Sunday, September 15, 2019

When your heart speaks, listen

Make Believe
48x48

My creative expression must 
be the most important thing 
in the world to me
 if I am to live artistically, 
and it also must not matter at all 
if I am to live sanely.
                                 Elizabeth Gilbert

It started with an imaginary friend, Illa. I was four, she was timeless. 

I don't know where she came from, one day she was there; someone small just like me, someone secretly just for me.

She and I created alternative worlds to play in. We fabricated outrageous tales, went on forbidden adventures and escaped the chaos of a lonely life. I can't quite remember when she disappeared, just as she appeared, like a magic trick, she was gone. 

The fairy tales may have stopped but my search for creative expression certainly didn't. In my twenties I used my body as a canvas and my wardrobe as the paint. Eventually I turned to more traditional tools; pencils, paper, paint, and here I am today. 

The other day, my adorable Aunt (who unfortunately for me, lives an ocean away in Germany)  apologized, in an email, that she didn't understand my art. I suggested she look through the lens of colors, lines, and shapes instead of the lens of realism. 

We don't have to understand why we are drawn to a piece. Abstraction, in particular, is not meant to be understood through the reality of the visual world. Like poetry, it's meant to be filtered through the mind and felt in the heart.  

When you heart speaks, listen, just rest there, it's amazing what may bubble up to the surface of the conscious. 





Sunday, August 18, 2019

Who knew mushrooms were so smart

Intoxicating Desire
24x24


I am a breathing flesh and blood painter - experimenting with new influences is what pumps my heart and keeps me jumping out of bed in the mornings. 

Another passion, learning. Currently I'm reading How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence by Michael Pollan. Who knew mushrooms were so smart! They are directors of survival. Creating an interwoven matrix of forever fields of communication using cyber like speed, sending messages and nutrients, all right under our feet, to their collaborators above. All which help to shield and nourish us. 

I marvel at the interconnections. It's as mind expanding as the entheogens Pollan explores in his book. These inner connections intrigue me and heighten my awareness of all sentient beings. I try to keep this heighten acuity while out walking my dogs, or alone. Then I bring this curiosity and reverence into my studio. Using color, lines and shapes I explore my connection, our connection, with this marvelous web of life. 

Listen -
are you breathing just a little
and calling it a life? 
                      Mary Oliver

I don't want to have made this journey and breathed just a little. 
Instead, I long to fill my lungs - pulling in all I can with all my might, embracing the everything before sending it all back - and doing that again, and again, and again, and again, until again is no more. 














Sunday, June 16, 2019

Fractured

Fractured

I love this glass...
but for me this glass
is already broken -

when I understand
that this glass
is already broken
every minute is precious. Ajahn Chah


We have become dream walkers skating on the surface of our lives. 

I can understand why some children fight mightily the night against sleep. They fear not waking up, and they, only new to this world, are anxious with curiosity.

Cancer invasion.
Mutant cellular body snatchers. 

Broken glass reflected in death - my mirror image - suddenly all was precious. The feel of my feet on the grass, the ease of my breath, the opera sung by the birds outside my window, the caress of the breeze, the feel of my husband's hand in mine, the gaze that spoke with no words. Life.








Friday, April 26, 2019

A language I know and speak


What is it about a hot cup of coffee that stimulates profound conversations? Perhaps it's that alluring, smoky aroma that livens up our imaginations. 

Over a cup of coffee, a friend recently asked why circles appear in much of my work? And what do they mean?

Trying to fit that inner dialogue into a suit of common conversation was difficult until a brew of sorts bubbled up as a language I know and speak.

That mystical brew poured the following words into the corrugated maze of my brain: circles represent connectedness; connectedness to each other, connectedness to the land and connectedness to the Universe. 

What is holiness but a reverence for the sacred, and we are the sacred; the manifestation of all that is in an ever "widening circle".

I read that the American Indians were puzzled and amused when settlers wanted to "buy their" land. They knew the land was not theirs to sell, it didn't belong to them, they belonged to the land. Unfortunately, that was not the story the settlers were taught. 

Over the decades as felled trees were replaced by sky scrapers, stripped forests became housing developments and fields became asphalt covered roads, we no longer hear the land speak to us. That connection has gone sadly silent. 

But I believe there are many of us who want to sing our song of being, our desire to connect to each other and all the space around us, and I believe we share a reverence for nature and try to tread lightly on her body. 

Book of Hours 12

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world. 
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.

I circle around God,
around the primordial tower.
I've been circling for thousands of years
and I still don't know:
am I a falcon, a storm, or a great song?
                                                                          Rainer Maria Rilke










Saturday, April 6, 2019

Power of Change in Art


Complications #1
24x24
Acrylic and Ink


I am in the midst of a powerful history book, Ninth Street Women, Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, Five Painters And The Movement That Changed Modern Art by Mary Gabriel.  

The artists of that time were blazing pioneers running from the flames of two horrific World Wars and running into the flames of an art form never seen and little understood.  These then unknown artists, were driven to find a new way of expression, not found in the visual world around them, but in their down-the-rabbit-hole imaginations. 


At first, the public majority jeered and dismissed their art, imagine the courage it took to continue. 



Musician Morty Feldman captured the mood with scalpel like precision:
Art is a crucial, dangerous operation 
we perform on ourselves. 
Unless we take a chance, we die in art.

My change in direction is not nearly as daunting.  I see in this new work the underpinnings of my previous paintings, but now I no longer feel like I'm fighting against the canvas. I feel the work is  freer, flowing from my internal landscape. It's as if I have come to a point, where I feel a sense of belonging with the art. I'm creating in concert, not opposition. My ego is muted and my being has space to speak. 

After months of frustrating experimentation, I painted Complications #1, the first successful work in the new series.  And it sold within 24 hours of posting it on social media. A kiss from the Universe,  I am on the right path...for now. Because just as Feldman said decades ago, if we stagnate in our art, we die in art. 

My curiosity and excitement are bound twins in the quest of where this will lead.  







Monday, February 4, 2019

Is It Unwise To Wish For Too Much?

Beauty's Alchemy
24x24
Acrylic on board

Is it unwise to wish for too much? 
To dream a dream dreamed for us by the Divine? 

Why say; "be careful what you wish for"? 
Why not fill our baskets to the brim with good and earnest wishes 
and strive for them all? 

Isn't that why we are here?
To bear witness to the beauty, mystery and alchemy of this planet.

Beauty and creativity are mirror twins,
deny them presence, 
they lure us into the underbelly
of primordial havoc,
stripped of compassion and love,
we dive into chaos and madness. 

Beauty - a divine breath that blows the heart open.
                                                                      John O'Donohue





Wednesday, January 9, 2019

When We Were First Dreamed




I had a dream last night, or maybe I had a dream within a dream.

I was visited by a beautiful red fox. She had a little white on her face and a tip of black on her tail, as if it had been dipped in Sumi ink.  

Looking at her, I felt a sense of wonder, calm and pure, innocent joy.

An omen? A vision? Perhaps just a delightful visitor reminding me of all the miracles that surround us.

It’s 6 am on a Sunday morning. It snowed again last night. It’s still very dark outside, so I can really see how much more of this pure, white, cotton candy ice is on the ground by the light it’s reflecting.
It’s very pretty and makes the world very quiet.

My fox, she was standing in the snow.

Journal entry-February, 11, 2018

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

On being an immigrant

Sacred Guardians
detail


My mother and I immigrated to the United States when I was nine years old.

We were coming from Wiesbaden, Germany to New York City.

We weren't fleeing anything. She had married an American soldier and along with my five year old step-brother, the four of us arrived safely on U.S. shores. 

No ICE agents, no border control guards, awaited us. 

In the 1930s and 1940s there was a mass exodus out of the inferno in Europe. Many came to the peaceful, welcoming shores of the United States of America, seeking asylum. 

Together, with the creative caldera that was bubbling in New York City, America became a central force for creative expression and experimentation. Science, architecture, dance, music, sculpture, photography, psychoanalysis, painting, all exploded with newness. 

Among the painters living in America, who would tear down the establishment of realism and create a whole new world of seeing, were; Motherwell, Frankenthaler, the de Koonings, Krasner,  Pollack,  Kline, Resnik, Rauschenberg, Hartigan, and Mitchell. 

Then came the wartime flight of "the most amazing exodus in history. Internationalism was thrust upon New York by Europe." wrote Tom Hess; ArtNews Editor. 

Motherwell described the scene as a "kind of Istanbul...a great crossing place. A great bazaar." 

Those immigrants included Hans Hoffman, the Albers, Einstein, Enrico Fermi, Levi Strauss, Erich Fromm, Tocanini, Balanchine, Marcel Duchamp, Breton, Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, and Dali. 

Seemingly overnight the U.S. became the throne of the most advanced thinking in the western world and the apex of the art world; where genius mingled with the everyday and ideas filled the air like  pixie dust. 

I wonder, where would we be today if these people, along with thousands of others who helped weave the tapestry of our country's altruism and intellectualism, were denied entry?

Imagine President Roosevelt closing our borders under the canopy of fear that caravans of Nazis and Fascists were invading our homeland borders. Would we have continued on our path of becoming the lighthouse for the exchange of new thoughts, ideas, equality, hard work and dreams? Would we have made the scientific discoveries that are still informing scientists today?

I fear not. 















Monday, October 29, 2018

Uncertainty

Cinnabar no. 2
acrylic on canvas
24x24x1.5

When you come to the edge of all light you know and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen: there will be something solid to stand on, or you will be taught to fly. Patrick Overton

I have been painting full time for 10 months and I admit, this has been an adjustment. My biggest challenge is sticking to a schedule and making sure I am in the studio on a regular basis; keeping a disciplined practice.  

Treating it like a job has helped. Writing down my goals and checking them weekly has helped.

However, I have noticed in the dense field of creative momentum, there comes a moment, it actually steals up on me and covers me in a subtle veil of lethargy, perhaps stimulated by a nagging fear of not being worthy enough to manifest this beauty; I mean, it is all of me, coming from me, coming through me and I find my self asking; can I pull this off? Am I able? Or am I just an impostor - a poser?

I recognize this dark twin whispering empty fear into my ear and I have found the best way to silence her is to keep on working, releasing myself from myself, ignoring my mind-talk and allowing the painting to speak.

And when that happens, I see beauty, peace and an essence of spirituality in my work; meditation on canvas, expressed in line, color and form. 




Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Perfection in the imperfect

Rhythm

Just where you are
that is the place to start.
                                             Pema Chodron


Perfection, by its own definition, requires nothing. 
It is a state of still silence. 
Imperfection, by human definition, requires molding, manipulation, modification.
It resides in the state of vibrancy and creation. 

This is where we all live and breathe. 

I imagine as a human, I'll achieve perfection as I release my last breath. As a being, I'm already there without the awareness that I am already there. This is the conundrum of human and beingness. 

For now, I follow the wisdom of Pema Chodron and embrace the imperfect-work-in-progress of my life. And I admit, I am not rushing towards perfection, in fact, I am moving towards it at a very, very slow pace.  


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Hunger Games of An Art Practice

Black & White Duet
acrylic on paper

The very nature of creation is not of a performing glory on the outside.
It's a painful, difficult search inside.
              Louise Nevelson


After a less than successful day in the studio, I woke up while dawn was still sleeping, wondering, where am I going to create the vocabulary to communicate my stories?  

In the pre-dawn, micaceous oxide light, my inner inquisitor quenched herself on my insecurities. Tossing and turning in an attempt to wrestle this nascent demon from its perch, I silently wondered if I had the courage to go back into the studio this morning. 

On the days when poetry seems to flow from my painting tools, I am happy, I am brave, but on those difficult days when I leave the studio defeated in the creative wrestling match of trying to make sense of color, shape and line, it takes an act of faith to go back the next day. 

Faith and memory give me the courage to re-enter. This is not new, it's just part of the process. And the reward for allowing the work not to be perfect are those heady times when there is no separation between me and the work; my ego becomes mute and I become aware. 











Thursday, April 5, 2018

Tuscan Series
Quattrocento #2
Oil/Cold Wax
8x8x2 


Some people never know the profound pleasure
 of the work for its own sake. They work only to live. 
Alex Castro to Anne Truitt: Daybook


The pure pleasure, we artists are fortunate enough to experience, losing ourselves in the action and activity of "the making".

Currently I am swimming in the indulgence of color. The Tuscan Series is focused on my memories of Italy and the soft, golden suns and walls, sienna and dove grey foundations; textures and colors fashioned through the erosion of time, visible in the ancient architecture, are like decadent, dark chocolate for my mind. 

The sensuous pleasure I experience mixing hues together, as my eyes and then my mind, coalesce into a sacred ecstasy as new colors appear under the magic wand of the palette knife.

This joy - it comes from the work. I am daily grateful that I am in a time and place where I can indulge myself in this practice. 

And yet it's not entirely an indulgence. It's a very strong yet flexible thread to my survival. It gives my life purpose. 






Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Abstrakt Gaze #4


Fearlessness

When a friend recently said I was “fearless” after seeing a major shift in one of my paintings, 
that set me on an internal journey.

My definition of fearlessness for an artist and a human, being;

Complete surrender surrounded by dense uncertainty.

There comes a moment when our internal gaze informs us
we need to step out of what is,
in search of what is possible.

Resplendent jeopardy of ruination awaits,
yet,
if we cower from the urge-
the abyss of mediocrity is ready to capture our fear,

and transform us into
denizens of the unknown.

Like the Phoenix
we rise from the ashes of our blind leaps –
golden egg in our heart
to place on the altar of creativity.

Other times we must take
those ashes and begin again.

The more often we trust those urges and step out
the easier it becomes to survive the catastrophes.
The magic of what is possible
 is in the fearless leap.




Monday, March 5, 2018

Beginning With Nothing, Ending With Something

What Are You Thinking?


How to describe that feeling- 
the electrical charge of the first stroke 
on the pristine white canvas-
transformation,
suddenly the canvas 
becomes real. 

Beginning with nothing and ending with something,
energy captured 
between the boundaries of the stretcher bars,
it's magic-
the magic of my imagination. 

When someone asks an artist to explain their art, well the difficulty of that sits in the space with no sound - a whisper of creation only the artist hears - a secret language that's not a language at all - a conundrum of communication.

We mine the library of our conscious thoughts in an effort to describe the miracle of our imaginations. 

For the first six months of our lives, we see only through the rods of our black and white world- then one day we blink our eyes open and tadaa our cones have matured and our world becomes the Land of Oz, a kaleidoscope of hues.

What did our six month-old selves think?

We had no alphabet to bridge the sense of sight with the nebula of thought - 
objects were simple color fields,
we hadn't learned the art of naming things,
so how did we think? 
without words?

That's art and what I believe Picasso meant when he said, "I want to paint like a child." Which is why that five minute elevator speech is so damn hard to write. 




Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Bittersweet; A Valentine




Bittersweet
Mixed Media
16x20

Let's go out and feel the night.
                                                  Neil Young*
I was bald. I was sick. I was going through chemotherapy treatment. It was the summer of 2007. 

One night, there was a sultry, Key West breeze blowing through the flat lands of the Midwest. We decided to take a drive into the little village about 3 miles from our home. 

One of my favorite indulgences is ice-cream. Not that soft serve, ultra-sweet kind, that is extruded out of a machine much like poo. No, I like the creamy, full- throated, sensuous, dense-with-flavor ice cream made by Baskin & Robbins, scooped up by a muscled teenager. 

After parking the car, we walked to the ice cream shop and ordered a cone. Mine was cake, his was sugar.  Two scoops each. We left with our sugar prizes in hand; the streets were crowded with teenagers enjoying the night. We wanted somewhere quiet to sit and savor our sweets, so we wandered over to the railroad tracks and sat on a bench as if waiting for the next Amtrack. 

The light was soft denim blue. It seemed to cocoon us in a suspended state of peace. 

It was a silent communication between to halves of a whole, each savoring the cool, sweet, lava flow of flavor dancing on our tongues. At one point we began to discuss that the most delicious anticipation is that final bite of cone with melted ice-cream exploding like an ocean of flavor in our mouths. 

Even now, 10 years later, I can feel the wonder, hope, and love we shared.  Most importantly, I remember a visceral passion to carry on.

I wanna see you dance again...
                                       Neil Young*

* Lyrics from; Harvest Moon

Monday, January 8, 2018

Something Wonderful is Happening

The Feminine Series
Disciples
Acrylic
30x22


You're It

God
disguised
as a myriad of things and
playing a game 
of tag

has kissed you and said
"You're it-
I mean, you're REALLY IT!"

Now
it does not matter 
what we believe or feel
for something wonderful,
major-league Wonderful
is someday going 
to 
Happen. 
                 Hafiz

This Christmas I was given a book of poetry by the Sufi poet, Hafiz. When I read this poem it spoke directly to the new year, new chapter in my life. Something wonderful is happening. 

After being in the corporate world for more than 37 years, I am closing those chapters and opening a new gateway to full time painting. 

I never dreamed I'd get to play
the greatest role of all: myself. 
                                                Kia LaBeija

No doubt, there is some angst. Part of the mind shift deals with perception semantics - I no longer tell myself "I'm going to the office." instead, "I'm going to the studio." And I am no longer going to work; I am going to my practice. 

This mental shift helps break the paradigm of the  corporate"40 hour week" and places it smack into the unknown reality of creativity which has no time or space, but it does have discipline if it is to manifest. 

Venturing onto a blank canvas
means going into an unknown situation. 
                                                    Robert Diebenkorn

This is something I have been yearning to do for quite some time and with the love and support of my life partner, I have been given the oars to glide, tumble, and steer my vessel into new horizons.

I am not interested in art 
as a means of making a living, 
but I am interested
in art
as a means of living a life.
                                                          Robert Henri

The wisdom and truth in those words sing to my soul. 














Friday, November 17, 2017

New Body of Work

Pilgrims
detail 

The modern artist, unlike his (her) artistic ancestors is in a sense forced to invent (her) own pictorial language before (she) can even think about elaborating on this language. (She) has the problem of both invention and elaboration. 
Robert Motherwell
                                                                                  


That elusive complex director, inspiration, has a way of manifesting in unexpected ways. Take these five figures above. On the one hand, they just appeared on the canvas, spontaneous marks made by my hand and yet, when I look at them, I realize I brought them back with me from France. 

Earlier this summer I visited the Chartres Cathedral, one of the oldest cathedrals in Europe. I wanted to go there because I read the light within this place was supernaturally beautiful and there was a feeling of spirituality within its ancient walls.  When I entered the nave I was enveloped in the reverent quietude and felt I was in a place of grace. 

Looking around I noted the beautiful Madonnas captured in the colorful pieces of stained glass and the compassionate Madonnas resting throughout in graceful sculptural forms. Not knowing it then, they would become the foundation for a new body of work. 

Pilgrim no. 1
30x22

 Robert Motherwell is my biggest artistic influence, a genius of abstraction and philosophy. Reading the passage above in; Robert Motherwell, 100 Years, I thought about this figurative mark, making its presence known on the canvas. Is this my language?  I'm not sure, but I will continue to explore it until it becomes silent.

Like an author writing a novel, at some point, the characters begin to breathe magical life into their own narrative, and every good author allows them to.

Abstract painting is the same. It starts as an idea and if allowed, begins to paint its own story. The human has to get out of the way so the muse can be heard. 

After the five figures made their appearance on the canvas, I was flipping through the Motherwell book and came across this painting; Spanish Elegy XV.



And before leaving for France, I took this picture during one of my morning walks.
Five Pilgrims 


 These unexplained connections excite me. I feel there is something blooming on the horizon.  And I look forward to the exploration and discovery. 




















Thursday, November 2, 2017

Mollie's Story


Sister Brother

The first time I saw you
I knew we were kin -

You – you were
cautious and upset.

Until me-
you were one of one
and you loved it that way.

I changed all that.

My love was
instant and unconditional.

When I came close
you growled a growl that had no bite
you moved
me - I moved too.

I needed to be next to you
and eventually you knew
you needed me too.

Now we are Siamese twins
joined by one father
separated by three years.

They call me black and tan
they call you chocolate-tri

We call each other
sister brother.

Max & Mollie




Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Before the morning nonsense

Twined
Ink and Acrylic on frosted mylar


Before The Morning Nonsense Begins

You and I can sit
in perfect silence - 
each quiet in our own personal thoughts -
and be blissfully happy.

You always get up first
then I follow.

This is our time- 
before the others
before the one you call love & husband
before the one I call master & protector - 
and before her -
the princess -
half-sister who once up
insists on being in the middle of everything.

Your hand cannot rest upon my head
without her insistent black snout nosing in.

Alas, no matter how much I wish her gone
she is here to stay
and truth be known
she's okay.

But for now
it's just you and me.
I roll over and am in ecstasy
as you rub my belly.

I sigh, I snort, I am content.  


Max