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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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