Scar Of The Heart

Nothing funny about my words tonight. They are inspired by my own life, and something that has been in the news and on my mind. There has been a story in the news lately about a young girl who killed herself. She was being bullied at school, reached a breaking point, and threw herself off a platform at an abandoned cement plant. I am the mother of two, I cannot imagine the anguish and pain of that girl’s family, but what haunts me more is the desperation that would drive a child to do what she did. I cannot stop thinking about her. The anonymity of the computer has allowed people to distance themselves. It is easy to write something awful when you don’t have to look the person in the face. It saddens me to the core to think about that little girl, she was only twelve. I wish it were just a matter of closing Facebook accounts, or shutting down emails, but it isn’t. It is amazing to me how thoughtless people can be with what they say, or how they say it. Insults cloaked in “jokes”, as if somehow calling words funny lessens the pain. It doesn’t. Saying something spoken doesn’t mean anything, you are wrong, it does to the person hearing it. I have had words spoken to me, or about me, that are well in the past, but live in my heart and mind as if it were today. It isn’t about holding on to the past, it is that the words hurt enough to brand themselves into my heart. I was bullied, I know that girl, I could have been her, any of us could be her, any of our children could be her. I have heard words spoken that cause me pain as they are inflicted on someone I care about. I feel powerless in their presence, there is no weapon in hand for me to knock away, I can only stand and listen as the air around me is poisoned. Don’t speak, stop and think. Parents need to choose their words carefully, think about what you say to your children, because they are yours does not give you license to inflict pain. You are the foundation of your child’s self-esteem. Even as we age we look to our parents to approve, to respect, to love us. Physical wounds may heal, but scars of the heart are permanent. I don’t believe that we can ever harden our hearts enough to make them invincible, or that we can ever grow old enough to not want to be loved, or cared about. Words are an easy weapon. Be watchful in anger, or in frustration. Choose your words wisely, when there are spoken words, an apology cannot erase them, and written words once read speak as well. Remember that what you say could very well be the last thing you say to someone. Living with words that were used to hurt another can scar your own heart as well.

For tonight there are words. Hateful, nasty, awful words, branded into the heart. I love words, but not those I have written here. Once again I turn to the words of another.

The Unspoken word never does harm.

Lajos Kossuth

This is dedicated to Rebecca Ann Sedwick. I didn’t know you, but you were worth far more than you realized. Rest In Peace.10 25

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Painting On The Fly

I’m getting on a plane in the morning, and anyone who knows me, knows that is an issue. I have major league claustrophobia. When we make plans that involve air travel I tend to worry weeks in advance. It’s all about control. Yes, I have control issues too. As I tell Dan, I would be fine with flying, as long as I am the one flying the plane. He always tells me that the rest of the passengers might not be thrilled, but I believe I’d do a fine job. I understand the science of flying, and I know all the stats about how safe it is, but let me remind you all once again, I’m Irish, glass isn’t half full, nor half empty, it is broken on the floor, except when I’m about to get on a plane, in that case a piece of the broken glass is lodged in my big toe. We had a friend who was an airline captain, nice guy, goofy guy, but when it came to his job, a very serious guy. Knowing him has helped a little. I also remind myself as I fly that the people who work on the plane probably fly a lot, and I assume they believe its safe or they would choose another occupation. The strange thing is that when I was a kid I wanted to be an airline stewardess. (I know, politically correctness calls for flight attendant). There was a girl who lived down the street from us that was a stewardess. Madeline, I still remember how she looked in her uniform. I wanted to grow up and be her. Then when I was thirteen we went to Ireland. It was my first plane trip. I loved it, in fact I loved it so much that I came back from that trip and investigated the Air Force. I was disappointed to find out at the time that they had no female pilots, but the Navy did. I actually entertained the idea of joining up, but then the reality of basic training came to mind. Have you seen An Officer And A Gentleman? There was one female candidate, Seeger, she barely made it through the obstacle course, well she would look like an Olympic champion next to me. I’ve since flown to Scotland, Ireland for a second time, and France. Of course I’ve flown several times here in the States as well. I’m not sure when the awful fear began, maybe when I realized I had more to live for. I guess it might come down to losing fate in humanity (deep right?) I have learned a little trick or two along the way.

1. Take Xanax , it’s amazing how a half of a Xanax works so well. It’s as though my brain is screaming, “We’re on a plane!”, but my body is saying, “Its cool, relax.”

2. Memorize a Novena. For those of you non-Catholics out there. It is a series of prayers. Extra special religious insurance. Repeated in a loop as the plane is taking off.

3. Break the fingers of your traveling companion by squeezing them as hard as you possibly can.

4. Close your eyes. Any four-year old can tell you that all the bad stuff isn’t there when you can’t see it.

5. Travel with watercolors. It always takes my mind off where I’m at when I’m involved in my art.

So that’s it. Countdown to takeoff has commenced. (It’s actually more than ten hours from now, but why waste perfectly good worrying? ) For tonight just a little watercolor and ink. Inspired by an old piece of stationary. Tomorrow night you will see just exactly what can be accomplished in the air.photo

 

What Makes An Artist?

I’ll begin tonight with a definition. I of course have my own theory, but I will give you one I googled, and found on The Free Dictionary.

Artist

1. One, such as a painter, sculptor, or writer, who is able by virtue of imagination and talent or skill to create works of aesthetic value, especially in the fine arts.
2. A person whose work shows exceptional creative ability or skill: You are an artist in the kitchen.
3. One, such as an actor or singer, who works in the performing arts.Nov 17th (4)

If you are curious about the food photo, the explanation lies ahead, and at the end of this paragraph a photo of our bedroom, all in an effort to prove a point. I bring this up because of the conversation that I wrote about the other evening, (OK, I’m obsessing. It’s a problem of mine) but I also had an encounter a few months back that stuck with me. I was having coffee with a friend at Starbucks, we ran into two women, one of whom I had met before. I was introduced to the other woman as an artist. I didn’t bring it up, I usually don’t unless asked what I do. Many people, including family, refer to me as a “housewife”. Let me begin by saying I have no problem with the housewife label, I don’t work outside the home except for occasional odd artistic jobs. But I am first and foremost an artist. My entire home is a work of art. There isn’t a single square inch that hasn’t been creatively transformed by me, including my garden. I work hard every single day, and every day I do something artistic. For me creativity is as natural as breathing. If I’m not working on an art project, I’m photographing something, or I’m cooking a meal that would knock your socks off, and that meal would be very artistically arranged on a plate, a particular plate since I have way too many plates, all white, in an effort to display my food in the most beautiful manner possible, and more than likely taking a photo of that meal. Whew! Long sentence, but all true. (So that’s why the food photo) When I was introduced as an artist to this woman I was meeting for the first time, she turned and said, “An artist? Are you a real artist, I mean do you sell your work?” Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that unless I turn a profit I’m not a real artist. She apparently never heard of all of the great artists whose work was worth zip until they were six feet under. The conversation of the other night was headed in that same direction. No, I don’t have training, and yes, I have nothing hanging in a gallery for sale, but I am an artist, just one without a profit sheet.Master (2)

For tonight I revisited another orphan tucked away in the studio. I chose this one in particular because tomorrow is Father’s Day. My father-in-law passed away five years ago in July. He was a really lovely man who I liked very, very much. Last year I decided to paint a vignette of some of his belongings as a gift for my husband. Like so many other paintings before it, I gave up. I have felt bad about not finishing it, but I wanted Dan to love it, and I didn’t feel like I was good enough to paint this painting. I was at times sorry that I started the project because for me, (and I never told him this) I thought that the fact that it was unfinished only proved to Dan that I wasn’t good enough to do so. He has never shown anything but complete support for me, I was putting my crap on him. So much of the world around me has not given me the respect I deserve for my work. No schooling, no paintings currently for sale, but I have more talent than many of the “professionals” can claim ownership of. I don’t care for a great deal of modern art. I am entitled to that opinion, but I would never dare to say that the people who paint them are not artists because I dislike the work. When I spoke to Dan about this subject earlier this evening he said, “A baseball player is a baseball player, not just because he plays in the major leagues.” To use his analogy, I have “major league” talent, but I skipped spring training, much of the season is past, but I think I’m beginning to realize that I might just play in the all-star game and possibly the world series. I am feeling more confident in my painting daily. Dare I say it? Even a little fearless.
Oil on canvas, and I am proud to say it is almost finished. (Only because the Hawk’s are in the Stanley Cup, and we went out to watch the game. Maybe I should have used a hockey analogy instead)
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The Art Of Simplicity

I think I have spent years complicating my artistic process. When you focus on what you can’t do I think it tends to color what you can do. I have now spent forty days on my project. When I started I was focused on this idea of using up all of the materials I had filled my studio with over the years. I don’t think I really thought about the commitment to the work, or how it might affect me, and it has. Over the course of the last twenty years I have started far more projects than I’ve finished. Drawings, painting, even silly craft projects, where something didn’t look right, or I would make a mistake, or more likely, I would decide that whatever it was, it wasn’t good enough, and then the project was scrapped. Even now if I were to clean out the studio, and our garages, there would be a lot of half done paintings, pieces of wood, etc.. I had given up on myself and it is reflected in every unfinished project. What has happened to me in the last forty days is a transformation. I kept my promise to myself, and that’s a big accomplishment. I have produced more than fifty pieces of art in that time. Not every piece is something I love, or even like. But what is important, the biggest accomplishment is that in the process of creating those pieces I struggled with several, and didn’t stop.There were a couple that I was ready to quit, but I didn’t, I stuck it out. Some of those turned out to be some of the best work that I have created since I started this. I believe that forcing myself to confront this mental ball and chain I been dragging along has done great things for me.  My thought process is changing. The thoughts of what I can’t do are straying further and further from my mind. That is because I have forty days of “can do” looking me in the face. When you start something and you are already defeated, you have lost before you have begun. I have a quote on a magnet, I think it is Eleanor Roosevelt, but it states, “Do something everyday that scares you”. I bought it a few years ago when I was in another of the endless “new starts” that I promised myself. Sort of like all the diets that start next Monday, and  trust me I am very familiar with that one. The magnet has been sitting on my drawing table, and I have looked at it so often and thought, “It’s time”. I didn’t do it. I was afraid. Of what? Failure, maybe finding out that after all of the years of “what if?” I might discover that even if I had taken those art lessons I felt cheated out of, I still wouldn’t have been the artist I wanted to be. I am doing something every day, but guess what? I’m not afraid anymore. A little uncertain, yes. A little lost, yes. But things are getting better with every day, with every project. It’s simple. One project, one day at a time.

Two motivations behind tonight’s project. The first is that I am still trying to fulfill the object of the project. I bought a couple of mat boards at Blick last year simply because I liked that the size of the opening was different, it is long and rectangular. So when I went upstairs to see what I would do today I came across them and decided that whatever I did tonight needed to fit in that opening. The second motivation is that Dan likes pen and ink drawings. So for tonight a “simple” pen and ink.IMG_9705

Sometimes You Need To Read The Instructions

Yes, it is after dark, but today wasn’t about putting myself last. I spent the morning getting supplies to make greeting cards, and sorting through my computer photo files. I barely made a dent. I mentioned the over two thousand photos I took in Paris, there are also the hundreds and hundreds of photos that I take every where I go. They are somewhat organized, but choosing what to use took time.

About today’s work…I looked around the studio again, this time I spied a watercolor canvas that I bought to try. Unlike watercolor paper it’s a wrapped canvas. I had printed out a few photos this morning that I wanted to paint. I sketched it out on the canvas and began to paint. Disaster ensued. The paint just sat on the surface going nowhere. I wiped it off and tried again.  No luck. It then occurred to me ( genius that I am), that maybe I should have read the little pamphlet that was attached to the canvas. It seems that the canvas has to be wet heavily and let sit for ten minutes before you paint. I had of course, as always, jumped in head first. I’m the kind of girl who doesn’t measure things, I am a “create by the seat of my pants” kind off girl. I have the ability to look at a piece of furniture and see it in five different colors in my head,  When I buy something at the flea market I know from the moment I buy it what it will look like when I’m done.  However, I can read the same instruction booklet twenty times and still not know how to do things. I’ve owned a kiln for more than two years and I’ve yet to use it. Why? Because I am waiting for Dan to read the instruction book and show me how. Yesterday he figured out my very expensive printer that has been gathering dust upstairs for…you guessed it…two years. Logic and I are strangers. I quit interior design school because I was too intimidated by drafting class. And as anyone has read this blog knows, I have never had art lessons, I do however own an instructional book on just about every form of art imaginable. Here’s a novel idea, maybe I could actually start reading them, and then I will have less days like today.

I tried for a third time and then I gave up on the canvas and switched to paper.

I may have mentioned that I have a thing for doors and windows. ( Some deep-seated need to escape?)  This painting is a watercolor of a door I came across in Monterey, California.

I’m not sure what I’ll do tomorrow, most likely something with no instruction needed!

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