"How on earth did Alice go directly into the hole," I wonder as news of viruses and politics and gun violence prompt thoughts of becoming a modern day hermit. Our instincts to avoid dark holes might be appropriate in the physical world (I type this and then I recall my sister wanting to venture into a dark cave filled with the sound of trickling water when we were exploring a rural pathway in Italy a couple of years ago) and yet when it comes to our own human souls, Richo posits these dark holes might actually be the passageways to transformation and wholeness.
I'll be looking for opportunities to defy logic this week. And while that may result in a pile of paintings waiting to be smothered in black gesso, it might also land me in Wonderland. Want to come along?
About the painting: layers of water-soluble ink applied loosely with a brush. Acrylic paint added to sky and liberally vandalized with bare fingers. Acrylic added to lower portion and sprayed with water. A thin line of quinacridone violet added to the horizon with a small brush.
We're taking a break from 2D art today.
In advance of this past weekend's shamanic and Celtic hand-fasting ceremony (a very Portland kind of engagement for this new couple), shaman Bob White suggested we might want symbolic rings...which lead us to artisans Angela and Ben Sipp , a creative and collaborative couple who took our thoughts and transformed them into 3D beauty.
From rough sketches on the back of an envelope to a prototype to try on, we got to be in on nearly every step of their process with these rings. It was kind of like seeing the wizard behind the curtain....and also witnessing a couple doing together what they love most - making art.
Shaman Bob and his love, Cricket, found each other at the age of 60, and now enjoy spreading their love and talents together through their own collaborative spirit - shamanism and art. If that isn't serendipitous synchronicity to start our journey of love on sound footing, I'm not sure what is!
Art is a highly organized form of wandering - Brian Rutenberg, Studio Visits Episode 51
At first glance, there is very little about the creative process here that seems organized. But when we look a little closer at the quote...wandering isn't organized at all, is it? Perhaps the organized part is just that we show up regularly with art supplies and free hands. And then things happen - like this painting, an atmospheric free-fall using only rubber wedge and paper towels. The magic in this particular piece was achieved by beginning with an underpainting of gold gesso, which adds a glow to everything and loves to be revealed when paint on top is scraped away. And the gold is only there because I wandered into it while rifling through paints while waiting for the muse. Hmmmm. Wandering might just be the key to everything. :)
Thank you to EVERYONE who responded to our Valentine's story, and especially to those who submitted their own heart-felt tales over the last week. :) Cat, Kitten and Pooch, Inc. were a bit overwhelmed by their choices, and so have decided to select TWO winners! Congratulations to Cindy J. and to Candis, whose stories of love late in life and early in life, respectively, will each inspire a collaborative piece from us. Love ALWAYS wins!
This weekend, we spent a lot of time with Barbara Rae and her paintings of the Northwest Passage. Color, texture, collage and shadowy figures. Her influence on what I see has already begun. She takes the mood of Ornulf Opdahl and turns it into a feast of vibrant color and delicious abstraction.
But let's take a minute to dwell in the promise of spring and new beginnings with the wisdom of Irish poet John O'Donohue:
Though your destination is not yet clear
you can trust the promise of this opening;
unfurl yourself into the grace f beginning
that is at one with your life's desire
_ from "For a New Beginning" from the book To Bless the Space Between Us
Thank you to everyone for all the stories of LOVE in response to last week's Valentine blog post! Keep 'em coming! The winner will be drawn Wednesday evening and announced this Thursday.
And then he does the unexpected - sells his house, packs his life into a truck and moves to Portland. Where we will spend Valentine's Day and begin building a life together. All the things friends (and great winged loves) do.
We can't see into the future or know what tomorrow may bring. But sometimes, when we least expect it, there it is - all the things. Wishes granted. Sparkly magic sprinkled on ordinary lives. We're going to grab that and hold it close.
Brian, thank you for being my very best friend and my great love rolled into one adorable truckload of cats and woodworking tools. And for losing that auction 15 years ago. Best cd I ever owned.
A response from today's guest blogger, brian:
I was lucky enough to read Jen's version of this wonderfilled tale prior to penning my own, which allows me some license. Since now you already know what 'really happened' and I can give you my recount, replete with a mildly different perspective. I think, in the end, you may feel like we do, the two are much like one.
The universe has my gratitude as well and there is a lot of it, I have not located the bottom of this gargantuan vat nor do I anticipate doing so, at least during the current century. Like Jen, I've learned a few things about love, enough to know I will continue to learn as time unfolds, good news is that it all just keeps getting better.
Give me your hand, let's walk ....
About 15 years ago I logged into my ebay account and searched for an obscure artist's CD, there was a copy being auctioned which in itself was surprising, but even more surprising to me was that anyone else would even know the artist, much less out-bid me on it. So after losing, I sent a congratulatory message citing my respect for their choice.
As Jen shared with you prior, we developed a fast friendship, a solid friendship quickly, if you will.
At that time I was undergoing the most challenging situation I had ever been faced with, as it was, Jen had experience with a similar issue and put out a massively helpful hand. I decided to take her offered advice verbatim, I emerged from my situation with the desired outcome, in the end what she did was a huge and very meaningful gift to my family.
We kept in touch through the years, there was a warm, gentle flow, a reassuring consistency. Then some more time passed .... and was resolved by another touch .... "it's been a bit, how are things?"
Oh my, how those words changed our lives.
I could never have guessed how things had changed, but they had and it brought me to attentiveness. I decided that this was the PERFECT opportunity to repay this superlative human being for their kindness and compassion. I would help her get to her feet again, just like had been done for me. So the endeavor was launched, with steadfast sincerity.
I am pretty sure this is where the universe became involved, it sat us down and made us quiet, quiet enough for us to see. We did see and more important we heard it with our hearts, the universe was showering us with friend requests, all we had to do was accept. So we did, after much talk we chose to explore this blossoming friendship and that is where you will find us for the next .... eleventy billion years, give or take.
Jen, you are the friend of my dreams, my true love, my Anam Cara. I'd like, if you don't already have plans, to spend all the days walking by your side, hearing your voice and holding your hand? C'mere you.
Thank you, dear reader, for your time and for helping us share this story of love at Valentine's Day. We would love to hear YOUR love story! As lengthy or as short as you want it to be. Post in a comment below, or email your story to email@example.com. A winner will be selected at random by the company of Cat, Kitten and Pooch, Inc. The winner will receive a one-of-a-kind collaborative painting inspired by their own love story and created by Jen and brian. Ready? Set? Go!
Let's talk about Murphy. Facing down a mastodon (well, at least that's what I see in this painting). What on earth could that mean for us this week? It rattled around in my thoughts until this dropped into my lap:
“A further sign of health is that we don’t become undone by fear and trembling, but we take it as a message that it’s time to stop struggling and look directly at what’s threatening us.”
― Pema Chodron
Oh. Yep. Looking directly at things. Even those things which make us cringe and want to avert our eyes. I did that recently - stared directly at the elephant in the room (or the mastodon in the painting, so to speak) and voila! A clear understanding of what needed to happen next to lead that pachyderm out the door. Life imitating art imitating potatoes and behemoths. It's going to be a good week. :)
Ordinary courage - speaking from the heart - isn't so easy. This week I've been drawn to all kinds of people speaking honestly and openly (brave, vulnerable humans!) and also to the exquisite openness the listener often feels safe to display in response. Telling our stories from the heart forges a connection unlike any other. A sweet reward for an act of ordinary bravery. I'll take more of that.
You, dear readers, are bravely risking yourselves in the world. Some of you, for a son or a daughter. Others, for the right partner. Many of you for the right thing (often that thing is making art or creating whatever your heart is pulling you to bring forth). Your longing makes you brave, courageous, tenacious and bold.
Whyte says longing is a form of moving...In longing we move and are moving from a known but abstracted elsewhere, to a beautiful, about to be reached, someone, something or somewhere we want to call our own. Let's move from abstracted elsewhere to beautiful. Here - take my hand. We can be brave together.
About the painting - black gesso over a well-grained wood panel. Initial sketch with a chopstick and red paint. Adding layers of acrylic and acrylic mixed with gesso while resisting (RESIST! RESIST!) the urge to overly refine. A layer of deep dark blue over the black gesso'd background to add depth and more contrast and interest.
So it was no surprise when this piece, a small paint-over created using the methods of Stan Kurth, decided to present an odd birdhouse and what I see to be a person moving through...something.
In keeping with this month's practice theme of extreme limitation, this painting was created using the leftover paint on another painter's palette, along with some colored pencil and gesso. I added to that the recommendation of artist Carol Lee Monosson Eden to turn the painting 90 degrees with each additional layer in search of shapes. Brilliant, Carol! I thoroughly enjoyed discovering what was appearing with each layer and turn.
I'll leave you with this nugget of wisdom from artist Brian Rutenberg: "There must, MUST be joy." Wishing you every joy in your creative endeavors today. :)
Jen Jovan and her imaJENation