Blog / 2021 / Observance

December 20, 2021

[video transcript]

This Old Faithful piece is from my COVID cross-country trip. I love it, but I think the painting featured in this video is probably my favorite from the series, because of the story behind it.

Ritual is for sale for $140 plus shipping—see all currently available artworks. There are prints and pretty things here in my print shop!

Old Faithful geyser attended by a gathering of mountain bluebirds, mixed media painting by American artist Gwenn Seemel
Gwenn Seemel
Ritual (Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming)
acrylic, colored pencil, and marker on paper
11 x 7 inches

A few months ago, around the summer solstice, I visited Old Faithful for the first time. Going into the experience, I knew I’d be blown away by the bizarre beauty of this natural phenomenon, but I wasn’t expecting to be moved by my fellow humans. Something about all of us gathering at a specific place and time to witness an eruption was wonderfully healing, especially in the midst of a pandemic.

Because, we didn’t necessarily have much else in common, but, in that moment, we’d come together and we were hopeful about witnessing nature being pretty. Our various stories merged, and, in a way that I still don’t totally understand, I felt held.

Now, in the long nights surrounding the winter solstice, I’m thinking of the geyser again.

I used to struggle with the short days of December and January. I’d find myself going into overdrive just to distract myself from the lack of light. But then, a few years back, I met someone who described the darkness as nurturing, saying that this time of year gave their creativity space to breathe and be.

I liked the idea so well that I decided to try to train my brain to think that way too, and it’s mostly worked. I may not be at the point where I savor the darkness like this person did, but I certainly don’t dread the yearly tilt of the planet like I used to.

And, maybe more importantly, the sun setting so early each day now reminds me of that stranger with those strange idea about darkness. That person wasn’t even talking to me specifically, just sharing their take on the solstice in a group conversation. I don’t know their name, I can’t even really think of what they look like, but I’m grateful for them. And, in a way that I still don’t totally understand, it makes me feel held.

This video is made with love and microdonations from my community!

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