Welcome to River Dog Studio!

“Looking-glass”

I have a new website in the works.  Until it is up and running, please check out my updated galleries above.  Work that is not for sale will say NFS or SOLD.  I also work on commission.  I accept payment via PayPal, cash or check.  For pricing and questions, click on the contact tab above.

Thanks for checking out my work!!

Decorative Arts

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Hand-painted knobs

I haven’t posted anything in a long while.  Its been a very busy summer. I will be adding a gallery page to my website for decorative arts.  Featured here are examples of recent work along these lines.

I have worked in decorative arts, handcrafts, and fine art my entire life.  I love the variety this affords me and the opportunity to bring beauty to functional pieces.

I work on commission and can ship anywhere in the US.

V is for Veil

My life has suddenly converged on this week with so much coming due at once.  Several projects with contacts spread across the country, I have been emailing and writing and planning and coordinating. I also have a family and field trips and grocery shopping and care taking.

And today, one of the many tasks I must undertake is to find a “veil” for my son who plays Airsoft. This is a military simulation sport where participants fire plastic bb’s at one another.  His request for a “veil” is a cloth of some sort (frayed, fringed or otherwise NOT flat) that he can camouflage to keep himself hidden at an overnight event.  I plan to raid the local Goodwill store.

But of course, here again is an opportunity to look beneath the obvious to find the hidden inspiration.

In the book of Matthew (and Mark and Luke, too), the Bible talks about the veil of the temple being rent (torn) in two when Jesus died on the cross.  Here is what GotQuestions.org says about the veil, “in the temple a veil separated the Holy of Holies—the earthly dwelling place of God’s presence—from the rest of the temple where men dwelt.”

I hadn’t really thought about the idea that a veil was a separation between God and man.  In Biblical times, Jewish priests were the only ones allowed beyond the veil into the Holy of Holies and that only once yearly. So it seems that there wasn’t really a concept of God talking with an ordinary person (and never a woman or child!)

But clearly God did speak with men, women, and children! Even in the Bible. He/She isn’t confined to a room in a temple, and maybe this is what the Gospels are alluding to.

And while I can see that this notion is much more accepted today, I think there is a much greater sense of the presence of God that we can embrace. Its not just that God is over there caring for us over here.  That still indicates a veil!

My concept of God is so much closer than that–to suggest that we are separate from God at all (even suggesting we are infinitely close) misses the mark. I like to think of God as All Life living itself as us.  We are the verbs of Life. God runs, and we are the running, just as the wind isn’t separate from the blowing! Then the veil truly is rent!

Try that on and let me know what you think.

 

T is for Tests

Energy River copyright Debra Myers Woodward
Energy River
copyright Debra Myers Woodward

I have often lamented the battery of standardized tests that my kids have to take every Spring. It isn’t given just to score how well the school is teaching children in my state, it determines whether they can move up to the next grade level. I find it tantamount to treason (and 2 more T words!)

In life though, as we learn new concepts, we are often put to the test. The situation comes up once again, suspiciously similar to the last one that “taught us a lesson.”  And we have the opportunity to put our new-found knowledge to use. Or not.

If not, we can be assured that it will come up again…and again….and again.  Life is very thorough in that way. We will get to keep repeating this grade level until we pass the test. Then we are given more to handle.

I have thought about this in terms of career and relationships and other life responsibilities.  Like many people, I would love a successful career. But have I demonstrated that I can handle the one I have yet?  And I realize I have no idea how I would handle a lot of clients or customers or commissions. I don’t know how to do large-scale business deals. These things I am not even prepared to approach!

Its been a great thing to notice this so that I can watch for what lessons I am learning and what tests I am being given. And great incentive not to fall back on the old ways of doing things but to take what I learn and use it.

S is for Shopping

"Spring Rain" 24"x30" copyright Debra Myers Woodward
“Spring Rain”
24″x30″
copyright Debra Myers Woodward

Today is Earth Day, possibly my favorite day of the year. I am particularly fond of this little corner of the universe and all those who inhabit it.

This morning I received an email from a certain retail establishment that I frequent.  The subject said, “Celebrate Earth Day with Free Shipping.”  And the obvious ridiculousness of that prompted this post.

How about we celebrate Earth Day by NOT shopping at all? I recently took a quiz online (here) to see how many earth’s it would take to support the whole population if everyone in the world lived like me.  I live in North America, so I wasn’t surprised to see that it would require 4.7 earths.  This was not an encouraging number (and that means that Mars alone isn’t going to help much if we were thinking we could just colonize another planet.) In this article, I learned that Earth Overshoot Day was in August of 2015–the day that the 7.1 billion people on this planet passed the mark of consuming more resources than our planet can sustain!

So it seems essential that I take steps to improve my footprint on the environment. Pollution from the constant growth in manufacturing goods (not to mention the extraction of materials from the earth) is causing great harm on the environment, regardless of your position on global warming.  Whatever we can do to lessen our impact will help Her to breathe a little more easily and allow us to live on it for a longer time.

I believe this starts with our thoughts, as all things do! So before I reach for something sweet, for example, I ask myself, why do I want this? Am I trying to sweeten a feeling in me? Do I feel sad or upset or lonely?  The same is true about our “need” to purchase things we don’t actually need.  Its worthwhile to ask ourselves do we really need this? Or are we filling an emptiness inside?  Is the rush of walking through a beautiful store and choosing things distracting us from something we find unattractive?

Sitting with these questions for a bit (it won’t kill us and in fact, might help us!) instead of compulsively buying more stuff is the best thing we can do for our home, planet earth.  And perhaps, with all of that extra time and mind-space freed up, we might come up with new technologies that improve the environment while providing food, clean water and sanitary living conditions for everyone on the planet.

R is for Reading List

Refraction copyright Debra Myers Woodward Sold
Refraction
copyright Debra Myers Woodward
Sold

Today I will just list a few of the books on my reading list…Share your list in the comments!

  • The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan
  • New and Selected Poems by Mary Oliver
  • I Am That by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
  • Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong
  • Consolations by David Whyte
  • Plan B by Anne Lamott
  • Mornings Like This: Found Poems by Annie Dillard
  • Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
  • Stillness Dancing by Adyashanti

O is for Octopus

"Moon-age Dreaming" copyright Debra Myers Woodward
“Moon-age Dreaming”
copyright Debra Myers Woodward

I recently had a dream about going on a train or subway with my son. We had an octopus that we had to put in a plastic box.  It filled the box as we put the lid on.

I have a book on Native American animal imagery and meanings they have for different animals.  Unfortunately, octopus wasn’t included, so I did what any modern-day inquisitor does, I googled it.

It isn’t so hard to discover what associations octopi are likely to yield: creativity, ingenuity, intelligence.  Have you watched videos of their amazing escapes? I read just the other day of an octopus named Inky escaping from the National Aquarium of New Zealand. Now that  requires ingenuity! Swim free Inky!

But this got me to thinking about my dream. Have I boxed in my creativity, my ingenuity and intelligence. I could answer yes, definitely so. I am just beginning to write again, thanks to this April A-to-Z challenge. But I go long stretches without painting. And not because I don’t have ideas!

So one of my intentions this week is to make room for painting.  Are there things you haven’t made time for that you know would be good for you?  Its never too late to create a space of even 10 minutes a day to cherish your well-being by doing what you love. Maybe this small opening will lead to the freedom of the ocean like it did for Inky.

N is for No-mistake

An Irish halo copyright Debra Myers Woodward
An Irish halo
copyright Debra Myers Woodward

I loved reading in “A Thousand Names for Joy” by Byron Katie that when people started arriving at her door saying, “namaste'”, she thought they were saying “no-mistake”.  She said she couldn’t believe how enlightened they all were. She had never heard “namaste” before, so she had no reference for it.

And since Namaste’ means “the divinity within me greets the divinity within you”, doesn’t that indicate that there is no mistake there? No mistake in me, and no mistake in you.  That’s who we truly are. Thats how we were made, “in the image and likeness of God,” as stated in the first chapter of Genesis.

But what about those who do bad or even horrible things? What about when we say and do things we aren’t proud of, things we consider mistakes?  There is no person on the planet who has led what we humans would call a perfect life. Its impossible.  So learning to love one another and stay centered and grounded despite these difficulties is part of our life-long earthly classroom. It softens us, shows us what grace looks like, heals and blesses…eventually. And for each and every one of us, it teaches us patience.

We are all born of and carried with this divinity for all time. So next time you meet someone, look deep within both yourself and them and see our divinity and speak to that.

Namaste’….no-mistake.

 

Note: The photo was a “mistake” taken as I held my phone while waiting in line for the “photo booth” at a wedding I attended. But I LOVE it! No mistake!

M is for Mess-making

In the studio copyright Debra Myers Woodward
In the studio
copyright Debra Myers Woodward

As an artist, there are many ways to go about painting a painting or creating a sculpture or building a pot, but almost all of them involve the willingness to make a mess.  Even if the process is a fairly neat one like drawing, there is a certain amount of messiness to the process, even if its just in the process of going from idea to finished product.

Life is often messy as well.  And like many if not most people, I tend to think that messes are “bad” and clean and orderly is “good.”  But putting those judgments on any given moment in a process is really self-defeating.  If I am not willing to go through messy to get to a fully realized state, whether talking about art or life, then I will often be frustrated and stressed about what things look like. And then resistance shows up. Creativity does not thrive in this environment.

So I am trying to embrace messiness as just a snapshot in time.  Its merely a stage, not a state of being–a stage that comes around again and again and again.  And in making art, like living life, messiness is necessary.  The more we embrace the process, the more we will stay centered and strong through it. We can even celebrate that we are moving forward and stepping into unknown territory (as if we have a choice!)

Each day is new. We have never done this day before, so there is always a possibility of a mess. Lets try on this idea of accepting it and seeing it as part of our journey to peace with ourselves.

L is for Love (although it could also be Late!)!

Morning dew on tiny flowers Copyright Debra Myers Woodward
Morning dew on tiny flowers
Copyright Debra Myers Woodward

This weekend my nephew got married to the love of his life, really of all of our lives. They are a beautiful couple both inside and out!

So this got me to thinking, just what is love?  That may seem like a ridiculous question, right? We all have experience with this thing called love. And yet the word love can be used to describe how we feel about chocolate as well as our sister, or our favorite sports team  and our spouse.

So it seems useful to say that this is something that should be meditated on early and often to find what it means to us.

Perhaps one way to make a distinction in types of love is whether it is selfless or covetous. If your “love” leads you to covet the object of your affection, like chocolate or your boyfriend, maybe that’s not love but desire or possession. On the other hand, a love that is selfless or unconditional is truer to the real thing.

The Bible says that God is Love. And I see this as the truest form of Love. It is spiritual and universal. It heals and redeems. It encourages, uplifts, and comforts. And this divine Love embraces the whole world and all that is in it without condition or requirement. And that is truly a saving Grace.

Love seems to be easier to define by what it does, how it looks, and its effect than by its essence.  What does love mean to you?