Shortly after we moved here, happy to be back in California but uprooted once again due to my husband serving in the military, I met a group of boys at the beach. Their bond was instantly apparent, but defied words, and I knew this is what I hoped for my boys. Their dads came walking along a few minutes later and I asked them how their kids had met and what drew them together. They told me about Adventure Guides and a few months later during soccer practice, a teammate’s family invited my kids and their Dad to come on a campout with their tribe. Every month since then, Jesse and the boys have met in a forest, desert or beach with a small tribe of fathers and sons, part of a larger nation. I don’t know how much they talk but I know my boys have grown strong running wild with these kids and I know that through good and bad times in career, family and health my husband has had this group of men to sit around the fire and raise his sons with.

Each year there is a family campout where the moms and little ones are invited to join the fun, and baby man loves nothing better. This year the mountain campground was whipped with wind and freezing cold rain, tents sunk into the mud and we alternated between huddling under the one easy-up together and thawing our fingers and toes around the soggy campfire. We fell asleep to howling wind and pouring rain clattering on our tent roof, but when we woke all was sun and warmth and the baby man smiling the smile of someone who just conquered the world. The leather vests filled with patches and their traditional blessing after the Sunday morning hike before we leave, drawing each other in and offering up to the great Spirit, these have all become as well worn into their childhood as carving around the fire and stuffing themselves with potato chips, cocoa and s’mores.

The morning after the storm and miserable cold when everyone talked about going home to our warm beds because staying didn’t make sense, I followed a few of the boys around as they collected firewood and explored the cliffs and creek. And then we drove home thankful because being cold and tired with the tribe made way more sense than missing these memories.

2015-4_HurkeyCreekHurkeyCreekW_00259HurkeyCreekW_00260HurkeyCreekW_00261HurkeyCreekW_00262HurkeyCreekW_00263HurkeyCreekW_00264HurkeyCreekW_00265HurkeyCreekW_00266HurkeyCreekW_00267HurkeyCreekW_00268HurkeyCreekW_00269HurkeyCreekW_00270HurkeyCreekW_00271HurkeyCreekW_00272HurkeyCreekW_00273HurkeyCreekW_00275HurkeyCreekW_00276HurkeyCreekW_00277HurkeyCreekW_002784-2015 . Hurkey Creek family campout with the Adventure Guide’s tribe


“Of course the Neverlands vary a good deal. John’s, for instance had a lagoon with flamingos flying over it at which John was shooting, while Micheal, who was very small, had a flamingo with lagoons flying over it. John lived in a boat turned upside down on the sands. Micheal in a wigwam, Wendy in a house of leaves deftly sewn together. John had no friends, Micheal had friends at night, Wendy had a pet wolf forsaken by its parents, but on the whole the Neverlands have a family resemblance, and if they stood still in a row you could say of them that they have each other’s nose and so forth. On those magic shores children at play are for every beaching their coracles. We too have been there; we can still hear the sound of the surf, though we shall land no more.”

– from Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

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They are my heart, my very being. They complain, argue and make messes. They create what I never could imagine and in their eyes I find my purpose. Here is five minutes of my life with them…



When they are older they will doubtless stand still for a portrait to be made. They will smirk and give their parents attitude and mom and dad will have grown a few more wrinkles and hopefully will still hold each other’s hands tight.

But this. This is what it looked like when they were young and ran free and mom and dad were new to each other and what they were creating… When little boys threw leaves in your face, acted a zombie and the stuffed elephant was held dear in every picture.

This is what it looked like when everything was just beginning


  • Jackie - YES! Sharon, your words and images calm my mind and inspire me.ReplyCancel


We drove across the country and I shot a roll of film, and the photos were all a mess. Light leaks or maybe my kids opened the back of the camera, and the few that turned out I missed the focus. This year this has become a recurring theme. The equipment I hold in my hands is old and turns against me or maybe I’m just not good enough. Maybe I am losing the heart to make it work.

An artist’s statement gives a basis for a visual artist’s collection. It explains what they have created based upon who they are and what they have to say. A faulty artist’s statement leaves nothing to the imagination, nothing for the viewer to work out, or it’s so vague that anyone could have written it and the viewer is left no wiser about what they are looking at. And then there are the excuses… In college you always knew which students would use their artist’s statement as a way to explain away their mess. Say that you meant to do it and a weak painting might stand.

I am drawn to the uncertain, the mystery, but I always thought I had a thesis for my life. My marriage, a home and my children… they are my body of work are they not? And also I make pictures, sometimes I am paid for them. Art, right? I am a maker. But what happens when all you make and see are messes and mistakes. What happens when your collection isn’t cohesive and you can’t recognize yourself in the mirror? What happens when you wake to see all the mirrors pointed back at you and your life, and it wasn’t the thesis you wrote out in grade school?

Then you need a word to speak or a picture to paint. Something to make your heart feel again. Happiness lies disheveled but there is still a world of interest out there. There must be something to say, that proves you are here.

So I dig through film I had given up for lost, splatter paint on canvas and grow so quiet I can hear my dreams breath. Listening to the thoughts I shouldn’t think.

This is not a project or a manifesto

This is one person saying, I don’t know

But one thing is clear, I would rather see these photos, the dry lake bed bleached pink and the mountains fading over exposed into violet, than hold images perfect, all the hues, tones and values neatly arranged until they mean nothing more than a xerox.

And maybe all the failings, mess and mistakes make the masterpiece.



“There is no misery in art. All art is about saying yes, and all art is about its own making.” – John Currin



11-2014 . Canon AE1

  • Lara - Sharon your words and your art -they are beautifu,like you,like your heart. xxReplyCancel

  • Monica Calderin - So deeply felt. Thank you for your heart.ReplyCancel

  • Tricia - There is so much beauty and truth here, both in words and images. Great art is about emotion, that’s for sure, making it and viewing it.ReplyCancel

  • Drae - Oh mama. I had chills as I read this. I love to read your writings and the way they make me feel and think. Two things came to mind as I was reading this and I wanted to share with you… xo

    “I’m thankful for my struggle because without it I wouldn’t have stumbled across my strength.” – Alex Elle

    I have made you. I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. – Isaiah 46.4ReplyCancel