Friday, August 26, 2016

Paint Like A Child

Acrylic on newsprint

It took me four years to paint like Raphael
but a lifetime to paint like a child. Picasso

Leonard Shlain had me at Chapter 1. In the first pages of his book, Art & Physics, Shlain uses the example of babies associating images with feelings before verbal communication is learned. 

      "Long before speech occurs, a baby develops an association between the image of the bottle and a feeling of satisfaction. Gradually the baby accumulates a variety images of bottles...synthesizing these images, the child's emerging conceptual faculties invent an abstract image that encompasses the idea of an entire group of objects that she or he will recognize as bottles. This step in abstraction allows the infant to understand the idea of "bottleness." Still without language, the baby can now signal desire by pointing.
      Then at a certain moment, in that part of the brain called Broca's area, the connections between synapses attain a critical number (tipping point), tripping a switch that suddenly lights up the magical power of language. As soon as the baby connects the bottle's image with the word "bottle", this word begins to blot out the image..."

I thought about Picasso's desire to "paint like a child." I believe what Picasso meant was his yearning to have the  ability to tune into that natural abstract state we all found ourselves bathed in at birth.

Before we had the expression of language, we verbalized through color and shape which was our first form of identification or labeling. We did not yet have the verbal tool of language. 

As abstract artists we try to paint things "that don't yet have words*" I am excited to continue this book in the hopes it will  help remove the veil of  spoken language and lead me back to the time where my only words were expressed through feelings, colors and amorphous shapes. 


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Creative Survival of Play


Our creativity "is a gift meant to be given, not kept." Kevin Ashton, How To Fly A Horse

When you read something so true it shoots your heart with an arrow of honesty, you take notice.

I believe our individual spark, if not encouraged to blaze into the bonfire of our light, will burn us from the inside out.  

If we keep it chained by the quiet desperation of fear and mediocrity, it will destroy us. And we will silently thrash about and anguish in the inferno of what we could have become.

Play is the mischievous handmaiden to our creativity.
Play gives us the joy we deserve
Play brings us harmony.
Play is the light.
Play is the tickle and the muse.
 Play asks for nothing but uninhibited activity.

As we begin that cautious dialogue with creativity, bring play out first. 

She will help you laugh and enjoy your stumble, bumble early strokes. She will hush the ego of obscure perfection. She will give you the courage to begin. 

Happy Dance

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Paradox of Creativity

30 x 22.5
Ink, hibiscus tea & acrylic on paper

Waking Thoughts

Sometimes I feel 
large and bold
like the colors
of an Ellsworth Kelly painting -

free to create
sure of my strokes and gestures.

small and inconsequential -
fearfully asking,
       "what am I doing?"

quiet desperation
dripping from my brush. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Can a line be a metaphor for life?

The Beauty of a Line

A line is a path
simple and direct
one to another.

Can a line be a metaphor for life? 

Our lives begin in an inhale and end in an exhale. All the breaths, all the lines between, weave the tapestry of our individual, complex, mysterious, wondrous lives. A web of living.

Playful, pulsating, organic, our line is spun from the creation of the Universe. Our lines can be pure, our lines can be messy; what they can't be is straight. Our lines are meant to dance through life, undulating with grace, joy and humor.

A line so strong it tethers us to the living, yet so flexible it can twist and turn into its self and never, ever break. And at its end, it quietly whispers its self back to its origin.

The line is our soul. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

There is beauty and then there is beauty

You Sang My Name
14 x 11

At a recent dinner party, one of the guests asked,
 "What was a singular event that defined your life? A moment that changed you?"

As the eight of us went around the table, sharing our experiences, I thought about the first time I discovered true beauty. I was walking home from school with my friend, Leslie. We were in seventh grade, an awkward age to begin with, made more awkward by our outward appearances. I was tall and clumsy; Leslie was short and pudgy. We had yet to grow into our grown up selves.

As we entered the hallway leading to my apartment, Leslie was saying something and as I turned to look at her, the key frozen into the lock, a stream of sun was encasing her curly red hair and drenching her appearance and I realized how beautiful she was. 

I was seeing inside Leslie. Her beauty revealed itself in that holy moment. And my twelve year old self was struck with the knowledge that outside beauty and inside beauty were not the same. In that defining moment I was shown how to see.  

Fifty three years later I marvel at that miracle and feel so fortunate that I was given a gift that would mould my mind into the territory of the extraordinary. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Where does our art come from?

30 x 30 inches
Acrylic & India Ink

Nebula, the birth place of stars. Souls of the Universe. 

That's where my art comes from, my soul. And since my soul is infinite and I am not, the inspiration is infinite, too.

It's all been done, but not by me. When I paint, or write, I'm not doing or saying anything that hasn't been done or written before, but not by me. So that makes my contribution original and authentic.

We all have that ability, but I think as we get older, we get more shy about showing our innerselves. Fear of peer ridicule, insecurities, our ego makes us prisoners of that chiding voice. But I have found that when I speak from the heart, which is where my soul lives, people respond, or maybe it's their soul responding to mine. We all get lifted up by the exchange. 

So don't hide your own, unique creative star. It's your own flame. And the rest of us will be more enlightened  when you give us a glimpse of your brillance.

Sunday, January 10, 2016


Crow no 13
20 x 16
Acrylic on frosted mylar

Poems arrive
ready to begin.
Poets are only
the transportation.
             Mary Oliver; Humility

The same is true for any art and artist. When we create we enter into an agreement with our muse. The art lives and breathes beyond our physicality. We are the instrument of realization.

And once we create it, that euphoric, mysterious, beautiful something, the agreement is, we give it back so others can experience it, too. 

Whether it whispers between the pages of paper or steps out clearly on canvas or stone, it rejoices in the community of man, as it never was ours to begin with.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Let's think with our hearts

Thinking With My Heart
24 x 17.5 inches
Mixed media on cradle board

Art reminds me we have souls. 
Tilda Swinton

I was watching CBS Sunday Morning and was struck, during their review of the past week, how every story was bad news. And I thought, something good was going on each of those days, why is it the bad makes it to the top? 

Why do we give voice to the disturbing and not to the glorious? As our national rhetoric becomes more frantic and fanatic we turn more and more towards the darkness. The incessant bombardment and fascination with 24/7 news is making us into a fearful people. 

I believe this current fascination began on September 11, 2001 when the unthinkable happened - terrorism landed on the shores of New York. Since that day we collectively wonder, "has another disaster happened while I slept?" So we turn on the news to find out. And our days begin with headlines written in an almost lurid, sensational language. 

This fear is escalating thanks to the outrageous statements being made by our politicians. What's true? I feel as if we are being brainwashed into believing this is the worst of the worst of times. 

Read history. I guarantee, we aren't even close. And yet, thanks to that pulsing big box in everyone's home, we are being convinced these are. 

Following on the heels of this madness comes a misguided renewed patriotic vigor, for some, even fanaticism. The message is clear, don't trust the foreigners. Instead of joining we are being told to tear apart, isolate and separate. 

Tilda Swinton's speech at the 2014 Rothko Chapel Visionary Awards ceremony talked about a world I believe we were born to live in;

I believe that all great art holds the power to dissolve things: time, distance, difference, injustice, alienation, despair.

I believe that all great art holds the power to mend things: join, comfort, inspire hope in fellowship, and reconcile us to ourselves.

Art is good for my soul precisely because it reminds me we HAVE souls in the first place. 

Let's put our reptilian third brain back to sleep and turn to the light and illumination of our creative beings. Let's think for ourselves. Let's think with our hearts.