That's not hard to do, lately. The heart melting part. As my edges soften, the light gets in (and comes out, and moves through) and I feel things even more deeply. As I learn to speak gently and tenderly to myself, my thoughts and words toward others become ever softer. I trust again.
About the art: beginning with an unprimed birchwood panel, an inspiration photo and a limited color palette, painting from the inside of the figure outward, and then from the outside of the figure inward. RESISTING the desire to define features. EMBRACING the abstracted background and shapes/textures made by rubber wedge, brush and fingers..
I like to think I embrace vulnerability. It sure feels that way as I approach the rocky end of a narrow cliff ledge on a mountain. And it sure feels that way when I post my art, my words, my thoughts and feelings on social media and in this blog. It sure feels that way when I open my wounded (but resilient) heart to another human. And for darn sure when my aging, scarred body is revealed to another. But am I really being vulnerable?
There are "waterfalls coming out of my eye sockets" that I often hold back or feel sheepish about. There are parts of my life where "I don't know. I don't know where to go" and yet I don't ask for help. And I do struggle with saying "I am not ok right now." Mostly, I realize upon this path of inquiry, where my hiking boots are not helping and my resilience doesn't make it any easier, that perhaps I have not yet reached the summit of vulnerability. Sigh. I will keep climbing.
This week the GoPro is on loan to an improvisor and visual poet, so I'll give you a little pictorial journey of this piece in lieu of video.
Beginning with a notanized selfie as a loose inspiration image and an underpainting of fluorescent paint mixed with titanium white. Drawing with my non-dominant hand in charcoal and then layering in colors while trying not to try...in other words, to keep it loose, to let the paint play, to resist realism and allow peculiarity to dominate the piece. Tools include fingers, paper towel, rubber wedge, brushes and a spray bottle of water.
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!
Jen Jovan and her imaJENation