Out in the side yard doing some garden trimming I suddenly came eye to eye and inches way from a bunny lying under cover of a plant I was about to trim. When he made no effort to move away. . .well, here’s the art and the story to go with it.
Found in a tangle of lily fronds, eyes open and question posed in absolute stillness, “if I do nothing will she go away? But from my touching proximity, I knew those deep dark eyes that gazed at me would not spur action. You were waiting for that which my world is trying to escape. I restored your soft shell of leaves around you and was drawn to speak to you as that beloved wildness that I have wished to reclaim for these many years, way back into childhood, standing at its door, impeded by my human-ness.
And so I softly pleaded with you Grandfather Bunny to let me step across the threshold with you, to hop and nibble and land softly with grass stained flower fragrant belly onto the softest spot in the garden. For a few moments I was almost close enough, but could not interrupt your last minutes of life with my human gaze, even though my prayers were to spend time with you in a rabbit warren, in the path of deer and all manner of birds and bugs.
Perhaps you knew that and had already sent blessings back to me from the other side, when I found you an hour later, eyes closed and body left behind, not a scratch on it, and I brought you inside because it was darkening out and I was not ready to abandon you to nature’s hungry reclamation crew. . .yet.
Next day I located a resting place under a conifer, on the far side of the ancestral grove, and the hole dug, filled it first with love and then your perfect wild body.
And the day after I found a fresh hole in the earth above you. I wonder, did someone in your home team come to get you and take you home? Or did you find your way back out and beyond so that now you are munching clover in a sunny field somewhere. . . eternal.
The Muses back in Sebastopol met this week to work on self portraits together. Not wanting to miss out I braved the chaos of my garage studio and decided to take the easy way out, using an old lesson I taught many times.
Take a picture of yourself using the Comic Strip filter on the Photo Booth app (if you have it on your computer) and print it out in Black and White. Then carve it up, glue it onto the paper and have your paint/gesso/collage way with it. Add words.
Just give me a space to paint and
I’ll find a way
Between ceiling hooks and oil stained floor
There’s a place to thrive
In a maze of U-haul boxes
Partly opened and fully unorganized
SOMEWHERE there’s a place to paint
To cut and paste and draw and write
Because I’m hardcore. . .
Just help me find those scissors I left. . .
SOMEWHERE. . .
Confusion is often the name of the game these days, but one thing is certain. It will be many more months before life settles again into some predictable rhythm, (and the ability to find the good scissors when you need them!) So I just bought myself a new pair. The girl in the picture is OK, even though the snakes on the head sometimes get a bit out of hand!
This is why it’s good to do a self portrait at regular intervals in order to check in on yourself, or to look back at earlier ones to see if things might have changed. Here’s one from May this year when the Sh”!t was really hitting the fan prior to moving!
The look on her face before leaping the chasm. . .
Life has been good here in Olympia AND I miss my friends back in Sonoma County and would love to be able to make art with my Muse Group sisters again. So I did! Spared myself a flight and just sat down to my art table at the same time they were meeting in person to play with wet-on-wet painting, something which we used to do a lot together. Then I got to see them on Facetime and pretend I was there in person. It did me a world of good.
After getting stuck in the muck while kayaking in Woodard Bay the week before, I wanted to make some muck with paint. You know, like a small child will do after it rains. I started out by dropping ink onto wetted shapes and watched the fantastic landscape shapes appear. Then I mixed in some gesso to make the muck with my fingers. Mmmmm.
I’m still trying to find my footing here in my new home. But aren’t we all? We are all walking on a swinging bridge!
In my “old home” I used to spend a great deal of my time in my studio, a modest detached building next to the house surrounded by garden. The deal about moving was that the studio would hopefully have some degree of separation from the house, the washer/dryer and every other manner of house chore interruption. In the “new home”, that separation will be a wall built inside the garage. . .eventually. Apparently there’s a shortage of contractors for that kind of work here.
So I packed up my “old studio” with that delay in mind, and built a sort of wall partition of those boxes here. Then I pulled out just the supplies for mixed media play, otherwise sometimes known as my Conversations With the Muse.
As you can see there are windows to let in light and even the fluorescents for nighttime and overcast days, and the water is a quick walk across the garage. Who needs more that this?! A fan sometimes, but otherwise I’m good.
The start here was to tear up an old painting, always a great way to start when you have nothing in mind. A bunny kept hopping through my mind, so I knew to put bunnies in. They wanted to hide, but you know they’re not very good at it. The bunnies in my yard are different shades of brown and buff and easily seen on the green grass which they love to munch. In the bunny world you learn to freeze if a possible predator, like one of those towering humans, gets close. Bunny lore has it that you cannot be seen if you stay still enough. Haha! But when the big bumbling human reaches for the cell phone to get that coveted picture, the next thing the human sees is the white of the cottontail and startled, drops the phone! So I had to paint some bunnies since I couldn’t get a good enough picture to share with you here! Maybe there’s a hidden teaching here, but I didn’t find it. The bunnies are enough.
It felt good to tear paper and paste and draw and all that. I miss my Muse Group but I can sit at my table among the boxes in the garage and be happy to be at play again. Time to do another now!
Most of the mixed media paints and tools are packed away now, not to be opened until some time after “the move”. (The big truck comes next Tuesday and doesn’t arrive at our new home until the 21st.) But I’ve reserved lots of pieces of old paintings/demos/goofs to be mined for these new Muse works.
Years ago I painted moody ocean scenes in watercolor, then switched to fluid acrylics, throwing out the “rules” I’d learned. This one is a combination of both. I’ve come to rely on the words that come as I work on the “construction” of these works, which come together seemingly randomly. It’s all very personal of course, but at this stage of life, there’s nothing to hide. Wouldn’t you agree? Except for the social security number of course. Haha!
It must be a springtime thing, but this year it feels different. There are just so many creatures making themselves known, flying close or settling themselves nearby or even on me with skin contact. Caterpillars, yes, but butterflies and hummingbirds, and bees, and lizards, and dragonflies. A crane fly flew inside my shirt yesterday and could not be coaxed out. And two nights ago I took a walk up the road at dusk and saw a fox wending his way slowly down the road ahead of me, stopping periodically, and was he looking back? And finally just as I got to my property I saw that he’d gone up the neighbor’s driveway across the street and was sitting there looking my way.
And did I mention the wild turkeys and quail that have startled me by landing practically at my feet, suddenly out of nowhere? Were they always so present in the springtime, or is it just that I have been shining the tractor beam of my awareness on my surroundings here at my home before I leave it, storing up endless mental pictures to take with me?
To the birds and the butterflies, the ants and the tree frogs who have tolerated me in their jungle antechambers for all these one and twenty years, I offer up my books of Muse art and word. May you share the bounty of your natural gifts with others as you have with me. And may all bear witness to your unique gifts and strive in every way to protect them. Amen!
I just watched the new movie Godzilla vs Kong with “the boys”. That might help understand how this art piece came about. Some of that creature action worked its way into my art. The image reads in the dream language of paint and paper to reveal aspects of my current state of affairs!
Toe tapping through the city
After Godzilla and Kong
Got done toppling
Here’s what’s left:
an egg rolling
and it’s got passengers
They don’t know where . . . yet
But it’s got promise
and a space needle
and bright gleaming places
And those toes keep tapping . . .
No earthquakes or tornadoes (or fires or any of the other dries) here where I am in sunny No. California. Not even a storm or even a drop of rain for a while. All’s quiet and familiar, but it’s getting to be time to move on to house hunting in the south of Seattle area. And along with this, there’s a silent and powerful kind of psychic dismantling and reimagining going on. Great for dream action!
People keep asking if I’m excited about moving. And if I shrug they might add, but you’re in for an adventure. But honestly, adventure of this sort often looks more enticing from the outside. And we all have some element of restlessness, especially after a year of pandemic shut downs. So I get it. Sure, I guess I’m excited
For most of us adventure is sweetest when you’ve planned it out first, like an exotic vacation, and maybe a good friend told you about how fabulous it was, and how safe, and you’ve poured over pictures to prepare yourself.
Anticipation of adventure applies only theoretically to a move. Nevertheless I am trying, and this piece today bears witness to that. I want something to look back on once the boxes are packed and unpacked on the other side in the mythical new home. Then there will be stories to tell and hopefully the audience to hear.
For now I steal moments away from the near constant cleaning and clearing to paint and paste the adventure, which I’ve not yet fully embraced!
This blog was titled Conversations With the Muse many years ago, and mainly that’s been happening. I make art, and then I think and write about it. Otherwise it feels so unfinished. With the mixed media expressive art there is often a verbal interaction attempted with the content of the piece, which usually contains a great many unanswered questions. . .like this one.
For my underpainting I used an unfinished experiment with dripping inks and blowing them across the page with a straw. Then I found pieces of deconstructed paintings I’ve been keeping for the collage. The result was something that totally short circuited all the rules of color, design, technique etc that i have been learning and relying on in my art for many years. Thank goodness. My favorite thing is to create something bizarre, unexpected, and fascinating to contemplate. Hopefully it will get me wondering outside the box of my usual thinking.
You crows, all black and squawky on one side and cooing doves on the other.
You’ve laddered up from the lower realms and found a roost for your pulpit.
How can you be so silent now, as I sit expectant with pen in hand to take dictation?
What do you see and hear and feel in your vast communications network?
Am I too dense to plug into it and understand?
How long would I have to sit and watch and listen to receive even a micron of the information which sails unseen, unheard by us humans, between youand your avian family each moment of the day.
Surely this painting entitles me to just a bit of all that? . . .a feather dropped that I might keep for a dream catcher? A song that I could learn and sing to myself?
Perhaps when the cawing meets the cooing I may at last get a feel, by audio transmission, for the freedom of flight?
Have you had any conversations with your art lately?