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.