Painting – “Gently, gently…

 

..and oh, so carefully.”

The tag-line of my website is; “Living and learning through the creative mind.”

And this painting taught me a lot about life this week.

 I learn a great deal about life through the process of painting, and the many hours of observation and listening while I work. I believe it is the same for pursuing any endeavor. Living life is certainly a big job, and life is something we all have in common on a daily basis.

Over the past few years I have come to realize that if I get out of the way and pay attention, the painting will paint itself. That’s the challenge. Each painting is an opportunity to experience when I don’t do this as well.

As in life, my job is to listen and not “be” the creator or a bull in the china shop, so to speak. Not so easy to do. Life truly does have a plan in every moment, and it is always a good one, if I am not desperately seeking fulfillment out of doubt.

This requires the courage to trust my inner most self, not the self with its hair on fire. Doubt is always my first trip and fall. Trying to be the creator or “the boss” never works for me, it is unfulfilling and the results are always pretty bad. In life we tend to want to know the outcome before we begin, don’t we? Before we take any risk at all. If we don’t know the outcome we tend to force an outcome, or play “lets pretend.” When the outcome doesn’t match our fantasy, we feel defeated, or blame others.

Back to the painting. This painting is my second attempt, okay, it’s my third. The first is so embarrassing, it would hurt your eyes.

When I began all over for the third time, all I knew was that I was painting an elderly hand, and the lighting was vital. Once this was completed I was right on the edge of moving in and “making up” a background, but I stepped away and took a walk. On my walk, I saw this image on the porch; (yep, that’s my left foot in the bottom right).

This was my inspiration for the background design. Yea! I also knew a bird would be resting on her fingers, and once this part of the painting was done it still felt too uncompleted. Again, I walked away. Keep in mind, this painting took me 5 days to paint. Then I walked back and looked at it again, and again, like checking on a sleeping baby, listening for the next step. While cleaning, the idea for the second bird in the palm came to me. It appears to be quite natural now, but I had to wait for it. The three extra stems in the middle ground arrived next, and then nothing. I began to doubt, wanted to throw in huge splashes of bright colour and almost ruined it. Again, “Gently, gently…” came into my mind for this painting, and as a new life mantra.

Gentleness requires a great deal of strength … and courage.

A friend sent me this message describing the painting; “I am caught by the emotion. The beautiful juxtaposition of the brightly colored birds, so precise against her lovely translucent skin. It is really moving, capturing life, old and new, beginnings and endings, always cyclical.” – Thank you dear friend.

That was my experience of participating in this painting.  Life is a juxtaposition of collaboration or control. In collaboration, we all win.

 and thank you for reading.

4″ x 6″ Mini Print here.

 

 

Painting – Pathfinder

“Pathfinder” 20″ x 26.”

Discovering the story, and painting it along the way

With every painting I create, behind the scenes there is always an adventure, a path of life experiences as the foundation for each painting. These experiences are a part of the painting process, along with experimenting, and discovering new painting techniques to accomplish a texture, colour, or light.

Lion Stage one.

This is not the typical “method” of art, but it is how I create, the discovery of what it is I am painting and why…the story of the image and understanding life through the creation of the painting. Maybe you create this way as well?

Stage One; An image of a Lion popped into my head and I wondered how in the world I was going to paint all of that fur! I also wondered why I was going to paint a lion. At that time, only a part of the greater image of the painting would arrive in my mind. Never the entire image. I began painting the lion. I found that if I painted a wash of colour and then scratched the paint, it would create a nice look for the fur.

Lion Stage Two

Stage Two; By adding more washes, and scratching them with different degrees of pressure, some of the scratches maintained the wash underneath, creating an interplay of light, tint, and texture.

 

Lion Stage Three

Stage Three; More washes of the deepest contrast were applied in specific areas, as well as some additional texture with a bristle brush.Then using an opaque cream colour, and a fine brush, I added the highlighted whiskers and hair around the face and random areas.

As the lion reached this third stage the “setting” for the background of the image came into my mind. This was an older type of subway system with brick walls. I had been listening to, and observing life around me, and all of the changes that have been happening so rapidly worldwide for all of us. Issues with lifestyle, belief, religion, and who’s right and wrong were escalating. I realized that the unconscious norms of society about “how to live life” were rapidly leaving, and leaving many at an emotional, economical, and spiritual loss, escalating an inner feeling of confusion, depression, despair, and mistrust.

Ruck sack, Candle, Clock and Compass

So what is left to one and all in these highly charged, and rapidly, changing times? The centuries-long mode of “follow the leader” is failing completely, and each person must now look within themselves, and find what is true for them.

I painted the rucksack, symbolizing that from the moment you were born, all of the tools and skills you needed in this lifetime came with you. As a very wise and funny friend of mine says, “sometimes, you need to remember where you left your backpack.”

I painted the candle for the light within each of us that is illuminating our way, especially in the dark.

The clock symbolizes time, in that the time is now, living someone else’s plan for you and remaining un-true to yourself is over for everyone. This is the discomfort, the “shake-up.”

I painted a compass to represent that although we may not trust it, we each know what direction is our own, and the world map, represents a reminder to be open to all possibilities, and that maybe our own path is not just one place, but many places along the way.

The young girl symbolizes the innocent child of the universe in each one of us, and through this part of ourselves, this goodness is available, by simply asking.

As I put the finishing touches on the Lion, this powerful, protective creature of grace and strength, I came full circle with my experience of the painting, and the present moment in my own life. The Lion represents the Creator, God, or whatever you choose that beats your heart. It is always present when we are confused, present when we stamp our feet and demand the whole “story” before we try, always there watching over our individual path custom designed for each and every one of us, with offering us what we need to know each step of the way when we choose to ask and listen. When we ask, when we follow our own truth, we are each a pathfinder of our own story.

Sometimes we bump into other people’s stories, but that is a different painting!

This is the “The Pathfinder”

The Pathfinder

Thank you

 

 

Painting – Harmony Within Chaos

This painting is about choosing to ask Chaos to have a seat & allow me to ask it questions about its job.

In every life chaos will arrive many times, the uninvited and somewhat dreaded guest.

Like the quote; “Guests are like fish, after three days they begin to smell,” chaos is a challenge, unless…we can find the blessings of change within the chaos, and the gifts within the opportunity. Chaos comes bearing gifts beyond our imagination if we are willing to receive them. Chaos is not for the faint of heart.

Chaos is not an easy adventure, and attempting to shove it out the door does not work either.

Hello Chaos, have a seat. If we make the choice to have a trusting spirit, an adventurous soul, and the courage it takes to find a peaceful place within ourselves to become still and listen, chaos will tell us what it is up to. Chaos will arrive to challenge our fears and control issues. It will ask us if our faith and trust are genuine, or just a platitude we comfort friends with, as we privately plot how the world should really be running along.

Chaos is a teacher.

If we choose the stillness within and listen with gratitude, it will direct us to a place of observation within the chaos, like a perch and a shelter. From this place it will begin to teach us about the creative force that arrives to upturn the stagnant blocks, uncover the lies, and offer the truth. Chaos can be an answer to a prayer of change. The truth will set us free unless we choose to react, run in circles with our arms in the air and join the conversations of fear, and judgement, and miss the opportunity know, to be the insider, and to watch it unfold.

Chaos holds the key to learning harmony.

Harmony is the shelter. It does not include resistance. It is a position of neutral. It asks us not to define it, or find a sense of safety in our immediate and ignorant definitions. It does not argue nor defend, it is the space that is a melody of listening and alert attention. It trusts that if action is needed, it we will will be specific, peaceful and in harmony with the moment. Knowingness and wisdom is the lesson of harmony. To know how to serve and when, and how to ask. Harmony is in the center of chaos, and chaos can usher in the light of creation and change for the greater good. Be the greater you by surrendering the smallness of you, (may include arguments). Find your perch, pay attention, ask for the wisdom and truth that chaos has to teach, and then you will fly.

This is my experience with chaos. Chaos is the greater good asking for change, and harmony is “E” ticket of the peaceful and effective path. — Thank You.

Painting – Free Falling into Stillness

Free Falling into Stillness. 36″x24″

“So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.” – T.S. Eliot

“To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.” – Lao Tzu

“Whenever you deeply accept this moment as it is — no matter what form it takes — you are still, you are at peace.” – Eckhart Tolle

This painting began as an assignment; “Paint as the neutral observer instead of the creative director.” My mind immediately wanted to have at least an outline, a subject, an assignment, and a deadline. It was beside itself. No plan? That was fine for daily life, but how do you create without an idea, without seeing it in your mind, first? It was two months before I could even sit down to work. I needed to discover what this meant…….

This was a journey into discovering an inner stillness, and the true creativity within the present moment.

In the present moment, in the stillness, is everything I need to know. Listening, and then responding is a rhythm in alignment within our very being, without the mental chatter and its judgements. It didn’t happen overnight, but a time came when the hostages were set free, and there was acceptance, peace, and the joy of creating in the present moment. Not simply for art, but in each and every moment.

– Thank you.

Illustrating Timeless Laughter & Dreams

Laughter is timeless,
imagination has no age,
and dreams are forever.

– Walt Disney

I was laughing so hard I could barely catch my breath
and all the dreams I have ever had since before I could remember,
came rushing back into my awareness.

My inner cheerleaders exclaimed, “O thank God! The woe is me drama opera is finally over, let’s get to work.” I had just returned from traveling on the road of comparison and doubt, and inspiration could not find me there. Inspiration can only travel on the road of belief. There it is. I chose to change my mind, turn myself around and with that, inspiration was waiting to greet me. Inspiration doesn’t snicker, but,…I really know that I heard a faint voice say “Interesting choice for a summer vacation ….”.

Sketching in Facial Features

I began to work. This was just an experimental sketching exercise to get going again. I randomly chose a reference image I felt was reflective of a moment of bliss.

Expanding the image with shading and details.

I continued to sketch with line and shading. The face took form and I enjoyed her expression.

Laying in her hair as if a breeze of inspiration came to visit and inspire this moment of bliss.

While sketching her hair I imagined a breeze of inspiration that had come to visit her and inspire this moment to pause, accept and enjoy.

Okay, done with the exercise, move on.

After some time, I thought to myself this exercise was a great start, let’s move on, I can’t use her, she’s a recognizable figure. But then I thought, I was having fun and I loved the moment captured, so I decided to stay with it and expand the image into an illustration.

 

Sometimes we experience brief moments of bliss that have no connection to anything that is outside ourselves, and everything to with the truth and inspiration within, and inherently available to us all. For this, I am truly grateful, and will hopefully never get lost driving down the useless road of doubt and comparisons again. This is my experience while creating the illustration “Laughter & Dreams. – Thank you.

 “Laughter and Dreams.”

Laughter & Dreams

 

Painting the Beekeepers Gift

Everyone has natural gifts, whether they are aware of them or not.

Bee within hexagons.

This painting started out abstract and simplistic. Just a few notes, like a melody. A bee surrounded by light, with a few hexagons to represent the honeycomb. However, the painting continued to expand, and so did its message.

Some people have gifts that they may be completely unaware of, however, these gifts are very valuable to each individual they interact with. True kindness, a sense of humor, patience, or compassion are just a few. Gifts do not require a tangible creation, like beautiful music, or a wonderful story. Gifts can not be put on like fashion accessory, or used for manipulation. All gifts are something that serve life, and live on within the recipient, lifting them up to a lighter self.

Bees symbolize community, light, and the sweetness of life. They also represent the heart, and personal power. Bees respond to, and respect the gentleness within an individual. Most people do as well. They become alarmed and threatened by insensitivity and disrespect. Bees can intuit true intentions. The Beekeeper symbolizes a pure heart, that cares deeply, and respectfully for the sweetness in life, dispelling fears.

“The Beekeepers Gift” represents the courage, and the great power of sharing our gifts in thought, word, and deed.  — Thank you.

This is “The Beekeepers Gift”

 

 

Painting “After the Rain, a Contemplative Walk”

The silent moments after a storm.

Sketchbook Doodle

Life is cruising along quite nicely and then, something within tilts, and then shifts. A storm of inner change is coming. More useless garbage will be blown out, and room will be made for a greater understanding of life, compassion, and the bigger picture. Still, it is difficult not to cringe while the pressure is building. It’s an uncomfortable time. “Can we do this next week, I wonder?”

Washes of Colour

This sketch is a doodle, abstract, yet linear and contemplative. It represents “battening down the emotional hatches”, focusing on paying attention to the opportunities to shift, and riding the storm into a new awareness.

Deepening Contrast and Reflective Light

As I lay-in the washes of colour, I notice I am still painting at an angle, as if reflecting the similarities to a boat in a storm, or the physical body in a storm, the equilibrium can be off. Life and the self, can feel fragile, uneasy. However the sense of baby steps, guidance and of being  protected is there as well.

Contrast and understanding deepens, equilibrium returns, colours and thoughts become brighter and reflective of a new mindfulness. The storm recedes, quiet waves move in bringing peace, and treasure. A deeper sense of grace to contemplate with each step we take, as we walk within the gift that is our life, on this planet.  — Thank you.

“After the Rain, A Contemplative Walk”

Painting “Change & The Center of Gravity”

It began with an image that had arrived in my mind. It was of a woman with a beautiful light shining from within her heart. Before I could get started on this new painting, a nagging tickle in my throat soon turned into a rib breaking cough, and days in bed with a cold.

During my waking moments, I continued to watch the image paint itself in my imagination. Once I recovered, I set to work on creating this painting. However, something had changed. The painting had changed, and it was different. I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me. What I had imagined was no longer there to work from. This was very disconcerting, and I experienced a few moments of doubt. Each painting is an adventure, and I see it as a sort of movie that I participate with. Then, I finally began to understand. Feeling the discomfort of “change” was the first note of the music, or film score for this movie.

Stage Two, painting the hands

Doubt is uncomfortable and difficult. I waited, listened, and asked, “What am I painting?” The painting had changed, and the main figure was now a young man. While painting his face first, I saw that the image appeared only from the bridge of his nose down. This is the face of anyone, and everyone.

Next were the hands. The hands are protective and cherishing his heart, his center. This is the home of his “knowingness”, his light, and his truth. The truth is there waiting to offer its wisdom, and only the truth can see through the limited perceptions of his eyes and emotions.

Stage Three, tattoos and the message on the tee-shirt

As I began to paint the arms, I saw the tattoos. I thought about the stereotypes that society has placed upon men, and women for thousands of years, telling them who they “should be”  and “should not be” in order to be safe, valuable, and loved. I thought about the confusion and disappointment this causes within each person, and within their expectations towards each other.  A decade later, these stereotypes will change again, and so will the expectations of who each person “should” be.

I continued to paint this young man, who is cherishing the light and the knowingness within his heart. I began to understand the symbolism, the adventure, the message, and the painting itself. We all have the truth available and running through us in each moment. Accessing this truth, and the choice to honor and cherish this truth is ours, and requires the courage of a personal change. We also have the choice to see only with our eyes, feel only our emotional reactions in a situation, and be guided by the opinions of others. However, these perceptions are not the whole truth.

The message on the young man’s tee-shirt presented itself. “Question Everything”. The question is “what is the truth?” We can choose the gift we  have been given, to listen without an agenda or judgement. This is our greatest gift and power, and our center of gravity as we navigate through illusions, and the constant change of each day. Our center of gravity is our “knowingness”, the light within that supersedes the doubt, discomfort and fear. We have all been given this. Maybe it’s time to make friends with our knowingness, have a long talk and form a great, lifetime relationship.

Finally I painted the fabric background, symbolizing this young man’s “wings of protection and flight” as he trusts, continues to “Question Everything” and treasures the highest truth from within the core of his being. Thank you.

This is “Change & The Center of Gravity”

 

Painting “The Unknown is Calling”

Stage One; The Phone

Once a painting is completed, I begin to wonder what the next painting will be. This time, the image of an old black rotary telephone came into my mind. I thought this was great, I love these phones. However, this image also arrived with the essence of a mystery as well. Each painting is an adventure, a life lesson for me concerning the shared experience of us all.

I create black in a painting by applying a variety of colors on top of one another. I finish the section with two or three layers of  Lamp Black glaze,  a soft warm black. Black is the combination of all colors, and the absence of light. Most every surface will reflect the colors around it, even a piece of white paper, or the page of a book you are reading. Try it. Look closely at your finger touching the paper, then lift it about an eighth of an inch, and continue to look at that spot on the paper. If the lighting is good, you will see the color of your skin faintly on the page. When I first saw this, I thought I was having a “moment”, but with closer observation, I saw the truth of what I was actually becoming aware of.

Stage Two; The Crow

I began to create a marbled texture as well. Next, the name and the number on the phone arrived into my mind; “Unknown 0000”. OK, here we go I thought, we are painting that which we call “The Unknown”, something that immediately seems uncomfortable and mysterious. After the phone was completed, I saw that a crow was to be perched on the phone.

I sat with this painting for some time, just listening. While painting the background, the story of the image began to tell itself. To various degrees, we may consciously or unconsciously, for a false sense of safety, try to protect ourselves from the unknown. This can lead to a calcification of the light that is within all of life, by not allowing the light of awareness, joy, and love to move in and through any given moment freely. We could also grow argumentative and controlling, demanding that what we know, is the right and only way.  This would be simply our fear and not trusting an inner knowingness. This inner knowingness is created to be in constant flow through us. This is also the unknown, becoming known.

The Phone – represents information, and that life is continuously calling to us in each moment. Black represents information that is moving from the position of what you may not know in this minute, to what you will know the next, bringing it into the “light” where all of its colors can be seen.

The Crow – Crow symbolizes the void or core of creation, from darkness to light and alert for every call from the sacred.

The Dove & The Rainbow – In this painting both represent the highest truth available to all. At one moment it is unknown, and in the next, we have the opportunity to become aware of it. We do this by simply asking, by making our own phone calls, and then listening instead of hanging up. It is the peace, and the freedom we feel when we move from not knowing, into knowing. This is faith. This is asking what it is you need to know. When we think about it, this happens in each moment of every day. By choosing to remain open to change, to information with consideration, we are answering the phone in our own lives. We are being led to our own greatest selves. We become light, and within the light, we become pure color.

P.S. The day after I finished this painting a circumstance arrived at my door of life, and I was ushered into another opportunity of the great unknown. With a new set of observational skills, faith, questions, and a lot of focus/listening, and after 5 hours with a used car salesman……..a gruelling test if there ever was one, I exited dehydrated, but victorious, and with an entire new lifestyle. 100% Electric. (big smiley face)

This is “The Unknown is Calling”

The Unknown is Calling

Flying Lessons & Life

About this painting;

I was pondering life again, which is a moment by moment habit. In times of confusion, I like to create metaphors for life’s perplexities. This allows me to put life or a situation into a context I can work with, like a picture book. Picture books are brilliant, not too many words and full of imagination. This method also allows me to see the parallels of any given situation with a sense of humor, and possibly an insight or inspiration will follow. The “Ahaa! I get it!” moment, and then I can move on.

This is how “Flying Lessons & Life” evolved. I was painting while I pondered (in my picture book metaphor method), how life is like flying. It takes focus and believing in what you know in your heart to be true, no matter how many internal or external hecklers show up. Looking down would certainly cause a wobble or crash if the flying part doesn’t have my full attention, and then I will be looking for the band aids, again.  Something that causes me to look away, or look down would be……..a distraction. So, now I ponder distractions. Do distractions receive job assignments each day when they show up for work? Who pays them? Do they have a union?

Something else to ponder, in the mean time, I will avoid looking down.

 

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