So what does an artist do when overwhelmed by a million adult responsibilities? Take a day off to visit a friend of course! And it was there, at my friend Jen's house, that I met her dog, Roxy.
Jen rescued this English setter on a parkway. Abandoned without a collar and dangerously close to traffic, she caught Jen's eye. Dirty and matted, Roxy was welcomed into Jen's car and became part of the family.
Since I last visited Jen, she changed homes, got a pickup truck, and added Roxy to the family. As the GPS led me up her new driveway, I was greeted by a barking dog and I wondered if I had the wrong address. "Do you have a dog???" I texted her from my car, afraid to get out and engage with a strange animal. Jen's blonde head popped out the front door assuring me that all was well. She introduced me to Roxy and I fell in love with this old soul.
I was struck by her giraffe-like freckles...
and the joy in her whipping tail.
Roxy welcomed my attention and I felt a sense of peace as I pet her silky head. As Jen and I laughed and chatted as old friends do, Roxy slept peacefully by our sides. She reminded me to be content with the simple things and to be present in the moment — even if you are living seven years in one. Thanks Roxy!
I have not completed my first Oneliner painting. I'm stuck.
The best thing is to move on to my second painting.
I find it helpful to have several paintings going at once.
Prepping the Transfer
This one is called, "Tongue-tied." It's how I feel many times, especially when I am upset. I need time to think before I speak — something we are encouraged to do — but by the time I have considered a thoughtful response, the culprit is usually long gone.
Do you remember playing the game, "Mother, May I?"
I used to play this as a child. One person was "mother" and the rest of us lined up a distance away. We would say things like, "I would like to take three giant steps. Mother, may I?" Mother would then say yes, no, or "no — but...you can take three baby steps." This would go on until someone made it across the finish line. Such a silly game, which often ended up in an argument. My favorite ones were the umbrella steps which involved placing your hand on your head and spinning with each step. I loved to spin.
Now I am really "mother" and some weeks I can only allow my art to take baby steps. I did these sketches in 15 minutes while waiting for the dermatologist. That is the only way I can fit art into a life going at warp speed. I don't have a fancy studio with assistants. It's just me.
Next week I would like my art to take giant steps. Mother, may I?
Are distortions of original art original art in themselves?
I have been struggling to find the right form for my One Liner sketches. I've drawn, transferred, and painted, but I find my photographs of the drawings, transfers, and paintings more interesting. Distortions of reality. But where does that leave me?
My mother has a broken back. Her L1 vertebrae is cracked straight through resulting in 2 months of agony. So I ask? Who stepped on a crack?! I am one of 4 children, so someone is responsible!
I used to mumble this phrase to myself as my skinny legs jumped and skipped along the concrete boundaries of my youth. It was a fun little game tinged with fear. If I CHOSE to step on a crack, harnessing my free will, would it really have the power to hurt my mother — the person on whom my very existence relied? Heavy thoughts for a 5 year old. Yes, even then, I struggled with adult-sized neurosis.
The internet will tell you that this phrase dates back to the 19th century. Some say its origins are steeped in racism and that the line "break your mother's back" used to be "turn your mother black". I was sad to read that. Another thought was that is was from a poem by A.A. Milne called "Lines and Squares" in which a step on a crack resulted in being eaten by a bear. Other's say that cracks represent a portal where one could fall into the netherworld.
At some point it all morphed into a children's game.
But in the world of adulthood, a mother with a broken back is far from a game. It means hours spent in the hospital watching my mom endure pain that takes her breath away. If only a carefully navigated walk down the sidewalk could heal her, life would feel magical again, but I've outgrown magic. We have slipped down one of those dark cracks and are left wondering when we will see the light again.
They are born as a cute little sketch, full of promise and hope, but before you know it, they're in the ugly adolescent stage — grumpy and gangly. You hope that they will grow up into well-adjusted adults, but only time will tell.
One Liner No.1 Sketch(Born 12/1/14)
One Liner No.1(Age 2)
One Liner No.1(Age 4)
One Liner No.1 (Age 6)
One Liner No.1 (Age 13)
My painting is an adolescent now. I wish I could return to its childhood. I liked it better then, but that image is gone forever, buried beneath layers of paint. Will it mature into a handsome adult? After 20 hours of painting, I sure hope so.
I have begun a body of work (One Liners)that will take months to complete and I have no idea what the outcome will be.
I began my first painting with a tracing transfer. The transfer didn't work out and I began painting before the canvas was properly prepped. I do that a lot. I just needed to start painting — I grow impatient with rules and technique. Intuition is my guide.
At the end of the day, the transfer lay upon the canvas slightly off registered and I snapped this shot. I think I will like this image more than the finished piece. I like things when they are messy — just like life.
Dark winter days have been a fitting backdrop for world news and personal stories. This week, I watched as the world mourned deaths an ocean away, and again, I watched as friends walked behind the casket of their son. I searched for comfort outside my window as cold hardened the creme brulée snow. An apparition — my bunny — my Lumpy Bunny with the forever twisted leg, emerged from the brush and danced for me under the moon. Snow sparked as he kicked, leaping poetically with his broken leg, reminding me I must do the same. The next day I open my shade to reveal a blur of fur. Lumpy Bunny, again. He had nestled under the bushes just below my window. Is he seeking protection from harsh winds...or is he protecting me? I keep checking back — brown eyes gaze into green. He sits in stillness for hours until the mailman forces him to disappear. This morning I looked down to see Lumpy's foot prints along my back step. He has stayed close to me, this tragic bunny. I'm am grateful for his company. He has lit a candle in a dark room.
After a 6-month home renovation, a job change for my husband, parenting my 15-year-old, launching a book, hosting Thanksgiving, and quickly regrouping for Christmas, I thought I might begin a new body of artwork — my "One Liners". But a mother with a fractured spine cannot wait on line. So my lines must wait for me.
I have reached the age where I'm parenting my parents.
Umbrella in hand, I steady my self as I walk the line between caretaker and taking care(of myself). A balancing act performed without any training.
Not being able to write or paint for weeks made me realize that my art is not a luxury, it is not a hobby, it is essential. It is my work. It is my joy.
Like a thief, I steal time today, so I may begin my painting series for 2015. I plan to do at least 20 paintings based on my continuous line sketches — the ones I create while my tea steeps or my son takes a violin lesson. I will document the process here on my blog.