Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Aunt K's

After disembarking we drove straight to my Aunt Korrene's house in Houston where I re-encountered all kinds of treasures. She and my uncle have beautiful houses, well appointed furnishings...and then art. Zero clutter.

On her shelves at Rosa Ridge sit art, artifacts, and important gifts. Some of Paul Friesen's pottery sits right next to my cousin Erin's pottery. A small carved marble replica of the Taj Mahal, luminescent with gold accents, sits open in its fancy box. A 4" carved quartz Madonna and blue interference crystal pieces rest in front of some of my aunt's books. A 4" square altered book sits with its ribbons, dangling buttons, tags and tattered pages---looking like something old and well-loved. I picked this piece up and said to Cody, "This looks like something I could have made." I did make it. My aunt's best books sit like treasures enclosed in a hutch in her office. In this room, she also keeps a photo that she took of me drinking coffee at Sunday brunch several years ago. Of course, in her living room is a large framed print of Redon's Buddha. (She has seen and was drawn to the original at Musee d' Orsay.)

Both of us are drawn to Redon.
45 minutes away, Magnolia sits on acreage by a lake with too many Palladion windows to count. The walls are painted soft warm yellows and soft warm blues. The floors are matte Travertine so I could hardly wait to get my shoes off and absorb contact. On one wall near the hearth sit a cluster of four paintings. My aunt knew right away which one would be my favorite. When Cody and Michael got back from buying wine, Cody guessed it too. In that same room sits the most sinkable-into-blue leather slipper chair and ottoman. I think it might be a Persian blue/Cobalt/Cerulean color blend---but I'd have to study it to verify its color. I just knew I had to be held by it.
Bottom right. The top left is a close second. (Sorry I inadvertently clipped the other two in the photo!)

In my aunt's lake house office, right above a soft yellow couch, hangs Grotesque Ethereal. I really can't explain the feeling I get when I re-encounter one of my paintings a time of absence from it. I guess it's similar to the altered book experience---I immediately love it and need to touch it, and then I'm just warm and glad it hangs where it hangs. On the adjacent wall are a few mandalas, Ave Maria, and a pressed paper painting from my palate which ended up being the cover of my zine in 2010. (I had been working on a thick gel rainbow painting. I have no idea where the actual painting landed. Forgive my forgetfulness. Anyone?)

We slept at Magnolia. I might have stolen the entire Dupioni silk duvet from Cody. Anyhow, Experiencing people in their surroundings is a bit like establishing context with others---but this is visual, visceral, intimate, telling. I love experiencing the commonalities to the art we share. Everything jives about my aunt and her surroundings. I am so grateful for her presence in my life. (Bright idea! I might just have to blog about two of my other aunts' homes, too.)

Aunt K took us to the Menil where we got to see a large Surrealist collection and the most amazing installation. I will post about that next.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

40 at Sea

Turning 40 sounds older than it feels. I have known this would probably be the case. My great grandfather lived to almost 100, and he said he never felt older than 30 in his mind.

As someone who is not usually hung up over actual dates, I have never planned a vacation over my birthday. (I believe in the importance of celebrating and marking important moments, but I loath the pressure and expectations of any "should" or get-over-it-because-it's-X-holiday kind of thinking.) So when my In-laws gave me a trip earlier this year, I was mostly just excited for any reason to see the ocean. It turns out celebrating my 40th trip around the sun while floating in the Caribbean/Gulf was pretty spectacular.

On the 9th I skinny dipped on this private beach in Progresso. I found some really amazing sea gifts which may have involved me hopping a barrier to an "uncombed" stretch of sand.

On the way to the beach I also had the joy of seeing hundreds of flamingos in their natural habitat. I have wanted a flamingo feather for a while now, and I actually found one on the beach fifteen miles away from the habitat.

On the 10th I got to scuba dive for the first time. It's a good thing I'm more of a learn by doing kind of gal because that's exactly what happened that day. A few instructions in the "classroom" and then they strapped on our gear and told us to go under. It sure throws the rational brain---so letting go of what you know and trusting what you feel is demanded. The whole thing came quite naturally to me, but maybe that has something to do with my well-exercised comfort for trusting process/experience?
     There were, however, times I would get so enamored with what I was seeing, that I would actually forget to breathe and my body would float up and carry me away until I remembered to breathe normally. Duh, if you store up air in your lungs, you begin to float. If you exhale and only use the immediate air available, you can just swim and breathe without floating (you wear weights).
      The other reminder that I was breathing under water occurred when I wanted to talk with Cody about what we were seeing. (Hmmm...talk or breathe?) This actually surprised me quite a lot because one of my favorite things about being under water are the peaceful, muted sounds. I am certain there are profound analogies in my scuba learning and I am still processing the ideas.
On the 11th, my body woke me up at 5:30 and said, "Go outside!" I slipped out onto the balcony for two glorious hours of solitude and contemplation aided by the sound of the ocean, watching Perseus until the sun took over. Then I slipped back into bed and woke up hours later, just in time for brunch. The rest of the day was full of sketching and resting, dreaming and visions I will continue to process, if not paint. Letting go was easy, because being away from all responsibility (where I do not have to worry about providing food or water for anyone, even myself) was quite the restful gift.

And so it was---a string of non-ordinary days at sea. I do not know if it will ever happen again, and I'm learning to believe that is okay.

I now have the memory, and more importantly, the frame.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

10 Years

The Blue Pearl
I have had my blog for ten years. If I were a good blogger I would hold some kind of a contest but I am not interested in readership or promotion, or the risk of inviting unwanted traffic. I do want to do something to celebrate marking ten years, so here goes my reflection:

I started as a good blogger. I had lots to say. I talked with certainty and I stated facts...from my experience. I linked to other bloggers. I met other bloggers and talked for hours with them on the phone. Before the two of us made the connection, a common blogger in Florida realized two of us were from Wichita because we had both posted about the Rolling Stones playing WSU. Kristiapplesauce and I actually met IRL (haha) at On the Border and she had to call her husband to "let him know" I was "not a serial killer". We are still friends today. I wish I could find the posts about when we met but they are all wiped out (her blog is completely wiped out) because...life happened and we changed.

I changed so much, and so drastically that for a time my blog was set to private. Eventually I hated the limitations of privacy, so instead I just erased years of writing. I tried to recover it once but then got over it because I was embarrassed about what I had written anyway.Sometimes I'm still embarrassed about what I have written in the past, but trusting the process has made it possible for me to appreciate history, no matter how much I have changed. So I highly doubt there will ever be another "Great Flood" from this creator.

I blogged through my healing, through graduate school and through my growth as an artist.

I still have vulnerability hangovers but they are not as bad. I give myself permission to post and then delete. The good blogger crowd seems to have dropped off the radar, and these days I don't feel pressure to do anything other than what I want to do with this space. Which means I am posting less often these days but I am sure even that is cyclical. (If you need a good blog fix, please follow my real life friend who writes under a pseudonym.) Instagram is easy and marks dates and times...and I love letting photos speak for themselves.

It can be ridiculous getting photos from my iPhone to Blogger. But I will keep posting here when I have more to say than just photos. My favorite Chekhov quote is, "If you want to work on your art, work on your life." Duh. Live and learn. I have seen my art through my blog and noticed how I used to create to cope. Currently there's less coping, instead, I just like to create. I am sure the need/reasons for my blog will continue to shift, too.

I am grateful to have a central, public space where I can share my heart, my processes with the anticipation that today or some day after I am through these seasons, someone somewhere will care to read about them.  Whether you are reading this now, or years after I have written it, know I post because if you want to know me, I want you to know me---And I would like to know you! (I can't imagine how much I would pour over my grandparents' words if I had them today.... or what if I could figure out some way to read the words my kids will write in 50 years?!) And if you want to share yourself with me now, I hope you will do so.

I am grateful for all of the people I have met and for those who have reached out to me because of the blog over the years. I love connecting! I invite you to share about your favorite post or to share about what my blog has meant to you, in the comment section below. (Yes, Mom, Lara (Anonymous) and Korrene...it might only be you for a while. Maybe some day Mason or Chloe will share, too!)

Thanks for letting me share.

Another thought about our mantel

These two objects hang below the feathers, rocks, ceramics, etc.
I found the solid brass anchor (door knocker) years ago at a thrift store. When Chloe gave me the star lantern for Christmas a few ago, I immediately attached them without thought. I just knew they should hang together. 
This just now become a conscious thought: 
As with the collage on my mantel, they too, connect heaven and earth.

And why I meet my clients there

Where I meet my beautiful clients

On Our Mantel

Yep, that's my shriveled blue starfish...a little sad for me but I had to keep her.
At the center of my home, the center of my being, is a tranquil, holy and sacred place. Deep blue skies. Deep on land. Deep within the earth. Deep in the ocean.

Everything on my hearth and mantel are a gift or a lucky find. I even love it when I get to dust because it means carefully handling and arranging these special pieces, rotating things in, rotating things out.

Yes, I love all things water. Lots of blues, coral, pearls (in one of the tiny jars) and the tortoise shell cover the ocean deep.

The short fat Raku vase Cody hand built in high school has a MARI symbol on it! It's the fan, or self in motion.The tiny blue pots hold pearls and driftwood and polished fish scales (Australia) and jade (China) and lavender petals.
I love air. My daughter's air has breathed so much life into my lungs. I used to call Chloe "Birdie" (& "Dolly"). Feathers and my blue starfish remind me of her. All of the feathers on my mantel were either found by me, Mason or my aunt Korrene. Feathers remind me of Psalm 91. And also of a vintage Dayspring poster my aunt Lena gave me which hung above my childhood bed on Cherry Hills Drive: A closeup photo of a yellow chick in someone's blue pocket with the phrase "Lord protect me and keep me close to your heart." Insulation is good. Flight is good. Birds are a theme in many of my dreams.

I have placed a photo of my husband as an infant inside one of Mason's little dishes. I have added some deep sea elements, as well as my precious found Great Horned Owl feathers (the oh-so-soft semi-plume feather which I found on my day of ecstatic rest is off to the left). The fiery red songbird feather in the pale celadon pot to the right reminds me of my babe. I will have to move all of my feathers this winter when the fireplace actually burns. I should probably do that now, as I have noticed some deterioration (mites) anyway. But it's so nice to have them out!

Fire is also represented in each of the ceramics and rocks as well as with the sage bundle which I burn with intention for demarcation and clarity. Because smell (unlike the other senses which route through logical parts of the brain) goes directly into Olfactory nerves without needing to be processed by the cerebral cortex, this practice offers an instant knowing in the body! In other words, I have trained my body to equate clarification and boundaries with the smell of burning sage. I don't even have to think about it, which is nice when I feel like I can't think straight. (This is a practice I started at my office. When the sage comes out....)

The large iron stained rock is from our family trip to Co this summer. The lavender twigs and dried greenery (in the hand built vase by Cody) smell great tossed on the fire. That's a polished wand of spotted jasper in the little pot, something that reminds me of our sweet Penny. And of course my apple and tiger coral beads spilling out of the larger blue pot.
I also love earth, because the dear boy entrusted to me is pure salt of the earth. It is only natural Mason makes art from deep inside the earth. He has been throwing on the wheel for a few years now. Recently he made a break through and his tiny vessels are growing in height and their walls are thinning out. I especially love to run my finger over the grooves carefully plied by his own growing fingers. The taller, larger pieces were made by Cody. The vase front and center with all the feathers in it was made by him and given to me when he was 17. It has the most amazing textures which I also love to run my hands over.


The other two photos on the mantle are found. The photo on the left is stacks of beehives tucked in an autumnal landscape. Bees are an important reminder of intelligent design to me. Keeper of the Bees is one of my favorite books, a multigenerational story. The one on the right is very old, and I believe a photo of the Mediterranean Sea. I luckily picked it up four years ago. It reminds me of Frederick Judd Waugh's work

I might have been afraid to do this years ago---for fear of worshiping objects, looking like a witch, causing others to question my spirituality, etc. (Plus, I really liked the imported tchotchkes at Tuesday Morning.) On a micro level, this altar reminds me of how the four of us integrate and play a role in each others' healing. On a macro level, these things remind me to integrate the Kingdom now and to practice heaven on earth with others, not just in my family. Perhaps it is like a shrine or my home is my own temple---but these items themselves are not too precious or magical. The only power they hold is that they point me back to my creator. And isn't that kind of the point of everything?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Pictures Worth a Thousand Words

My Instagram feed seems to have become my blog these days. Every time I create I think, I really must get these on the blog. I have struggled to find time to create, let alone blog about such creation. In the pinch I choose creating. ...and I have been creating with some pretty cool things. 

I have kept this blog for ten years this month. I am not going to stop. For today, please see my Instagram feed.   ---------------------------------------------------------------------->

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Marbled Rainbow: Blue

Blue, 2'X4' Acrylic on wood panel (The photos are dark, taken in artificial light for now.)

I have been sitting with these panels in my living room for several months now. Tonight I finally was given the sense of what to do next. I darkened the corners and edges. Then I added gold leaf (spirit) to the actual edge of the panel (think like a gold leafed Bible), and added a few gold spots on the actual painting.The result, for me, is one of peace and greater depth. I like the idea of leaving the marbling alone, for people to find their own subjects within. The focal point then becomes whatever the person sees. Somehow these boundaries provide the permission, the safety to have a deeper look and seek meaning.

The daunting task of framing these 2'X4' panels has been a large part of why I have not even wanted to touch them. The last panel I tried to frame took 3 attempts, and ultimately I wasn't even satisfied with that frame. It just wasn't the look I was going for.

In a way, the treatment of the edges eliminates the need for a frame. I might float them by gluing long strips of wood along the middle insides of the edges. One of the strips would have a notch which would support the nail. The others would balance the painting against the wall on all sides, giving it the look of floating off the wall.

Late spring I thought about selling these. But now I am thinking about what it would be like to work around them, as I had originally intended. I sit in a board room with wonderful natural light, and pretty stark walls. Many times I have sat there wondering about the spacing of these panels in that room. (How many could it handle? Where would they look best? In what direction would they hang?) There is also a long hallway out the back door, where they could be used as originally intended, a way of cleansing the body/mind/spirit after certain sessions. I guess my new work family would have to want them all there...and they are a commanding set. I can just see it now: Our clients affected by agoraphobia and OCD might want to steer clear. It's one thing to sit with ambiguity, quite another to look directly into it.   

Monday, August 24, 2015

Chicago Pt III

On a bright, sunny day in 1986, I walked out the side doors at Eastview Elementary School, and began my way down the familiar one-mile path home from school. I walked through a neighborhood, past the public pool and around the middle school.  For some reason or another, the other girls I usually walked with were not along that day. I’m sure I stopped to smell flowers, wonder at the clouds, and gaze with jealousy at the birds and butterflies soaring in the air. Yes, I was that kid; my whole world was full of beauty and joy. I knew at the end of my walk, my mom would be waiting with apple slices stuffed with peanut butter and marshmallows.

Perhaps I was thinking about telling my mom all about my day, when out of nowhere, a group of teenage girls began to pick on me. They sneered names at me as they each took their turn beating me up. They punched me and kicked in the backs of my knees. They dragged me, through pea gravel, by my crimped blonde hair before walking away. I was left on the path with blood stained, ripped-up jeans and a crushed spirit. I do not remember how I got home that day.

This summer, I drove over 700 miles and returned to my childhood home to walk this very path again. One might ask, why, after 25 years have passed, would anyone would want to do such a thing? The truth is I did not even know why I wanted to go back. I simply knew it was something my body, mind and spirit needed to do. 

I drove to my elementary school, through a neighborhood, past the public pool and around the middle school and parked my car. I walked to the part of the path where I was beaten, and I marveled at how much smaller it seemed. The surrounding trees were now much taller and there was no more painful pea gravel, it was now paved. I felt strong and even grateful, as I walked and recalled both good and bad times. The path itself was nicely landscaped to one side, and the other side was overgrown with unkempt shrubs, weeds, and dotted among them were the prettiest pink wildflowers! I picked a sprig of the wildflowers, and wondered that they would grow in such conditions. I returned to the car, and pressed the wildflowers in between the pages of my book.

As humans, each of us are on a journey made up of multiple paths. My own story illustrates how most life journeys are pieced together by multiple paths, where good is experienced right alongside the bad. At times we find ourselves on a sunny path shaded by beautiful, green trees. Everything in our journey seems to be going well. The future seems bright and clear. Other times, we find ourselves on a path overshadowed by the remnants of thorny, hollow trees. This path seems to be dominated by darkness with low visibility. Sometimes we experience twists and turns which are not up to us. We might even be dragged into conflict with other people along this path.

These particularly difficult stretches can leave us feeling bewildered and defeated. These are the times 
when we might look to a neighbor, a family member or a close friend to guide us back to the sunny path. Sometimes, we might even seek the help of a counselor who empowers us to clearly see and build our own way to a newer, better path. Either way, only we, ourselves, have the power to change the way we view our journey, what we choose to do with our journey, and how we choose to experience our journey. We can focus on the weeds, and be dragged away from a world with beauty and joy. Or we can notice and cultivate the beautiful wildflowers springing up despite tough conditions.
Now when I think about my memories along that path, I remember the wildflowers. I remember all the other walks on that path that I shared with friends, the beautiful sky, the flowers, birds and butterflies, and I am grateful my heart has stayed open to beauty and joy.