Ignite

“Ignite” 8×10 acrylic

Today…

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FRESH PAINT: New Horizons & A Foreboding Joy

I painted two pieces last week, and tried something new with both of them.

First, instead of reaching for the 16×20 bundle packs I normally grab (and can afford) I listened to a heart whisper and went BIG, purchasing sizes I had yet to explore: 24×48 and 36×48.

(How would I fill such large spaces? What was my inner creative longing to release that required more space to tell it’s message on?)

Second, instead of reaching for the brushes in my box, I found my hand landing on the rag I normally use to wipe my brushes on, and used it to distribute the paint across each canvas’ surface.

The results? Left me breathless to be honest. I look at both pieces now, in my living room and am in awe of what’s staring back at me. Maybe it’s vain to say I absolutely love these pieces and I think the messages they convey are important ones for me…but…it’s the truth-my truth anyway and it’s not often I find myself in love with something I’ve created on canvas.

Two of my words for this year are “explore,” and “pursue.” In regards to painting I told myself  that I would explore my new found passion for painting and experiment with various styles and techniques to find what “fits,” if that makes sense. Working with a rag and my hands instead of brush and with larger spaces exposed me to a freedom I hadn’t realized my inner creative had been longing for. I’m looking forward to doing more in this fashion, and I think I have a theme that can make the pieces in this style an actual collection….we’ll see.

Both pieces are up for sale in the shop along with other pieces from the last 7 months. Feel free to stop by for a look….

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“New Horizons” 24×48

This one was inspired by a lyric from the song “New Horizons,” by Flyleaf: “Bring your normalcy to the edge and watch it drown in new horizons…new horizons…” It speaks to the new horizons that have been stretching themselves across my life these past months: new decade (30’s!), new city & home (AUSTIN!), new marriage (details and photos in a forthcoming post) and…..one completely unexpected and unplanned that I will share in a post later this week :)

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“A Foreboding Joy” 36×48

This one took me by surprise-it started out very dark with just black and white paint blending together to create a very heavy, grayish-moody base. I didn’t really think about it much as I worked, adding layers of color and I moved quickly through it, finding myself a little winded at it’s end. As I sat back to wonder what the hell it was, my mind rested on a comment made by Dr. Brene Brown regarding joy: “If you ask me what’s the most terrifying, difficult emotion we feel as humans, I would say joy.” She had made the comment to Oprah, during a Super Soul Sunday discussion, and was speaking to how joy terrifies us so we never allow ourselves to experience it in it’s fullest. Watch her discuss it here: http://www.yidio.com/show/super-soul-sunday/season-0/episode-0/3088395102

I realized that as overwhelmed and happy I am about all of the newness in my life, every time I’ve felt joy trying to take over, I’ve immediately pushed it away…this piece represents that tension, that fear….

So…those are my latest pieces. Thoughts?

Painting: Don’t Think. Just Feel

Today I sat down, brush in hand, colors spread put around me, and just stared at the canvas in front of me. I wanted to paint but my thoughts were too scattered to focus on a concept or any kind of intentionality. I closed my eyes and just sat there. Alex came and sat in my lap, and proudly began naming the colors he recognized.

I dipped a brush in red, his favorite color at the moment, and handed it to him. Without saying a word, he snatched the brush from me and got to work covering the canvas in frenzied streaks of red. When he was finished, he said “RED!” did a little hop, dropped the brush and ran to his room with a smile on his face.

I know at some point I would like to work on developing intentionality, so that I’m better at communicating what I’m trying to say through my paintings. For now though, I’m realizing that I’m content to just pick up a brush and attack the canvas much like Alex did. I might have one thought I focus on or I might have nothing but emotions, and I like that. I think some of my best pieces have come from when I’ve turned down the volume on my reasoning and listened instead only to the emotions that were waiting to be acknowledged & allowed to speak. I can’t always articulate what they are in words but on canvas, they pour out of me with each stroke; their voices speaking through each color and layer I apply.

If you were to ask me why I painted what I did today, I’d simply shrug & say I don’t know. It’s just what came out. They were directed purely by emotion, with no direct thoughts or intended meanings. They’re simplistic & maybe look amateurish, but I’m okay with that. I’ll get better with more practice and exploration.

The first one is untitled for now. I have to study it & “hear” what it’s saying before I name it.

The second one? Well, I’m not sure, but when Bertski looked at it, he said it kind of reminded him of the early 80’s and the New Wave music era…I laughed because I was born in ’82…and I’ll be 30 on Saturday…so maybe it represents that? Not sure but I thought it was a fun interpretation, considering how much I love music and the bright fashions from that time period.

So here they are. OH-in honor of said 30th birthday, I’m having a sale in my Etsy shop-all unreserved listings are 30% off now through Saturday. Stop by & have a look :)

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Painting: Pennies for Your Thoughts

I’m not sure how I feel about my latest painting. As a result I have yet to title it. I know what drove me to paint today, but I don’t know why it was expressed this way. I’ve never done … Continue reading

Painting: My Refuge & Strength

There’s a Psalm in the Bible that speaks of God “being our refuge & strength.”

While I am at a crossroads with my faith (more on this in another post) I’d like to believe that God is our refuge & strength by actually giving us things that bring peace & provide a shelter from the chaos & realities of life…or our minds.

I spent some time in the hospital last week. The psych ward. After being hypo manic for nearly 4-5 weeks I started to crash into depression close to 3 weeks ago and wound up having suicidal ideation & thoughts…I’ll talk more about this experience later but for now, I’ll just get to the intent of what I want to share with you today.

What I’ve learned since I started painting at the beginning of the year is that painting is my refuge and fills me with a strength I’ve yet to experience otherwise. Yes, at times I’ve found myself leaning on God & my faith to pull me through the rough seasons of my life….

BUT-through this season, this time of grappling with my illness and striving for longer periods of stability, I’ve come to realize that painting, brushing strokes of color across a canvas brings me a calm & peace unlike any other. When I paint, the thoughts that yell & clamor for my attention quiet down and go back sullenly to their dark corners. I choose colors & sweep them across the canvas without a single thought.

Silence. Peace. Light. Wholeness. Myself. I feel the most like myself when I paint. I paint and afterward can go and laugh with my kids, deal with the frustrations & joys of life…and the crippling pain of a mind that at times seems to want nothing more to bring about my demise & the destruction of my family.

The Bible says God is a restorer. I like to think that He’s placed this, this whatever it is in my life to do just that-restore. Restore parts of me that I forget are still there. The parts that still exist among the scattered puzzle pieces that are my brain & body chemistry.

I’ve painted quite a bit the last few days, finding solitude & comfort after a painful & desperate couple of weeks where I clutched sanity & life with as much strength I could muster. For myself. For my boys.

(Sigh)

Well here’s a look at what I’ve been working on…

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What do you find comfort & strength in? What restores you?

Painted: Layering

So I’ve spent the last two days painting. It’s been awhile so my creative vibes didn’t flow as much as I hoped they would. Maybe it’s the new med combo I’m on. Or maybe I’m just rusty. It maybe I just feel more inspired & creative when I’m hypomanic. Who knows?

Anyway, the first canvas I gave up on, but the second, I liked how it started taking shape, so I decided to try and take what I’ve seen other artists do on YouTube, and try my hand at layering.

I did the base colors and started some blending last night…

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and spent about an hour and a half tonight adding, blending & building upon what was there.

The result? This….

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Not sure how I feel about it. I do at the very least like the brushstroke work I utilized throughout the painting.

What do you think? And seriously be honest, criticism is welcomed as long as it’s constructive. Also keep in mind I’m a newbie who knows nothing about technique.

I Miss My Paints & Artists Who Inspire Me

I haven’t posted anything about painting in awhile, and I think it’s mostly because I haven’t painted in nearly two, almost three months.

I miss it…

I’m slightly worried that my passion for it and the creativity that drove me to paint in the first place has faded away…

I’ve been asking myself if it was all just a fleeting fancy-just some form of manic expression that isn’t really…me.

Not sure if that makes sense…I wish I could articulate what I mean a lot better, but I’ve had two glasses of wine so articulation is swimming in Lake Moscato at the moment.

Ahem…

What I’m trying to say is that I’m a creative person who hasn’t been able to create in a few months and I’m scared this particular form of creative expression has moved on and out of my life much like dancing has….which makes me incredibly sad.

I miss my paints, and having my colorful creations adorn my walls. I gave away & sold about 15 of them, but those I have left are still locked up in a storage unit back in PA….I miss the excitement that emanates all the way from my toes to my fingertips when I sit down in front of a blank canvas to paint. I miss the adrenaline rush of the creative process and how it leaves me pregnant with possibility.

Anyway, enough lamenting…I’ll save the rest of this for a time when I’m less tipsy and a little less apt to talk about being impregnated by creativity.

I’ll leave you with some videos of artists I found via YouTube who are helping me keep my love and passion for painting alive….trust me when I say they are worth taking the time to watch.

Enjoy!

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Christopher Mathie

Nicole Hoschke

Mel McCuddin

Then & Now

Over the weekend I started my new dose of Lamictal…another 50mgs to try and put the brakes on my latest (and longest) high.

Last week I was reeling from it…dizzy from the frenzy.

This week I feel my mind turning around & going in the opposite direction…everything is slowing down.

My thoughts are still all over the place, but instead of shouting & screaming to be heard they mumble as they mill about…whispering their requests & anxieties from dark, shadowy corners they’ve been banished to.

Somewhere between the ups & downs of this disorder, there lies a middle ground called stability…a place where medication keeps everything from getting out of control. A place where the highs don’t send me skyrocketing into the stratosphere and the lows don’t entrench & isolate me in the darkness of depression.

I know recovery ( i.e. stability) is not a myth, some city of gold that’s only been talked about but never actually seen or experienced. It’s real. I’ve talked to people who live there, who have managed to build a healthy & stable life within the valleys of mental illness.

I hope I’m closer to residing there than I was a year ago. Last July I walked into the VA hospital crying and begging the social worker & intake psych to help me as Alex slept in my arms. Last July I wanted to die and knew I would if I didn’t get help that day. I was willing to take anything, do anything, just to make the chaos stop for 10 seconds. That’s all I wanted. A 10 second reprieve from a mind that was too scary and confusing. I just wanted to be able to breathe without feeling like I was suffocating. This July I no longer want to die and I can breathe at least 10 seconds longer, taking in bigger gulps of air & of life in the process. A year later I still have highs and lows but they cycle at a much slower pace than they used to. I no longer wonder how I’m going to feel from hour to hour. My focus is now on managing how I feel from day to day.

I know I still have a ways to go before I get there, to stability. But where I had no hope of it a year ago, I feel it now. I know it now. I can see it on the horizon, off in the distance, welcoming me like an old friend…waiting for me to come and make myself at home.

There are upcoming changes & transitions I’m worried about that may threaten my progress…and lots of good, exciting new things I’m looking forward to….so that’s why I’m more concerned about this impending low than I’d like to admit. I hate putting pressure on myself but I can’t help but feel as though everything over the next 4 weeks depends on how well I ride out this about face in mood.

I’m not really sure of where this post is going, and I feel like I’ve spewed enough disjointed thoughts so I’ll end it here with this:

I painted today….something I wasn’t doing a year ago. Crazy how much you change in a year, eh?

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Painting: Trying Something New & Falling in Love with Jackson Pollock

Painted last week.

It was the perfect remedy for the migraine pounding in my head, and a much needed stress reliever from the week’s frustrations & fatigue.

I painted three in a span of about 4 hours.

I find it hard to do just one….once I’m inspired I have to keep going until it runs out. It usually takes 2-4 small canvases for it to dissipate, leaving me exhausted and wanting to sleep.

The first one I painted was for a friend. She asked me months ago to paint a depiction of life before & after salvation. I honestly find it hard to paint something when it’s someone else’s idea-I usually just do it “in the moment,” -it’s not something I force-so it took me a long time and a lot of quiet reflecting to figure out how to do it. I kept waiting for inspiration or some thought to spark a sense of direction, and it didn’t come until last week.

As I was laying in bed praying for my migraine to subside, a verse from 1 Peter chapter 4 came to me. It talks about love covering a multitude of sins. My mind immediately started thinking about redemption & salvation. To me, they both represent love-the love that drove Jesus to the cross to sacrifice himself for humanity. As I reflected on this, I started to see colors-I saw a strip of black being covered up with all kinds of bright colors, which I took to represent life, and red & white interspersed among them-In Christianity, red represents Jesus’ blood and there’s a verse in the Bible that talk’s about his blood washing us “white as snow” when we receive salvation & are therefore redeemed.

Finally having my inspiration, I swallowed an excedrin, made the boys lunch, laid Alex down for a nap, and settled myself in my room with my paints and brushes spread out around me. I got to work, first painting half the canvas black. Once that was done, I sat for a few minutes wondering how I was going to take the image of the colors I had in my head and transfer it to the canvas in front of me. It was then I thought I’d try something I hadn’t tried before-splattering the paint.

It’s something I’ve seen on other paintings, but never knew how to create that look myself. Not really knowing what I was doing I just started by putting paint on the brush, dipping it in water & just flicking the brush at the canvas.

Splat. Dip. Splat. Dip. Splat.

Realizing it how fun & simple it was, I just started literally throwing paint at the canvas, covering myself & the wall in front of me in the process. I did this for about half an hour, stopping to pick different colors, watch the paint float & glide down the canvas, cover more spots, and about halfway through I stopped to take this

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Still not feeling “done” I kept going until finally I had this

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I put that one to the side and feeling inspired by what I had just done, I grabbed another canvas. No particular thought or meaning in mind, I just saw an arrangement of colors and slowly transferred what I saw in my mind to on the canvas.

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As soon as I finished, another arrangement of colors came to mind and again, I grabbed yet another canvas and produced this

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I really enjoyed painting like this. It was fun, and somehow very liberating. I posted these in Instagram, and my friend Lindsay mentioned an artist I’d never heard of before, Jackson Pollock. (my Art History game is better than it used to be thanks to 2 Lit & Art classes, but I still have a lot to learn)

Intrigued, a Google search led to about two hours of reading about him, abstract expressionism, his works, and falling in love with his “all-over” style of painting. His paintings? Gorgeous layers of colors twisting & turning in all directions. Needless to say, I’m now a fan :)

“On the floor I am more at ease, I feel nearer, more a part of the painting, since this way I can walk around in it, work from the four sides and be literally `in’ the painting.”
— Jackson Pollock, 1947.

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(Full Fathom Five, 1947, photo credit: WebMuseum Paris)

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(Number 8, 1949, photo credit, WebMuseum Paris)