it threw my routine off. Once you get behind, it's really hard to get caught up and I felt overwhelmed by everything there was to do that wasn't getting done. It felt like trying to get back on a moving train. During this period of frustration, there came a time when I realized that perhaps I didn't want to get back on the same train at all, that perhaps I wanted to switch tracks and get on an entirely different train. I was tired of being so busy that all my time was accounted for....there was very little room for meandering, instead I moved through everything at break-neck speed. So, I gave myself permission to stop. I stopped making dailies for the MissouriBendMusings shop and that alone opened up space for me to just be, to have time on my days off to explore other possibilities. I still have a little daily practice of making small 3x3" drawings, but I had been doing that for months anyway, in addition to the drawings for the shop. By now, I have so much work from the last three years of having my Etsy shops, it's rather overwhelming. 

I stopped because I wanted to see what else could happen, what discoveries I could make without the pressure of "making" work for sale. Also at this time, I became reacquainted with the idea of "immersion" from reading the wall text that accompanied the photographs of William Wylie in an exhibition at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha. The foreword to the catalog was beautifully written by Merrill Gilfillan and the wall text contained excerpts from the catalog. It was then that I realized so much of my life had been lived on a kind of horizontal...I could see it as breadth as opposed to depth, which is what the word immersion evoked for me. 

You know how it is when you stop suddenly....all the things that were following at a certain pace behind suddenly come crashing into you. It was sort of like that, as I realized that I craved depth and immersion--the very thing missing from a life that had become filled with so much busy-ness. Right behind that realization, the next thing to come crashing in, as I began to ask myself the question of "immersion" in what exactly, was the sense of "place". An immersion in place. And then a moment of shame, as I realized that I live right on the banks of the longest river in North America, full of history, lore and a life force that has enormous power....and yet, when it comes down to it, I know very little about the Missouri River. An immersion in the Missouri River will necessarily entail learning more about the history of the land, the prairie, plant and animal life, the push and pull of conservation and commerce.....there is much to understand.

Here are two books I'm currently reading....they complement one another and feed this fascination with place. 

Grassland: The History, Biology, Politics, and Promise of the American Prairie by Richard Manning. It was already on my shelves from a used book sale at the library....just waiting for me to open it be open to it.

Magpie Rising : Stories from the Great Plains by Merrill Gilfillan. After reading the foreword from the catalog of photographs by William Wylie, I knew I had to read more of Merrill Gilfillan's work....so poetic and thought provoking.

What all of this means for my artwork, I have yet to know, but it will be evident in due time. For now, I'm content to feed myself with reading and with a rediscovery of the Missouri River and of the land where I make my home. The migrating birds are a gift and I anxiously await the warmer weather so I can meander outside for a longer period than it take to get to and from the car! 

I'll keep you posted....hope you are making some great discoveries of your own. Let me know...love to hear from you! Cheers!


  1. This is a lovely post. I learned long ago that I had to say no to many wonderful things so that I could avoid that busyness. Many people think that you must be busy to be alive and I have found the opposite to be true, how can you be alive if everything is a blur?
    We impose so many things on ourselves. I love that you are stopping. Your work will change and after all there is no hurry :-).

    1. Hi Annie...thank you for this supportive comment! Still trying to slow down and absorb more, even during this very busy time at the library while we move into the newly renovated building...will life never calm down?! Thanks again and hope you are well!

  2. Living on breadth as opposed to depth. You got me thinking Patti. The thing is, we are inclined to string the next thing along for survival, but to plumb our depth we have to be so present we must stop the outward focus. To bring that into one's work maybe one must make of it a ceremony, like the tea ceremony so that each action/moment is conscious. You used to do your meditation drawings which I thought showed that. Was it 10 a sitting?
    Thank you for your lovely thoughtful blog; I always enjoy it/you.

    1. Lorraine....great to hear from you! I think the first step is just the stopping and standing still for a time. I guess I'm searching for a simultaneous inward and outward focus, but at a slower, more contemplative pace. I'm glad you brought up those ten meditation drawings....perhaps I'll go back to that practice...yes, it was 10 drawings, but in quick succession...just mark making. We're in the process of moving the library....exhausting and chaotic, so life is really in flux right now, but that should be over soon. Hope you are well and enjoying a spring renewal!

  3. Back from ten days of traveling (vacation?) and writing a similar post today, I'm wondering if we were twins separated at birth...

    1. Hi Karen Anne....when I have a moment, I have to dash off to see your post. Not surprising if we were twins separated at birth. Life is chaos right now, as I'm in the middle of the library move into the newly renovated building. All I can say as I work full time for two exhausting weeks (this and next week) is that this too shall pass and it will be worth it, as the new building is so nice....but no time for anything else these days! Best wishes to you as you shift and adjust your days.....cheers!!

  4. what a refreshing inspiring moment you're sharing! glad you're unpacking the gift of stopping and finding so much richness within. i hope this new season of being, musing, and journeying within rather than forward will open up a meaningful and joyful new path for you!

  5. Anca....thank you! As mentioned here in the previous comments, my new season of contemplating and musing has also been put on hold, as I am now involved in helping to move the library into the new building these two weeks. Time only for work and sleep and a bit of reading for as long as I can stay awake! Hoping you are well and enjoying your life! All the best to you!


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