01 November 2012

November 1st: Embracing the Darkness and Finding a Light

Today I am starting a new series on this blog. I am participating in a month-long challenge sponsored by artist Leah Piken Kolidas her blog, Creative Every Day: it's called Art Every Day Month. So, each day of this month, I intend to make something: draw, paint, collage, scribble, photograph, cook, knit, or otherwise do something creative. (You can see the "rules" of this challenge posted by Leah here. And some of you will find that the challenge fits whatever creative acts you are doing already each day.) I'll try to post one image a day, depending on how my schedule is going.

For me, the goal is to document my work everyday, in order to keep track of all the various kinds of creativity I have brought into my life. I have made a space for art-making as daily practice, and now I'm challenging myself to record it and share it.

I hope you'll stop by to see where I am on my journey.
                            But, enough exposition, get to the art, runningwave.

Ancestors Walk Among Us by ~runningwave~
Today there was really no doubt that my theme would be inspired by the images of sugar skulls and mums common to the Latin American fiesta that begins November first, the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos). I became fascinated with this holiday seventeen years ago when I was in the midst of learning about my own Celtic ancestry. I discovered the amazing ways that ancient cultures of both Latin and Celtic countries revere ancestors at the time of the astronomical cross-quarter each autumn: the point at which the long nights begin to eat into the hours of daylight.

These celebrations are deeply spiritual in significance. It is a way of reconnecting to your genetic ancestors and your cultural ancestors. I can be difficult to see them in the Halloween celebration we grew up with, so you have to peel back the commercial layers and get at the point of why it is important to embrace the darkness, mystery, and ask for guidance from the souls who've been there before.

Dia de los Muertos altar in La Jolla, California by ~runningwave~
Artistically, Dia de los Muertos, is a true visual fiesta. I worked for Mexican folk art shop in Georgetown in the District for a while and became enamored of Mexican art, the vibrant, cheery colors and fluffy flower petals contrasting with the chalky skeletons and the tin-covered shrines. Now when I travel to California or the Southwestern states in the autumn, I keep my eyes peeled for these extravagant window displays with family portraits, flowers, candles, and skulls. There are always figurines, skeletons doing what live humans usually do. They intrigue me because, they are us. They were us. We will be them.

Darkness from which emerges light,
We thank you for the time to pause and remember.
Ancestors, walk among us and speak your truths.
Charge us to work towards a more humane and peaceful world.
We light a candle in all your names,
Foremothers, Forefathers, Friends.
Call to us. Transform us.
Be here now.
Blessed be.

--runningwave, October 2001

Sources for art journal page above:  Skull stencil from TheCraftersWorkshop.com; sugar skull and mum rubber stamps from Papersource; Distress inks, and Memento dye ink, colored pens and gel ink.


  1. I think you will enjoy this month of a challenge. I did it last year and found it most entertaining..there are some amazing people who join in:)
    have fun!

    1. Thank you, Gwen. When I saw some of the creative things done by other artists for the Creative Every Day blog, I was inspired to participate.

      There are so many people out their giving their time and energy to creativity. There is no force more positive on the planet than this one other than love itself.

  2. I think it's great that you are documenting the art you create each day. As you mentioned, even cooking is an art. I often think I should record what I've made in a month for times when I berate myself for being so unproductive. Your Day of the Dead page is fantastic! I love that you incorporated all the symbolism of the feast along with the vibrant colors. Wonderful. I'll be following all month.

    1. Glad you like my Day of the Dead art journal piece, Maryanne. And thank you very kindly for following. It's going to be an adventure and I was up late in the night working on my first page because I'm excited about the Art Every Day challenge.

  3. Great piece, I really like your mums!

  4. I'm so impressed you are taking the challenge of being creative every day! Your Day of the Dead spreads make me feel the thin veil between the worlds at this time of year. I live in the desert southwest and love the traditions associated with this celebration.