What Excites Your Soul to Burning?


“but excites his soul to "burning”

a line from Poe.

What excites your soul to burning? When you think of it do you feel I can’ts! Why’s? or Why not’s? bubbling up?

Outside our house for as long as I can remember I have watched big black birds. BIG black birds. Usually flying  amongst my neighbors yards, Sometimes standing in the streets. Often vociferous, always intriguing.

Last weekend however as I came downstairs and stood next to my husband staring out the kitchen window I noticed several roosting in a tree in OUR yard. Suddenly, one came flying down out of nowhere, seeming to stare directly at me and landed on a branch in the same position, eyes locked. I actually said “hello” as he landed since it seemed that I should.

The morning was slow and the kids were happy so I pulled out my 12” x 12” book of watercolor paper, my ruler, my compass and a pencil and went to work. Seemed a great time as any to start a new story circle, a mandala, so why not chronicle the raven in my tree?

I sat down, found my center, drafted the circle, then the day got busy. I pretty left the drawing at that. A circle.

Fast forward to the next morning. Both kiddos within minutes of each other came running in to our room. Both of them saying the same thing! “The birds woke me…” I headed right down to the table, pulled out this piece, and got to work.

As I worked on this piece a lot of “I can’ts" followed by "why’s" followed by "why not’s" bubbled up in my head and as I met them the painting (if that’s even what it still is) was created.

Paint a raven.  I’ve been wanting to paint some animal totems for a while. I can’t! Why? Why not?

As I painted I realized I didn’t want the circle to only be a container for the piece but an element in the work itself, a symbol of the full moon. I can’t! Why? Why not?

As the full moon rose the first night when I painted, I walked outside. For Christmas a good friend had gifted me some crystals for creative inspiration. I decided to leave them outside for the night. Since I was already putting the crystals out in the moonlight why not put a large glass of water out “to charge”with them as well. I can’t! Why? Why not?

Ideas for acts new to me popped up one after another as I worked.

After I painted the moon I knew I wanted to collage a paper on it. I can’t! Why? Why not?

The paper collages on the moon led to bark paper on the tree. I can’t! Why? Why not?

Finally the change of textures on some elements begged for a change of texture on others...

I looked to my side and saw the sewing machine still out from making doll clothes with my daughter over the weekend.

Stitch the paper!!! I can’t! Why? Why not?

a detail of the piece, the papers and the stitching...

a detail of the piece, the papers and the stitching...

All of the "I cant's"  a result of stories I have assigned myself over this life. Beliefs surrounding animals, guides, the moon, creating art. Many others too I am certain.
All of the "why"'s I believe a nod from spirit challenging me to question why I believe I can’t do certain things. The "why not's" my response as I allowed myself to move deeper and deeper in.

“but excites his soul to "burning” A line from Poe's poem. That is exactly what creating this Raven piece did for me! I painted my first totem, expanded upon my engagement with the circle in my work, allowed myself to collage on a watercolor painting and then went even further and sewed all over it. The freedom, the expansion, the tactile nature of the work excites me!!!

The raven- So rich in symbology. A harbinger of change... Said to say in Latin, cras- cras (tomorrow- tomorrow). Also said to symbolize rebirth, recovery, renewal, recycling and certainly reflection and healing.
For me, this weekend, the message I took from him was wake up, pay attention, the time is now!

Tree- A symbolism of antiquity and immense and enduring strength. I also associate wisdom and rootedness with trees in the world.

Full Moon- The symbolism of the circle, my favorite shape, Wholeness and strength!

The use of stitching- Connecting back to my grandmothers who sewed with me, many of the amazing makers I have come to know and the antiquity and history of this craft often associated with females.

The use of collage- A collection or assemblage of items. Like life, layers upon layers, each one adding a richness to the overall work.

At it’s foundation, a fully painted watercolor- Where my story as an artist always leads back to. My sable brushes and favorite pigments. Quiet moments stolen at the kitchen table this time painting with that water charged in moonlight making it feel that much more special.

All of the above and so much more excites my soul to burning. Meeting the I can’ts! Why’s? or Why not’s? head on and conversing with them and in doing so allowing my work to evolve.

Now back to the beginning, what excites your soul to burning? Will you meet meet the questions as they come up inside you and see what comes of it??? In this case perhaps not cras-cras(tomorrow, tomorrow) because it’s much more fun to start today, TODAY:)