Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Cleaning and Doodling in the studio with French drummer Manu Katche

1 Jazz doodling to Manu Katche by Wayne Stratz
Coming back from a weekend of selling our art in Wilmington, I was faced with a studio that had not be stratightened up/cleaned in .... months. Ughhhhhhh

It is far better shape now. Two days in a row I listened to Manu Katche's Neighbourhood. Splitting the time between jazz doodling and cleaning was a fine idea. A new habit?

And then when I research this drummer, I realize I was listening to him in the 80's and 90's when he played on LP's by Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman, Loreena McKennitt...

As I cleaned up, I separated paper of designs I wanted to keep, and paper to be recycled. It reminded me of our recent business meeting when we planned out a week in our studios. Maybe more of my favored designs will be revisited if we continue these meetings. We will see. A special meeting to get through projects could lead to a bit more focus from me.

Beginnings: Here is the opening track to Neighbourhood, it pulled me in and I am a fan.


I decided to capture the center of these doodles, where they began.

2 Jazz doodling to Manu Katche by Wayne Stratz


3 Jazz doodling to Manu Katche by Wayne Stratz

4 Jazz doodling to Manu Katche by Wayne Stratz



Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Blue Tuesdays: A Stratozpheric Jump

Blue Stratoz: Stratosphere Trampoline Park in Wilmington DE by Wayne Stratz

Friday 7/24/15,  Margaret and I rolled into Wilmington, we took back roads and found a new place to eat with a way too enticing menu along the way. Who knew southern food was so appealing to me? Well, maybe food is appealing. (Dixie Kitchen in Malvern, PA)

Unloading at the Chase Center went fine. Then before we set up.. a museum visit, Thai Food, an art supply store, and later after set up... dinner with one of my best artist friends, Great Egrets along the riverfront and TV commercials all of which I had never seen... The weekend was off to a fine start.

You jump into shows with hope, and like a trampoline (sure I am only going by knowledge not experience) it sinks and rises. A sale here, a near sale there, a slow hour of no one walking by the booth; and running into friends, who drove south to see you. Encouragement. Disappointment. And that moment in time when I tried to get a woodworker to howl when the show slowed down on Sunday just like my neighbor's dogs would do when they were lonely. I told him I would join in. He loved the concept, but no howling was heard.

The weekend was fun. Did I have hopes to make a fortune and celebrate our birthdays in a huge way? Sure, but we always celebrate. Weekends need to be seen in a big picture.

I used to say life was like a roller coaster, maybe it is like a trampoline. We fuel how high our spirits soar.

and and let me say one of the highest leaps happened when I posted this video on YouTube, we will deliver the item in the spotlight to a collector/fan/friend

;


Monday, July 27, 2015

old words in a new font: Jazz, welcome, and breathe in Chelsea Studio


Breathe in Chelsea Studio Font. Lettering by Wayne Stratz. Background by Margaret Almon. Order your word of choice here


Jazz in Chelsea Studio Font. Lettering by Wayne Stratz. Background by Margaret Almon. Order your word of choice here

Welcome in Chelsea Studio Font. Lettering by Wayne Stratz. Background by Margaret Almon. Order your word of choice here



















Friday, July 24, 2015

just because your destination is gone; arriving at the gate that was nonexistent

top of the a fence post at the Jesuit Center; June 2015; Wayne Stratz

So did I turn back, nope. (see this post about walking to a nonexistent gate)

While the gate was gone, I kept walking. My eye was drawn to the iron fence on either side of the entrance to the Jesuit Center in Wernersville. I started taking photos, until... 

"What are you doing over there!"

The man in the pickup truck was curious. Once I explained who I was and what I was up to, then he explained who he was. A Jesuit, not in charge of spiritual direction, but in charge of the grounds was in the pickup truck. All those stops along the way to the nonexistent fence had created this timely encounter.

"What happened to the fence?"  I guess I had broken Silence, but hey, the Jesuit in the pickup truck had started the conversation.

"Damaged" "Again" "Being restored" "Again" "Hundreds of years old" "From Europe" "Tired of being damaged" "Uncertainty of its future home at the center." "But... it will be used on the grounds"

And thus, by being nonexistent, it became known;

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

a few nights in the studio with Vijay Iyer going solo


Vijay Iyer Solo CD cover with a jazz doodled bookmark for a friend's daughter

It was 2014 when Margaret and I walked into the Hatch Center in Rochester. It had become one of our favorite venues in no time at all. Solo jazz piano in a state of the art (acoustically magical) setting. Vijay Iyer was the local boy that evening and his family and friends were there in good number. We squeezed in and found two seats.

Vijay Iyer inspired design, funky view to get violet shine. Design, Craft, and Photo by Wayne Stratz

We had learned of his music in 2010 when Solo hit many a best of the year list. So we sat and waited. Joy.

I drew a few cards to hand out at one night while listening to Solo. As I drew I thought of a friend at work. I know her voice well, especially the sound of it at 3:00 when students are called to buses. But the voice is not there this summer, so I asked for her address

Vijay Iyer inspired design, view with Dogwood. Design, Craft, and Photo by Wayne Stratz

The next night, I played Solo and I took pencil (and lots of erasure) to paper. I wanted a new design. I started over on a new sheet and went on and on as the music flowed. Solo. And before the music ended I stopped. Pencil and erasure were dropped. 

Glass was chosen and all was set before I hit play. Then it became together through solder. But my time in the studio was not over. When chatting with my friend, a thought came upon me. Why not draw a bookmark for her daughter. So once again Vijay Iyer filled my studio.

Vijay Iyer inspired design, funky view with Blue Sky and Dogwood Tree. Design, Craft, and Photo by Wayne Stratz




















Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Blue Tuesdays: looking at the edge while at Warner Glass

the outer edge of Blue: Warner Glass, 2015, by Wayne Stratz

Over on the Nutmeg Blog, I wrote about a business trip, adventure to Warner Glass in Allentown. It was their first day open in a new location and to see what we experienced... check this out.

This image didn't quite fit the theme of that post. As Margaret paid for our purchase I walked about with camera in hand. The rows of the extra large sheets caught my attention. I tried to get an image peering into a wooden crate set on their side, but nothing was working. So I focused my attention on the colors streaming out of the outer edge of glass. That worked.

Have a great Tuesday.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

My sermon: plans and acknowledgement 2 samuel 7: 1-14

Moss as it caught my eye. Jesuit Center, Wernersville PA. 2015. Wayne Stratz

as it was on paper when I entered Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Lansdale:




Plans, we make them all the time. I don’t necessarily like planning. I make lesson plans for my supervisor. I don’t go into great detail because I doubt I will be teaching what my plans say I will be teaching 7 days in the future.

As John Lennon said…“Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.”

I am better at seeing the values in plans; and my wife, who likes planning, has helped. You know, why eat an OK meal while on the road when you could plan it out and find a good restaurant in advance. Plans can give our journey the bit of guidance it needs.

And then there is the concept of God’s plan for us. David did not plan to become king. David would have not been taken seriously if he had left his flock of sheep and announced he was making plans to be king, the youngest does not get the power. Why make plans when the future is beyond our control?

A few weeks ago, I arrived at the Jesuit Center for a silent retreat and even though I knew the suggested verse, “Be still and know that I am God,” I looked it up in my Bible. In silence, it is key to seek stillness. Quiet your whole self, not just your mouth. I expected a night focused on becoming still. It was my plan, but my Bible did not say what I expected, instead of “know that I am God,” it translated the Hebrew, “acknowledge that I am God.” My retreat would be altered as I thought to myself, acknowledge is not the same as know.

Much had happened since a prophet told David that he was the anointed one and now David had a plan for God. God will get a new home. A God, who brought the people of Israel into a permanent homeland and into a time of endless peace, deserved something better than a tent. So David told the local prophet to tell God what he planned to do. Have you ever told God what was what? Were you willing to listen to what God said back to you? As the UCC church loves to tell us, God is still speaking.

God first makes it clear he digs his tent which is free to move. He is a God who roamed above the waters of the Earth creating new days and new creatures. She is a God, who is not searching for a permanent home. God tells David, “I will let you know when I am ready to have a new home.”

We often focus more on our plan for God than God’s plan for us. How will we worship God? How will we pray? What music will be used to praise God? What color scheme meets the season? What Bible is the best translation?

I woke up in the silence of birds greeting a new summer day. Dawn had emerged. After breakfast, I had a plan to photograph an amazing gate. Funny thing was that when I walked to the bottom of the hill, I discovered the gate was gone. I hadn't noticed this huge gate was missing when I had driven into the Jesuit Center the previous day. But flowers, moss, lichens, trees, rust, and birds caught my eye on the journey to the gate. I spent the rest of the retreat fascinated by moss and I have to admit I began to imagine a new plan for my future; to become a professional moss photographer, clearly a profession with a need for more members.

David was thrown into the job of warrior king. And in that role he did well. One could easily see or assume that God was with him. When God turns down the offer of a nice house, God spins the story and says, “No, No, David, let me build you a house. A Dynasty of leaders that begins with your son.” The reading ends with God saying,I shall be a father to him and he a son to me”

But God continues speaking:  if he does wrong, I shall punish him with a rod such as men use, with blows such as mankind gives.
15. But my faithful love will never be withdrawn from him as I withdrew it from Saul, whom I removed from before you.
16. Your dynasty and your sovereignty will ever stand firm before me and your throne be forever secure."
17. Nathan related all these words and this whole revelation to David.

In other words, God may get annoyed, but all will be forgiven and the Dynasty will endure.

On Sundays here at Holy Trinity I walk back to my chair after sharing in the Eucharist; and pray seven desires: To fill my house with love, my studio with awe, my garden with beauty, my church with jazz, my classroom with joy, my friendships with grace, and in everything hope.

Be still and acknowledge I am God.

In the stillness of the retreat, I slow this prayer and I acknowledge I am asking for God’s blessing. God is with me in my hopes and desires. I acknowledge God and give thanks.

David acknowledges God, but soon he will sin testing God’s promise of never ending love. It begins when David sees a beautiful woman and filled with lust David arranges for her husband’s death. When I first read this, David became unlikeable. For me, all other David stories are tainted by this act.

Be still and acknowledge I am God. 

In silence I enter a parlor to talk. I share with my spiritual director what is easy and what is difficult for me to acknowledge. Jesus heals. OK. Jesus teaches. OK. Jesus gives me eternal life. Hmmm. I acknowledge my doubts and my realization that it is time I have a conversation with Jesus. It has been a journey to get my science-educated brain to create room for the mystical.

A friend says something negative about another friend. Seeds of doubt about the second friend grow. David was not perfect. I am not perfect. My friends are not perfect. We are called to love. Dawn used to have great meaning before electricity lit up darkness. Dawn was defined as the moment when light allowed you to recognize a person as your friend. Jesus asks us to acknowledge him as our savior, to stand at dawn in the emerging light with our neighbor, to see them in a new light, and to love even the Davids who have done something awful.

Can we make plans that take us deeper into our faith? As I said, I don’t like planning, but I found a quote that might just be my style of planning.
Gloria Steinem said, “Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.”
I have not given up my day job, but I do not think I will pass up any commissions to photograph moss. Planning to get somewhere because we feel called to take a journey does not mean ignoring the possibilities and beauty we pass along the way. By the time we get to where we felt called to journey, the gate might be missing or a bit less pearly than described. But the journey will fuel us and we will stand in the midst of an imperfect world and leap with our imagination.

“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.”

Amen.

The text:

2 Samuel, 7
1. Once the king had settled into his palace and Yahweh had granted him rest from all the enemies surrounding him,
2. the king said to the prophet Nathan, 'Look, I am living in a cedar-wood palace, while the ark of God is under awnings.'
3. Nathan said to the king, 'Go and do whatever you have in mind, for Yahweh is with you.'
4. But that very night, the word of Yahweh came to Nathan:
5. 'Go and tell my servant David, "Yahweh says this: Are you to build me a temple for me to live in?
6. I have never lived in a house from the day when I brought the Israelites out of Egypt until today, but have kept travelling with a tent for shelter.
7. In all my travels with all the Israelites, did I say to any of the judges of Israel, whom I had commanded to shepherd my people Israel: Why do you not build me a cedar-wood temple?"
8. This is what you must say to my servant David, "Yahweh Sabaoth says this: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be leader of my people Israel;
9. I have been with you wherever you went; I have got rid of all your enemies for you. I am going to make your fame as great as the fame of the greatest on earth.
10. I am going to provide a place for my people Israel; I shall plant them there, and there they will live and never be disturbed again; nor will they be oppressed by the wicked any more, as they were in former times
11. ever since the time when I instituted judges to govern my people Israel; and I shall grant you rest from all your enemies. Yahweh furthermore tells you that he will make you a dynasty.
12. And when your days are over and you fall asleep with your ancestors, I shall appoint your heir, your own son to succeed you (and I shall make his sovereignty secure.
13. He will build a temple for my name) and I shall make his royal throne secure for ever.
14. I shall be a father to him and he a son to me;




Friday, July 17, 2015

Walking to a nonexistent gate at the Jesuit Center in Wernersvillemakes me ponder a new career

Walking to the gate at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville ... day lilies catches my eye. photo by Wayne Stratz 2015
I am writing a sermon for Sunday (update: here is the sermon). Plans come to mind. The plan was to walk to a gate and take photos of it. Just out of the door, day lilies caught my eye. By the time I reached to end of the driveway that leads up to the Jesuit Center, I had taken quite a few photos. The ones I favored the most are here.

The plan was to see the gate. Funny thing was, the gate was gone. I hadn't even noticed when I had driven into the center the previous day. I spent the rest of the retreat fascinated by moss and I have to admit I began to imagine a plan for my future. I was to become a professional moss photographer. Clearly a profession with a need for more members.

I have not given up my day job. But I do not think I will pass up any commissions to photograph moss. Planning to get somewhere because we feel called to take a journey, does not mean ignoring the beauty we pass along the way. Because the gait might be missing. But something was there and that is for next week.


Walking to the gate at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville ... rust catches my eye. photo by Wayne Stratz 2015

Walking to the gate at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville ... sap catches my eye. photo by Wayne Stratz 2015

Walking to the gate at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville ... a missing limb catches my eye. photo by Wayne Stratz 2015

Walking to the gate at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville ... a maple branch catches my eye. photo by Wayne Stratz 2015

Walking to the gate at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville ... moss catches my eye. photo by Wayne Stratz 2015

Walking to the gate at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville ... lichen catches my eye. photo by Wayne Stratz 2015



Thursday, July 16, 2015

TBT: A hippo, A Golden Eagle Feather, and a Butterfly walk into a bar, I mean House Number by Nutmeg Designs

The Hippo Project: a house number that went to CA. Created by Wayne Stratz and Margaret Almon in 2012

I had to laugh when I saw these images were taken on April's Fools Day. When Margaret told me what the potential clients wanted on their project, I tghought it was a perfect spam joke for our business. Two four digit numbers, a butterfly, a Golden Eagle Feather, and of course a hippo.

It turned out to be true and now three plus years later, I can tell you it has not led to any hippo commissions, however, up in our studios and Red-Tailed Hawk feather is nearly complete. 

You never know where a client will lead you here at Nutmeg Designs

Close up of the Butterfly featured on The Hippo Project: a house number that went to CA. Created by Wayne Stratz and Margaret Almon in 2012


Close up of the Golden Eagle Feather featured on The Hippo Project: a house number that went to CA. Created by Wayne Stratz and Margaret Almon in 2012

The Hippo featured on The Hippo Project: a house number that went to CA. Created by Wayne Stratz and Margaret Almon in 2012



Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ignoring the dream; jazz doodling times 3: Bobby Broom, Clifford Brown, Melissa Aldana

Jazz: Bobby Broom Song and Dance. Jazz Doodle: Wayne Stratz
Saturday: I had a thought that this summer was a prime time to do some random card giving at work.

Saturday night: I had a dream in which my supervisor at work chastised me for handing out cards to unsuspecting souls.

I started drawing cards since the dream made no sense.

Check out the jazz artists:  Bobby Broom, Clifford Brown, Melissa Aldana

Jazz: Clifford Brown Complete Blue Note. Jazz Doodle: Wayne Stratz 
 
Jazz: Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio. Jazz Doodle: Wayne Stratz



Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Blue Tuesdays: 7 Blue Mosaic Pendants by Margaret Almon

Blue Mosaic Pendant by Margaret Almon with a milleffiori                        see her pendants on etsy
Blue Mosaic Pendant by Margaret Almon with gold smalti

Pale Blue Mosaic Pendant by Margaret Almon
Blue Mosaic Pendant by Margaret Almon with a Log Cabin quilt design
Blue Mosaic Pendant by Margaret Almon
Dark Blue Mosaic Pendant by Margaret Almon  
Blue Mosaic Pendant by Margaret Almon with a dove designed by Wayne Stratz

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday Quilts: Ilana Rapoport of Israel a Quilt in Orange and Blue

Ilana Rapoport of Israel a Quilt in Orange and Blue. Photo by Wayne Stratz
Last Tuesday I began thinking about blue and orange. Complementary. I spent some time today trying design a large mandala. Blue spaces for me. Orange spaces for Margaret. Something will come of it, though I am not sure if either design is right.

So I tool a break and cut out a house number (see finished samples here). I came downstairs to celebrate a quilt and came across a blue and orange gem from Israel. Maybe it will inspire me.

UPDATE: it did inspire me

Friday, July 10, 2015

Notes from the Jesuit Center: Lamps and Becoming Still and Realizing It Was Time to Acknowledege God

lamp at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville by Wayne Stratz
 The first night works like this: arrive before dinner with plenty of time to unpack and set up art studio in my room. When I entered the Jesuit Center, a Jesuit looked at me and said, "The artist is here."

Dinner, you can talk; and in the process I met a female Episcopalian priest from Maryland. 22 meals later I would meet a female Episcopalian priest from New York. Anyway, a meeting with your spiritual director ensues and times for direction are handed out. Most times I take an early in the morning time, but it felt right to take the mid-afternoon time. It proved to be wise as I really liked having my mornings free to be silent.  

lamp at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville by Wayne Stratz

We were given one verse to read, if moved to do so. Psalm 46:10

lamp at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville by Wayne Stratz
But first, all thirty plus of us would gather to begin our retreat together. It is a chance to share a concern with the others. Having read an article on mass extinctions and news reports on the Pope's call for caring for the planet; I put out a prayer for our planet.

lamp at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville by Wayne Stratz
I know Psalm 46:10 ... “Be still, and know that I am God..."

But that night in the silence, as lamps illuminated quiet hallways, my Bible did not read "know."

Instead, the word, acknowledge was there. I thought, "hmmm, that is a bit different from know." My retreat had been set in motion. I sat down and drew Margaret a card.

...

Thursday, July 9, 2015

TBT 1985: Talking Heads were a fave

Talking Heads: Little Creatures; photo by Wayne Stratz
I have had a series of favorite bands over the years and the band that topped the list when I entered college at Grove City was not there when I graduated from East Stroudsburg. The Talking Heads were one of the bands I dug the most when I was at ESU. I grabbed this from the LP's that still linger in my possession. Ironically this was not one of my favorite LP's by the Talking Heads and it is hard to pick a tune as apparently it is not filled with songs I loved back in the day.

Maybe Road to Nowhere or And She Was.

"The world was moving and she was right there with it..." 

Sounds like what the Jesuit told me that led to my tagline: "The worst sin is to not be aware of being part of an unfolding universe." 

We are part of time and space. As the universe unfolds into new space and time, we unfold along with it. Apparently in 1985 I was unfolding with The Talking Heads. Oh my...


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A jazz doodle in pinks and grays: Anat Cohen, Claroscuro

a jazz doodle in pink, red and grays, created by Wayne Stratz while listening to Anat Cohen

The other night Anat Cohen's Claroscuro caught my eye while browsing through our jazz CD's, and off to the studio I went. As I listened, I thought it would make for some fine commuting music, and it did well today even when stopped by both a northbound and southbound train at the corner of Main and Broad in Lansdale. Truly a test of the quality of a good music commute. The first mile can be a doozy.

Drawing 50 cards or so while on retreat is a pace I can not keep up while at home/work, but hey, can I not send out a card from time to time. So I carried the CD back inside the house and this evening I took it back into the studio.

But who to draw a card for? So many possibilities. I was glancing through my contacts to get a name and address when I thought of a co-worker. She recently lost a cherished pet and she also recently graciously helped me out at work. 

Name chosen. Jazz playing. I needed color. Strangely pinks and grays gravitated to my hand when I reached into the bag of mixed prismacolors. Random choices lead you down paths. I started listening at track 9 and the beautiful closing tune, The Wedding composed by South African jazz master, Abdullah Ibrahim, was playing as I finished. Enjoy.



May this be at least a weekly activity.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

being complementary ... Blue Tuesdays

Going Blue: Margaret's Hydrangea Blooms Again in 2015 by Wayne Stratz

Margaret has been posting Orange Tuesday blog posts for quite some time, so going Blue at Stratoz is a complementary new route.

When we moved into our Two Studio Row a decade or so ago, there was a hydrangea in the front yard, but it was under the porch roof and got very little water, so I moved it out into the rain. It didn't bloom. As we walked about Lansdale, Margaret expressed her love of their blooms.

We bought a Hydrangea and I placed it in the backyard, where it can be seen from her studio window. It bloomed. 

From 2008 in the garden of nutmeg designs: A violet Hydrangea (clearly showing the fickle nature of the bloom color......) by Wayne Stratz
The winter of 2013-14 was brutal with some extreme lows and I did wonder if the Hydrangeas had died when spring slowly emerged, but they arrived late and from down below the surface of the Earth and took their shape. But 2014 would feature no blooms for Margaret. This past winter had some cold moments, and though stunned, the Hydrangeas came through in better shape. One of the last things I did before leaving for my silent retreat, was to take out the garbage and bring in a Hydrangea.

Orange Vase. Blue Hydrangea. by Wayne Stratz
Our Hydrangeas do not compete well with many that we see as we walk about. I don't feel like a success when I think of Hydrangeas. But I persevere and they persevere. And that is all we can do on these hot and muggy summer days.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Jesuit Center on Fridays 1: Prayer Beads


my hand, my prayer beads by Wayne Stratz

And so it begins: a weekly series of images and thoughts from seven days of Silence at the Jesuit Center in Wernersvile, PA

I have never taken so many photos, and while over half have been weeded away, many remain for now in my photos. Shortly before I left for my retreat, I asked friends on Facebook, "What would you take on a silent retreat?"

"Meditation Beads," came from my friend who heads up TheSpaceForGrace. So I dug about and found these collecting dust since I made them years ago.

My friend, Deborah, would agree that to go deeper into an understanding of our faith is a call made by several spiritual masters. Ignatius called people to repeat an exercise to go deeper. For two years I have been praying my seven desires, but when I used the beads and made one complete trip for each desire, the prayer went deeper. I would apply there use again and again as the silence continued.

So thanks Deborah for a fine suggestion, which led to the first photos of the retreat.

my prayer beads by Wayne Stratz





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