Monday, February 10, 2014

So Hum: I Am That

Decisions Mantra Mandala
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.
Decisions Mantra Mandala
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!"
Decisions Mantra Mandala
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

Live Painting on First Friday at The Banana Factory

Live painting in my studio on First Friday
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.
Live painting in my studio on First Friday
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.
Live painting in my studio on First Friday
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.
Live painting in my studio on First Friday
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.
Live painting in my studio on First Friday
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.
Live painting in my studio on First Friday
This was as far as I would take the purple for now...
Live painting in my studio on First Friday
I begin to add a light ultramarine blue.
Live painting in my studio on First Friday
My biggest challenge was my vision - looking over my glasses to paint.
Live painting in my studio on First Friday
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

Resonate: From Concept to Creation Part 2

Resonate: From Concept to Completion
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.
Resonate: From Concept to Completion
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.
Resonate: From Concept to Completion
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.
Resonate: From Concept to Completion
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."
Resonate: From Concept to Completion
The Sanskrit symbols for each chakra are added around the throat mandala.
Resonate: From Concept to Completion
Finishing touches on the day that it is due.
Resonate: From Concept to Completion
Such a feeling of relief to bring this piece to completion.
Resonate: From Concept to Completion
Ensuring that everything is as it is meant to be.
Resonate: From Concept to Completion
My husband holding my cardboard mock up.
Resonate: From Concept to Completion
The completed piece.
"Resonate" as part of the Banana Factory Resident Artist Group Show "Contextualize"
Hanging in the Crayola Gallery at The Banana Factory.
"Resonate" as part of the Banana Factory Resident Artist Group Show "Contextualize"
at CoSM for the Sept. 2013 Visionary Painting Intensive.
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.
at CoSM for the Sept. 2013 Visionary Painting Intensive.
(Alex Grey waiting for me to start my presentation.)
DSCF1482
Resonate is currently on display in my studio at The Banana Factory. It is also currently available for purchase - please message me for details.

Resonate: From Concept to Creation Part 1


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Resonate: From Concept to Creation Part 1

Resonate: From Concept to Completion
The Banana Factory resident artist group exhibit takes place each fall. The theme for 2012 was "Contextualize" and we were asked to submit a piece that was in some way inspired by a piece of text in any form. (A quote, line from a movie, title of a book, etc.)

"Resonate" is the piece I would eventually create. It was inspired by the title of a favorite album; "Rhythms of the Chakras" by Glen Velez. My preferred definition of resonate is, "to evoke or suggest images, memories, and emotions" and this recording was one that I listened to repeatedly in 2008 while I was contemplating leaving my day job to pursue the life of a full time creative. Despite all of the stress that surrounded me at that time, this music always managed to life me up and help move me forward.

The idea for this piece came to me in a single instant. I responded by grabbing a sketchbook and colored pencils to quickly see how I could express it.
Resonate: From Concept to Completion
My next step was to determine the size of the finished piece - which I did by doing a quick sketch on a piece of cardboard. I knew it was going to be five and a half feet high because that was the height of the canvas I had on hand. I just needed to figure out the width.
Resonate: From Concept to Completion
Laying out the canvas to be primed with black gesso, I set my intention and write a reminder of it on the canvas.
Resonate: From Concept to Completion
With it now hung on the wall, I begin to sketch out my ideas which are nowhere near fully realized.
Resonate: From Concept to Completion
I again use the ProCreate app on my iPad to try out different ideas.
Resonate: From Concept to Completion
Once I have a general idea of how to proceed, I fill the piece with affirmations and mantras. The piece is divided into 7 segments - one for each of the 7 chakras or "energy centers" located within the body. I also note the name, Sanskrit symbol and seed syllable mantra for each chakra.

First Chakra: Muladhara/Root (Red)
Second Chakra: Swadhisthana/Sacral (Orange)
Third Chakra: Manipura/Solar Plexus (Yellow)
Fourth Chakra: Anahata/Heart (Green)
Fifth Chakra: Vishuddha/Throat (Blue)
Sixth Chakra: Ajna/Third Eye (Purple)
Seventh Chakra: Sahasrara/Crown (White)

"According to Tantric tradition, everyone has seven energy centers that serve as junction points between the body and consciousness, or between matter and the mind. These spinning vortices, called chakras in Sanskrit, receive, assimilate and express our vital life energy. When the flow of energy in one or more of the chakras becomes blocked, we may develop physical and mental illnesses.

The ancient seers perceived the chakra system as a column of energy centers that extends from the base of the spine to the top of the head. The location of each chakra loosely corresponds to an area of the body’s anatomy and is associated with a specific color."
- via chopra.com
Resonate: From Concept to Completion
Resonate: From Concept to Completion
I begin to add color
Resonate: From Concept to Completion
Her form emerges.
Resonate: From Concept to Completion
I begin to add in the background.
Resonate: From Concept to Completion
I move back to the iPad to solve a problem with the hands and to incorporate feedback on the form I'd received from a fellow resident artist.
Resonate: From Concept to Completion
I get this far and I'm stuck on what to do next. I don't know what detail to add.
Resonate: From Concept to Completion
I have a dream one night where the word "skeleton" comes to me and I do a quick sketch to think about what that might look like.
Resonate: From Concept to Completion
I decide that this is not the time to try and learn how to draw a skeleton. I have 2 weeks till this piece is due and I have no clue what direction to take it. So what do I do? I leave town for a week unexpectedly and head to Great Rhythm Revival in Sherman, NY. My first real vacation in over two years...

To be continued:

Resonate: From Concept to Creation Part 2 


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Solstice: Trust That the Sun Always Rises - New Original Art

Solstice
This is one of the first mandalas I ever created where I used a ruler and a compass - and minimally at that. I've created thousands of mandalas over the years without the use of such tools because I found my initial creative process required permission to make art without concern of what a finished product might look like. For me, structured forms were constraining rather than liberating. I needed to start at the center and work outward until I felt the work was complete. This process would prove to be an important meditative practice for me, one which would eventually open door after door of transformative growth and ultimately help me to connect not only to my highest self, but to all that is.

As I crossed the invisible line from making art for personal reasons to becoming a professional artist, I now permit myself to work in ways that are at the same time expressive and unrestricted, yet mindful and very intentional.

You can purchase this piece of original art from my Etsy shop.

Solstice

New works on North Wall

Monday, February 3, 2014

There's No Place Like OM: New Original Art

There's No Place Like OM

"No Place Like OM" is a recent acrylic painting that I created to celebrate OM as a representation of all that is - of our interconnectedness with each other.

Hindus believe that as creation began, the divine, all-encompassing consciousness took the form of the first and original vibration manifesting as sound "OM".

From Wiki: The vibration of "OM" symbolises the manifestation of God in form ("sāguna brahman"). "OM" is the reflection of the absolute reality, it is said to be "Adi Anadi", without beginning or the end and embracing all that exists. The mantra "OM" is the name of God, the vibration of the Supreme. When taken letter by letter, A-U-M represents the divine energy (Shakti) united in its three elementary aspects: Bhrahma Shakti (creation), Vishnu Shakti (preservation) and Shiva Shakti (liberation, and/or destruction).

While I currently consider myself to be more spiritual than religions, I am discovering that Hindu scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads are helping me to better understand myself and the world around me.

You can purchase this original piece of my art in my Etsy shop. 

There's No Place Like OM
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