“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” William Shakespeare, Hamlet.
For as long as I can remember, creating has always been my predominant focus. Whether staging plays in the neighbor’s backyard, creating the winning poster in fourth grade for the library book drive, or getting library passes from my English teacher in high school and going to the ceramics lab instead, art was my refuge, my innate need, my constant companion. It has always been a large part of how I show up in the world.
In my 20s, when I was investing time and resources into becoming an artist, my work was dark and moody, self-serving, and not in a healthy way. Therapeutic for me, but hard for most others to be in the same space with. All my trauma, dysfunction, and addiction were laid out for everyone to see.
As I began my healing journey and recovery from addiction in my late 20s, I desperately desired to make art that didn’t reflect the horrors of previous years and experiences. The more I healed, the more I let go of the art of my past and focused my creativity on helping others because I was afraid that the specters of the past would never go away and I was tired of them.
So I set painting and drawing aside, letting it go with the belief that if it was meant to be, it would be. As a dear friend once told me, “It’s like fudge. You can stir the fudge fast or you can stir the fudge slow. But the fudge won’t be ready until IT’S ready.” This was my painting mantra for the longest time.
Karma is a funny thing. Where thoughts flow, energy goes, and creating continued to be my constant companion. In the summer of 2016, I was gifted with a truckload of art supplies: boxes upon boxes of stretched canvas, vintage wood frames, brushes, oil paints, rolls of linen, and more. In the recovery rooms of 12 Step programs, “postcards from the universe” or “god shots” are often mentioned. That’s what this was for me. I interpreted it as being put on notice that it was time to start working on painting, the “fudge”, again.
I still had remnants of fear that the scary art style of the past would manifest, and it still does - a little, but I work that out in sketches and abstract paintings and then let it go.
My main focus, since the summer of 2016, continues to be on poignant and playful moments: the drunk woman sitting on the dock in “Payette Lake,” the rottweiler - “Griz” - with his front paws in a pink kiddie pool, the three women bibbidi-bobbidi-booing their way into calm ocean in “Do I Dare Disturb The Universe.”
With the onset of COVID, my sweetie, Ike, and I started going on daily hikes in the woods nearby our home. I began attempts to capture the light, the serenity, and the safety of the forest on my iPhone, which didn’t do the forest justice. Still doesn’t, but it was my little ritual in honoring the forest for the reprieve it provides. Even as I poured through the thousands of photos of the forest and its elements, I would be soothed, remembering the scents and sounds, the temperature of the light.
Other times, I would feel fear - for the forest. Smoke from wildfires nearby and Canada dramatically changed the colors and hues. The forest continued to offer up oxygen, even as I and others became increasingly concerned for the future of our planet.
As I write this, many parts of the world are experiencing record temperatures. The Guardian reports that the “Era of global boiling has arrived” (July 26, 2023). What can I do? I compost, recycle, drive a hybrid vehicle, use flannel towels instead of paper in the house, and pick up plastics and trash wherever I go.
It’s too large of an issue, too overwhelming. Then I take a deep breath and remind myself to keep it simple. Attitude is everything. As thought is energy, where thoughts flow, the energy goes. It is my belief that we are constantly partnered by an interactive universe where everything is identified by its vibrational frequency. For my mental and physical health, I need to stay on the sunny side of the street, which requires diligence.
In practice, each image selected, every painting executed - wholly or partially, is time spent asking, “Is there negativity in me at this moment?” If there is, I must work on letting it go. Otherwise, the piece will not succeed. The act of painting becomes a part of a healing practice. I enter the studio with no idea for a painting, only a search for signals that I’m on the right path. Marks are made, colors are applied, and the form is set in motion. All I can do is suit up, respond energetically, and search for my own artistic voice.
Gratitude as a practice is an active inner decision to name and cherish what I love, hopefully, these little reminders of the beauty found in seemingly simple moments, enhanced by the lines of poetry that serve as titles for each piece, provide gentle, and possibly healing, moments for others. As I practice, I become more alert to the beauty and detail around me, I revel ever more fully in the many graces life has to offer me. I strive to touch all with the loving-kindness which touches me. I cherish our worth, our dignity, our shared path as co-creative beings shaping our shared world, and our symbolic exchanges.
My current body of work is centered around painting images that showcase sublime moments of everyday exchange, wealthy moments in that they symbolize such exchanges between our species and Earth: the feeling of being in a forest, how it feels to have a breakthrough moment, and growth opportunities.