Christina Rosalie

Posts from the “Creative Process” Category

Studio time

Posted on August 23, 2015

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Hello friends,

I can hardly believe that summer’s (almost) over. It was everything summer’s supposed to be: Art and sun and wine and friends. Late evenings and late mornings. If I’m totally honest, I’m reluctant to head back to the constraints and rhythms of school.

Summer’s moments of extra light and days without schedule allowed for more time for making, and I’ve been taking every advantage of that.

I thought I’d share a few glimpses into my studio and a new series of paintings that I’m making. The paintings are on much bigger canvases than I’ve ever painted on before, and I feel like the rules have changed. They’re experimental and unfamiliar and all I want to do is spend time with a brush in my hand, following where the ink and paint take me.

One of the biggest pieces began as a compilation of the 100 circles I made for the 100 Day Project. It felt incredibly risky, and then incredibly freeing to paint over that work. To let it evolve, become more.

This is something I’ve been exploring in general lately: How to not be too precious with things. How to let things go easily, and move towards the things that fill me up or move me in the moment, without needing to cling to them, or to contain them.

This is a theme I’ve also been exploring over on Tumblr, making 100 poems for 100 days. They’re raw, in the moment gestures that allow me to slip around the side door to my subconscious and tap into the stuff my heart knows, but my mind tends to get too clever about. Like I did with the 100 circles project, I’ve made the rule set super simple for these poems: In the moment, wherever I am, without much fuss or editing. Just write. Hit publish. Let go. It’s pretty sneaky how this work has started to change me.

How showing up for real, without doing much talking about it, or procrastinating, or posturing, has made me a better artist and a better writer. It takes a certain kind of daring and discipline I’d lost for a while, and I’m grateful to have rekindled it this summer.

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I’m deeply filled by this new approach to work, in a way I didn’t expect, and can’t quite put a finger on, except to say: Each time I show up, I feel myself become re-grounded. I find my breath differently. It’s become a practice, again, anew.

Thanks for stopping by. I’m so grateful for the scattered community that still finds its way here. And I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to this summer, and see glimpses, if you have them to share, of your creative practice, your work, your workspaces.
xo,
C

Yes & yes

Posted on July 19, 2015

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Photo: Erika Senft Miller

Photo: Erika Senft Miller

There aren’t words really, not yet. Except that I went, and found myself a part of a tribe of the most creative people among the familiar landscape of my childhood for a handful of days. I can back brimming. I came back on the 100th day of my circle project. I came back filled. Heart-felt. Held. Discovered. Seen. Inspired.

Since then I’ve been nonstop making. A notebook already full. The next book taking shape now fast, and certainly. Big canvases edging into sight… and I’m taking every moment I can to create.

I won’t likely be sharing much… at least not yet, not while it feels fresh and wild. What I am sharing is another 100-day project:

I’ll be writing poems daily for the next one hundred days.

I’d really love for you to follow along HERE.

xo, C

Black & white glimpses

Posted on May 9, 2015

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A handful photos I’ve taken recently, processed in black and white, in the same way that one chooses to write fiction over non. There is a story element to black and white. A telling, beyond the marrow and the bone. Black and white captures the illusiveness, the fleeting way that light catches skin, falls long, flutters, move on. It tells a little of what can’t be told; the longing inside of skin. The sweetness of breath. The suddenness of gesture. By being less saturated with hue, it leaves more room for what becomes. The story on the page, perception, like a breath caught, a lip bitten, sudden laughter that lifts on the air.

Birthday glimpses

Posted on February 16, 2015

So I’m 37. My birthday came and went. A blink. It’s the first time in ten years I haven’t posted here on, or near my birthday. Instead, today my oldest son turns ten. TEN. In four days my youngest turns six. The world turns. It keeps turning. Every day with them is a hilarious mix of pure joy and annoyance, angst and delight, frustration and sweetness. Every day my heart is cracked open with wonder. Every day the floor is strewn recklessly with their things.

There is no way to make up for the lost days between my birthday and now: Nearly a month of milky winter sunrises through pale curtains; the smell of my boys’ skin curled next to me, reading stories before bed; oysters sucked down at the coast around a table with incredible writers; bonfires built on the sand; holes dug; donuts consumed.

No way to describe all the moments spent at the alter where ocean meets sky; at the cusp of the world where you cannot help but feel that you are made wholly anew; the ions dancing in the air; the kites; the bonfire smoke at twilight, sipping wine, watching the birds flock towards their rocky island homes.

No way to convey the way Tin House was both fire and solace for my writer soul, re-invigorating my work, and igniting new fervor. No way to list the he books I’ve read, or partly read; the thousand kisses exchanged with my love; the late nights spent on projects for work; the deadlines and the satisfaction of hitting them; the camellias in bloom; the downward dogs I bow into with each new day.

Instead, here are a handful of pictures. It’s been an incredible start to the year. A year I’ve begun with big intentions and deep gratitude.

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PS: I made a new Birthday List, here.

Be in time.

Posted on January 4, 2015

“You will be told that ‘time is your greatest enemy, time is your greatest possession. Hey, you better be careful with time because time don’t come back'; “Time flies” “Time is of the essence” “Don’t waste time” “You must control your time” and, above all else, “Be on time – Be on time.” Well, friends, in the words of the great Louisiana jazz trumpet man, Enute Johnson, “Son, don’t worry about being on time, be in time.” Because when you are “in” time, you can accept and experience a much larger slice of life as it unfolds. Instead of imposing your will on every situation, you focus on including everyone else, and just that little adjustment of attitude gives you the space to understand where and who you are.”

— Wynton Marsalis at my college graduation forever ago.

Patience is the destination

Posted on November 24, 2014

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Hello friends. I’ve missed this little corner of the world. Missed the routine of showing up, of documenting simply, day by day. Of taking notice, and hearing in turn how your worlds align and turn. I like that asynchronous connection. The moments of inspiration and reflection that come of shared moments across time. The stories that find their way into the comments. The wayward emails I get, reminding e we’re all connected, and my words find their mark in New Zealand or Sweden, Buffalo, under feet of snow, or in Burlington, where my muscle memory is still strong, and winter has already gathered close.

Here, autumn slips towards winter gently. The rains have started, but each day there are moments of brightness, and in them we rake leaves, look up at the sky and find rainbows, or walk to the cafe among the rose gardens for chai tea in the afternoon at work. Still, it’s taken until this month to feel a gradual settling of routines, and a steadiness in orbit here.

In the cafe yesterday while writing, I overheard someone say, “Patience is the destination.”

I couldn’t help thinking that they’ve got it exactly right. Flannery O’Conner only ever finished three pages in the three hours she wrote each day, and Gertrude Stein even less, though both I think understood the secret is just showing up steadily for something. Stein said, “If you write a half hour a day, it makes a lot of writing year by year.” The accumulated truth of persistence. The evidence of patience on the page.

All this to say I’ve begun writing again, stories this time, slowly. I write for three hours on Saturdays, and find that with this routine I’ve begun to be increasingly able to just sink in and write when I get to the cafe and order a coffee. In between times the story lives with me. The scenes find me vividly and sometimes I’ll write notes, like today while running on the treadmill I could hardly wait to finish three miles so I could jot down what I’d worked out.

I’ve stopped expecting I’ll finish anything with any kind of speed, and with that release of expectation I’ve found a new kind of focus for my work.

Still, it takes commitment. To showing up. I’ll be working on this new material at the Tin House winter Writer’s Workshop in January, staying in the Sylvia Plath Hotel on the Oregon coast for a long weekend, and for this opportunity thrilled. It’s a way to remind myself of who I am. Of putting a stake in the terrain that is my life, as a writer, even as I am also other things.

Happy August!

Posted on August 2, 2014

How is August? How? How do I have a nearly fourth grader who wakes up every morning and sits cross-legged on the couch, shirtless, tan, his hair a bed-head tousle, and reads. How is my baby an almost kindergartener, his body suddenly that of a little boy’s, lean-muscled and strong. How is it possible that I live here in this glorious city, in this snug little bungalow. How are these streets that I’ve begun to love dearly the place I now call home?

Yes, summer is a time of incredulity for me. Almost every year it catches me by surprise. The wonder of summer. Its extroversion. The way the days blur into evenings. The way we disregard bedtimes, and loll about on Saturday mornings kissing. The golden afternoons that find us one after the next like a dream. The air-conditioned days indoors spent working on projects with some of the smartest, coolest people I know. The blue skies. The muddy knees of my boys at the end of the day. The late nights on the back porch with wine as the walnut leaves rustle. All of it happens in such a full-saturation blur, that each day I wake wide-eyed and feel more in love with my life than the day before.
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I know I’ve been quiet here. Summer seems to make this so. We’re so busy being out in the sun-drenched world that there’s less time for retrospection and recording. I’m enjoying every minute of it, and also looking forward to the simple routines and rhythms of fall.

Heads up: I’ll be doing a summer songbird studio sale at the end of August–featuring the newest set of hand-painted + collaged postcards I’m working on–in response to your demand from the last sale! Do sign up for my newsletter if you haven’t, to get first dibs when the sale goes live. I’ll be doing this one a little differently than the last one, so stay tuned.


Finally: Some of you still seem to subscribe to my blog via my old My Topography url, which I made the terrible mistake of forgetting to renew. It’s now been taken over by spammers and some of you have emailed me that you’re getting unexpected content in your feed readers. Please update your RSS feed to christinarosalie.com!


Happy August friends!

What I remember + what I know

Posted on July 1, 2014

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I didn’t mean to stop, only, there it is. Life has a way of finding you, amidst your best intentions. I love what this small challenge inspired. A rash of brilliant posts by my friend Amanda; photos to take your breath away my other dear friend Hilary, who always needs to be nudged to document; and a handful of other daily glimpses from friends and readers I don’t know, but feel like I know just the same.

I intended to keep on, but then the weekend came. Weekends have a way of filling up to the gills lately, and after the weekend, a work trip to Texas, planned to be short, but made longer by a cancelled flight and extra night on the way home in Phoenix, Arizona. So there it is, back to back days without a single chance to gather the moments here. To upload the images, or record the observations as they happened, though there are many notes scrawled in my notebook or jotted in the notes app on my phone. A chronology of circumstance. A record of the small things, and the big. Sentences that happened only in fits and starts, but never here.

What I remember is the heat in Texas and the rain that turned the sky to black. The century plants and cactuses that reminded me of my earliest years in Los Angeles. The heat of a blue sky filling with thunderheads, while down below we ate ate eggplant fries, and truffle oil reveled eggs, and catfish tacos.

Then non-time of the airport, reading Inc. cover to cover, and Elle, and also Fast Company, and feeling the ways something shifts in my brain when I have long stretches just to read and think. Ideas have a way of magnetizing then, like finding like; fragments converging.

What I remember is coming back so tired in the morning that after a cup of hot tea and checking email I took a nap, wakening hours later and not knowing immediately where the edges of dream ended and reality began. There, in bed with the dog curled by my hip, I let myself float in a way I rarely get to: between sleep and dreaming where thoughts are buoyant and things have wings.

There, and also in every waking instant, I’ve been thinking now about my new book. There are two actually. The ideas bookend each other. The narratives make a dialog, an equation, an equilibrium. I’m curious if I can pull it off.

What I remember is the sweetness of my boy’s when they came home from camp. Their hailstorm of yells and shouts finding me there at the doorway at the end of the day. Their arms around my neck, their kisses on my sounders, cheeks. Their fingers in my hair, and even still with them under foot, a different kind of kiss. Stirring, sweeter, finding T’s heat mirroring my own.

Then the weekend, dawning with rain. Making a raspberry crumble to share at dinner with friends. The biggest rainbow we’ve seen. The boys shouts. The first firecrackers for the Fourth echoing down the street. Twilight. Then Sunday morning bacon and good coffee. Painting the guest bedroom a fresh white. Baked chicken and mashed potatoes on the new walnut outdoor table T made by hand. White wine in handblown glasses. Watching the walnut leaves blow in the wind.

What I remember is this: to show up and to try is all it takes. To show up with the intention always is the start. I begin. I keep going. I go until I find my way. That, in the end, is all I know.

Now there is a reckless, rag tag folder now of drafts in Scrivner. It’s raw and new, but no matter. The beginning is here.

This is how it happens, friends. A book, or anything else. Any body of work, any essay, or dream, or plan begins with showing up; with training the mind to bow at the simple task of arrival, noticing the world.
 
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