Saturday, December 27, 2008

Felineness

Transcendent Feline, encaustic, 6" x 6" (SOLD)

"You could be killing Ghandi," I tell him, but my cat pays no mind to my reincarnation musings as he stalks the fly, his flanks up in the air, his tail twitching. He waits for Ghandi to take a rest on the windowsill. Even from my distance, I can see Ghandi's tiny insect body pulsing with exasperated breath. It has been a 15 minute hunt already. I have tried to release Ghandi from the house, to corral him, guide him like an air traffic controller, but he doesn’t understand my human sign language. My cat continues to stalk him, determined and hot, and then pounces, his eyes wide like green pilot lights. With one swat of his paw, he knocks Ghandi down and then I hear a brief buzz and several crunches. My cat is pleased, satiated. He licks his teeth. The hunt is over and it's nap time. He circles the chair cushion and forms a little ball, resting his head on his tail. I watch him begin to sleep, watch his breaths become slow and full and peaceful, all evidence of the kill now gone. I close my eyes and imagine poor Ghandi traveling through this sleeping beast, leaving this world in the belly of my cat.



Friday, December 26, 2008

Monkey Business

"Ichi the Monkey," encaustic, 6" x 6"

I was going to include this art piece in my Dec. 11 show, but I just couldn't. I pulled it off the wall before the show, knowing that "Ichi the Monkey" was to be a gift for my nephew Nicholas. He is three months shy of two years old and he is quite fond of monkeys. This art piece was clearly meant for him.

What is so lovely about having this little one in my life is that Nicholas constantly reminds me of the value of playfulness and wonder. He reminds me to look at things anew and to imagine how something could be different. With him I try on strange voices and contort my body into perplexing positions to fit into tents and onto tiny chairs. I also dance a lot more when I am with him, for Nicholas knows how to boggie oogie oogie.

My hope is that he always remembers to play -- no matter what age. May he embrace whimsy and wonder even when he encounters the seriousness of life.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Belonging

"Family Meeting," encaustic, 9" x 12"

HIDE-AND-SEEK

I stormed off with “You don’t even love me, do you!”
and hid in the garage crouched behind the lawnmower,
pressed against boxes of Christmas lights,

my bare feet flat against the cold concrete floor.
I sat so still I heard my parents searching for me—
the opening and closing of doors, the ruffling

of boxes in closets—like burglars searching
for hidden jewels. They looked under my bed,
in the storage closet under the stairs, in my tree house.

They called my name over and over as though
crying “Marco!” waiting for my “Polo!”
but by the time dusk arrived and the backyard

woods darkened, their voices felt more urgent.
They must really miss me, I thought. My father’s
tools cast frightening shadows—creatures

with many heads and sharp-tipped teeth. I closed
my eyes to make them disappear, then heard
my mother’s footsteps crunching on the gravel

driveway so close I trembled with excitement.
Pretending to cough, rattling the lawnmower,
I let her rescue me. “We really thought we lost you.

Don’t run away ever again,” she said, and then I saw
her wet face glistening in the moon’s light. Her tears
were proof of it: they truly wanted me. I comforted

my mother then, vowed I’d never really run away,
returned to them anew, knowing I belonged.

(June 2003, Final Manuscript for MFA in Creative Writing)


Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Healing Hand, A Healing Art

"A Healing Hand, "encaustic, 8" x 10" [SOLD]


"When we make art to heal, the creative spirit within us is awakened and takes us to who we are when we go inward, which brings out her her song as ours. When we dream and make art of the dreams, we are taken home, taken to the place of healing and healed. Art brings out our inner healer, which changes our whole physiology, and our spirit, mind, and body heal."

- Michael Samuels and Mary Rockwood Lane Creative Healing: How to Heal Yourself by Tapping Your Hidden Creativity


"At the deepest level, the creative process and the healing process arise from a single source. When you are an artist, you are a healer; a wordless trust of the same mystery is the foundation of your work and its integrity." - Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen


"I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for." - Georgia O'Keeffe


One often calms one's grief by recounting it. - Pierre Corneille


Monday, December 15, 2008

Seasonal Card Sets for Sale!

I have three remaining seasonal greeting card sets still for sale! Each set comes with eight cards (two cards of each of the four designs).

The sets include these four pieces:



Peace on Earth


Bird Angel


Let it Snow!


Peace Bird


These sets of eight cards (w/envelopes) are $24 each. And I will pay to ship them to you!


If you are interested in purchasing single greeting cards or postcards of Let it Snow or Peace on Earth, individual greeting cards are $4 each and postcards are $3 each.

Send me an email if you are interested!

Email: cputnam@rising-bird.com

Art that Flew the Coop

Apparently I miscounted. I sold more than 17 pieces for my art show. It looks like the number of pieces sold is 21!

I think I was so shocked by the high number in general, I was a sloppy counter.

I now say a formal farewell to the following art pieces who departed in the generous clutches of new owners last Thursday:



Crow's Dream

Buddha and the Fish

Lone Crow is Not Lonely

Translation

Meeting at the Comb

All Possible Directions

Plant Me. I Dare You.

My Body is My Home

Balance

See Things as They Are

My Island

Summer Bird in the Autumn Tree

A Delicate Balance

Hawaiian Star Dancer

Buddha Tree

R is for Robin


[+ five new pieces I have yet to post here yet:

Three Children Dream of their Father by the Lake

Transcendent Feline

A Healing Hand

Together

Trusting Myself]


May you all find the perfect walls to hang upon in your new homes.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

An Art Show for a Good Cause

One of the altars I created in my massage room for the evening.

This last Thursday (December 11) marked my very first charity art show. An Art Show for a Good Cause was well attended with approximately 50 people passing through between 6:00 and 9:00pm. I sold 17 original art pieces, as well as several prints and cards of my work. At one point in the night, I was shocked to discover so many walls with lonely nail hooks and square and rectangular bare spots.

Best of all, I will be able to donate close to $600 to the Kidney Cancer Association in honor of my dad. That number is astounding to me (I would never be able to donate that amount of money to a charity on my own. Nothing even close!), and I feel so grateful that the result of my creative (and healing) hours with wax and found images and paint was able to generate money to this cause so close to my heart.

A display of the many altered photographs of my dad and writing I've done over the past several months.


Thank you to those who attended to support my art (and my cause) and for those who weren't able to make it, yet sent their good wishes. I appreciate you all!

Kristin Stubbs, the talented jewelry artist who joined me for the event, poses with me at the end of our long evening.

In my next post, I'll indicate which pieces "flew the coop" for this show. (BTW, several very new pieces were sold -- pieces I haven't even had a chance to post on this blog yet.)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Creativity in Me, Creativity in the Buddha

"Buddha's Creativity," encaustic, "10" x 13"


"My painting is always ahead of my understanding. It is a sort of teaching process for myself, a way of spiritual knowledge." - Peter Rogers

"Art provides a healing force which aids both the maker and the viewer..." -Richard Newman

"Creative breakthroughs are experiential. They don't come from intellectual analysis." -Lucia Capacchione

"Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time." - Thomas Merton


Monday, December 01, 2008

Two Little Pieces

I meet with my friend Kristen every Monday morning for our writing group. We write, sip tea, eat, support each other, and solve the world's problems (well, more likely, we help solve each other's creative blocks). Today, instead of writing, I created art (our little group of two is creatively malleable). Here are the two little pieces that emerged this morning:

"Explore Within," mixed media collage, 3" x 5"



"Taste," mixed media collage, 4" x 5"


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Something Warm is Brewing

This morning I extracted the encaustic supply bins from my closet (now that's no small feat!) and embarked on a wax painting journey.

I wish I could report that my creating time was filled with inspiration and flow. I wish I could say I love the pieces I created today. I will say, though, that it was lovely to make a mess of the kitchen with art supplies and to use my powerful heat gun to burn in the wax (using that heat gun sure brings out the Athena warrior in me).

I guess it was just one of those days when the muse was sleeping off her wild partying from the night before. I kept trying to wake her up, but I heard snoring. (I don't know about you, but my muse has a bit of a snoring issue.)

In any case, I did create one piece that I am somewhat pleased with. I've titled it "Meeting at the Comb" for now:


Encaustic, 6" x 6"

It's amazing to me how pieces can evolve and change over time. Perhaps this piece above will change a bit more before it feels "done." Despite this morning's muse struggle, I must say that I have been quite prolific this fall. I suppose one morning of feeling a little lackluster is okay. After all, I do have many, many newer pieces that I am quite pleased to be matting and framing for my upcoming Art Show on December 11.

This art show is a meaningful one for me, for I am donating 50% of the proceeds from my original art, art cards, and art prints to the Kidney Cancer Association in honor of my dad who died of kidney cancer this past August. I would love to see you here, so please consider attending! There will be wine and food and art and jewelry (Kristin Stubbs, jewelry artist extraordinaire, will be joining me) and merriment and commemoration.

Click on this poster to view in a larger size:

And click here for the complete poster, which includes artist statements: http://www.rising-bird.com/ArtShow-Dec08.pdf



Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Birthday Remembered

"Birthday No. 63," mixed media collage, 4" x 5"


Today my dad would have turned 63 years old. While it feels like my dad is frozen in time at 62, I like to imagine him turning 63. I like to imagine giving him another hot air balloon ride gift as we did when I was young. This time, though, I like to imagine that the balloon ride actually clears the tips of the trees and that the "champagne breakfast" consists of real champagne and some lovely pastries and fruit, instead of sparkling cider and wieners cooked over propane canisters. I like to imagine him rising higher and higher, so he can see the whole city -- lakes and parks and snaking roads. I like to imagine that he feels peace and lightness at such an altitude and that he is not scared. Not for one moment.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Honoring the Dead

"Father," mixed media collage, 7" x 8"


Here is my response to the art prompt from this Thursday's Inspire Me Thursday. The theme is Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead.

This year I couldn't quite get into the Day of the Dead aesthetic of sugar skulls and marigolds; instead I was drawn to Japanese imagery with coy, yin & yang, and the kanji for "father." As I have learned to do over the years, I just followed my intuition and allowed the feeling of honoring the dead to fill the page.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Commemorative Hand-Made Wearable Art

Apparently, the Lakeside School cross country team created these t-shirts in honor of my dad and have been wearing them for their workouts. I think they are also going to be donning (or have donned) them at the State Cross Country Meet this year.


My dad would have found this hysterical -- and a little embarrassing, shy and humble as he was. I keep being surprised by the reverberations of my dad's life. Just the other week there was an article in the Seattle Times in which a football coach at Ingraham offered thanks to my father for donating weights to the school's weight room...and now these t-shirts.

I guess each life leaves an echo. It would be quite amazing to see 30+ teenagers running around Seattle wearing these t-shirts. Keep an eye out for me, will you? And have your camera ready.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Retreat

"Retreat," mixed media collage, 4" x 5"

The act or process of withdrawing, especially from something hazardous, formidable, or unpleasant.

The process of going backward or receding from a position or condition gained.

A place affording peace, quiet, privacy, or security.

A period of seclusion, retirement, or solitude.

A period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, or study:
a religious retreat.

Middle English retret, from Old French retrait, retret, from past participle of retraire, retrere, "to draw back," from Latin retrahere. (from the Free Online Dictionary)


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Left Behind

"Left Behind," mixed media collage, 6" x 12"

I only have the image today, not the words. I will leave the words to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross:

"When your loved one becomes sick, there were medical visits, case histories, and physical tests. Then they found the lump and your world immediately began to change.

Now you sit alone and remember the story of your loss. You may find yourself retelling the story to friends and family. Immediately following the loss, everyone wants to know how it happened. You tell your tale through your sadness and tears. Your talk about it after the funeral. When friends come over to visit, you discuss parts of the story you continue to grapple with....

While you try to comprehend and make sense of something incomprehensible and your heart feels the the pain of loss, your mind lags behind, trying to integrate something new into your psyche. It is something that moved too fast for your mind to understand. The pain is in your heart, while your mind lingers in the facts of the story, reenacting and recalling the scene of the crime against your heart. Your heart and mind are joined in one state, pain remembering pain.

Telling the story helps to dissipate the pain. Telling your story often and in detail is primal to the grieving process. You must get it out. Grief must be witnessed to be healed. Grief shared is grief abated."

From On Grief and Grieving



Thursday, October 09, 2008

Inner Travel

"Inner Travel," mixed media collage, 6" x 11"


"The self-explorer, whether he wants to or not, becomes the explorer of everything else."

Elias Canetti

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Re-invention

"Love Blossoms," mixed media collage, 4" x 11"

I've been altering old photographs lately (hence this piece above and the last two pieces I've posted on Quiet Girl). There's something fascinating about re-inventing the past and bringing the past into the present through artistic manipulation.

The two people in the piece above are my parents who met in junior high, dated in high school, and married in 1965 when they were in their very early twenties. My brothers were born in 1968 and 1970, and then I was born in 1975 when my mom was 30 years old. This November, my parents would have been married for 43 years. My dad's birthday is also in November, and he would have been 63. My goodness, so many numbers to contemplate!


I've been feeling my mother's loss quite deeply this week. When I think about the loss of her husband--the one and only companion of her life--I feel my stomach clench with sadness. And yet, I find joy in imagining them through the years, adding color and light to the black and white, knowing that I can always bring their relationship to life with paint and wax and cut-out dragonflies and birds.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Just Do It

"Prince of Action" mixed media, 4" x 11"

My dad had a very clear, straight-forward decision making process. When something needed to be done, he just did it. If he knew he had to stop something, he'd just stop. My dad developed type two diabetes when I was young. He had to cut out sugar and modify his diet in other ways. He knew what he needed to do and he just did it. There was no struggle, no expression of loss, no complaining. If asked how he felt about having to adjust to such a change, most often he'd say something like, "I'm not happy about it, but it's what needed to be done." Sometimes I wish I had just a pinch more of this no nonsense approach. While I appreciate and honor my deep, soul-searching, emotional musings about things, sometimes I wish I could cut through all of that for a moment and just get something done. No worry, no second-guessing, no agony over what is best. As my dad told me once when a tree had fallen, smashing up the deck in my parent's backyard, "It doesn't matter how I feel about this, I just have to fix the deck." And he did.

My dad was not unemotional--he felt things very deeply--but he rarely (perhaps never?) became immobilized due to fear or a sense of burden or worry. When he was diagnosed with kidney cancer in January, he told his doctor, "I'll do what needs to be done." I find it amazing how my dad was always able to move forward, even through massive obstacles and setbacks. During hard times, he'd gather himself up, take a deep breath, and ask, "Okay, so what's next?"

So today, as I sit here hearing the Seattle wind whipping and swirling outside, I ask myself "What's next?" What's next for my business, my art, my writing? How do make a real living at what I do? Normally, I would have a little meltdown and simmer in my worry for a while. What would my dad say to me if he were still alive? I think he'd say, "Ode [one of his many nicknames for me], figure out what you need to do and do it." It sounds so simple and so excruciatingly hard all at the same time. I can hear myself asking him," But how do I know what to do?" and I hear his reply: "You know by doing it." I guess I need to start taking some steps, huh. I suppose I can't just think my way into doing, I have to do it. One, two, three, here I go....



Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Anyone Want to Give Me $2700?

"Fall Goddess," mixed media collage, 5" x 11"

The piece above is inspired by the talented Anahata Katkin. I so love Katkin's work and have been following her blog for quite some time. In her latest post, she announces that there is still room in her Bali Art Retreat. Oh my. I've been drooling all night. It has always been a dream of mine to go to Bali and now Katkin has created an opportunity to create art with her wonderful, free-spirited self in Bali -- and to stay in the Apakabar Villas. And do a whole list of other things, including traveling, getting massage and other healing sessions, watching traditional Balinese dance, going snorkeling, and more. Double oh my.

Now this $2700 doesn't include the plane ticket and other expenses, so I'm really going to need, like, $4000. Anyone just happen to have an extra four grand? I hope Katkin continues to offer these Bali Art Retreats because some day, mark my words, I'm going to go!


Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Stain that Grief Leaves Behind

"Stained," encaustic, 8" x 10"


I am the ghost in the room, the barely-there fingerprint smudge left on the coffee table. A small full-moon stain left after a mug of cocoa departs the table and meets the lips. I leave little traces that I'm here, but largely I am somewhere else, holding a vision of my dad as he lays dying. Tonight, when the room is filled with wit and humor, half of me dissolves into the carpet fibers where I watch myself offer my dad morphine drops and wait for signs of his feet turning purple. And sometimes, even when I offer a funny story or a genuine smile, a part of me is with my father in the radiology waiting room as he gags down two bottles of his contrast shake, throwing up in between bottles. Or, I am draining his abdomen of lymph fluid and pouring two liters of the opaque white liquid down the toilet. As the conversation turns to politics, I sink through the blue over-stuffed chair and hear my voice ask, Dad, tell me how you really feel.

You don't want to hear it
, he says.

Yes, yes I do
, I say, You can say anything, you can tell me anything.

He says,
I want all of this to be over. I take a deep breath.

I hear you, Dad,
I say. That is the only thing to say. Message received.

I am the stain that grief leaves behind. Watch for signs of me around you--the tomato sauce splatter on the wall, the coffee droplets in the carpet, the arced scratch on the hardwood floors, the rust ring circling the sink's inner rim. Look carefully or you may miss me.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Reflection on Fall

"Summer Bird in the Autumn Tree," encaustic, 6" x 6"


Monday, September 22, 2008

For Walaka

"A Delicate Balance," encaustic, 6" x 6"


"We must look deeply in order to see and understand the needs, aspirations, and suffering of the person we love. This is the ground for real love. You cannot resist loving another person when you truly understand him or her....With understanding, the one we love will certainly flower." -Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace is Every Step


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Touching the Earth

"Buddha Tree," encaustic, 8" x 10"

"Touching the Earth helps us to purify our bodies and our minds. It helps us to maintain the awakened understanding of impermanence, interconnectedness and no self. The Buddha has said that whoever sees inter-being sees the Buddha. So as we touch the earth we see Buddhas in us and we see ourselves in the Buddhas. We see all suffering beings in us and we see ourselves in them."

Thich Nhat Hanh,
No Death, No Fear


Friday, September 19, 2008

Two Sides of the Same Nest

"Two Sides of the Same Nest," encaustic, 8" x 10"


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Solace with Wax

"Solace," encaustic collage, 8" x 10"

"Figure out what rests your emotions and do it without judgment: things like getting lost in movies, TV, music, a change in scenery, a trip away, being outdoors, or just having nothing to do. Find what brings you some solace and lean toward it." (Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, On Grief and Grieving)

Today I spent several hours creating encaustic pieces. I felt a little shaky at first without the kind guidance of my mentor, Mrs. Artist B, but as I played with pigmented wax and my new heat gun (!) I became "in the flow" and forgot the time entirely. This piece above (and the next few pieces I will post in the coming days) are from my hours of wax play today. I felt that the act of creating was my solace. For the past several weeks I have chosen to watch movies as a way to retreat, but today seemed like a day for color and artistic spontaneity.

Perhaps I'll save the movie for this evening (sorry Walaka!).



Saturday, September 13, 2008

What's Left Behind

"The Ghost Birds Take Over," mixed media, 5" x 6"


I'm finding that experiencing the loss of my dad is triggering feelings of previous losses. I have lost four close family members in the last seven years, and I seem to be encountering the pain of these previous losses. One loss is enough to take; four is exhausting. I must say, though, that I am also remembering the inner strength I cultivated, too. I wrote this poem in 2002, the year my grandfather died. As I read it now, I think mostly of my mom as she deals with the "things" my father left behind.

ABSENCE
for my grandmother

He will go first. And soon.
Your trips to the nursing home

become less frequent. To me,
you say, he is already gone.

You pick his plot and gravestone,
pay for cremation, work out

the banking details, clear his clothes
from your closet, toss empty vials of insulin

and stray napkins with his finger-prick
blood stains into the garbage

and empty his blood sugar tester
from your bathroom cabinet.

You remove the evidence—the soiled
washcloths, the filthy fingerprints,

the invisible lip marks on half-filled
water glasses, the hairs collecting in corners—

clear to the white space underneath
in preparation for the cleanliness of absence.


Friday, September 12, 2008

One Minute I'm Okay...

"Sad Kitty Protects the Egg," mixed media, 8" x 10"


"We can go from feeling okay to feeling devastated in a minute without warning. We can have mood swings that are hard for anyone around us to comprehend, because even we don't understand them. One minute we are okay. The next we're in tears. That is how grief works.

We can touch the pain directly for only so long until we have to back away. We think about work, get momentarily distracted in something else, process the feelings, and go for more. If we did not go back and forth emotionally, we could never have the strength to find peace in our loss."

- Elisabeth Kubler-Ross,
On Grief and Grieving


Monday, September 01, 2008

Art Opening at Kuan Yin this Wednesday!


New Art Exhibit
at Teahouse Kuan Yin
September 3 - November 4, 2008


Artwork by Courtney Putnam

In addition to her bodywork endeavors, Courtney is also a writer and visual artist. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles in 2003, where she focused on the art and craft of poetry writing. She has a background in multicultural American literature, creative writing, expository writing, and editing. Courtney is a mixed media collage artist whose work often explores the deep human-animal connection with bird images often central to her creations.

Please visit the Teahouse to view this new art display during the
Wallingford First Wednesday Art Walk this Wednesday, September 3rd from 6:00pm-9:00pm. Refreshments provided.


Teahouse Kuan Yin

1911 N. 45th St.
Seattle, WA 98103
www.teahousekuanyin.com

Art exhibitions arranged by
Oasis Art Gallery
Making art a part of everyday living.
3644 Wallingford Ave N
Seattle, Washington 98103

www.oasisinseattle.com · 206-547-5177


Saturday, August 30, 2008

A New Egg

mixed media collage, "A New Egg," 4" x 5"


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Two-Art-Piece-Saturday

Mixed media collage: "Lady and Bug," 5" x 6"


Mixed media collage: "Buddha and Fish," 4" x 6"

So much needs to be done, and yet all I want to do is create art (and watch Hitchcock movies and cry a little and stare at flowing water and pet my cats and nap). I'm behind on so many details, and must get cracking on these soon. My closet seems to be a physical representation of my mind right now, too: cluttered, full, and on the verge of causing injury. For now I am just keeping the door shut so I don't have to look at it (well, I'm trying to keep it closed, but the piles of clothes are creating quite the obstruction). I feel like I am channeling my inner thirteen-year-old these days. Why does it take so much energy to actually hang clean clothes up?

Since this is Saturday and all -- and a beautiful day at that -- I figure I can have a two-art-piece-Saturday and save most of the logistics for tomorrow...or the next day. So if you're feeling a little lack-luster today in the Getting Things Done Department, I give you permission to press snooze on your "to do" list. Sound good? I feel a bit better now about my own suspended tasks. I hope you feel better, too.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Art Journal Entry #3


Here's a poem I wrote in 2002 (per my friend Steve's request for me to post more of my own writing):

FATHER MOON

On the moon of my menarche
my father compared the red of my period
to the spaghetti sauce I swirled
into my pasta, circling the white hair-
like strands into streams of moist crimson.
It was our secret: below, my uterus
released several streams
of red birds who landed as inked
half-moons on the miniature
pad my father picked out so carefully
as if he found the best canvas
for his daughter’s art.


[My dad was a health and P.E. teacher for much of his career, and bodily functions were easy subjects to discuss with him. After he gave his 9th grade health class anatomy quizzes, I would help my dad grade them, and we would laugh hysterically together at the mistakes and colloquialisms. I could ask my dad questions about anything related to reproductive health or health in general, and he made many drug store runs for me and my mom to purchase tampons and maxi pads. He was never embarrassed. And he always got our specific orders right.

I just found out last night that my dad was featured on the home page of the Lakeside School website. My dad worked at Lakeside up until two weeks before he died. He loved his work and was adored by the students there. To view the article, visit http://www.lakesideschool.org.]


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Art Journal Entry #2


I acknowledge there is no sweetness
that doesn't leave a stain,
no sweetness that is sufficiently sweet...

Often a sweetness comes
as if on loan, stays just long enough

to make sense of what it means to be alive,
then returns to its dark
source.

Excerpt from "Sweetness," Stephen Dunn, Between Angels


Monday, August 18, 2008

Art Journal Entry #1


Tonight I had the urge to do some art journaling, so I scurried up to Bartell's and bought some glitter paint pens and a sketch book. It's not that I don't have plenty of art supplies to work with already, but when I found that photo of my dad kissing me as a baby, I knew I needed to work with glitter and stars and crayons and other kid-friendly materials.

It's funny how set on glitter pens I was when I left the house. You would have thought I was hungry or injured or in need of using the bathroom by the way I hurried to the store. No anti-bacterial ointment or trail mix for me. No toothpaste, dishwashing detergent, Tylenol, or maxi pads. This was more important -- I needed glitter pens and I needed to create. After finding the pens, I rushed to the cashier, out running a lady buying diapers and baby wipes. I said "sorry" in my head as I blew past her, but I somehow couldn't say it aloud. Once I got the pens home, I felt better. I ripped open the package and began creating. I felt my heart relax, my breath slow.

It is still amazing to me how urgent the impulse to create can feel. I feel a deep hunger that's resolved with color and gesture. The act of creating is like digesting food, allowing my heartache to churn and churn and turn into something beautiful.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Art Show


This last Thursday (August 14) I hosted my eighth art show at my home business Rising Bird Healing Arts. While I don't have an official count, my guess is that about 40 people attended this art show. It is, perhaps, a record! My home was filled to the brim with lovely friends and clients, interested art aficionados, and many new faces.


My guest artist, JC Clapp, provided the textural 3-D portion of the event with her amazing original felted handbags. If you would like to see more of JC's work (or perhaps even buy one of her fabulous pieces!), please visit her Etsy site Bagoo Bags. Her work is a combination of sweet, funky, and elegant, and each bag is made with JC's creative mind, not a pattern. I am delighted that I have a "JC original" now in my possession!

I hung 44 pieces of art this show (perhaps the most I've ever shown at once), parted with four pieces, and sold many cards and prints. Per my tradition, I will now say goodbye to the pieces that took flight on Thursday.





Goodbye...

Nighttime Sun
Hope
Moon Wish
Winter Birds Turn Tow
ard Spring


I also want to thank the many people who came to give me hugs on Thursday. Check soon over at The Healing Nest for a more detailed post about this, but my father passed away on Tuesday and I wasn't sure I would be able to attend my own show. I wasn't sure I'd be able to stand up straight or speak or even smile. But it turned out to be a blessing to have so many lively, lovely faces around me. And my family (including some cousins up from California) stopped by as well. My mother bought Nighttime Sun, she said, because "I'm drawn to that light that exists in the darkness." [Insert deep breath here.]

I suspect my next show will be in December with another fabulous guest artist to showcase. In the meantime, I may have a show in a venue outside of my home this coming September. I'll keep you posted on that venture.

peace, love, and soft felted hugs,

Courtney

Friday, August 08, 2008

Winter Bird

Acrylic painting on canvas, "Winter Bird," 16" x 24"

I decided to do a little painting outside today when the sun finally came out. As I was creating this piece above, I was thinking about how cheery it seemed in contrast to the quiet sadness I was feeling inside. After I completed this piece, I asked my partner for his first impressions. He said, "It's cold. This crow is sad. He's looking at a bare tree. It's winter." I had to step back. Yes, I saw it, too. But in the act of creating, the blue felt all-too vibrant, too happy. I was even criticizing myself for not truly expressing what I felt inside. When I finished, stood back, and really looked, I saw that this painting does indeed reflect how I am feeling today. It's as though it was hiding itself from me -- or I was hiding from it.


Thursday, July 31, 2008

Oh So Many Buddhas


Collage painting, "Sprouting Buddha," 5" x 8"

My dear friend Angela was in town these past two weeks and I got several lovely doses of her while she was here. During one of our visits while my nephew was sleeping away listening to electronic crickets (I was babysitting), we talked a bit about Buddhism. I told her that I don't know much about Buddhism, but I am drawn to it, and I am drawn, in particular, to Buddha figures. "They give me comfort," I told her. After creating this piece above, I realize that I am responding, in part, to the calm expression of many Buddhas. There is no strain in the face, no false expression, no pretending, no mask. There is peace in the creases of the eyes, softness in the jaw.

Over these past tumultuous months, I have been bending toward things of comfort. If there were a cloak of inner peace, I'd wear it. For now, I covet soft blankets and naps. Oh my -- many naps. And I am trying to achieve a "Buddha face." On Monday when I went with my dad to his first naturopath appointment, I found myself feeling a bit more Buddha-esque. For once, my jaw was not tight during this appointment. I felt my shoulders relax. I listened to an ND give my dad some comfort (a metaphorical "cloak of peace" for him) and little bits of hope like bird seed. Man, those kernels of hope can grow beautiful sprouting things if we nurture them.

Wish me luck tomorrow as I venture into the world of oncology and CT scans with my dad. May I have a soft Buddha face and a strong daughter heart.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Nighttime Sun, Daylight Moon

I've been contemplating opposites lately -- and realizing that they're not exactly opposites, but more like two parts of the same circle. Birth and death. Health and illness. Day and Night. Sun and Moon. My brain and a cheese grater. Well, the last one I made up, but you get the point.

I'm finding some minor crumb of peace in seeing the cyclical aspects of life and visualizing endings bringing about new beginnings. Thinking about endings (particularly related to my dad's life) most often makes me weepy and shaky and unsettled. But, I'm trying on this harmony of opposites idea. I'm trying on being a little more Zen, a little more Deepak Chopra, a little more earth mother goddess. I'm holding on to the rhythms of the sun and moon as if together they create my life preserver ring. I've even been contemplating getting sun and moon tattoos. Not sure I'm ready for that endeavor yet, so in lieu of body scarification, I present these two art pieces I created tonight:


Collage painting on canvas, "Nighttime Sun," 6" x 6"


Collage painting on canvas, "Daylight Moon," 6" x6"