March 25, 2012
Doing this painting was incredibly satisfying—kind of like doing a cloud meditation and feeling into pure spaciousness. I was having a pretty calm day before I painted, and I became even calmer as a result of painting. I don’t have anything profound to say about it—maybe just aaaaahhh.
Here’s a photo of two clouds dancing (taken yesterday after I blogged):
And here’s a photo Charlie took this morning of the sunrise. It’s amazing to again be walking early in the morning and to see the sunrise every day.
March 7, 2012
Today is the 21-year anniversary of my father’s death. All day, I’ve been thinking about him and wanting to honor him somehow, and at the same time I’ve been so aware of how long ago that day was. My father died as a result of a staph infection brought on by medical carelessness. I spent long days with him during his last week of consciousness and again during most of a six-week coma before my family decided to execute his living will and take him off life support. Those last weeks with him were the sweetest times I ever shared with him, and they wiped away all the strife between us. On and off over the years, I’ve been writing a memoir/self-help book about how powerfully transformational those times were. I think it’s time to finish it and get it “out there.”
Here’s a photo of my sweet Papa and one of him and me together when I was young.
“Some thought he was crazy
cause he said he could fly
He just leaned into life as it went on by
And like a sail in the wind
oh, it carried him high
Over the deep blue sea.”
—from the song “Boats They Come”
by Bryan Bowers
March 5, 2012
I’m in a bad mood today. Charlie and I have lived in our wonderful new apartment since late September, and it’s mostly been blissfully quiet and peaceful. But we have a new downstairs neighbor who leaves her TV on all day (for her dog) while she’s at work, and her TV is right under my office, and the sound carries just enough to turn me into a nervous wreck and keep me from being able to concentrate. It’s been a particularly bad day today, and all day it’s been a struggle to get any work done. When this kind of thing happens, some part of me gets triggered that feels violated because my peace and quiet—and therefore my sanity—are being taken away. I don’t have any idea how this is going to get resolved, but I’m going to keep being vocal about it with the apartment management.
Meanwhile, I sure do like stamping! Using the fan brush as a stamp never occurred to me before tonight. It felt like a wondrous discovery, and it also reminded me how much I want to learn to do it with ceramics. I have a wonderful little stamped porcelain and terra cotta box from a Cleveland artist named Mark Yasenchack. You can see a lot of his work on his website. Here are a couple of his boxes—such beautiful work!
March 4, 2012
My ol’ buddy the fan brush was speaking to me again, and I felt very satisfied as I was painting. As is often the case, I don’t know what this painting is about, but it felt right to paint it, and the image is really staying with me throughout the day.
Speaking of things that are staying with me, one of my morning rituals is to read Carolyn Hax’s advice column in the Washington Post. This morning’s column included a letter from a woman who didn’t want to invite her abusive father to her wedding. Carolyn’s response included this:
One of the most crucial roles a parent plays is of protector — yet children of abusers need protection from parents. All these kids, to some degree, are forced to protect themselves.
Once your father gave you the job of watching your own back, you earned the right to keep it.
Her words really resonated with me because I grew up in an abusive home, and I’ve separated myself from my family. I’m at peace with the decision, which was made not in anger but rather out of a profound desire to care for myself consciously and well, and to not subject my inner children to any more crazymaking family dynamics. I call it a “radical act of self-care,” though it’s actually quite a few radical acts because of the number of people in my immediate family. (I exclude my dad from this entire discussion; he died in 1991, and we had a profoundly healing time during his last days.)
Many days, I feel like Ayla from The Clan of the Cave Bear. At the end of the book, she gets banished from her adopted Neanderthal clan and (to quote Wikipedia), “sets off to find other people of her own kind.” I’ve been “banished” by a few family members and chose to “divorce” several others. Regardless of the details, it’s been an empowering journey to walk away from toxicity and consciously choose my circle of support.
February 22, 2012
I had an exhausting day, and by the time I sat down to do art, I was so overstimulated and tired that I didn’t want to do anything. But my good friend the fan brush called out to me, and I got lost in scratchy painting for a while. As I did, I could feel the stress drain out of me as I got caught up in the textures and colors.
I read something in a magazine today about mindfulness-based stress reduction (a form of meditation) reducing harmful stress hormones. I’d bet that process art does, too.
The snake was a surprise at the end, but when I looked at it just now, it reminded me of two Zuni snake fetishes that I have. Now there are three snakes living with me. That seems auspicious.
January 12, 2012
I’ve been working behind the scenes on a new page for the More Art section that illustrates one of the things I sometimes do with process art that I find incredibly valuable. My art focus has been with that all day, and I’d hoped to find time to post it, but I didn’t. I expect to have it up by the end of the weekend.
Meanwhile, I’ve been wrestling a bit with the fact that even if I had posted that page today, it would be old art, not 2012 art, and certainly not art that I did today. And regardless of the fact that it’s process art, my 2012 commitment is to do process art every day and blog about it.
Some part of me put a bit of effort into trying to justify finishing the other art page and having it cover today’s commitment, but that felt weaselly, so at some point I gave up that effort and sat myself down to do some art. It feels good to follow through on a commitment, regardless of how I feel about it.
I went to an art supply store today (2-for-1 sale!) and got some watercolor paper and a couple of brushes. I’ve never used a fan brush before, and I was curious. When I got home, I was more in the mood to take the brush for a test drive than to reach inside and access anything profound, but I had some moments of presence.
I have various opinions about whether process art needs to be profound or whether it’s okay to simply play with art materials. I’d love to hear what others think about this.