Dragon's Breath, Nikita Gill - Wild Embers - poems of rebellion fire and beauty
I've been channeling some fiery females in the studio this month! Taking the technique I began last year in creating trees and bark - fluorescent underpainting on unprimed wood, keeping the paint wet, carving into the wood through the paint - and applying it to flame-haired girls. What fun! But there is no telling these feisty broads what to do - they rule the studio right now. :)
And so it was. no surprise when Nikita Gill's Wild Embers landed in my lap and began pummeling me with words of rebellion. Which is, perhaps, appropriate for this woman in this world at this time. Watch out monsters, you are about to be quelled.
"Welcome Home Your Emptiness" - acrylic on repurposed wood panel, 24" x 10.5" x 1" . Ready to hang (sides are painted; no need to frame. Hanging wire is attached). Part of the series "A View From the Gorge". Available here and at Artfinder.
When the old ghosts come back
to feed on everywhere you felt sure,
do not strengthen their hunger
by choosing to fear;
rather, decide to call on your heart
that it may grow clear and free
to welcome home your emptiness
that it may cleanse you
like the clearest air
you could ever breathe.
from "For Loneliness" by John O'Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us
Now and again (and again, and again) the "old ghosts" return, shredding confidence and making me question all I thought I knew of the thing that is me. They are sneaky, those ghosts, gliding in on the back of words spoken, looks cast, a song that brings back a time when....
I am learning. Learning to recognize them, to call them what they are, to set them firmly outside and ask them to leave. Sometimes I win. Other times the ghosts win. O'Donohue asks me to "welcome home my emptiness" - that very thing I am always trying to fill. Sigh. I am learning.
About the art: First, my apologies! I have no process pics and no video. This piece began between other paintings, as an intuitive attempt at the feeling I had while hiking in the gorge two days prior. The sun! The mist! The imposing cliffs! A surreal view that made me gasp and think "is this really my life?" and become teary at the wonder of it all. The muse had her way with this one. Acrylic paint directly on old, heavily textured board. The striations in the board informed the cliffs, which are vertical chunks of basalt in the gorge, evidence of their rugged birth and the pressure of being born. Painted with palette knife, paper towels and a rubber wedge. Here are a few of the actual views from that hike:
The view inside my mind stays firmly in the Columbia River Gorge...vast skies, basalt spires, misty horizons and every shade of gray. It is becoming so much a part of me that I feel it in my spirit deeply. It makes me sing and laugh, smile and weep, catch my breath and sigh. It is softening my heart. I feel myself opening and becoming braver, even as my thighs scream at the final assent, even as my lungs beg for mercy at the millionth steep switchback. With each step, each hike, each view - my edges are becoming polished and the light begins to come through.
You've followed me through every awkward phase of my painting and blogging journey, dear reader (well, I'm sure there will be more of those yet) Now get ready for the awkwardness of my baby giraffe-like video legs. Thanks in advance for your patience as I learn editing software, camera settings and all the things!
Here's a video in three parts. With each one the stopping point was a 24-hour pause where I spent time pondering the painting and sneaking up on it during different lighting and from various angles. In this piece, on a piece of plywood my niece previously painted and then donated to my pile of paint-overs, tools used include brushes, rubber wedge, squeegee, deli paper, paper towel and fingers. Charcoal and acrylic paint, liberal use of water. Underpainting in fluorescent orange.
As I ponder my own tumultuous year, I find myself stronger, more courageous, more open and also more prone to tears, softer and quieter - I catch my breath at the breadth and depth of this year's journey. We are still. here, - you and I, dear reader. Still wild, still wonder-filled, still digging for courage.
And here's a little taste of what's been percolating in the studio in preparation for the first auction of 2021 at Artistic Souls Gallery! Click on the link to head over to their Facebook page and join in the fun!
It's funny what you might stumble upon while hiking in the gorge. Including this tangled root web, which dazzled me and also tested my crampon-enhanced boots with slick bark and mud. I joked, in the moment, that the advertisement for said crampons might read "Prevents slipping on snow, ice, mud and rock. Will not prevent tripping. " Ha!
And then I stumbled upon this poet, Louis MacNeice, while tumbling down the rabbit hole of googling poetry. And voila! An Irish poet (and an outsider, no less) I hadn't heard of and now delight in. And as the tree becomes a talking tower, perhaps this woman can become - not just woman - but world.
About the art: Beginning with an image from a recent hike and a piece of unprimed, repurposed plywood...drawing with charcoal coming in with layers of paint and moving it around with whatever tools my hands can grab. Fighting the very heavily=grained plywood for several layers, then surrendering to the texture and allowing it to dominate the painting. It is, after all, a painting of trees and roots and wood. Which, in its abstracted form, very well could be a talking tower.
Thanks so much for the responses to our READER GIVEAWAY wish list request! Wonder Mike, after much grumbling and stretching, left his cozy spot on the sofa to choose a winner - congratulations Lisa G! An original painting is coming your way!
On the day of Winter Solstice, we can breathe with a delicious sigh, knowing the days will begin to lengthen and the world will warm. Perhaps a silly thought, with January and February still firmly in our sights, yet it makes me smile. We've come this far. And now, the turning point.
In the meantime, the windy, dark and snowy gorge beckons. I am slowly mastering the art of the right layers, the best pace, the seeing eyes. My hiking companion points out how challenging it is to keep our attention on the surroundings when descending - the mind wants wander to everyday things when the downhill easy stride begins. Even in this place of exquisite beauty, there is monkey mind. Oy.
With 2021 approaching, I want to go FISHING! That is, cast a wide net for feedback on what YOU, dear reader, want to see more of (or less of) in this blog in the New Year. More how to? Less philosophy? Video? More appearances by Wonder Mike? More abstracts? More whimsy? Less of everything except PIE? All comments are welcome!
Now's your chance to get SUPER OPINIONATED and GET REWARDED!
Leave a comment below with YOUR wishlist for malarkey central! Wonder Mike will pick a winner at random to receive piece of original art FREE! And thank you SO much for your help. xo
I listen to the trees and think of the humans of the world. We, too, groan in the winds of change - pandemic, news, fear, loss, loneliness. We are reluctant to embrace this thing, and who can blame us? But we must, it seems, "go down past things coming up" for a little while longer. I hold in my one hand the fact that I desire spring, warmth and companionship without worry. In my other hand, I hold the knowledge that it won't be today. In a recent interview with Brene Brown, Barack Obama spoke of the ability to hold opposing truths and to function in that place of discomfort as a sign of strength and resilience.
As 2020 goes "down into the dark decayed", I wish for you (and for me, dear reader) the ability to hold opposing truths as comfortably as you can. And perhaps a lovely, warm slice of pie. Whatever flavor is your favorite. :)
About the art: using the same technique as "Blowing Like Shadows", this piece was created with a strong underpainting and then masking with painter's tape before the final layers of color. I was so immersed in the process that I neglected to get pics along the way....so you will have to.use your "imaJENnation" !!!
Jen Jovan and her imaJENation