Over the last year, Lori Anne Boocks & I had the privilege of working with young patients via Georgetown Med School to create art echoing their journeys —it was humbling & gratifying to be a part of this research —the exhibit is of the 8 resulting paintings & the young patients responses to having a painting created about their experiences.
In addition to the painting Fierce featured above, I created three additional works for three different patients. The narratives about the paintings will be included at the show and explain the direction of each piece of empathic art:
I have been working on this radiant woman for several weeks and found my final inspirational push after being part of a two-hour Glennon Doyle talk in Virginia last week. I am loathe for celebrity worship and hadn’t read any of her books, but everyone in my family talks about her insight on just about everything you can imagine from relationships to racial injustice to babies being pulled out of their mother’s arms. She is a writer, activist and now gaining traction as an incredible change maker.
So I showed up curious and a bit skeptical—is anyone really all that. Two hours later, I am so pleased my daughters read her, listen to her podcasts and take in her. She is a wonderfully flawed, intelligent, loving spirit and about as “authentic” as someone can be as they speak to a few thousand people.
One topic she touched on—and she talks about it a lot-- is how marketers consistently make girls and women feel they aren’t enough…I hate that reality. Your butt isn’t round enough, hair isn’t shiny enough, stomach isn’t flat enough, blah blah blah. And about beauty and what really makes someone beautiful—makes them magnetic.
She spoke about how filling yourself/surrounding yourself with the things that light you up. Making sure your joy is a part of your day. That you are present to notice the beauty that surrounds you in the people you love, the things you love, the places you love--you fill up with joy. And that joy at lights your face—lights up your being and how you are with others—you exude beauty.
I kept thinking about that sense of being beauty-filled as I finished this piece these last few days. And I thought of the things that make me light up—creating art, spending time with my family, sitting in my backyard and watching nature, beating my guy at chess or at least laughing together as we trash talk each other…and this painting became even more beauty-filled.
Wishing you your beauty-filled space in this day. Namaste.
This feels big for me. A self-portrait.
For weeks I was mixing and playing with colors, hoping something was percolating under the surface because on the surface, I was using a lot of expensive paint without a road map.
Last week, a light bulb lit. As I dove deeper into Picasso’s inspirations and his exploration of masks as a comment on the fronts we put out to the world, something sparked. I have been peeling my onion back in my life over the years, trying hard to be my most authentic self. Putting me into the world, one toe at a time.
But this thought of masking and presenting that in work had me thinking backwards—or in my case forwards. I wanted to paint what was behind the mask. And I wanted to start with me.
I have never done a self-portrait and I was so jazzed about creating a portrait of truth, not of physical accuracy. And so I painted, Girl With Third Eye (flying under the radar).
It’s me out there in the world as I see myself as a child. I was so aware of my world at the youngest age—and all it’s crazy, unhealthiness. I watched my sky fall around me with my eyes wide open—and yet no one, not one adult ever talked to me about what was crumbling around me. I remember literally thinking, “Adults don’t know that kids see every thing. Understand everything.” I was incredulous of their ignorance and/or lack of caring.
And from very young, I knew I had to learn to lean on myself. To be strong, always and be there for myself since it wasn’t a guarantee that anyone else would be. That letting others in has been a lifelong effort for me—but my art has been a opening for that.
While painting myself as a young child in this way had the potential to feel somber, it was very exhilarating and empowering…and for those looking a the details in this big 40x40in piece, you will notice the motto, “only you can prevent forest fires.” A phrase that seems so relevant to my experience and my generation. I also collaged in bits from my mother’s unpublished stories…a piece titled, “A Rainy Day”…crossed out and retitled in her handwriting: “Life’s Surprises” and more of her handwritten notes (ha! life’s surprises…).
So here I am, blue hair, wide eyed—never surrendering what I think was an innate wonder I have carried with me and an optimism that I could make things better. I have included a photo of myself as a young girl that I look at once in awhile and think, “How could anyone have not noticed me in all my innocence and sweetness and reached out?” And yet it makes me feel great to see that nothing touched those parts of me and my wide-opended third eye.
Feeling full of richness in claiming those parts that are my foundation, sharing them and finding new paths in artistic expression. Grateful.
I started writing a tome about the experience of painting this piece and then I read my daughter’s abridged version of an Aldous Huxley quote and I’m just going to leave it right here. Thank you Lindsey Sitz:
It’s Dark because you are trying TOO HARD. Lightly, child. Lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly. Let things HAPPEN and lightly cope with THEM.
So throw away your BAGGAGE and go FORWARD. THERE ARE QUICKSANDS ALL ABOUT YOU—sucking at your feet trying to suck you down into FEAR and SELF PITY and DESPAIR. That is why you must walk so LIGHTLY. Lightly MY DARLING, on tiptoes and no luggage, not even a sponge bag. COMPLETELY UNENCUMBERED.
And from me:
Be kind to yourself. Tred gently. You’ve got this. It’s a journey, not a race. Namaste.
2018 started with great art flow. I painted daily-- sometimes in 8 hours stretches. A wonderful beginning and some of my best work.
And then in March, it was like the faucet turned off.
I felt twinges of panic that my creative juices had been used up...My mojo washed down the drain while cleaning my brushes.
And yet, I kept showing up.
Talk about unsatisfying…
I spent hours throwing paint on canvas only to paint over it the next day. At one point I was rotating between seven paintings waiting for something to happen.
In the midst of my creative angst, I looked for new inspirations. I made museum visits. I splurged on new art reads. I marched in protest of gun violence. Practiced yoga and tried to be mindful of all the things that sparked passion.
And yet my stall continued.
About 2-3 weeks in, a light bulb went off. Maybe I was moving to a new place—growing. Maybe this was something to embrace.
I reminded myself of how infants advance physically only to regress verbally in the development process. Growth isn’t linear. That thought was helpful and I committed myself to be open to where my journey might lead.
Maybe this was a PAUSE.
An invitation to be fresh.
Perhaps I was exactly where I should be-- this was a bridge to a new journey.
Something happened this week. With Alice Merton cranked up, I found myself dancing -- mesmerized by color and creating with my boldest voice.
I did my best to stay out of my way.
In it, this work “I Ain’t Pretending,” flowed.
I am still mustering the courage to be new. To not rest in my comfort zone. I am looking at this pause as excitement. And trusting I will always have much to say.
Oh… this creative journey forever surprises. Wishes for all your cylinders be firing and finding ways to express them…Namaste.
The Guest House
My daughter reminded me of how beautiful a poem The Guest House is. Written by Rumi centuries ago, he talks about the value--the beauty-- of opening yourself to all the feelings that cross your path—not pushing away the most difficult because in them, there is something of value you for you. Something to learn about yourself. A chance for growth.
When I began abstracting this painting, I had no idea The Guest House would appear to me and then it did. It’s been a while since I have included poetry in my work, but I couldn’t resist making this beautiful poem a part of my work.
The Guest House :
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.--Rumi
Happy Valentine’s Day. One43~*
I can’t imagine having to choose between Etta James and Bruce Springsteen. Ultramarine Blue and Vermillion. I want all the colors and all the sounds and all the feels.
When I was a kid I loved sparkle and neon lights. Valentines with lots of glitter and candy boxes with pink satin linings. I loved to choose from a big box of crayons.
Today, the people I meet are like new crayons in my box. I love all the smiles—crooked, shy, wrinkled. My jaw drops when I hear about their courage in starting new lives in my country. I swap stories with mothers in our varying stages of parenting. I commiserate and celebrate with artists about our creations.
I cherish this tapestry that is America--a daily discovery of people and stories. They light my world. I love the diversity. I love the sharing. I love when minds are opened. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Some months back, The Washington Post printed all of Trump's tweets and they became the underlayment of this piece. This mighty woman eclipsed the outrageous rhetoric with her strength and determination...This weekend is the anniversary of the Women's March and once again, I will take to the streets of DC to raise my voice and be my best resister. I have so many concerns about so much that is happened this past year but...my overriding thought as I march as a proud American--one nation, indivisible and with liberty and justice for all. That is how it goes...right?
As a teen, I owned a t-shirt that said “Never Underestimate the Power of a Woman”—in the time of burning bras and discussions of equal pay. Bella Abzug. Gloria Steinem. Shirley Chisholm.
Years passed and I carried that phrase into my life and in my heart. (some times I heard Helen Reddy right there with me…google her)
Yes, I had my share of #MeToo’s, as did most of the women I knew. But never did I think it would take so many decades for the collective voices of women to reach their crescendo. NEVERTHELESS, what erupted Jan 20 2017 in all its pink pussy-hood, the walls (and maybe glass ceilings) began to crumble.
So fast-forward to a year of complete and utter nonsense. And maybe exactly what we needed in order to focus on what is truly important. To commit ourselves to creating the kind of world we want for ourselves, our daughters and our sons.
So this artwork sat in my studio for a few months, unsure where she was going and then BAM! This week, she woke. Fierce. BADASS. Unapologetic. Ready.
And when I finished her, I went to look at the history of the phrase, “Never Underestimate the Power of a Woman” and was blown away that Ladies Home Journal adopted the phase in 1941 as more of a nod to a woman being the quiet manipulator of her husband’s beliefs and behaviors—and oddly was introduced with a BALLERINA.
Well my lady may be in graceful pose (such synchronicity), but not as a manipulator but a collective force. Firmly planted. She is NOT going anywhere.
So...Wear your bra. Don’t wear your bra. March. Don’t march. But whatever you do, do it powerfully. And stay tuned…Namaste.
Welcome to my journey, in art & life...