Entries Tagged as: stories

Symbols and Synchronicity

July 29th, 2008, Comments (22)

I really love the way this piece came together. I worked on it a long time, letting it linger, changing and re-changing, layering and building, letting it grow and hide and reappear as I worked. I had the hubster come in and give me some constructive criticism at one point. He was cautious, not wanting to hurt my feelings. Sometimes, I can be very sensitive. But for whatever reason, I felt really open and non-defensive with it and I really wanted to hear what he had to say. I feel like I've come to a stopping point with it and since it is such a gorgeous day today, I was able to snap some pictures with natural light. It's 20"x20" with acrylic on canvas.


Sometimes things appear in paintings that you don't intend. I'm used to this with collage as I try to create collaged images intuitively, being open to happy accidents and such. But it only recently started happening in paint. While I was working, I noticed a large number 3 had appeared. I flushed out the bottom a tiny bit, but mostly it was already there. Three is a number that pops up a lot for me (as do 7 and 17), so I left it in there, even though I'm not sure exactly what it means.

I dreamed this image before I painted it. In the dream, Ophelia was walking into the water and she had a tattoo on her back that represented rebirth and renewal. I knew that she was entering into the water as a ritual (not as suicide) and that part of the tattoo was a large circle. I tried to recall more about the tattoo, but couldn't see it, so I drew sketch after sketch after sketch of it. At some point, I had to stop sketching and just begin and I'm glad I did because some of it worked itself out right on the canvas. The bees are a symbol that has been popping up lately first in my own artwork, in fun bee-spotting exchanges with Karen, and then in things I've been reading. I'd completely forgotten until it came up in a book I was reading about dreams, that my middle name, Melissa, means honey bee. I looked up the origins of the word and found that in ancient Greece, bee goddesses or priestesses were called Melissas and had the gift of prophecy. Homer wrote of the bee goddesses which I thought was fascinating considering my recent painting of Penelope. Bees and honey were symbols of the cycle of life as well as rebirth, so I decided to include them in the tattoo.

The flame that is also a tree, developed in sketches and on the canvas itself. I like how the roots mirror the bare branches of the trees in the background. Trees have been a common symbol in my artwork since I was a teenager, believe it or not. I saw them in a spiritual sense, as symbols of rebirth and the cycle of life. In the water, I also painted a scarab beetle, although it is mostly covered in layers of paint. I felt that I had to include it after the weirdest synchronicity occurred a couple weeks ago. You may remember the ridiculous (and funny) story about the large beetle in my bathroom. If not, go read it for a laugh. Anyways, the weird part was , I had just picked up a book, in the bathroom (yes, I read in the bathroom) called "Synchronicity" by Carl Jung, right before I saw the giant beetle and ran out to get the hubster, sans pants. I left the book open to the page, but didn't get back to it til the next day. Well, the next day, I open it up to read the story about when one of Jung's patients dreamt about a scarab beetle and just then they heard a tapping noise at the window. Jung opened it and in flew a large beetle (the equivalent of a scarab beetle in that area.) I literally laughed out loud when I read it thinking of my own personal scarab visitation. Turns out, scarab beetles were also a symbol of rebirth in the ancient cultures of Egypt and Greece. They're also considered a symbol of positive change, self-generation, and creativity. Very cool.

Phew, that was a mouth-full! I hope that was somewhat interesting to read about. It's a bit hard to explain the thrill of the journey and the little synchronicities that lead up to the finished piece, but I figured I'd give it a try anyways.

The yoga class this morning went well. The teacher was very sweet and gentle. Hoping to attend another class tomorrow! The hubster and I are going to a Red Sox game tonight. I hope the weather stays as lovely as it's been all day!

Sneak Peek

July 28th, 2008, Comments (18)

A sneak peek at my painting of Ophelia. Hopefully I'll be able to get a good picture tomorrow when the sun is out. In my version of her story, Ophelia isn't planning to kill herself. Instead, she is entering into the water as a personal ritual of renewal and rebirth. The tattoos on her back also symbolize this.

I'll write more about this later on. Still feeling zonked out.

Last week I returned to yoga and found a new class to join. It was a brave act for me! Man oh man was I sore the next day, but I also felt good, so tomorrow I'll try another class and hopefully find a few classes each week that I'll enjoy attending. I'm not a naturally flexible person, so I need to find teachers who are gentle and won't try to force my body into poses. We shall see!

Where ya been?

July 27th, 2008, Comments (5)

This is the illusive Sasha, who is currently stalking a grasshopper. She and the other meows were very happy to see us return from a weekend away. We drove to upstate NY for a wedding yesterday. The hotel was cute, the people were friendly, but the city we stopped in was in rough shape.

The drive up was beautiful though and we had a good time on the drive and at the wedding. Tonight, I'm zonked.

I received a sketchbook in the mail today as part of a swap and I started drawing in it tonight while relaxing and watching some baseball. The pages are thin and a bit see-through, so I've started making a story that's building on the layered look of the drawings showing through. Fun stuff! Hope you had a wonderfully creative weekend!

Beetle Juice

July 11th, 2008, Comments (17)

Life is good and I'm feeling oh so grateful. One of the things I'm feeling grateful for is a healthy Sadie-cat. Thank you for all the kitty well wishes! Sadie went on antibiotics on Tuesday and by Wednesday evening she was 95% better. Thursday she was her regular crazy-kitty-self. I'm so happy about that.

It's late and I need to crash, so I'll have to save the rest of the post I was planning to write til later. Above is a spread from a moleskine I'm doing as part of a swap. On the right I drew a little pic of the necklace I purchased recently and on the left I wrote the message that's on the opposite side of necklace.

Oh wait, one last story before I go to bed because this whole thing made me laugh so hard. It started when I went into the bathroom where the hubster was brushing his teeth and I noticed something strange around his waist. Where a belt would normally be, he had a usb cable going through the loops of his shorts. I was confused and asked, "Um, what is that?"

Apparently he got to work and noticed his shorts were so loose and could fall down at any moment. He couldn't find a belt in his office, so he improvised, found a usb cable, took it into the bathroom, fastened it around himself like a belt and then pulled his shirt over it so no one would see. Too funny. I started cracking jokes about him being like a geeky MacGyver and then kicked him out so that I could use the bathroom. Well, I'm in there with my shorts down when I see this gigantic bug on the floor. I mean huge! I thought it was a cockroach at first. I yelled to the hubster to come quick and he told me it was a very large, but friendly looking beetle. Well, he may have been friendly, but I wanted him out of the bathroom immediately. So, I grabbed a plastic cup and a piece of paper, put the cup over the super-bug, the hubster slid a piece of paper under him, and I went ahead to open the porch door. The hubster came out of the bathroom with the gigantic bug in the cup and as he gets close to me he says, "Get out of the way, he's getting out!" Apparently, this clever beetle was trying to make an early escape. The hubster starts running towards the porch door just as his usb-belt-less pants fall down around his ankles. He practically trips and throws the cup, paper, and beetle out onto the porch all together and slams the porch door shut. I'm hysterically laughing at this point, yelling, "Oh my god. That was classic!" The two of us pant-less, trying to get a huge beetle out the door. Good times. Hehe.

I really hope that was a stray beetle though and that we don't see any more of those things inside. I'm not usually super spooked by bugs, but this one gave me the heebeegeebees!

Collaging a Mystery

July 7th, 2008, Comments (13)

I think mixing it up with projects for pure pleasure is so important. So when I read about the 6x6 collage exchange on flickr, I decided to join in. I ended up pairing up with Shelley who was in a class with me at Artfest! The idea of the exchange is that you put together a packet of collage materials, ship it off to your partner, and then you make six 6"x6" collages with the materials you receive. You can check out what other folks have done with the challenge here. Above is "Cutting Line," the first of the collages I did with the materials that Shelley sent me. In this one I used two black and white photos, a strip of flim, and a piece of a dress pattern. It had a dark feeling to it which made me want to tell a story, a sort of murder mystery in images.

Although, I didn't flush out the story and I kind of let it come together intuitively, I sensed that it was a story about a model/actress who came to Hollywood to make it big. She does well, travels the world, and has quite a following, including an obsessed photographer/killer. Spooky!

Putting together these images, reminded me of something I used to love to do as a kid, write mysteries. I remember sitting inside on hot summer days and writing out spooky stories until I spooked myself. With the neighborhood kids, I used to also write plays, make up games, and make videos of mysteries that were a take off on the movie, Clue. I'd kind of forgotten about this interest until discussions with Julia brought up my love of Nancy Drew books as a kid.

Above is a detail of one of the 6 collages, "Her Dress was from Paris" and a detail of another piece, it was in the stars, is below.

It was fun cropping out some details and making some mini collage images out of them. And I enjoyed imagining this spooky story through images instead of words. You can check out all the final images and detail shots in my flickr photostream. Perhaps you'll see a different story in them! One more detail pic below from blindfolded.

Killing Yourself Over and Over Again

May 8th, 2008, Comments (17)

Drawn with markers in my journal last night. this is actually the back of the page I drew. I like the way the bleeding markers look on the reverse side.

I'm listening to Martha Beck's Steering By Starlight on my ipod (thank you to Christine Kane for the recommendation.) It's really great and has me thinking, laughing, processing, and pondering some more.

In one part, Beck tells the story of a client who is so depressed and fed up with his life that he's contemplating suicide. Her response is, "You'll definitely have to commit suicide to be free...In fact, ideally, you'll do it all the time. Not physically. Mentally." She goes on to explain how a person can live a vital life by regularly killing (in a sort of suicide) their conceptualized self. In other words, by regularly freeing yourself of the stories you cling to, you can free yourself from those self-imposed limitations.

I was particularly struck by this part of the book. Possibly because I've had my own brush with suicide. But also because this kind of death (of old beliefs) is one that keeps coming up for me over the last couple years.

There have been two memorable times in my life where I had a temporary, but freeing experience with the death of my stories. The first was when my step-brother died. He was only 23 years old and his death was sudden and unexpected. The night before he'd been at my sister's softball game. He went out for pizza with his friends before retiring back to the apartment he shared with a close pal. During the night he died of a brain aneurysm.

There had been a couple other deaths in my family that same year, one was expected and the other wasn't, but there's something particularly shocking about the death of someone so young and seemingly full of life. After the funeral, I remember everything seeming so surreal, more vivid and clear. Within a few weeks, I had ended a five year long relationship (that I had been agonizing over whether or not to end for the last year) and I quit the job that was making me miserable. Getting this stark reminder of how fragile and fleeting life is was like a bucket of cold water being splashed in my face. It woke me up. I recognized that I had the choice to live a life that made me happy or stick with whatever was bringing me down because I felt there was no way out.

The second time I experienced an inner death/rebirth was when I hit my lowest point with depression and was contemplating suicide. It had been crossing my mind for awhile, but when I actually made the decision, something shifted within me and again, everything became surreal and especially vivid. I saw my then therapist who directed me to the hospital where I checked myself in. And from there, I was able to reevaluate my life in a more objective way. I was able to ask for help, admit I was struggling, and get myself out of situations that seemed impossible to get out of, even though they really weren't. In my head, my stories about disappointing others, failing, etc, were just that - stories. And when it came down to it, the stories didn't mean much. This time around, I put in my notice at another job that seemed prestigious to me and related to my degree, but was no longer serving me, and I found a job that paid twice as much, was much less stressful, and allowed me time to heal and do what I love (make art). I also left the apartment that was too expensive, but I thought I couldn't break the lease (I found a subletter), consolidated my debts so I could afford the monthly payments, and moved to another apartment (which led me to meet the hubster.) And I also got some help from friends and family and re-connected with people I love.

Both of these turning point moments were brought about by extremes. Sometimes you can get to a shift like this without the low point. I remember at one point in my twenties imagining if I had a year to live what I would want to do. And then I did those things (spent more time with family, took a trip to the Caribbean, ran a marathon.) But lately it feels harder to get myself to that place of letting go of the story so I can get on with living. I try and do it in the small ways...I get present when spending time with my cats, really feeling their fur, noticing their movements, fully loving their every breath. Or on a walk when my mind goes still and the grandness of a tree puts me in a state of awe. Or when I'm dancing across the kitchen floor for no other reason than pure joy.

I suppose it doesn't all have to be about extremes, moving, leaving, huge life changes. But I also sense that there's something, some story holding me back right now and I'd like to put that fairy tale to bed. So, how do you get to the stories and let them go without the death and drama?

In my efforts to let go of defining beliefs, I look for inspiration in the writing of people like Patti Digh, whose blog is about just this sort of thing...in her case it's about living as if you had 37 days left. I find glimpses in the writing of Eckhart Tolle. And I write and I paint and I talk with loved ones, which often gets me closer. How do you get in touch with that part of you that grasps at your stories? And how do you lovingly help it release its grip?

More Subway Stories to Share

January 15th, 2008, Comments (12)

So these are the finished products here that I've been working away on. And I've got another one that's nearly done and now I've got my camera too, so I can take some pics. I'm calling this one "St. Mary." All the "Subways Stories" pieces are named after subway stops. It's 8"x8" with acrylic paint, collage and ink on a wood panel. Below is a detail of the piece above. The man on the left is whispering prayers, someone he loves is ill. The woman on the right has noticed this man is distraught and is wondering what she can do.

This next piece (below) is called Prudential. It was made with the same materials and it's also 8"x8"

The detail below shows a bit of the story that I've written within their bodies. The woman on the left is bringing home ingredients for a dinner she'll be making for a new boyfriend. She's worrying about it and hoping he likes Greek food. The man on the right is listening humming along to music, feeling motion-sickness from reading on the subway, and pondering the story he's reading.

These pieces and a bunch of others will be shown and for sale at Nahcotta next month.

And it's time for dinner, so I'll be back with more art and some fun links soon. Happy creating!

The Year in Review

January 1st, 2008, Comments (7)

One of the cool things about blogging is that you can look back over the year and see some of the accomplishment that you've completely forgotten about and maybe give yourself some credit! So, I like to do a year in review every year and here it is for the year 2007:

January: Hosted a month of Sunday's Creative Challenge Day at Create a Connection. Chose the word "commitment" for my theme for the year in honor of my upcoming wedding and the commitment to myself and my art. Started working part-time instead of full-time in my nanny job as I slowly transition out of the job I'd held for 6 years. Made a video vision statement.

February: Submitted two pieces to Artstream's Lovely Hearts exhibition to raise money for breast cancer research. Graduated from the two year massage school program I attended. Phew! Began hosting an online group through Julia Cameron's "Finding Water" with Jessie. Received a book of Edgar All Poe's writing from Vedrana from Croatia in a book swap.

March: Showed 3 pieces in a group show of contemporary women artists at a Boston University. Saw a gorgeous, haunting exhibit on jellyfish.  Planned and hosted a big surprise party for the hubster's 30th birthday complete with bowling and ice cream cake. :-) Had my last day of work as a nanny. Started working for myself full time.

April: Worked hard on re-designing my art website and store. The hubster got a small (14 gallon), mesmerizing salt water tank.  Finished a large commissioned painting.  Found gorgeous dresses for my co-maids of honor. Attended a weekend mixed-media workshop and tried encaustic painting for the first time (loved it!)

May: Continued working hard on the website. Created one of my favorite paintings to date, The Lighthouse. Traveled for a wedding, a bridal shower, to see a friend's new home and a birthday party.

June: Got my art website up and running. Hoorah! Went to the opening of Mindy's "Wish Studio" and met many fabulous blogging gals! Went with the hubster on an unplanned trip to Seattle. Had a blast! Participated in the hubster's brother's wedding in NY. Attended a friend's wedding in Boston. A bird flew into our apartment and Tabbers caught it and brought it to me (I was in bed.)  Sent out our save-the-dates (magnet we designed mounted on a card printed at home.) and found the perfect wedding earrings (and my something blue!) Continued making loads of art. Best friend had her first baby.

July: Turned 31. Had my first wedding dress fitting and found shoes to go with it. Traveled to Boulder, CO for a wedding. Loved Boulder! Donated a piece of art for the Angels for Brianna auction.  Created my own special life binder. Lots of cool synchronicity. 

August: Had a creepy stalker experience. Made lots and lots of art. Took a class on art promotion. Had my bridal shower. Sent out the wedding invitations.

September: Family difficulties. Registered for Artfest 2008. Went to a totally awesome mini retreat with new friends, hosted by the lovely Jes. And they threw a surprise shower for me! Showed a series of my Subway Stories pieces at the "Tiny Enormous Show" at Nahcotta and sold them all. Attended my brother my brother's lovely wedding in NY. Had a pottery painting bachelorette party! Had way too many hair trials. Made a cute button for Wellness Wednesday which is hosted by Elena of Lunar Musings.

October: Took care of loads of last minute wedding stuff. Put together many, many programs with the best friend. Got married! Recovered from wedding and read some books for fun.

November: Hosted the fifth annual "Art Every Day Month!" Met some fabulous new artists along the way. Made loads of art. Submitted art to Patti Digh's art card challenge. Spent a weekend nannying for the family I used to work for. Worked with resin for the first time. Dug into defining beliefs. Made lots of art every day. Got mentioned on the Blogher website. Showed art on the zine, All Things Girl. Spent Thanksgiving with hubster's family in NY. Started making plans for Creative Every Day 2008.

December: Wrote my 200th post on this blog (those I promised a special something for being the first five to comment, can expect something shortly after the New Year!) Got a new car with (gasp!) power windows! Announced that I'm writing a book on creativity. Synchronicity abounds. Hosted a week at Create a Connection. Chose my theme for 2008: "Now."

I always feel like I'm not doing enough, but looking back I see that I did quite a lot in 2007 and I also know that the whole wedding thing took up a great deal of my time and energy. I'm feeling ready to step into another wonderful year.

Freya’s Cloak

August 12th, 2007, Comments (14)

So, Freya has been coming up a lot on this blog and a lot in my life. I mentioned before that Pilar suggested imagining Freya's cloak around me protecting me. I liked that image and started doing even more reading about this goddess. It was said that Freya had a cloak made of falcon feathers that allowed her to fly in the shape of a falcon. She is associated with fertility, the moon, water, wealth, creativity, the rune Fehu, and sexuality. Freya had two sacred gray tabby cats (a girl after my own heart!). Later those same cats were seen to be related to witches (the priestesses of pagan religions).  Cats were thought to be shape shifters and guards of the gate to the underworld, where Freya was known to go. 

I got this image of Freya looking over her shoulder and was very excited to bring her to life. Working on a cradled wooden board, I applied the gesso , sketched her in, and then began to collage her cloak. I put one of her gray cats at her side and another within her cloak. I put maps with her cloak, the blues of water, and drew in feathers.

I mentioned I used Maria's "Be Happy" necklace as a good luck charm on Thursday night. I was going to meet a potential customer and it went very well. I was anxious about it partly because of the creepy experience I'd had last week. I met this customer at a bookstore and when I pulled up to into the parking lot in front of it, a gentleman came out of the bookstore waving his arms, acting very strange and then pointed at me. I got spooked there for a moment thinking I'd been set up. But the guy left and I went in to meet this customer who was a real person and very kind. She was interested in the Memory Tree piece, which I made thinking about my grandmother's Alzheimer's disease. Her family also had experiences with this tragic illness. It was really touching that she found some connection to her family through this art piece. This is what I love about sharing my art. I love those connections that people can make. It doesn't need to be the connection I made. If I can find something universal that touches someone else's heart, it's the best feeling in the world. Maddie at Persisting Stars shared a beautiful passage from Nadeem Aslam's "Maps for Lost Lovers" and the last line struck me as what I hope for with my art.

All great artists know that part of their task is to light up the distance between two human beings.

I'm not claiming to be great here, but this is still the main reason I love to share my art. Isn't that beautifully said by Aslam? I think so.

I've been itching to make more works in encaustic (wax) and trying to find some class to get more instruction in the medium, but nothing has worked out. The timing has been off or not enough students to make a class run. Arg. I'm thinking I may just start with what I know thus far from an introduction I've had to the subject, which is enough to get started on a series I have in mind. I was concerned about the safety issues involved with working in this medium, but I do know the things not to do...I can't let the wax get too hot (or it can burst into flames...yikes!) or let it smoke (can be toxic). And I'd like to get started while I can still work on my porch with all the fresh air before it starts to get cold. It's still summer, but August is when you can really start to feel the turn. The days are getting noticeably shorter, there is a cool chill on some evenings. You can smell it.

Ok, and I'm off. Lots to do today and I got a late start. Ciao for now!

Letting Go and Making Art

August 5th, 2007, Comments (11)

One of the things I try hard to do when making art, is to find the place where I let go. It doesn't always lead to great art, but it's still important because it's how I get in touch with that quiet inner well within me. When I can let go, I feel like I'm on a path with an unknown ending point. And me, the planner, the one with trouble letting go of all the ifs and buts, I finally feel at ease with not knowing. When I allow art to come through me without forcing, I'm often surprised, but that's half the fun, really. It's an adventure, an unplanned road trip, the only way to fly.

Carla at Zena Musings quoted Jennifer Louden in her blog saying, "Our job is simply to show up and let go." I totally agree. Seems funny how hard it can be yet how lovely it can feel to truly let go.

Today, I wanted to let myself be playful. I wanted to let go and release after a stressful evening. I gathered art materials around me, including little cups and straws (yes, straws!) and paint and paper. I used a method I learned last year of putting a little dish soap, water and paint in a cup and then using a straw to blow bubbles which I then dip the paper into or push the bubbles onto the paper to create cool patterns. I let my intuition guide me and saw shapes or figures in the way the paint landed, so I started to draw them in with pencil and then with ink and this is what resulted. I resisted it at first. A centaur? But that's what came, so here it is. It felt like the centaur was making some kind of offering or sending some kind of wordless message through the bubbles that floated up through the sky and blew the young woman's hair into a frenzy. "The Centaur's Message" is 9"x12" with acrylic and pen and ink on watercolor paper.

And then there's the moon piece that I mentioned awhile back. This was also a playful piece. This time I was playful with a new material, some Pearl Mica from Golden. So sparkly! It's a little hard to see the sparkle in a picture, but I think it comes across pretty well. I laid it on thick in the moon and then lightly around it for the stars. Little did I know as I painted it that I was painting a full moon on the night of the full moon. Funny how things happen like that. My cancer sensibilities must have been picking up on my favorite planet. "Full Moon" is 6"x6" on gallery wrapped canvas.

And lastly, a piece I posted earlier over at the Blue Tree Blog, "Fly Away", which is up at the store, here. Another improvisation that I'm loving; she's 6"x6" on cradled wood board with cut paper collage, acrylic and ink.

Ok, that's all the art I've got for you today. I hope the rest of your weekend is a creative one!

As I started to picture the trees in the storm, the answer began to dawn on me. The trees in the storm don't try to stand up straight and tall and erect. They allow themselves to bend and be blown with the wind. They understand the power of letting go. Those trees and those branches that try too hard to stand up strong and straight are the ones that break. Now is not the time for you to be strong, Julia, or you, too, will break. - Julia Butterfly Hill