Seeing Red

The Anger Canvas unleashed a whole lotta emotion that had been pent up inside for WAY too long. Each time my brush touched the canvas, I let more and more go. It felt so good that I went on to another canvas. Rather than the extreme emotion of the first, this seemed to be more a dance of anger. There was a rhythm and balance to it all. Just getting it out was the important thing. Not worrying about anything but pure uncensored expression.

Whew. Huge deep breathe. NOW I can paint. The release triggered a breakthrough whereupon I am feeling the floodgates opening. I am struck by the similarity in gesture this painting has with my weavings. There is a constant thread running through our lives if we but stop to observe.

Here is an under-painting of my beloved mountain. Nothing like a solid foundational landmass speaking of strength and beauty to get me started again. The landscape in the south of France is decidedly feminine. That’s mostly why I felt so at home there. And though my mountain here is rugged, I feel her emanating a strong feminine energy as well.

This weekend in the high desert was the ShaktiFest: A Celebration of the Divine Mother. Though I was not able to go, I pursued the website with interest. Another flood of emotion washed through me: memories of my time in India where the divine feminine has been honored and respected for centuries. And suddenly it all came together for me. Again I ask, how did I stray so far away from my path? It was there all along, the underlying currents that make up my life. And I chose to ignore them…until now.

In this painting done many years ago, I capture the notion of surrender. And that is where I am again. Surrendering to what is before me, what is here now, what I’ve come here to be and do.

I surrender to truth, beauty, freedom and love. I surrender to it all so that I may naturally and completely embrace my own divine life.

The Anger Canvas

Many weeks ago, I wrote about preparing my panels and what a great discovery I’d made in the process. That experience completely energized me. I was so excited to be painting again.

So excited that I looked at all those small panels and thought, no WAY those itty bitty things can hold all the expression I’m feeling. I want to paint with big ~ sweeping ~ gestures, using the whole of my body, on a much bigger canvas.

But I’d already put time, effort and energy into these little guys. For days, I argued with myself…But I already…But I want to…Finally I went out and got the larger canvas.

Then life got away from me. More weeks went by. So many OTHER things to do. Big canvas, big gestures, big exposure. Did I really want that? To be seen that large? Wouldn’t I rather stay tiny and small? You’d have to walk up to the little panels to really see what was going on. Much safer than such a large canvas calling out to people from afar. More inner arguing occurred. But the need to express in big gestures won out. Even if no one ever saw it, I needed to experience it, release and let go.

Standing in front of a blank canvas after days of staring at it and years of not painting, I suddenly felt anger well up within me. I’d imagined this moment many times. What would I paint? What colors would I choose? What form would they take? And many times, what I saw in my mind’s eye were the bold red slashes of a knife cutting through the canvas. Repeatedly. Accompanying those slashes were years of stored anger. Where had I gone so off track? Why had I stopped painting? Why did I abandon my creative self?

The anger kept coming and coming. So I stood squarely in front of the canvas and let the slashes come out. Lunging into the canvas with each slash, feeling the full force of emotion, using the whole of my body. My big expression was full of anger!

Taking a step back, I surveyed my progress. With one grand release, I felt SO MUCH BETTER! A huge sigh of relief rushed through me. I was back! Back to standing in the truth of who I really am. And back to letting my creative spirit have a voice. She’d been shut out of my life for far too long. And that created not only anger but also sadness and a total lack of energy for life. No wonder I always felt depleted. I was missing my best half!

If you suffer from bouts of anger, sadness or depression, I encourage you to find some sort of creative outlet and let yourself experience the freedom of your own bold red slashes. Better to be expressed through paint, drawing or writing then aimed towards someone you care about.

What I Love About The Desert

This is my view every morning. The towering Mt. San Jacinto set aglow with early morning sunlight. Growing up in Palm Springs, I took my environment for granted. Little did I realize how powerfully it had made its mark.

Wherever I was in the world, returning to visit my family would always be accompanied with the anticipation of knowing that soon I would be coming around Windy Point to view my mountain. Not called Windy Point for nothing, you can see one of California’s largest wind farms all along the base of the mountain.

Now, watching the desert blossom this springtime, I am home again. Whenever I relocated, I would always look for places where the flat land meets up with a great mountain. Taos is like that. I’ve wanted to live there since my first visit.

As a painter, I admire Georgia O’Keefe. Not only for her desert landscapes with clear blue sky and stark white bones. But also for the life she led. Her life too was a work of art. Living alone in the desert solitude and painting the hills around her, she created a life that reflected her sensibilities and fed her soul. Her environment was perfected suited for her purpose.

And now I’ve found that place for myself. Built in the 50’s Miracle Manor Retreat is a haven. You’ve already seen the view. This jewel of the desert landed in my lap at just the right time, giving me the best possible place to acclimate after leaving France. It fit my vision to a tee: wide open spaces, view of the mountain with the desert at my feet, peaceful and quiet.

At night, floating in the pool, staring into the vast night sky, I feel the peace I’ve been seeking. And as always, that beautiful desert glow.

This is the environment that I’ve chosen for the desert edition of Explore Your Creative Spirit 8-week workshop.

If you are a woman yearning to create, or explore your creativity, or looking for an inner adventure where you get to know yourself, join me for this series of classes.

Workshop Details:
Where: Laguna Beach CA + Palm Desert CA
When: Laguna Beach – Tuesdays beginning May 1st for 8 weeks.
Palm Desert – Thursdays beginning May 3rd for 8 weeks.
Time: 6:00 – 8:00

For our first class, we will meet at an art supply store to go over various media. You can purchase individual supplies at this time.

Please click here to register, ask questions or for more details.

If you know someone who would love to participate, please forward this information on to her.

What I Love About France

Recently, I’ve been very nostalgic about my life in France. I had the supreme delight to spend eight years living in the village of Vence, just outside Nice on the Cote d’Azur.

From my terrace, I could look out and see the chapel that Henri Matisse designed and decorated for the nuns who took care of him in his later years. All around me there was art and art history. Chagall created a mosaic for the town’s cathedral. Not far are the house where Renoir lived, the chateau where Picasso painted and a number of individual artist’s museums housing their renowned works. Nothing but inspiration all around.

What I found most enticing though was the village itself. Vence, the City of Arts, is a mecca for artists, painters, sculptors and writers of all nationalities. The town consists of the more modern part and the cité historique where medieval walls dating back to Roman times surround the cathedral and the remaining old town. Within those walls are now shops, restaurants and housing. And it is here that artists have chosen to set up their ateliers or artist’s working galleries.

As you walk along the ancient pathways, you view traditional, modern and contemporary works and often the artist him/herself. The atmosphere is immediate and intimate. You can spend hours in one gallery talking to the artist about any number of things. And when you leave, a café beckons so you wander over and have a coffee (or a beer) happy in your heart that life still exists where people take the time to savor it.

And there is the food. And the beauty of the landscape. And there is the light. Ah, the light of southern France. This is the attraction for all artists past and present. But it was my desire for personal growth that took me back home. The desert as well has its beauty and light; a softer, more serene beauty that also calls to me. It is after all where I grew up.

What I found missing in France was a certain essence that I experience in California. This sense that anything is possible, a feeling for innovation, creativity and expansion. The open spaces and glowing light of the desert welcomed me home with open arms.

The Joy of Discovery

The eight panels that I ordered have arrived and are in need of gesso. Normally I work on canvas but the last several paintings I did were on panels. I found that I enjoyed working on the smooth surface. So I thought I’d begin again with panels.

Gessoing is not my favorite thing. Though I am particular about the surface, and do put in the time applying the many coats of gesso and then sanding each one down, I find the process laborious.

Out of curiosity, I decided to search online to see if I might find anything new on the subject. I am continually amazed at the incredible amount of information available at our fingertips. So I should not have been surprised to come across an incredible discovery: a new way to gesso. Okay so apparently it is not entirely new, the article was published in 2004. But it was new to me. And it was a JOY to discover.

In an article entitled: Creating the Perfect Ultra-Smooth Canvas for Airbrush, A.D. Cook describes his process. Basically, he uses a squeegee to apply the gesso to the canvas. He applies many thin layers and does NOT sand between layers. This is a key time-saver.

But the really unique discovery was that he uses a wet-sand technique, wetting the sandpaper to achieve a glass-like surface. When I tried this, I was overjoyed with the process and the result. Not only is the process simpler but the surface is exquisite. At least for my purposes.

What a thrill to discover that a process as traditional as gessoing a canvas can be updated not only with modern materials but also with some creative thinking and a willingness to experiment. It got me to thinking about how many things we do automatically. Is it only the innovator or creative that questions the norm? And how would daily life be different if, from time-to-time, we took a look at where we could experience the joy of bringing something new to something old.