The other evening I was on the telephone with my daughter. She asked me if I knew my “spirit animal.” I thought a moment and replied that Mermaid is my spirit animal.
In the painting Mermaid, I love the way blue azure and white play together in textures and shifting focus of light.
Mermaid as ephemeral, feminine, strong, independent, playful and beautiful.
On a more intimate level, Mermaid is a second chance.
This piece is painted over another more somber painting, created during a period of personal darkness.
Mermaid is hope resurrected.
An oceanic drive to ebb and flow.
Pain within joy.
If we must travel through darkness, is it possible to find acceptance for the journey and to gain insight into our other-selves? Is there something about understanding the raw pain of this deeply self-intimate, contracted space that generates a deeper level of compassion? A broader sense of gratitude?
I believe so. And I believe that we can carry that knowing forward.
And so, in a moment, my world burst forth in an exquisite, expanding motion. Movement and colors. An awakening.
Happy filled me first with orange -- vivid, bright, lively orange. And with the orange, came hope
Deeper than the ocean, and with greater majesty than the mountains, being in the redwood forest of northern California gave me a glimpse of primordial wisdom, a feeling of substantial, a reverence for quiet.
There was a misty rain.
There were stars.
I became a character in childhood fairy tales and magic. I was a deer with a silent step. I could almost feel where life began.
The legend of Avalon is that of an enchanted land, where women ruled as the creators of life and keepers of knowledge. It is the place King Arthur is said to have gone to heal after a battle. The Avalon story tells of a time when the rise and spread of Christianity resulted in the corresponding loss of feminine ritual and belief. As fewer and fewer people remembered the old stories, Avalon, as a place, an idea, a belief disappeared into the mists; an end to an age.
Two days after the 2016 presidential election, I felt was a rise of something new -- and a slipping away of the ideals of justice, equality and opportunity for all. The parallels felt staggering to me. Justice, liberty, freedom are not legislated. They are instead beliefs that exist because we value, respect and honor their importance. And if enough of us forget their importance, like Avalon, they may disappear into the mist, and we may experience an end to an age.
Behind the scenes:
This painting began as a nude woman, facing away. The woman was striking, but I struggled to get the full composition to work. In frustration, I taped off some of the beautiful coloration of the woman’s body, and then painted a second, entirely new painting over the top. The second painting unfolded rapidly and with great intensity. In a few hours time, I sat back, exhausted from the effort. As I peeled away the strips of tape, my hands, face, apron became covered with oil paint, and I knew that what I had painted was Avalon.
A black hole is defined as a gravitational field so intense that no matter or radiation can escape its pull. Come too close to its edge and you are sucked in. In the center of our lives right now is a big black hole of politics and polarization, blame and bullying, anger and angst.
And yet, every day I see goodness. Loving moments of tender care. Helpful neighbors, friendly smiles. A wagging tail, a supportive text. Generosity, kindness, meaningful actions - unpretentious and quietly profound - that form a beautifully colored matrix, an infinite margin of goodness that extends far beyond the noisy center.
Behind the scenes:
The black hole is painted with shiny enamel paint on the reverse side of a piece of glass -- forming a mirror. As you view the painting you may see your reflection in the black.... and the painting asks: Are you a part of the noisy, angry center?