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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Art in Hard (and snowy!) Times...

Well, Whole Foods says Spring!

But today feels suspiciously like winter to me...
Snowed in today!
So it's a good day to spend five hours in the studio - literally!  Yesterday I had some fun dancing around creating some crazy textures and colors on this 20 x 24 canvas:
I needed my trees to have a bit more room to play.  I think one more in my Tree Series for now and then I'll take a break until my June wedding, when they'll be walking down an aisle of scattered leaves...

Sketching it in with gesso first - what will my trees tell me today?
And several hours later:
This took me a really long time, but it was worth it.  I love how I've textures everything, and what took me a while was figuring out exactly how I wanted my trees to interact today.  Since I paint from the heart and my work is always a portrait of how I'm feeling at that moment, both on a conscious and unconcious level, I feel very unsettled if I don't leave my work with at least one tear.  And then something to comfort that tear.

When I was first healing, I kept an art journal to illustrate what I was feeling - and these were the most frequent images that came up.
I went to see a creative arts therapist, and her first question to me was to form a pose for how I felt inside:
We identified my wounded self as my "wounded bird" - which is why I often feature so many birds in my paintings
Art has been my own therapy - it's how I've made a guide-map for myself when there was no road at all to follow.  I could anchor myself in my canvas, my sheet music, my notebook, my dancing, etc. and then I felt empowered, like I had some kind of control over the most uncertain situation ever.  
One of my first canvases - just me scribbling how I was feeling and painting over it.
Art doesn't need to be pretty.  It just needs to be real.  Maybe it was good that I didn't know a thing about art.  Without that filter, I could directly connect what my soul longed to express and project it onto the canvas.
At a time when hope was scarce, I could pinpoint where I was in what felt like a free-for-all, and also figure out who I was in the midst of it.
I kept a few art journals over those years - sometimes it was easier to draw a feeling than to talk about it or write it down
My first art journal
An art journal I made from a children's book - sort of an altered book now.
The pages are messy and really only make sense to me - but no one was judging and I felt so cleansed after I had created.

I took some photos of my art journal pages and put the into a slide show in this video.  The photos are playing during a recording I made of the song Mira from the Broadway show Carnival.  I thought it was appropriate for this because the lyrics talk about leaving somewhere comfortable and familiar, then leaving home and wanting to find that warm safety again, a place where "everybody knows your name."

Over the years, when I started to feel more part of the world, my art changed, and the journals felt too small for the gratitude I needed to express and the overwhelming downpour of emotion that came with each surgery, setback and improvement
"Dancing to the Heartbeat of the Universe"
 I started to daydream about my future and possibilities began to feel limitless again...
I allowed myself to dream and set goals again.
 Being able to paint my way through obstacles gave me even more appreciation for the crazy power of the human spirit, and I started to feel more compassion for both myself and the world around me.
"Tree Love"
 I made this painting based on one of my favorite quotes:

“When you come to the edge of all the light you have, and must take a step into the darkness of the unknown, believe that one of two things will happen. Either there will be something solid for you to stand on - or you will be taught how to fly.”  ― Patrick Overton

"Edge of the Unknown"
And so I think I did a bit of both.  I took a leap and free-fell for a bit, while I lingered in uncertainty for years and years, having faith that things would get better.  And the ground beneath me started to become more and more solid.
"Gutless & Grateful" for it's NYC premiere in 2012
Trust is the hardest thing in the world.  And once it's tested and lost, it's hard to trust "Trust."

But it's so worth it.  

Everything can get better - it really can, and as cliche as it is, attitude is everything.  Attitude, resourcefulness, and fiercely committing to feeling your aliveness, whatever shape that may take.

And in honor of that - here's me singing a few fun songs with my brother in this awesome little Medley Mashup of Hope!

Have a great, snowy day everyone!  But before you go....this is sort of hilarious...Uptown Funk by senior citizens - there's your motivation to get up and dance today, there ya go!

"I don't think it's the size of our fears that makes us different, but rather how much fear is relevant to our lives."


  1. You are so artistic! I agree, attitude is everything. Keep it up!

  2. Love it, beautiful art and post! Saw you on the Happy Currently Link up.