Monday, February 10, 2014
On a busy First Friday event in my art studio at The Banana Factory, I was in the middle of selling two pieces of my art to two different people when I noticed two little boys come into my studio, who then ran out, then came running back in. From years of working retail in a past life, I always do my best to give my full attention to the people I am speaking with, yet keep an wide eye on everything else happening around me.
I notice one of the little boys excitedly pointing at one of my mandalas - one that was covered in mantras. This was quite curious to me because I wasn't expecting them to know what it said. I excused myself for a moment to walk over to them. I bent down and asked the boy that had been pointing if he knew what the mantras said. With GREAT excitement, he looked me in the eye and while pointing up at this piece said, "That's my name!" Not fully understanding what he meant, I asked, "What's your name?" Smiling and proud, he answered "So Hum!"
It was at that moment that I noticed that the rest of his family were standing off to the side - I didn't initially pick up that the boy was Indian until I saw him with his family. I looked at his father and said, "So Hum - I am that!" as he nodded his head, "Yes, yes!" and smiled.
"Decisions" is the name of this piece which includes several different mantras, including "Om Hum So Hum" to the best of my understanding, chanted to balance male and female energies. "So Hum" (or So Hung/So Houng) specifically means, "I am that" and speaks to the Hindu belief that we are all one in the same - that we are all connected to and part of, God. (An oversimplification, I know. forgive me as I am still learning)
Om Bhoor Bhovas Suvaha Tat Savitur Varenyam Bhargo Devasaya Dhimahi Dhiyoyona Prachodayaat is known as the Gayatri Mantra and is chanted to gain wisdom or illumination.
Hindus believe that as creation began, the divine, all-encompassing consciousness took the form of the first and original vibration manifesting as sound "OM".
If you would like to purchase this piece of original art, it can be found in my Etsy shop.
Friday, February 7, 2014
11 times a year, The Banana Factory Arts and Education Center holds a First Friday event in conjunction in with the South Side Business Association. At the BF, it's an opportunity for the community to come out to see new exhibits in the art galleries, watch art demos, and visit with all of the resident artists whose studios can be found on all three floors of the building.
On any given First Friday I show off a clean studio with new work hanging and priced for sale. I make myself available to speak with anyone who comes to visit (sometimes it can be a few hundred people) by not being preoccupied but for December's event, I decided to try something different.
With my studio assistant Laura on hand, I felt comfortable enough to try painting for the whole night. (Three hours, from 6-9pm)
At about a quarter to 6, I didn't know what I'd be painting. I wanted it to be large enough so people could see me work and since I didn't have anything currently in progress, I grabbed a 30x30" canvas that I had previously gessoed black along with a yard stick and a borrowed blackboard compass and quickly put a few forms onto the canvas so I could start doing something.
Purple is one of my favorite colors and it was no surprise that it made it to my canvas first. I literally have no plan other than to allow this piece to progress organically.
The first time I ever painted in front of anyone was for the Lehigh Valley Art Wars - a local live art competition. I found that I enjoyed working in front of people and that I didn't experience any difficulties staying focused while answering questions.
One of my favorite moments of the night was when I got lost in the zone and turned around to find a crowd of people standing, sitting - all just watching me paint. Believe it or not, I often experience moments when I doubt who I am as an artist - or that I have any right doing what I do or that it has any value at all. Seeing those people watching me with genuine interest really hit home and touched my heart. I am an artist. What I do is important and has value. I have value and I am grateful for my gifts and the opportunity to express them in an unrestricted manner.
There was no rhyme to my reason aside from finding all of the places I could put purple while leaving a certain amount of space for another color. (or colors) It is all done through feeling and intuition.
This was as far as I would take the purple for now...
I begin to add a light ultramarine blue.
My biggest challenge was my vision - looking over my glasses to paint.
This is where I'd end for the night. Stay tuned to see how I've continued to add to this piece and be sure to come visit on an upcoming First Friday. You can also feel free to contact me if you'd like me to paint at an upcoming event.
Thursday, February 6, 2014
I come back from vacation feeling better than I had in a really long time. I'm open, I'm happy, I'm revived. I have 5 days to complete this painting and for the 1st two days... Nothing. I got nothing. I still have no clue on what detail to add to it. I also don't really want to work on it. The piece feels "heavy" and I'm feeling light because I permitted my energy to shift while away on retreat. It's as if I don't want to "go back there" and am struggling to reconnect with the creative mindset I had been in before taking the time off.
It reminded me of my early mandala process - when I would only create them within a single sitting because I wanted them to mark a specific moment in time. If you walk away and come back to something, something always changes within you and in this instance, something big had changed within me.
Knowing that this piece was simply not finished, I had to figure out a way to reconnect to it so I could complete it without having to tap into the stressed and cloudy mindset that I was experiencing before taking the trip.
Thinking again about how it felt heavy, and how I'd come back feeling light... About how my friend Jim talks about transforming heavy energy into energy that is light... LIGHT! That's the key! Make it light!
I'd begin this process by channeling reiki into the piece, then by playing music with a drum then a singing bowl. I chanted mantras and smudged the space with a spritz of sage spray.
It is now clear. The piece, and my mind on how to proceed. I return to one of the early ideas I had for the piece - to overlay mandalas of my own design to represent each chakra center. I sketch them onto the drawing and am inspired to add a "mojo kauae"- a chin tattoo that Maori women receive to indicate a high ranking status within a tribe.
I begin to paint them with a thinned down white paint to give the appearance of a luminous glow, one of light - a similar technique, as I'd been learning, was used by many contemporary visionary artists such as Alex Grey and Amanda Sage. (I'd be off to study with Alex Grey almost immediately after this piece was completed)
I contemplate and then begin to add additional mandalas over other important areas of this female form: the breasts, the hands, the ovaries.
After struggling to add all of the lettering to my previous large work "She is (I AM) Light" with it stapled to the wall, I take this piece down to paint the mantra of light around the perimeter: "Om amogha vairocana maha mudra mani padma jvala pravarttaya hum."
The Sanskrit symbols for each chakra are added around the throat mandala.
Finishing touches on the day that it is due.
Such a feeling of relief to bring this piece to completion.
Ensuring that everything is as it is meant to be.
My husband holding my cardboard mock up.
The completed piece.
Hanging in the Crayola Gallery at The Banana Factory.
I couldn't be at the opening for this show because I was at the fall Visionary Painting Intensive held at the Chapel of the Sacred Mirrors (CoSM) with Alex and Allyson Grey in Wappingers Falls, NY. I did however, have the opportunity to give a presentation about my work to the Grey's and all of my fellow participants.
(Alex Grey waiting for me to start my presentation.)
Resonate is currently on display in my studio at The Banana Factory. It is also currently available for purchase - please message me for details.