An Artist's Quest

painting

This is Now

This is Now 2 panels 48x48"

This is Now – 48×48″ paint on wood panel

It is Tuesday morning and I’m enjoying the rain that continues to fall outside my window. I donned by rubber-boots, raincoat and rain-pants and went for my first rubber-boot walk of what I hope will be a nice wet rainy season here in parched Sonoma County, California. Fully protected from the downpour, I could rejoice in the sound, smell, touch and even taste of the rain. I found myself fully in the moment, relishing the plopping sound of the fat raindrops as they accumulated on the bay laurel and released to the leafy forest floor below. Oh and the smell, the smell is divine, a mixture of the spicy smell of the bay trees and the licorice smell of the wild fennel tall and dry along the road as well as a smell that is all its own – the smell of fresh rain on dry ground – to be more precise petrichor. I didn’t know this word until my friend Jennifer shared it with me. Petrichor means “the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry grounds”. A pair of Australian scientists coined the word in 1964 and I found a surprisingly beautiful video that shows how this aroma is released into the air here is the link.

So I am blessed this day to have experienced this feast of the senses this morning and to be reminded once again to observe this brilliant moment. That phrase has become a bit of a mantra from me and I hope it will remind you to seek wonder every day.

The painting above is a new one. It is titled This is Now. I finished  the painting last week and hung at Gallery 300 in Sebastopol CA, yesterday. The inspiration for this piece came from an entry in my sketchbook from some time ago that said only this: This is Now, this is Today – Yesterday is gone – Tomorrow is not yet here – What shall I do? – Who shall I be?

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Welcome

Welcome to Spring, welcome to this day, welcome to this moment. This is it! This is all there is! Invite this moment in, welcome it.

Welcome

Here is a new piece commissioned for the office at The Bishop’s Ranch retreat center office. I hope it welcomes the guest into the beauty of the moment and the wonder of life flowing in and around them.  24×48″ mixed media on wood panel


Thinking of Mark

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“The Space between Heaven and Earth” currently showing at the Mendocino Art Center

My cousin Mark died today and I feel compelled to write about him and how I feel. He was just a few years older than me, 57- I think, and he died of cancer that had spread within his body. Mercifully he only knew for a couple of weeks and, I’m told wasn’t in much pain even at the last. That’s comforting, I think, at least comforting to me. He was an extraordinary man, full of wit and wisdom, sarcasm and sweetness. He was one of the strongest, most persistent people I’m sure I’ll ever meet. You see when he was in his teens he began showing the signs of muscular dystrophy, and while the disease weakened his muscles he carried on his life – he lived and learned and loved and though he was in a wheel chair for decades he was fiercely independent and spent most of his adult life advocating for people with disabilities. This paragraph is not enough, no words will be enough, but I wanted you to know, I want you to know he was here on this earth, he was important.

As a sometimes confused and always questioning Christian, I don’t really know what happens when we die. My dad shared his thoughts a few days before his death: at birth we are in one place warm and familiar and then there is a great commotion and we are in another place distinctly different and death seems to be like that, we are in one familiar place and then a great commotion and now to another place. This is a comforting way for me to think of death, as a rationalist I know we are made of cells, and molecules and atoms, particles of dancing protons and electrons. When we die those things still exist in the universe but their purpose is changed, they break apart and reconfigure but are still here. The molecules of Mark’s last breath still float in the air repurposed, reclaimed but here among us just the same.

I watched a documentary awhile back about the Tibetan Book of the Dead. It was fascinating and illuminating. One scene I remember is at the bedside of a man who had just died. The tradition calls for prayers and chants to be sustained around the body for many hours (perhaps days?) to encourage the floating spirit to not be afraid and to not jump into the first living thing to pass in front of the suspended soul – in essence cheering the departed one to reach for a higher level existence in the cycle of reincarnation. Oddly today as I thought of Mark I thought why not try out the strong body of the grasshopper. Wouldn’t it be lovely for him to bound and leap with such strong legs? Besides a grasshopper lifespan is short – within the year he could leap his way into a flitting, flying sparrow and try that body for a while, there is much to learn from the little sparrows strong wings, I’m sure. Three years from then perhaps a wise old owl will suit Mark’s fancy, soaring above us all in the long cool night air. Or maybe a dolphins body would fit well, how playful and lithe he would be let loose from that heavy damn wheel chair.

So just incase, I put the cricket I found in my kitchen this afternoon gently outside and whispered in my cupped hands before I let it go – you’re free now JUMP!


Your One Job

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This Painting will be at the Mendocino Art Center Gallery as part of my solo show from November 1st-22nd.

Hello friends, it’s been a busy week with a busier weekend; lot’s of lists and check marks and more things added to the list. This morning I’m heading out to Incarnation Church to lead a All Souls and Saints Icon making workshop for 20. I have a long list of materials to pack in the car to get on my way. As I was dashing up the driveway to my studio to load the car a wonderful vista over the vineyards emerged: golden rows of vines, a silky layer of fog ribboning above the river beyond and two brightly colored hot air balloons floating above.  I took a glace and told myself I’ve got no time to stop – get the car loaded and get going- my head told me.  As I dashed into my studio I saw this painting propped against the wall ready to take to my Mendocino show, it gently reminded me – your one job is to observe this brilliant moment -and so my heart listened and I stopped walked out on the patio, drank in the moist morning air, let the sun warm my face, watched the birds out flank the floating balloons and gave thanks.

This is just a little reminder to me and you  (now I’ve got to go – I have a workshop to lead!)

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Fruits of Our Labors- ANTICIPATION

Spring brings blossoms, summer brings fruit, and fall brings libations!

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From my art journal done this spring with the apple blossoms. I’ll do a “Still Life With Hard Cider” when the time comes.

Last weekend some friends invited us to help them pick and press apples. We picked pounds and pounds of apples, brought by the wheelbarrow full to the press. Then we washed and dropped the apples into a mechanical chopper. The chopped apples were then put into an old-fashioned crank juice press. We took turns washing, chopping and cranking – filling jugs of apple juice to freeze for drinking later. Then we juiced more, about 20 gallons more in fact. This juice is now bubbling and brewing and becoming hard cider. This process is way beyond my skills, I’m leaving it up to a master mixer, but since I volunteered to pick and press… this fall I’ll get to taste. Not bad pay!

I have a years worth of workshops lined up on the calendar go to my website to see what’s happening and how to sign up! http://lisathorpe.com/classes.html


Seeing in Double & Triple & …. the Joy of Working in Multiples

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painting in my latest BREATHE series

Hello dear readers, I promised I would get back to blogging more regularly and here I am! I’m excited to be the guest blogger for Stencil Girl stencils this week and I want you to check it out at stencilgirl talk. They gave me 4 stencils of my choice from their vast collection and asked me to cut loose and produce. The post walks you through all the steps of making my latest expressive paintings – not a surprise I revisited a theme that keeps popping up in my work – BREATHE.

When I’m working on these expressive paintings I like to have a whole bunch of canvases and wood panels to work on at one time. I think that frees me up to experiment more with pattern and color combinations so no one piece gets too precious. I really can “mess it up” because if I do I just add another layer and push the composition to a place I like, if it doesn’t work – no worries I have 10 other canvases that I am experimenting on. This time I used my stencil girl stencils for pattern then cut my own stencils for the figure and the lotus to create my focal point. I have made that stencil in 3 sizes so I can experiment with scale and repetition. I am happy with what I came up with.

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a sampling of paintings now available in my Etsy shop

I just posted all these paintings on my Etsy Shop. I have painting in these series and others for small 6×8” pieces for $20 up to 18×24” pieces for $275 and everything in between. I hope you’ll check out my shop and see detail photos of this entire series and my guest blogger post on Stencil Girl Talk to see all the steps in making the work.

Until next time – be well.


REMEMBER

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I painted this series this week in response to my feelings of sadness and resolve that women all over the world have a right to control their own bodies – REMEMBER – ponders our situation

It has been awhile since I blogged so happy New Year friends. I had a lovely New Years trip to Kauai and before that I was wrapped up in the holidays. I’ll admit to being a swirling mix of feelings this past couple of weeks; dismay, disorientation, disgust to name a few. I don’t talk about politics here but now is the time. I want a conversation, an exchange not just teams sunk in their own huddles listening only to themselves. So I must be part of that conversational solution. I’ll give you a little history. In 1992 my sister, mom and I (oh and half a million other people) marched on Washington in support of  a women’s right to control her own body and for one last push for the Equal Rights Amendment (which didn’t pass so to this day women are still not named in the constitution…). So now as a new conservative government takes charge, I have a choice: hide or engage. I choose engage. Here is a quote that reminds me why my voice is important:

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Even a superficial look at history reveals that no social advance rolls in on the wheels inevitability. Every step towards the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals. Without persistent effort, time itself becomes an ally of social destruction. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”- Martin Luther King, Jr. in Stride Toward Freedom the Montgomery Story

I will admit that since that march in 1992 I’ve been more talk than action. I guess I thought the wheels were rolling forward so I could take my hands off the cart. I see I was wrong. But what I want to push for is conversation, for understanding and finding common ground. I have something in common with the anti-choice voice – I think we can both agree that abortion is not the best way to control birth. Now from there we diverge on how to prevent abortions but still we have common ground. But maybe, just maybe I can engage in conversation from that point of agreement, right? I’ll try. Tomorrow I march with friends in Sacramento, I march to remind myself that nothing rolls on the wheels of inevitability, I must put my hands to the cart to move the conversation, I want to be a voice of strength, love and inclusiveness, I want to engage with you and the world to ensure that the advances towards “liberty and justice” are truly for ALL. Thanks for reading – now take positive action – ENGAGE!

Here is a link to a great History of Planned Parenthood mini documentary that is very informative; I hope you’ll watch it.

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detail from the REMEMBER series