It was early Sunday morning in Anacostia, D.C. We had driven paintings to my gallery in Georgetown. Susan and I wanted to drive through the area to get some referral photos. I like to incorporate local images from the area surrounding the gallery. Anacostia was considered unsafe for 2 women to drive through alone, but I have never paid much attention to that kind of warning. (An inherent dislike of fear.) I discovered, in Susan, a like-minded soul. She had her Dad’s CINCPAC hat! What more did we need? I saw this peaceful gardener working with her hands in the dirt and immediately knew it would live on a canvas. There were many people dressed for church on the streets. Most smiled and waved at our bright faces. This painting has always been a reminder for me to expect goodness from other people. To expect goodness from the great mystery which is life. This image of a sweet gardener became “Sowing Good Seed”. The seeds continue to grow and to flower, and to give others a reason to smile.
Making a living in the art world has been quite a journey. In my early years of painting, there was only one motivation in me to do art: Joy. Already an adult before touching a canvas with paint and brush, the surprise of my new found skill was more magical than it would have been had I been aware of it before. It can safely be said the whole process was like living on the surface of a helium balloon. I was filled with the joy of creating. Joy had eluded me in the previous 40 years. Looking back objectively, I see many incarnations of my artist self. For several years, my work sold well, without any effort on my part – other than participating in showing it. Then the economic downturn of the last few years became a part of my experience. I had grown to rely on sales for living and eating and paying my bills. There were voices demanding the kind of attention my skill level was not equipped to address. Pain is often a doorway to revelation. Marketing was introduced to me. It was a whole new concept. Market my work to sell it. At first it was not in the least appealing. It felt phony. Then I decided to approach marketing with my artist self. Marketing is an extremely creative vocation. Having already sold a lot of art, I knew that for me, in defining my motivations I did not have to be untruthful. I could reveal more of my sense of humor and my compassionate side without losing my work’s originality. I discovered that marketing is about relationship. In learning some new skills, I have also begun to place boundaries around my artist self. The main ones are Joy, Fun, and Laughter. If I am not laughing a lot, if there is no joy in it, there will be no fun. I have discovered joy is worth more than wealth. In fact, my thought here is joy IS wealth.
We are in the process of learning how to live in Love. That’s what I want! After class on Wednesday, we usually have lunch together. After we ate, this past week, we talked for over an hour. Patsy asked each of us what we know to be our purpose in life. I answered as well as I could at that moment. Today, after meditating on the question, I realize my answer to be incomplete. The truest answer is this: I want to keep growing Love in my spirit. Rather I want to stay nestled in Love’s arms. The journey is eternal. We can determine to grow in Love. No matter what our failures have been. We can begin again and again. I am an artist. One part of this for me is to tell my story in image or in words. This is another moment of clarity for me. I am filled with such gratitude!
“Allow yourself to experience every note the heart can play.” Michael Singer
BY THE SEA – 36×36 – acrylic on board
Do not resist what is. That would make you very unhappy in the long run. It will clench your gut and close your heart off from understanding. From experiencing True/Love (takes Patience).
Do not demand guarantees from the future. You will be healthier if you learn to flow seamlessly, from one moment into the next.
The Moon Belongs to Everyone – 16×16/acrylic on board/SOLD
My heart is drawn to fantasy. Sometimes it is the only way I know to tell the truth. Truth is the ring I am reaching for in all my artistic endeavors. As a painter, I am drawn to exaggeration. I exaggerate the way light dances around on 3-dimensional objects. I love that exaggeration is in my tool chest. It makes doing art much easier, more fun. Today, I have been thinking about layers. In my work: acrylic, oil, paper, or words, I use layering consistently. If one layer doesn’t say what I want it to, I add more layers until the piece begins to tell the truth.
I come by my love for fantasy naturally. It is part of my temperament. It held me in its embrace during my earliest years. My childhood was quite lonely, but hardly unpleasant as I was guided into reading and making up stories and songs and creative play. It has been my friend during my adult years as well. When I was told I needed open-heart surgery to replace a congenitally flawed aortic valve a few years ago, my son brought me a set of fantasy books to read during the tense days of determining exactly what could be done for my heart. My doctors informed me of how grave my situation was. I had let it go far too long. There were scary moments, but I also had many engaging and enjoyable moments of reading. I was grateful for my son’s gift. Writing and sharing what I write is my most recent medium. I am seeing, in the patience and true stories, borrowed moments from my own reality. I am hoping these moments of fantasy can be of use to someone else as well. My writing will continue to hold a great deal of “story telling”. But, when I am moved to tell a little of the truth behind it, I won’t hold back. I promise.
REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE – 18×26 – acrylic on board/Sold
How do we get introduced to ourselves? How do we identify the gifts in us that make us who we really are? We try very hard to stuff ourselves into places where there is no fit. Often we do this to make someone else happy. In John Bunyan’s book – “Pilgrim’s Progress”- the traveler leaves his path, is locked in a prison, nearly loses all hope, and gives up to be a prisoner forever until he remembers a key was placed in his pocket at the beginning of his journey. He tries the key, opens the door and is released, rejoining his path. He had forgotten: The means for unlocking his prison was in his pocket the whole time. What have we forgotten? What valuable gifts do we carry within us? How can we find them and use them? These are good questions to ask. I am convinced we all have keys in forgotten places. But, how do we find them? I don’t have a formula answer for this question, but I know some things about my own journey. Art has been for me a key. It has been the entry for new spaces into my inner landscape. The meditative discipline of painting or writing has shaped me in very real ways. Several years ago, I worked in a restaurant to help with family finances. If you have ever done that kind of work, you will understand how stressful it can be. I didn’t mind working, but being away from my children during the day was depressing. As a light changed and I turned onto the road towards work, I asked: “Is this all there is”? The answer was immediate. I looked down at my chest and saw a huge many facetted diamond inside me. It was so bright I could only glance, It was there! An inaudible voice said inside me: “Isn’t this enough?” A few months later, I began the art journey. All this makes me wonder if our life’s most important quest is to remember who we are.