Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The wonder of smallness

ecstasy
ink and metallic powder
on paper

Each day is filled with precious little gifts, 
if only we take the time to breathe in, 
and in that breath, 
to see.

One sunny, warm day, while walking my dogs, Max and Mollie, a dragonfly appeared inches from my eyes. "Oh, how wonderful!"

And I walked along in amazement as that beautifully, iridescent, small dragonfly kept me company all the way to my driveway, then off she flew.

 But not before giving me the joy of her diamond blue coat, flashing the sunny rays, shimmering along as we traveled together for a sparse space in time.

Silently, we spoke the language of oneness and she taught me the miracle in the mundane. 

So often we wait for those BIG moments - thunderous, earthshaking events and we miss the small wonders that show themselves to us every moment of every day. How sad, to present your beauty, only to be ignored in the rush to get to the next thing.

Eyes wide open
ears unplugged
mouth generously silent

Look around and see the wonder of smallness - they are the giants that feed our souls. 


Saturday, December 27, 2014

A little bit of midnight fiction

Reconciliation
30 x 24 inches
Acrylic on canvas


He was a big man
but only in smoke

so he lived in dreams -
those dark pools of longing.

Fear is a funny, wicked thing -
its venom, paralysis
its voice, the ego.

Small when faced,
a giant monster when not. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Do you understand abstract art?

Genie
22 x 17 inches
mixed media on paper

I was having lunch with a dear friend and fellow artist, yesterday, and at one point of the conversation she asked, 
"do you understand abstract art?"

Her choice of expression is realism, primarily botanical. I am always amazed by the tower of her talent and the amount of patience she has for finite detail. The results are breathtaking. 

For instance, she once showed me a delicate pencil drawing of a milk weed pod, exploding with its milk weed pollen. It was so softly beautiful and the detail was stunning; I could feel the breeze blowing the pollen across the page. 

I tend to throw the paint at the canvas, letting gravity, and my hand, direct its flow.  

You are lost the instant you know what the result will be.
Cubist sculptor and painter, Juan Gris,

I never really thought about understanding abstract art, so my friend's question led to an interesting conversation and another question;
 Are we supposed to understand it? or just feel it?

Abstract art comes from the inside, out; realism, from the outside, in. I believe, when you look at abstract art you see it with your soul and feel it in your heart. It either moves you, or not. So in that respect, yes, I do understand abstract art. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Importance of Doing Nothing

Subtle Sound of Silence
9.5 x 6 inches
acrylic & metallic pigment

There are times when doing nothing is everything. In that quiet space, surrounded by the pillow softness of silence, is the nebula of creative thought. 

I was reminded, once again, of the importance of doing nothing when I re-read Mary Oliver's poem, Today from a small gem titled; A Thousand Mornings.

Today I'm flying low and I'm
not saying a word.
I'm letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.

The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.

But I'm taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I haardly move though really I'm traveling 
a terrific distance.

Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple. 

Rushing from moment to moment, 
cell phones beckoning with a multitude of rings, 
disturbing the air as their owners, slaves to the sounds, 
 rush to answer;

 24/7 television news leaping, from disaster to disaster, 
each commentator trying to out-blast the next, 

the assualting cacaphony of the media, 
so easily dissappeared by simply turning the devices off! 
that we must do, otherwise go mad and disturbed throughout life, 

when we are meant to sit,
from time to time,
in the temple of stillness 
and breath in the clean, quiet air of silence. 

Are we so afraid of our thoughts? 
Have we lost the importance of doing nothing?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Seeing without seeing

Black Square
8 x 6 inches
Acrylic on board

Abstraction allows [artist] man to see with his mind what he cannot physically see with his eyes.
Abstract art enables the artist to perceive beyond the tangible to extract the infinite out of the finite.
It is the emancipation of the mind. It is the explosion into unknown areas. - Arshile Gorky

Perhaps this is why, like a dancer to a song, I am lured, I am drawn, I am pulled inside, with terrific force, into abstraction. 

I watch with amazement 
as my brush dances across the canvas- 
take a chance, 
make the mark, 
stand back; 
either love it 
or hate it,

Begin another stanza- 
and continue, 
until my mind sees, 
not with my eyes, 
but with my heart 
and with fearless knowing, 
acceptance; 
it is finished. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

What is Modern Art?

Amore
11 x 14 
oil & cold wax

The function of the artist is to express reality as felt. 

It is because reality has a historical character that we feel
the need for new art. The past has bequeathed us great works
of art: if they were wholly satisfying, we should not need new ones. 

This is the origin of our desire for new art. In our case, for modern art...
Robert Motherwell, The Modern Painter's World. 1944 
From The Writings of Robert Motherwell.

Reading these words made me wonder, what is modern art? Is it modern because it reflects the time in which it's created? By definition, then, current work of any period could be labeled as "modern". 

However, Motherwell explains " ...the popular association with the phrase "modern art" like that of medieval art, is stronger than its historical denotation. The popular association with medieval art is religiousness. The popular association with modern art is its remoteness from the symbols and values of the majority of [people] men." 

In historical context, this essay was written when Motherwell was 29 years old and WW11 was nearing its end.  You have to wonder, if the chaos of the times drove the "modern artists" to break the rules of realism; to search for meaning in the abstract. Reality made no sense.

Two World Wars less than a generation apart; how could that not influence the artists, writers and poets of the time?

How are the events surrounding us today finding their way into our art?

Sensational news overload; world wide social connections through Facebook and other  networks; the ever increasing dependence on the internet, which is an ever growing  web of connections, at one end a blessing and at the other, terrifying when it gets 'hacked" or shut down.

How will today's modern art be interpreted by the generation of arts, critics and historian of tomorrow? And what label will they put on today's work?

It could already be happening and I'm not aware. Modern art may be a passe term.

One thing that will never be passe, is the dissatisfaction that drives artists to look for new ways of expression. 



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I know I'm an artist because



Ode To My Shoes

I know I'm an artist because
my shoes tell me so.

I know I'm an artist because
I find paint 
on my body
in surprising places.

I know I'm an artist because
I have a wardrobe of 
pants, tops and t-shirts
baptized with paint.

Once they lived in my closet,
now they rest in my studio.

I know I'm an artist because
I wake in the morning thinking
about my work
and 
I fall into sleep
 dreaming
of what I'll do next.

I know I'm an artist because
I know. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I didn't know you were afraid to paint

Three Squares
11 x 14
Mixed Media

We were in the car, driving towards the city (Chicago) and my husband said, 
"I read your blog." 
"Oh yeah?"
"I didn't know you were afraid to paint, " he said.

I am, sometimes. And I know I'm not alone. Just go to the bookstore and see all the books written to help us overcome Resistance.*

Why the fear? Exposure. When we make our marks visible on paper or any other solid surface, we begin to peel away the layers of domestic obedience and dig down into the subterranean levels of our consciousness. We become denizens of our souls. 

I believe abstract and non-objective artists suffer from this fear more than representational artists. Realism, by definition, is universally understood and accepted. When we are born into this reality, we make a subconscious agreement to see "reality" the same way. 

Abstract and non-objective artists break away from this agreement and attempt to visualize an inner reality. When it's successful, the audience is drawn to the work and some form of non-verbal communication takes place. 

In John O'Donohue's book; To Bless The Space Between Us, he writes; 

"When we engage creatively, we depart from the fixed world of daily routine and grounded facts. We enter into a kind of "genesis foyer," where something that not yet is might begin to edge its way from silence into word, from the invisible into form."

For me the best three books written on overcoming this deer in the headlights fear, are: Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland; The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and Creative Authenticity by Ian Roberts

* Steven Pressfield's word for fear. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Waste my heart on fear no more

Diptych in progression
24 x 36

May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more. 
from A Morning Offering by John O'Donohue

After sitting down with my first cup of coffee, I gather my current stack of books and before opening any of them, I reach for John O'Donohue's; Bless the Space Between Us   and read A Morning Offering; it's a soft, focused reminder of what I'd like to accomplish, daily.

Many moments throughout a day, I do waste my heart on fear. Saturday I left my studio, saying, "It was a good day." When I went back in on Sunday, I could feel the fear beginning to wrestle through my body. 

Looking at what I had painted the day before, my first emotion was confusion. Where to go, what color to put down next, what instrument to use, brush? roller? pour? 

After wandering around, looking about, straightning up, sketching in my notebook, I finally got out of my head and just began.

I can tell when fear is at the helm, it takes on the look of hesitancy.  And the internal conversation begins: charlatan, you don't know what you're doing; you should just sell your supplies and close the door.

I approached the piece above, which looked like this after Saturday's session:
I painted a bit, tried to save certain areas and finally got to a "to hell with it point" and instinctively took a big brush, dipped it in black ink and made some marks, then poured Golden's Dioxazine Purple air brush paint directly onto the canvas. 

Kind of a mess right now, but I like the bold strokes and hopefully when I get back into the studio I will  "waste my heart on fear no more.".



Friday, October 10, 2014

Doris Day; seriously?

Pondering
12 x 16
oil/cold wax 

So I was in the midst of my morning meditation, launching my daily blessings to my loves and my fears, breathing in, breathing out, and just as my iPhone alarm began to buzz, out of nowhere came Doris Day, singing; 

Que Sera, sera, whatever will be, will be. 
The future's not ours to see 
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be.

At first I kind of laughed and thought, "Doris Day! Seriously?"
But then I realized, this is the message I have been reading, repeatedly, over the last several months, in a stack of different books.

For instance, this morning I finished, Outrageous Openness by Tasha Silver. In the middle of her book is a prayer:


Let what wants to come, come.
Let what wants to go, go.
If it is mine, it will stay.
If not, whatever is better
will replace it.


The Eternal Spirit of the Universe is telling me the answer is always the same:

Let go. 


Two simple words with all the power to be divinely illuminating.

So,why use Doris Day as the messenger? When I was just a little girl....truly, my mother and I would sing acapella harmony in the kitchen while doing dishes. She washed. I dried. One of our favorite songs was Que Sera, Sera.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A life lived on 8 1/2 x 11


Lake Logan, NC

The world isn't made up of atoms. It's made up of stories. 
                                                   Muriel Rukeyser; poet & activist


I will be exhibiting several pieces of my art during the month of November at 4 Art Inc Gallery in Chicago. Robin Rios, the gallery owner, asked for a bio. Putting 63 plus years on one page was a challenge. 

Here is the "haiku" of my life:


My mother tells the story: when I was three, she took me to her office and had me sit at an empty desk across from the receptionist. One of her friends decided to “call me” from another office. I picked up the phone  and she asked, “What are you doing?” and I answered in my three- year -old universe, “I’m drawing, see!” as I held the sheet of paper up to the receiver.

So my journey into art began. I have always had a love of paper, pencils and paint.  I doodled and drew my way into adolescence and young adulthood. In 1986 I stopped. No reason in particular except life was getting more complicated and hectic.

Then in 2007 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was the Universe telling me, “It’s time to get back into the passion of your life.” I re-entered art with a fury.

I know I’m not alone in this sentiment, because I’m not the first to say it; still, cancer was one of the best things that happened to me. It brought me back to art.

Each day I gratefully look forward to pushing the boundaries of that passion, with paper, pencils and paint.

Important Dates:
1951: Born, Wiesbaden, Germany
1966: Naturalized citizen, Chicago, IL
1969: Married
1971: Gave birth to my son
1986: Divorced
1989: Married my soul mate, best friend, and most ardent art critic
2007: Cancer diagnosis
2012: Cancer free
2014: Living in Burr Ridge

Art Studies:
Independent study with Laura Lein-Svencner, Cheryl Holz, Lisa Cyr, Rebecca Crowell, Catherine Chang Liu, Audrey Phillips, Krista Harris and many other mentors.

Influences:
Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko, Helen Frankenthaler, Franz Kline, Richard Diebenkorn, Clyfford Still, Will Barnet, my contemporaries and all the artists, poets and writers before them; I stand on their shoulders and continue to learn.





Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Early morning abstract thinking

Dancer

Beside every blade of grass is an angel saying, grow, grow, grow.

What a lovely thought. 

We are the blades of grass and if we open our hearts, there is an angel nestled there, cheering us on.

I awoke the other morning thinking, "It's in the quiet where the conversation begins." 

I enjoy silence. It's one of the reasons I usually wake up between 4-5 am. It's so peaceful at that time of day. Like a deep, cleansing breath. There's a nourishing emptiness, a space for thoughts to come, an arena for small epiphanies. 

I've just returned from an art retreat, once again astonished at the singular creativity living in us all. The volume and level of work created by 11 artists and our mentor and teacher, Rebecca Crowell, during the course of five days would make any curator take notice. 

Perhaps it was the setting; Lake Logan, literally nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Outrageously spectacular views. As our nature guide, Glen, exclaimed, "It makes you happy to be alive!"

Perhaps it was walking over to the studio every morning and walking back at night, cell phone flashlights guiding our way.

Perhaps it was the poets and writers who shared our retreat space.

Perhaps it was the sharing, from techniques, to intimate stories, laughter and singing, to poetry.

And maybe, just maybe, it was the perfect combination of spirits, all vibrating harmoniously on the scales of life. 
                                                                           



Saturday, September 27, 2014

Intentions

Line Play
6x7 inches
India ink

"What meaningful intentions would you like to set for your work-the qualitities you most value and want to keep going or aspire to?"

An innocent sheet of paper handed out by Rebecca Crowell at a recent workshop asking questions that urged a deeper introspection as to why we want to paint. The last question on the sheet was the one above. 

Here was my response:
Totems. Marks. Flow. Continuity. Spirit. Meditative.
I want my work to be beautiful, not pretty. Beauty is truth. Pretty lacks substance. I want to imbue my work with my intentions of calm, love, grace and joy, in essence, a mirror or reflection of my soul. 
Let it speak for that which resides within me that has no human voice - rather a collective conscious understanding. 

I came away from this workshop with a deeper trust and understanding of my creative process. Each time I approach the surface I have less fear. I appreciate and respect my hand and what it is able to communicate by moving across the space with passion and clarity. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Dumpster Diving for Words

Windows #1
8.5x14 inches 

What do rectangles and circles imply? 

This morning I was taking pictures of my recent pieces and saw the pattern of circles, ellipses, and rectangles and wondered why these symbols are presenting themselves on my canvases.

Obviously, my hand is putting them there, but why? Why, when I look at a piece am I  drawn to make these shapes? 

A rectangle symbolizes introspection. A window into deeper thought. A solitude.

 Unbroken #2
14 x 22 inches

Circles & ellipses symbolize continuity, wholeness, fullness, life, love. These symbols communicate my desires. 

As a painter who likes to write, I enjoy rambling through my thoughts in a continuous  stream of articulation. Dumpster diving through the letters and words, keeping some, tossing others back into the mind-field.

When you think about it, writing is painting pictures with letters, the alphabet becomes the brush, the words, images. 

Consider the wonder; 26 letters provide a infinite source of entertainment, three primary colors, plus white and black, can provide an endless palette within reach of the painter's brush. 





Thursday, September 4, 2014

Showing you my ugly

A hot mess
24 x 30

When I first heard abstract artist, Virginia Cobb, say, every painting goes through an ugly phase, I was relieved! It was like getting permission to go outside and play. 

This piece has gone through several ugly stages and is now in the ugliest of the ugly. I have considered just tossing the canvas. I have asked myself, "why do you keep putting good paint on this?" 

For some reason, I can't let go, yet. Can I make it even more ugly? Oh yeah, you bet.

 For now, though, I'm going to try to work with what I have, make some decisions and  move it into a place where I want to look at it.  



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

You have to learn how to see. Joan Mitchell
1925-1992

Sixty-seven years young,
only four years older than me.
Sobering.

Joan Mitchell, abstract painter, died of lung cancer at the age of 67, October 1992, in a hospital in Paris, France. 

She was born in Chicago, February 1925. Her mother, Marion Strobel Mitchell, was a lyric poet and co-editior of Poetry magazine. Because of her mother's passion, Mitchell was introduced to poetry and literature at an early age and met many writers including Dylan Thomas, Edna St. Vincent Millay and Thornton Wilder. These influences would find their way into her later paintings.

She was a contemproary of de Kooning, Motherwell, Helen Frankenthaler, (Motherwell's second wife), Reinhardt, Rothko and Jackson Pollock. Her studio was in the same New York neighborhood as many of the early abstract artists.

She quips Ad Reinhardt would see her out early in the morning and demand, "Mitchell, why are you not in your studio, painting!"

The atmosphere had to be charged with electrical creativity. These new painters, shrugged off the mantle of realistic scene painting and bravely took up their "weapons of pure imagination"*  attacking their canvases with a vigor of originality that cried out from the depths of their souls. 

Watching this documentary film about Joan Mitchell, it struck me how honest and humble she was about her process of painting. Almost opposite of Motherwell, who contemplated and intellectualized his work, she, at the other end of the spectrum, said she didn't think while she painted. She just was. 

Mitchell couldn't, or rather wouldn't, articulate and speculate where her art came from. She believed once you started the "blah, blah, blah" of your work, you had lost the essence of what was happening on the canvas. 

She responded to her environment and what she saw around her and looking at her work, it's more like poetry on a canvas. 

*Robert Motherwell




Sunday, July 6, 2014

Stepping into our destiny

Disappearing Mark

It stands in need of you in order to be born. Martin Buber

In my late teens I had a clear vision I was put here on earth to do more than simply "exist." It was a powerful moment as I realized my life was not small. 

With thoughts of infinity messing up my adolescent mind, it was easy to fall into a crushing void, because the Universe was beyond my finite comprehension. So that moment gave me a glimpse of a future filled with immense opportunity. 

Today I wonder, if we all don't, at some point, have that whispered into our consciousness, but since our survival as a species demands, on a very subterranean level, that we survive by being part of a group, we fear stepping outside that circle of approval and instead "lead lives of quiet desperation*".

There is a  theory our destiny, our highest Self, is created the moment we are born, and wants to be realized but can only do so through our human cooperation.

It's a symbiotic relationship; our highest purpose can not be realized without us and we can not achieve our highest purpose until we are born. 

*Henry David Thoreau

Friday, June 27, 2014

Shock of recognition



The further I delve into the writings of Robert Motherwell, abstract expressionist and philosopher, the more I am taken with his purity of thought. Reading his words  I come to realize, Motherwell couldn't have painted as he did if he wasn't a deeply philosophical person and mind scout.

 "It is one thing to think and another to exist in thought." Kirkegaard.  Motherwell existed in thought.

Through Motherwell's essays and lectures and through his paintings and collages, he explored and expressed  the dichotomy of creating. 

On the one hand, you want it to come from that true place where the ego is set aside and the mind is free to act; on the other, you want some thought, some contemplation to be present. To be absent, yet aware, that is the struggle.

Abstract expressionism did not grow in a vacuum. Artistic building blocks began with impressionism, moving to dadaism, cubism and surrealism. 

Historical influences included two major world wars, the Spanish Civil War, the depression, and philosophical influences from the poetic and literary voices of  Mallarme, Valery, Sartre, Camus, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche.

Add the influence of psychoanalysis pioneered by Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, you can follow the path that led the modernist looking inward for their inspiration. And through this journey came a body of experimental work that shocked the art world. And forever changed the way we looked at art.

No longer were we bound by the lens of the outward seeing eye, we were now free to explore a much more complex and subtle landscape. One that is ultimately linked closer to the Universe. It is the language of the non-verbal that ties us together as humans beings and as spiritual beings.

Once achieved successfully, we experience "the shock of recognition". Or in the words of  Rilke, "where I create, there I am true."

This was an extraordinary time in the development of the creative, thinking mind. Equal to their forerunners, the philosophers and artists of the Age of Enlightenment. 

And some decades later, we are still learning from these pioneers. They stormed the citadel of the art world with a ferocity that took an immense amount of courage.  I'm not sure we have seen anything so shattering, since.





Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Stillness vs Quiet

Stillness 1

During my morning meditation, while trying to stay focused on quieting my mind, I began to explore the difference between quiet; absence of sound, and stillness, absence of movement.

I'm really not trying to quiet my thoughts, I'm trying to still them into one soundless void.

Which is really, really hard.

First, my dogs decide they want to join in. Max is a heavy breather and loves to scratch his belly by pulling himself across the carpet with his front paws. I hear him making circles around the room. 

Then, Molly thinks I need a pedicure. I am trying not to laugh at Max's carpet ride and Molly's tongue ticking my bare feet.

Come on! did the Buddha have to put up with these comic distractions?

Anyway, M&M got bored since I wasn't moving and finally left me in the peaceful solitude I was searching for. 

Coming out of this morning's meditation session, I decided I want to explore capturing the feeling of stillness.

The above piece is the first attempt. Acrylic with charcoal on watercolor paper.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Do I Need A Cigarette For These Heavy Thoughts?

Disappearing Mark #1

I quit smoking some 39 years ago,

no longer held in that foggy spell.

However, 

after watching documentaries where David Hockney and Robert Motherwell reveal so revealingly their struggle, their dissatisfaction, their search for authenticity in their work, 

while, 

the whole and entire time, with a cigarette burning at the end of every sentence, 

and because of these conversations on the screen, I find myself deeply contemplating my authentic creativity, 

and I pause and wonder, "Do I need a cigarette for these heavy thoughts?" 

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Genius of Robert Motherwell

I watched this DVD twice within 24 hours. If I could channel Motherwell, I would. I wish he were still on this planet. 

This documentary is a deliberate, focused and thoughtful  look at the birth of Abstract Expressionism in America. A coalescence of the Abstract and the Modernist movements. A struggle to create an artistic language that sang with truth, authenticity and integrity. 

And the work, well the work, took my breath away. To watch Motherwell  run his brush across the surface of the paper was lyrical, to watch him sit and stare at his work, seeing the internal dialogue spoken by the small shifts in his body language, was mesmerizing, seeing him tear shapes to integrate collage pieces into his work was fun! The feel and sound of paper being separated from itself felt so right.  

Automatism - free association drawing, the idea of peeling away the layers of conscious prejudice to get to the essence of your authentic, creativeness is freeing. Thank goodness the surrealists and expressionists embraced it and brought it to the conscious surface, so we, the followers, can add this weapon, this tool to our arsenal.  

To have your very soul captured on to the canvas, revealed in it's spiritual purity. And then, when someone recognizes the poetic humanity wow, you've made a cosmic connection. 

I believe that's what we, as artists, strive for; this illusive thing that has no name and yet when we encounter it, we feel it. We don't even see it, we feel it down to our Mitochondrial DNA. 

Towards the end of the documentary Motherwell quietly asks, " What is the journey? The search? Not only a search for beauty or artfulness, but an attitude toward reality. The process of painting is the search and it, in some ways, involves a high degree of abstraction and at the same time, with the insistence that the subject, which in a way is unnameable, nevertheless is very humanly poetic."

Disappearing Mark # 2

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The power of your intuition

Somewhere Out There #1
8x8 inches
Oil & Cold Wax

I wish I had been brought up in a home where intuition had been given a place at the dinner table conversation.

My parents were practical, pragmatic intellectuals and intuition, while not mocked, wasn't given respect, either. 

I always believed I was adopted and at age eleven, my mother confessed, "That's half true. Bill is your step-father, he adopted you when we got married. " (I was four). 

And if wasn't so physically obvious that we are related, I would have been convinced she was telling a half truth.

My mother and I are polar opposites. She is a realist. I am a dreamer. She is an atheist. I am spiritualist. She is rationally cautious. I am daringly impulsive. Which I realize now, as an artist, you have to be in order to be in touch with your intuition.

In Ian Roberts book, Creative Authenticity, he points out if we ignore our intuition it becomes smaller and smaller until it's a soft whisper we can no longer hear. 

I desire to feed and fuel that rich voice. I give her the head seat at my table as I listen to her with concentrated attention and bathe her in adoration. Let her ROAR.

You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself. Alan Alda

Friday, May 23, 2014

Child's Play...do,be,do,be, do be

Child's Play
11 x 14 inches
Acrylic 
Do something. Then do something to that. Then do something else to that. And eventually you'll have something. Jasper Johns
I was having tea with a friend and we were talking art and the work of making art. Suddenly she came out with, " Do be do be do be." I thought she was going sing. Then I realized I had the emphasis wrong: 
Do. Be. Do. Be. Do. Be. 
Do it. Be it. Do it. Be it. 

If your goal is to be an artist, you have to be in your studio, making art. If your goal is to be a chef, you have to be in the kitchen, cooking. Your first efforts may not be that great, but as you continue to do, you get better and eventually master that skill. And with that mastery comes a certain bravery to go out beyond and stretch or even break the boundaries. 

Picasso was in his studio working on a piece when a friend came in and said, "That doesn't look very good." Picasso replied, "Of course it doesn't. It's the first one I've done."

That story should be on every artist's wall.  If you've been practicing art for some time  and believe your skill level should yield a certain  quality of work, and you courageously step out and try something new, and your initial efforts yield crap, remember, even Picasso didn't create a masterpiece every time he approached a canvas. 

The worst thing that can happen to an artist is losing that excitement and sense of wonder when we enter our studio. That's why we are driven to try new things. We want to push ourselves out of the mundane of safety and thrust ourselves into the realm of child's play. And waiting for us, in that creative sandbox, is our authentic genius. 
Do. Be. Do. Be. Do. Be. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Good bye, my little friend

A sure sign of spring is when my friend and neighbor, Sid, comes back to this home from her winter home. 

About nine years ago, Sid and Henry came home with a cute cocker spaniel. Sam was just a puppy when Henry needed to have surgery. Sid asked if I could take care of Sam. Since we live right next to each other, she gave me a baby monitor, so I could listen to his antics in the  kitchen, while I wasn't there. Who can refuse spending time with a warm, cuddly, tail wagging, happy little puppy. Needless to say, I was over at Sid's a lot

That early bonding experience made a lasting impression on both of us. I didn't realize how strong, until that next winter, when Henry, Sid and Sam left for their winter home. When they came back that spring, as soon as Sam saw me, he ran over, smiling. Yes, smiling. I'll never forget it. And Sid said, "Oh look, he loves you so."

This happened every spring and throughout the summers. Whenever Sam would see me, he would, first run and as he grew older, trot, over, with this big smile, and kiss me and wait for that loving connection, as my hand would stroke his fur and I would whisper soothing words into his ears. Even after he went deaf, I still spoke to Sam.

We had an uncanny connection. As if we were spirits together in a past life. 

Sam grew into a handsome spaniel, with rich, glossy, dark chestnut fur. Always the gentleman, he would trot over to greet our cavaliers through the screen door, then he would either come in, or they would go out and have their special spaniel conversations. 

Sid came home a few days ago and I haven't seen Sam. I called her last night and she told me he passed away on March 6. What can I say. There are no words. We cried silently on the phone, together.

Sam was blessed with a home rich in love, belly rubs, play time, food and treats. Sid and Henry adored Sam. He had a good, good life, but for those left behind, a life too short.

Good bye, my little friend. We'll see you on the other side.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Creative exuberance

Sometime in the earliest of morning hours, I woke briefly to these words:

I entered this world with extreme care,
following on the heels of old poets.

I quickly scribbled them in the dark, on the pad next to my bed and fell down back into sleep. 

The muses are flying around, sprinkling words of wonder on the world, and sometimes we get lucky and happen to catch a few.

Progression. The piece below started off not exactly like this, the figure in the middle was more prominent and the colors were different. I wasn't happy with it so I flew towards the canvas and "attacked" it will new colors and swam them around with a squeegee. That's when the title came to me; Layer Cake.

Layer Cake

I let it sit, for weeks, not really sure what to do, but knowing, for me, it still wasn't done. This past weekend I finally got brave enough and "attacked" it again.

Layer Cake
I'm letting it sit, again. It's almost finished. I'm waiting for her to tell me what to do next.

 16 x 20 inches on 2 inch cradle board. Oil, wax, collage.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Thank you, Billy Collins


Envoy
Go, little book, 
out of this house and into the world,

carriage made of paper rolling toward town
bearing a single passenger
beyond the reach of this jittery pen
and far from the desk and the nosy gooseneck lamp.

It is time to decamp,
put on a jacket and venture outside,
time to be regarded by other eyes,
bound to be held in foreign hands.

So off you go, infants of the brain,
with a wave and some bits of fatherly advice:

stay out as late as you like,
don't bother to call or write,
and talk to as many strangers as you can.

Thank you, Billy Collins, for teaching me to pause at the commas of life and love poetry.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thoughts about reading, writing and no arithmetic





As an artist, I have more than one artist pursuit. Along with painting I also like to write, and reading is like a glove to that pursuit.

I was listening to Terry Gross interview Penelope Lively (love that name) the other day. They were discussing her memoir; Dancing Fish And Ammonites, which she refers to as a "view from old age".

At one point Terry Gross shared that she has books all over the house, on tables, resting on the floors, everywhere and she asked Lively if she also had a lot of books and if so, why keep them all.

 Lively said she owns over 3,000 books and at one point she wanted to downsize and move into a smaller place, problem; she couldn't find a place that would hold her wealth of books.

She believes her books are a historical pathway toher way of thinking, her interests, mundane and erudite. A measure of her intellectual self.

As I thought about that, it occurred to me I would rather lose my wallet than my journal. I can replace the credit cards, insurance card, drivers license, but I can't replace my thoughts.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Gateway

Reflections Of Light
Acrylic with Mica
10 x 22.5"
 
It's common to say trees come from seeds. But how could a tiny seed create a huge tree? Seeds do not contain the resources needed to grow a tree. These must come from the  environment within which the tree grows. But the seed does provide something that is crucial: a place where the whole tree starts to form. As resources such as water and nutrients are drawn in, the seed organizes the process that generates growth. In a sense, the seed is a gateway through which the future possibility of the living tree emerges. Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future.

I remember picking up this book, flipping open to the first page, and reading the above passage, I felt as if an electrical current had passed through my body and I knew I had to read this book.

The authors, Peter Senge, C.Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworksi and Betty Sue Flowers meet for a year and a half probing how a new theory about change can improve our world. 
 
Letting go is a big part of their conversations. Letting go of our own perceptions of how things should be, our invested egos, our desire to control. When we can do that we experience a shift of thinking, a collective consciousness, which allows us to become the gateway for the possibility of change. Tibetan Buddhism call this "wisdom awareness".

As I read these two words I realized, as children we were inherently wisdom aware. There was no separation between us and "them", no separation between us and our  environment. It was only as we grew and learned to speak that we were taught the labels of all things and we began to separate. 
 
As artists, we are naturally wisdom aware when we are in the midst of a creative session. All time stops and we are so unaware that we become supremely aware. It is in those magic moments when we become the gateway through which our art emerges.

Friday, March 14, 2014

What a lovely way

A muse, the muse, my muse,whispered me gently back to this world with these words:
Lucky to love
be in love
bursting with love
for you.

What a lovely way to wake up.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Behhind every great artist is another great artist

Hidden Gestures
10x22.5 inches
acrylic on watercolor paper

Artist and calligrapher, Yves Letterme, illustrates in his book, Thoughtful Gestures, how our own marks can be beautiful and mysterious.

Since reading his book I have been more courageous at experimenting with gestures in my work. 

At first, I thought I should learn basic calligraphy; HA! instead I learned I don't have the patience.

Reading Letterme's book and Gina Jonas's, Finding the Flow, I discovered the basics aren't essential if cultivating your own mark making is the goal. 

I've been writing since I was able to hold a pencil and have developed a distinctive style, Jonas and Letterme have shown me how I can take it a step farther.

I rediscovered my passion for painting and collage in 2007. What I didn't anticipate was all the creative artists, teachers, and mentors I would meet along the way.

The internet has proven to be a vital, dynamic resource for creative exchange,
and the breadth of art is almost infinite. If I'm not careful, I could end up being lured into a vortex of continuous observation instead of adding to the poetic inventory.

So I turn off my computer and turn into my studio.