Saturday, June 28, 2014

Home in Details...

Another in the weird collage series. I don't know what this one means. I started with the bottom of the "home" wanting to dangle various items from it. And all the rest is just play and play and play until I got some harmony that felt sort of done. Words have been hard to come by lately. Well, coherent words anyway. So I won't even attempt words for this entry. Enjoy the heART.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wired high...

This bird sat on the wire outside the grocery the other day as if posing for me. His photo was the start of this piece. As I was creating, I was pondering the notion of stillness. How this Being just sat still. Obviously not just for me. But so what made him be still just then? Birds seem to have such grace around balance, movement, stillness. I always feel so clunky and awkward going from movement to stillness...coming in and out of meditation.  It got me pondering, too, how awkwardly we move into or away from our grief experiences. Sometimes the broken heart seems too jagged to touch, and yet other times we lean into the broken open spaces and nestle there. But it rarely feels as graceful as this bird looked to move between the various states.  Hence, the splattering and streaking and sponge spots of paint and color in the background.

I don't know. Something like that anyway.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Eat Your Words...

Rather than give you more words, I give you a new weird collage titled:

Eat Your Words


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Nostalgia for what was never yours in the first place...

It can be a difficult thing to explain to others if they haven't experienced this kind of thing themselves. And it makes me a pretty lousy Buddhist when I get into these spaces. It is a sort of nostalgia for something that was never yours in the first place. I'm not sure if you would feel this as part of your grief experience if the person who died was older. If you had time with them, if you created memories physically in the relative world, if you took photos and said words and heard their words -- well, then I don't know if you'd get this or not. It is something that came for me after having a full term, otherwise-perfectly-healthy-pregnancy, and just before our due date, giving birth to death instead of a living child.

The birth of death brought with it a nostalgia for something that was never mine in the first place:

  • a nursery that was actually used
  • family vacations with all of us present
  • finishing a baby book with something other than polaroids that documented his dead body
  • baby's first Christmas ornament
  • watching Dad and son learn the practice of meditation together
  • first bikes, sandboxes, inline skates, waterwings, swimming lessons
  • terrible twos, temper tantrum threes, hearing him read a book himself, homeschooling
  • finding out what he found fascinating in this world

Now don't get me wrong. I don't sit around doing nothing, asking the unanswerable things like What If and all that. In fact, I have many days on this crazy planet when I'm actually glad that our three sons who died have died already because they aren't faced with suffering. And we have all (me, my hub, and our living children and grandbabies) found or are finding our winding, twisted ways to living lives we that mean more to us now, that make us grateful for the smallest of things, that are uncompromising because we know how quickly it ends.

And as a practicing Buddhist, of course my aim is to just be with the present moment, and when I can manage that, there is nothing here but IS. But it is called a *practice* for a reason. It isn't perfection. It's a skill that must be worked. And at that, it is a skill that some days really kicks in for me and other days, well, I just sit and watch my mind bounce all over the world and time and space and go monkey berserk. And on those days, the over-arching feeling that stains everything is:

nostalgia for what was never mine in the first place.

That's just part of getting conscious of what is happening for me moment to moment. Sometimes the shadow is darker than the color and contour and texture of my living body. And I roll with it while letting the breath breathe me. Not much else to be done for it.

Well, besides making more art. (Hence, the image you see in this post.) Go gently, lovies.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Texture Of Without...

This one is something about the nature of grief and how we don't understand it until we are in it. Even when we are in it, we don't understand the permanent piece of it till we are emerged in it. For example, after my son died, people kept telling me the first year stuff was the worst. But by far, the 2nd year Mother's Day after he died was the worst because it was at that point that I understood the permanence of *Without* and how that would not change, ever, the rest of my life.

I wondered as I was making this piece what kind of nests we cocoon ourselves in to protect from this reality? When do we each learn about the permanence of impermanence? What are the screens we look through to cloud the truth so we don't have to face it until we have no other choice? Do we, in the Western world anyway, have increased fear and stress about death and dying because we spend our lives trying to avoid the permanence of impermanence?

Something like that.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Series of sky sculptures ... and mini bit of a how-to

Continuing in the weird collage explorations, today's post is revealing a series of sky pieces. The aim was for them to be as if they were just sculpted pieces hanging in the sky. I know, I know, Magritte did this so much millions of times better than I ever could, but that won't stop me from playing. :) Thought to share a tiny bit of a how-to just sharing some of the steps I took in Photoshop Elements to work up this series.

  • Set up a new blank file at 12x12 inches, transparent background, 300dpi.

  • In the first/deepest layers for the background, I've dropped in a mesh of two different sky photos I took.

  • In the next layers, over the sky, to aid in the blending of the two skies, I've added filtered layers of color using brushes that have grunge or stain shapes to them. I'm filtering them to be "Overlay" or "Difference" or "Color Dodge" or something. Play around with all the options and see what you get!

  • Then I'm opening separate files to do cut outs of different things like one of my Buddha paintings or public domain image of an animal skull or one of my photographs of a beach crab. I make the shapes high contrast so that I can easily use the select tool to get the major shape. 

  • Once selected, then I'm opening a high res scan of a vintage paper and dropping it on top of the selected shape. Then I use the cut and paste options and what that does is cut out the vintage paper in the selected shape, then drop a paste of just that paper in that shape in a new layer.

  • Then I drag that new layer of the paper cut shape into the Sky piece to make it the "sculpture in the sky" on the 12x12 PSE file. I might duplicate it, make it b&w, use gaussian blur to do a drop shadow of the piece. 

  • Then I start playing with other layers in the Sky piece, over top of the central sculpture. I might do color fill and play with the filters again like "Color" or "Hue" or "Linear Dodge" or something. Just play around with all the options and see.

  • I might play with the edges and do paint brushes for grunge drags or sponge paint painters or nightshade stains. 

  • Basically I just keep playing with colors, filters, various brushes or may other collage elements till the piece gets a balance I like.

Anyway, it is all just the same as playing on canvas. Build up the layers, play with colors, use the grunge paint brushes with white to imitate gesso, and on and on. Just keep experimenting till you get what you want or to get something surprising that you like even if it is far off the mark of what you thought you wanted.  It's a practice, not a perfect!  Enjoy the play time. Let it be a metaphor for practicing how you layer your life experiences, too. Crafting art is a great metaphor for crafting your heART.

Sending big love out to one and all!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Another in the Paper Doll series. Something about the pointe shoes continues to fascinate me. The first piece I did in this series with pointe shoes, "Notes of a Dancer," was still in the jam series because though I was showing something typically considered beautiful, it was imposed on a stained paper background to say something about the blood, sweat, and tears that go into what we all finally see.  This piece in today's post is about taking the typical fashion plate icon you see with pointe shoes and flipping it to insert a plus size image which is often so fat-shamed in our culture even though, of course you can plainly see, just as much beauty is here as in any other figure.

All this is just a continuation of my sitting with the idea that all we have is now, so why do I bother to create things when legacy, tangibility, all that is myth. Because I seemed to thoroughly depress many people with my last post, I did later post a video featuring Sharon Olds as an antidote of sorts. In there she talks a lot about why she creates. In particular, she shares about creating as a piece of comfort, a message in a bottle, that hopefully touches another being, and that's something.  I get that. And another friend posted to me saying that comforting another soul is something, it is not ephemeral.  I get that, too.

But I guess, just for me personally, at this juncture, I'm really sitting with the places of discomfort. That's one of the reasons the weird collage art has been speaking to me so loudly. They purposely leave us discomforted. Something in that grabs me just now and has me considering creativity, the process, what we create, why.  It may be that I'm very taken at the moment also with much of the monastic Buddhist stuff whereby the notion of letting go and giving up really is about giving up worldly stuff and being. Even someone like the Peace Pilgrim makes me ponder all this. I mean she did eventually let others come in and help to create things like a book, website, other teachers -- all that has outlived her. But there was a point in her life where she gave up all creation and all worldly things to simply walk. What is that happens to people who choose something like that? What is the final discomfiture that sent them to that decision to just walk? Or to give up clothes, food, shelter and simply meditate in the forest for the rest of their lives?

Of course all that is balanced for me with the total other extreme that says, "Who cares? It's a beautiful day out, so lets just go to the beach!"  Which is another way of being in the NOW and not creating. Looked over usually because it doesn't discomfort. But nevertheless, it is another way of BEing.

Anyway, I don't know. I don't have answers. Only more questions. Every single day. More questions. Or more not caring about the questions even. But just so you know, lovie loves, I wasn't trying to thoroughly depress you! It's just the pondering of discomfort in the process of creation. Pondering that the discomfort of grief sent me to creativity in a big way. Part of the culture jam idea anyway, you know?  So that's that for now. Happy thinking -- or not thinking -- creating -- or not creating :)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

It is all ephemera even when you try to fix it in time...

Thinking today about how desperately we all try to fix things in time. Give it voice. Be remembered. Give it a name. Create legacy. Do something with a lasting effect.  And yet all of that flies in the face of the reality we all live with: mortality. Everything is ephemeral. You. Your children. Everything you create. I spent a great deal of my life convinced that I could make it all matter, create something that would outlast me, but the truth is that we only have this moment. The NOW ends so very quickly. I'm not sure why I still waste NOW creating anything when it is all ephemera.

More than that is something about how everything we glorify, we eventually crack and destroy; something about the continued performances to play as our multiple selves in various roles of life and story thinking they are fixed and constant even though they are constantly changing; something about how whatever we try to fix in time via photograph, recording, image, journal dies at the same moment we create it. Change never stops even when the fixed medium seems to stop time. Something about how our denial of grief and loss, death and dying stops us from seeing the everyday loss of each moment. The moment we snap the image, the beings in it die because change keeps happening, growth keeps happening. You can't fix anything in time. And yet our culture of youth; or perpetually trying to regain the glory days through some product or another; or need to create a legacy that is "bigger than us" and will "outlast" whatever -- well, it all keeps churning to keep us deluded.

That breath you just inhaled reading this -- you are lucky to have it. So many will not have a next one. And soon enough, neither will you. Neither will I.  It is all ephemera. And I can't figure out why we refuse to accept it.

Something like that.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Continuing with the weird collage, jamming series with today's piece. I was thinking a lot about the ways so many of us act as if anything happens to us individually, as if we can be solo, and if anyone does anything totally "self-made." Thinking about how objectivity is such a myth. We are all subject to so many things. Even if you could do absolutely everything else "self-made," you did have some help from the woman who grew you in her uterus and birthed you out into this world, so you can't be totally "self-made." Something about how we move in this world so affected by Industrial Age without claiming any response-ability for the ways the industrial structure has affected our schools, hospitals, prisons; for the ways industry rapes the Earth as if we don't affect climate, eco-system, etc.

I don't know. Something. Personally, I discovered long ago that as much as "the world around us" tries to convince us our personal grief experiences are solo, individual, happening within us and in no relation to anything -- that's all bullshit. It's all happening in relationship. And so more recently, I'm just sitting with the realization -- or a more deeply felt realization -- that eco-grief experiences are global, communal, happening on a huge stage with all of us a players. Even though we try desperately to stay "individual" and "self-made" and whatnot.

???  Something. Anyway. There you go.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Marriage to an odd family tree...

Having fun playing with the weird collage ideas and materials. Sharing the latest in today's post. It's still a process. I don't feel like I've found my mark with them yet, but getting there. Can really get washed away from the entire world in both creating new pieces, but also in searches through the LOC collections for public domain images I can use as bits in the creations.  Incredibly fun and zen'd out process.

I'm still recovering from all that flu did to me last month...the respiratory repercussions have been on-going. Feeling more human slowly, which is lovely. But also not really feeling much like I want to come back into the world. Rather, I'm really enjoying my own inner world.

So hope y'all are up to fun stuff out there in the world-world. Here's to dreaming of warm summer days with our toes in the cold water of the Sound!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...