If talent can be inherited, then I got mine from my mother, Joyce Saxon Dennihy. My mom expressed herself through music, writing, and art. Five children and a career in nursing didn't leave her much time to pursue these talents, but she left evidence that they were indeed a part of her make-up as a person. So was her appreciation for anything inspirational.
When I was a kid, my favorite Christmas present was an art box that my father made and that my mom filled with paints and brushes. She always encouraged my art and would go gaga over any little sketch or painting that I produced. When I hit my teens, my interests changed and I pretty much got out of art altogether. It wasn't until my 40's that I took it up again.
We lost mom to cancer when I was 16 and she was 44 years old. I'm thankful for the time we had her. She was the first person who modeled for me an appreciation of beauty, a quest for purpose, and the importance of simple kindness.
So, here's to you, Mom! Thanks for all the times you cheered me on. Even now, I can still feel you in my corner.
All Sketches by Joyce Saxon Dennihy
It's hard to describe the feeling I get when launching a flying Chinese lantern. This lantern is super light and made of thin wire and paper. There is a small fuel cell of wax to attach to the bottom and light. The heat from the wax causes the lantern to expand and rise. The lantern floats into the night sky like a glowing balloon of good will until it disappears from view.
Flying Chinese lanterns mean different things to different people.
Legend says that the lanterns were used in Taiwan when towns were attacked by bandits during the Chinese New Year. Local residents would hide in the mountains until they saw the lanterns released by village watchmen. Their sight meant "it was alright to return home."
Some people consider flying lanterns to be good luck - a symbol of their problems and worries floating away. A red lantern symbolizes celebration, the orange represents wealth, the white stands for health, and the pink ones symbolize love and friendship.
Other people consider the modern flying Chinese lantern as a carrier of people’s prayers. Before releasing them to the sky, people write down their wishes, hopes and dreams on the lantern as a way of delivering the messages to heaven.
For me, the flying lantern embodies hope. I hold it gently while it fills with air and then, when it is able to ascend on its own power, I let go. It's the darndest thing - when that lantern rises, I feel my own heart rise. It happened the first time I saw it and has happened every time since. I feel a crazy kinship to that floating ballon. It breaks free of earth like a transcending pilgrim and heads off. To where? Who knows. But somehow, watching that glowing light rise until it disappears makes me feel a little closer to heaven than to earth.
Ella Zimmerman is one of my art students. She is a fun, expressive, little girl. She recently wrote an essay on why she likes art and I wanted to post it. Here's Ella!
When I was little I wanted to do art class like my brother. You don't think I would have ever had the chance to be in art class? Well, that all changed when I turned nine. The reasons I like art class are:
There is so much to do in art, not just painting. You can sculpt, sketch, and a lot of other things. Even music is a type of art. When I was younger, I thought it was just painting and drawings. Turns out I was wrong.
There are so may colors you can use. Art is very colorful. It's like a big rainbow. You can never stop mixing them together. Art is not considered weird if you have a green sky. That is why I am a very colorful girl too.
You can express yourself. You can draw with a lot of different colors or with none at all. When I say you can express yourself, you could literally use dog hair in your picture and no one would judge you. Well, that's if you say you were expressing yourself.
So, do you want to join art class?!
I thought I'd write a few thoughts on art, life and whatever else comes to mind.