"Donald" - mixed media on board, 18" x 18"
We are being stalked by a Muscovy duck. A large male, fearless and determined, with a look in his eye that will make any person take a step or two back in caution. We've taken to calling him "Donald." Now that could be because he is a duck (Donald Duck) or because he seems like a fierce personality, perhaps like a certain Republican presidential hopeful who also may make people take a step or two back.
Donald has learned to recognize the sound of our back door. All we do is gently open it, and his head pops up from the waterline of the lake behind our house, peeking over the gentle slope of the yard with a tenacious look. Then begins the lumbering walk straight toward the door. Best feed him before he gets there, unless we want company at the breakfast table.
That was two weeks ago. One week ago, he began waiting at the back door at about 7 a.m. Patiently (rather creepily,if you ask me), but there he was. The sky was barely light, and Donald was in position, waiting for cracked corn. I found myself making tea without turning on the lights, just so he wouldn't see me in the kitchen and give me the evil eye. I was hiding from a duck.
How many times do we hide from symbolic ducks in our lives? Things we don't want to do but maybe should, problems we have but don't want to think about, habits we've formed that maybe aren't healthy...they are there, waiting for us at the door, reminding us to do something, but we leave the lights off and maybe even crouch down when crossing by the window.
So when I posted this photo of the real Donald on Facebook, an artist friend challenged me to paint him. And guess what? It was a joy! Such fun, and somehow through the process he became a muse instead of a nuisance. I found some philosophy in this duck's presence in our lives, and promised to give him an extra handful of something tasty tomorrow morning at breakfast. Who knows? Maybe he drinks tea...
This piece is available. Inquiries: email@example.com
"Brunhilda" - watercolor, ink, acrylic on watercolor paper, 12" x 18"
Primitive portrait? Meet loose and juicy. This week I am playing with large portraits using watercolor, inks and acrylic paint. This is more fun than one person can stand! I am crazy about the graphicness and juiciness of this piece. And using an inkwell and quill is insanely wonderful. As you may have surmised, I am still in my playground of a studio romping and cavorting with abandon. And I blame it all on tidying.
Tidying? Yes indeed. So recently, a fabulously well-organized and elegant friend recommended a book, the life-changing magic of tidying up. And I bought it, and read it, and went bonkers in my own house - purging, categorizing and tidying. One place leads to another, and before you know it everything is in its place. And now there is nothing (and I mean nothing) in my personal spaces which does not bring me JOY! Everywhere I look is something I love. I find myself smiling all by myself. Many artists are visual people, and making the view from anywhere I am in the house joyful has a catalytic impact on my ability to create.
It isn't just seeing things I love, either. It is also not seeing things I don't love. The absence of excess stuff leaves space for opportunity, potential, imajenation and adventure. No more being sidetracked on my way to the studio by stacks of papers which need tending, or stuff to be put away, or unsightly piles of anything. Ahhhhhhhh. Bliss.
I fully expect to become wildly messy in my art now. And what does that mean? In a very strange and ironic way, the act of tidying everything else has made a MESS something wonderful on a canvas. Who would have guessed?
This piece is available. Currently unframed. Inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
"Girl With Bird" - mixed media on deep canvas, 12" x 12"
This week is a big two-fer! The studio playground has been irresistible, and my tribe of playmates is growing.
One of my newly learned processes this week is beeswax. The piece on the left contains layers of fabric, glue, gesso and tissue topped with paint, beeswax and more paint. The resulting texture looks almost like concrete, though it is smooth and waxy to the touch.
So many colors are underneath this piece...and the process is almost one of filtering out (painting over) everything until all that's left is the essence of the girl and the barest hint of the bird. It reminded me of how I feel at the end of a long day, when all the details fall away and I am left with a feeling of gratitude and peace, uncluttered and pure.
"Owen's Wild Rumpus" - mixed media on cradleboard, 9" x 12"
After many days of painting sweet faces and innocence, it was time for a little ruckus! This wild boy is the result of another new process for me - paint over oil pastel, scraped and sanded away to roughen the texture and allow bits of color to peek through.
"Owen" made me feel like running through the woods in my bare feet, whooping and hollering and climbing trees while wearing a huge feathered headdress. Sometimes play can be an unfettered celebration, and this little boy encompasses a passion for being in the wilderness, uninhibited and maybe a little bit kookie (which was largely me as a child...hey...is Owen my inner child????)
These pieces are available. Unframed, ready for hanging. Inquiries: email@example.com
"Sweet Pea", mixed media on canvas paper, 9" x 12"
Endearments are like frosting. They make everything a little sweeter, a little creamer and more rich. I had so many endearments I called my children when they were young...sweetie, little bits, pumpkin noodle, little man, smoochie poo - I could go on, but I can just see them rolling their eyes while reading this list. Why were they endearments and not nicknames? Because they were filled with love.
My husband calls me "sweet pea", and I think it is completely wonderful. Emails, texts, birthday cards and love notes, all addressed to Sweet Pea. I don't even know how this began, but somehow it has become one of the little lovelinesses in our relationship. And it makes me feel sweet, even if I truly was not so sweet at all the moment before!
In the south, people toss around "honey" and "sweetie" like pennies - plentiful and cheap. I don't get the same warm feeling when I stranger addresses me this way. Why? No love filling.
My dad is an endearment user, especially with his dogs. "Sweetie" can mean "you're such a good dog" one day and "aw geez why on earth did you do THAT?" the next. But it is his way of sending love to the dogs no matter if they are being rewarded or disciplined. And clearly they feel the love filling in his words.
Sometimes we use endearments to soften our words with friends and family, as if beginning the sentence "clean your room" or "take out the trash" sounds any less annoying if we begin it with "sweetie". Hmmmm. Maybe I will save the love-filled endearments for love-filled sentences instead of chore demands.
So spend the day tossing out love-filled endearments to family and friends. Just watch them smile and melt a little, feeling the day become so much better when frosted with love.
This piece is available. Unframed. Inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jen Walls and her imaJENation