The Permeability of Being Alone IV

The Permeability of Being Alone 4

The Permeability of Being Alone IV
12 x 12
Pastel, Irish Linen Thread on Paper sewn onto canvas

I have been immersed in the studio. Steeped in all things creative from making art to listening to podcasts and audio books on the Creative Process. I am particularly taken with a Clarissa Pinkola Estes audio series.  Her cadence isn’t for everyone, but I love listening to her and am inspired by her words, and her work in the world.

As I’ve listened to the gentle storyteller weave her teachings through stories of myth and metaphor, I have continued to work on this series, The Permeability of Being Alone.  I am loving the simplicity of composition and color.  I find myself thinking about my own creative process, where I hold back and where I let go.  This piece is about the threshold between those two.

As I said in my last post….”I am surprised to see that my work has developed a propensity toward Minimalism through sparse use of color and organic forms. And, although it has always been metaphoric, somehow this new series is more biographical.” That continues to be true.

I’m excited to share that The Permeability of Being Alone at the annual Power of Five show at the Five15 Arts gallery shared in my last blog post has been acquired by a special collector.  This piece will find its way to Five15 to fill the blank void left by its predecessor.

The Permeability of Being Alone

The Permeability of Being Alone 1

I have been out of the studio for nearly five of the past fourteen months; to China twice, Bangladesh once and visited family on the East Coast 3 times.  Each trip has varied in duration from one to seven weeks.  For this homebody this much time away is a really big deal. And, in the middle of it all, I moved my home and my studio.  My life has been uprooted and transplanted.  I am slowly catching my breath and composing a new rhythm for my life.

Through all of this, the studio offered refuge to counteract the stress of travel and the move – I needed to get lost in the making of art. Alone, Silence, and Solitude were, and continue to be, my constant companions informing and guiding the work as this new series unfolds.  Looking at my life through the lens of Change, I am learning to embrace the quiet stillness of Solitude and understand its permeable nature that it is as shifting as the tides.  Finding the balance between Solitude and Community may prove to be the bigger challenge for me as I navigate my way in the months to come.

I am surprised to see that my work has developed a propensity toward Minimalism through sparse use of color and organic forms. And, although it has always been metaphoric, somehow this new series is more biographical.  The stitches symbolize our experiences; the holding on and the letting go.

I’m excited to share The Permeability of Being Alone at the annual Power of Five show at the Five15 Arts gallery.  1301 NW Grand Ave. Phoenix, Arizona 85007. Join us for receptions on the first and third Fridays of July and August, 2019.

The Permeability of Being Alone
12 x 12 | Pastel, Irish Linen Thread on Paper sewn onto canvas

The Ritual of the Daily Feather

the ritual of the daily feather II

On Ritual and Randomness

Ritual has always been an important part of my life from as far back as I can remember. As an adult, I have learned that when I raise awareness around intentional actions and behaviors the quality of my life improves.  I see magic and mystery where before I had seen ordinary or even mundane.  With intention, the simple act of washing the dishes can be transformed to a daily ritual of closure – be it to the meal or the day.

Living alone after a lifetime of cohabitation, I found myself challenged to keep ritual alive as I muddled through life’s pressures, struggles, and responsibilities on my own.  Feathers somehow brought me back from that funk.  Finding one or more feathers each day during a very stressful and wearing 18 months reminded me to hold the ordinary as sacred. To not take a moment for granted. To stay present in the face of adversity.

The symbolism behind the feather has a long history in almost every society.  However, for me, the feather became a personal symbol when I was quite young.  Throughout my life they have made their way to me, bringing me clear premonitions, or leaving me with unanswered questions while yet feeling not-quite-so-alone.  Upon finding a feather I can get an immediate sense of ‘knowing’.  It took me a long time to trust this inner sense.  I remember a June day a dozen years ago visiting my mother-in-law in Page Springs, Arizona.  As I readied to leave, I opened the door of my black mustang to find a feather on the seat.  Upon picking it up I knew my friend Jane Wendell had passed.  Returning to work I learned I had missed the call from her son.

I have come to learn that feathers are a way for Nature to create her own rituals for us.

This body of work, The Ritual of the Daily Feather, has given me a way to work not only

the ritual of the daily feather II detail 2
The Ritual of the Daily Feather detail

with the feathers, but with the ritual of art.  The act of making art is a ritual in itself.  Found feathers are sewn onto teabags sewn onto paper.  It begins by preparing and drinking the tea, emptying the bag, cleaning and drying the paper.  Writing, planning and designing, and finally assembling and sewing all the parts to create each piece.

The Ritual of the Daily Feather
pastel, repurposed tea bags, Irish linen thread, paper
14 x 16 image size  24 x 26 framed

Longing – from the Unbound series

Unbound - Longing‘Longing….the defenseless inner secret that frightens and emboldens, humiliates and beckons.  A lifetime’s journey living deep inside at some unknown area, set adrift in the tide, gripped and lifted by a passing hand.  Longing has its own secret destination and emergence… put into relationship leading us back, indifferent to our wills.  With its dangerous edge we are here to risk ourselves in the world.  A form of invitation to others, a rite of passage to ourselves. Pilgrims, moving through life in the blink of an eye, made real through contact.  The courageous life equal to the unceasing tide and strangely beneath all….stillness.  The destination is inside us and beyond us.  We give ourselves into vulnerability and arrival. The memory of then, the experience of now and the hardly possible just about to happen’. – David Whyte

So often we are bound by unseen forces– limiting beliefs formed from stories of the past and heartache.  Far too often, shame underscores the emotions surrounding these events.  Shining a light on shame disempowers its grasp.  So much of our inner work is about breaking free from the past – free from the wounds, the heartaches, the self-doubt, anger, fear and the people who reinforce these limiting beliefs.  Choosing instead of the ones who champion our dreams. The series “Unbound” is about this process, this letting go or breaking free.

In this piece, I examine the aspect of Longing.  Longing without risk leads to a life of unrealized dreams and misplaced possibilities.  How much you want something is proportionate to the risk you are willing to take to achieve it. Risk is so different for each of us.  For one it may be hosting a dinner party, for another, a change in career. For another it is saying I love you, for someone else, it is saying I don’t.  Risk is being All-In, saying Yes!.  It is Stretching – emotionally, spiritually, physically or intellectually.  Longing is the road map that leads to Risk; it is essential.

Symbolically, the book-like structure represents us as both, a collective and individual.  It was created from one sheet of paper, torn, soaked and peeled apart.  The paper curls and folds naturally in reaction, much like how our own lives are shaped by events.  It is purposely left blank, leaving the fibrous scars formed from the pulling apart.  Beautiful. Rough. Scarred. Every WoMan. The thread– the binding – is unraveling, yielding to the force of the paper as it curls into its self.

Tess Mosko Scherer |‘Longing’ — from the ‘Unbound’ Series |12 x 12 |Pastel, graphite, watercolor, with Irish linen thread on paper sewn onto canvas
Inspired by David Whyte’s book, “Consolations”, I rewove his essays on Longing and Pilgrim to create the text for this piece.

Saying I Love You

Saying I Love You is both the most difficult and the most natural human expression.  In this new series I explore the many ways lovers express love. It was inspired by a commission for a couple celebrating their anniversary.  After working wth their words and completing their piece I embarked on this series.  This was not an easy one for me as I am not in a relationship where things are being said. My creative process is such that I awakened memories of relationships and unrequited loves from my past. Steeped in the tender reverie I contemplated what I want now in a relationship, and more specifically as it pertains to my creative process, what I would like to hear and say.

Generally I watch people react to my work at shows. The impact my work has on others is not lost on me as I bear witness to the rawness of the response and the stories that are often shared. Last night, however, I was given the gift of witnessing a couple receive a piece from this series.  Purchased as a gift, I was tasked with bringing it to them.  As the couple wept in one anothers arms as they read the words to each other, the woman turned to me and asked if this happens regularly.  ‘Yes’, I said as I exited the room to give them privacy.

Saying I Love You…pastel and colored pencil with graphite and irish linen thread on hand embossed paper.  Each piece varies-average dimentions: 9.5 x 10.5 unframed | 18.5 x 19.5 framed.  Commissions welcomed.

To follow is what is hand-written in the piece:

I love you
Ours is a love without condition or agenda
I look at you and my heart stands still, the world slips away; leaving only you and me
When I look into your eyes I get lost in the ocean of your soul
I love how our bodies fit together
I love your smile
I love your insights
Your laugh is music to my soul
I am crazy about you
I want to wake early to start each day with you – be it over breakfast, a morning walk, or lingering and loving one another
I get lost in your touch
I believe in you
You are my best friend
I Love you
We are blessed
You are sacred
Our love is grace
You nourish my soul
I am grateful for you in my life
Let’s always be open and honest with one another
I want to never hurt you
You are beautiful
Our conversations are journeys with unexpected turns.  I love what we unearth together.
With you my heart is at peace.
I admire you
I am home with you
You are perfectly imperfectly you
I love you wholeheartedly
I am grateful for you in my life
I respect you
I walk the path beside you but not for you
I will always be here to help you find your way when it eludes you
You are brilliant
There is no greater joy than sharing my life with you
I am grateful for your gifts and graces
I promise to be your biggest fan and most honest critic
I promise to be all-in
Loving you is the most treasured part of my life
I am grateful for your companionship, friendship and your love
I give you my heart openly and without condition

Although the words in the pieces pictured here are mine, commissions are available with your words or vows.  Each piece in the series is unique although similar in composition.  Due to size constraints some sentiments may not be included. 


moskoscherer-together-iSo much of my work, both in my studio or with coaching clients, is focused on exploring the inner duality that resides within each of us.  In Jungian terms, it is referred to as the light and shadow aspect of self.  In Eastern terms, the yin and the yang. This duality is often found as opposing forces, the male/female, right/wrong, fear/courage, love/hate, grief/joy, gratitude/anger, and so on.

Together’ is part of a new series exploring not only the duality of our inner landscape, but also the intricate terrain of relationship with another.  When I look at this series, specifically this piece, I see a spine that formed within the void.  It was unexpected and yet compelling in considering that the duality of our human nature could be our metaphorical backbone.  Learning to work with the contrasts within ourselves as well as with another makes us stronger and more capable of bearing our challenges and our triumphs.  This awareness allows us to lean in on one another while maintaining a space for pause. In the pause we find the balance between individuality and connection.

I don’t know where this nascent series of work will take me or where I will go with it.  I am ignited with curiosity and creativity.

Mixed Media Collage
pastel and colored pencil with Irish linen thread on hand-embossed paper.
6.5 x 22. 5 unframed |15.5 x 31.5  framed.

A Ritual to Read to Each Other


A Ritual to Read to Each Other
By William Stafford

If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dike.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider—
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give — yes or no, or maybe —
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

I first heard this poem in 1994.  Committed to memory the words have ricocheted within my heart and head for over twenty years. A Ritual to Read to Each Other – I love these words, they stir the questions: How often do we fail to communicate who we really are?  How often do we judge or allow ourselves to be judged rather than reveal our fear and vulnerability – even if only to ourselves? Judgment cloaks the heart in thick armor.  Only love can break through its walls.

There have been many essays written on this poem and its meaning.  Stafford’s universal themes are as relevant today as they were when first written.  For me, this poem has been a sort of talisman, reminding me to turn to the light that resides not only within myself but in all.  His words remind me of the darkness in which we all wade and how easy it is to retreat to the darkness than to stand in the light.

In this series of mixed media pieces that nod to Stafford’s poem, I explore the complexities of my own heart which struggles with receiving love more than giving it; recognizing my own judgment of myself and others, and the depth of darkness where it is often easier to hide.

Pictured here ‘the darkness around us is deep’ is the first piece in the series depicting the heart’s triumph over the darkness that pervades.  The heart is drawn on a repurposed teabag. The teabag is a prominent symbol in my work.  Its main purpose is to hold and steep – not too dissimilar from the heart, which holds and steeps love.

pictured above: The Darkness Around Us is Deep | by Tess Mosko Scherer
pastel, colored pencil, and repurposed tea bag on paper with Irish linen thread

Cracked Whole

Cracked Open 3 white

Months ago I co-chaired a fundraiser for an art guild that I have been immersed in for many years.  We hosted a raku night.  My friend and co-host, David L Bradley, made about 40 pieces of pottery that guests would glaze and fire.  As co-host I waited until the end of the night and picked one of the few remaining pieces to glaze.  An unassuming platter with a spiral emanating from its center and its edges curled up on either side.  It reminded me of me in in its quiet humility.  I was disappointed to see that one of the two casualties that night was my little platter.  I brought it home and promptly placed it in the garbage pail in my studio.  There it sat, with garbage tossed on top of it until the pail was full.  Although I emptied the pail, I could not bring myself to discard the broken plate. Once again, it lay at the bottom of the pail.  Exposed.  Buried.  Salvaged.  Buried under rubbish again.  So the cycle continued until one day I rescued it.  I sat with it and really looked at it.  And yes, there broken in half, once more reminding me of me.

The truth is, this little platter was not intended to be as ordinary as a cheese tray or cookie dish.  But it had to be cracked in half to become whole.  It required time.  It had to be Seen.  Examined.  Transformed.  Much like my little platter, my life has taken on a new shape with pages yet to be filled.  I don’t look at myself, or this little platter, as broken or somehow less than whole.  I see the parts as aspects of self that when integrated, or considered in a new way, become something greater than what had been imagined.

Our lives cannot transform without examination and commitment to change.  Although we might try to bury and hide them, at some point we have to look at the shards of our lives from a perspective of love and compassion.  From that vantage point we can decide what we discard, what we keep and then we transform.

pictured above: Cracked Whole, a collaboration by Tess Mosko Scherer and David L Bradley



The Witness Trees

the Witness Trees

This is my first blog post. However, I am going to approach it as if I have been at it for a long time – so here goes….

I spent the day in my studio working on a new series of art. As I made these pieces, working with the tea bags, I kept thinking about what we hold, what we steep, what gets dried out and what nourishes. As these thoughts rolled around in my head I continued to work both witnessing my process and being immersed in it at the same time.

So much of my work is about peeling back the layers and revealing that which often wants to remain hidden. Today I found myself peeling back the layers of the paper – a literal metaphor for the inner work of an examined life. What was interesting was how the paper responded.  It would not budge without moisture, much like how our inner movement does not begin without tears.  And it was interesting to see how the layers received color.  Exposed, raw, they went darker or did not respond.  It was as if the paper, much like ourselves had to be vulnerable to become beautiful.

I love this little drawing of the two trees. I did it a while ago.  It has been hanging out in my studio, haunting me.  The trees are touching, yet not really connected.  Bearing witness to one another, yet individual.  Unique. Separate.

And what it means to be witnessed? Living alone, my life is often unwitnessed.  Am I like the preverbal tree that falls in the forest?