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.

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

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