Monday, March 26, 2012
02/13 Background covered in white (but not opaque - I want the black to show through) More mini-mandalas are added.
Her wings are painted in and I really struggled for a long time with choosing the color. I used Golden's Quinacridone Violet - which unlike all of the other colors I would use, isn't nearly opaque. As soon as I started filling in the wings I was very fearful that I had made a mistake. (They would eventually get several coats and prove to be the most perfect color.... )
I remember being extremely emotional working in my studio on this day. I think the amount of energy I was spending on this project was starting to get to me.
I painted in her halo/crown and added the first body detail. I replicated the pendant from a previous painting - this makes me happy to repeat symbolism from piece to piece.
I am not happy with the bottom of the wings.
02/14 My dear friend Heather comes to visit and in this shot, finally allows for a sense of scale. (She is 5ft. and the canvas is actually 5'4" high)
Yellow is added to the crown and more detail work is added to the mandalas.
02/16 I continue working on the background while Heather relaxes in my studio. If it wasn't for her, there wouldn't be any pictures of me working on it. Thanks Heather!
I contemplate asking her to add a mandala - after all, this is someone who has taken 6 of my mandala workshops over the years at the Rhythm Renewal and Rhythm Revival. But if I do, then I wouldn't be able to say it was wholly mine.
I do wish I could have ALL of my Rhythm family add a mandala to it- Jim Donovan, Bryan Fazio, PJ Roduta, Jaqui MacMillan, Becky Bickford, Mike Deaton, Kim Cooper, Jen Mills... (The list goes on and on...)
It is during this background work when I think a lot about what this piece represents. It took me until I was 36 to find my "tribe." Prior to that I'd never really felt like I fit anywhere and this would often be quite painful and difficult as a child. In high school it would get worse as I didn't have any close friends and would often just disappear in the crowd, and eventually disappear altogether when I quit school at the beginning of my junior year.
In 2005 when I got up the nerve to go to a few drum circles, it was like a massive puzzle piece clicking into place. I *finally* found a group of people that encouraged me to express myself without judgment.
I would eventually become close friends with Jim Donovan - a drum workshop facilitator, university music instructor and one of the founding members of the band Rusted Root. I would come to learn that drums were the tool through which Jim would teach us all how to be more present in our lives and to let go of anything which wasn't serving our highest good - a spiritual message that would resonate so very deeply with me....
I began to work with Jim to promote his events, write ad copy, do web design... Then one day, we decided that I would help him write a book and for the next two and a half years I would become immersed into his life... we eventually assembled a large number of anecdotes which when combined with a series of conceptual pieces based upon his personal beliefs, created a very powerful inspirational memoir. Through the process of working with someone with a wealth of world experience who was willing to share, I myself would grow by leaps and bounds not only by listening, but through his (seemingly relentless) encouragement and motivation.
Through Jim, I would go on to meet many other wonderful friends - honest people who were also standing and shining, living in their truth. These people became my tribe, my family and I felt warm and embraced in this world.
As the years started to pass and I started following Jim's suggestions to empower myself, I noticed something that began to concern me. As I started working on myself and the things that were important to me, some of these relationships started to, how should I say, "thin out." These were the people that loved me unconditionally and who lifted me up any time I would talk to them, be around them..... but I had another life to begin. I know that these people will always be a part of me, that they haven't gone anywhere and that they all still love me as much as I love them...
I had to start letting them go. I had to start letting the old parts of me go. It was time for me to take what I'd learned and start teaching. Embracing myself as an individual. Coming "out" as an artist in my local community. Using all of the skills I'd learned while working with Jim - it was time to start using them for my own benefit.
Having Heather come to visit, it was hard. I've known her (through Jim) for the last 5 or so years. But it also wasn't as hard as I'd anticipated. I shared with her my fears of letting go - and she understood and loved me just the same.
To have spent a lifetime finding a world where you are accepted with open arms, the thought of letting go was excruciating - but I knew I had to do it anyway. "She continues to grow." The 60+ hours I'd eventually spend on this piece would be my way of letting go - and at times it hurt so bad...
The thing about letting go is that you can't unlearn, you can't unremember. While things once very important are allowed to be released, they are still always a part of who you are in this very moment. It's a knowing that no matter what, it's all good. And so I continue to grow...
03/25 - Quick Update - The finished mural is on display at The Banana Factory through the end of March if you'd like to see it before it moves on to it's new home.