And this is exactly where the pause becomes important (in life and in art). Once I added the additional layer of watercolor glazing, I stepped away from this for a day. By pausing for 24 hours, I was able to see (with help from the Grand Master himself) this piece was done - even though there were more steps in the process. If I had continued to paint and fiddle and try to clarify the piece, it would have become less ambiguous, less impactful and probably a chicken - can you see the chicken next to the keyboard in the first steps photo?
Despite the intensity of this piece, it is only watercolor over the random marks (oil pastel, charcoal, colored pencil, regular pencil). Not a drop of acrylic or gesso, which would have been next in the process. Yet it packs a wallop, and has a lot to say without saying exactly anything at all. Which is perhaps the point of abstraction.
In life, a pause before speaking, acting or reacting allows the brain and heart to have a little meeting and maybe sort out what matters most. As I contemplate the variety of tattoos available in the world, I wonder if perhaps a pause button would be an effective symbol to get inked onto some very visible part of my body (like maybe my forehead?) so I won't forget how important it is to WAIT JUST A GOSH DARN MINUTE before slapping on more paint or speaking my thoughts out loud? Let's stop a moment and think about that.
You'd think a girl would need a long rest after workshop week, but Kurth's sketchbooks prompted me to begin a daily sketch practice - small studies in squares to locate shapes, color combinations and compositions which become muscle memory in the brain. I'm beginning with a study of Rufino Tamayo's works. First the characters and shapes, then the colors.
Kurth reminded us of how important it is to constantly, consistently study the works of other artists. My inner nerd would be in school forever if she could, so this gives me a reason to pull out the art books and create my own study program. I hope I am a nice teacher. Maybe I should bring myself an apple?
In its inviolable wholeness, life lives us, it composes us. This is something far different than the old cliche "Turn your life into a work of art"; we are works of art --but we are not the artist. - Lou Andreas-Salome
Nepo expands on this quote: What feels unbearable is how life carves us into a work of art that is never finished. When in difficult experiences, we fear they will never end. When in wonderful experiences, we fear they will end. But there is no arrival, only inhabiting the journey,..
If this moment were a science fiction multiverse time-bending movie, the camera would pull away to reveal the artist painting the painting while life carves the artist. Now maybe that's a lot to contemplate on a Tuesday, but I think that just means more coffee is required
And following the breadcrumb trail that leads to art, there is also a stunning character named Elektra in the FX series Pose, which is depicts the underground ball culture of New York in the 1980's, and has the largest cast of transgender actors ever. There is something powerful and mesmerizing about those actors, those characters, those scenes...somehow they manage to portray the fiercely feminine in a way that leaves my inner queen weeping with "aha"moments. They are also shining and incandescent.
Cracks seem to attract every little thing. Water, for sure, but weeds, tree roots, litter, rubble. A stroll through our urban neighborhood, steeped with deeply fissured sidewalks and rumbled asphalt, reveals little microcosms of vegetation and whatnots building tiny towns within every nook.
Mark Nepo has an entire chapter, called "Reading the Cracks", nestled in The One Life We're Given. Instead of reading tea leaves or fractured sidewalks, he writes about reading the cracks that life opens. I'm guessing you have a few cracks opened in your life, being human and all. Whether it's a tiny fracture or an earthquake, you might have noticed how those cracks (which we might, at times, call a cruel avalanche of unfairness - Nepo) are the very place where the light gets in. And being curious creatures, we try to read the cracks and make sense of what comes through.
If you're like me, you might have been working hard all of your life to mortar those cracks, harden your shell and keep things out. But humans aren't sidewalks or roads. It's hard to see truth or beauty without letting the light in. Nepo challenges us with this: As you walk down [the] street, look for the cracks in your walls that will let your Spirit out. This may appear as a moment when your guard is down and you feel vulnerable. Or when a moment of nature slips through a crack in your worry. Notice how you feel in the moment of being cracked open.
Now this is not the same as being cracked up, a crack-pot, or full of craic (you Irish readers). And most definitely not the same as being a crack-head! Perhaps it is ok, and maybe even good, to be cracked open. I will ponder this with a bowl of pistachios, and call it "cracking meditation." :)
As I stand in front of my mirror this morning, make-up in hand, you know I am tempted to recreate this look on my actual face, right?
"Loft " (Lungta or Wind-horses)- mixed media on repurposed wood. 16# x 5.5" x .75". Ready to hang. Available here and at Artfinder.
I wonder if our prayers, intentions, wishes and dreams are more potent and powerful if lofted high, far past the outfield and high into the sunlight where our eyes lose the ability to follow the ball...
There is something magical about being high up on a mountain, wind whipping your face and grabbing at your clothes. I can think of a handful of times I've held that view (and held my breath - I have a little thing with heights). In North Carolina, a climb to the top of Crowder's Mountain was rewarded with raptors soaring below. In Ireland, every mountain has a breathtaking view - sometimes fields and tiny towns, other times the wild Atlantic and rugged cliffs and seabirds. And in Oregon, there are mountains everywhere for scaling - far more challenging than anything I've scrambled up before.
I haven't seen the mountainous views of Tibet in person, but am drawn again and again to the photos of tattered prayer flags hung in thick layers across mountain passes - evidence of man's quest to feel the breath of gods and to let gods better hear his prayers. There are prayer flags outside my own house, slowly aging, fading and fraying. A reminder of surrender and acceptance and ever-present change.
As I converse with my neighborhood crow friend each morning, I wonder if I could ask him to carry a prayer flag (lungta or wind-horse) or two as he rises up over treetops and buildings. Perhaps if I smear them with jelly or something tasty? In the meantime, this piece of art, a trio of birds carrying prayer flags, is a symbol of lofted prayers and soaring dreams. Namaste.
Now this is surely an ironic quote to connect with, given this girl has the spine of a dried flower in a stampede of wildebeest.
And yet - I am not broken Not broken by the milk or the surgery or the loss. Ok, deflated, agonized, irritated, depressed, angry, upset and crabby - but not broken.
Jen Walls and her imaJENation