Communicating…

I’ve been thinking a lot about communication. How precious and precarious it is. How difficult it is to get it right. And how much I have to learn about it. As much as I try, and as much progress I think I’ve made, it can all get weird in just a moment’s time. This has all been working on me and within me, stewing around inside my brain and my heart for the past few days. And I just got a small piece of the puzzle late last night.

I couldn’t sleep because we had an intense thunderstorm with lightening coming in like strobe lights, followed by huge explosions of sound. Very exciting. Very unusual for this small corner of the world. We get rain but not thunderstorms.  Another facet of climate change?  Sigh. But I digress…

So in the midst of the storm, it came to me that at the core of so much of my communicating is the need to be right.  I like to think that it is about the need to be witnessed, to be heard.  But when I am very honest with myself (as I try to be), I realize that after all this time and all this self-work, I still just want to be right.  And I want everyone around me to think so too.  The more I want it, the more tongue-tied and inarticulate I get.  The more off-message, the more counter productive.  The more someone disagrees with me, or if I have a minority opinion in a group, the more I dig my heels in.  I get a little preachy.  I keep trying different ways to make them see my point.  I advance the art of communication not at all.  Sigh.  I need to go back to the drawing board.  To breathe.  To allow.  To surrender.  All good words for me.   I have so very much work to do.  This looking at self stuff is so not easy!

I did this drawing as a commission for someone.  It represents the Fifth Chakra or the Throat Chakra, home of communication with ourselves and others.  It is light at the center, but it gets a bit dark and messy at the edge, with many different layers and a lot going on. The words I thought of for her were easy and discerning.  More sighs!  More good words for me.

Looking

I spend a large part of my day looking.

In the morning, I look at the screen on my computer.

In the afternoon, I spend time outside. I look at the minute details of my garden, checking each flower and each vegetable for signs of growth, or slug damage, or readiness to be picked, pruned or harvested. I look at the whole vegetable garden (I regret that I got such a late start this year, and I trust that there will be more to eat very soon).  I look at each flower bed, and try to manage the weeds that all this rain is bringing. I look at the sky and the water and the mountains in the distance. I see the sun gleaming or the clouds moving or the rain glistening. I notice the other houses near where I live. I take in the trees swaying in the breeze.  I love it all.  I breathe.

Then it’s time to go into the studio.  I take the time to look at what I’ve been working on before going on to the next step, the next stroke the next layer.  Then I paint and I look while I’m painting.  And I look again, and paint again.

But all the looking is a prelude for feeling.  If I am painting an abstract composition, I need to explore what is moving me in the moment, knowing that painting it will change the feeling or the emotion into something else.  If I am creating a mandala, I take the word that I am associating with it and feel deeply into what it means for me.  If I am prompted to paint my version of a landscape, I am not representing anything actual.  I am feeling into everything I have seen, everything I have been looking at, and making a semblance of the real world as it has been filtered through my mind and heart.

The three small paintings on paper which are pictured above are those kind of landscapes.

little jewels

Each of these small wooden circles measures only one and a half inches in diameter.  Yet in each one, there is a lot going on.  Some definitely are more simple than others.  They just came together with ease, and felt finished.  Others are more worked, and that is because they didn’t flow as well initially.  A color may have been wrong.  Or my hand slipped as I applied the enamel paint, so that a cover up became essential.  Some of those become my favorites because they have more history.  Enamel paint is fun to work with because it dries very quickly and is opaque, making layering possible.

Each one has a magnet attached to the back, so they are useful items to have.

 

 

I love making them for several reasons.  It is fun to work with a water-based paint instead of oil.  It is really fun and challenging to work that small.  It takes concentration to do them.  I need to keep breathing as I work or something inevitably goes wrong.  I get a lot of information from doing so many of them at once.  It is liberating to think of them as functional.  Getting an energetic brushstroke with a tiny little brush is not easy for me.  And doing them gives me a lot of information for doing my other paintings.  Frees the hand, informs the eye, engages the brain.

 

It’s That Time of Year Again

This is the third Spring that we have lived in this house, the third Spring that I have seen the clematis in bloom, and the third Spring that I am getting to watch it engulf more and more of the house.  There is something so spectacular about this expanse of pink spreading out over the porch on the main floor and spreading up to the small deck that is off our second floor bedroom.  It almost takes my breath away.  And each year I eagerly wait for it because for me, it signifies the true beginning of the abundance of green and color that is yet to come.  I means that it’s time to wake up!

As time goes by, I am getting more and more in rhythm with this property that we are renting.  I know what to expect now that the daffodils and tulips are gone.  The lilacs are already in bloom.  The heather kept blooming throughout the winter.  Soon there will be irises, another happy moment.  It is the rhythm of Spring and the awakening of my body and my brain.  I await the lilies and the peonies and the hollyhocks as the prospect of summer entices me on these lovely sunny days.

I create in the early evening while it is still light out, and my back tells me that I’ve done enough gardening for the day.  Then I can be in my studio and allow the experiences of the day to inform what I paint or what I weave or what I draw or what I read.  All one.

Still a bit cool, especially at night.  I move in that rhythm as well.  The cool evenings invite soup or stews or casseroles, and some red wine.  I allow myself to rest and am delighted that I can sleep with a down comforter on these cool nights.

The mornings are for greeting the day and the clematis!!

What’s Not to Love?

I spent three days with this fabulous group of women over last weekend, weaving this fabulous Tahitian Market Basket out of a beautiful material called Lauhala.  We all came to Shaw Island, and not only did we weave together during the day, we all stayed over at the guest house of one of the women (the only one not in this picture).  So we cooked together, ate together, drank together, worked on the basket well into the night, and got up early to do it all again.

None of us finished the basket completely, so it will be interesting to see how they look once they are embellished with various trims, shells, etc.  But each one already has its own personality, and that will only develop more in the last stages of completing them.  Out teacher, Lei McCornack, is in the middle of the back row.  I have my arm around her in gratitude, love and admiration.  We are a strong and close-knit group of women, and Lei did a wonderful job of jumping in and teaching us this very challenging basket, in her laid back, very Tahitian way.

Challenging?  Make that very challenging.  Many steps along the way.  It’s a double-walled basket which means that you weave an inside and then start all over again to weave the bias-plaited  exterior.  And there is sewing involved.  And trim to be made by hand.  All using this sensual and amazing Lauhala to weave with.  You see it at its thickest on the exterior of the basket, but it can be stripped down to it’s thinnest and will fit through the eye of a needle to sew with.

As the work progressed, we all had our individual moments of challenge.  I hit my own wall at about 3 pm on Friday afternoon while working on the bias-plaiting.  I got incredibly frustrated, and cranky.  I wanted to just rip the basket apart and throw it away.  I wanted to scream.  I hated everybody in the room, and of course, I looked around and saw only perfection in their baskets, while mine was a pice of shit!  I told my dear friend, “Don’t talk to me!”  It was not pretty!  Not pretty at all.  But I went off and sat by myself.  I drank a lot of water, and started to breathe.  I looked at the basket with acceptance, and began to pull and tighten, and pull and tighten again.  Yes, there are some weak areas.  But I began to love the basket in spite of them and maybe even because of them.

And I got to have a quiet little melt down in the midst of one of loveliest, most supportive group of women you’ll ever hope to find.  I got to be real and vulnerable, and that alone was worth it all.  We all got to deepen our friendships with each other, and we all accomplished a Herculean task in making this incredible basket.