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77 Days of Paintings- Day 77. The Finish Line or Really, Just the Start...

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Day 77, the finish line… or maybe just the start!

How exactly did the past 77 days come and go, I am not certain… What started as an impromptu sharing on instagram after getting a gentle nudge (or maybe swift kick in the butt from my friend Cynthia) turned in to a huge personal lesson that unfolded day by day which each piece I chose to share.

What are some of the things I learned:

Personally:

  • I have been a LOT of places and done a LOT of work. I am blessed. There are still a bunch of paintings in my flat files next to the washing machine where I spend much time as a wife and mother. I will continue to go through them and process, share, discard, repurpose as it feels right. Going back through these works offered me validation. The process offered me evidence that yes I was an artist and more importantly that I am still and always will be!
  • What worked for me once, doesn’t work for me now. For me to create is to tap in to exactly where I am in the current moment. Sometimes it has been love of flowers. Other times infatuation with the human figure. Even others, love of just the human shape. Often… Appreciation of the intersects… Currently I am intrigued slightly by it all yet to try and force my work back to an era I was once in would really serve no real purpose.
  • I want to please… Another excruciating admission! I watched the likes and the shares and the comments. Sometimes, I shared more of similar work when it was well received, the positive response fed my ego big time. When I was feeling bad about needing the positive response, bold and rebellious, or button holed in to a certain style, I would switch it up and share something completely different, almost in a “I don’t need you to like me way” even if I really, REALLY wanted it to be true (UGH!!!)
  • I often act without much intention. There were many times I thought to myself the project might have been more powerful if I went through and logged everything and curated the pieces in an order that made sense. There were also many times when I realized most of my work is done as a direct response to a single moment vs a consistent story or cohesive body of work.

Re my work:

  • I love the human form, I do. I love shape. The flat SHAPE, in and of itself more than the actual form itself!
  • I love the hard edge in a painting. Strong definition is an important part of my visual language.
  • Shape and pattern are currently my joy. They have been for many years, maybe always.
  • Finally, and based upon the point above…. when I am quiet, and still, and breathing… The circle embraces me. It surround and envelopes me. It teaches me and nurtures me and expands me over and over.

Yesterday, I shared day 76 of 77 days of paintings. It is a canvas tacked up to my studio wall. Large, measuring over 3 feet square. A circle, a flower of sorts, blooming big and bold. Slightly to the side, a female figure, almost in crucifixion position. Unfinished.

This, Day 76, was the first painting I shared on my blog almost two years ago. Diving back in and allowing myself to reclaim my role as an artist, a “serious” painter after a few years of sporadic creation at best as I adjusted to motherhood, my ultimate act of creation.

This canvas has been there, pinned in the corner, slightly unfinished, looking over everything else I have worked on. The figure, static/uncomfortable/akward, Looking out at me. The figure trying to take over the circle but in my eyes, unable to do so. Waiting for me to make the next stroke and I, somehow, unable to.

Now, my final lesson from the 77Days of sharing:

In my 77 days of sharing work I have noted that whenever feeling the need to “prove myself” (only to myself) I lean on a figure. It has been a validation of sorts. Like by sharing a human form it proves I can do something even if I choose not to. However, whenever I share something directly from me, my expression, it is color, SHAPE, pattern, and more and more recently, symbol.

My commitment to myself for the year ahead, and indefinitely thereafter is to embrace this. To own to the fact that shape makes me happy. That symbol makes me happy. To honor the fact that the circle is sacred. To know that symbols reveal things to me, over and over again. To allow this to be a consistent part of my story as an artist and as a human.

So finally, today, Day 77, I am sharing with you a mandala, a story circle, based upon the season we are currently in. Just like my living room, elements of Yule, Hannukah, Christmas; All sitting together as one.

No argument, no battle. The message being, similar to the evergreen, menorah and stockings that share space in our home. You get to choose what you believe. A, B, C, D or all of the above. It is always up to you.

In this painting:

  • At each corner a semi circle, 4 in total, symbolic of the family, my family. Radiating light from center to center.
  • Working inward, a golden ring, no beginning or end. This element conveys the idea of wholeness and everlasting life and love. Also light. Always light.
  • Elements of evergreen in two quadrants… Hope, promise and renewal in the midst of these long winter months. These little sprigs representing fir, honesty, truth and vibrancy can be conveyed as well.
  • In the opposite quadrants, clove studded oranges. Reminiscent of my days in girl scouts but more importantly symbolic of the sun. The light is returning and always does.
  • Between each quadrant, pine cones. When painted, the obvious accompaniment to evergreens. When studied deeper, the highest degree of spiritual illumination possible. Symbol of the third eye, the seat of the soul.
  • Working inward, Holly. Big, bold clumps of it. A symbol of life triumphant even in times of darkness. Also, a sign of good fortune for the houses that displayed it.
  • A red ring, the color of the heart. Intensity!
  • Finally at the center in a sea of indigo night, a north star. A nod to times past as I have always loved drawing these. I remember the first one I ever made on college ruled notebook paper sitting at the dark dining room table of our house on Comanche St in Pueblo, CO. I recall one of my favorite Christmas carols, “Do You Hear What I Hear”, “a star, a star shimmers in the night…”  An acknowledgement of Jonathan Fields and his insistence to acknowledge one’s values so they may always guide you and finally… As an actual star that is virtually fixed, especially useful in celestial navigation.

And so, Today, day 77… I share with you my current passion. That which lights me up. Sacred circles, mandalas, symbolism, connection with spirit… leaning in to it as we shift in to the new year.