Late Winter and the Return of the Tiny Ants

I start looking for them in late January, and this year brought no disappointment. THE ANTS! The tiny little ants that are first solo, and over the weeks make a little line journey, populated by many others. First they appear in one of the bathrooms, and then they appear in one minute opening along the dining room wall and find their way to the food bowls of our beloved elder cat Finnegan. Finnegan is not quite so happy to find the ants making their way to his food bowls.

The ants speak of Spring. The Waking of the Insects! I used to find them annoying, but have come to a point of looking at them as the harbingers of the New, of growth and expansion. The ants come about the same week every year in late January, and leave the beginning of April. They are tiny, they follow the invisible trail along the wall and down to the floor. Essential oils seem to do nothing to change this course of action. They have a mission. We co-exist for a couple months and then they go wherever they go for the next ten months. I am happy to see them come, I am happy to see them go.

I am not sure when I came to terms with the ants. For the past forty years tiny ants have showed up in late winter in every state, in every house I have lived. I killed the ants forty years ago, and now I don’t. I like to think this is progress, and the ants are really tiny markers for me to see where I might be along this journey of Life. We seem to be on this journey together. Welcome Ants!

Waking of the Insects by PennyLea Mackie

Waking of the Insects by PennyLea Mackie

When almost three years pass since the last post...

Three years ago I thought the Muse had returned and I would have time to create in my studio once more. I was wrong beyond my wildest expectations. I had to leave my home and life as I’d known it to return to where I’d grown up, to care for two parents with Alzheimer’s and countless illnesses and disabilities on top of that one, jointly shared diagnosis. I had to confront all the things that I thought I’d already confronted…lots of cleaning up to do in my own Land of Consciousness. My health took a hit so severe I questioned whether I would survive my chosen responsibilities. I negotiated the mental health system on behalf of my mother, in a state so far removed from the needs of those unable to negotiate it themselves, I thought I would never stop crying. I was honored to sit death vigil twice, in a hospice facility placed in the middle of the most beautiful forest setting one could imagine. And then, I was free. Somehow the entire, perfect course of events, launched me in to a state of freedom…so profound and so unexpected, it took me a year to trust and exhale.

I returned to my beautiful family and home in Idaho, exhausted to the core. I took refuge in immersing myself in the ongoing permaculture urban farm project I’d previously started. I was, and remain, clear and contented, yet energized and embracing ‘what is’ in a way I have never done before. I fell, and continue to fall in love with everything. I continue to regain my health in astounding ways. I quit all social media, and decided to let the internet exist without much interaction from my side. I have found I now think very much like I did before being an early adapter to computers and digital media.

The arrival of our first grandchild this past summer threw my heart into a new stratosphere. And that, in turn, has brought me back in to my studio with a new sense of excitement and exploration that exceeds anything in my previous experience. I have decided to take this website and split it in two. The Sacred Images side will continue to offer prints. The PennyLea Mackie side will focus on side of my studio life that explores many other materials and concepts. The website split will probably not occur until winter. The re-organized version of me lets things happen much more organically, and I try to keep deadline commitments to a minimum.

The Muse became flesh with the arrival of my Grandson, and I cannot wait to see what comes through me in the studio. I am home!

Cody and Bunny.jpg

All My Inspiration

In many ways, early January is my favorite time of the year, because in Western society, it brings momentum.  I crave momentum by early January.  Living in the north, this momentum is magnified by being able to spend as much time indoors as possible, as the gardens are deep asleep.  My interior life has no edges during this part of winter, and my thoughts skate endlessly with the snows.  I revel in the blacks and whites and shades of gray, thinking carefully about color...restrained thoughts of color. 

I am filled to over-flow from the holidays this year.  Filled with the renewed awe of,  and endless love of family and friends.  My discipline for a month, was to practice none whatsoever.  I succeeded.  I have brought that lack of discipline back up into the studio, where I let the hours go by without interruption, dream big thoughts, and contemplate new directions.  The space in my head has never been so large, nor have I ever been as excited about what will come from this.

The picture is my family...a very large part of my inspiration. 

Where DID those Muses go?

They seem incredibly buoyant,  tanned and well-rested upon their return.  They also seem quite amenable to staying for awhile.  They really don't feel compelled to explain their absence for the past three years, or what that has meant to my Studio Life.

With their return I feel a great sense of relief, a giant exhale.  NEVER have they taken off for such a long period of time.  No word, no attempt to reassure.  Gone. 

Those three years felt very long.  Not only was there a complete lack of inspiration, but Studio Life was usurped by a long run of challenges.  It was a slog . . . to the point that I'd dubbed 2015 'The Disease, Deconstruction and Death Tour'.

Now they are back!  Their return as mysterious as their disappearance.  I imagine them having frolicked in studios, writing rooms and at kitchen tables across the globe.  I caught awesome glimpses of them through the work of others.  I learned long ago it is of no use to try and fathom what just happened.  Why three years?  Why return now?  No, my job is to simply be present to what I have now.  Now I see them.  Now I can submerge myself in letting the inspirations fly!  

No saint am I, I DO have preferences, and I prefer Studio Life in the company of the Muses.  Welcome Back!



Place and Pattern

I live in Idaho, in a place where a river runs along the edge of the foothills, and the foothills turn into mountains that sustain their momentum into British Columbia.  Idaho has challenged me to continually look at my art with new eyes, and to develop a relationship with the place I live.  My lifelong fascination with pattern and symbol has been deeply affected by this beautiful place I am privileged to live in and interact with.  Place has offered to inform me how it can amplify my work with yantra and my understanding of Divine.  Place fills my eyes, my thoughts, my heart with patterns and colours that are alive and demand my presence in the moment.  Place has anchored me, and unchained my consciousness.

Being a studio artist involves the choice to be in my own quietude a good portion of my waking hours.  Through this blog I hope to share my process in my studio, sharing not only the creation of new work but the influence of place and my life on that work. 

I encourage your feedback, your stories, your own understanding of Place, and its influence in your life, your work, and your spiritual journey.  The comments section below provides YOU the place to join a dialogue. I look forward to hearing from you!