"Summer Storm" - water-based ink on aquabord, 6" x 6". Ready to frame. Available on Artfinder.
I fell off the earth for two weeks. Tumbling and falling, feet seeking ground. With all that acceleration and gravity, I anticipated a hard impact - my support structure all busted and fractured. Instead, there was a soft thud, a couple of stumble steps and a sigh.
I've been "living at the edge of my eyeballs" (a phrase spoken by one of my wise sisters). Completely present, thoughts left in a silent place, experiencing every moment without distraction. Conversations sans electronics, schedules changing day to day, collaborating on the largest project I've ever been part of - the disassembling of parental lives and assets. After two weeks of task lists, learning curves, triumphs and tears, this collaborative team is seasoned. We are glued together in ways that make us each individually stronger. We have become formidable.
The soft landing at the end of my free falling is an unanticipated benefit of our collaboration. Instead of feeling like the rug was pulled out from under me, I feel firmly planted and supported. Sisters and husband and brother-in-law, son and daughter and niece and friends. Each stepped in to fill the empty shoes of a paterfamilias, and now those large shoes are fully occupied and solid. In death there is rebirth. And our family is made new again.
The piece above was created shortly before my free fall was inspired by the incredible photography of Steve L. Romero, a local photographer and capturer of beautiful moments. Check out Steve's work here.
"The Beautiful Spaces Between" - ink on aquabord, 7" x 5". Framed in matte black. Available on Artfinder.
There are spaces between words. Pauses and stops. In the past, those spaces made me uncomfortable. Now they seem like an opportunity to reflect, process, contemplate and feel. Life seems to come at us a million miles an hour. A little space can be a delicious moment to slow down.
After a week or two of working BIG, I returned to the tiny world of water-based inks and aquabord. The beauty of this medium is the complete lack of control. I can push it, nudge it, encourage it, but ultimately it goes where it wants to, leaving speckles and unevenness that imply things off in the distance. It is simple and organic and surprising.
"Eye of the Blackbird" - mixed media on paper, 22" x 30". Ready to frame. Available on Artfinder.
Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird
from "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" by Wallace Stevens.
Palliative care...hospice. Three little words. Just three words in an entire language of words. Yet hearing them from a doctor causes a warp in the space-time continuum where the whole world seems to stop inside your head for a moment, like a movie reel slowed down, garbling all the words that come after. Then the reel speeds up to double time, you're trying to catch up and keep up all at once, while somewhere in the back of your head a voice is saying "hey, THAT just happened."
Our family is still processing, each in their own way. Dad is most incredible, leading the charge like a general in battle and beginning lists, setting meetings and surging forward with surety. The paterfamilias in action, even when the outcome of the battle is a foregone conclusion. We draw strength from him, even as he prepares for his grand exit.
Modern medicine allows us this...something generations past did not have. A forewarning, an estimate of time, a chance to tie up loose ends. It gets me thinking. What would I do? What would I say? How present would I be for each conversation knowing it may be the last one? How lovely, even in the midst of all the misery that surrounds this process, to have the time and the knowledge to make choices, to choose words and parcel them out, to say the things we need to say.
In truth, no one knows the exact timing of these things. Every day is a precious gift, and any one of us could be gone in a moment given the right (or wrong) series of unfortunate events. But on this day, I am extremely grateful to compassionate doctors who took the time to use their words and let us know their read on the situation, who gave us time to weigh our own words with love and tenderness.
And as with all things, for me they are best processed in the studio, letting the paint guide my thoughts.
"A Meeting of the Minds " - mixed media on paper, 22" x 30". Ready to frame. Available on ArtFinder.
God willing and the creek don't rise
Come hell or high water
A rising tide lifts all boats
There are a whole lot of watery sayings floating about here in Florida. We had five consecutive days of rain, about fifteen inches in our town alone. The first six feet of our back yard are now in the lake. The mall is closed because the parking lot is flooded. Highway exit ramps are closed due to standing water. The only folks enjoying this watery mess are the ducks. Oh, and anyone who fancies a reason to build an ark.
But here in my little studio, the sound of rain on the skylights and the occasional thunder boomer overhead create the perfect ambiance for a week of play. And for me, play means a return to experimental abstraction and the push and pull of resolving a painting. I am completely lost in the process - in flow. No thoughts of deadlines, task lists or errands to be done. No worries about shows or marketing or bookkeeping. Just one layer after another, teasing me and drawing me down the rabbit hole. My mind, blissfully, closes the door to the outside and just is.
Here is a little process peek at the first three layers:
I'm not certain where these beaky beings came from, but I am quite enamored with them. I want to know what they're saying in this little meeting, and keep listening outside the studio door in hopes of hearing them whisper.
And speaking of listening, I am reading Mark Nepo's Seven Thousand Ways to Listen. There is a juicy paragraph at the end of this morning's reading which is perfect for this rainy week:
So if you're willing, I may turn to you when stuck or sputtering, to see if I've retreated into that stubborn belief that we're the sole authors of what we need. If you're willing, we can slap each other's sandals till they become dogs that will retrieve the sweetness we've misplaced. If you're willing, we can help each other put the sun back into the sky.
For several hours that evening, time was suspended. Ideas flowed, questions were asked, topics debated and the jokes! The jokes had me in tears. The chandelier sparkled with bobbles like fairy lights. The evening felt magical and timeless and halcyon. Six creative spirits jumping from the topic of loose meat to shamans to celebrity boyfriends to creative bravery. Six artists alternately crying and laughing, unfiltered, unashamed, unbound.
It was an unexpected gathering - the kind that just comes together when someone says "hey, let's..." and everyone does. Our lives are busy, overly scheduled, hectic, fast-paced. So when an evening like this falls into place, it feels enchanted somehow. And this on the heels of a magical art opening, a fearless and wildly creative workshop and a handful of small gatherings and intensely delightful connections. I am bleary-eyed from lack of sleep and long travels...my words feel muddy. But underneath the exhaustion is a simmering cauldron of bubbling magic and inspiration fueled by these sparkling moments of connection. I am deeply grateful.
These moments don't happen unless we say yes. Yes to meeting for breakfast, yes to meeting for lunch. Yes to an evening of soul collage, yes to a spontaneous gathering with watermelon popsicles. Yes to a wild stretch of the imagination, and yes to a little more than we thought maybe we could actually do. Forgive my clumsy writing this morning, sweet reader...my challenge to you on this day is to say yes to someone or something, then let me know how the magic unfolds.
"Wren" - acrylic on board, 8 x 8. Appearing at Ciel Gallery tonight in "The Wisdom of Wild Things" show.
Wrens. Energetic little things who know how to get stuff done. They work together, share gender roles and problem solve. I think the little birds who helped Cinderella make her dress for the ball just had to be wrens.
There were wren-like humans in the gallery this week. Busy, busy, busy and chirping like happy birdlings as they worked. They made it SO easy for this road-weary art gypsy, who pulled up with a Prius full of art that went straight onto the walls in pre-designated locations. Good art partners are the best!
Here is a cyber peek at my works in the show. If there is something you love, and maybe feel tugging at your joy strings, give me a shout and we'll mark it with a red dot for you. But if you're in a hurry to rush off to your studio (or car, office, vacation, palatial estate, rocket launch, movie premier or dog walk), skip on by.
Thank you, sweet readers, for all your support, encouraging words, well-wishes and good thoughts! This Cinderella is off to polish her glass slippers...
Jen Walls and her imaJENation