"Eleanor" - mixed media on aquabord, 6" x 6"
Home again, home again after a whirlwind trip, gatherings of creative rebel doodlers and major mojo magic in Charlotte. There is nothing quite like the combined energy of artists gathered around a worktable...it is a special, sacred, joyful space where anything can happen. Even "fairy hogmothers" and forests of magical trees!
As I often do on these lengthy road trips, I listened to an audio book. This one, Quiet, is the latest book about introversion and how introverts relate to BIG OVERSTIMULATING WORLD OF NOISE, LIGHT AND PEOPLE! A lot of this book resonated with me. I was especially delighted by the chapter on the physical manifestations of introversion (extreme sensitivity and physical response to overstimulation) and on the examples of introverts throughout the book.
Eleanor Roosevelt was discussed in detail. It put her in a whole new light for me. I've never really put the words "Eleanor Roosevelt" and "introvert" in the same sentence, and the author really captured how introversion likely shaped Eleanor's careful, tenacious and serious approach to the things she felt passionate about. And also how effective it made her, despite her reluctance to be in the limelight or mingle with the power people in Washington. There is strength in quiet folk, it just isn't as obvious at first.
So when this little girl appeared from underneath my paintbrush, I knew right away she was an introvert. Quiet, a little mousy even, but with steely determination and strength. Doing her best girl power move. Eleanor.
"Conversation with Holy Sisters, Series of 6" - mixed media on yupo, each 6" x 6".
Yesterday was an abstract extravaganza! The day began with a two hour mini-workshop taught by south Florida artist Lois Perdue (check her out here). This was just enough to jump start my creative flow, and the remainder of the day was spent in my studio creating this series. I am obsessed! The number of layers in these pieces is daunting! But once in flow, it just happens organically. Truly mesmerizing.
The title of this series is inspired by a spirit card in a gorgeous deck I picked up several months ago. The card symbolizes the importance of kindred spirits, supportive tribes and new connections. Recently, I've had some incredibly inspiring and sweet-spirited people flow into my life, and the card made me teary with gratitude. With encouraging and supportive people around, there is no mountain that seems to high to conquer. There is strength in our connections.
This week I will head up to Charlotte for a couple of fun-filled workshops, and to reconnect with an art tribe of unparalleled caliber. Though I go to teach and take care of art business, I return from these trips inspired and re-invigorated by these wild creatives. The rewards of connection are boundless and continue long afterward. I am so grateful. :)
"Miranda on Monday" - watercolor crayon on paper, 9" x 12". Ready for framing.
This weekend I brought out my Caran d'Ache watercolor crayons. I picked these up some time ago, but they didn't click with me at first. So I decided to give them another try. And now they are speaking to me! It is pure magic when this happens.
It is the first day of summer, the summer solstice and a full moon. Seems to me this day should be filled with mystical occurrences, serendipity and synchronicity. In our house, the day began with a 4 a.m. alarm, waking early to take my ever-traveling boy to the airport to jet off on another (mini) adventure. Yawn. Four o'clock is too early for humans.
I remember when summer meant long, lazy days at the neighborhood pool. When a walk to the ice-cream parlor was the highlight of a day, and stacks and stacks of library books were borrowed, read and returned. Before color t.v., cable, microwaves, internet, video games and mobile phones. When boredom was inevitable, and always lead to something creative to alleviate it. Well, creative and sometimes mischievous, but that's another story. :)
Summers now seem as jam-packed and hectic as the rest of the year, with little time for day-dreaming, cloud-watching and endless stacks of books. But today is the first day of a new summer, and I am resolved to grab a little down-time and court boredom like it's the hottest new best-seller at the bookstore. That's right - I am chasing boredom.
Without boredom, the mind doesn't free itself from our to-do lists, calendars, commitments and concerns. Instead, it frets, plans, worries and multitasks. To be bored means I've done what needs to be done, left my calendar wide open and not committed to much of anything at all. Imagine! This sounds like heaven, right? To boredom! And all the creative inspiration that is sure to follow...
"Numinous Sunset" - mixed media on clayboard, 16" x 20". Ready for framing.
A dear friend recently posted a sunset photo which took my breath away. It was brilliant and dark, straight-angled and organic, perfectly balanced and yet off-kilter. It mesmerized me. The image was in my mind for days, and sent me into the studio to translate it into something abstract. It was the perfect opportunity to play with layers of blue in the background...every shade, many layers, deep and mysterious and dark. How I love blue! This is the first piece on clayboard, a support which I will use again because it allows some incredible texture.
There is a visual smorgasbord in the world all around me. Not just the beauty of south Florida sunsets, ocean, waterfowl and marine life. Even social media...photos, so gorgeous. Art posted by artists around the world which makes me yell with excitement - WHAT? NO WAY! INCREDIBLE! My son's new art creations which flow so easily - how does he DO that? Even words on a page, so beautiful I have to pause and appreciate them for a moment.
Which brings me to my dog. (What? You are wondering where this train is headed, right?) Our pooch is 16 years old, which makes him over 110 in people years. He is deaf, has heart failure, cancer in his leg and kidneys which have decided to quit. None of this has slowed him down or diminished his joy of life. But just this week, his vision started to go. He's been walking into porch screens, unable to locate the door. And for the first time, he seems bothered by the loss.
Perhaps I am projecting my own dismay onto this tenacious, scrappy dog. A loss of access to the visual eye-candy of life would send me reeling! He has made me feel very grateful for my own vision (such as it is, with coke-bottle lenses) and determined not to take it for granted. In the meantime, we will focus on his sense of smell and taste, and bring that smile back to his furry face. Oh, and maybe gently help him find the door.
"Scarlet Ibis" - watercolor on paper, 8" x 10"
"Scarlet Ibis 2" - watercolor on paper, 8" x 10"
"Poppy" - watercolor on paper, 11" x 14"
"Isolde and Carmine" - mixed media on crescent board, 15" x 20"
It was a busy week in the studio...inspired by the scarlet ibis. Which, in hindsight, is perhaps exactly the right symbol for the times.
I am not a journalist, social anthropologist, psychologist or detective. I am one tiny snippet of humanity with thoughts.
I think it is human nature to try to make sense of the senseless, to explain the unexplainable. To call it terrorism, homophobia or random gun violence. But the idea that we can neatly label and compartmentalize one act of violence over another is, I believe, an illusion. Because there is no separation between us - we are all interconnected. When one of us hurts, we all hurt.
In my family, we are black, white and Native American. We are Irish, African, Eastern European. We are gay, straight and bi-sexual. We are bi-polar, have attention deficits and depression. We are highly educated and uneducated. We are wealthy and poor. We are religious and atheist and agnostic. We are addicts and athletes. We are elderly and middle-aged and young. We are rape victims, the abused and the abusers. And this is just in our family.
If we could all wear our labels outwardly, like the scarlet ibis wears his brilliant feathers, would we see how similar we all are? Would we find commonality and connection instead of separation and fear? Could we hold each other, help and protect and cherish each other instead of gunning each other down?
Not one of us has the power to fix humanity. And yet I think we all have the power - collectively. For me, Orlando is a wake-up call to be more open and vulnerable, not less. To connect with others, strengthen the ties that bind us and tear down the walls between us. To wear our collective humanity in the open. And to hug more.
"Betty & Blue" - mixed media on yupo paper, 9" x 12". Ready for framing.
My love affair with yupo continues. Good gracious! The groovy textures and smeary wonderland paint creates on yupo makes me swoon. Within moments, paint layers become galaxies of starry night skies and cosmic mystery. The ability to easily scrape into the layers and leave markings makes it hard to stop...then dropping another color into those deep grooves and ahhhhh. Yupo = bliss.
When I work with my little girls, these primitive portraits and characters, it is part of a journey of "re-wilding". This word resonates with me deeply. So much of our human experience is civilized, technology-based and contained within artificial environments (and I love air conditioning as much as most Florida-based people!) that I think it is important to find ways to counter balance - things that make us feel a little more wild. A good hike will do that for me. An afternoon in a kayak. A walk in the rain. And painting these girls.
There is something about their roughness, their out-of-proportion heads and bodies, the uncontrollable process by which they emerge under my hands - it reconnects me with instinct. Feeling the paint, feeling the character, following the feeling and not thinking about it at all. Being fully present. In flow.
I have to chuckle at this. For the first half-century of my life, I was learning to become a civilized human in modern society. For the second half, I am in pursuit of becoming wild again.
To purchase this piece, click on the link to ArtFinder below:
"Cheetah Girls" - mixed media on canvas paper, 16" x 20". Ready for framing.
Today's piece was inspired by a conversation with an eight-year-old girl who has a 132 I.Q. This amazing youngster had already read 500 books, had memorized 30 different types of sharks and knew every possible fact about her favorite animal, the cheetah. At the time, I had no cheetah art in my portfolio, much to her disappointment. But I promised to let the cheetah inspire me to paint, and so he has.
When I was a young girl, the speed of the cheetah fascinated me. I wanted to be fast! And perhaps I am, just not when it comes to running. But most other things in my life, I can (and do) get done quickly. I read fast, I clean fast, I balance the checkbook fast. I decide quickly. I tackle projects quickly. And I often talk fast, too.
But now that I am an old girl, the cheetah has a different meaning. These big cats don't move quickly all the time. Just when they need to. And only after a lot of observing and resting. They choose when to use their speed, because they understand there isn't an infinite supply.
In the past few years, I've begun to embrace the measured speed philosophy of this exotic big cat. Meals are leisurely now. Afternoon pauses to just sit and think are part of the routine. A day a week to slow down to a crawl is embraced. Conversations are savored, not rushed. Don't get me wrong, I still do a lot of things fast. But this other side of cheetah spirit is delightfully blissful. Maybe you can teach an old cat new tricks?
Purchase this piece at Atfinder. Click the link below.
"Medicine Woman" - acrylic on canvas paper, 16" x 20". Ready for framing.
Back in the studio after a wild weekend art extravaganza at the Broward Convention Center. Exhausted, sleeping deeply, enjoying a little quiet time. Feeling the call of ancient spirits as they appear in my dreams, leaving me messages to contemplate and images to conjure forth on the canvas.
I've been working on some self-healing in recent months. It is different for each person, I believe. Ailments can be emotional wounds made physical; energy disturbances we ignore in a busy, modern world. But in taking the time to really listen to my body, my moods and my thoughts, I've been able to see some things that had been bothering me for awhile and address them in ways I hadn't tried before. It's all a little woo-woo, but I'll be darned if it doesn't work like, well, magic. And you, dear reader, know I am a big believer in magic. :)
So as I was tuning in to myself during this process, I began to notice music, words, colors and textures which called to me and ultimately resulted in this piece of art, which is a bit different for me but which I find incredibly powerful and somehow comforting and healing.
Below is one of the songs running through my head this week. Can you see how the universe is speaking to me? Magic is all around.
Jen Walls and her imaJENation