Wednesday, October 27, 2010

follow the ecstasy

Sometimes I wake up and seem to spin circles around the day rather than be productive using my time to the maximum. It was such a day today (although still not finished) and with bright sunshine, the light is just good enough to watch all day long. I have discovered that acknowledging the beauty of the day can be good enough!

Last week, I went to the library and being interested in the spiritual and contemplative life, I set out to investigate a few teachers or mentors that I had always wanted to read. One book is by the Dalai Lama called An Open Heart, Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life and the other book is called Follow the Ecstasy, The Hermitage Years of Thomas Merton by John Howard Griffin. I started with the Dalai Lama and left it mid way to explore the Merton book. Currently, I am engrossed with Merton; a slow but fascinating read. It is a minute by minute psychological journey of his thoughts, actions and consequences; how he sought out solitude to achieve a purity of spirit and to become closer to God. Merton was a wonderful poet/mystic; deep and clear resonates his words. He was also a painter.

What is clear about both men is that they exemplify humanness and as I delve further and further into the Merton book, I see how it mirrors myself. It is honest, edgy and real. Follow the Ecstasy examines the last three years of the monk's life. (And with a little gossip expressed here - Merton fell in love with a young nurse during convalescing with some back surgeries. It makes me think of the great painter Michelangelo who also struggled with his love for a young boy and was so torn apart by his feelings because his actions did not follow the dictum of the church. Oh, guilt - we can do without you.......)

The book doesn't leave me feeling anymore composed or relaxed about the human condition but it does deepen my thoughts about being okay the way I am. The best part on this journey called life is that we learn to love ourselves in a profound way so we are able to give it back while slinging it and singing it at the same time.

Monday, October 18, 2010

what gets me started

It's money making time for me; adjunct teaching and doing some freelance jobs affords me exotic travel to invigorate my art making senses. This time, pictured above and below, I included two pages of a sketchbook recently completed for the Brooklyn Library Archive, NYC. Artists submit small 8" x 6" moleskin renditions of whatever they might want to fit or include in the creative book. The exhibit will be traveling throughout the country next year in January 2011. My sketchbook will be included in the library's permanent archive where the public can peruse and leaf through my journal of creative journeys.

Presently, I am working on several sketchbooks at the same time; weaving in and out from one to the other, letting paint dry in one book while setting up another page makes for a constant interaction of doing and trying to make the pages work. Sketchbooks are good in between projects and they instigate other ideas.

I enjoy working on these small canvas like sheets; you can easily rip one out if the expression isn't working your way but otherwise, I paint, glue, cut, shape and collage my way onto these works - in other words these manipulated sketchbooks are perfect examples of readjusting and formatting a design that can evolve into lovely paintings, drawings and sketches. My sketchbooks include some personal travel notes and thoughts. You can go back and forth with your ideas while they evolve into some interesting sculptural identities.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

fall dance

Fall is my favorite season because it is dramatic and in Alaska it is a sudden alarm after the heat, long days and sunshine of the summer. I grew up back east where the weather turned suddenly around late September. Around me, I would stomp through the massive swirling leaf piles and softly observe the turn and smells of nature. It is a subtle expression that fits me more than any other season. Living in Alaska, it brings back memories of my childhood on the Jersey coast and Indian summers were marvelous to observe by looking out on Atlantic's sparkling horizon. Of course things change from season to season but with the golden colors, you have the fresh air and winds, the waving trees and sprinkling of falling leaves like someone emptying out their drawers. Fall is an announcement of change, Alaskan darkness and things around the corner. I guess you could say that with every season, but fall is remarkably distinct, mysterious and beautiful because it seems to linger with newness and anticipation. I embrace it with fondness every time.