Two Sides of the Same Coin" - mixed media on double-sided wood, 18" x 7". To be leaned upon a shelf and rotated to suit the day. Inquiries: email@example.com
In just two days, a gaggle of queens will emerge from the Jim Ward Center in Plantation. Bossy queens, benevolent queens, crabby queens and encouraging queens - they will rule the classroom and dominate the rest of us as only queens can do. I am completely delighted to host this sold-out workshop for the Plantation Art Guild. But, as always, I am truly at the mercy of these regal rumpus-makers, who never fail to surprise me with their antics.
I didn't consciously decide to become an intuitive painter. It's one of those things that just kind of happened along the way. It isn't for lack of trying to be otherwise. Too many failed attempts at planned painting - it robs me of something I deeply require to paint well - surrender. Surrender and a path where I cannot see around the bend. A mystery. A story unfolding where I don't know the ending until it is right there. And then I gasp a little, open my eyes wide and then smile.
If you know me, then you've seen my lists, calendars, schedules...you know I am disciplined and inflexible and demanding and driven in most of what I do. Even my ex-husband once told me he would hire me for a job before anyone else in the world because I get things done. I plan an outcome and plan the steps to get there and then I march along that path with steely determination.
But painting! It is the yin to my yang. It gives me balance. It lets me meander, dawdle, follow tangents, lose my train of thought and let go of any illusion of control. I delight in its surprises and unpredictability; I wait with anticipation for it to jump out and startle me yet again. Painting is the beating heart in my own tin man. It softens me.
There will be queens this Friday. Many of them. Each with a story and a surprise in store for her painter. And I am so excited to meet them.
Fish, Fish! She Got Her Wish" - mixed media on reclaimed wood, 34" x 20". Ready to hang. Available at Ciel Gallery in June during the "Wisdom of Wild Things" show. Inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
On Friday, I had the most magnificent artist date. A spontaneous decision to take a "dream catcher" class at World & Eye with Rick McBride, a mixed blood Tsalagi (Cherokee) teacher, became a magical afternoon.
We learned weaving with sinew, paying attention to the messages of the spider and spider medicine. Beginning with metal hoops and moving up to natural wood and vine, our fingers cramping with holding the tension and simultaneously contemplating spacing and placement and pattern, we wove our pasts into wisdom for the future. Our teacher was patient, encouraging and calm, quietly sharing stories of dream catchers, drums, beads, feathers and bone.
The Scrumptiousness of Solitude", mixed media on watercolor paper, 11" x 15". Available on Artfinder.
This. This made me weep yesterday. From Clear Seeing Place by Brian Rutenberg:
"Some of my brushes are thirty-five years old; however, when I buy a new one, I immediately snap it in half...A precious tool makes precious marks. A broken brush is no longer a magic wand or a conductor's baton but a blunt, compact stub that puts my gigantic hand close to the battlefield. Painting is messy. My tools are clumsy. I disrespect my materials out of respect for my viewer."
And then there is a photo of broken brushes.
Why did this make my cry? Something about the visual. Intentionally breaking something to make it less precious, more blunt. Argh. I love this. And yet I fear it. Because this is what life does to us as humans - breaks us and puts us closer to the battlefield. And when it first happens, it is so hard. And then, after we are no longer precious, we are somehow more beautiful, more vibrant, more gritty and more real.
My sister told me long ago - "Life is Messy." I've wrestled with the thought, sometimes embracing it, other times trying to tidy the world around me and all the people in it. But during the moment I read the passage from Rutenberg's book, I really, really got it.
I recently bought some used paintbrushes at an art flea market. And, with the exception of intact handles, they are as Rutenberg described - blunt stubs. My hand grabs them each day in the studio, preferring their rough and unpredictable textures to the smooth evenness of new brushes. I prefer a messy battlefield on the canvas. I don't yet prefer this in my daily life, but thanks to this exquisite bit of prose, I see a metaphor for finding the beauty in the mess and in the purifying fire of the process.
Maybe, just maybe, I will break something on purpose today.
The grown folks here at my house went out for dinner at a local spot. Ocean breezes, aided by fans with misters, kept the outdoor seating comfortable as a local musician sang, played harmonica and guitar and took us for a trip down musical memory lane. Hubby and I compared lists of what bands and musicians we had seen live over our lifetimes. His list was worlds different than mine - suburban white girl music vs urban black kid decades ago. Yet as we mentally flipped through the collection of record albums (yep, old school vinyl), there were a few duplicates. Bob Scaggs for one. I saw him in high school at Blossom Music Center in Cleveland. And guess what? He is still touring. Check out his website here.
So let's start your week with a little groove music - how about some Lowdown?
You ain't got to be so bad, got to be so cold
This dog eat dog existence sure is getting old
Got to have a Jones for this
Jones for that
This runnin' with the Joneses, boy, just ain't where it's at, no, no
And now, back to your regularly scheduled programming. :)
"Nude on Blue Ground, With Hounds" - acrylic on canvas, 24" x 18". Inquiries: email@example.com
The second of two pieces skewing the masters - this one, a Diebenkorn. This challenge is so much fun....I wonder if it could be a 30 in 30 prompt? Hmmmmmm.
A breezy, coolish day (80 degrees). Perfect weather to sit on the back porch, read Clear Seeing Place and watch the wildlife. A couple of months ago we watched a dreaded snapping turtle lay eggs on the sandy bank of the lake across the water from us. Today a pair of smart crows discovered the nest and made off with the eggs one by one. I know two birds with full bellies who will sleep well tonight! And a whole host of lake wildlife made safer without the future snappers. Circle of life.
Back to the book, where I am finally into the meaty chapters, which include Rutenberg's painting methods. I am intrigued by his ritualistic beginning to each piece: circles of paint made with hands on canvas, "skin on skin" as he calls it. He works outward from the center, exploring every inch of the canvas with his hands. Recently, I've begun painting more with my hands than with brushes. I stop thinking about what I'm doing when the tool is my hand, It feels more like working in the garden - connected, present. Rutenberg says "self-awareness is the enemy", and then he presses this further with a quote from my favorite author, Ray Bradbury: "Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't try to do things. You simply must do things."
Today in the studio, I vow to just do things.
"Seated Pink Nude, Tattooed" - acrylic and ink on canvas, 24" x 18". Inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
It's COMING! Next month at Ciel Gallery in Charlotte...SKEW THE MASTERS! My favorite show of all time, where artists "skew" their favorite masterpieces in the most amusing ways. Two years ago, I skewed Rothko on three different pieces, now all in the hands of private collectors:
This year, after acquiring a book on Matisse and Diebenkorn recommended by Stan Kurth, the choice was obvious. One Matisse (above, top) and one Diebenkorn (to be revealed), both skewed nudes. There is something about this challenge that launches me out of my comfort zone and into a big stretch - which I really like. Plus, there is something delightfully wicked about making fun of the masters. :)
It was a weekend of treasure hunting as hubby and I climbed around dumpsters at local construction sites and scavenged the scrap bins at hardware stores. The smell of freshly cut wood fills my studio now, with enough pieces reclaimed to supply my substrate needs for the next month. Success!
Thanks to Julia Cameron and The Artist's Way, I try to build in an "Artist's Date" (something fun, frivolous and adventurous) into each week. Recently, I took a field trip with a friend to my favorite local shop, Buddha Happy . There, the owner and sweet spirit, Pim, taught us all about smudging with different woods, how to use exotic stones (like peacock crystal! Who knew?) and how singing bowls are used to activate energy in objects. Julia Cameron knows best! I was refreshed and re-inspired after our field trip, and I have an arm full of groovy new bracelets as well.
And now for your Monday delight, a little stroll down memory lane from the Museum of Endangered Sounds.
"Moriko" - mixed media on cradled hardboard, 12" x 12". Ready to hang. Available on Artfinder.
Is it Thursday already? I seem to be in a swirling vortex of time on hyper-drive - the minutes and hours and days running past so quickly. Does it feel that way to you? I am determined to focus on right now despite this sense of frantic pace. In the studio, time stands still. The moment I leave its hallowed space, the rush is on. This little piece is from last week, a sweet girl whose name is Japanese and means "forest child". She reminds me to stop, head outside and get some nature time, because surely it will leave me with a smile and sense of peace.
I wish I had wisdom to share here today. It is a bit unnerving to sit down to write and realize my brain is mush. But just like days in the studio without inspiration, there are writing days which are drab and dull. WAIT JUST A GOSH-DARNED MINUTE! I am not going to give you drab and dull!
How about a little inspiration for your next hair style? Check out these portraits of Tokyo's Roller-Zoku gangs.
Or perhaps some Steampunk sculptural flying machines?
And finally, a little peek at my new site on Fine Art America, where you can grab prints of my art (including some large, fabulous acrylics and prints on wood) and even a tote bag or mug. Aha! Now you know why my brain is mush. All that site building is hard work.
Now where is my hair sculpting paste? I've got my eye on a roller-zoku gang updo.
"Evolving Transfiguration" - mixed media on paper, 30" x 22". Inquiries: email@example.com
A return to abstraction this week, with another full sheet of intuitive painting and a new figure emerging. This one took about a month of painting, walking away, painting some more, mulling and contemplating, painting again. I feel strength, hope and forward movement in this one. A mighty giant emerging from the mist.
So this past weekend was my first ever full set-up and tear-down festival, a trial run for a gypsy festival lifestyle and a chance to sort out all the little nuances. It went extremely well, right down to getting absolutely everything into my Prius! There is something magical about watching a city of tents go up in the early morning before the sun rises...quiet groups of sleepy artists creating something in a collaborative effort - a temporary town, a tiny community. As the day progresses, connections are formed, friendships made, stories swapped and advice shared. For two days, it is the entire world. And then, just as magically, the hamlet of huts is taken down, stored away, and a green space is once again just a park, quiet and empty. Like Burning Man, only very tame and with people fully clothed. :)
There was an auspicious sign mid way through the last day - a circular rainbow halo around the sun.
They will come together in love, joining hands in unification, to heal the Earth and all Her children. They will move over the Earth like a great Whirling Rainbow, bringing peace, understanding and healing everywhere they go. Many creatures thought to be extinct or mythical will resurface at this time; the great trees that perished will return almost overnight. All living things will flourish, drawing sustenance from the breast of our Mother, the Earth."
In these times of division and unrest, I find these thoughts comforting.
Jen Walls and her imaJENation