An Artist's Quest

spiritual

Thinking of Mark

272. thinking of Mark

“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!

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Your One Job

270.this Brilliant moment

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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Peace Be Upon You

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It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged – I’ve been working hard to get ready for a solo show at the Mendocino Art Center.  I’m loving the work I’ve done for the show and I’ll share it with you through the next few weeks.

As many of you know I live up in Sonoma County in Northern California, I’m sure you couldn’t miss the news of horrible fires up here. I’m relived to let you know that  West of the Russian River where I am was unscathed.  The tension and fear pervaded the area and everyone in the area was touched in small and big ways by the devastation.  I painted this triptych during the week of the fires as my way to calm my nervous energy and direct the unknown into something I know how to do.  I know how to paint, so I painted.  It brought me peace to do the work and it is my small offering to those who have lost so much.

Peace Be Upon You

The Mendocino Art Center show begins November 1st through Thanksgiving. The opening is November 11th from 5-8pm. If you happen to live in Mendocino area or close by I hope you can come. Mendocino Art Center info


Knowing

A knowing look, a knowing smile…. the older I get the more I know I don’t know much. I don’t know the depths of someone’s pain, the meaning behind the smile, the gesture, the tone. The more I know the less certain I am of my certainty. That’s a good thing, I think. I’m teaching myself to be less judgmental, reminding myself I don’t really know what is behind or underneath the surface, that I can’t really walk in anyone’s shoes but mine. This painting is about the idea that the only way to know anyone or anything I must share myself – a laying bare, a nakedness, an openness. I’m thanking Eve in this painting; she is sharing the apple with me, telling me that to know any true thing at all I must share my true, naked self. I’ll try – the first bite is crisp and tart, sweet and juicy – like life, like love, like living.

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I am furiously painting for a November show at the Mendocino Art Center this Fall. This painting and more will be a part of my solo show there. The opening is November 11th 5-8pm if you happen to be a Mendocino resident I hope you’ll meet me there.

Check out my schedule of workshops for the next nine months – I hope you can join me and get your creative juices flowing. Creative Workshops


Opps

I just realized I jumped the gun on my Stencil Girl link. My post doesn’t go live until June 15th…. So check them out NOW but remember to go back on the 15th to see my Stencilgirl Talk. My Etsy Shop is ready to go so click on through to see all the new work…. Oh yeah and don’t forget to breathe…

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Check out this painting and more at my Etsy Shop


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.


The Big Shuffle…and Where Have I Been All These Months?

Hello faithful blog followers it has been awhile since my last confession! I know it seems that I dropped off the face of the earth but here I am and in new digs! I moved, and when I say I moved I really moved every object of my family self and artist self. But let’s back up a minute. First for those of you worried that I have left The Bishop’s Ranch, have no fear I am still here but everything old is new again.

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The house my family and I have lived in at The Bishop’s Ranch for 21 years is right in the middle of the retreat center – and when I say center it truly is between the two main gathering places here – the chapel and the dining hall. Over the years as the size and frequency of groups here increased it became less and less private and harder to find refuge and respite in our own home. So a change was proposed. Kip Cottage, a lodge at the bottom of the hill on the edge of the grounds, was underutilized but needed a lot of love and work. The Casita, our house, was to much in the fray so a proposal was made for us to move to Kip and for the Casita to become the new bigger, brighter, art Center! This is a big win-win for me, I get a more private quiet home and a bigger, better studio and art center to create art and teach classes.

So that is the Big Shuffle part of the title and what about the Where Have I been part you say? Well starting in February we began the tear out at Kip Cottage – carpet, old tiles, old fixtures, kitchen counters… you get the idea. Then came the build up refinishing kitchen cabinets, new windows, painting, flooring, book shelf building and on and on. My husband and I did as much of the work as we could to save the Ranch money and get the place just how we wanted it. After 4 months we moved into our new home. I am super proud of how it came out and love being down here out of the flow.

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Moving one thing meant moving another so last week I moved my studio into my old house – now dubbed the Casita Creative Art Center! My old bedroom is now my studio and the living-room is the classroom space. Since I moved in I’ve lead 3 workshops in the new space including these happy faces from my 5-month offering, Mixed Media Monthly- Thanks ladies for kicking off a new identity for the Casita!

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I am recommitting myself to the blog and you dear readers – so I promise to check in soon!