This painting began a long time ago - more than a year - during a workshop with Pat Dews. The woman's face peering from the black bird was a watercolor creation waiting for inspiration. I grabbed it with the intention of painting over, but it became more of a painting around. First the bird (the boundaries of the mind, perhaps?) and then the background (in the style of Stan Kurth) . When the Gandhi quote crossed my path, it dawned on me that the piece required a layer of protection - the ghostly coyote/wolf stands between an open mind and the world, allowing a moment to choose which thoughts to allow passage through. Only those with clean feet, of course. Perhaps a new doormat and boot tray are recommended?
The blog (and the blogger) will be on vacation next week as we spend time with loved ones and gather joy for our pockets. Wishing you and yours a delightfully malarkey-filled Thanksgiving.
"...I hope you softly trip into unexpected moments of bareness, where the glow of your heart will touch everything it meets, and you can't help but remember how dear it is to be alive."
That's a heap load of whoa there. How many of us hope to trip into moments of bareness? Or allow our hearts to touch everything they meet? How to stay in that openness and vulnerability and to stop resisting where life wants to take us - that is the challenge. How to lean in when all of our instincts are to look away. How to listen to our pain and figure out what it is saying to us. Sharing our stories is a good way to lean in. Sometimes we learn something in the telling. Other times in the listening. And now and again, a story shared in a moment of vulnerability helps us softly trip into bareness together.
Nepo, in his way with the most delicious of phrases, brings us to the very point when love is knowable.
"We're all born with a depth of heart that only unchecked love and care can open. We become of utmost use when we act on this opening of the heart. Once we act, we start to live a life that is tender and resilient." (Nepo)
We act when we offer our hand, but also when we accept a hand offered, hold it closely and allow our hearts to open. The reward - a tender and resilient life - can you imagine? I am heading in that direction. It is the right way to go.
"When the tangle of the daily has us forget how precious life is, we tend to keep what matters from what needs to be done. Somewhere in the press of our day, in the press of a conflict that we won't let go of, in the press of a fear that makes us forget the deeper order of things - suddenly there's this shift and we make what matters a reward for getting to the end of trouble. But trouble never ends. It comes and goes like clouds. That is why what matters needs to come first." (Nepo)
I wonder if Mark Nepo knows how often he slaps me in the head with his words.
Recently, I've begun to reverse the priority of things. What matters comes first. The "tangle of the daily" comes after. You might be wondering what this looks like....an often empty refrigerator, a pile of ironing waiting for attention, a hike before working, a snuggle before errands, chowder with my sister before art deadlines, a long phone call with a dear one instead of sleep, painting past meal times, porch sitting in the sun. You get the idea. The resulting mind shift is flabbergasting. True, I don't get as much stuff done. The old stuff, that is. Instead, I get this other stuff, the stuff that matters, fully completed and stuffed in my joy pockets until the task list isn't even on my mind.
For you, dear reader, this might be easy and done every day. For me, the one who always focused on "getting to the end of trouble" before sitting in the preciousness of life, this is monumental. I'll stay here awhile. You know where to find me. :)
After spending time with Rick Bartow's work, I am even more convinced that we must to keep our mitts off the painting and resist over defining. The incomplete body form of the woman in this painting, along with the shredded, ragged textures, hints at the parts beneath the skin. And that's what we're all gunning for - in art and in life - the parts beneath the skin where our hearts are open. I'll meet you there. :)
It is funny to me how the universe plunks a lesson down in front of me, and then proceeds to wrap everything else around that lesson.
Wonder Mike, on the other hand, tethered to my belt loop by a long rope which requires him to follow me everywhere and set his alpha dog aside, is quietly plotting to steal another ink pen and chew it on the rug. Ink pens, of course, become rocks to sit still among as I am scrubbing the carpet.
This piece, a little return to whimsy, was an experiment with the rich walnut ink used by artist Carl Stoveland in his recent series of work. Ink requires patience (rock sitting) while it dries, even when blended with gesso and acrylic paint. But the deep, murky darks it creates are worth the wait. Don't worry - the walnut ink is safely tucked away where my little troublemaker can't reach it. :)
The trickster archetype (our black-garbed avian) exists to question, to cause us to question and not accept things blindly. This meshes nicely with one of The Four Agreements - "don't make assumptions."
When a way of thinking becomes outmoded and needs to be torn down and rebuilt, trickster appears. If you're like me, the first response to the mere suggestion of tearing down and rebuilding the ways you are thinking is to dig in your heels and furrow your brows. I chuckle as I write this, because I'm learning that these responses are exactly the clue that says - yep, girl, this is what you need to dive into. - take a breath and get on with it already. Dropping the resistance makes everything easier.
I've been cultivating a delicious sort of solitude. It is heady, so much uninterrupted time. After a lifetime of raising children (and a grandchild), working for others, managing things and priorities not my own - this long stretch of unfettered days is a luxury of the sort not found on vacation. This only ends if I wish it to. Oliver puts it best: "And that I did not give to anyone the responsibility for my life. It is mine. I made it. And can do what I want to with it. Live it. Give it back, someday, without bitterness, to the wild and weedy dunes."
Jen Jovan and her imaJENation