Tag Archives: Three Rivers artist

In Love with a Tree..

A Sunday trek to Fresno for an art fix and some Trader Joe goodies, led me to this tree in the courtyard of the Fresno Art Museum and my camera and I caressed the bark. Now a new series of collage work is showing up.

from the Bark Series

The natural world does not call itself an artist, yet in every aspect of its existence, art is living. This tree stood very still for me as I made hundreds of photographs of it. It was hard to leave, but I will be back.

New Work: The Hatchery Series

The Hatchery Series images were photographed during a one day art exhibition in the small Sierra Nevada foothill community of Badger, California. The show was called “Free Range” and included a wide range of art, some installation work as well as monoprints, paintings, collage, photography and video. The building was actually a series of several large Butler buildings joined together. It was originally built by the group called Synanon which lived on the property many years ago. The huge structure had been used briefly as a charter school, then abandoned to the cows and ghosts.

It has been re-invented as The Hatchery.

The Hatchery artists pulled up some of old carpeting, tidied it up but not too much, and used some of the found materials and walls to create new art. I was literally mesmerized by the space, and my camera lens attached itself to scene after scene. I could not stop making photographs as I meandered through the immense “rooms”.

This one day experience came about with some elbow grease, an organic vision via a handful of gifted artists (some local, some from the Bay Area) and showed how creative expression does not have to be a big production. I look forward to the next hatching from this group (they call themselves the Shadequarter Artists Initiative) and another breakthrough look-see.

Images © Elsah Cort

Redbud Garden Club is 60 years old…

Just finished making the little “yearbook” for our local garden club.
Here is the cover…it’s 5.5 inches by 4.25 inches.
The yearbook lists members, meeting dates and programs, resources.
[There are some member openings, in case you live near by
and love gardening, especially with native plants.]

Doing not much….

Studio time versus just every day living time.
My studio is upstairs, I pass by it every time I come in my front door.

I don’t go there every day. Not a good sign for a so-called artist.

My real studio is non-local…
could be said to be in my head, which is also non-local.

I don’t make “stuff” art every day.
I muse art every day, seeing it in my mind’s eye.

I am a-mused today, thinking about the how to integrate the doing of art in a daily life, so that doing itself is the art and not the art itself being the art.

“Art is Human”

Quotes from Linchpin by Seth Godin

“Most artists can’t draw…but all artists can see.”

“Art is about intent and communication, not substances.”

“An artist is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to change the status quo. And an artist takes it personally.”

“Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient. The medium doesn’t matter. The intent does.”

“An artist is an individual who creates art. The more people you change, the more you change them, the more effective your art is.”

“Art is original…Art is the product of emotional labor. If it’s easy and risk free, it’s unlikely that it’s art. The last element that makes it art is that it’s a gift. You cannot create a piece of art merely for money. Doing it as a part of commerce so denudes art of wonder that it ceases to be art.”

“If art is a human connection that causes someone to change his mind, then you are an artist.”


The free will choice we have to change our minds is the way we create our world. Honing this ability is our main work. First we have to shake loose the shackles of conformity, familiarity, comfort, and even pain. When you realize that you have been holding on to old versions of who and what you think you are, while letting these versions masquerade as the real you, you will weep and laugh at the same time. We appear in human form as novices when, in truth, we are as ancient as the big bang itself.

digital collage from Square One Series  ©Elsah Cort


Explore authentic work with The Deeper Well retreats
in the Sierra Nevada mountains near Sequoia National Park.

In the Studio…

Just now as I was adding new lighting to the studio for the Studio Tour next weekend, a peace came over me. Making a space for creation is the essence of earth-work. Our planet does this for us in every moment.  So this space of mine, mine temporarily, is becoming an art work itself. So full of beauty….in the gathering and the space collage and the shuffle of songs in the iTunes music library, now Mary Chapin Carpenter sings “listening with my heart.”

The studio is re-aligning itself, not just for the Studio tour, but for the rest of my time here.  I am an artist, finally.

:: a studio shrine high atop the eleven-shelf paper stacks ::
mandala is mine…
Alex Grey card…
deep purple boxes for treasures….
too small to read, but the book title closest on right is
The Holographic Universe


I am gathering songs for a playlist on iTunes for the Studio Tour…….just after I typed these words, the music queue gifts me Coleman Barks talking about Rumi and the guest house.

Coleman speaking: Rumi’s model for the psyche is the guesthouse. He says we are not the emotions, the compulsions and the moods that come through us. We are the space that they move through and the host of the space. We are not those emotions. So that jealousy comes and you say, “Good to see you, I thought you were dead.” Or stage fright comes, and you say ” Welcome, it’s been kind of dull without you.” Ecstatic love comes down the walk, “My pleasure.” A sentimental sense of oneness with everything approaches, “I knew your Mother.” (Coleman laughs.) That’s kind of cruel isn’t it? A cynical doubt of  anything spiritual comes down the road, “Bro! How about that game last night? Unbelievable!” Road rage comes, “Have you ever considered becoming a professional driver?”

Here is the poem, from The Essential Rumi…..


This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meaness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Tree Bark

© Elsah Cort
This is a new collage from photos taken in Crescent Meadow last week,
visiting the monarch Sequoia tree that burned on my birthday in August,
which now has 50% of its original substance fallen to the ground.

Accidental landscape

How many computers does a real artist need?  At least more than one.

the not-far-fall of July 5

the not-far-fall of July 5

[……visit the forest for another view……]

So much depends…

So much depends on the arrival of a new scanner to replace the one the came several weeks ago which scanned with such poor quality that I had to research how to to return items to amazon for the first time in all these years of being unable to resist buying things over the internet especially after a pleasant call to someone who works at amazon who told me I had just a few days to return the old-but-new-to-me scanner by July 6 with the free return UPS mailing label they gave me to print on my printer and tape to the original scanner box which thankfully I saved and could carry quite easily to the UPS store in Visalia requiring the obligatory forty-five minute drive to do other errands besides the UPS store feeling so sorry that our local UPS source was closing after being known at Sequoia Gifts and Souvenirs while apparantly not being able to sustain a profit adequate enough in these so-called “tough economic times” to stay open also long enough for me to bring in some new cards I will be making as a local Three Rivers artist using the second new scanner that is coming again from amazon just because they do make it so easy to buy from them along with mostly cheaper prices than anywhere else and listening to or rather reading the comments about the epson scanner I have now ordered and will apparantly arrive on Tuesday that is supposed to be good if you don’t use the epson software but the ICE software to scan negatives albeit slowly so they say but I don’t really care about time these days as I gave up counting time while still releasing old patterns of daily panic thoughts about what I am supposed to be doing with my life and how I appear to others which is the biggest waste of time my mind often flounders in as something I have seen as a leo curse and constant distraction since not one of us has an unfiltered view of each other so we are often not knowing each other in ways that we could especially for the artists in us who are supposed to see the heart of things as society often likes to tell us we can do even though our views that become actual objects of art don’t always make the grade at the least the grade we like to put on ourselves as we are the ones who can’t see our real selves the most and it really depends on how and if we do this truth telling so we’d all be much better off as we grow up adding touches of kindness and a few dashes of fun loving spirit along with some more-often-than-we-do-it-now washing of desparately dirty windows necessary to all aspects of daily living so we could totally ecstatically enjoy this being human…..

claiming the life of an artist…


Never have I felt connected to the title “artist” or used it as a way to describe me.

I have been known to make stuff.

I have made an series of 64 collage cards with poetry for each one, this was first begun twelve years ago (they await a complete re-design in form, size and maybe even words.)  This card collection has been known as The Other Shore.

I have made mandalas, hundreds of them, with watercolor pencils and metallic gel pens. They came from meditative practices learned long ago. I don’t call the mandalas art, but rather a high form of doodling. I mostly love the process of the mandala-making with no real attachment to the result.

I have made photographs, also hundreds of them, now thirty years past.  After at least seven years of being buried in boxes in a niche under my stairs, the photographs are scattered all over the table in the living room.  I have awakened them to introduce the negatives to a new scanner that  is supposed to bring them to life in the digital world.

Re-making, re-thinking, re-vising—a RE-DO of all of it—is in the works.

Oh, and I now make blogs.  Several, in fact, for me and all the spokes in the wheel of my life.
I am consulting with other artists to give them a jump start in the blogging world.

I am emerging as artist.

(Please, forgive this boring, mundane post. This is the way things are at the moment.)

Keep your back door open…


A bluebird flew into the house today through the open back door (no screen door because the door is a full glass panel and I love the view.)  Over the twenty-six years of living in this house, there have been many birds flying inside.  But, never, before today, has a Western Bluebird shown up.  I could not resist grabbing the camera right in front of me and snapping this shot.  I opened all the nearby windows (also without screens) and gently guided the bird toward open air.  No wave of farewell, it was gone in a flash of blue.

Ted Andrews, in my cover-faded worn copy of Animal-Speaks, writes the bluebirds are now rare in the United States but used to be very common.  He translates the message of the bluebird as “often a reminder that we are born to happiness and fulfillment, but we sometimes get so lost and wrapped up in everyday events of our lives that our happiness and fulfillment seem rare…”

The idea that the bluebird brings happiness is a recent human version of its message. Andrews adds, “This is a symbol of a passage, a time of movement into another level of being…transformation.”

Keeping your back door open may be a good approach to your everyday concerns, especially now.

[This is only the second siting of a bluebird for me at this foothill homeplace.  I hear of other people in Three Rivers having bluebirds nest nearby and visit.  Never have I seen one cupped in my hands on a New Moon.]

PS. A twitter post from @GlowStick Happy New Moon #twerps 🙂 In Gemini we “turn up” our curiousity, discover the possibility & let ourselves be open to new *communication*~

Mandate for an artist…

The story of the art, its biography or “provenance” or evolution into form, is what brings meaning to the work.  Not that art has to have a stated meaning, but what is it showing up for anyway?  As actively creative persons (all of us are creative in our nature) artists have a special responsibility when our art is presented to the world or even hung on the walls of our homes.  People may notice it and wonder about it.

So, this mandala has hung in the same place on the wall at the foot of my spreading stairs for at least ten years.  I pass by it numerous times in the day.  I have not looked at it closely in a long, long time.  And, the other day, I had bed and breakfast guests, curious about what they saw in my studio and home, and one woman stood in front of this mandala asking:  is that made from real flowers?

She wanted to know the story.  And, I realized, so did I.

flowermandala flowermandaleframed

I don’t even remember when I actually made this, but it was at least over 20 years ago.  All flowers were gathered from around my house and pressed in telephone books.  The center, or bindu point, is small purple bicolor lupine which grow very close to the ground.  The stems, dividing the mandala into quadrants, are from the local endemic poppy.  30 years ago I learned to call this wildflower by the name of frying pan poppy, because its pale yellow petals are splayed out rather flat from its center, just they are in the mandala itself.  The inner circular ring is made from fringepod or lacepod seeds.  A splash of watercolor hues are in the base.

The story of the art is my love for these plants which show up year after year without planting or seeding by human hand.  And these flowers used to be all over this town, but are disappearing rapidly as people move here and make their new homes and yards in the foothills look like their old homes in the cities with green lawns and oleanders and plants they don’t call weeds, like the local plants are called now.

This mandala is the story of grief.  Grief that can only come with the knowing of beauty.  No way to avoid this if you are living a human life that sees wildflowers growing on their own, especially on the hill that plows into your kitchen window.

Mandate for the artist:  live the life….make the art….share the story….and let others know they can do it too.

Wesak Full Moon: Awakening the True Self

(The Wesak Full Moon is the first full moon after the sun goes into the astrological sign of Taurus, usually in May, sometimes in April. The full moon is at 9:01 pm PST on May 8, 2009 and 12:01 am EST on May 9, 2009)

We touch the heart,

we contain the truth,

we hold the gratitude.

In this way, and only in this way,

we serve the Human Spirit.


We touch the Ultimate with each breath. We blend the outer breath as “inhale” with the inner breath as “exhale.”  It is a natural flow that contains all we need to know or be. When we are still, pausing between inhale and exhale or between exhale and inhale, we stand at the Door.

The Buddha teaches us the path to the Door; the Christ gives us the key to the Door.  We enter the Door, when fully in mind and heart, we join our will with the Will of God, the Life of God, the Light of God, and the Love of God.

At the Wesak Full Moon, the Earth is blessed with the linking of the Buddha and the Christ. It is a time for bringing forth new intuition, new rhythms, new serving–all transformed through the wisdom of the Buddha path and the “love-ye-one-another” heart of the Christ.

These two great Beings as working together in the NOW as servers for the Human Spirit.  Let us hold them in deep gratitude and welcome a Wesak Awakening in our souls.

[the above description of Wesak is found on the back of the cards in the “Awaken Wesak” series in The Other Shore collection. The collage is also found in this card series, where all the images have both Buddha and  the Christ in them.  Here is Buddha holding the baby Jesus.  I call it “Buddha and child.”

The energy of the Buddha and the Christ is not confined to those two human beings who lived it to the fullest. It is available to all of us.  It is natural to all of us. It is not owned by any religion or dogma; in fact, it has been corrupted by many of these institutions. Even the word, God, is inadequate to describe it.  As the Tao teaches, it cannot be named or spoken. I Ching, the Oracle of the Cosmic Way describes it as “…the true self, which is born with a full quotient of Cosmic Chi and naturally equipped to express its uniqueness…”

Wesak itself, has its origins in Tibet (the timing relating to the birth of Guatama Buddha) and has evolved in the West through the work of Alice Bailey and other theosophists and, the source of my first hearing of it, Ann Ree Colton via her school called Niscience. The Lucis Trust has good online publications about the Wesak Festival.]


buddhapetalsweb I give up. What’s next?

My grandfather, an earlybird pilot, Walter E. Lees, brought this buddha back from China in the 1940’s. I never got to talk to him about where and how he found this. He died when I was 7 (and I knew nothing about Buddha to ask questions.) He did give me my first beer, though, and he was also left-handed. Me, too.


So I moved a framed piece of cloth, a small part of a handwoven coverlet made in the 1700’s by one of my ancestors, from the place high on the kitchen wall where it has hung for at least 25 years.  Big change.


View from the clothes pins


Looking up the Kaweah River Canyon (deeper than the Grand Canyon ) toward Sequoia National Park with Ash Mountain looking sharp and rocky in the late afternoon on a Wednesday.  Palm tree marks the spot where St. Anthony’s Retreat greets pilgrims from time to time and has a bell that rings out with no regular pattern to tell me to take notice of whatever is in that exact moment.  I listen.

Can I see the forest for the trees?


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