Monthly Archives: March 2014

Really Seeing a Place

photograph © James C. Williams 2010 All Rights Reserved

Funderburk sketching at the White Horse of Uffington, England. © James C. Williams 2008 All Rights Reserved

First edition originally published March 18, 2014

The last crocuses have now been joined by armies of cheerful daffodils, bluebells, and hyacinths, all bowing their heads today under the weight of today’s sleet and freezing rain, but still promising that spring is on the way.

My friend, Winston-Salem pastel artist Elsie Dinsmore Popkin, said she never felt as though she had really seen a place unless she had drawn it. Elsie passed away a few years ago, but this insight has always stayed with me.

I came across her 1997 Artist’s Statement yesterday when going through some old curatorial files from my days as an Exhibitions Coordinator. In her statement, Elsie also shared:

“I hope that the experience of seeing my pastels will open the viewer’s eyes to her own surroundings, will help her to see and rejoice in the forms and colors and beauty of the world around her.”

Indeed, I share in this intention, and perhaps Elsie’s concept of drawing a location in order to fully connect with it was an inspiration for me when I started a travel sketchbook. Since our first trip to Ireland in 2001, whenever I feel moved by a particular site on our journeys, I will take the time to draw, attempting to harness the energy of the place with my pencil onto paper. When creating final works, I refer to these drawings along with my reference photographs.

As Elsie put it, we try to express “the essence of the landscape,” as if to distill the fundamental nature of a location into a few marks of graphite instead of selecting a single, potent word.

On this St Patrick’s Day, I wish you slan agus beannacht,1


Irish Gaelic for “health and blessings.”

Image credit: Amy Funderburk drawing in her travel sketchbook at the White Horse of Uffington, Oxfordshire, England; 2008. Photo by James C. Williams, copyright 2008, All Rights Reserved.

Posted in Art Travels, Drawing and drawing techniques, General art discussion and philosophy, Other artists, Sacred Sites, Travel Tagged |

What is your word?

First edition originally published March 18, 2014

One night at the beginning of Restorative Yoga class, the instructor suggested we select a word to mentally repeat on our inhale, and another for our exhale. I chose the words “Allow…release. Allow… release.”

Some time ago, my husband Jimmy Williams told me about an app that was patterned after the work of street artist Shepard Fairey. Perhaps you saw Fairey in the 2010 fantastic documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, or have seen his graphic, black and white image of Andre the Giant’s face with the word “Obey” underneath in all capital letters on a red field, but you definitely know his iconic Hope poster that the artist created for President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. This work became the springboard for the HOPE Poster Photo Filter app,1 which features several options for changing the style of your image, and the opportunity for you to input your own word in lieu of “hope” or “obey”.

Hearing about this app made me think – what would my word be? What one word would I select to sum up my true self, my personality, my existence?

For someone so verbal, it seemed an important, daunting task – almost like a New Year’s Resolution that had to be condensed into one word. I savored several contenders like one amuse bouche after another.

During my contemplation, I thought of a scene from Eat, Pray, Love.  While in Rome, Liz Gilbert had a conversation with her friends. They told Liz that each person and city has a representational word (though I personally did not agree with the word they selected for London!).2 At first, Liz can only think of defining herself as “writer”, a word vetoed by her friends as being her profession rather than who she is. 3

What word would you select? How would you sum up your individuality and inner self?

At last, I decided on a word that I felt could mean many things, and could be applied to various areas of my life, though on the surface, it may seem just a reflection of my career. I chose…


All the best, and Namaste,

Amy Funderburk


The HOPE Poster Photo Filter app, 2010, copyright 3DTOPO Inc., is available on iTunes for iPhone and iPad.

2 “Stuffy” was their word for London, which didn’t reflect my experience there. I haven’t yet been to Paris or Rome, but so far, London is my favorite major city in the world.

3 Liz ultimately decides that her word is an Italian one:  Attraversiamo, meaning “Let’s cross over.”


Posted in Meditation and yoga, Other artists