Mmmmmm, what a lusciously sweet day yesterday that is lingering & meandering into today. Our moms (aka the Grandmas), dad Pete, Larry’s boys, Zac, McKenzie & Ellie (McKenzie’s Ellie), Raine, Finnegan oh & our German friends, Soern & Tom( the baby -Judith is in Germany) all gathered together, for communing, typing, laughing, snoozing, sharing, creating & on & on (a lot of on & on). The food was fabulous, the drinks were flowing, Raine gave a sweet blessing & then we all crashed. I hope everyone had a magical, loving Thanksgiving as well. My cup runneth over for all of you as well & being able to share all this with you. Mwaaaaah!!!
I flew out to visit with my BFF, Ginger & attend the Annual Sophia Conference which she was hosting in her beautiful Yoga Studio & house. It was a fabulous event & after we were able to make some time to create in her art studio which is behind her yoga studio.
We warmed up with a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop & then headed home for some real “Dirty Laundry” creating.
We started our creations with pasting paper on wood plaques for our foundation. Then we painted over the paper, laid down our focal center, pasted it, painted more, added more, used pens, more paint, & on & on. It’s so hard to explain because it is just a process that is intuitive & very flowing. There really isn’t any rights or wrongs. I think it is a good idea to keep in mind composition principles & color but really there is no “right” way to get from A to B.
But it isn’t about the end product. It is really about the creating together, watching what evolves, experiencing the magic, connecting & tending to the conversation as it deepens, dips & meanders into places unexpected.
I have since worked on this one a little too much, seeing the first version reminds me to not work & re-work things too much. Instead just love what I make in the first place & allow it to stretch its legs a bit before I judge it too harshly & wish to redo it!
I just returned from a weekend in Temecula with my ever-so-lovely BFF, Ginger & all that orbit in her world. She hosted a Sophia Conference that was magically life-changing for me in so many ways, that I can’t begin to articulate (blog post to come). We had such a deeply, powerful, sweet, connecting time together, laughing, talking & making art.
Once I got home, Larry had to take off for the East coast & our dear Nanny Anna had to fly to Mexico to see her brother before he passed away at only 36 years old. This left me with the Finnegan for the past two days solid, no nap, no relief, no break. I know I can hardly complain with what is going on with Anna’s family, but I’m not used to it, & on top of that I’ve been a bit under the weather for a week or so – okay more than a little bit (I hear Ginger saying) so it’s taken it’s toll, however minor toll. I’m just feeling too full for much else.
There are mountains of creative projects I want to start, blog posts to write, so much swirling in the full-ness of my life, right now, so rather than share something really cool & wow, I just felt compelled (like jump out of my seat, hand in the air – must share kind of compelled) to just share some recent photos & say I’m feeling pretty full – happy & full!
One thing is for sure, this will pass & I will start rocking again.
One thing I’m noticing about all these photos I’m sharing today is their lack of intense color. Sara who is my beige, bone, burlap, eggshell girl must be rubbing off on me. The subtlety is nice. See Sara, I didn’t know this side of me, until I knew you. Ubuntu.
Sounds like a title to a song!
No it’s just what we are calling our beloved art gatherings that are blossoming ever so slowly, & gently with perfect timing in an ever-so-not-precious way. Which is important, of course. There is nothing precious about dirty laundry right? Also you don’t need to give it a lot of brain power, you just throw it in a tub, slosh it around a bit, wring it out, rinse, slosh, splat it, wring it, dip it, wiggle it, wring it again & then hang it up for everyone to see! under garments, unmentionables & all. Just hang it out to drip on the ground, letting it be absorbed into the earth, creating more life, growth, & so on! I’m sure you get the picture!
The only difference is we are doing all the wring-ing, sloshing, dipping, & wiggling with paint, brushes, inks, stamps, paper, wood, glue, gel mediums more paint & god only knows what!! It truly is a cleansing process & so amazing when it is done & you look down at what you created & then around the room at all the other creations & it’s like Whoa!!! How did that happen? Where did all the time go? How did we get so many amazingly different & unique creations?
Last Saturday night we gathered at my house for some Dirty Laundry (when you say dirty, think of the movie Joe Dirt & be sure to pronounce it, der-teeeee, or not). There were four of us luscious ladies, two men drinking wine in the other room, a toddler running in & out, & a teenager heading out to a Homecoming dance with her date & then returning before we were finished. It was a busy evening, but despite all that, we got some great creating done.
The theme for the evening was Ubuntu to go with the blog I had just wrote & it coincided with a talk that Vayu had just heard that day by Robert Thurman that spoke of a Buddhist idea that was very similar to ubuntu. From what I recall he spoke of how we can all be so arrogant in our thinking we are better, or smarter than others but we can only truly know when we know & listen to all points of view (I am probably not doing it justice but that’s what I got out of her sharing). How serendipitous is that?
I must confess, I was so into the creating & being with my dirty sisters that I forgot to capture the moment in images to share here. I did however take photos of the mess that still sits on my dining room table, & asked the dirty girls to send me some photos of their creatings & some thoughts about the night.
Here is what the lovely Sara wrote, I love hearing her tell the story of the evening through her eyes & words.
“Last night my sisters and I gathered to create art in the spirit of Ubuntu. Amid a scattering of paper bits, paint and glue and a surrounding of candles, wine and soul food, a new sisterhood was formed. Women who had not yet met, orbited one another, careful of each others unique dialects, learning to quietly arrange and pattern their movements in an unfamiliar hive. We stretched ourselves to learn a new form of expression. To
create art out of the generous offerings of our hostess in a method unexplored and somewhat uncomfortable for us. Not knowing where and how to step can be a gift, a door opener and a unifier. We left with art that will remind us of our journey. Not masterpieces for a wall in a static composition, but whispers that remind us what it means to stretch and grow, to learn of each others unique lenses. To see through the eyes of another provides us a clue as to how we fit in the larger web. I am thankful for my Ubuntu art. I am thankful for my sisters – those I have danced with and those I will one day. I am thankful for the moments that stretch me and connect me and the whispers to take home to remind me of our shared journey.”
Danielle sent me these photographs of her collages. They are both inspiring & I wish I had captured them here that night with the beautiful smiles on the beautiful women who came to create together.
This collage is sweet for me to see, because this woman in the left bottom corner photo is my Grandmother, Lila, playing like she is beating up her friend. The middle photo I took in 2001 or so of my good friend Ariana in Carlsbad, CA. She was one of my first clients. Then the top photo is called, The Journey & was taken on Camp Pendleton in California again back in 2001.
I love how Danielle just jumped right in & started pasting paper on wood. Very audacious of her, & if you know me, you know I love audacious women.
My focus was to master the art of transferring images. There are numerous ways to do this but tonight I wanted to try two different ones. The first was with a gel medium painted on the ink side & laid down flat to dry then pull off, & the second is using transparent shelving paper.
In these images both the plastic Jesus & the dictionary page were glued down. I think it is important to wait for them to dry. I didn’t & the image came up in areas, so I decided to paint over the plastic Jesus – which turned out pretty good – well I like it anyways.
The next way is outlined in Sara Ahearn Bellemare’s book, Painted Pages. I think it is on page 90, it turned out pretty good, but I think I could have taken off more paper. Again, I decided to paint over it, which I like but if I try again will not put so much paint – not over paint anyways. It’s one of those things I’m discovering.
This is where I’m seeing that less paint could be more in this situation!
A few years ago I was admitted into the VA Hospital for a month stay in a lock-down unit on the Mental Ward for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The years following my return from a year in Iraq with the Marine Corps were challenging to put it mildly. It turned out I wasn’t equipped to find my way back from the war zone with all of its death & destruction on my own. Although I was very aware & educated on the subject, I still lacked the skills to manuever around triggers & keep myself safe. I think the biggest problem was that I was in denial about my skills, abilities & the depth of how depression & PTSD were truly affecting my life.
I was spiralling down fast when I finally admitted to myself that spending some time away from my life focusing on unravelling the meanings I made of everything witnessed & experienced in Iraq would be empowering. I knew I had to do something.
The program was for women only & they called it WISER (an acronym for something clever about women). I expected the other participants to be combat vets from Iraq & Afghanistan, but as it turned out during this session they were from the Vietnam era & were mostly Military Sexual Trauma victims. In addition, they were all southern women from various backgrounds that didn’t look anything like mine. They were kind but I felt like an odd duck for numerous reasons having to do with education level, income level, interests, time in service, rank, & color of skin. They all seemed to share a common southern language that was spoken quickly & softly using words in contexts I had never heard before. I found myself saying, “huh?” a lot, or just laughing & nodding at everything they said. Most of what they said was usually cracking a joke so laughing was a safe bet. These women loved to laugh, to eat & to smoke.
I spent the first week trying to figure out how I had ended up in a cohort of women who were nothing like me. What was the lesson here? Then one day while reading Brian Nepo’s The Book of Awakening, I stumbled upon a page that I had folded, penciled, underlined, & starred with little side notes. It was entitled, Ubuntu. Suddenly I got it!! They were not different from me. They were me & I them. I could not know myself without knowing them with compassion & love. My judgments were more about myself than them. If the women were similar to me, and had been in a combat zone, then perhaps I would have missed my opportunity to focus on myself. As it turned out, I was one of the youngest in the program, I think the oldest was 65 or so. This allowed me to take on a baby role, rather than having to nurture & mother those from the Iraq/Afghanistan era who are much younger. It was serendipitous to land in this pod of women.
The program was a very intense, life-changing four weeks where the life I had been living, the meanings I made of everything, even back to childhood, & the choices I made were all laid out before me & slowly unravelled to make sense or allow it to just not make sense.
I learned a lot during my stay but Ubuntu was one of the juicier lessons learned.
I wrote this poem below while in the hospital & read it to everyone at graduation.
I came here afraid, alone and lost. I
had forgotten who I was
in the shadow lands of darkness, I questioned:
How did I
But then a
whisper filtered through my heart ~
because you are.
my sisters appeared and I found me in them.
because you are.
is nurturing, motherly, love,
laughter filling the room,
So am I.
she is elegant, wise and brilliant,
searching and humble,
A courageous, proud, fierce protector,
So am I.
with heart, I take you in my heart.
sister was raped, I was raped.
sister has HIV, I too have HIV.
sister went to war, I went to war.
sister is an alcoholic, I am an alcoholic.
sister’s mother died, my mother died.
sister has been beaten, raped, humiliated, lost, tossed and mistreated,
So have I.
because you are.
we are reaching out,
love, loving ourselves,
Audacious enough. She is enough. I am enough.
All that I
witness in you, my sisters,
So am I.
you shared the gift of you,
I now know the fullness
I figured it out. After a week of pondering the question of where do I feel most myself, while taking walks in the city, amongst the trees, hanging out in cafe’s, & so on. I finally realized where it is I feel most myself. It is somewhere close to me.
The archetypical urge to nest came to me later in life. I was 44 before I truly felt the desire to occupy a house, to make it my own, to make it a reflection of my creative expression. Even after having children I still didn’t feel the need. I heard about women who suddenly have the urge to create a home, redecorate, paint the walls while pregnant all in preparation for the baby’s arrival. That never happened to me.
But then after having my second child & moving to a new city into the first house that I bought with no furniture, just long dark wood floors I felt for the first time I had this need to live in this house & make it my home. I was no longer interested in travelling around the world or looking for the next adventure. My adventure became discovering a new way to cover my windows that was unique to me & my style. As I slowly created little altars throughout my house & picked out the perfect eclectic pieces of furniture I was able to witness my creative expression unfolding on a new, larger canvas, my house. What emerged over time were numerous installation pieces throughout my house. The installations keep changing, shifting with the seasons, but having a home as a canvas is a bit like living inside of myself.
THIS IS WHERE I FEEL MOST LIKE MYSELF because it is me.
I was told by a psychic a few years ago while living in Santa Fe, NM, that in my early 40s I would be overcome by an unexplainable desire to make roots in a home. At the time I was living in my RV (with wheels under it) and my daughter and I moved around to different campgrounds for a few weeks at a time, or sometimes we would house sit for others in some body else’s real house. We moved frequently. It seems whenever that clever North Wind picked up I would feel in my bones it was time to look for another adventure.
There are those places and things that inspire me; like trees, coffee houses, pubs, the ocean, but they don’t always make me feel myself, often I’m in their presence as an anthropologist, a visitor & stranger. It is not where I feel myself. I love being in their presence, I love watching the people, hearing the espresso machines do their thing, smelling pine needles, listening to crashing waves, smelling coffee, watching & soaking it all in but not to be myself. I can find peace & inspiration but I don’t always feel my true self in these places.
It is only in my home with my family that I can be mostly myself with unconditional acceptance.
Well in my home & in boots. I realized this today when I awoke to a sudden, unexpected cold front & had the first opportunity of the season to wear my boots. It was heaven, like coming home, that must be why I loved being in the Marine Corps all those years. I got to wear boots everyday.
I’ve been wanting to write for days now, but time seems to be flying by too fast for me to even catch up. Halloween whizzed by & now that it is November company is on their way for Thanksgiving, wait. . . . but first I am flying out to California for a quick visit, & Larry is off to a shareholders meeting in New Jersey. That feels like a lot.
I’m not even someone who has to be caught up in the energy of this season & here I am being pulled into its vortex. What I mean is I don’t have deadlines, a job or anything pressuring me to hurry up but still . . . I feel the sense of urgency in the air.
On Saturday night, we had a fabulously successful pumpkin carving party. It was just a sweet night of sharing stories, listening to music, drinking great wine, dark beers & incredible food created by everyone, mostly Larry. He is amazing in the kitchen. So much Savor!!! The kids carved pumpkins & then swam their hearts out in the pool.
These pictures are just my way of catching up with all of you, sharing what’s going on in our hood. I’m taking an online e-course by Madelyn Mulvaney & she is sort-of, kind-of, really blowing my mind. I have only stuck one foot into the course holding onto the curb with my little toes afraid of what I might discover about myself. I’m two weeks behind on my photo taking that I am supposed to post on flickr.
One of the ideas that is swirling about in the recesses of my mind (thanks to Madelyn) is “where do I feel most myself?” I still can’t figure it out. It seems it is not so much a physical location as it is the convergence of many elements that inspire my senses & shoot right to my soul. Listening to a certain song, being in nature, being with Larry & my kids, dancing or travelling to exotic locations, tasting the perfect savory flavor or smelling roasting coffee are some of the elements that together can create this explosion in my soul & I am myself, home in my boots, with my soul dancing just under my skin. This is what I came up with so far, but still the question wanders & rattles around inside. After I figure that out I need to photograph it. Yikes!!
Enjoy the different shades of orange, until next time.
Yesterday I had a very productively creative day. In the morning I had my Monotype class at the Art League of Houston where I made three new prints & started working on another.
Then I drove home went straight to my studio & started painting. I haven’t done that in a while & before I knew it I was lost in the creativity & the love of my new palette of three colors (thanks Misty Mawn & mary beth). Quinacridone gold is currently the most magical color in the entire world – YES in the entire world, possibly the universe.
When I was all painted & done I realized I was sitting with a new girl. Where did she come from? It was a few serendipitous glances, connections with other’s art, stories of a monkey named cookie, softening, becoming less precious with my strokes, allowing, opening a little & there she was, “the new girl.” I’m not sure what her name is just yet. She looks a bit surprised to be here possibly just as much as I am surprised she showed up. I’m thinking she needs a crow or a fish or at least a few flowers to keep her company or perhaps another friend to sit next to her.
I also added some cool embellishments to my photo of three stuck leaves in Nosara, Costa Rica at the Nosara Retreat Center (that’s a nod to the fabulous Abbie who owns the property).
All in all, I would say it was a lusciously, creatively, productive day. But what is really cool is that I know I’m doing what I’m meant to do for now at least because I can so easily lose time when I’m painting or creating. It’s either that I lose time or I step into an alternative time sequence that measures time in a totally new way either way I love it.
The coolest, cheapest place to find amazing doo dads & doo hickeys to use in collages pieces, assemblage or whatever you like is at The Art Asylum on Houston Ave. If you are not careful you will miss it because from the outside it is just a plane white
building but inside is a whole other story. Inside there are shelves & shelves of about anything you can dream of have been donated by others for artists to use.
On this visit I found a little, string-less, cracked guitar that I’m going to decoupage for fun, a doll that I’m going to papier-mâché into a statue, and an amazing old photo
album – for a story to tell. And doilies of course, you can never have too many doilies.
Last Friday night my dear friend & fellow artist, Sara came over for a little art/craft playtime in my studio. It was our first creative get together (first of many) & we had so much fun (we hope to grow our gatherings to include others). I was feeling a bit melancholy that day for no reason other than the earth turned & I woke up feeling this way. But I was able to create through it & Sara was gentle & compassionate with me.
We drank banana smoothies with just bananas & a few cacao nibs and I showed her some of the ways that I create collages on wood with paper, paints, stencils, inks, stamps, words etc. Our rules were – Don’t be too precious & move quickly so as not to engage the brain.
We talked easily about ideas, thoughts & then a magical thing happened. While our fingers were busy painting, gluing, cutting we shifted into a place of creative flow &
started putting pieces of big dreams together. We talked of ideas of collaboration,
unique & different ways to exhibit. Then our biggest dreams swooped in from
those hidden places we barely allow ourselves to visit & it was this kaleidoscope
of exhilarating dream sharing.
We can’t wait to do this again. Next time Sara is going to show me how to make milk paints or encaustic painting.
Sara told me today that her creativity is buzzing to create more & ideas keep flowing it of other paintings she could do. We’ve continued our collaborative dream building these last two days through text messages back in forth.
It’s amazing how when we sit, create, share, witness, truly see, collaborate on ways to fully blossom together.
I recently learned that if the dream is big enough for me to carry out, it’s not BIG enough. We need each other.