The New Year is upon us; a time when we contemplate the year gone by and the year ahead. On December 29, 2018 I asked a group of ladies to join me in ‘Contemplating the New Year’ with respect to natural and spiritual gifts we have buried and hidden away, to exam our reasons for doing so, to consider the role forgiveness has played in our lives and whether our actions and resolutions will be fruitful. As I look back on 2018, with a similar lens, I can say that I do believe the things that come easy to me are not to be taken for granted but used in a way that spreads joy and inspiration. These easy things are my spiritual and natural gifts. I wouldn’t have them if I wasn’t capable of using them; however, getting past the fear or worry of what others may think or how life will change is something with which I will continuously grapple. Self- awareness, celebration and a present state of mind have been ways for me to confront, work through, or avoid these stumbling blocks; a supportive group of peers helps too! I found it is important for me to be present in mind and spirit where ever life takes me, especially if I am there by choice. I will get more meaning out of every activity and interruption if I can remain flexible, breathe through the negative feelings and look for the unexpected opportunities in the moment. This present state of being can profoundly impact and inform my future while dissipating fear and worry. Additionally, maintaining healthy boundaries and tearing down limiting walls are both beneficial to my healthy state of mind and growth. Having healthy boundaries has allowed me to accomplish the things I am inspired to do and identifying limiting beliefs or walls that I built and breaking them down has allowed me to grow and expand rather than contract. I spent a few decades contracting into a comfortable box I could handle based on walls built by fear and hurt. In 2017 and 2018, I was ready to challenge their foundations and start expanding again. Forgiveness could play a key role in this area. Lastly, I learned that I feel fully expressed when I follow the creative promptings of my inner spirit. If a creative idea comes up from within, it is something I need to fulfill. I know this because I have put this into practice a lot lately and seen the fruitful outcome from so doing. If you relate to any of this, I hope it gives you some food for thought as you contemplate your New Year resolutions. Happy New Year!
Earlier this year, I found myself taking a last minute flight to Florida to help someone in need. It was a stressful time for all involved but the weight of the circumstances was countered by the beauty of the surroundings, the pleasantness of the climate and the freedom and peacefulness in being out of my routine and out of the reach of many expectations at home. While there, I took walks on my breaks and conference calls on these walks and rediscovered my ability to happily juggle things that I truly value. Along one of these walks, I encountered this solitary Heron. I first encountered him on a beautiful evening walk. He appeared to be guarding the dock he was perched on. Something about his stillness, told me not to bother him, and to keep my distance. He was as still as the lamp post lighting the path to the end of the dock. He appeared restrained and on guard; on defense, trying to go unnoticed so no one would engage with him. A bit like I had become over the past two decades. Primarily a stay-at-home mom, working part-time with family, over this time period, I became a bit of a solitary bird. The next day, my break came earlier in the day, just after lunch. I had a chance to swim and walk back along the same path I had traversed the night before. Sure enough, I had my second encounter with my feather friend. This time, he was walking along the paths edge, within 3 feet of passersby. He had a more social posture in his closer proximity. As I came up upon him, he jumped into the air and spread his wings wide and showed that he was no inanimate, stiff lamppost, like the night before, but he was a beautiful bird, meant to fly and soar when fully expressed.
My artist style and essence. That is just one of the interesting things I discussed in an air bnb in Praha this May. I was there with four other adventurous artists from California, Arkansas, Wisconsin and Australia, participating in the Becoming Artist Program, designed by Jessica Serran. That morning, we were preparing for a photo shoot and the opening night of the Innermost Exhibition that was the culmination of the year long program. This was my first foray into the art world outside of my home environment. After a year of painting and planning, I was here seeing this adventure through. I was in a nostalgic provincial city, playing ice-breaker games with Popsicle sticks, eating desserts out of fairy purses hung on trees, blowing through ceramic bird whistles, looking elegant after hair, makeup and a fashion fitting with Eyenie Schultz, and floating around the opening night like a spark igniting good conversation about life and art. Hence, my artistic style and essence: a nostalgic, playful, elegant, spark.
“Would you pull down the moon for me?” “Would you travel to Spain and Italy with me?” “Ask me why I still look so good at my age?” “Ask me why I now live in Prague and not France?” “Why do I like wearing the color red?” These were just a few of the ice breaker questions, on the backs of Popsicle sticks, that I encountered as I moved around the rear garden terrace of the White Pearl Gallery getting to know the people who had come out that evening to view our art. Through these short-lived encounters, I was able to make meaningful connections between the patrons and the subject matter of my art. I encouraged an ex-pat sports writer to view “Recharge/Thursday Night Lights,”a painting I did of my son’s football Event. He said it reminded him of all the American HS football teams he covered in the south. The patron with future travel plans to Spain, enjoyed my painting of my mother asleep on the beach because she felt that she was right there in that moment.
Jessica Serran and her crew, created a week long experience in Prague that continued to encourage me to think of myself as an artist. Working with a curator and promotional photographer brought unexpected learning opportunities. I was looking for a creative experience with travel and the potential to launch me along a new career path and I received just that. If you find yourself in Prague next Spring, look for one of Jessica’s exhibitions. It will be a fun evening, possibly filled with a live performance, like the one performed by Donna Fromm this May, and of course lots of visual art. If the exhibition is in Praha 2, I recommend the Fred and Ginger roof top cafe in the Dancing House for lunch!
What's that noise? Do you hear it? Clank. Clank. It's been present since I started my journey but I stopped paying attention to it. The people up ahead distracted me and I decided to follow them. But, I find myself lost. Clank. Clank. That's My Compass! Dangling off of My Back Pack! I forgot I had my own compass, my own back pack, and my own path. It was time for me to reorient myself; to reclaim my own dreams and desires and learn how to navigate the path I was prepared for.
Re-0rient was the name of my first home exhibition held by invitation through out the month of December 2017. I had just completed 20 plus paintings over a six month period while working with Jessica Serran in her Becoming Artist program. While curating the exhibit, I realized that what I had been painting was a clear picture of my current state of mind and what I most valued at this point in my life; transitioning and family.
I had been feeling stuck in my life and out of balance the past few years. I was having difficulty transitioning from an at-home, on-call mother role to a full time career position once again. My kids were becoming more independent and I needed to do the same; to go from being on guard and contracted to being fully in flight and expanding. I did not embrace the idea of returning to a traditional job. I was being called to be more creative. My preoccupation with transitioning from one state to another showed up in paintings titled recycling, revolving, reconciling, recharging and reviving.
It has been said that "you know what you value by looking at how you spend your time and money." I would add "and the memories and people you cherish." My maternal grandmother Rosa Rafaella was my first acrylic portrait. I was lucky to have her as part of my life for 48 years before she passed at the age of 104 years old. Painting her portrait allowed me to spend time with her again and express how much she meant to me. Similarly, painting my father and sister, Corinne, who had both passed more than 15 years ago, allowed me to revive their memory and honor their existence and continual presence in my heart. Paintings of special moments with my children in their activities, my mom relaxed on the beach, and my church community members in fellowship showed me how much I treasure these moments with these individuals.
Having seen this subject matter hung in the same exhibition allowed me to see my life at this point in time. Was I honoring my dreams, my internal compass and blazing my particular unique narrow path or was I following the easy wide well worn path that others had set before me? Do I like my surroundings? Am I carrying things I no longer need? Do I need to give something up to add something new so I am prepared for the next leg of my journey? Painting these past six months has lightened my load and refocused my journey. I am looking forward to the adventure ahead . . . an International exhibit in Prague this May!