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Category Archives: Creativity & Inspiration

Renewal: Leaping Lessons

Qi - life force

Qi - Life Force (aka Chi). "Unpainting." 1999 Original Painting. 24" x 24"

Mountain Dancer

Mountain Dancer. Collage and paint layered on a giclee of Qi. 2010. 18" x 18"

I am known to paint over old work. Multiple layers of paintings are not unlike sedimentary rock. The energy of the previous work is there even if it’s not clearly visible on the surface. Archeologists sift and dig through rock layers to learn about other times and places. I carve and dig into the layers of previous paintings occasionally uncovering hidden treasures. Life brings change. As my life changes so does my art. In the mid-90s I took a year off from being ‘gainfully’ employed to complete my holistic nursing credentials. My thesis included a new series of artwork and Leaping Lessons…Five Pathways to Personhood, a book of stories and activities for folks embracing holistic living, wanting to simplify their lives, and looking for joy in the little things.

My first “Unpainting” was on linen. Being careful not to cut through the cloth, I cautiously pulled away layers revealing bits and pieces of older works. The piece was taking on the look and feel of an ancient fresco. Hearing the phone ring momentarily distracted me from my cutting, scratching and peeling. My teenage son delivered the message, “Call your brother back when you’re done with your ‘unpainting.'” “Look mom,” he said, pointing at a newly uncovered spot. “There’s an eye!” He immediately saw what I did not. The painting peeking through was of myself with my first child done 24 years earlier. The muted colors and figurative style under multiple layers gave me an opportunity to see my past from a renewed perspective…

Qi has been 6 other paintings. The one just before Qi was called “Leaping Lessons.” Can you see the 3D leapers taking off from the left side of the piece under the red paint? I completed the book and showed “Mystical Letters,” a series created with kanji, words, symbols and letters from different cultures and belief systems. In 2010 I started offering giclees (fine art reproductions) of my work and chose one of Qi in a smaller size than the original to paint over and collage. ‘Qi’ resides within the newly painted mountain. Flowing graceful forms of the kanji punctuated with buttons, feathers, and tarot cards… twirling and swirling like a dervish…renewing life force and energy. I present Mountain Dancer.

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Upon Reflection: Then and Now

Songs of the Unseen Mother

Songs of the Unseen Mother. Diptych Oil Painting. Lyon's Ferry. 1991. 33" x 72"

“Songs of the Unseen Mother” and “Upon Reflection” are two paintings of the same location separated by 21 years. In February 2012 my husband Kev and I revisited Lyon’s Ferry in southeast Washington State. Kev searched for the exact vantage point of my 1991 painting while I sat, knitted and reflected on the landscape, the time that had passed, and how the place was at once different and yet the same. Off in the distance I heard car doors slamming. Then, there were two women, four kids and six dogs running to the water. I watched them from far away… and thought about then and now.

Upon Reflection

Upon Reflection. Oil Painting. Lyon's Ferry. 2012. 36" x 52"

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Evergreen Couch: A Painting Is Born

Evergreen Couch

Evergreen Couch. Painting. 16" x 20". Painted at our cabin in Twisp, WA, Winter 2012.

Where did Evergreen Couch come from? The canvas board was a gift from a friend. My son said the cabin needed a comfy couch. My husband scored the cozy couch. The cabin where the couch resides is a place I long to be. A place I can recharge myself. The drive to the cabin over the mountains and down into the valley takes 4-5 hours in decent weather.

Driving from Seattle over mountain passes I find myself someplace else where multiple cascades are frozen midstream and a different rhythm merges with postcard beautiful scenery like classical music for my eyes. Winter air is clean. I’m heading into the silence and solitude of winter. The cabin sits and waits without moving on. It faces a small mountain and is slightly larger than 400 sq.ft. The outhouse a short walk away has an amazing view frequented by herds of wandering deer. There’s cold running water 9 months of the year from our well. A single solar panel provides electricity — sometimes.

Hibernation time for me — listen to the deep quiet. About 2 miles of primitive road with switchbacks, hairpin curves, and (unbeknownst to me) recent cougar sightings in the final approach to the cabin. Our 4-wheel drive took me partway up the road. Unable to make it up the steep hill I backed up and skidded on the ice under the new inches of snow. Stopped and sitting in the driver’s seat precariously perched on the edge of the cliff I thought it best to exit thru the passenger side.

I grabbed my paints, a 1200-page book, and food and hiked the rest of the way up the road. It was cold and black except for the moonlight.

I built a fire in the wood-burning stove. Got the BTUs going. Heated up my soup and read my book before reporting home and hitting the sack. The car sat on the edge of the cliff for a few days until my gallant neighbors helped me out. They’re the ones who told me about the cougar in the vicinity. I figured out that I could stay at the cabin for one week until I had to go into town for supplies.

The next day was beautiful. Sunny, cold and quiet. Ahhhhh. For two days I read, I walked, I stoked the fire, I ate soup and I slept. The day after I finished reading my 1200-page book I set up my easel in the room by the wood-burning stove.

I get my paints out and choose the palette. Where does it come from? Stored-up experiences, dreaming and memories all play parts. Mixing new colors. An emphasis of the moment of movement equivalent to spherical perspective…several points of view gives a feeling of space. I listen to the quiet, classical music and local radio. I paint with brushes and with my fingers. What is work and what is play? If you like something is it still work? What type of work is important? I walk in the snow. I eat and dance as I paint the cabin walls behind the couch and the trees and the mountains in the window. As I paint I change things. The cabin walls and the window behind the couch are gone now. The couch beckons…come sit after chopping kindling, bringing in snow to melt on the stove and ‘birthing’ a painting which is drying by the fire.

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