Sunday, December 20, 2015

Visual Sanctuary

This is my morning sanctuary. After collecting a cup of coffee, I go to this corner in our kitchen and select three books.

If you want to be a writer, be a reader. 

Current on the list: Mercy by Leonard Cohen, Just Kids by Patti Smith and The Art Rules by Paul Klein. 

In Klein's book he references Jason Middlebrook's three C's; Content, Composition and Context. When Klein asks the question how do we contribute to making a larger difference? What's the context?

I sat and listened to the quiet of the morning. My mind wandered and the phrase 
 Visual Sanctuary floated by. I began to write in my journal; 

I make art from a place of beauty and joy. 
I want people to feel those emotions when they look at my work.
I want people to be able to lose themselves in the work; a sense of meditation.

That doesn't mean there's not energy in the work, it's more of a flow than a push. 

I see my paintings as visual sanctuaries. 
A place of rest.
An oasis from all the frenetic action around us. 

That's what I hope to convey. That's why I make my way to my studio as often as I can. It's an oasis for me, a place where I quench my artistic thirst. 

Mercy Me

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Our creativity is not benign

Mercy Me
12 x 9 inches
Acrylic on stone paper

I left formal religion years ago. I don't believe God only resides in the four walls in a building and I don't believe God judges us by where or how we worship. 

This quote from the Gnostic Gospel seems appropriate on this Sunday;

If we bring forth what is within us, it will save us. If we do not bring forth what is within us, it will destroy us.                
Our creativity is not benign. When I heard Elizabeth Gilbert say that in a radio interview, it knocked me down with the truth of it.

These words are my gospel, my tabernacle of devotion. I believe we were all put here to leave a unique mark, one that can only be made by us.

When I have a difficult day in the studio, I want to open a bottle of wine and wallow in it. I want to numb my failure in a bath of alcohol. I don't do this, I just feel like doing it.

Before I recommitted myself to making art, I did drink too much. Weekends were the worst. All that time stretched out like an ocean with no land in sight. I would start in the afternoon and by evening the living took on a numbing haze. I was bored. That's the destructive force of creativity. When it's ignored or denied, it will find other ways to manifest. 

Okay, if you won't let me out, let's knock you out. 

Once I got back into making art, my thirst faded and as I grew more devoted to my passion my creativity served me once again. We are now in a partnership. I show up and do the work. I push past the lure of resistance and sometimes I'm rewarded by making something I really like. And it's enough to keep me coming back. And when inertia rears its head, I recognize it for what it is. I've pushed past it before and I'll push past it again and again and again. 

At a  workshop last summer, one of the instructors, Audrey Phillips turned to us and said, "no matter what happens in our lives, we will always have our art. We are so lucky to have that."

She's right. And since we have chosen to bring it forth, it nourishes us in ways food and drink never can. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Do you want to know what saved me?

oil/cold wax 
12 x 12 inches

Do you want to know what saved me? Art. The countless hours of meditation, prayer and devotion in front of the canvas altar.  The release of the control and the outcome. Georgia O'Keeffe referred to this as, making your unknown known.

Nature saved Mary Oliver. You sense this when you read her poems, written with a humble, delicate hand as she describes the small and infinite miracles she observes in her daily walks. She finds equal beauty in mud as in the delicate wings of a dragon fly, a blade of grass or the song of the Mockingbird.  

I suppose at the root, it's really love and beauty that saves us. If we watch and listen, they lead us to our passions and devotions. 

Can love alone save? I'm not sure that is possible - love for love either creates suffocation or loss, when that love becomes possession and brings along its companions, jealousy and envy. 

When your love becomes an obsession, eventually you smother that which you love. The object of your love begins to feel trapped in a cocoon which tightens over time. As there is no room for them to spread their own wings, your love becomes a mantle of suffocation, so they whisper, "please - let me go." 

And if you truly love, not for yourself, but for them, you have no choice but to let go. Loss.

Yes, love each other fiercely and completely, but make space for yourself to explore and discover other passions, as there lays true salvation and happiness. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Purity of now

6 x 12 inches
Diptych on cradle boards

I suddenly saw the day lay out before me and knew it would be good, and a feeling of calm happiness settled over me.

I was anxious to get into my studio, but was reluctant to leave this moment of quiet - enjoying the only sound around me - the hum of the refrigerator.

Don't wish your time away, you once said. 

These words have followed me, like wise friends through the years, anchoring me in the purity of now. Be here. Enjoy where you are.

We seem to live in three primary states of awareness; what was, what is, what will be; past, present, future.

Why do we spend so little time in the present stage of awareness? Why do we get lost in our thoughts seeming to prefer the past or the future to what is happening at the precise moment?

Mary Oliver writes a poem about hummingbirds - how we can only imagine them, "as they are as swift as the wind and fly not across the pages, but between them".

Is this an analogy of now? We can only imagine it because it flies so swiftly from us? Because the now is past before it is even written on the page? 

In meditation we are taught to focus on the now, follow our breath in and follow it out. Quiet the monkey mind, stop the past and future chatter, silence the ego; observe, melt into nothing. 

I must admit, this is quite difficult. I have a very active monkey racing around the maze of my cerebral cortex. She seems to mock me and my attempts to quiet her. 

Honestly, the only time I get close to this state is when I paint and here is the paradox of that; I'm in the now and not even aware of it, I am aware of nothing. I am just, performing in front of a canvas, hoping it will somehow transform into something that is unique to me.  

Friday, November 20, 2015


Crow 11; Meditating
14 x 11 inches
acrylic on frosted mylar

Today, poet Mary Oliver dazzled me with her path of words, strung into a lovely poem and collected onto a page.

Writer, Dani Shapiro helped me realize talking about your ideas too soon is often the path to destruction or stagnation.

"That for which we find words is already dead in our heart." 
Frederick Nietzsche

Often, by talking about an idea before action, seems to toss the inspiration into the air and off it floats  - perhaps landing in another artist's mind. Poof - there goes. Better to keep a journal.

Painter, Janice Mason Steeves wrote, "don't show your babies too soon". I take her words to heart.
Early critique can become a straight jacket for your muse. Better to keep your babies tucked away, at least until they reach adolescence and can stand on their own. 

I've come to learn, if I want to be a painter, and I do, it has to be my job. It's the only way I will produce anything significant.

For now, it will be my second job, since my day job pays the way for my second job. 

One day painting will be my one and only job. And "my days will be shaped by me, rather than for me", Dani Shapiro.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Midnight Perfume

Reverence Immortalized
Midnight Perfume
We had a midnight visitor all summer.
We recognized him by his strangely, peculiar scent.
Now that summer is over,
so is his life.

Midnight Soliloquy
It's me, just out for my midnight stroll, the moon my very bright companion, investigating the wonders along my busy trail. I respectfully leave my aromatic calling card so you will know to leave me be. 
I haven't been woken in a couple of weeks by the pungent smell of our neighborhood skunk. I believe I know why. I was driving down a street close to our home and I saw a delicate, little black and white shape, lying unnaturally still, in the middle of the road. 

Unlike most people, I like skunks. Thanks to Warner Brother's French aristocratic Pepe Le Pew; watching his black and white antics, trying to capture love. How could I not love a skunk that loved to love; was in love with love?

The little woodpecker above was lying in our driveway when I got back from a walk. So eloquently poised, as if recalling some long forgotten memory.  I placed him in my garden. 

This brings me to the subject of this blog. If we believe that all beings are sentient, (which I do), how can we leave these animal beings scattered along the roads after they have been knocked back to before they were born. We wouldn't do that if it were a human being. Why do we think it's okay and just drive by? Sometimes even running over them, again. 

We call them, "road kill". An offensive term. 

I miss our midnight guest. I miss him waking me with his strangely peculiar scent, and I regret not having stopped my car, taking him from the asphalt and placing him in a shady spot, under a tree or bush.

 I suppose the crows will clean him up. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Who Am I...Really?

15 x 11
oil/ cold wax

Or maybe the question is; What Am I?

Jeff Lieberman, MIT graduate and scientist posed this idea in a TED talk:

Maybe I'm not a human being that has consciousness, 
maybe I'm consciousness that is shaped into a human being. 

He begins the talk by saying he is a community of cells, billions of cells, which are racing around his physical encapsulation. He's static, to our eyes, but he's actually in constant motion. Looking further, scientifically, those cells disappear into sheer energy, no form, no boundaries; pure, fantastic energy. 

In order for energy to manifest itself on this physical plane, it has to have a host form. I am not a scientist, not even close, but there is a knowing in what Lieberman says. It rings true.

Coincidentally, in Elizabeth Gilbert's new book, Big Magic, she writes about ideas being alive. To manifest themselves they need a human collaborator to move from the ether to a form that can be seen and appreciated by this human audience. 

If we can stay on this plane, what a magical, curious and surprising life. This is why we are driven to create. 

It's not in us, it's of us. 
It's around us. 
It envelopes us. 

And if we open our minds, our hearts, our arms, it will surround us with something so wonderful, there is no language to neither describe nor contain it. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

At The Risk Of Looking Foolish

Dynamic Tension
22 x 30
mixed media

When I was 11 years old I won a citywide essay contest. The competition was open to all grade school and high school students. My picture was in the paper, along with a little article. It was a big deal, for me and my family; a proud moment.

When we're young, our parents indulge and encourage our fantasies and escapades; but as we get closer to leaving home, they begin to pour the syrup of reality over our dreams.

"Yes, it's wonderful that you like to (fill in your dream), but how are you going to support yourself? It takes a lot of luck to succeed at..... Perhaps it's better you study (fill in your "responsible" career)." 

Any tangible commodity guaranteed to make you employable and your parents, once again, proud and happy. 
"Thank god she got over that!" 

Out into the world  you go, years pass and suddenly you're in a place of dissatisfaction. You have more time, your days aren't filled with busy activities and there it is - that nugget of self denial that has been living quietly inside you since you veered off of your creative path. 

Only now, that there is more space, more internal silence, the nugget feels like a boulder.

My husband and I were having this conversation last night; about the risk of looking foolish. In the halcyon days of childhood, looking and acting foolish was part of our play, but when you're in your 50's, 60's, 70's and beyond, the risk of looking foolish can be paralyzing. 

Which is why, we don't risk, instead we avoid that thing that made us feel so alive. 

We can change that. 

Where does your curiosity lead you? -
and follow that.

What makes you forget about time and space? -
and reach for that.  

What makes you forget your self?-
be that. 

Do you want to leave this plane with a smile, knowing that you allowed yourself to access that unique grace within you? That you LIVED your life on fire and fanned the flames.
Wow - seems the risk of looking foolish is a very small price to pay when it allows you to find that incredible lightness of grace that was planted in you the day you were born. 

This is how I want to spend my life - collaborating to the best of my ability with forces of inspiration that I can neither see, nor prove, nor command, nor understand.
I can not think of a better way to pass my days. Elizabeth Gilbert; Big Magic 

I want that.  

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Call of the Crow

Dreaming Crow
14 x 11
acrylic on frosted mylar


From a single grain they have multiplied.
When you look in the eyes of one
you have seen them all. 

At the endges of highways
they pick at limp things.
They are anything but refined.

Or they fly out over the corn
like pellets of black fire,
like overlords.

Crow is crow, you say.
What else is there to say?
Drive down any road,

take a train or an airplane
across the world, leave
your old life behind,

die and be born again - 
wherever you arrive
they'll be there first,

glossy and rowdy
and indistinguishable.
The deep muscle of the world. 
                                           by Mary Oliver

Who else could so eloquently see crows in their majestic mystery? Their fire,their color, buried within. They seem to be a metaphor for life. They have been designed to barely be looked at. For most they are a noisy nuisance. And yet, Mary Oliver chose to immortalize them in a poem.  Makes me wonder, what else are we missing?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Where are you?

Quiet Attitude
36 x 12 inches
acrylic on canvas

I was watching an interview; subject, mindfulness. The author explained how simple being mindful can be. Simply, be here.

He asked the interviewer; when you're in the shower, are you in the shower or are you at work, planning your day? When you first wake in the morning, do you take a moment to enjoy the sensation, or do your thoughts take you someplace else?

 Here is the dichotomy; simplicity is difficult. 

For instance, during my short morning meditation, I noticed how often, even though my body was still, my mind was traveling, emotional and physically, to other places. It amused and frustrated me, not exactly what you're supposed to be experiencing during meditation. 

Free range thinking, that's what goes on during my attempts to reach the oasis of silence. 

Creativity comes through free range thinking. Allowing the mind to meander opens the portal to our creative side.

Have you ever found yourself in the midst of creating, looked up at the time and were astonished at how much of it had passed, seemingly without your notice? If you had been aware of every moment, would you have been as creative?

I think being mindful is an important activity, but not every moment of your day. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Do we make art, or does the art make us?

12 x 12"
oil and cold wax

I was having tea with a friend and the discussion turned to art, and she said, "I don't think we make art, I think the art makes us."

We continued to talk and eventually it was time to say good-bye, and even though I left her company, her comment has been walking next to me ever since. 

Since 2007 when I got back to making art, how have I changed? Probably the most visible is a new circle of friends. People I never would have gotten to know were it not for being an artist. These people have all influenced me. And those experiences haven't really changed me as much as allowed me to express who I am; below the surface.

Getting to know that part, intimately, has altered my aura, my energy field, so those around me, especially those who knew me before 2007, have sensed a change. 

For one, I am more happy, more joyful, more grateful, because I am creating something out of that sweet, silent, soulful part that is really an extension of everyone and everything.

When I enter my studio I travel into the original world; molten, dark, mysterious and wondrously scary. From there I create the art and the art creates me. It's symbiotic. One cannot be realized without the other. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Why Do You Take So Many Workshops?

Ink, gesso & metallic pigment
on paper

Last year I attended ISS (Intensive Studies Seminar), Taos, NM. There were 80 artists and four teachers; Skip Lawrence, Fran Larsen,   Katherine Chang Liu (the reason I went), and Christopher "Toph" Schink.  

There were four pods, 20 artists per podd, and one teacher assigned to each pod. Fran Larsen was our pod's teacher. When we had our first one on one meeting, she asked, "Why do you take so many workshops?" 

Indeed, why? "Primarily to be with other artists and learning from teachers whom I admire."

 If she were to ask me that question, today, I would add, "workshops are incubators for creative expansion."

When creative minds collect, with a gifted facilitator, in an environment that allows the focus to be solely on developing the artists, we become creative atoms bouncing off of each other; a virtual pinball machine of creative collision.

There was a time in our history where creative expansion was almost viral, the Italian Renaissance. From 1400-1600, creativity flourished with abandon. Why then?

In his book, Creative Intelligence, Bruce Nussbaum explains it was a combination of social and cultural environments.

The wealthy showcased their wealth through the acquisition of art and Renaissance Florence was an immensely rich city-state. Supply and demand. Patrons wanted art which created a demand for artists. Art became an industry and an industry needs inventory.  Art communities were established and artists collaborated, critiqued and competed with each other in efforts to acquire commissions from the wealthy patrons.

In a way, workshops provide a similar environment. We gather together and push each other to create quite a volume of work in a short period of time. Being with like minded spirits seems to encourage us to higher plateaus of creativity. With the right blend of teacher and students, it can be an enormously enriching experience. And usually, it continues to unfold long after the workshop is over.

The creative harmony and vibrations that travel around us as we work, together, yet alone, cannot be replicated or achieved solitary in a studio. Creative magic meets creative muse.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Morning Prayer

Collage, acrylic, oil, cwm, gold pigment
12x12 inches

              "Oh Wow!"
These were the two words that escaped,
 without thought, 
as I walked out of my house.

Resting high in the sky 
was a perfectly round heart, 
pulsing crimson red with life sustaining light.

It was the sun-
sitting silent,
burning through the morning mist,
all the color of the sky,
resting in her hemoglobin red round face.

True beauty stops you in your tracks-
true beauty takes your breath
 and gives it back with wonder.

She opened my day with poetry,
and gave me the gift of gratitude.

As I stepped along the path,
I was aware-
we are here
because of her. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Where Is the Creative Connection Between the Hand and the Mind?

Pentimento no. 2
(Change of Heart)
Acrylic on cradle board
8 x 16 inches

When did cursive become a dying art? 

I was astonished when I read an interview in Letter Arts Review with Lawrence Wheeler, professor of Humanities and Applied Linguistics at Portland State University, where he noted, "... I admit to a growing pessimism about our great and marvelous art of calligraphy, if only on the basis of substantial evidence from my undergraduate students of not only a lack of interest in handwriting, but a terrifying incapacity. Given that I write comments on students' papers in Italic, I'd become inured to the relatively small number of students, who, starting in the mid 1970s, would come up after class to ask , "What does this say?"...But in the last three years I have been confronted by the same numbers who, often shamefacedly, say, "I don't know how to read cursive-what's this say?" 

After doing a bit of digging I learned since Common Core standards were initiated, cursive is being systematically dropped from school curricula as teachers see cursive as becoming obsolete, as computers and smart phones become more and more the method of "writing."

In the early 1940's, Chilean abstract expressionist and surrealistic painter, Roberto Matta introduced Robert Motherwell to "automatic drawing" or "cosmic doodling" as Motherwell called it. This technique was used as a tool to tap into the unconscious creative. Watching a documentary about Motherwell, he was so excited when Matta shared this with him. It seemed to open up a new chapter of creative language and expression for him. 

Where will our future artists find that creative communication between the hand and the mind if they aren't taught cursive? You can't do it on a key board. Your hand has to dance across a sheet of paper or canvas. It's that very human action that unleashes your unconscious creative.

The art of writing, representational or in abstract form, is so lovingly personal, that not to have that gift in our arsenal of communication is a real shame. What are our teachers thinking? Where are the art instructors? They should be raising their pens in protest. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Pieces Left Behind; a very, short story

Acrylic & Ink

For the outer sense alone perceives visible things
and the eye of the heart sees the invisible.
                                                                   Richard of Saint Victor

Pieces Left Behind

She leaves pieces of herself around the house-
rings on window sills, tablets on tables, pens attached to journals,
and books - books all over the place.

When I'm gone, she thinks, and others want to remove these objects -
you'll say, Leave that! don't touch it, don't move it.

They'll think you're crazy.

Until their moment of loss appears
and they realize -
Oh! - 
that was his connection to her.
She lived in those inanimate objects -
they came alive when she wore them,
touched them,
made them part of her.

As long as those objects 
were where she placed them,
she was there, too. 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Thank you, Mary Oliver

Spring Fever
28 x 22
Acrylic. India ink

Thank you, Mary Oliver 
for bringing the miracle of the everyday 
to my attention.

Your love of all free and easy things;
the wind swimming across a field,
flower heads drowsy, intoxicated by the sun,
bees drunken-heady with nectar-

with every poem
you remind me of the grandeur of simplicity.

Slow down,
be amazed, 
you seem to say. 

When I do,
my eyes soften,
my breath catches,
I bow and my heart sings.

Thank you, Mary Oliver
for bringing the miracle of the everyday 
to my attention.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A bride married to amazement

Beneath The Surface no 2
30 x 22 inches

The abstract expressionist painter, Joan Mitchell, when asked to describe her art volleyed back, "I can't explain it. It's poetry on canvas!" 

I don't care for poetry that dances at the edges of allegorical ambiquity; such a tease.

I like poetry that dances on the solid imagination, where the mind lands on a knowable surface.
Where the poet strings together a series of words which immediately paint the canvas of my mind with seeable imagery.

No surprise my three favorite poets are Mary Oliver, Billy Collins and Leonard Cohen and I also love the meditative, prayer like poetry of John O'Donohue.

The poem and the poet live on when we pass on their poems to new eyes, fresh hearts, true minds. This morning I read the poem below.

Her word path is clear, subject complex, but not in a pompous, elitist way, and at the end of the journey, you are left in awe - at least I was.

When Death Comes
When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes 
like the measle-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as nor more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field of daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something 
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say: all mu life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.  
                                                                                Mary Oliver

Sunday, April 19, 2015

These are the days we live for

acrylic on vellum

Surviving another arctic winter in the Midwest, I cherish mornings like today's. Before the neighborhood wakes and the endless cacophony of automobile engines, it's serene and along with my two companions, Max and Mollie, we absorb the quiet around us.

The morning, the mourning doves and a singular cardinal inspired this little poem.

Ode to Spring

Mourning dove
serenading the loss of the moon
and the ascension of the sun.

Cardinal singing his sermon of praise -
if only I knew his language.

Is he praising the ski
for its azure beauty?

Is he complimenting the sun
for its soft morning heat?

Is he waking the trees,
gently reminding them to bud?

Is he congratulating the tulips & daffodils
for crowning the earth -
in such colorful splendor?

Is he greeting me? -  
sweeping my eyes skyward
to find him perching on the very top
of a yet leafless tree-
puffing out his crimson chest as he senses
his goal achieved
and in a final operatic trill, 
good morning!
good morning!
good morning!
remember this moment,
cherish this pause. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Magic of Flying

Getting Ready To Fly
17 x 14 inches
oil/cold wax/pastel

I fly a lot in my dreams. I've read this is a sign of being or feeling free. 

Perhaps. What I know, these dreams are a special gift. 

When I have a flying dream, I soar way above earth, where it's cold, but I'm not cold. Instead, I feel as if my heart is pulsing outside my body and I can barely catch my breath for the excitement of it all.

Just like Superman, stretching my arms out in front of me, I run and pitch myself forward into the wind. For an instant, I am barely off the ground, waiting for the wind's embrace to lift me. And then, up, up, and up. 

Grinning like mad, I'm amazed I am flying. No fear, just pure joy. Sometimes I see others flying but, usually I'm up there by myself, cruising along, feeling weightless and unbound by gravity. 

To land, I slowly descend back to earth, hovering over the ground until I can easily place me feet back on terra firma. 

Sometimes, I'm really lucky and fly twice in a dream, reenacting the whole Superman move, just to have that feeling of being lifted up into the sky. It's pure sensation. 

The magic of flying-
I'm lying still, 
in bed,
I'm really traveling 
great distances. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Lessons learned in a strawberry patch

When I was about five years old, I lived in a small German village. Not far from our house was a strawberry patch, which belonged to our neighbor.

One late spring day, a friend and I spied those strawberries and decided to have a taste. Well, one taste led to another and before long we had eaten her entire patch.

Oh boy, was she mad. 
Oh boy, was I in trouble.

I remember those sweet, little strawberries peaking their strawberry bodies out from under their elfin like green leaves. The sun caught their complementary colors in it's rays and I was mesmerized. And into the patch we crawled. A picnic of strawberries and giggles. It was worth the punishment. 

I can't say the same for today. I bought a carton of tempting looking strawberries and disappointingly, they tasted either watery or overly ripe. Where do today's gigantic strawberries come from? They look so good, yet taste so uninspiring.

 Today's strawberries wouldn't have lured a five year old and her friend into a forbidden strawberry patch on a drowsy sunny day where, after indulging, allowed themselves to lay on their backs and let the sun kiss their strawberry sweet faces. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Does society influence art making?

Sketchbook #2
exercise no. 10
Collage, ink, acrylic, gouache
9 x 12 inches
140 lb watercolour paper

I believe the answer is, yes. As people change, artists are influenced by those cultural and environmental changes. In this century, I believe, technology has been a greater influence on changing art than people. 

Of course, the technology is invented by people, so I suppose you could still say that people influence the art and artist.

If the above is true, then the categories we place certain types of art, also change with the times. Abstract expressionism today is not the same abstract expressionism of the 40's and 50's. Is today's abstract expressionism closer to non-representational art? Is there a difference?

And why is it even necessary to put your art in a category? Obviously, representational or realism is self evident. We all recognize the image on the canvas.  We only need to decide if it's great, good or mediocre. 

What of  the illusionary art? The art maker who attempts to put her or his soul on the canvas? You can't look at that type of art without bringing your own subjective history and projecting it on the canvas. And when the piece is good, it resonants with us on a level beyond our mundane humanity. 

This entry is becoming a lot like my art. I started off with one idea and end up somewhere else. Well, the words and the thoughts are leading this morning. I will not reign them in. 

So, I don't answer the question in paragraph three. My history of art is not that extensive. I could hop on Google and probably find the correct definitions, but that would take the fun out of this writing session and take a winding road and turn it into the straight and narrow path. Which would make this a less than mundane post. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

When Did You First Become Aware?

ink sketch

Did you ever think all the people you know are diverse manifestations of your own personality?

Exhilarating and frightening, isn't it.

 Friends, family, lovers, enemies, acquaintances, all puzzle pieces of your whole. 

When I was eleven, I had a friend named Leslie. Leslie and I were like the cartoon characters, Mutt and Jeff. I was tall, lanky and awkward; Leslie was short, chubby and shy.

We would be the last ones picked for anything, so we naturally bonded together, and became close friends. 

The year was 1962; the place, Joliet, IL. I lived in a house divided into four apartments. Ours was on the ground floor. My grade school was within walking distance and both my parents worked.  

I had a key. 

After school Leslie and I would walk home and hang out. Very liberating for eleven year olds with no adult supervision. I don't recall the mischief we made, but I'm sure there was some. 

Of all those many walks home, there is one that remains poetically clear, these 53 years later.

 It was warm and the sun was bright. Leslie and I walked to the door of  my apartment, I placed the key into the lock. Leslie was saying something, I turned to listen and the sun took up all the space in the hallway, creating a shimmering halo around her curly red hair. 

It became very quiet. Everything slowed down and in that moment of stillness, I saw the essence of Leslie, and it was luminous, 

Leslie was the gateway to transcendence which allowed me to see the possibility of living a life beyond one of quiet desperation*.  

Thinking back I realize this was my heart opening up and allowing the manifestation of unconditional love to become aware. 

*(Thoreau; The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them). 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Dismal corridor of despair

18 x 14 inches
Oil and cold wax

Thinking about my life without art is like looking down a dismal corridor of despair.

I travel impossible miles when I paint, trying to get back to those few precious moments before I was molded in the clay of language; before my ego became conscious, making judgments and corrections in my thoughts and behaviour.

So, who am I? Not what my parent and teachers told me. No, I am not that. I am more than that. And it is that which I try to put on the canvas. Traveling back to the nuclear core of my soul, spirit, intuition. 

The cacophony of visible reality plays like an obstacle field filled with mental grenades designed to fragment my core. Dancing between these and staying true to "me" is the challenge.

Being born is an act of creative abstract expression - coming out of the womb, there is no language, there is barely sight, only I imagine, fear, confusion and perhaps some anger. And yet the urge to leave the santuary of warmth and plummet ourselves here is not a choice, but a demand of life. 

We forget and lose that newborn innocence. As we begin to understand and make sense of the world around us, through the eyes and words of others, we give up that beautiful nothingness we brought with us. 

Getting back to that is primal expressionism. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

The man I married, and the man I almost married

To See Within
16 x 20
Oil, cold wax on paper

A wild time in the late 1980's and I was fiercely in love with two men - the man I would marry and the man I almost married.

I learned many things during that gloriously, exhilarating time. Perhaps, the two most important were; love opens you in deliciously unimaginable ways, searing between the extremes. You feel as if you carry the entire Universe within yourself and all you want to do is give, give and give. 

And, that we are capable of deep, multiple loves. One not taking away from the other. Canadian author, Merle Shain, likened it to knowledge; when a teacher shares her knowledge with a student, she doesn't have less knowledge to give to the next.

Love and knowledge are not finite, they are endless, and like a spring, continue to flow, when fed. These gifts are not borne to us as  limited vessels, full upon birth, and as we share them, slowly trickle out of us until we have no more to give.

Perhaps that is the lesson of the biblical story, where Jesus feeds 5,000 people with seven loaves of bread and two fish; love is infinite abundance, if we open ourselves and share.

I do know, if I would have chosen the man I almost married, I would have wondered what life would have been with the man I did marry. I would have escaped into a fantasy of lost love and regret.

Instead, I crossed over the threshold into the unknown; for the man I almost married was a safer, known choice and the man I did marry was a mystery; one I wanted to be caught up in, embraced by, loved by, be with.

All these cascading years later, my spirit heart chose the right threshold to cross over.