Sunday, June 14, 2020

Confessions of an Artist





I stumbled upon these words that struck me as genuine and fresh, part confession, part prayer, even though they may not be introduced with 'Dear God'. I rarely hear anyone speak in these terms anymore. It resonated with me because of its courage, humility, self-awareness and determination. It was spoken by an artist but I feel like it could have been spoken by any of us, regardless of the label we attach to ourselves and others. 


I have lots of habits that are self-defeating.

I’m my own worst critic, a people pleaser.

I compare my work to others and get discouraged.

I’m a perfectionist with a bit of OCD thrown in.

I’m pretty much always afraid to step out and try new things that are outside my abilities...

I really want to loosen up and give things a try and know that others fail too.

I get really caught up in staying with what I know to the point of shutting down on occasion.

Fear of failure is so ingrained, and I need to move beyond that to become a better artist.

I want to be brave.

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

#BLM




To say that we are living in historic times would be an understatement.  It is difficult to keep up with the events and the subsequent emotions generated by them. We all have so much to say. We all want to be heard. But, some of us have been dominating the conversation for far too long and there are times when it’s appropriate to shut up and make room for the unheard (or heard but not heeded) voices, no matter how uncomfortable they may make us feel.

As artist, my heart is expressed through my artwork, I believe better than any words I might use.


I can't breathe


#B&W





RIP George Floyd



Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Secrets of the Angels





Back in April, I thought it would be neat to do a mixed media replica of the famous monastery Milosevo fresco – White Angel.

It was Easter.

We were in lock-down.  

What could possibly go wrong when one wants to celebrate this strange COVID-19 Easter by painting an angel idling around Jesus’ empty tomb, wondering why would anyone be looking for the Living One among the dead? 

I scoured the Internet for a reference photo I wanted to use and once I found it, went to work.

I intended - to the best of my ability - to stay as close to the original.  With that in mind, I took a pencil and I started lightly outlining the image on the paper.  The head and halo around it. The folds of the robe. One wing and the other.

I am not sure at what point in the process a human photo-copy machine gave way to an artistic libertarian with a mind of her own.  All I know, by the time I was finished what (or rather, who) showed up on the page was NOT the same angel depicted in the renown fresco.

I stare at the woman, wondering where did she come from? Who is she? Why is her face sad and her robe, her hands, even her golden halo, and all around and behind her splattered with Daler Rowney Brilliant Red mingled with gold?

What kind of messy post-resurrection messenger is this?!?!!

I step back, the words of American abstract painter Robert Motherwell, now in focus. 

In the brush doing what it’s doing, it will stumble on what one couldn’t do by oneself.

Clearly both history and our daily reality bear witness that we don't live in some kind of post-resurrection spiritual Pleasantville.

When I think of it, it's a sad thing, because we don't realize that in our insistence on being ‘in control', and sugarcoating reality we forfeit the opportunity to allow a deeper and perhaps more edgy truth that wants be revealed in all its disturbing beauty.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

The Art of COVID-19

Much of my time in quarantine has been spent talking (and writing!) less and making art more. Engaging in a creative process, regardless of the medium or subject, has been such an enriching experience on so many different levels. Anyone who does it knows what I am talking about.

Since picture is better than a thousand words, I am sharing just a few glimpses into my COVID-19 art-making 'routine'.




This piece Why are You Looking for the Living One among the Dead? was done in honor of Orthodox Easter. It's my interpretation of White Angel, a famous fresco from Milesevo monastery.



 


For Orthodox Easter I colored the eggs using natural onion skin dye. The process has become one of my favorite Easter traditions. 





Finally, after coloring Easter eggs in onion skins, I turned the leftover liquid into pigment which I used to experiment with negative painting techniques. This might be by far my favorite 'experiment' so far.





Monday, May 04, 2020

May the Fourth Be With You

In keeping with the tradition, I am re-posting one of our family favorites. May the Fourth Be With You!



We can thank my mother-in-law for introducing Star Wars into our children’s lives by getting our 5 year old son his first Star Wars LEGO set. He ripped the boxes open and within seconds our home was invaded by the Imperial Stormtroopers and the Droids.

I was mortified.

Star Wars?!!! He is waaay too young for Star Wars!


It wasn’t the complexity of the building process I was concerned about, because that never seemed to be a problem for our pint-size engineer. What bothered me much more was a matter of introducing complex adult issues into his immature mind, and the challenge that creates for me as his parent. But, like it or not, the door was open and there was no going back.

From that day on, my son turned into a miniature Star Wars maniac. So far, he’s been mostly preoccupied with recreating cosmic wars against his little sister. Along the way he somehow acquired a prodigious amount of information about the characters and the plot and various twists and turns in the storyline. He learned the difference between the Imperial and the Rebel blaster, the who’s who and what’s what of the Imperial Army and the Rebel Alliance, and all the whys and therefores of the narrative that molded the worldview of generation after generation since the first movie was released. He bought a Star Wars Visual Dictionary with his own money(!) and would spend his free time memorizing its content.

Now, all this wouldn’t be so surprising if it wasn’t until this afternoon, years after the initial encounter, that he saw his very first Star Wars movie. Watching him watch the movie was as much (or more) fun as watching the movie itself. It was as if he had all these loose pieces of a puzzle, and he finally saw how they all fit together, he could finally place them in their exact spots in the larger, 4-D story-puzzle. His delight was quite contagious. During dinner, he continued chatting enthusiastically about all the fascinating trivia he picked up during the afternoon Star Wars extravaganza. In the course of the conversation, my husband casually mentioned George Lucas and what his intent might have been for the unfolding of the various episodes in a certain sequence.

George… Lucas?!!
 Our son muttered hesitantly… And who is this George Lucas? 

There was no doubt that he was utterly confused. You could tell that he was scrolling down the imaginary database of Star Wars names and faces, from Emperor Palpatine through Chewbacca and Ewoks, but there was no suitable match for the name “George Lucas”.

It was now our turn to be confused. How is it possible that with all these years of borderline obsession with the Jedi and their pecking order, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, and R2D2 and Obi-Wan Kenobi, our son never ever heard the name George Lucas?

We looked at each other and burst into laughter.

Hmm …George Lucas…. George Lucas…. Well, he is kind of like God to the world of Star Wars. Without him, there would be no Star Wars, nor the galaxy, nor anybody or anything else belonging to this galaxy far, far away. He created it all. This amazing world exists because it first existed in the mind of George Lucas.


It took several minutes for the news to settle in his shaken-to-the core 9 year old mind screaming for a paradigm shift. Until this moment of revelation he was so preoccupied with the fascinating universe which George Lucas had created that for a brief while he simply couldn’t compute the information about the existence of the creator of that universe.

There…there is a George Lucas… there IS a George Lucas and I never even knew it!


In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Resurrection Art





This year the forty days of Lent morphed into quarantine (which incidentally derives its name from Italian 'quaranta giorni' meaning 'forty days' indicating the amount of time ships had to be isolated before entering the city of Dubrovnik during the Great Plague). Quarantine (or lock-down, or self-isolation) morphed into Easter, first following Gregorian then a week later Julian calendar.

It's been a busy season of surviving. Adjusting. Flexing. Re-aligning.

And art making.

First hopped in the Easter Bunny. It was a silly, spur-of-the-moment, safe-in-the-era-of-social-distancing experiment that warned me never to underestimate the silly, spur-of-the-moment bursts of creativity.




Birthed during COVID-19, it, of course, had to have a face mask😷 .  One thing that this bunny taught me with its extra-large ears and its face mask was that sometimes the best thing to do is just cover your mouth and use your ears. 

Perhaps because the bunny knows what the poets have known all along.... that it's hard to listen while you preach.

As I said, never underestimate the seemingly silly, spur-of-the-moment bursts of creativity. You may be surprised what you stumble upon following the rabbit trail.



Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Boston Prayer Garden







Earlier this year, in anticipation of an extraordinary busy summer, I didn’t think I would have time for gardening… silly me! Man plans, God laughs.

As COVID-19 pandemic spread it suddenly created large blank spots in my schedule. Combined with state-wide lockdown, yesterday I seized the golden opportunity and basked in the pure luxury of rolling in the dirt for blissfully uninterrupted morning that stretched well into the afternoon.

There is a reason for the expression, Happy as a pig in muck.

I was buried deep inside my heaven, experiencing unadulterated joy of ripping things out, digging things up, tossing them in the garbage, while getting unashamedly filthy when my very much earthly husband called my name and said that the window guy was here and I needed to come in.

Everything was in place for the look. The wild disheveled hair. The sweaty/dirty clothes.  The dark-brown under my fingernails even after washing my hands twice. All this topped by the irrepressible grin on my face working together in perfect unison to proclaim to the world and the stunned Window Guy,

Here she comes, The Crazy Gardening Lady!

I am so sorry, I tried to apologize rather unconvincingly, the stupid grin contradicting my words.

Then, as if this was the most common, utterly normal occurrence I begun to ramble about all the other cataclysmic events over the course of last two decades we have lived through from the perspective of our garden. 

You can call it my version of The Brief History of Time  – from NATO bombing of Serbia, 9/11, one cancer after another, one hurricane after another, Global Financial Crisis of 2008, Boston marathon bombing…

Did you realize that tomorrow is its anniversary, April 15?,  I interrupted my history lesson, turning to now even more stunned Window Guy. All he could do is shake his head, No.

The reason I remember is because back in 2013. I was working on clearing this particularly messy and dingy area in our yard and converting it into a flowerbed. It was April 15, mostly known as the Tax Day. Then I heard on the radio about the marathon bombing… and the garden area I was clearing became The Boston Prayer Garden.

It may seem silly to you but every time I see it, no matter how bleak things may look in the moment, I am reminded by its quiet, blossoming presence, We’ve been through worser… we'll get through this pandemic too.

We chatted for a while, wrapping up the loose business ends. I might be reading too much into it, but his parting words to us were,

You know, I am glad you got to do some gardening today. I really am.

Me too, I thought, me too...