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“Ghosts for Tinder” Painting Story and Process Photos

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A photo of a wildfire that was about a quarter of a mile from my parents’ house.IMG_5177IMG_5175

My parents’ farm in the Kansas Sandhills is surrounded by hundreds of acres of native prairie. Farmers there are constantly fighting the growth of cedar trees and other invasive species to try to retain the health and beauty of the prairie. One of the reasons why the prairie can be difficult to maintain is because fire is necessary to its life and health. Wildfires burn away dead plants; prevent certain other plants from encroaching; and release nutrients into the ground to encourage new growth. But in our world, we fight against fire.

Where I grew up, prairie fires are a very real concern. My childhood home was destroyed in a prairie fire (thankfully after we had already moved out). I remember many nights where my dad would leave all the sprinklers on in the yard “just in case”  because a nearby wildfire might jump the road and head our way.

Understandably, we don’t have room in our lives for fire. It can be dangerous and destructive. We have belongings and homes that are cherished. But, in our needs for safety and to protect the things we love, we can miss out on some of the restorative benefits. Especially in the sense of fire as a larger metaphor.

So the prairie here is a metaphor. Sometimes the best healing for new growth is a clearing out. This painting is my reminder to myself; that sometimes we need to start anew. Sometimes we need to let pain in and let go and begin again.

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Interesting little side note, this is the one piece in this series that was not started on a new blank canvas. The canvas had a painting on it that I was never happy with, so I painted over it to create this new piece – an act that mirrors the symbolism of the piece. The gray bird in the sky flying towards the past is the one element I kept from the original painting.

The butterflies here represent (as always in my pieces) hope and forward momentum.
The fire has sparkles of the universe within it.
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A 2013 photo of burning cedars in the prairie

 

GHOSTS FOR THE TINDER lyrics by Tim Coons

Come and keep by my lovely fire

I’ve got pieces I’m scheming from the liars with in me

You’ve replayed in my darker mind

You’re re-lived in the days I have assigned without you

Yes, I’ll leave it behind

Yes, I’ll leave it behind

Yes, I’ll leave it behind

Yes, I’ll leave it behind

Burn it down here

burn it down

it will come again

come up, on up from this ground

Up and around

So burn it down

I’ve got ghosts for the tinder glow

I’ve got pages to wash clean as snow to warm me

I’ve got memories for matches now

I will lighten the load so sad and loud for
When I see you

Heaven knows it will light

Heaven knows it will light

 

August Ideas and Activities Around the Theme “Newspaper”

For this entire year I’ve been doing an at home curriculum with the family (Lucy 6, Hattie 3, Beatrice 10 months). Tim and I call the project “Abacus” and we’re sharing it each month for the fun, challenge, and community of it. Each month we choose a theme and then come up with a bunch of activities around that theme.
Read all about how to use this list and our heart behind this project here.
Explore past months themes here.

This one is going to be a little different. When I threw out the idea of “Newspaper” as a theme, my sister said “What?” But I love it because it has a lot of creative directions you can go.

Below is our comprehensive NEWSPAPER activities list. Choose a couple to do with your kids to enrich the month or try to accomplish the whole list! What would you add? I would love to hear your ideas and plans for the month.

Unless you count S’mores day (August 10th), there are no major holidays in August, which is actually kind of lovely. It makes August a month that isn’t defined by its holidays. It can be what you make it.

August Dates to Take Note of:

August 10th –S’mores day
August 2 – Sister Day
August 7 – National Lighthouse Day
August 12 – Vinyl Record Day (I love any excuse to get out our record player)

Local Greeley, CO events:

August 4-8 – High Plains Chautauqua – if you are in greeley and haven’t experienced this, it is a must
August 4 – Family Bike Ride
August 7 – Neighborhood Nights – Paddington Bear
Aug 14 – Neighborhood Nights -Big
August 22 – Agriculture Fest and Feast

List of Ideas and Inspiration for NEWSPAPER:

Each section of a newspaper lends itself well to all kids of activities. Try to do something for each category.

Sports
Life
News
Weather
Editorials
Food
Entertainment

We are going to make our own newspaper – interviews, comics, stories, page layout, etc. – hopefully we will print a few and actually send it out to grandmas and friends.

I love this because it has lots of important elements –

Writing Stories – Who, What, When, Where, Why, How
Interviews
Typing
Graphic Design
Photography
Documenting
Taking Notes

I am not sure how exactly this will play out, but I am excited to give it space and just experiment with the idea and see where it takes us.

Maybe we will print some of it on our very own Printing Press

 

COMICS:

Do you remember reading the “Funny Pages” as kids? All sorts of great comic strips to dig in to.
Calvin and Hobbes
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Peanuts
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Garfield
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Far Side
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And, if we are looking at comics, we should definitely try our hand and writing and illustrating our own comic strips.
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I also want to be sure to find some Sunday paper comics to enjoy.
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EXPLORE:
Take a tour of our the local paper
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Take a look at old newspapers and how they are a little snapshot of history – like this cool one we found in our crawl space when we moved into our current house.
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ART:

Make a fort out of rolled newspaper
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Make newspaper beads
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Weave newspaper baskets
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Make paper boats and hats
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Make something with paper mache  (there are some great fun animal tutorials where you start with a balloon)

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Make some Newspaper fashion! (Their is a fabulous Project Runway unconventional episode where they have to use newspapers to make clothes)
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READ:

The Greeley Tribune
The New York Times
USA Today

The Onion (grown ups)

The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs
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Black and White by David Macaulay
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WATCH:

Newsies
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It Happened One Night
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PLAY:

Crosswords

Anybody remember The Mini Page?
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Have fun reporting!

Documenting our Creative Process – A Photo Series

—This post is part of an ongoing series we post every couple of weeks, sharing our journey as working artists. Sometimes it is good to take the veil off of the creative process and showcase how we get from A to Z. See some of the other posts here.

A week ago, Tim had the opportunity to play at our downtown’s Friday Fest. He wrote a song called “My Unexpected Home” that was showcased as part of the kick off of our city’s “Greeley Unexpected” campaignIMG_4957

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He has also been busy tracking away with all sorts of amazing musicians on the new “Becoming” album – which is already sounding FABULOUS.
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Lucy has been perfecting the art of self portraiture

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I have been working on some of the smaller pieces for our Becoming series –

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The girls and I have been drawing on a bunch of sketches for a calendar we are designing! Hopefully to be released next month.

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I finished up this logo project for my Mom’s button business.


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And finally, I cleared out my studio of all my old series art pieces and have had a “Summer Clearing” show up at the Blue Mug at Margie’s coffee shop this month.

Betony Coons from www.giantsandpilgrims.com Summer Clearing art show

“Stretch” Round up of our Month of May

May seems like it has gone pretty fast. This was the first month where it felt like we got a bit derailed from our plan. On the same hand, we did have some pretty memorable experiences and moments. And May, with its finish lines and wraps ups is just kind of like that. So bring on summer we say!

 Giants and Pilgrims’ “Abacus” is a creative home curriculum centered on a monthly theme. This month’s theme was STRETCH. Read the whole list of ideas here.

Here is our run down of the month :

On May 1st, Tim and the girls kept up our fabulous tradition of May Day baskets – complete with Bacon bouquets (which are so weird and so awesome at the same time)

Coons family celebrate May Day

May the Fourth was celebrated by all with an epic Star Wars movie night and pizza.

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I had really wanted to get into some better practices as a family with our physical activity. We did an OK (but not great) job following this little calendar of days. I would say we maybe did 1/3rd of the days. But hey, better than nothing. And at the end of this month, I started running with Run Atlas Run a practice that I have absolutely loved and hope to keep up all summer.
May weekly workout
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Someone is working harder here than the others…
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We still haven’t had a chance to run at an outdoor track, partly because every time I suggest it the girls are stinkers about it, but I have high hopes that they will enjoy it more than they think they will. We’ll get there…

We watched the Karate Kid – which I had never seen before. So great!! Now I finally get the Cobra Kai reference of a t-shirt I have had for the last 8 years…
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We made lots of oozy gooey slime – great “stretchy” fun. I still want to try to make bouncy balls and silly putty.

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Slime making adventures from www.giantsandpilgrims.com

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One morning we made rubber band instruments. Lucy got a stick and played hers like a violin.

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One Friday we took a family trip to Fort Collins and had a wonderful time trying out different instruments and learning all about the properties of sound at the Fort Collins Children’s Museum of Discovery.

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This was a neat “build your own horn” station

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Here is Harriet playing an electronic drum kit

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Lucy trying out an electric guitar

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The kids’ highlight from the day was the “Tornado Chamber.” We kept losing Harriet and then finding her in it.
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When I was a kid, I specifically remember LOVING the shadow wall at the Children’s museum in Wichita, KS. I was so excited that they had one in Fort Collins. Basically it flashes a bright light and then your shadow is captured on the wall. It feels very Peter Pan.
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It was a good day.

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Someone else did some musical experiments of their own.

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We read Twistable Turnable Man, finally finished the Secret Garden, started”Ballet Shoes”, plus all sorts of other “Stretch” related books we picked up at the library this month. Now if I could just find that stupid “Train Travel” book before I have to pay for it at the library. Dang it.

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We went on a pretty epic adventure by train. 

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 We of course had to make a wall installation of our “Stretch” activities. I didn’t particularly like how my drawing turned out so I let Harriet color all over it. Which made it much more awesome.

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Our other “Stretch” themed art projects kind of fell by the wayside, but we did have a lovely afternoon playing with clay. We made little nests with eggs and necklace pendants. IMG_4225

Thanks for playing!! See you on the other side in June with some “Collections!”

-Betony

Documenting the Creative Process Series

Continuing work on our new series titled –  “Becoming” – current release date for the album and artwork is this fall.

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Making sure to get this little girl started early.

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It helps when you have an awesome dad to listen to and watch.

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A lovely tea time sketching out ideas with my mom for a new header for her antique button business called House of Button.

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Tim has been doing all sorts of recording and tracking – both in my very messy studio and at the UNC recording studio. Having AMAZING musician friends is pretty great. Thanks, Melanie Haskins!
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Thanks to my amazing parents and husband, my library mural is finally fixed (there was a problem with some cloudiness in the anti-graffiti coating) – You can see the difference in the black below between the finished redone black and the cloudy. It took LOTS of scrubbing and sanding, but it looks so bright and happy now. Just how I intended it.

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Getting it done called for me to actually remember to sign it this time.
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And, I am working on a second draft of a new book project. The first version incorporated a lot of cool collage elements, but the publisher we are working with nixed the idea. Still going to be pretty wonderful though.
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Documenting the Creative Process: a Weekly Photo Series

Here are some bits and pieces from our creative process this last week:

I finished up a sweet poster design for the band the Burroughs.  They are doing a LIVE recording at the Moxi theater on May 8th & 9th. We were going for an old school Art Deco feel of a downtown greeley street. My artwork will also be used as their album cover and a T-shirt (and tank-top!).
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tshirt mock up

 

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Tim and Charla Bultman are working on the beginnings of a stellar new project, details still to be announced. But as the person who gets to hear all the songs in their infancy stage, its going to be incredible.

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Harriet (and Lucy) have been creating and coloring all kinds of chalk murals on our driveway. Thank you sunshine.

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I also finished up this Alaska painting for a wonderful couple in town. They spend half their year in Alaska near this really cool mine. Lots of fun symbolism in the various imagery – including the newspaper which is an Alaska paper from the 40’s we found in the crawl space of our house when we moved in

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Whipped up some quick series artwork for Atlas Churchs spring series “Changed”

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Figuring out how many animals I can cut out of a piece of plywood 🙂 Project still TBA….
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Documenting the Creative Process: a Weekly Photo Series

Here are some of our projects we have been working on and some snippets of our artistic process from the last couple weeks.

I submitted a design for the city of Greeley Manhole cover design contest

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Tim has been continuing recording on our new album “Becoming” and working on another still to be titled album. One song uses this sweet antique musical organ toy.

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I’m in the middle of this commission depicting a mine in Alaska. Still has a long ways to go 🙂

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I made a whole series of little sunprint bags for John Galt’s Boutique

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And finally, I have been working on an Art Deco poster and CD cover for the new Burroughs live album!

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Beeswax, Song, and Wood – A Collaborative Art Piece for Lent

We are excited to share this beautiful collaboration with a couple of our favorite craftsmen – Illuman Apiary and Wes Sam-Bruce.

Here’s the description:

This Lenten Set is a collaborate project completed by musician Tim Coons, beekeeper KJ Tencza and woodworker Wes Bruce. Together they have created an experience that will enlighten, deepen and enhance your Lenten practice. The set comes with a wooden base, hand-crafted by Wes, which holds the candle and two glass, corked jars: one with olive oil and the other with palm ash. The candle is made from 100% beeswax, slightly scented with myrrh and infused with palm ash. (The candle has a burn radius the size of a silver dollar, leaving a solid wax shell as to not drip or leak onto the wood.) A digital download of Tim Coons’ album of spirituals and modern songs called “Potomac” accompanies the set. Along with the album is a devotional written by Tim Coons that leads you through the music with Lenten prayers and readings.

Set Includes:

Handmade Hexagon Wood Candle Holder made by Wes Bruce

Hexagonal Hand Poured Beeswax Candle by illuman Apiary

1 Vial of Oil

1 Vial of Ash

Digital Download of Potomac by Tim Coons with devotional and boat charm

 

This will be the table centerpiece for our Giants & Pilgrims family throughout lent! We plan on lighting the candle each night as part of our lenten routine as a practice of prayer and centering.

 

PURCHASE one of these lenten art pieces here – 
https://squareup.com/market/illuman-apiary
(Hurry! They are only making 25)


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“Breaking Love”: Story, Lyrics, Painting, Chord Chart

“Breaking Love”

Painting above by Betony Coons

THE STORY OF THE SONG

I wrote the “Breaking Love” as a communion song for our church community (Atlas Church in Greeley). It’s the raw picture of being inspired, moved and motivated by one who gives all of himself so that we might survive and thrive.

I find this as the best reason for why I would give of myself sacrificially to others- family, friends, even enemies. I come to that table of bread and wine in order to fill back up after engaging my life in that kind of Love. I love others because I was first loved so well. – Tim

If you’d like to see a video of us singing this song live head to: https://s28969.p27.sites.pressdns.com/breaking-love-live-at-crescendo-espresso-bar-music-cafe/

Breaking Love
by Giants & Pilgrims

C                                                                   F

You and I have a history before mine starts

C                                                                      F

You and I share a heart since mine gave up

F

And your love is my blood

G

And your love is my blood

C

You remind me of why I break my hands

You remind me of why I move my feet

F

You remind me of why I give a damn (why I change my plans)

F                                                                   C

You remind me of the breaking love I need

C

You remind me of everything poured out

You remind me of my identity

F

You remind me of why I call this home

F                                                                     C

You remind me of the breaking love I need

Like Ships Passing in the Night

THE STORY OF THE SONG

The producer of “Almanac No.1” (our Giants & Pilgrims album) is
Dave Wilton. He’s a sweet and extremely talented man who’s awesome
to work with creatively. He recorded all the music in his studio, St. Idas,
and helped arrange each song we captured.

In the making and writing for this album Betony, Dave, myself, and a few others, were exploring this idea of love coming up from the dirt. (I would say that was the music’s over-arching theme for Almanac No. 1.)

Rarely is anything worth doing easy, especially in love, and this idea plays itself out in family, faith, dreams and hopes, friends, regrets, our need for more time, etc. The best kind of love is the most difficult, but it’s the best, but it’s difficult… and so on.

While working together one day Dave turned to me and he said,

“Hey, Bro. Do you ever feel like you and your wife and just ships passing in the night? I get up for work and say goodbye to her and the kids. I get home and take over and she leaves for her work. I’m in bed when she gets home… We hardly are seeing each other. It feels like we’re just these ships passing in the night.”

And so Betony’s painting was created from that sentiment. Then my song was written.

I very much related to what Dave was saying. And so my song plays out that these busy seasons happen, but the hope is that we’re going to turn things around eventually; that we’ll be intentional and find
time to be together. This season won’t last,
we’ll find
ourselves out of it eventually and back into a better
schedule of relationship with each other.

-Tim

Ships Passing in the Nights
by Giants & Pilgrims

C am

Bride up against the tide it’s always you and I, when you want it

C am

Brave, pushing on the waves for a place to stay, Bring the harbor

F

And our ships are passing

C G

My love this won’t last

F

Our ships keep on passing

am

missing in the night

F am

missing in the night

F C

And this too shall pass

Wind, four corners closing in moving on my skin

Do we have to?

Stars thrown upon the wall navigates it all

Like a calling

I’m going to steal my time like it was a crime

For my heartache

Chorus

C- am

The river knows if I take off my clothes

and lay me down we’re drowning ghosts x2

F- C-G  F- C-G

Whoa…

Chorus

Some images from the process of creating this painting –
Read about how/why Betony brings her kids into her painting process here.

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