Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Garden, part one

"We are stardust, we are golden, 
and we've got to get ourselves back to the garden."
~ Joni Mitchell

A reoccurring theme in my paintings is nature, she is my muse and is perfect for translating imagery symbolically. Much of the inspiration stems from observation and work within my own gardens. Over the past ten years I have come to keen realizations regarding California natives and their value. The journey beginning with guided instructional walks led by David Crow, and deepening the last two years with lessons from the Duirwaigh of the mighty Oak.

Saturday I had the pleasure of attending a workshop with renown native plant expert Carol Bornstein. The class “California Native Plant Horticulture” took place at the Theodore Payne Foundation in Sun Valley. It was no surprise to learn that Carol is the Garden Director of Living Collections and Nursery at The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. SBBG is one of my favorite places to visit and nurture the creative spirit. During the class Carol went over the basics of native gardening, sharing a wealth of information on the wonder filled world of California flora. We discovered what a "native plant" is, why natives are valuable, and specifics of plant communities, plant requirements, establishment, planting details, pruning, irrigation, maintenance, invasive non-natives and where to see and buy native plants. She even demonstrated how to plant a native.

The class deepened my awareness to the value of growing and cultivating an authentic garden. We have slowly started working the natives into our landscape, more to come soon!

The Theodore Payne Foundation

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ojai Lavender Festival in Review

The Ojai Lavender Festival on Saturday, June 16th, 2007 was a joy to participate in. This was the 4th year of this celebration of Lavender, the 1st in 2004 with illustrious presenters including Suzanne Catty and Michael Scholes.

The air was permeated with the herbaceous, fruity scent of lavender at Libbey Park when we arrived at 8:30 am. Sandy and Roland Messori of Rivendell Aromatics, had already set up most of their extensive booth and I suspect the majority of the glorious vapors were wafting from their beautiful lavender bouquets and plants.

At 1pm I delivered the keynote presentation on The Art Spirit in Aromatic and Visual Art at the outdoor stage, under a large canopy of coastal live oak trees. It was quite an honor to speak out for the oaks with their presence surrounding us all. I had momentarily flashes of Treebeard and the Ents from the Lord of the Rings trilogy by JRR Tolkien.

The talk began with a personal history as an artist working in the mediums of paint and essential oils. I gave an example of how the creation of a visual image and a perfume share the same process, although the tools of the trade vary, in the end you are left with a constructed artwork.

I also shared how the Quercus perfume manifested through a series of synchronistic events, inspired by four oak trees. Quercus was the first perfume of the Californica line with a portion of proceeds supporting the California Oak Foundation

We explored a few elements from the history of aromatherapy and ended with a reminder by Joseph Campbell to "Follow Your Bliss!"

The day was very full with a constant stream of visitors at the booth, recognizing the artwork from various publications and wanting to experience the perfumes. All the perfumes were very well received. Vera, the fragrance created specifically for the festival, and Quercus were the favorites at this event. Visitors included fans, friends, students, clients and Robert Tisserand, shown in the photo above. It was a treat to finally meet him in person and share our perfumes.

My gratitude to Greg, Martha and all my friends for your support as well as Brad and Chiara for the photos!

Summer Solstice

Today, on Summer Solstice also known as Mean Samhraidh, Midsummer and Litha, the sun is at its zenith, thus marking the longest day of the year. The Celtic people celebrated this day four thousand years ago by gathering at Stonehenge and honoring the height of power of the Sun.

I intend a magnifi-scented summer solstice for each of you. Take a moment to acknowledge this time by creating a
small ritual in tune with your lifestyle.

Rituals, festivities and gatherings for this high holiday began on Wednesday and extend to the New Moon on June 25th.

Yesterday, in acknowledgment of Midsummer, I had an opportunity to harvest Clary Sage, Salvia sclarea for steam distillation.
During the gathering we paused to walk a Lavender Labyrinth. The labyrinth is a path helpful in facilitating clarity and transformation. Walking the lavender labyrinth with the intoxicating scent and the hum of bees was magical. The labyrinth is associated with the pilgrimage of enlightenment, it is a form of meditation, quieting the mind and facilitating a connection with the divine. Similar to the associations with the holy grail.

According to Yasmin Galenorn the affirmation for this day is:
"I attract love and faery magic to my life."

Iconography of solar worship includes:
The Sun
The Sidhe
Fey faery folk
Goddesses: Tatiana, Rhiannon and Epona the Horse Goddess
The Cornucopia of fruits
Elder, Sambucus nigra: leaf, flower and berry
Mars and Jupiter
Salamanders, and their ruler Notus or Djin
Tarot suit of wands
Colors red and orange
Stone: Moonstone
Flower: Rose
Fruit: Peach
Direction: South
Animals: Swan, Bulls, Stags and Horses

What iconography will you use?

I read that the Celtics would honor the Oak and adorn it with garlands of flowers. Our property has three Coastal live oaks, Quercus agrifolia and two Quercus lobata. Each of these will be honored this day, as well as the seven we are defending on the lot next to us.

Many different essences are associated with the Summer Solstice, however the two that seem to be most appropriate are Calendula and Orange. Both of these exist in many forms to work with for creating a special anointing balm or oil. Be mindful, however, orange essential oil is photo-toxic and should be used in small amounts.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Ojai Lavendar Festival, Saturday, June 16 1pm

10am: Live entertainment: Dan Wilson, guitarist extraordinaire
11am: Speaker: Nathan Kaehler on "Lavender in Healing: A Look Around the World"
12 noon: Live entertainment: Hillfillies starring Mary Z. Wilson, Rosie Tower and
Karen Orser joined by Barney Tower and Dan Wilson.
1:00: Speaker: Roxana Villa, Visual & Aromatic Artist
2:00: Speaker
3:00: Live entertainment: Deborah Neal and the 5 Star Band

Roxana Villa, noted Southern California perfume artisan. In the tradition of alchemists and perfumers of ancient times, Roxana creates an illuminated line of exclusive, signature fragrances along with extraordinary custom perfumes. She is currently working on a series of California-themed fragrances including a new lavender fragrance inspired by the Ojai Lavender Festival.

The Ojai Lavender Festival

Delight your senses, Inspire the Soul!
As a Devotee of the Aromatic world I invite you to join us at The Ojai Lavender Festival this Saturday, June 16th
at Libbey Park in downtown Ojai beneath the canopy of Oaks. We will be celebrating all things Lavender, I can assure you the day will be a delight to the body, mind and spirit!

I am the keynote speaker and will have a booth with my perfumes and brand new jewelry with art pendants exquisitely crafted by a local artist. Stop by and say hi. Rivendell Aromatics has promised Lavender and Lemon Sorbet, yum!

The Ojai Lavender Festival: Celebrating all things Lavender Saturday, June 16th, 2007 10am - 6pm Location: Libbey Park in downtown Ojai, CA Speakers, Marketplace