Welcome to the September issue of Amy Funderburk's newsletter, Off the Easel. 

In this issue, you'll find an update on my website changes; memories from our last trip to Ireland; new work in progress; exciting news about my sister, poet Julie Funderburk; information about the September First Friday Gallery Hop; and more!

Welcome to the September issue of
Off the Easel

Welcome new subscribers, and thanks so much to everyone for your continued interest and support of my work! 

On our walk the other day, I saw my first fall leaf on the path, robbed of its chlorophyll. Autumn is coming soon to the Northern Hemisphere, and here in NC, before the humidity eases or the temperature fully lessens its summer grip, fall is heralded by how the light slants as the days shorten. 

September 23rd marks the Autumnal Equinox here, and Vernal Equinox to our neighbors in the Southern Hemisphere. I'd always heard that this is a time of equal day and night. However, when I looked up the exact date online, I learned that on this date, day and night are only nearly equal. Since latitude determines the length of the day, the approximate date for my location when day and night are closest to true equal is September 26th. If you are as fascinated by this fact as I am, I recommend that you look up this date for your own location.

Seeing this newsletter on Twitter? Why wait to find it there when you could subscribe and have it sent conveniently to your inbox each month?   

In this issue:

Memories of Ireland. This month marks a surprising ten years since we took our most recent trip to the Emerald Isle, so in this issue, I've included some photographs and artwork from that trip to commemorate this anniversary. In the article below, find out why going to Ireland remains the most artistically inspirational thing I've done. 
Currently On the Easel.  At the most recent Gallery Hop, visitors participated in the second work in my new interactive meditative drawing series. Below, you may view the current in-progress shot of this piece. 
Next Gallery Hop: September 4th. Please refer to the article below for details about this Friday's Downtown Arts District Association's First Friday Gallery Hop. This will be my last Hop until December, so come join us!

Exciting news! I have some very exciting news to share regarding my sister, poet Julie Funderburk! 

My Website and Blog. Wait until you see my newly revamped website! It's coming along nicely -- please read on for updates.

I hope you enjoy the September issue of Off the Easel. May fellow Northern Hemisphere readers have a lovely autumn, and may Southern Hemisphere subscribers enjoy the growing days of spring!

All the best,

Website Under Construction!

My website. It's still under construction, but I've made some great progress on my improved website design! This exciting new version allows for larger images and is more mobile friendly. The template offers many improved features, including slide shows of my Galleries. If you check in now, you'll be getting just a sneak peek of all that is soon to come.
My URL is the same -- www.AmyFunderburkArtist.com -- but if you have been so kind as to bookmark my site in the past, please replace it now so that you won't keep returning to the old version.

My blog. One of the many improvements this website design offers is that my blog will become a page on my main site instead of being a separate entity. Naturally, my top priority has been to get images of my artwork loaded to the site, so stay tuned. Eventually I will replace all the photos on the blog that have mysteriously disappeared.

Currently, you can access previous blog posts on the new menu. From the home page, hit the blog tab, and then read the list of posts to the left of the screen, or search through the various topics. To view the original, slightly less "buggy" version, you can also visit:


Once my website is completed, I hope you will join me in my excitement over this transformation!

Above image: Under construction - some of my tools!
© 2015 Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved

Gallery Hop

The next Downtown Art District Association's First Friday Gallery Hop will be Friday, September 4th, from 7-10 PM. Please come by my studio in the Artists On Liberty Building to participate in my new interactive drawing project (see the Double Spiral: Second Interactive Drawing in Progress article below). Be sure to visit, because this will be my last Hop until the end of the year on December the 4th!

Please note: we are on Liberty Street, not Trade! Head to Liberty between 6th and 5th Streets, and then look for our sign in front of the Artists On Liberty Building pictured above.

Reminders. I offer merchandise options at a variety of price points, including original artwork in a variety of media, greeting cards, and giclée reproductions of two works. I am delighted to offer visitors the convenience of paying by credit card. I accept Master Card, Visa, American Express, and Discover. I also offer a layaway plan for up to six months; please contact me for additional information.

Can't make it this Friday? Contact me to arrange an appointment for a studio visit. 

Above: The Artists On Liberty Building
521 North Liberty Street
Winston-Salem, NC, USA 

Double Spiral:

Second Interactive Drawing in Progress

If you missed the August issue of this newsletter, I invite you to read the full background on this interactive drawing project, and to view the various stages of the first drawing in progress.

Ever since I experienced a creative dialog with viewers on 
The Wishing Tree project, I have wanted to create another such interactive work. At the August 7th Gallery Hop, visitors were invited to participate in the second in-progress work based on this meditative theme. I based this second piece on a double spiral, taking the advice of an artist friend who suggested that each labyrinth could be a different design.

Spirals are both a simple yet potent symbol found around the world. I built the spiral template from surf-polished stones that I collected at Topsail Island, NC. Their size and smoothness are reminiscent of worry stones, commonly used for stress relief when rubbed between the thumb and index fingers. In addition to the meditative act of repeatedly picking up a glut of these smooth stones on the beach, I was inspired by two other sources. 

Labyrinths are a maze with a single path to the center. Studies have shown that by tracing a labyrinth design with a pencil, the same sense of calm is achieved in your mind as you gain when physically walking one of these ancient patterns. In Ireland, I have witnessed a certain practice in several sacred locations, including in 2005 when I visited the cashel at the foot of the Paps of Anu called Cathair Crobh Dearg. Known as The City, this is a Penitential station in Co Kerry.

such sites, when practicing the prescribed rounds, visitors use a small rock to trace a cross within the grooves of larger stone slabs, leaving chalk-like marks behind and further deepening the channels that have been incised by countless generations. I included two examples from The City in the August newsletter; an additional image below shows more such crosses on the stones to the left of the Mother figure. Such prescribed movements are designed to inspire a sense of calm and sacredness when entering a site or while participating in the rounds. 
Visitors to my studio are
 invited to use a watercolor pencil in the color of their choice to trace within the stone spiral onto the paper. I recommend that participants trace in, then out, of the shape slowly and carefully as many times as they wish without lifting the pencil, until they feel a sense of tranquility inspired within them. 

From the inception of my idea, I have planned to add drawing embellishments around each communal spiral, and to gather several such drawings to make the final collective work. The spiral of the first version turned out looking flame-like to me, so not only do I plan to draw curved flames licking around each side and glowing coals where the stones had been, but I have already burned the bottom edges of the paper. It was great fun.

The direction I will take with the Double Spiral drawing remains to be seen, so come by my studio on Friday, September 4th during the Gallery Hop and participate! Be a part of the creative process; trace the labyrinth to feel a sense of calm.
Above: Double Spiral, in progress
interactive meditative drawing 
spiral template: smooth stones gathered from the shore at Topsail Island, NC
12 1/2" diameter
drawing: watercolor pencil on paper, 17" x 13 1/8"
August 7th, 2015
© 2015 Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved
Above: Inscribed crosses on stones, The City
© 2005 Amy FunderburkAll Rights Reserved
Cathair Crobh Dearg (The City), Co Kerry, The Republic of Ireland

If you missed last month's newsletter, click on the August issue to view other examples of these inscribed crosses.
Above: The Road to Nowhere
© 2005 Amy FunderburkAll Rights Reserved
Between Eyeries and Allihies, Co Cork, The Republic of Ireland

This is the only road on all our travels that my husband has not been willing to try! This is where we stopped and turned around. Don't let this flat bit fool you -- it was quite a climb up to this point. We found out later that what looked like a logical shortcut on the OS map to Allihies is called the Road to Nowhere by locals.

Please see article Memories of the Emerald Isle

Memories of the Emerald Isle

Is glas na cnoic i bhfad uainn. Distant hills look green.  
- Irish proverb

Artists love dramatic light. Readers from my latitude, imagine the angular light of fall or spring, but accompanying days of surprising length. Pair that with active skies that just don't stop moving and rugged landscapes dotted with archaeological riches, and you will start to get a sense of why going to Ireland for the first time in September 2001 remains the most artistically inspirational thing I've done to date. 

At the time of our three trips, twilight lasted for an hour and a half. During this liminal time, a vast sky palette can range from delicate pink, silver, and periwinkle to bolder yellow, orange, and opulent magenta in the blink of an eye. The Emerald Isle is not simply green, but boasts quite an array of colors on her breast as varied as her landscapes. From ochre, wheat, rich brown, and purple in the lonely bogs, to the starker silver-gray limestone of the lunar Burren, to the pink sands and azure waters of the coast of Co Mayo, her hues are complex, and sure to inspire any artist.

Through the monochromatic medium of black and white photography, one can see beyond the beguiling element of color by painting with light. The abstract essence of the country is found within its values, shapes and varied textures.

From cottages to castles, sheep to cows, burial mounds to stone circles, and gnarled groves to stately trees,
Éire is a country of nature's sheer magic, crowned with gossamer clouds and ephemeral light on heather-clad, windswept mountain tops. 

Prior to our first trip, I had been increasingly influenced by the stories, scenes, and symbolism of my Celtic heritage. Until then, I had to rely on research and similar local landscapes for my artistic reference when developing the subject matter for my earlier figurative series. In addition to lending historical accuracy for my symbolic paintings, the stunning vistas of Ireland inspired me to create landscape imagery in three media: oil, pastel, and black and white photography. My use of three media in the Aisling: an Artist's Vision of Ireland series reflected the many sacred triplicities evident in Celtic thought. 

Eventually, I merged the narrative intentions of my earlier figurative symbolism with the sacred sites of these Irish landscapes to create my current body of work, Images From the Otherworld. I have now expanded my subject matter to include locations from our trips to other Celtic countries, but the series was engendered in the heart of Ireland. It was also here that I fell in love with the holy wells that have long captivated my imagination.

After I received a Visual Artists Fellowship from the North Carolina Arts Council, I returned in 2003, and then my husband James C. Williams and I led a workshop there for artists and art appreciators in September 2005. 
Our initial two travels took us to all five ancient provinces of the island in both the Republic and Northern Ireland. Since the 2005 trip was a workshop, we decided to concentrate on two of my very favorite regions: the Beara Peninsula on the southwest coast, and the sacred Lough Gur area, around 30 minutes south of Limerick.

After the participants left for home, Jimmy and I took a day for ourselves to further explore the Burren in Co Clare, visiting An
Díseart (the Dysert O'Dea monastery) and the magnificent Liscannor Holy Well near the Cliffs of Moher. As it turns out, Dysert O'Dea is apparently quite haunted, as we were treated to tales of phantom footsteps by a caretaker there!

I have included a few photographs here from the 2005 trip, as well as the pastel above and the oil below from my Aisling series of Irish landscapes. If you have been there, may these images help you to return. If you have yet to go, may it take you there now.

Slipping into the rhythm of the country is like finding your favorite old pair of comfortable shoes that you didn't know you had misplaced. It might be easy to lose sight of in the shadow of the burst Celtic Tiger, but the ancient yet timeless land still speaks.
Above: Dursey Island Sheep
pastel on sanded paper mounted on board
x 12", framed to 18"x 16" 
© 2006 Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved
Dursey Island, Beara Peninsula, Co Cork
The Republic of Ireland 
Above: Mother and Child
oil on gallery wrap canvas, 12" x 12"
© 2006 Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved
Painting continues around wrapped edge 1 ¼" each side
Actual cloud formation while driving along the N 21, Co Limerick, Republic of Ireland

Exciting News!

My sister's star is really on the rise! I am delighted to share another exciting announcement about my sister, poet Julie Funderburk. 

I've already reported Julie's previous good news in my April newsletter: her first full length poetry collection The Door that Always Opens has been accepted for publication by Louisiana State University Press, to appear in Fall 2016. 

Last year, Julie published a chapbook of poetry, 
Thoughts to Fold into Birds (Unicorn Press, 2014). 
Now I have additional news to share. Julie is one of two poets among the 13 writers selected to receive North Carolina Arts Council Artist Fellowships for 2015–16. Such Fellowships are designed to support creative development and the creation of new work. 

To promote the creation of new poetry, Julie plans to spend the funds on travel, seeking the necessary solitude that “art requires but life often prohibits,” as she described in her grant narrative.

Her poems appear in 32 Poems, Best New Poets, Blackbird, The Cincinnati Review, and Ploughshares, and she is the recipient of scholarships from the Bread Loaf and Sewanee writers' conferences. The poetry editor of storySouth, she teaches at Queens University of Charlotte, and director of The Arts at Queens.

Eleven fiction writers, three composers, and two songwriters were also awarded fellowships during this cycle. Having been greatly honored by an NCAC Visual Artists Fellowship in 2002-03, I can say first hand that such an opportunity opens many doors long after the grant funds are spent.

Congratulations, Julie!

Above: Poet Julie Funderburk
© 2015, photograph by James C. Williams 
Above: Rainbow at the Crossroads, Beara Peninsula
© 2005 Amy FunderburkAll Rights Reserved
Near Eyeries, at the T junction between Castletownbere and Allihies
Co Cork, The Republic of Ireland
Above: Rugged Beara Coast
© 2005 Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved
Near Eyeries, Beara Peninsula
The Republic of Ireland
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Studio 107, Artists on Liberty Building
521 North Liberty Street, Winston-Salem, NC USA 27101

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