"The Full Moon is Calling" - mixed media on gallery wrap canvas, 18" x 24"
Day 20! The moon continues to inspire me, but this time in an abstract. Creating this piece was complete joy and grooviness! And it seemed only fitting to name it after an Eagles song this week. With the full moon this weekend, a wild week of windy weather and an obsession with lunar art, this tune was running through my head:
The full moon is calling
The fever is high
And the wicked wind whispers
I don't usually post tributes for celebrities when they pass, but the death of Glenn Frey this week made me a bit misty eyed and melancholy. The Eagles have been on my turntable, in my tape deck, in my CD player and on my iTunes playlist most of my life. It all started with the "Hotel California" record album when I was in high school.
So I never had this album at home as a teenager. Every July, (yes, I said JULY) my parents would take us to Florida (yes, FLORIDA IN JULY) on vacation. I've always wondered if it was a clever way to keep teen children out of trouble - take them somewhere excessively hot and humid where they won't feel like doing anything other than floating in a 97 degree swimming pool in a lethargic daze. Anyway, one of those infamous vacations my parents bought a condominium, which was fully furnished. It had a record console (one of those big, ornate cabinets) and one record album. Yep, "Hotel California." This was before iPods, tape players or anything portable other than a transistor radio. So my sister and I listened to that one album over and over and over again that summer and the next two. And so those songs became so ingrained in my head that I remember all the lyrics to this day.
It has been decades since I listened to an entire album by any artist, as we now pick and choose individual songs, shuffle hundreds in a playlist or stream Pandora to give us a certain vibe. And it makes me wonder - am I now missing the opportunity to memorize the rock ballad of my 50's by not being stuck with one album for days on end? What unique songs am I missing by not being forced to listen to every song on an album? Hmmmm.
This abstract is my tiny tribute to a guy who was part of a band who played the music which became the soundtrack of my summers. Rock on, Glenn Frey.
Today's Adoption Event:
A two for one! These pieces are mixed media on cradled board, ready for hanging (or stacking on a bookshelf). 6 x 6 x 2. Caulk transfer, paint and ephemera. Part of a series featuring ancient symbols and personal markings.
Although they are not leash-trained and do not know any of the usual tricks, they are groovy in a way only the cool cats know. And they bring good mojo with them (which might be just as good as the ability to fetch your slippers!)
Adoption fee $25 (shipping included). Contact Jen at mailto:email@example.com to make adoption arrangements.
"The Huntress, Revisited" - mixed media on gallery-wrapped canvas, 18" x 24"
Day 19! More lunar inspiration. This piece was created using blue paint tape to create the trees, a technique I teach which never fails to delight. The surprise at the end when the tape is removed is worth the wait every time! This piece also met my goal of 90% without paint brushes.
I spent a little time this morning researching what the heck is going on in the galaxy which is causing my need to paint moonlit scenes. To my delight, there are a couple of very cool things happening this month.
Beginning tomorrow just before sunrise, five planets will be in alignment in the morning sky, visible to the naked eye. This happens about once a decade, and is considered an event not to be missed by skywatchers around the world. I like the idea of things lining up above us, like it is a sign of things to come, everything lining up in life.
Then, starting Saturday, a full moon in Leo! Now why is this important to me? Well, firstly, I am a Leo (go big cats!) Secondly, Leo is a fire sign, full of love and creativity. This full moon is calling us to PLAY! To bring out our inner child and create, create, create! How perfect is that? The Leo full moon is telling us to live in a celebratory way, as if we already have everything we could ever dream of.
This moon is so positive, so full of creative energy and pure play, and it is coming during this 30 day challenge. It appears I've been channeling this moon for the last week, so it feels like my own personal full moon! You may find me in the moonlit yard this weekend, contemplating the universe and soaking up some lunar rays.
I wonder if you can get a moon burn?
Today's Adoption Event:
"Bear, On the Moon" - mixed media on canvas paper, 16" x 20".
Day 18! Today's piece was inspired by the forlorn teddy bear hanging from the hand of yesterday's red-haired night walker. My youngest daughter always thought stuffed animals were real inside, and this little teddy needed a moment of his own. It more than met my goal of 90% without a paintbrush. Hooray!
In a prior post, I mentioned the number nine signifies the closing of a cycle before a new one begins. The year 2016 is a nine year, and will bring closure to many situations and allow us to move forward into something expansive and new in 2017. So this piece is part of the process of closure and healing for me.
A couple of years ago, my mom was experiencing dementia-like symptoms (hallucinations, night wandering, personality changes, memory problems). At that time, though she seemed perfectly content in her situation (and, in some cases, much happier than she had been before the symptoms commenced!), she seemed far away from me. That experience was the inspiration for a piece of art, "Mom, On the Moon."
Today, nine months after my mom's passing, I feel these experiences softening...the confusion and angst settling, passing, becoming something I can touch with my mind without hurting in my heart.
In "Mom, On the Moon", her gaze is far away, distant, unreachable. But as time passes, she seems closer, somehow. More like herself, more accessible. During one of her last hospital stays, my mom (in her altered personality) became super attached to a stuffed animal my sister brought her. It was completely adorable to see her snuggle it and talk to it like a dear love.
In "Bear, On the Moon", this soft, cuddly buddy is gazing right at us, letting us know everything, in time, will be alright.
Today's Adoption Event:
"The Gardener" - mixed media on cradled board, 12" x 12", ready for hanging.
A sweetie for you! Someone to bring you a flower every day, fill your space with sunshine and love. This little girl does not eat much, and promises not to color on the walls or get into your lipstick. She will remind you that springtime is in your heart even if it's cold outside.
Adoption fee $25 (shipping included). Contact Jen at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org to make adoption arrangements.
"Walking After Midnight" - mixed media on canvas paper, 16" x 20"
Day 17! More malarkey in the moonlight. This red-headed, stilt-legged cutie on a moonlit walk makes me want to sneak out for late night adventure in my pajamas. Once again, I met my goal of 90% without a paintbrush. This is the first time I sponge-painted hair on one of my girls, and I was delighted the way her puffy tresses came out!
This week I am reading Spark Joy, the sequel to The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The more I practice this philosophy (surrounding yourself only with items that spark joy in you), the more I am enjoying my surroundings. But this also means the less I am willing to tolerate anything in the house which doesn't thrill me (including my dog, who is no kidding the most terrible dog on earth - but he will get a free pass just because he's old and grumpy). So one by one, things leave our home with a ceremonial "Thank You" and good wishes for journeys to the great beyond, be it Goodwill, recycling, the neighbor's house or trash. Sometimes, something wonderful comes along to replace it. For example, our silverware drawer has been a hodgepodge of bits and pieces for the last two decades. Enough already! I replaced them with a streamlined, uber modern matching set. Other times, the space previously occupied by something not joy-filled stays empty, like a placeholder for future bliss. And the empty space itself I find soothing and peaceful, unlike whatever was there before, which likely annoyed me in some way.
Just a few days ago, however, I came face-to-face with a huge elephant in the room (well, several rooms): ART. I am a prolific artist, creating something new every day for two months of the year, and a piece every other or every third day the rest of the year. My passion is truly sitting under a double rainbow, because many of these piece sell (HOORAY!), but there are inevitably those that do not. Like the island of misfit toys, these pieces are languishing without someone to love them. And they are taking up spaces reserved for what is percolating in my imagination.
So I am setting up an adoption event for some homeless art which needs love and adoration. At the end of each day's blog post, I will feature one piece. For a small adoption fee (which includes shipping), they will fly to their forever home! And the empty spaces they leave behind will become fodder for a new series of paintings.
Today's Adoption Event:
"Marvelous Night for a Moondance" - mixed media on canvas paper, 16" x 20"
Day 16! We are halfway through the 30 in 30 challenge already. Can you believe it? Today I continue with the night time theme. A couple of lovelies, marked in ancient symbols, basking in the moonlight, feeling its magical pull and healing power. Ahhhhhh.
So January has hit us with mercury retrograde, strange weather patterns and stock market roller-coasters. Is your life feeling topsy-turvy like mine? Our house has recently been hit with some sort of insomnia craziness (except for my husband, who was given the golden gift of sleep no matter what), a couple of bouts of credit card and identity theft and various plumbing, computer and mechanical mischief. We are daily firefighters, putting out one little annoying fire at a time. I am getting used to carrying this big hose around.
In the midst of all this weirdness, there is often a little oasis of joy. A couple of incredibly gorgeous days, some major health improvement trends for my dad, and my landscaper showing up with a truck full of verdant vegetation to transform our front yard into a true oasis. Bliss! I will park my mind in the joy of these lovely moments, and will soon park my body in our zen yard whenever calamity strikes.
As this month progresses, I am becoming surrounded in my studio by these night time characters in their moonlit moments. And it is truly marvelous! Even as our yard is being transformed into something lovely, the walls of my studio are becoming a landscape of moonlight art. Inside and outside, pushing back against the daily fires, creating a place to breathe and smile.
"Wordy Birds" - mixed media on canvas paper, 16" x 20"
Day 15! Today I created a piece around the minions in one of my earlier paintings. Full credit for the title to poet Mary Cox, who has a way with words like nobody else I know! This piece met my goal of 90% painted without brushes. Hooray! Scrapers, sponges, paper towels and the occasional finger are all you need.
There appears to be a nighttime theme going on in my work this week, as I am completely fascinated with night skies and dark backgrounds. There was an eerie, misty moon peeking through the cloud cover two nights ago on our evening walk, and I was dazzled by it. What is it about the dark of night which brings out imaginings, mystery and a bit of fear even? Instinctive caution and wariness, I suppose? We humans didn't always live in an illuminated world at night. Everything beyond the campfire had the potential for harm.
We finally saw "The Revenant" yesterday afternoon. Beautiful, brutal and haunting. By the end of the movie, I was feeling rather in survival mode mentally (even from my comfy reclining chair in the posh theater) and a bit on edge, even. Grateful that I never had to crawl inside an animal corpse to keep warm during a harsh winter night, I came straight home and started painting these whimsical birds to sooth my own sensitive psyche. And it worked.
Whimsical art: the cure for anxiety? The next movie we see will have to be animated, I think!
"Red" - mixed media on canvas paper, 16" x 20"
Day 14! More whimsy from the studio. This piece met my goal of 90% without a paintbrush - hooray! Today I was inspired by a fairy tale.
Now fairy tales are truly macabre, when you look into their origins and some of the first versions of the stories we know and love (and Disney-fy) today. Little Red Riding Hood was first published in the 17th century by Charles Perrault, though there are versions of the story dating much further back (10th and 14th centuries) in France and in Italy. Perrault's version did not have a happy ending. Red was eaten by the wolf, and no one rescued her or her grandmother. Perrault kindly revealed the moral of the story, which was basically don't talk to strangers, even wolves who seem civil and gentle.
If you look up deconstruction of this particular fairy tale, the majority of the story is somehow related to sex - no, really! The Disney versions have come a long, long way from that. But even the hooded girl in "Into The woods" was both "excited, well excited and scared" by the wolf, and implies perhaps a little grown-up theme simmering underneath.
I've always loved fairy tales. Maybe because they are truly frightening, and maybe because the modern versions have happy endings to otherwise gloomy scenarios. But so many of them seem to be a coming of age story, where a young person experiences the world, learns some hard lessons and comes through just a bit wiser and more grown-up.
I decided to paint "Red" in the light streaming from the open door, on the precipice of growing up. The moment just before everything changes forever. There was just such a moment in my own life which marks clearly when grown-ups became people with flaws and foibles, the world became a bit scarier and more complicated and childhood seemed to fall away behind me. Lucky for me, the modern version of my own fairy tale life is liberally infused with happy endings.
"Moon Rabbits" - mixed media on gallery wrapped canvas, 20" x 20"
Day 13! More rabbit mischief! This piece makes me incredibly happy...the colors, the whimsy, the imajenation all make me smile. This also met my challenge goal of 90% without a paintbrush. Hooray! Although I took a hint from the amazing artist Patricia Steele Raible (check out her incredible work at https://patriciar2013.wordpress.com ) and went back to using a credit card as a scraper instead of a palette knife. Sometimes the simplest things work best.
What a difference a day makes. I started this piece yesterday afternoon, and today I was so excited that I leapt out of bed to get to the studio early this morning and be reunited with my rabbits. Joy! And once they were finished, I already had inspiration for the next piece. So this is how the elusive muse works with me. I will work everyday - show up, put in the time, paint and paint and paint. But the joy isn't always this effervescent. When it is, though, wow. Life feels magical all the way around.
Based on a recommendation from another artist (thanks, Dana!) I am reading The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield. It is largely about battling resistance and forging ahead regardless of your motivation. Show up every day, show up no matter what, stay on the job all day. This is what we do as artists. And the reward comes when the muse appears in all her shiny glory. What we know is this: if you show up, she will come. But you have to show up.
So whatever your creative calling, keep at it. And when the muse appears, make sure to video your happy dance. :)
"Three Little Birds" - acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas, 6" x 6"
Day 12! I had to return to my brushes...just for a day. Three little sweetlings to perk up a cool, dreary day in south Florida.
I continue to research the benefits of optimism (which are infinite!) and to move my brain more toward instinctive optimism, which is likely completely counter to my genetic makeup. But it is working, one thought at a time. Recently, I read an article describing the characteristics of optimists, and one thing stood out particularly. It seems that optimists, when faced with something they do not do well, or perhaps even fail at doing, immediately think of all the things they are good at, instead of being focused on what they can't do. Pretty cool, right?
So after yesterday's painting went in the trash, I decided to pick up a paint brush, play with a little something I am better at and remind myself of my own skills. If you're like me at all, when something you try does not go well, you forget you were ever good at anything! Taking a cue from optimists everywhere, I focused on my skills instead.
Now this little painting is cute, but no masterpiece. But what happened AFTER I painted this is amazing! My confidence returned, I grabbed a big canvas, and immediately had an idea for something I felt total joy about painting! This little piece was the catalyst for a return to creative joy. Just like that, the positivity train rolled in to the station. Hooray!
The title of this piece is a little nod to Bob Marley, the eternal optimist:
Rise up this mornin',
Smile with the risin' sun,
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin' sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true,
Sayin', ("This is my message to you-ou-ou: ")
Singin': "Don't worry 'bout a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right."
Singin': "Don't worry (don't worry) 'bout a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right
There is nothing quite like a little reggae to bring out the optimist in anyone.
"Aerial Landscape II: (A Study) - acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas, 6" x 6"
Day eleven! Back to the palette knife and landscape studies based on aerial photographs. This one inspired by photos of an atoll. This piece was painted, scraped, painted and scraped again, and still I am going to chuck this one in the reject bin. But it is an important part of this 30 day challenge to show the pieces that don't work as well as the ones that do.
So I found myself asking, why didn't this one work?
For me, painting well has a lot to do with state of mind. And today began with more mercury retrograde mischief (in the form of my misbehaving dogs, wild drivers everywhere, doctors running hours late - you get the gist?) and thus my state of mind was a bit agitated and frustrated. The bliss and play aren't here if I haven't taken time to center myself before entering the studio. And today I dragged in the irritation of the day, which ended up running amok in my mind and causing havoc on the canvas. My thoughts were elsewhere while I painted, which isn't in the flow, isn't in the present moment and is a recipe for a poor result.
The good news is this: after finishing this piece (or calling it quits on this one, whichever view you take!) I was determined to reclaim my state of mind and studio space. A few deep breaths, a cup of tea, a fresh canvas, a new inspiration and I began another piece, which even in its very beginning stages is already worlds better. Ending my studio time on a positive note is important - it sets the tone for tomorrow and brings the day back into balance. Now I am off to take myself for a walk. If the dogs have taken time to center themselves this afternoon, they just might get to join me.
Jen Walls and her imaJENation