"Echo" - mixed media on watercolor paper, 22" x 30". Ready to frame. Sold.
A return to my roots in visual journaling, but done BIG! Beginning with scribbled words of strength, love and determination, layers of scratching and buffing and mounds of paint, ink and gesso, then ending with collage, charcoal pencil and more scribbles. This fiercely empowered girl emerges from chaos ready to grapple alligators and bear the weight of worlds on her power-shouldered dress. I love this sweetling.
In recent weeks, I've felt a bit like submerged fabric. Weighted, muted, heavy and a bit slow. Usually, I recognize such a funk and take steps to scramble out of it. This time, I had a "well DUH" moment (thanks to an intuitive friend) and realized I'd fallen in and neglected to do anything about it! Silly girl. So what are the things to be done when kicking off a blanket of yuck?
Pouring out some power moves on canvas or paper is always a good beginning. It gets things moving and shifts internal energy in a big way. But even though art is magical, sometimes it takes art plus other activities to move a stubborn funk. In my case, a massive dose of yard work (or as much as my body can tolerate) including dirt in my socks, mulch dust in my nose and an unexpected downpour to keep me company .
Add to that a new ritual - something purposeful and introspective and different. In this case, I made a trip to Buddha Happy and came home with a singing bowl, 83 tiny green stones and a set of instructions. I've never used a singing bowl before. Selecting one is kind of like the sorting hat in Harry Potter. Some bowls are nearly impossible to play. Others respond right away, filling the room with sound and my hand and arm with vibrations. I can hardly believe the huge sound that comes from this small vessel.
My family may be walking around with noise-cancelling headphones for the next week while I practice. But you, my friends, can enjoy the sounds of experts:
"Petaled Cloris" - mixed media on reclaimed wood. 6" x 18", ready to hang. SOLD.
It's summer in the deep south, and I'd like to trade in my hair for a bouquet of flowers. Humidity is not a friend to wavy, fuzzy hair. Just stepping outside turns me into a Chia Pet. Wouldn't it be lovely to arrange some peonies on your head and walk about all day feeling gloriously exotic? Almost any flower will do. Even a head full of dandelions would be better.
But you're not here for hair.
The last time we met, dear reader, we were wearing capes of kindness and flying about the world without fear. How perfect, then, that I happened upon this piece of art titled "Playing Superman" on Artfinder.
And she doesn't hesitate to share links to other amazing artists.
Ok, so clearly I am a huge fan-girl and Thomson enthusiast (and collector - I own two pieces already). But mostly I am an admirer of creative people who are generous with their knowledge, time and inspiration. I hope to be like her when (if) I grow up.
Explore the world of Thomson and other artists (including yours truly!) this weekend on Artfinder , where most shipping will be FREE from midnight on July 28th to midnight on July 31st. A little kindness from the good folks at Artfinder. Yay!
"Always Trust Your Cape" - mixed media on reclaimed wood, 14" x 24". Ready to hang. Available on ArtFinder.
Each person bears a fear which is special to him...
Thus fear is only a preference.
This quote, posted on Facebook by the incredible Avery Caswell, stopped me in my tracks last week. Whoa. You mean, this fear, and that one, and this other one, specific to me, are each a preference? Wait! Why would I prefer to have any fear at all? Fear as a choice...I guess I knew this, ultimately, but hadn't really owned it before.
Now I want to own it.
Fearlessness as a choice. If you could choose (and, it seems, you CAN choose) to remove one fear from your life, what would it be? Fear of venomous snakes? Fear of being hit by a car? Fear of abandonment? Fear of undercooked chicken? I can't choose just one. I want to be fearless. Not just on the outside, where I am very good at covering my quivering terror with a big smile and a pirate hat, but on the inside, where fears keep me awake at night and sully my thoughts during the day.
Caswell recently wrote a blog post about the very thing which haunts my nocturnal thoughts most - regret. (Read it here.)
"Practicing kindness... is transformative, and at the end of a life of practicing kindness we might be glowing beacons of pure love with barely any room for regrets," she writes after listening to a talk by author George Saunders. Hmmmm, kindness as a cure for regret (and thus a cure for my fear) is incredibly appealing.
Of course, this launched me into the studio to create a caped crusader of fearlessness (my owner inner super heroine) which sent me on an internet treasure hunt for songs about capes, which landed me this gem by Guy Clark:
At the end of the day, any excuse to wear a cape is one I will use. But a cloak of kindness to banish regret seems particularly useful, and is likely to become the very foundation of the wardrobe in my cape closet. Oh yes, everyone needs a special closet for their capes. :)
"Sasha in the Cobwebs" - mixed media on aquabord, 11" x 14". Ready to frame. Available on Artfinder.
Does your brain mess up song lyrics?
I have a long history of this. Singing along in the car with my husband, belting out what I think are the words. Then the turn of his head and half smile on his face as he says "what exactly do you think the words are?" and I find out I was waaaaaay off.
She's a brick house.
She's my tomato, just letting it all hang out.
Isn't that the way everyone sings it? Apparently not. :) It happened again in the studio yesterday, as the song "Summer Breeze" was drifting through my thoughts while I painted.
makes me feel fine
blowing through the chasm in my mind
Hmmmm. I knew "chasm" was the wrong word, but it felt like my brain was stuck on it. Which made me think of how very foggy my thoughts have been recently as I wade out of a landslide of grief. And foggy thinking brought me to the word "cobwebs" which then appeared in the background of this painting as I buffed away layers of really awkward paint. The cobwebs were just right in the painting, so I figured they could jump into the song as well.
makes me feel fine
blowing through the cobwebs in my mind
As I write this, dear reader, I realize you've just had a firsthand look at the family circus comic orientation of my brain, it's circuitous paths and nonsensical connections. But I figure if you're still reading, maybe you can relate. You are not alone! Let's celebrate the ever fascinating, quirky human brain. And maybe sing lyrics a little more quietly, just in case we're not exactly getting them right.
"Norbert Left No Stone Unturned" - mixed media on aquabord, 16" x 20". Ready to frame. Available on Artfinder.
It's what I do sometimes to be truly present. I dig in the soil, turn it over, plant something and dig again. The terrain is altered - improved for drainage, made more visually satisfying. I get lost in the physicality of digging - sun scorching my arms and sweat dripping down. It is hard to be mentally stressed when my body is physically exhausted.
We're reclaiming some of the lawn along the lake in our backyard. Adding trees, flowering plants, rocks and mulch. It is a much slower process than in prior years, when my back was strong and resilient. Sometimes I can work only a five foot stretch before I have to call it quits.
Yesterday I unearthed a large rock (not quite a boulder) and got help to drag it to the surface and place it amongst the plants. It is covered in fossils and old shells. Not uncommon here in Florida, but still a delightful surprise treasure for me. The hidden past brought into the light and exposed for the first time in decades. It will sit there nestled in the lantana until some time in the distant future when weeds will cover it, soil will accumulate around it and the earth will swallow it once more. I felt the vastness of time, the smallness of humans in the universe, and the cycle of the earth over centuries. Whoa. All that from digging in the yard.
Which brings me to penguins. What better way to mentally chill than to immerse oneself in the frosty world of tuxedoed birds and snow? Norbert loves mystery novels and intellectual conversation. Quite a change from the usual menagerie in the studio.
"Mr. T" - mixed media on aquabord, 11" x 14". Ready to frame. Available on Artfinder.
I'm back in the saddle again
I'm back in the saddle again
After a long hiatus, a full day in the studio and the wonderful, incredible, exhilarating feel of playing with paint. There is nothing quite like it to soothe what ails you. This piece, inspired by the luxurious Toby Jon (my niece's rabbit), is the result of a half million layers (a slight exaggeration), wiping the board nearly clean, starting again, embracing the mess and going with the flow. The beauty of aquabord. Paint, rinse, repeat.
We had a pet rabbit (briefly) when I was a kid. "Kelly" never did like me, so I wan't sorry when my mom found a new home for him. In all fairness to the rabbit, we really didn't know what we were doing with him, and we didn't take the time to understand what rabbits really wanted. After spending nearly two weeks with Toby, a thoroughly civilized bunnykins, I now know how delightful and therapeutic these fuzzy love bundles can be.
Toby is box trained, and has the run of the house most of the day. You will find him perched on a kitchen chair, whiskers a-twitching after breakfast. And perhaps underneath the chair you're sitting in at lunch. And during dinner he might be loping around the house in a half-fast pace, sneaking through the barriers set up to keep him safe from electrical cords (a favorite snack, apparently). But mostly, what Toby wants is a good snuggle. He gets snuggled in the morning, snuggled at night, and snuggled whenever he misses his humans. You can feel his little breathing quicken when he is happy in your arms, and sometimes he even makes a sort of contented groan (rabbits are generally voiceless).
So what happens to people when they stop throughout the day to cuddle a luxurious rabbit? Instant de-stressing, that's what. As wonderful as all this is for Toby, I get the feeling it is even better for the humans, who don't normally stop for these things unless something cute and cuddly forces them to. It got me to thinking...how would world rulers rule if they were required to snuggle a rabbit during business hours? Perhaps there would be a lot of folks with hair-covered suits, but there might also be a calmer, sweeter approach to world domination.
"Rebecca was Brave" - mixed media on aquabord, 16" x 20". Ready to be framed, or can be leaned upon a shelf. Available on Artfinder.
Slowly, slowly making my way back into the studio, Cleaning up the piles of art supplies and ephemera and art books I dragged home from my dad's house. Finding the perfect spot for each one. The studio becomes a treasure trove of goodies to be explored in the future, including a gold mine of romance magazines from the 1930's, ready to become something groovy in a new piece of art.
Let's talk about courage. It's a topic we've visited here before, you and me, but I recently experienced an act SO BRAVE that I am still inspired. Now maybe this won't seem like much because you are already fearless, dear reader! Yet I am compelled to explore it further.
In a workshop I held two weeks ago, a student showed up with new paints, brushes and a bright smile. She had never (and I mean NEVER) painted before in her entire life. And here she was, ready to try, excited and enthusiastic (and maybe just a little nervous). We were painting pretty large, and on a new type of surface, and completing an entire piece in four hours at a fierce pace. With each step, she persisted. With each new instruction, she didn't hesitate. With quiet, steely determination, she hung in there until the very end of the class.
And she created a beautiful, personal, emotional piece of art.
She didn't know until we were done. Until she stood back, took a breath and paused. And then, like the happily ever after moment of the most exquisitely charming fairytale movie ever created, her face broke out in a huge, heartfelt smile. "I did that!" she said. And so she had.
There is something about just showing up - just saying YES - that ropes the universe into conspiring with us. Rebecca lassoed the moon that day. I want to be like her when I grow up. :)
Jen Walls and her imaJENation