Change is exciting…but often, change is just plain scary. I had found a very comfortable artistic voice in my paper works—why would I change it? But there was no choice. It was time to grow.
I craved to explore Abstract Expressionism.
I couldn’t get this out of my head. I couldn’t stop thinking about deliciously colorful paints and spontaneously loose brush strokes. I wanted to gobble up all that I could, let it dance inside me and see what came out. And while I resisted outside instruction, I knew I needed a mentor to take me there. Enter Tory Cowles.
On an unplanned visit to the Torpedo Factory I stopped in Tory’s studio. I have long been a Tory fan--but we had never met. We struck up a conversation and weeks later Tory was teaching me to let the abstract painter in me loose.
This sweet, generous, talented woman kindly taught me to begin letting colors have conversations with one another. She pulled out Diebenkorn and de Kooning and a multitude of talents to share their inspirations as well as her own. I felt like a 5 year old running wild in a candy store.
What a leap.
I had never appreciated the courage and bravery in creating in the abstract. There is no frame of reference of what something should look like. There is you and your feelings, thoughts, unconscious and the possibility of the entire universe to play with on your canvas. There are wonderful colors and textures to mix and the need for restraint in not overwhelming as you express. There is power in simplicity and editing. There is strength in building the painting layer upon layer in a complex but seemingly simple effort.
Abstraction is the HARDEST artwork I had every tackled.
I have never felt so much PASSION and JOY in the act of creating.
I paint for hours on end. I dance. I crank up the tunes. I play with paint and play and play…I am in LOVE.
So change…it IS scary, but oh, the joy of going new places. Yes, we know that about our journeys to new cities and meeting new people, but to have that in your life on a daily basis—that is a gift. A gift you give yourself when you allow yourself to grow and explore.
I am trying hard not to judge. I think about how hard it is for so many artists to change their styles, hear new voices. I think about the first people that saw Picasso’s cubist works…my journey may not be for everyone, but it is for me.
All I know is that I feel joyful.
I share with you this painting “Out Beyond” created with Tracy Chapman’s soulful voice whispering in my ear and inspired by Rumi in his poetry, so expressive of what I think about abstract painting:
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I'll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about ideas, language, even the phrase "each other" doesn't make any sense.”
I wish for you to have this joy, if you do not already—the pushing past the comfortable and giving something a bit scary a second look…I wish for you the kind guidance of a Tory Cowles—that mentor that shares their talent/their stuggle/their own joy. I wish for you to find the exhilaration of changing from a comfortable place to an edgy, passionate place. A place where home feels like a whole new journey.