Joyeux Noel!

Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb,
Now leaves His well-belov’d imprisonment 
There He hath made Himself to His intent
 Weak enough, now into the world to come;
But O, for thee, for Him, hath the inn no room? 
Yet lay Him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Stars and wise men will travel to prevent
The effect of Herod’s jealous general doom.
Seest thou, my soul, with thy faith’s eyes, how He 
Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth lie?
Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go,
With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe.
—John Donne, Nativity

Then may we hope, the angelic thrones among
To sing, redeemed, a glad triumphal song
He that was born upon this joyful day
Around us all His glory shall display
Saved by His love, incessant we shall sing
Of angels and of angel-men the King 


An Advent Gathering of Thistle Birds

An Advent Gathering of Thistle Birds
Encaustic collage: beeswax, found paper, colored pencil, ink, oil pastel
11x14, 2009

Advent is a chance to intentionally gather our hearts, bodies and minds together. The twenty eight days of Advent give us time for a gradual collecting of all the disparate and disjoined parts of ourselves.  Advent traditionally signifies a coming, especially of something extremely important. But Advent can also mean a coming into to place, view, or being.  My prayer is that Advent would be a time for us to collect ourselves gradually toward the place that Christ makes for us; that Christ would come more beautifully into view; and that we would come more fully into being in Him.  Traveling through the gradual collecting of Advent better enables us to be present to the celebration of the birth of Christ at Christmas. We have more of ourselves to give to Him because of the slow work of gathering. The feast of Christmas is made better by the quiet, meditational days of Advent.
The center of this beeswax panel contains a Chi Rho surrounded by fourteen Goldfinches. Dating as early as the 2nd century, it is one of the oldest monograms representing Christ.  The Chi Rho is made up of the first two letters making the Greek word for Christ (khristos). Before it was used by Christians, pagan Greek scribes used the Chi Rho in place of the word “chreston” (which means “good”) to make note in the margins of important texts. Christians using the Chi Rho symbol would have been reminded of the pre-existent Christ and his earthly cruxifiction. According to the medieval bestiary, birds who are pictured with a Chi Rho symbolize human souls meditating on Christ. Goldfinches in particular represent victory over death. The goldfinch, which lives on a diet of thistles and thorns, reminds us of the suffering of Jesus and His resurrection. Sometimes called the Savior Bird, the goldfinch speaks to us of endurance, fruitfulness, and persistence.  Embeded under the Chi Rho are pages from the gospels telling of pivotal moments in the story of Christ: His entry into Jerusalem, His first miracle, the Last Supper , the Transfiguration, His resurrection, and His return. At the bottom of the panel lies Latin verse from the Advent hymn "O Come Emmanuel", translated: " Be our soul advent, disperse the dreadful clouds of night. Come!"  Purple and blue, the traditional colors of Advent, mark the panel as a reminder of the season in which it was made.  Beeswax holds all the layers together and works as a symbol for the word of God, which, in rabbinical schools, is said to taste like honey. As I painted on over 25 layers of wax, my soul got quiet and my heart centered. My prayer is that your journey of Advent be full of the same quiet, gathering work. 

Jesus, make us like a gathering of thistle birds.
Help us to gradually collect the pieces of ourselves around your coming, crucifixtion, and resurrection.
Be our soul Advent, our only place, our true view, our fullness of being.
Fill us with your honey, making us hold together inside your story.
Remind us of your goodness, you our amarantine Savior Bird.



Christmas Holiday Boutique Report

We had a great time this weekend at the Christmas Holiday Boutique. Drinking warm mulled cider, looking at all the great things the other artists brought, chatting with lovely customers, knitting scarves in the in-between times, listening to christmas music, what more could you want? Thanks so much  to everyone who came out, it was so much fun! Here are a few pictures from the day:

PS: For all you Austinites and others who could not make it out - I have some things left over from the sale:  ornaments, handwarmers, bookmarks, encaustics. We are coming to Austin for Christmas and I would love to hand-deliver some treasures for you! If you're out of town, but not in Austin, I am happy to put somethings in the mail for you this week before we leave.  Let me know if you're interested in purchasing any PhaedraJean ArtMachine creations. Thanks!


Christmas Holiday Boutique This Weekend! You're Invited!

In case you are in the triangle area I wanted to invite you to join myself and other local artists, this weekend, for a Holiday Gift Boutique and Open House. You will find one-of-a-kind works of art and craft for offer. So come and support your local artist, it's so much more fun than the mall!
We will have all kinds of treasures- watercolors, mohair scarves, Felt pocket handwarmers, jewelry, hand-bound books, hand-painted ornaments, cards, prints, hand-printed and calligraphed bookmarks, beeswax artworks, and paper ornaments, and a good deal more!

Mohair Scarves - $32.00

Snacks and friendly faces will be on hand. Do stop by on either of these days:

Saturday: December 5th 1-6 pm
Sunday: December 6th 1-5 pm
704 Greenwood Road
Chapel Hill, NC 27514

 Fragrant Pocket Handwarmers: Small - $7, Large - $9


Artists include
Skyler McGee - visual art
Phaedra Taylor (Art Machine Studios)
Lisa Harrington - jewelry
Rachel Freyer (Paper and Pearls boutique)
Eleatta Diver - visual art
Andrew Stillwell - sculpture

(The piece on the right has already sold)

Small Encaustic Artworks - $30 - $50

Hand Painted Ornaments - $3.50 or 3 or $10

 Paper and Beeswax Ornaments - $6 for a bag of 7 (2 large, 3 medium, 2 small)

 Hand Printed and Calligraphed Bookmarks - $3 - $5

(sorry this image is so yellow!)
 Framed Linocut Prints and Original Watercolors - $150.00 - $475.00


ArtMachineStudios: A Fall Semester Report

I have two more classes to teach this semester and I am a little amazed that it is already over. I have loved teaching my little artists. I did not have any full classes this semester.  But I guess for starting off in a new town I think I did pretty well.  In my Little Machines class ( 4-5 yr olds) we had a fantastic time learning about some famous artists. We studied George Seurat, we made pointillism finger paintings, and we learned about mixing colors at the same time. We were introduced to Pablo Picasso.  We had a great time talking about his silly faces.  And we made some crazy face-collages of our very own.



Marc Chagall taught us about space and we made big dream drawings together.  We also looked at the use of the line in recent art history. We saw images from artists like Dan Flavin, to the well known Piet Mondrian, to the very minimal Fred Sandback, who makes his quiet installations using string.

Dan Flavin at the LACMA retrospective in 2007

Fred Sandback string installation

We explored the world of Van Gogh, reading books about his life, and made wet chalk drawings of a swirly night sky.  We also talked about the way he used color and aggressive marks in his paintings to make them so compelling.

Van Gogh, The Red Vineyard, 1888

At the end of the class I was pleased to hear my four-year old chanting, "George Seurat, Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Vincent Van Gogh!" over and over to herself. I bet she's the only one in her pre-school that knows that little ditty.

With my Big Machines (7-10 yrs old) we dove right into mono-prints the first day, squishing paint, spraying water, and smoothing paper with delight. It was so fun to hear the exclamations of: "Wow! I love mine!" and "Awesome, this is so beautiful!" When one of the students said she had decided she was staying with me--for the rest of the night, in my house--when class was over, I knew it had been a success.

Over the course of their classes they tackled a very challenging blind contour drawing lesson, made their own decorative paper using all manner of utensils to apply paint, and created fantastic animal collages in the style of Eric Carle.

Our paper

They also loved learning about Abstract artists like William DeKooning, Jackson Pollock ("Those drips are so cool, this one is my favorite."), Cy Twombly, Alexander Calder ("He looks like a grumpy grandpa."), John Chamberlain, and Robert Motherwell ("Wow, that's a giant splat!").  While we worked we talked about school, what their Halloween costumes would be, and what they love about art. We do lots of laughing, encouraging, and collaborating. Thursday has been my favorite afternoon of the week.

Alexander Calder

Robert Motherwell

John Chamberlain

I have students signing up for next semester which starts mid-January. I can't wait to get started with some new kids, and some who are continuing from this semester. I am dreaming up paper mache sculpture in the style of Claes Oldenburg, Sistine Chapel drawings done lying on our backs under the tables, and more "teaching our eye-balls how to see" drawing lessons. I have just discovered a whole slew of new books to read in class, and I am ordering some art games from Amazon this month. I can't wait until January!

For more information on ArtMachineStudios, or sign your 8 children up, go here. :)


A Pictoral Birthday Report

Well, I am woefully behind on every form of communication these days. Starting your own business a pretty demanding task I tell ya! But, I did have time to have a birthday and it was quite a wonderful one. I felt positively run over by love and cheers and sweet cards and notes and gifts. It was kind of a birthday week as things trickled in, and I relished each day full of its own surprises. A BIG thank you for all my dear friends and family who loved on me. I feel very cared for and supported. Here are some pictures of the birthday festivities.

A gorgeous old book in its new home.

A new favorite piece of art work - A human heart with flowers drawn/painted on quilted fabric! Love!

3 Beautiful new icons. One for the dining room, one for the bedroom, one to live above my desk in the studio.

Some super fun gifts.

Some of my new books! So much to learn and read. I am so excited.

Other pieces of visual wonderfulness to inspire me.

The writing on this card is equal to about $1000 in the bank of phaedra's heart.

Cheery birthday cards!

These packages came wrapped in my favorite color combination.

This is a super creative Korean birthday tradition. I loved it!

This city of mushrooms captured my fancy on a walk with David.

Look at this crazy seed/berry/pod thing!

Assorted Fungi to delight my eye.

These birthday flowers from David lasted until yesterday! They smelled amazing. Looking at them from above was like looking onto some crazy-beautiful planetary landscape.

A fig tart with cardamon frangipane, pomegranates and a graham crust! So amazing!

A beautiful story with equally beautiful illustrations.

Wrapping to delight my eyes.

Dinner at Sitar: lamb korma, vegetable fritters, chicken saag, lentil dosai.

Coffee, mandelhornchen, cards and journaling at Gugelhupf.

Indian deserts at Sitar.

Wow, I ended up with quite a lot of pictures. I had so many lovely things happen I just could not decide which to include. I'm off to plan an art lesson, make some muffins, put a chicken in the oven, and try to ignore the gloomy rainy day . I hope your day is happy!