Painting the Future…

Blooming Ocotillo ~ Oil on Canvas 20 x 24 ~ Private Collection

Standing at the kitchen sink earlier this week, staring out the window, I was reminded of a huge A-HA I had several months ago. The desert is full of hundreds of varieties of cacti. One of my favorites is the ocotillo. The blooms are vibrant red and top the end of each spine with glee. I painted this ocotillo last fall from a photo taken by a friend. I love the sense of space, the blue desert sky and the blooms reaching towards the sun.

Back to staring out the kitchen window, I was enjoying a daydream when my eyes focused in on the ocotillo that is directly in front of the window. Recognition occurred like a slap in the face. It was the exact same image I had painted months prior to my move.

Walking over to the back window, I was again struck by the similarity of this view with the painting below from the same series.

Mountain Majesty ~ Oil on Panel ~ 8″ x 10″ ~ Price Available Upon Request

Most everywhere you look in Palm Springs, you get a view of the mountain but with buildings. When I was taking photographs, I was looking for an unobstructed view. Obviously, with painting, you can just edit out, which I did. But up where I am NOW, there are unobstructed views. And this is basically what I see out my window.

I do a lot of reading about goals, desires and having the life you want. There is a reason people do vision boards. When I returned from France, my desire for wide open space, big desert views and beauty was primary. I kept that in the forefront of my mind.

When I found myself in this new space, completely surprised by the unexpected opportunity, I had so much gratitude for the unknown forces that conspired to get me here. It took some time before I made the connection but on some level, it feels like I painted my desire, my next step, into being.

For me, this is the ultimate in life: using the creative process to live more fully into who you really are.

Why Not Have A Little Fun…

In my search for a theme, I’ve been torn between very expressive larger canvases and more precise much smaller panels. So there is a feeling of really wanting to cut loose and go all abstract. And then the feeling of wanting a sense of place, a feeling of comfort and home and lovingly depicting that.

As much as I’d wanted to just let whatever come out be okay, ALL my beliefs about ART, all that I learned in school and traditional gallery consensus came flying up in my face.

Not to mention all my beliefs about artists and success.

Why even bother? I asked myself. I’d be do much better putting my time and attention into something. More. Worth. While.

This was pretty much why I stopped painting before. These taunts and terrorizing thoughts relentlessly spinning around in my head creating the intended result: I don’t paint.

My subconscious has again done a fantastic job and I stay safe for another day.

Except I’m not really safe. When you are not using your gifts and talents, not contributing to the world in general, you are not really in a very safe space. It’s more like a self-imposed prison. Which is kinda how I feel right now.

So I decided to switch it up a bit and have a little fun.

In the July issue of Palm Springs Life Magazine, there is an article on Charles Phoenix or, as he is called, Retro Daddy . He is obsessed with midcentury Americana. In the article, there were several 1950’s photos of Palm Springs. The feeling was nostalgic and a great big dose of FUN!

Suddenly, the spark was ignited. I’d been wanting to do these small paintings of old Palm Springs since I’d returned. They elicit such a warm comfy feeling for me. Riding around town on our bikes, up and down the streets with houses that have come to be known as prime examples of midcentury Modern.

So I began this underpainting. Just roughing in the big shapes. Drawing lightly and loosely. Not too concerned with precision, just with general composition, light and color. It already feels good.

Stay tuned till next week to see how it evolves.

When Frustration Occurs…

When I moved back to California, I knew my life would change. That was the whole point. I wasn’t sure what I was going to be doing but one thing I did know was that I wanted to paint again. I had no idea what exactly that would look like. When you make a major life transition, it can’t help but toss everything up in the air.

I recently watched Marie Forleo’s video interview (thank you Kim!) with Steve Pressfield. A successful author, he writes about war – external and internal. In Do The Work, he describes the internal battle that springs forward when your higher self decides to go for your dreams or any new goal or do anything remotely outside of your comfort zone. Because the job of the ego is to keep you safe, it creates resistance to your new plan. Then Pressfield outlines a series of steps to deal with resistance; the first step being to decide on the theme of your project.

So, I got to thinking about my work, what I’ve done so far and where I want to go. I’ve experienced a lot of frustration lately wanting to paint really big and abstract, and then being drawn to smaller, quieter subjects using the glazing technique I know and love.

I feel like I’m all over the place. And that makes sense given the last couple of years. But I am also very familiar with my own resistance. So what I’ve decided to do is just allow myself the freedom of finding my theme. It may be something I’m currently exploring or it may not. I don’t have a clear picture yet.

What I do have is frustration. It didn’t feel right to paint out like the Anger canvas, so I rounded up some color markers. I let myself feel the frustration as I began moving my hand over the paper, intentionally NOT thinking, or if thinking, letting the thoughts go, one after the other.

Focusing on the movement of my hand, I picked up the next color that felt right and kept moving. Most important was letting the frustration all out onto the paper. When I finished one drawing, I went on to the next.

Looking at them all, I again had the revelation that everything is already within. All we have to do is allow. These images look remarkably like figure drawings I was doing many years ago, before I took life drawing and learned to render the figure academically; the identical experience I had after I did the second anger canvas. It’s all energy just waiting to be expressed.

So rather than being upset with myself and going down the road of self-condemnation for not having it all figured out, I’m going to surrender again and enjoy this new phase of my journey: searching for my theme. Which for me also means searching for my own voice, my own manner of expression, and my own way forward.

Art and Healing

The other day I was on my way to meet a friend for dinner. I had a few extra moments and decided to stop at a used bookstore I’d been wanting to visit. The ART section was right up front. I was in my zone, contentedly browsing for artists or titles I’m currently interested in when my eyes landed on a book called Art and Healing by Barbara Ganim.

As dinnertime was near, I quickly purchased the book and went on to meet my friend. When I returned home, I sat down to read and quickly felt my heart begin to beat more rapidly. Here was my experience with the Anger canvas all laid out as a process. But what really got my attention is the author’s declaration that WOMEN ARE ANGRY and we are still holding it all inside.

She goes on to describe the many negative effects that this has on our life, our relationships and our health. Holding anger inside can literally make us sick. And using art as a way to express not only anger but also the complex layers of our inner worlds is an extremely powerful tool for healing. And for revealing.

Even though none of this was real news to me, I had one of those life-changing moments where I felt my whole world open up: all the pieces, all the answers coming together into one cohesive picture: art and images are powerful tools for transformation and healing.

The Series Begins…

As soon as I returned to Palm Springs, an old desire surfaced: to paint the desert hotels and houses that were etched in my mind growing up. At the time, I didn’t realize that they were part of the mid-century modernism design movement. To me, they were just the buildings I grew up around.

So now that I got that big anger expressed, and some big mountain energy going, I’m settling in to work on this series.

I took a number of photographs of Miracle Manor Retreat, a renovated mid-century modern boutique spa in Desert Hot Springs. Key to the work would be the neon sign that graces the top of the entrance. How to depict that accurately? After trying on my own to replicate the sign, I resorted to technology.

Using a process called image transfer, I was able to get the look I was after. Then, I began blocking in the larger shapes. Next, I’ll refine the details and add ‘the glow’. My new desert series is in progress!