it’s the most worst, wonderful possible time, of the year.
my husband and i talk fairly often about our role as contemporary parents, and how it involves a new dimension that is unlike the parenting our parents did, and certainly the parenting our grandparents did. we are among the first generations of parents whose primary task it is to raise children in opposition to the prevailing culture, whereas parenting for all of he rest of human history has been a process of integrating children, through rites of passage, into the prevailing culture. christmas, for me, is one of the most egregious examples of this–a supposedly spiritual holiday fully given over to advertisements, hucksterism, and grasping materialism. and yet one of my core beliefs, as a natural rebel, is that the prevailing culture does not have to dictate anything, if it’s not something i want. and so we have adopted two traditions in our family–a christmas eve dinner at our house where anyone in the family is welcome, where we cook good food all day, and sometimes many people show up and sometimes nobody but the four of us shows up, but regardless of who shows up, we get to cook a good meal for dinner. and on christmas morning we build a fire and eat awful pillsbury orange rolls and open presents and stockings while the dog begs for food and we all drink too much coffee. it is a strange little ritual, cornered into expressing itself in a nerdy and unusual way by a mainstream we can’t help but find dysfunctional. it works. it will do. i’m looking forward to it. that’s enough.
misfit christmas tree
one stalk many branches
last night we hosted a concert by jeremy messersmith, who is a whimsical and moving minnesota songwriter and a beautiful singer and so he qualifies as one of my favorite singer-songwriters. but beyond the singing and guitar playing, what was interesting was seeing a household full of strangers fold into each other, and talk about their lives and then become a concert audience for an hour and a half, and then break out into small conversational groups afterwards. we all had one tiny square of common ground–the lyrics to jeremy’s songs. and by the end of the night, those little plots of common ground had expanded into a community. and i wish more art was doing more of that. more of the time.
early winter milkweed
announcing a STILL fine art collection
warning: long post.
i’m trying an experiment this year: the short version: i hope to sell a limited number of curated collections of my prints, as an art-quality set, to be shipped in time for the holidays. don’t worry. STILL blog will remain what it has always been, and will not suddenly become a vehicle to sell prints of my work. but i do want to take one day to describe this new project, and then we will return to our regularly scheduled programming.
i get a lot of requests for prints of my work, and i sell quite a few high-resolution digital images to individuals and businesses. but selling digital files sometimes feels as if there is a step missing. i like the physicality of a beautiful ink print on luscious textured rag paper, and i like the deeper connection that happens—the transfer from one human hand to another—when a print that i have looked at, assessed in good light, swept a speck of dust from, and placed carefully into a box for shipping, becomes part of somebody else’s home. i miss that connection, and decided this year that i would like to work with paper and ink again, in a very limited way, under conditions where i can make the final product something that meets my own standards of simple beauty and minimalist calm, and that carries STILL blog into the realm of fine art.
as a result of all of this, i have decided to create a set of seven signed and numbered prints of STILL images that I will be offering for sale. i have curated the images within a complementary color palette, i will have them printed at 11” x 17” by a fine art custom printer, on my favorite, heavy, museum-quality Hahnemühle cotton rag paper, and ship them in a custom-made, archival French folio, timed to arrive anywhere in the world by the upcoming holidays. this first collection will be called the Zen Collection. my goal is not to sell a lot of prints, or make a lot of money, but to sell prints that make me proud, and that i hope will bring some of the spirit of STILL Blog—its love of nature, its craving for simplicity, its invitation to moments of calm—into the homes of a few of my friends among you, in a way that is new and unlike the daily stream of digital images that appear on the blog. the collection will be beautiful and elegant and restful and of collectible fine-art quality, and also, because of all of the above, expensive. there is no way to do this cheaply—not only because every step will be done at the highest level of materials and technique that i can manage, but also because, frankly, i don’t want to try to do it cheaply, or to cut corners to try to create a larger market.
for this first experiment, i simply want to make something as beautiful as i know how, and offer it as a small, art-quality collection curated by the artist herself, and see if there is interest. i could make this more financially viable by offering less expensive individual prints, but i love the idea of this harmonized collection, and i want to try to make something a little bit extraordinary in this particular form. i hope I won’t offend any of you with this foray into new territory. the first images have come back from the printer, and they are breathtakingly beautiful, as i hope you will see above. if you are interested in a set, please order one online here, by november 30. i will be shipping the collections out around by december 7. thank you again for being yourselves, and for being part of my life.
Link to shop: https://still-by-mary-jo-hoffman.myshopify.com/
bad hair day
a couple of years ago, i stopped dyeing my hair. i was always a light blonde, so it wasn’t obvious at first, but my hair is gradually coming in white. i don’t feel old yet, though. it’s just that some mornings i wake up and instead of looking like a tousle headed catherine deneuve, i look like a west highland terrier.
the soft underbelly
in olive country when the wind blows, the olive trees turn from sage green to silver as they show their undersides and shimmer. in willow country, the same thing happens. these are my two countries. one olive dry. one willow wet. both home.
undersides of weeping willow leaves