I Am Not Myself, You See
The Alices are restless.
They want to be released into the world, so here we are, tumbling down the rabbit hole into a story of multitudinous meanings and a heaping helping of malarkey. The combination is quite irresistible.
Congratulations to Dotty, Robyn and Niki! Your comments about transformation landed you in the winner's circle, where Wonder Mike and Lilly insisted you all win an original piece of art. Hooray! Send you mailing address to the shipping hounds at firstname.lastname@example.org and your treasures will be on the way. Thank you so much for your participation!
There is a new Reader Giveaway each month this year...stay tuned for June's giveaway - coming soon!
I have always been dazzled by transformation.
Whether it was rearranging the living room furniture as a kid (which my mother, for some reason, never minded), painting a wall, cutting off (or growing out) my hair, even simply pulling weeds to make a patch of the garden look better - something about transformation makes my eyes light up. I understand Marie Kondo's desire to tidy. Except I see it as magic. Perhaps it is the hope that accompanies visible change. If I can change this small thing, maybe I can also influence that big thing to be different. And by different, I mean better. Safer. Happier. Rut-less.
And, well, if you want to go all out, you can always change your name. :)
It's time for the May Reader Giveaway! Leave a comment below describing a moment of transformation (or the hope of one to come) in your life. One (or more) lucky reader (s) will be drawn at random by the giveaway team of Wonder Mike and Lilly to receive a small piece of original art. Hooray!
Coming soon! A Song for the Hunted, a new collaborative on-line show with the amazing mosaic artist, Helaine Abramson. Details and sneak peeks coming in June. Get ready to get WILD!
I have blamed my own mother for many things. In fairness to me, she was an abusive and critical alcoholic. In fairness to her (the benefit of hindsight, information gleaned after her death, wisdom and the passage of time), she was doing the best with what she had. I now imagine her somewhere being loved, encouraged and held; smiling and content. She might have loved me, had she herself been loved.
As for me, I was not a perfect mother. Not even close. There are many (so many) things I would do differently had I known what I know now. But I loved (and still love) my kids. Fiercely, strongly, over protectively, probably. As the pendulum swings from one extreme in one generation to the opposite in another.
But it makes no difference, I realize, the mothers and their methods. In the case of my mother to me, and me to my own children, she simply must be to blame.
As with most of the pieces that emerge in the studio, I had no idea what this one's story was at first. She stared at me from the wall of finished and drying pieces for over a month. That gaze, that hair, those odd beings hovering near here. What the heck? And then she whispered modor....and I knew.
About the art: beginning with an AI bot image from a prompt of "peculiar, naive, whimsical girl" and jumping off into this BIG canvas - toned with oil paint, painted in layers, then (oooooooooh then!) for the hair, big, big BIG oil sticks and big arm movements. This one took several weeks, but was worth every second. She's a force of nature.
The May Reader Giveaway is coming! Stay tuned next week for a reader question and the opportunity to win a piece of original art! Hooray!
Le Petit Chaperon Rouge
About the art: the AI bot has given me a stack of Little Reds to play with. Something about this fairytale resonates with the bot, while others do not. In this version, she's calm and pensive, eyes closed, flanked by protective beasts. A little older, a little wiser, perhaps.
Beginning with a piece of yupo toned with oil paint and Liquin, then lightly sketching the shapes with a colored pencil. Slowly adding thinned paint layers, and then carving back through the wet paint with a chopstick (the yupo is amazing for this - exposing the paper down to the white. Yum). Adding successive washes of darks and lights to create value. Using paint diluted with Gamsol to allow the edge of her dress to run and drip down the paper. As a final step, carving back through the paint with a palette knife to expose the highlights on her hood. Lots of drying time with the yupo, but it is totally worth the wait.
Which got me to thinking, when in my own life (creatively, professionally, personally) have I remained trapped in a metaphorical tower while the path to freedom was right within my grasp? And oh, dear reader, there are many times. The "towers" that trap us might be in the guise of security, predictability, fear of (insert any word you'd like here), or the things we've been told (and come to believe) about our own strength, talent, tenacity and creativity. I think I build my own towers, mostly. Fortunately, there have been people along the way who have opened my eyes to the ladders hanging from the windows. And now and again, I've cut off all my hair.
The Wild Edge of Sorrow
About the art: after a long, rambling creative session with the AI bot, from cyborg fairies all the way to ballet, a tiny snippet of one of the resulting images inspired this piece. Beginning with a canvas toned with the general range of background colors planned for the piece, I drew a colored pencil sketch and lightly painted in the shapes with thinned oil paints. The key to this one was keeping the abstraction of the figure and background, so many big steps back as I over-defined and had to dial it down again. Ending with a final coat of thick paint applied with a palette knife. That pop of minty-ness makes my mouth water. Yum.
I am in a bit of a conundrum. Puzzling through the path to growth, happiness, flow and finding it increasingly a journey un-embraced by others.
This happens in art just as in life - people love a style or subject matter and are disgruntled when the artist wanders away from it. Change is unsettling, unnerving, sometimes scary. And in life, when people love you for being a certain way, they may get jumpy when you grow into a new version of you.
In the poem, Gill grabs this concept and anchors it to my very bones - there may be snowflakes (or sundogs, or eclipses) in my eyes - I am becoming another season.
In this painting, the motion of the ever-changing landscape spins within the very bones of a tree, which transforms even after the final winter of its productive life. It is never too late; you are never too old for transformation. No matter what others may say.
The April Reader Giveaway is here! Wonder Mike and Lilly are busy choosing which original artwork will be going home with one lucky reader. To enter, subscribe to the blog (see column on the right) and then leave a comment below answering this question: do you find yourself creatively (or personally or professionally) stymied by the expectations of others? If so, how can you best grow anyway?
It’s a BIG question! So this month’s prize is not a tiny painting. One commenter will win BIG!
(note: if you are already subscribed, just leave a comment to enter! yay!)
They Caught the Wild Children
It is April and this morning it snowed.
In the studio, the wild god continues to nudge and prod - there are directions I'm heading in which are mighty peculiar. The inspirational can of worms has been opened and the horse is out of the barn. I fall asleep visualizing brush strokes and color. I awaken thinking of composition and subjects, stories and themes. Oh!
The A.I. bot and I are heading down the rabbit hole of fairytale and fantasy. If only I could paint faster! And yet, the whole point is to paint more slowly.
Perhaps the morning snow is a message - slow down, Lola. It's too soon to put away mittens and boots.
The Wild God, Denouement
Here we are, at the end.
The end of the exploration of Tom Hiron's wild god and all the poking and prodding and demanding it has made of us - a gut-check and a reminder to nurture our passions. Oh and Oh.
There is something deeply satisfying about creating a body of work in response to a poem. Beginning last summer with Nudge - Shove with Sylvia Plath's poetry and artist Helaine Abramson, the unfurling of a thread between the words, the thoughts, the emotions and the arts became a lure, a whisper, a nudge. (Helaine and I will travel this path again, we think! But view last summer's exploration here.)
Wandering with Hiron's wild god in the paint pushed me places I've not been, and also renewed passions I had let wither a bit. Not dissimilar to the wanders my husband and I take in the wilds, where the ways are difficult but the payoff is placing your feet (and eyes and ears and skin and heart) places where you've not imagined before. Oh again.
The full poem and the paintings it inspired are gathered for viewing here. A solo exhibit, of sorts. My cheeks are wet with tears, my mouth aches from laughter and shouting. A minotaur sits in the paint.
About the art: beginning with a gesso'd linen canvas, "drawing" the figures on in a toned neutral oil paint thinned with Liquin. Wiping away the paint to create the highlights - removing details with a battery-powered eraser tool. This creates texture and grit where the paint has been absorbed into the linen and removed on the high points. Adding in darks and color. Deciding the man needs hair and a beard like seaweed, as the story reveals itself and the characters tell me what they want to be. Resisting the urge to perfect and correct. Allowing the paint to direct and murmur. Wishing I could be hugged by a minotaur.
The Wild God Nods His Head
We're so near the end of Hiron's poem. Are you listening to the snakes in your arms yet? Hiron's wild god wants us to inhabit our passions - to nurture and protect our unfettered creativity. The words are visceral and rightly so. It resonates deep within my bones.
Just one more piece to this poem, which has kept me company in the studio for a couple of months now. It has prodded, poked, stabbed and shoved. I will miss its daily prickliness. And yet, I am now holding a knife, a bottle and a handful of black fur. A beast emerges in the paint.
About the art: beginning with an inspiration image the A.I. bot and I collaborated on (the beast in the background of the imaged called me deeply), I toned a smooth cradled panel with a neutral glow. Slowly working outward from the center and creating texture within the wet paint using paper towels, chopsticks, small rubber wedges and the wrong (right!) ends of paintbrushes. Allowing the "frame" portions to remain rather sketchy, keeping the focus on the (now nodding) wild god.