What I'm up to


I heard from so many of you after last week's post that I've decided to share a bit more about my current local activities. (By the way, commenting below is the best way to communicate about these posts with me!)

Out here on this remote beach locale, I've been teaching two workshops every week and one kid's art class. It's been great fun to serve the ever changing visiting population and I've met some lovely people (of all ages.)

In 1997, I first developed my Basic Drawing and Watercolor Workshops at the Kiawah Island Resort not too far away. Although Edisto is an entirely different situation (and population), in some ways, teaching here has been much like a bookend.

My workshop method for absolute beginners in drawing and watercolor has evolved over the years but I still begin my drawing workshops (and courses) with the very same exercise I started with so many years ago.

Each workshop is a series of progressive and diagnostic exercises but after the primary instruction, I like to use models from the immediate environment to draw and paint.

For the early part of the year, I taught at the small local resort where our "found" model was a potted palm tree that served for our first pen and ink and later, for a two color watercolor exercise.

My new teaching location is a restaurant jutting out over the sea where there's a striped sea bass hanging on the wall that serves as an awesome (and challenging) model.
 

And then there are the kids' classes where we learn all sorts of things. For example, last week's bonus was learning how to twiddle thumbs while waiting for classmates to finish.








These workshops are fast, furious, messy and loads of fun. I teach an enormous amount of information in a few short hours and model imperfection. The inhibitions and reservations most students arrive with quickly dissolve into laughter.

You can't beat the view!




The Market
Once a week, I set up at the local arts and crafts market with my paintings and wait to see what happens. Never a dull moment!

(Still) Coming Up
One more chance to work online with me personally this year. 12 week course only.

The last offer this year of my online foundation course in drawing + watercolor starts September 12. Click here to email me and ask me put your name on mailing list for early notification (and discount.) Only 5 seats available.

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Where I'm at

Sunrise over Edisto Beach

On Edisto

Where?

I'm currently living in a summertime place and because we are at the height of the summertime season, I'm going to tell you a little about it.

Edisto (EH • dis • toe) is an uncommercialized barrier island in South Carolina about an hour south of Charleston and 2 hours north of Hilton Head Island. Way off the beaten track, the main drag is a National Scenic Byway that starts just before the McKinley Washington Jr. Bridge spanning the Dawhoo River.

The Island takes its name from the Edistow People, a Native American tribe who lived here before the colonial settlements. The Edistows and their related fellows on the coast left mysterious shell mounds and circles. Indigo and, most notably, Long Staple Cotton were grown here on profoundly profitable plantations in the 18th and 19th centuries. Long Staple Cotton would command 3 times and more the price of standard cotton. Needless to say, the War of Northern Aggression and finally, the Boll Weevil changed all that.

After the 1920s, folks started coming down again for the summer from Charleston and would take a boat or drive across the Dawhoo at low tide. While the island homes are mostly out of sight, all but a few of the beach lots are developed with modest homes on stilts. Commerce consists of one grocery store, two gas stations, a hardware store and a handful of shops and restaurants. Even at peak season (now), it's very low key.

Edisto Beach is situated at the mouth of the Edisto River that, along with the Ashepoo and Combahee make up the ACE Basin, a nationally significant coastal wetland wilderness that the Nature Conservancy has called one of the "last great places."

It's an hour's drive to "civilization," but the longer I live out here, the less I'm interested in plunging into noise, traffic and polluted air. Here, it's incredibly beautiful, super quiet, I don't lock my doors and can walk out under the stars at night with no concern.

Ten months ago, I'd never heard of this place and I won't be here forever but what a great treat and privilege to live and work here for now.

How did I get here you want to know? That's another story for another day. Maybe.

Meanwhile, below are a handful of photos I've snapped since last December.

at the edge of the State Park


Beached Pilot Whale

Winter Marsh


Botany Bay


Morning rainbow


Pelicans and rainbow

near the Marina


July Marsh

Beach at my corner 1

Beach at my corner 2


Moonrise and shrimp boat

Click here to learn more about the ACE Basin.

Coming up

One more chance to work with me personally this year. 12 week course only.

The last iteration of my current online foundation course in drawing + watercolor starts September 12. Click here to email me and ask me put your name on mailing list for early notification (and discount.) Only 5 seats available.

Click here for more information on my online courses, frequently asked questions and testimonials.
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Water, water everywhere


Wave
Watercolor, 8 x 8 in.

Go with the flow

I don't know enough.

Some psychic or intuitive once looked me in the eye and said, "You were once a powerful astrologer." Maybe, but not in this lifetime.

There are big haps in the cosmos right now and I wish that I knew more so that I could tell you more about what it all means. Every astrologer I've scanned seems to have a different take on the Grand Water Trine shaping up for tomorrow.

Then I realized that I don't need to know more (thank god for small favors) or even a whole lot. For me, paying attention to astrology is a lot like being aware of the weather. I don't need to know why it's raining or what it means. I just need to know that it's raining so I can carry an umbrella, put on my raincoat or postpone my walk. Better that than get soaked in a downpour.

So, I don't know what's going on exactly but something certainly is.

On July 17th, Jupiter (in Cancer), Saturn (in Scorpio) and Neptune (in Pisces) will form a perfect triangle. Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces are all water signs. This trine is rare and won't be repeated in our lifetimes. Jupiter moves around the zodiac in 12 years, Saturn in 29-30 and Neptune in 164.

We're still in a Mercury retrograde phase in Cancer (water) and there's the full moon in Aquarius (water) on the 22nd. That's an unusual amount of strong cosmic action in water signs and there's lots more going on but this is not an astrology column and I'm not going to suggest any meaning or import because I'd have no idea what I was talking about. Anyway, even if I knew more, I'd still be offering only an opinion because so much of astrology is merely interpretation. And the more you know, the more complex the interpretation becomes.

Still, although it's easy to forget in our current civilization, we're living entities on a planet revolving with other planets around a star and subject to all sorts of energies and forces known and unknown. It's thrilling when you think about it.

If you're interested, google this stuff and see if you can glean some clarity. (Frankly, I'm more confused after having done so.)

Here is a short list of my favorite astrologers whose interpretations I appreciate:

Rob Brezsny (positively radical)

Jonathan Cainer (encouraging with watercolor illustrations!)

CafĂ© Astrology (in-depth explanations)

The Astrotwins (stylin'!)

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5 Creative Ways to start your day


Get out of bed on the right side!
  • Breathe (consciously!)
  • Smile
  • Stretch
  • Give Thanks
  • Rest (Take a minute to experience how you feel.)
Seems simple, doesn't it?
“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”
― Dalai Lama XIV
Sign up below to receive your complimentary copy of my inspiring new ebook
outlining 5 small actions to open your creative flow.

Bonus song download included!

Enjoy!





Roswell Revisited

Perigee Moon, photo by Suzanne McDermott

The truth is out there

Sixteen years ago, I spent this week in Roswell, New Mexico to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roswell Incident.

When I first performed the song about the incident, I had no idea what the reaction would be to my six plus minute song about a flying saucer crash. I thought that I might be laughed right out of the folk realm.

Instead, people were moved to tears or argued vehemently that the flying saucer was, in fact, a weather balloon, or asked me about my father. I had to tell the latter crowd that my late father was an attorney in Philadelphia and remind them that the lyrics state the narrator was 12 years old in 1947 and I wasn't that old.

One live performance of the song in Roswell landed over the end credits of a whacky indie film that made it's way around the world on the film festival circuit. A producer in Stockholm played the sequence over and over again and the song morphed into a pop Swedish hit called Min Pappa.

On occasion, I'd perform for retirement communities and, invariably, older men would come up and tell me stories of experiences they'd had while in the armed forces near Roswell at the time. One man was scheduled to work at the Roswell Air Base in early July, 1947, but plans were scrapped at the last minute. Another was flying from coast to coast with plans to stop at the air base for refueling but was denied permission to land (early July '47.)

Something happened. That's for sure. But what, exactly, we will probably never know.

In Roswell, I met Jesse Marcel, Jr., (son of the military officer charged with original debris clean up) and played the song for him, his wife and a couple of daughters in their hotel room. I was nervous because I quote him (as a child) directly but relieved when he told me that he was moved by the song.

All I intended to do was to retell the story of The Roswell Incident in a folk ballad form and, of course, that's what I did. Alleged flying saucer allegedly crashes in New Mexico desert, some people saw some things and this is what they said. Because the actual events may never be clear, another story emerges—the effects of government secrecy and suppression of information upon our individual, personal lives.

Listeners are moved to tears when they hear my song not because of a weird event but because of the wedge of silence that is driven between father and daughter (and the emasculation of the father) by the enforced secrecy the government demands on his experience. Maybe some are moved by the fact that we'll never know the truth of what happened because all of the eye witnesses and the news media were silenced.

In light of current events and news, I re-wrote this post to make that point. A great deal of blood, sweat and tears has been shed in the name of ensuring rather specific freedoms for citizens of the United States of America. While freedoms regarding privacy are couched in early 19th century concerns, freedom of speech is a democratic ideal firmly rooted in our Greco-Roman model.

When I wrote the song, believe me when I say that I never expected to actually perform it in Roswell, nor could I ever in a million years have imagined that it would become a hit in Sweden. That being said, I could have imagined a day when our privacies and freedoms would be less reliable, even in light of what we know about secretive and repressive governments and societies.
“When the people fear the government there is tyranny, when the government fears the people there is liberty.”
― Thomas Jefferson
The moral of my story is to go ahead and do whatever creative endeavor calls to you no matter how scary or unusual it may seem.

Tell the truth. You never know what's going to happen and there is no way of guessing what other people might think.

Click here to listen to the song, read more and see photos.

My favorite version? It's on Ephemera.
“When the people fear the government there is tyranny, when the government fears the people there is liberty.”
― Thomas Jefferson
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