First snow! The flakes,
So few, so light,
Remake the world
In solid white
All bundled up,
We feel as if
We were fat penguins
Warm and stiff.
The toy-packed shops
Half split their sides,
And Mother brings home
Things she hides.
Old carols peal.
The dusk is dense.
There is a mood
Of sweet suspense.
The shepherds wait,
The kings, the tree -
All wait for something
Yet to be,
This poem is my favorite poem about Christmas. I read it with a childlike sense of wonder and my eyes mysteriously fill with tears as I read "Old carols peal, The dusk is dense. There is a mood of sweet suspense"
My husband later told me Updike was cynical and that this poem was probably meant to point out how much of a let down new years is. He's too smart for his own good. I like my nostalgic version and I'm keeping it.
Old carols peal. The dusk is dense.
I automatically hear the soft strains of a choir singing Silent Night as the lights dim to only candle light in a church on Christmas Eve.
There is a mood of sweet suspense.
I automatically know the feeling of leaving church, drowsy but excited because it's finally Christmas! It's midnight! We have so much to look forward to!
This mixture of melancholy and magic is what inspired me as I sat down to paint the new calendar. That and a whole lot of creative genius and hustle thanks to incredibly talented, Kelly of Winifred Paper. Together we created an excruciatingly beautiful new collection. Really - I had to use the word excruciating. That's how good it is. It's as soft as Silent Night floating over midnight snow and simultaneously as cheerful and buoyant as Christmas morning. Perfection.
It's been a long time coming. I've been waiting to reveal it to you, seemingly forever. And I cannot wait for you to be able to own it finally officially TOMORROW!
I began work on it in April. And I began with thoughts of this poem and a few words of my own, which I will share with you here, unedited. Because reading things I wrote six months ago is like reading the work of a very eager first grader. Endearing. And you don't want to crush her enthusiasm...
Without further ado, I give you the story behind 2016.
A whole year in the future. Whose to say what it will look like. It's a little bit like looking into a crystal ball. I feel like a witch with thick knuckles stretched over with leathery skin punctuated with opalescent rings. I can visualize running these hands over a great crystal ball.
But I can’t visualize whats inside.
What will change? The shapes of the heels on our shoes, the shapes of our lives? I've never started a new calendar by writing, but it feels necessary this year.
I've been thinking alot about beginnings, how beginnings are everything. Beginnings generate middles and ends, and then ultimately new beginnings.
How life is a big series of cause and effect chain reactions, building on eachother, fractalized and imperfect, layered, intertwined. i am inspired by this, by history.
History and how it writes the future. How generations intertwine and impact one another. You have your father's smile, Your grandmother's silk scarves, your great aunts favorite still life, your sister’s stubbornness.
We are all gypsies, traveling through time and space, unmoored except for these generational histories that ground us in an experience we can compare and understand in context of all the random flotsam around us. The universe would feel intolerably vast, hopeless even, if it werent for the comforts of running our fingers absent mindedly over the age-smoothed surface of our grandfather’s class ring, worn on a gold chain tucked inside a crisp white button down.
The 2016 girl is equal parts gypsy, heiress, aspiring astrologer, adventurer, romantic sentimentalist. She's grown up enough, experienced enough to realize she has much more growing to do. She realizes her ancestors, her parents even, have wisedom she can call on. And that where she came from matters for where she’s going.
Yes, she’s grown up, but she’s still a keeping a child like spark in her heart. She has secrets, superstitions, dreams. Theres more to come and the future is going to be grand no matter the shape of our heels on our shoes.
I hope the breathlessly exuberant first grader that was Inslee-in-April has left you intrigued and ready to get your hands on this excruciatingly beautiful product. Start your engines, my friends, tomorrow is Calendar Day!
November has crept in again on the heels of Halloween. No other seasonal shift is quite as abrupt as this one. October and November are true seasonal ninjas. November is just lying in wait while everyone revels in the deafening crescendo of Octoberness on it's final day, Halloween. And then we're all bewildered when the next morning October is no where to be found.
It's time to bake pies! And roast carrots! And simmer soups! Forget October, that is so yesterday! You're now fully immersed in a new season, get used to it!
Our new calendar girl is a true beacon of Novemberness through and through. She radiates warmth from within in this season of cold and darkness. November is a time of coming together. Blending families and friends over a tapestry of shared recipes and recounted stories that have ripened with age.
She wears a ball skirt of tartan plaid, an homage to her father's Scottish heritage. She inherited his imperviousness to the cold and his love of wearing skirts.
And on her ears, giant earrings inherited from her mother. She also inherited her beautiful skin tone and her recipe for 72 hour simmered mole sauce.
She tends a garden year round, naming each carrot, nurturing each cabbage. She knows that love makes things grow and that the best way to warm cold hands is by filling them with a warm bowl of soup.
She invites you to stop by for dinner, served at a wonderful old table set beside an open hearth, spread with a hodgepodge of her grandmother's china patterns and filled with ancestral recipes.
Just please be sure to give her three days notice if you want to try the mole sauce!
Is it just me or is fall having a moment this year? Apple, pumpkin, assorted gourd harvesting seems to be at an all time high. And dressing the part is an essential part of the equation. In order to reap the bounty of the season, one must be clothed in the manner of a British lord. Tis a good time to be a manufacturer of sporting lifestyle gear. Acting like a member of the landed gentry has never been more in vogue.
I'm buying into this in full force, dressing as if I've just hitched my horse to a nearby citibike station and am popping in to pick up some fresh ammunition for my hunting rifle.
I am now the proud owner of two Barbour coats, one quilted, one waxed, just in case I need to engage in a fox-hunt on my way to the studio.
I am however, sadly, not in possession of the ability to ride a horse or fire any kind of sporting weaponry. But, they say fake it til you make it, right?
Robert Frost begins a poem about this month, "O Hushed October morning mild" just as today began in the city, with a pearly gray sky and the gentle coolness we've been waiting for.
The new season arrives humble, reverent, with head bent and arms out-stretched. The Earth is surrendering its bounty selflessly, asking nothing in return from us, as it sinks into its season of quiet stillness. There's something about this vulnerable season of change that calls on us all to be nurturing stewards to preserve Earth's offerings. To cherish the last wisps of warmth and light, to send the summer off with a fond farewell, watching until the sun has set.
The October Calendar Girl, did not begin her morning in New York City, but I'm sure she too felt the hushed chill on the morning mist hovering above the vines as she set out to harvest wine grapes, dressed in a vintage Pucci gown. A Bacchanalian nymph, prepared to usher the fruits of summer's labor on to begin their metamorphosis into an elixir of merriment hearty enough to warm us through the darkest parts of the months that wait beyond October's golden glow.
She winds further and further through the rows of vines, lost amidst the ripened beauty, paying no mind to being barefoot with cool earth beneath her feet. Enchanted by the season of change, willing this day poised between summer and winter to stretch on forever, knowing that partly why it feels so delicious is just how fleeting it is. At any moment the first fiery red leaf will shudder on his branch and break free.
"Beguile us in the way you know, release one leaf at break of day"
Sofia Vergara is the covergirl on the September Issue of Martha Stewart Weddings and here I am painting her lovely cover shot. Visit Martha Stewart Weddings to see a video of this painting coming to life!
And wait, there's more!
My girl, Martha, and I are offering a little insta-giveaway to celebrate this beautiful new issue of the magazine and the upcoming debut of my 2016 calendar. Share this image on Instagram, tag @inslee and @Martha _Weddings and use #MSWeddingsContest and you might just win this watercolor original and your very own 2016 calendar!
Do you remember the 21st night of September....
Rejoice! We have shifted through time to the best song-month of the year! Gone are the sandy, sun bleached idol hours of August set to the rhythm of a lapping tide. Here comes the crisp, espresso and Earth Wind and Fire fuled toe-tapping enthusiasm of this perkiest of months. It's time for newness and fashion shows!
This month's Calendar Girl is caught in a whirlwind moment between NYFW shows. One of those moments when everything is just on point and the paparazzi are loving it. Even Bill Cunningham slammed on his brakes to capture this radiant creature.
She invites you to channel her inner killing-it, this month. You too are a show-stopping nymph of sartorial magic who is in for a marvelous night for a moondance. You deserve lace up peep toed boots and off-the-shoulder-everything and Meg Ryan's very own bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils. Go get 'em, tiger!