O'Donohue likes to awaken us to timeless truths. As do Mark Nepo, Anne Lamott, Mary Oliver and so many contemporary writers we've come to cherish. But another way to find timeless truths is through watching Midnight Gospel , where at least one of our cherished writers takes animated form and dispenses wisdom in a psychedelic world. It took me a minute or two to wrap my head around the concept of the series, but then I was hooked. There is so much happening visually in this series that I literally have to take notes to keep up with the words of wisdom the characters are calmly dispensing as they run from zombies and other unsavory situations
"Your mind can deceive you and put all kinds of barriers between you and your nature; but your body does not lie. Your body tells you, if you attend to it, how your life is and whether you are living from your soul or from the labyrinths of your negativity," writes O'Donohue.
It is so easy, when the busyness of life and the barrage of media heaps things on top of us, to treat the messages of the body as symptoms to be subdued instead of clues to a more significant situation which wants our undivided attention for a minute or two. This week, I am going to sit in my body (and less in my mind - heavens help me is that even possible?) and see what it has to say. With any luck, it will also want to paint.
About the art: Strangely In-Between is acrylic over gesso'd wood panel. Many layers, some thin and some thick. Liberal use of water bottle with sprayer and squeegee. The hair is "drawn" with a paintbrush taped to a long wooden stick, which facilitates lack of control and a looser stroke. In our family, there is something called the "Baleja Nose" (a strong, ethnic, somewhat bulbous appendage) which I love to put on my female portraits. This one is clearly no exception.
Withdrawal is oil over oil. A painting underneath, meticulously over-controlled and without movement or abstraction. Painting on top of the controlled piece allows scraping through to expose some under layers, along with a sense of composition to detour from, allowing the abstraction without losing the gist of it. This technique was so satisfying that I may just purposely paint some controlled pieces just so I can vandalize them later!
There it is - that quicksand Huxley describes. Fear. Despair. And so instead I breathe through it, cast away the fear and go forward. Optimism is a superpower. And it weighs nearly nothing.
About the art: this is the final piece from the Expressive Seascapes workshop with Pauline Agnew. The goal in creating this painting was to abstract a big wave! There are the requisite 80 million layers in this one. Mostly one glaze over another, leaving both sharp, geometric spaces and hard edges along with soft, murky sections. Primary tools were a large dry brush, spray water bottle and rubber wedge shaper.
It is SO exciting to be participating in my first ever online art auction with the incredible Artistic Souls Gallery! August 2 - 3 only. Stop by on Facebook to see all the amazing art, and to snag yourself one of these lovelies.
I've been pondering the muse. That outrageous, ill-tempered, demanding and elusive being I love so much. On the surface, it seems to be a dysfunctional relationship. She appears to hold all the power and to have very precise requirements for her to remain with me. She seems to be unpredictable and moody, unreliable and fickle. And yet... what she requires are the very things my spirit thrives on - adequate rest, a slower pace, showing up every day to practice and create. She wants regular infusions of adventure and new experiences, deep connections and exquisite, luxurious laziness. She wants to surround me with good people and excellent food and the feeling of rain on my upturned face.
And so, as I return to the studio after a brief (but much needed) time of family, connection and adventure, I see the muse nodding at me with bright eyes. She hands me the brush and says "let's begin."
About the art: created in the style of Scottish painter Barbara Rae's abstracted waterways, this piece strives to push an aerial view to abstraction. Beginning with a heavily gesso'd panel with a focus on texture, adding light washes of neutrals over color. Spray bottle, rubber wedge, chopstick and paper towels used to create more texture. Resisting the temptation to clean edges - allowing one to run over the next until an organic feel is achieved.
Simply put, making art is chancy - it doesn't mix well with predictability. ART & FEAR
But this repeated experience of being tickled into submission by the muse has been, frankly, transformative. I really don't mind going with the flow anymore - in art or in life. I mean, I'd rather things went down one particular path or another of course, but I have learned to stop and expand my thoughts to include good things that just might happen even if I trip and fall down a perilous path and land with bloodied knees.
Uncertainty is the essential, inevitable and all-pervasive companion to your desire to make art. And tolerance for uncertainty is the pre-requisite to succeeding. ART & FEAR
Based on my level of tolerance, I have now clearly found my inevitable and essential companion. He isn't exactly what I expected, and with a name like "Uncertainty", no wonder he was still single. :)
A glimpse into the twisted path of the painting:
About the painting: oil on gesso'd plywood. Beginning with thin layers spread with rubber brayer and a soft cloth, then adding texture with palette knife and chopstick. A little dry brushing to soften sky and water.
Jen Jovan and her imaJENation