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Monday, March 16, 2015

Blending the bitter and sweet with my brush...

Happy Monday!
"We Change Beneath" - by ME March 16th 2015
Happy Mon---hey, cheer up, Spring is four days away...

A bit of an update...
Exciting news - all of those new mixed media paintings I've been working on have been photographed and slowly but surely they are being uploaded to my Mixed Media Gallery on so go ahead and check it out - they are untitled as of now, and towards the bottom, but more and more will be added every day - because I have just been painting and painting like there is no tomorrow...and eventually look for prints, cards, inspirational books featuring my art and other fun stuff being sold on my site!

In the studio...
Lots of fun today!  I started by covering a canvas with newspapers, magazines, texts, the usual...and then started to wipe some gesso and matte medium over it.  I guess I'm going through a layering phase right now :)

 Then, I blew up an old photograph of my porch on photo paper and had an idea that I could hide it into my painting.  I peeled apart a dinner napkin into the tiniest thinnest layers I could manage, and lightly laid them over the photo, washing it again with matte medium:
It makes the photo a bit faded and obscure, mysterious...
And then I did my usual crazy-style layering/painting/no-method-to-my-madness stuff.  Piling on tissue paper over everything, adding on glazes, paints, drippy things, lots of prayer bottles filled with colored things :)

 Adding some extra layers of paint here - I wanted too give this painting more of a rosy tone.

 Blending everything in really good by smudging paper towels, sponges, brayers...okay, most of it was with my sleeve, I admit!   But it was good fun!

As usual, I didn't have a set idea in mind...but when I was done, I started to see a woman's face appear in the painting - it was crazy - she seems to be looking down on the porch photo!
Can you see it?
I wanted to honor the beautiful little treats and surprises that come up along the way of creating spontaneously and with no end point in mind, so I decided to follow this woman and see if I could subtly place her in the painting.
She's definitely in there...
I didn't want to take away too much from the background I had created, so I started tracing the outline of what I saw...

And then I found her!

I added three words from that magnetic poetry kit I had, and then obscured the words a bit with some more tissues.  The words:  "we" "change"  "beneath"...
I really love how this came out!  Interesting that it turned into more of an autumn reflection - but I love it!
"We Change Beneath" - by ME March 16th 2015

A bit more studio time...

Then, the spackle paint that I had bought at Lowe's the other day had finally dried up, and the texture was hard and ready to be painted - so I had some fun with that...and the entire can was $4!

 I gave it some orangey gold tones - I think I was still thinking about the Resilience and Trauma: Art Immersion Salon initial brain-storming meeting - I was so taken by the metaphor that after trauma or any kind of experience, we form layers like geological strata, like layers of a mountain, that become a part of us.  Once we allow ourselves to incorporate them into our whole being, they become a beautiful, cemented part of us, forever changed, and all the better for it.

I've been having some fun incorporating words into my paintings.  I was also thinking about embracing the pleasure as well as the pain in life, especially regarding my own trauma - and how all my paintings, although joyful and a celebration of life, always involve some sort of tear or melancholy - whether a wistful yearning, soulful solitude, grief, etc.  I think the bittersweet aspect of life is the most delicious part - or at least the most interesting...
So the word I chose to use as "sweetness" - with a hummingbird hovering over it, of course :)
And then to balance that out, I couldn't leave without adding a tear...
My trademark I guess :)
So it's a cute little 8 x 8 painting now - the sadness and the sweetness.

 Because what is life without both?

The "Ugly" Side of Art - a true beauty...

I talk a lot about how art doesn't have to be pretty - and I really mean it - in many ways.  Art can express our ugliest fears, hates - the thoughts we are ashamed of, or don't really feel like telling others.  Secrets are toxic.  Withholding secrets keeps energy locked in the body that just doesn't belong there.  That's why disclosure is so therapeutic - whether it's talking to someone else, dancing it out, writing it in a journal, or painting it on canvas.

These were just messy paintings in my art journal when I was going through a very hard time with surgeries left and right:

Anyway, I wrote last week how it was a very big deal for me to write that post on Buzzfeed promoting awareness for ostomies.   For a long time, it was very hard for me to come to terms with my own ostomy - or the several I've had to have over the years.  One of the many times I got my colostomy reversed, and then had to get another ostomy, I was really investing myself in my chocolate business that I had founded as a way to cope with not being able to eat or drink - making chocolates was my way of being creative and artistic, producing beautiful things using tactile sensations - and it also gave me an excuse to play with food.  You can watch the documentary about my chocolate-making business HERE.
"Broken Wings" by ME
Art as my own personal lifeline...

Whenever I could, I have used some inner resource to be healing myself, to be creative.  When it was first found out that I would have to get another colostomy, my parents were trying to break it to me in the calmest way.  I was hunched my double-boiler making chocolate and as soon as they told me, I started crying and screaming hysterically.  Rage, like I wanted to explode – in my chest and legs.  I just want to hit something, throw something on the floor and making a lot of chaos - I was so furious at the situation and worse:  helpless.  So by creating and expressing, I felt like my feelings were being expressed, and also I was able to know what I was feeling - which gave me a sense of empowerment in a powerless situation.

And...this was a painting I created - only for myself, to express the rage I felt at having this medical bag stuck to me for life...

I also had a fistula at that time - which is a sort of leak in a wound that shouldn't be there, so I spelled out the words with magazine letters.
In my colostomy bag, I put a picture of my "old" self in it, to express how I felt swallowed up by my circumstances.
I also added medical gloves and a tweezer, plucking a bird out of her nest, to show how I felt extracted from a "normal" life.
It takes intense courage to show an honest snapshot of a difficult moment in art, and even more to share it in cyber-space, but I do this in the hopes that you too will embrace a difficult moment in your life as an opportunity to create and discover something more about yourself - or at least get out those painful emotions in some way.  Art became my way of expressing things that were too overwhelming for words.  And even if I created a total mess and then threw it in the trash afterwards, I always felt better.

"Self-Portrait" by ME
An original song that I wrote...

I want to share with you a song that I wrote called "I Want Out" - it was a song expressing all of my frustrations in the midst of the medical uncertainties.

Theatre heals..

Writing my one-woman show "Gutless & Grateful" was also another wonderful opportunity to express creatively when I had undergone.

Basically, I was a creativity powerhouse for the past decade, and it saved my life.  I don't want to make each of these blog posts a NOVEL (tempting though...) but I do have plans on sharing bits and pieces of all the creative things I've done to get through, survive and thrive through this crazy journey - my graphic novel, self-help book and autobiography I started, creative writing, poetry, my music, art, stuffed animals, clothes, altered books, charms, claymation, cartoons, etc. - all in the name of just getting a feeling out.

And it realllllyyyyyyy helped.  I don't know where I would be without creativity.  (And my family of course!)

And NATURE!!!  (of course!!!)
“The earth has music for those who listen.” 

So today, think about what's troubling you in your life.  Okay, I'll go first - I've been painting so much that I got it in my phone charger, and when I went to plug in my phone, my phone just died so now I have no phone.  Solution?  Get a phone...but first, CREATE!
Heck, this was just construction paper.  Who cares.  It felt good :)

And remember...

And most importantly...

Smile!  It's almost Spring!!!


  1. Wow, how I love your work. You inspire me to paint once again! :-) Thank you for sharing. xo #ibabloggers

  2. These have to take you hours to create!! Keep up the hard work!

  3. I love that you are so free to express yourself through your art!

  4. I love seeing your process for creating your artworks!

  5. Lovely work, it's nice seeing how your ideas come to life.

  6. Your art is so unique and I absolutely love it :)

  7. Ames, I dont remember hearing your song, "I want out," it really expresses all the feelings one experiences when they go through hard times-I hear the determination that goes along with the frustration. love it, xoxoxo