Saturday, June 22, 2013
Two years ago I walked over hot coals for the purpose of transformative personal growth. Did it change my perspective on the kinds of things I can accomplish? You bet. The fire walk was for me, one of those "face the fear and do it anyway" situations that created much needed momentum to continue walking the fire long after that particular one had burnt out.
If you read my original blog post from the fire walk, you may remember me talking about my "arrow break." While the participants wait for the wood pile to burn down, the facilitator leads us through other empowering activities, such as the arrow break.
"The way this works (Don't try this at home!) is that you place the tip of an arrow at the hollow of your throat. The back of the arrow is set into a notched board and after taking several deep breaths, you step forward while holding your breath into that sharp pointy thing lodged right at your throat.(FWIW I was *terrified* to do this. All I kept thinking about was how wrong this could go and I kept hearing my mother's voice telling me not to do it.)
Before placing the arrow at our throat, we are asked to name a belief we wanted to break free from. Apparently, setting this intention in combination with the action would often times immediately break a person of the thought pattern connected to the unhelpful belief."
A while back, I'd decided to create a piece that allowed me to reflect upon my arrow break.
Try as I might, I struggled to get this piece, "right."
Using a combination of acrylic paint applied with a brush and acrylic paint markers, I reworked this piece over and over.
What I have come to understand about my life is that one arrow isn't enough - as in, I have many more things to let go of so I can experience life as my whole, true self.
Finished piece shown from the side.
Notice that I ended up reversing the position of the arrow. I turned it to the "right." This original piece is currently available for purchase in my Etsy shop.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
In February of 2012, I created my largest piece of art to date, 5 1/2 feet tall by 9 feet wide,
"She Continues to Grow" would be on display for my first featured artist exhibit at The Banana Factory in March of 2012 with it's official First Friday opening on March 3rd, 2012.
To roll things back a bit, on Memorial Day in 2010, a woman named Heather Rodale attended my workshop: "Mandala: An Artful Meditation." What I didn't know at that time, was that she had recently been battling with intermediate melanoma - a disease that is never really "cured." She has most generously credited that afternoon as providing inspiration for creating her own three dimensional mandalas and to quote Heather: "My healing journey became an exciting adventure where I found endless healing strategies through expressive arts. While I did not have control over cancer, I did have control over the art I created or my interactions with art and music."
Heather purchased my mural on the opening night of my exhibit and it would be over a year until I would see it again... Her intention was for it to be installed into a new healing arts facility that she was building.
Heather is the founder of Healing Through The Arts "The techniques and ideas I found so valuable in helping me heal, did not exist in one place. I could not stop dreaming about an organization like Healing Through The Arts...The more I learned about the connection between art and health, the more passionate I became in helping others see it as a source for their healing too. Through changes and transitions of life, Healing Through The Arts can provide inspiration for a lifetime of healing."
I would first visit the new HTTA facility (an in-progress renovation of an old farmhouse) in April when I was invited to be one of the judges for their annual Hope and Healing Juried Art Show. With over 120 entries created by local high school students all carrying the message of hope and healing, it wasn't easy to select the winners.
This was the space where the mural would hang - they had to build a larger wall to accommodate it. Heather unrolled my mural to show the group and it was quite an emotional moment for me to see her again.
On April 29th I was invited back to the facility for a very special event when John Toya, a Jemez Pueblo artist and close friend of the Rodale family would be performing a special blessing in his native language to honor the space. It brought tears to my eyes when he said that everyone in attendance would not only receive this blessing but that everyone we will *ever* know - family and friends, will be receiving it as well.
Housed in the main entrance of the facility, I'm pretty much speechless.
Every bit of effort that went into this piece as well as all of those that have come before and after is worth it. All of the emotion, stress, physical discomfort, confusion... I do not have children, and so my art, writing and teaching is my legacy. With much love and thanks to Heather, a courageous warrior spirit if I've ever met one, She Continues to Grow.
Would you like to make a donation to HTTA? Healing Through The Arts is a 501 (c)(3) and your tax-deductible donation provides those in need with information and resources for healing through the arts. Funds also support the Hope and Healing Juried Art Show and Competition for high school students. This annual event promotes the connection between art and healing and acquires an art collection for placement in patient’s hospital rooms to inspire hope and healing from the beginning of care. It also recognizes the talents of students who give to their community through this effort.
You can view the creation of this piece from start to finish on Flickr.
She Continues to Grow Part 9: Installed In Her New Home!
She Continues to Grow Part 8: She Sells and I Let Go
Monday, June 17, 2013
06/07 First Friday and it's supposed to rain all day… I have no energy left. I get to the BF around 5 and all I have to do is hang the artist statement/price signs for my exhibit. I am anxious... I NEVER like to push time but I honestly want the night to be over before it even starts. As I hang the signs, one of the other BF artists comes up to me and after complimenting my work, suggests that I should have shown more of the process of my creating it. (Which WAS part of my original plan) I tried to explain that I'd taken hundreds of photographs and written over a dozen blog posts... I could have created a larger physical exhibit with the prototypes and prints from along the way, but I could only do so much. The documentation exists. If she doesn't sell during my featured month, I can always do a larger exhibit at another location.
I've done SO MUCH up to this point but I'm still pissed that I didn't do more. I didn't get the chance to work on The Six as much as I would have liked - I wanted to tell their backstory - they were going to have names after the helpful guardians in my life.
It's hot in my studio and downstairs in the entrance to the Banana Factory as well. The lobby is crowded with tables and a vendor is offering free food samples. Standing along the wall, I have sweat rolling down my back. I do my best to interact with anyone who stops to look at my work. Friends come through the door and it makes me very happy. Nan, who is about to have both her knees replaced, hobbles in on a cane and it makes me want to cry. My good friend Deb shows up with her friend Donna - the one with the amazing laughing smile which makes me forget about all the stress, if only just for a moment. A man walks through the front door and I catch his eye as he moves through the crowd. I look away, then back again. I don't know him, but he's looking at me. He walks up to me and it dawns on me that this is someone I (barely) new in JUNIOR HIGH that I became Facebook friends with in 2008. I had not seen, nor spoken to him in almost 30 years. He'd been clicking the "maybe" button on every event I'd posted in the last 5 years and tonight was the night he finally showed up. (All this time I though he was just being nice) This for some crazy reason, really touched me. I'm guessing it has something to do with my self confidence because deep inside, I am still the amazingly awkward little girl I was in 7th grade who was constantly ridiculed, threatened, shoved, books knocked from her hands while walking home… All I really remember about Scott was that he was nice to me, unlike the other boy who spit fruit salad in my face because I was "annoying" him.
I won't lie, it feels pretty darn good when people from your past show up to see where you are now. I think in some strange way, it allows for healing to take place. (It *definitely* allows for healing to take place.)
Many more friends came to see my exhibit that night but I expect it might have been better had it not been raining all day and all night - though with my energy so low, I'm not sure I could have handled much more so in my eyes, it was perfect. (I also sold 5 pieces out of my studio that night!)
06/10 Sitting in my studio feeling the post big project blues...
06/11 I forget sometimes, the necessity of being gentle to myself. I can only afford to spend excessive amounts of energy when I've built up the resources to do so. I'm discovering that I am so much more a workaholic than I'll likely ever admit - often feeling guilty if I take time to do something that isn't connected to my "work."
06/12 On an emotional roller coaster. Artmaking created through heart and spirit isn't over when its over. Every step of the process connects me to my highest self yet often leaves me feeling vulnerable and alone. It is hard to look at the exhibit because it feels as though I've abandoned her.
06/14 Having completed "She is (I AM) Light", I now have a deeper understanding that to best serve both myself and the world around me, I must continue to express my creativity in a fearless manner. Knowing that these actions are guided by my highest self, I may not always understand the "why" and that's ok. I am safe in knowing that my work is being done for a greater good.
06/17 Much love and thanks to all who have taken the time to partake in this journey with me. I know "her" journey isn't over, but the story is for now.
My exhibit "She is (I AM) Light" is on display (with each piece available for purchase) in the lobby of The Banana Factory, 25 W. 3rd St in Bethlehem, PA until July 2nd. You may view the exhibit at any time the building is open to the public. M-F 8am-9:30pm Sat/Sun 8:30am-5pm
View the Facebook Event for the ongoing exhibit here: https://www.facebook.com/events/137627039767940/
*Note that I do not keep regular studio hours but if you contact me prior to visiting, I will do my best to accommodate a private showing of the exhibit or of my work in general. It never hurts to pop upstairs to see if I'm in. (Studio #250) .
Friends both old and new show their support on First Friday.
A series of in-progress pictures of this exhibit's creation can also be found on Flickr.
Friday, June 14, 2013
06/05 I arrive at my studio around 11am. I have no idea how to hang the 6 guardian pieces. I feel like I did not take them in the direction I had originally intended and I am worried that they will feel disconnected to the viewer. I think they feel disconnected to each other and I am feeling anxiety over them. Laura B. is coming to help me take the big piece down and install the whole thing downstairs.
While I am waiting for her I go over each section and color of the piece and do a final round of tweaking. I feel hyper and really on edge. Laura arrives and I ask her to see if she can come up with an order for the six. She doesn't get much farther than I did. I ask her to take some pictures of my my final day of working on the big piece.
I ask her to double check my "work" and let me know if there is anything that I am missing - that I need to tweak.
Tweaks to the black.
Golden black gesso was used as the background support and then Golden and Liquitex heavy body paints overtop. White lettering and body detail was Golden liquid acrylic. Black cracks and mantra writing in the white blocks was Liquitex black gesso which is more fluid than the Golden black gesso.
Most of the color on this piece was applied with a cheap plastic palette knife because I like the level of smooth that a knife can provide. I have metal knives but the plastic ones seem to allow me more control despite their lack of flex which would make my wrists hurt. It was only towards the end that I used various sized brushes to tweak and touch up. All of the lettering was done with small liner type brushes.
Making sure things feel balanced.
Other than black and white, I only used 6 colors on this piece. I used up three tubes of the green, one each of the blues and half a large tube of the yellow. I had contemplated using a lighter green overtop of the green but that never materialized. The Six used all the same colors with the addition of the light green on one of the six.
I'd used this funky silicone "brush" (which I'd never used before) to apply the white. Adding final tweaks in white.
When I was working on The Six Guardian pieces, I was thinking about naming one after my grandmother but I never made it to the naming stage of The Six. Interestingly, Gram showed up anyway. As I had included the RA MA DA SA SA SAY SO HUNG mantra around the outside protective later of white, I wrote it as it fit and in the one block completely unplanned, was the G from HUNG followed by RA M which looks like GRAM. :o)
I had tested several different colors of yellow prior to this one and had initially thought I'd be using a warmer yellow but this one ended up being the perfect balance between warm and cool.
I am enough!
I tell her that I keep hearing a line from the Van Halen song Mean Streets running through my head: "It's all over but the shouting, I come to take what's mine." I think it's because I know that it's all over but the signing… I don't want to stop tweaking. I put the song on and vow to stop once DLR sings the line. I am evening out the black line around the face when it comes on. I put the brush down. Now I need to just sign the piece. But I don't want to. I say that I can't see where to put it - that if I sign it in the lower right corner that it will break the flow of the green rays. I am practically throwing a temper tantrum and most definitely procrastinating. Laura suggests I try signing in different colors on a separate test piece. Good idea. I try light green - over the green, not opaque enough. I try white - too harsh. Black it is. I hem and haw, I don't want to do it. It means the end. I am not ready to let her go. Laura asks if I need her to leave the room. I say no, that she should stay, but I close the door because I am starting to choke up.
Freaking out because I can't bring myself to sign it. As much as I wanted the process to be over (because it was consuming so much of my energy) I wasn't ready to let her go. This was quite an emotional moment.
I sit down in front of her to gather my thoughts. I grab a brush and I just do it. Had Laura not been there, I still might not have signed it. And like that, "Poof!" it was done. I'd come to take what's mine.
At that point we left the studio and went to eat crepes. My sinuses have been a mess and I'm not feeling my best. I'm sure the stress of finishing this process isn't helping. I didn't just decide to paint a painting for my Featured Artist exhibit. I painted 7. I also took hundreds of "work in progress" pictures and edited them down to slightly over 200. I also wrote about the entire process for my blog and for Facebook. All of the images were edited in Lightroom and uploaded to Flickr. I wrote artist statements and bios and sent e-mail blasts and created events and advertised them on Facebook and invited thousands of friends to view the opening of my exhibit.
When we finish eating our lunch, it is time to take her down. I pull out all of the staples holding her to the wall except those at the top. This in effect, frees her and I am feeling better about letting her go. We gather all of the supplies we will need to hang her and take it all downstairs. The lobby of the Banana Factory is a busy place and it adds stress because I still don't know in what order to hang the six guardian pieces.
I staple her to the wall first and because the wall slants back towards the top, it looks a little odd. I have no choice but to get over it. I decide to use upholstery tacks to hang the six and they can't be pushed into the wall by hand and I'm all sweaty and nervous and it's hard to hold and hammer them - they are going in crooked. I hang the lower right piece first because it feels like it's the only place it can go. I get the four corner pieces hung but I can't figure out where to put the middle two. There is so much traffic in the lobby I could cry. I want this to be over with. I want someone to do it for me. I am now *furious* at the fact that I did not properly measure and cut The Six. Every one is wonky and I think it looks like a display of children's work. I am ready to pull the six down and cut them straight but since I *hate* measuring things, I envision myself making things worse instead of better. Thank god Alison showed up.
Alison Bessesdotter is a fellow BF resident artist and one of the things she does is quilting. I beg her to lend me her eye. She happily suggests I swap the middle two pieces from the way I was about to hang them and explains why. I ask if the wonky dimensions of the Six look really bad and she said no. She understood that their organic sizing was part of my process and I could have hugged her for that. The track lights need to be rearranged and there are two different kinds. Standing on top of a step stool, I can't figure out how to move them and I'm growing agitated. I finally figure out how they release and they are hot and easy and now I can't get them back into the track. Once I finally get them all lined up, Laura takes a picture of me with the exhibit and we notice something strange- you can't take a picture of her without a large glare over her head and chest. (She is (I AM) Light) It's as if she is radiating an inner light that can only be seen in a photo- a type of paranormal photography...
With the last tack in place, all I have left to do is to write and print up the artist statement/descriptions - which I had originally intended to do by hand - white ink on black paper but I realize that there just isn't anything left in me. I have no energy left. But I still have to ready the studio for Friday because Laura is going to watch it as I split my time between my studio and being down with the exhibit.
Linny Fowler looks over my shoulder with approval. Linny, who passed a way just a short time ago, was the founding artist and major benefactor to the Banana Factory. Without her generosity, I might never of had the opportunity to create art in this capacity. Thank you Linny.
Laura helps me to choose and hang new work inside and outside my studio. After she leaves for the day I paint paper with black gesso and then matte medium which I will either paint the statements on, or I will hang the statements over top of them.
Feeling apprehensive. Nervous. Unsure if the exhibit feels as connected as I'd intended. Wishing I would have painted the wall black. I did so much in less than 40 days...
I leave my studio and I go to Staples where I buy three clear plastic frames that I can potentially use to hold the statements and then mount them over the black paper. I go home and start working on the statements. I am using iDraw and I use the figure's head (mandala) as a transparent background layer behind the text and I am totally digging it. I create QR codes for people to access more info about the mantras I used in the art as well as the page where I've included all of the blog posts about the work.
06/06 I finished and hung the painting yesterday. I fiddled with it for a while, touching up this and that. No longer fearful of the I AM statements that I'd included in the DNA- but I had such a difficult time signing it. It meant letting go and it felt the same as when I finish the "Grow" piece. Like a separation was about to take place. Last year I attributed that feeling to somehow knowing in advance that it wouldn't be coming back to my studio and it feels the same way now. As much as I'd like to hang on to her. I see someone else living with that creation. And that's okay because I can always make more- if I so choose. It was so hard to sign- signing means "it's over", no matter how painful or easy the creation process. This time was different. Knowing it was my time to display again, it was in my DNA to go big again and to choose challenging subject matter. I didn't have anything come to me (which was causing me to start to panic) until the last day in April. I'm not sure I ever really acted this creatively from a vision before-I was in the shower and I seen green rays of light surrounding a figure and that's where I started. On the heels of taking my power back and gaining closure from a personal matter, I envisioned a positive a posture of letting go, of acceptance, of forgiveness. Arms spread, I saw her like the Miraculous Mary and surrounded with that green healing light. This piece would be really important to my growth because I had to continuously trust that the ideas would keep coming to me. It was never known to me how each step would progress or how it would end up. As such, I was finally immersed in the process of creation with little censoring along the way. I use the words and mantras as I desired as they are and continue to be a big part of me.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
06/03 More tweaks on the figure.
Added face symbol to hands. Added Om Droom mantra to arms. I finish the white details over the light blue. (which I am really happy about.)
Added Light mantra to double helix - inside- 1st section: Om Hum So Hum 2nd section I AM statements. I write "I let go" and then paint it out and make it "I AM Letting Go" so they are all I AM statements. I get nervous about the I AM statements because they are so personal and I am worried they will be perceived in a cocky way. My intention is for them to be affirmations for all to accept.
I am not sure I like the statements or the order of them. I keep telling myself that it's fine… it's all good… 3rd section - may all be happy. I think she's done, though I am *really* not sure about the 2nd and 3rd sections.
I didn't want to come in today. I think I knew because I'd be finishing it and the end always doesn't feel so good. It's like, Ok, now that's done... now what? So much on my mind, it's like the whole thing didn't matter. (But of course it did)
Everything still needs to be signed. I need to figure out the heads up for the 6. I take all of the photographs but my tripod isn't tall enough to be able to get a good shot of the whole image.
A series of in-progress pictures of this exhibit's creation can also be found on Flickr.