Thursday, December 27, 2012

Winter Solstice

For several days there was a very large fly in our house, and it was always buzzing strongly, whizzing by me day after day, in every room that I was in.  I got out the fly swatter and wanted to smash it, it was so annoying, but it always eluded my crazed swing.  On the morning of Winter Solstice, the light was just breaking the horizon when I got out of bed and rather than turning on lights in my kitchen I went to the window to see if Venus was visible.  This is one of my morning gifts to myself, looking at the sky through my kitchen window.  Venus was indeed twinkling at me but that big fly was a silhouette as well... Ah!  An opportunity!  But instead of the swatter, I chose my little bug catcher and was able to box him up and release him into the cold morning.  What a good feeling that was.

I'm now seeing that fly as a missionary.  It gave me the opportunity to pay attention to my rising anger, but it also gave me the opportunity to be aware of how a small "thing" can bring a message.  That fly made me happy because I could let it go instead of smashing it.  Maybe the "ills" that we have, the ones that bug us and bother us beyond what one would expect are the very ones we need to pay attention to and then "release."  Now when something begins to irritate me I can't help asking myself, "another fly?"

The Winter Solstice is said to be a time for regeneration and renewal.  I am renewing my determination to be aware, to be kind and to be grateful.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

earth energy

Groggy with remembered dreams I opened my front door this morning and let the silvery trill of a mockingbird invite me into my mossy yard under the old oak tree.  This behemoth shelters uncountable squirrels, blue jays and numerous unidentified visitors, so I've been learning to stand under its protective arms and just "be" in my little corner of the world.

Bird songs smoothed my bed rumpled mind as the earth filled me with patient stillness.  All the creatures accepted my presence without quibbling.  Even mama cat, the feral I've tried to woo with friendship to no avail, didn't budge from her comfortable resting position near the ivied fence.

I returned inside feeling nurtured by nature and sat down to read a daily dose of words that awaken my desire to make the most of each day.  I've carved out a little space in my studio where I've collected objects that carry a sense of my history inside them.  There are stones from Italy and other places I've visited that affected me deeply.  I've included totemic objects from my daughters' childhoods, little gifts from old friends and family, and inspirational quotes.  On the periphery of this shelf are small books I love, colorful ribbons I've earned at art shows, and the solid metal disks retrieved at the conclusion of my radiation treatments, all reminding me of who I've been and how I've become the me I am today.

And what is today for me?  What will I save?  A concrete "thing?"  Or will it be a word or two, written with morning hopefulness?  Perhaps it will be the result I see when I move the paint on a work in progress.  It might tell me "I am enough, just the way I am.  Keep me."

I do know that what I wish for most today is that I remember to breathe.  To breathe in my gratitude and the earth energy that rose like sap through my cells as I stood still in my mossy place, drinking in squirrel chatter and bird music washed by moist morning air.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

leaving home

You leave home in your car on a ten minute drive to the supermarket and you arrive at your destination despite having no conscious memory of the drive.  Between home and market your mind has taken off on a circuitous journey all its own, brought on by a simple trigger.  Maybe it was the flash of cardinal red across the evergreens or a memory of last night's conversation, but you have departed the here and now and somehow managed to impel a two ton piece of machinery from point A to point B without seeing the road.

In my studio I begin a new painting by laying color onto paper, board or canvas.  This is my point A.  Point B is when I'm standing back and thinking "YES!" with a deep sense of satisfaction radiating through my whole being.  But the days, weeks or sometimes even months in between those two moments are almost impossible to explain.  My paintings are built from that same kind of car story that occurs when reverie replaces reality.  One thought leads to another and I am caught up in my own narrative.  But just as a writer has to pay attention to details and edit for meaning and flow, I spend a lot of time revising.  I read my painting to see what color needs to be emphasized.  I edit out marks tht distract.  I unearth my personal vocabulary of lines and forms that evoke metaphorical color.  I search for authentic gestures that activate the surface and bring the composition together.  I spend at least as much time reflecting on my work in progress as I do painting it.

A friend recently asked me in an email to tell her about my latest painting.  Her question made me wonder, does my work contain meaning?  What I see in it may not be what another person experiences, which is what I find compelling about creating abstract art.  All I can really explain is that I set out from home and after the long and winding road of the unknown, I arrive.

"Alchemy"   30" x 40"   oil and mixed media on cradled board

Saturday, February 18, 2012


One recent morning I couldn't sleep and arose a little after 4:00.  I was startled to observe the moon from my kitchen window.  It was a waning crescent, hovering over the horizon.  As the morning awoke, the moon appeared to rise in the sky and I couldn't help checking on it every few minutes.  A strange thing, though... I noticed a tiny replication of that bright arc reflected in my window.

It's a mystery to me how this could occur because I think of a window as conveying a clear view.  "Reality," in other words.  Yet I'm also conscious of standing in front of a shop window and seeing reflections of myself or what is behind me.  On my December visit to Florence, Italy I was captivated by the artistic Christmas decorations in La Rinascente Department Store windows.  However, when I looked with eyes less focused on the art, I realized I could also see the buildings on the street at my back.  This awareness made the whole experience more memorable.

I often go through each day without truly seeing the whole picture.  I get caught up in tasks that obscure what is going on around me.  It can be a revelation to pause from time to time and actually observe my surroundings more keenly.  Ironically, it is also possible to "see the bigger picture" when I concentrate less on the details.  There can be something to learn from each viewpoint.

I can observe reflections, like the moon in front of me and the Florence street scene behind me, but I can also "reflect on" what I experience.  Then my day, my life, is richer by far.