Friday, October 30, 2009

Easter 09

I just finished this portrait of Anton and myself searching for Easter eggs last Spring. Right under the japanese maple in our front yard. A lovely memory.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fall Color

A students gave me these mums and I love how hearty they are. I accidentally left the bouquet in my car for two days last week (sorry!) and so had to throw most of the flowers away. The surviving blooms were cut very short and put in this vintage ice cream dish accented by a few Wandering Jew leaves. The shiny stripes look glorious! These colors make me so happy.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Nonie's Popovers

Hi Friends,

As it turns out, funeral day wasn't so bad. There was no communion, so I didn't need to refuse anything. I did, however, change a few words around while reciting the liturgy (the lord's prayer, niceen creed, etc.) to better describe the larger God I now am getting to know.

There were a few moments of beautiful clarity, especially near the end of the private chapel service that moved me. I can't describe them only to say that they were full of light and love and forgiveness. That redefinition of my self I had wanted did indeed happen. Happy sigh.

This morning I'm making Nonie's Popovers. She made them for us at every vacation. I began making them on my own when I inherited Tommy's popover cups. They are ever so easy and a great treat we use mostly for breakfast. But they're fun for any meal, really. I'll share the recipe with you.

The kitchen tiles you see are mine I did for my parent's old home years ago. I broke out my china paints and went to town on this beautiful celedon finish. Don't know if the new owners retained the backsplash or if they've tried the recipe. Nonie had since changed it to suit the GA climate better. So here's an altered recipe that came straight from her mouth.

Love you Nonie. We teased and loved you lots last night at dinner. I could hear your laughing and sighing all night long.

Nonie's Popovers:

4-6 popovers
4 eggs
3/4 cups milk
3/4 cups flour
dash of salt

Combine ingredients (blender or hand mixer) and pour into 8 well-greased popover cups. Bake in 450 degree oven for 30 minutes. Pierce popovers and bake for 20 minutes more at 325 degrees or until browned. Serve with a big, big smile.

PS: to enlarge yield, use these measurements
10 popovers
6 eggs
2 cups flour
2 cups milk 1/2 tsp salt

Friday, October 23, 2009

Night Before

Tomorrow we have a memorial service for Nonie at St. Patricks, followed by a dinner at the Capital City Club. Tonight all my cousins met at her apartment. We had pizza. We met Manning's (her boyfriend) family who have come to town to help us say goodbye. It was wonderful to see everyone. It was hard to see everyone. I'll see more tomorrow.

You see here pictures of me pregnant with Anton on my first Mother's Day and many months later when Nonie and Anton just met. Anton was her 13th great-grandchild. She said he was her lucky one. :)

I saved many quiet moments tonight and waited for Nonie to come to me. She watched it all. She'll watch more tomorrow. Amazing to see the generations of love between generations - all coming from her.

Tomorrow will be bittersweet. I'll wear a wool jacket that was hers. Anton will wear his Lederhosen. Doug'll look smashing in his suit. And I'll just be there. I'll carry her ashes from the sanctuary to the chapel. I'll set her between my grandfather Bopie and my brother Tommy.

Grief really began last weekend with the flu that hit me. I've felt it in my neck and shoulders all week. Headaches are back. I could not help but look at every aunt and uncle I have tonight and see them on their deathbeds. I cannot get those images out of my head. The finality we all must face. The finality we are. It makes me want to cling and stay. It makes me want to run and leave.

I will not take communion tomorrow. It'll be odd to be in a church again. But I do take comfort in the fact that tomorrow will be filled with the essence of Nonie in all of us. I have always believed that the outer community a person creates is but a larger portrait of their inner selves. So you're damn right she'll be there.

We recreate who we are in every person we meet. Who are you now, Nonie - now that you're beyond the things we fought about years ago - beyond the pettiness that kept us apart from each other and ourselves? Things really don't have to be perfect between us anymore, do they?

When she passed, a part of me was born. I will recreate her tomorrow. I will recreate myself.

Let Him Go

I'm still trying to figure this one out.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ravish Me

A study for a teapot series. Domestic bliss, longing and self awareness. This little teapot has more to say than you think.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Inside Under: study

I'm back at it with watercolors as studies before I plunder the canvas. Here are some of the things I'm thinking about - words and objects and the space between them. Wit, longing, irony and joy are the themes.
The initial structure of these comes from two places. 1. Cell structures and 2. color blindness tests.
This one's called "Inside Under."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Aunt Margy Visits

Last Thursday we got a wonderful surprise visit from Doug's Aunt Margy. She'd seen the million photos we've published on the web of Anton, but never got to hold him in person.

I loved taking these pictures and watching the three of these Elsers be together. She's such a great lady. To see more photos, go here.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Anne Elser Calligraphy on The Knot

The Gracious Hand

The gift of a hand-written invitation, message or envelope carries with it all the positive feelings you have about your event from your mailbox to theirs. My job as an artist is to interpret your feelings in an engaging, consistent and legible format.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Healing Crisis and Nonie

Many of you know that my grandmother, Adele (we called her Nonie) died last Saturday morning. It was such a gift to be able to witness her passing and preparation for letting go. The healing and rebirth that occurred within me from having been a part of this death has lasted all week and last night, came to a pulsating head.

It began with a headache and tailbone pain (the usual for me when there's something I need to look at or let go of). This pain is the ego child's mind afraid, regretful, etc. I decided to go to a Thursday night Enlightenment meeting where Martha Burgess talks to a cozy group about all of this stuff - all this healing - all this surrendering - all this movement and letting go. Last night's topic was about losing parts of you along the way and reclaiming them. The parts of me I diminished as a child that I set aside in favor of getting more love, etc. Two really big parts I diminished of mine were 1. my femininity and 2. the artist.

Even going to undergrad art school didn't grant me access to this birthright of mine. I went through it all with trepidation and angst and self loathing. Sure, I learned some techniques but really, what I came away with was the idea that I wasn't good enough (because I was just a woman) and that the act of creation was painful and often lead to depression and suicide. Isn't that awful!? No wonder I stopped painting! It made me miserable.

NOW I am relearning the act of creation and pooling all of the skills I've acquired along the way into a more complete and productive Anne. I am finally calling myself an artist. It took that long. And I no longer curse the decision to go to art school any longer.

All I want to do in this moment is PAINT. Again. And paint big. And sell big. Gallery big. Opening big. And I've got more than enough content to ride this new wave of creativity and power. Sure the little books and boxes are fun - but one can never charge enough money for the amount of time you put into them. So they'll stay as products of the fun classes I teach. But starting today, I am carving out more of my time to create the art I've wanted to for so long. The bulk of my income will be from painting and the pieces I sell.

I feel so liberated.

But back to the healing crisis: Last night near the end of the Martha Burgess workshop, she walked up to me and said that my grandmother on my mother's side was with me. Martha's never met me before. But she saw Nonie. And BOY did I cry then. She took my face in her hands and kissed my cheek and said "this is from her."

So yeah. Nonie is one with all of life, having ended this life and entered into the next. I made this little xmas ornament for Nonie years ago and she hung it in her living room for years. Now it's mine again. And she's with me everywhere. So wonderful to rediscover her.

I woke up this morning having felt the cellular effect of all the healing Martha did for me last night. I'll take it easy today and continue to heal.

The most amazing epiphany I walked away with last night (and there were many!) was this: You cannot create and worry about survival simultaneously. Now THAT redefines work, doesn't it? So when I paint - it will be about expressiveness without judgement - the kind of judgement that says "I'll fail, I'm not good enough at this, they'll laugh at me."

I will be a channel for the God within me, who is the ONLY God - not some hefty white-bearded man in a robe that is separate from me.

First step this weekend is to take a hot bath right now - get those cells to feeling better, eat and sleep and just love myself.

I am amazed by this movement. I am in awe. I am beginning to really believe (someday I'll KNOW) that change is the most beautiful thing ever.

I am moving. My world has been rocked. And fuck, I AM the rock! and the water. and the stone...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pilot Parallel Pens

Here's a new italic hand I'm mastering - Italic with a sharp, broad angle. Did this with my new favorite pen called the Pilot Parallel Pen in 3.8mm. I LOVE this stuff. It's an automatic pen that does not need dipping and you can fill the entire barrel with ink. Very fast and both corners of the nib can be used for making hairlines. I'm having a blast!

Paper Ink Arts now offers them at a discounted price. So I bought the whole set. Changed my life. Supposed to be great for color work, though I have not yet tried it. Will soon!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Redefining Beauty

"Beauty is the spontaneous expression of a harmonious mind body and spirit."

Went to the Aveda Institute yesterday for an awesome $15.00 haircut and to refill on some of my cosmetics (Aveda is my absolute favorite cosmetic brand.) I came home and colored my hair (cause I can do it faster and cheaper than anyone with any on sale brand of red at CVS) and opened my new bottle of Spa Ritual nail color. It's vegan! And it's yummy. About $10.00 per bottle and the color palette is fabulous. Colors I haven't seen anywhere else.

Not sure if every Aveda sells this item on their floor, but it's worth a trip to the Institute just to sample the product.

When you visit the site, they give you the most deep descriptions of your color choice. First you choose by "harmony" and each category has it's palette. The color I chose was The Giving Tree: a deep, rich, and creamy eggplant color. I have a pair of hands fit for the gods now. :)

All is good in my world now. I am moving through grief and cooked Nonie's Popovers Friday morning with Anton. He nibbled on one. We'll continue the weekend tradition. I'll post the recipe soon. Just making sure I get to bed as early as I can. That's why you've not seen me post daily. I'll come back, though. I'm still here. In more ways than one.

Meantime, get yourself a fall color to dip into your fingers! So happy to be a girl!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Sculptural book cover

Did this book last weekend for a recent PC grad. This is a flat back library case bound book with photos tipped into recesses and two letter J's recessed as well. Lots of fun. Yummy tan bookcloth and lots of love on the inside. Way to go Hagen!

Sunday, October 04, 2009


Our Nonie is gone. She passed yesterday morning. I am weak and numb and weepy - letting it hit me.
I could not get the indelible image of her spiritless form out of my head today. It haunted me. I felt her absence all day. I feel alone. But something neat happened. A butterfly crossed Doug's path the day we learned she was dying. It crossed us again today and me a third time this afternoon. I hung out by my car next to my "Life Is Good" sticker.

This creature reminds me that Nonie is in transition. Not to mourn the body she left. She is something else now that I cannot see yet. And she is free.

I, too, am transformed. I'm a different person having watched from her how to die with grace. I remember her saying over and over, "I want to go to heaven. I know God will receive me." I cry now just hearing her voice say that over and over.

She looked for light and beauty all the way up to the end. So tired of being sick. So ready to go.

I think that pain and illness helps us prepare for that transition. We think it is an ending - but really, it's a door - a way through. I've said that before many times, but this time the statement is different. I have always been afraid of pain and death and dying. Always saddened by suffering. But suffering takes us to another place. It is a mode of spiritual and physical transformation - transportation. It moves us from one moment and one reality to the next.

I have so much to process. It is overwhelming. I worry so for my mother - who took care of Nonie day to day. I worry for Nonie's boyfriend, who also was very close to her. The thought of the bereavement of others makes me so sad.

I am weighted. I am tired.

I will wait for the next butterfly to cross my path. It's a symbol I can bear.

I sit here in my studio with a box full of all the things I've made for Nonie - needlepoint coasters, pillows, lace-edged crochet, handkerchiefs... I am happy to have them, I am sad to have them.

Here's one pillow I made after Tommy died. I added the three bees to symbolize the 3 of us; Tommy, Peter and me. Circling hope. Looking for honey.

I am grieving.

Thursday, October 01, 2009


Hi friends,

Please say a prayer for my grandmother and our family who surrounds her now as she prepares for death. She has pancreatic cancer and we're all at Emory by her side to guide her through it all. It is beautiful and painful and hard to watch.

I have wrapped my Angel scarf around her shoulders so she can feel its featherweight warmth.
It makes her smile.

This picture is of a Teresa of Avila quote that her mother, Dagney stitched up years ago. I've been reciting it over and over in my head.

I don't know how many days or weeks Nonie (Adele) has left, but I will keep you updated.

Your thoughts, prayers and love are most welcome.

Love to all,


Let nothing disturb you,
Nothing affright you.
All things are passing.
God never changes.

~Saint Teresa of Avila