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Since my show in May and June, the theme of the Broke Open Heart has followed me, as has Holding the Fire. Both are titles for specific prayer flags that were in the show. Since that show, I’ve driven from Oregon to Savannah, Georgia creating a 6774 mile loop across the country; and those two themes followed me daily as I walked (and drove) the path of letting go of my husband (who committed suicide in November 2015) and my daughter who drove her own car to Savannah in caravan with mine but did not loop back to Oregon with me. The themes seemed to combine at some point and I have come up with “Broke-open Art.” This, I believe is at last the cohesive theme to my art.

 

I graduated in 1985 from a college that gave me a BA in two fields I had chosen to study: elementary education and theology. Upon the morning of my ceremony, the head of the Theology Department took me aside and gave me a gift. Two actually. The first was a mobile made of colorful fish woven from ribbon by one of the retired nuns in her convent. It was (and is, for it hangs in my studio) beautiful in its colorful expression of the ethereal, balance, weightlessness and weightiness, held by a cotton thread. The second gift, she had wrapped in a paper towel and was just slightly apologetic in giving to me yet expressed in earnestness some inner call to do so. The second gift was a badly broken conch shell. The irregular edges where the outer shell had broken off framed an inner, soft pink, smooth chamber never seen until the shell was broke open. My professor explained that she felt I had a gift of finding hidden beauty where others cannot or will not.  I need to admit to no longer having this shell. It seems symbolic of the years of not being able to fully accept the gift my professor gave me when she reflected the gift my Creator gave me. It’s a little embarrassing to see how foolish one can be with gifts.

 

In recent years as my husband’s illness deepened and in the 9 months since his death, I reflect upon the 31 year rather circuitous journey since those gifts were given and finally find myself returning (one giant loop) to this place again where I receive them anew. I think I finally am simply accepting it now, and simply saying, “thank you.” It has been a long and sometimes difficult and dangerous journey. I am deeply grateful to have survived it and to have returned to this place once again. Humbled and wizened both. I see now that what is broke-open not only exposes hidden vulnerability and beauty but also frees the inner passion, the fire. The exterior travels of these years wove me in and out of many situations of vulnerability, beauty, passion and fire but now, broke-open, it all comes from within. Where it really was planted originally.

 

This realization has prompted a change in the title of my blog. Let us see where else it leads…


Today is the opening reception for my first gallery show. It's at Valley Art in Forest Grove Oregon. The show runs through the end of June. It contains 9 of my large prayer flags and 5 tiny flags.

 

I haven't blogged so much since last June because of events that happened shortly after the last post and then those that followed. In short, please read my updated bio on this site, it explains a little about how the year has gone. Fear and Love and Art have definitely been in concert this year. In November, my lovely husband committed suicide. Art has saved my life this year and has deepened my love as well.

Note: prayer flags are framed for the show


Today the temperature got up into the mid 90s for the second day in a row. There are places where this is no big deal. In Western Oregon in early June, it's a big deal. My house being a three story doesn't have AC because usual summers in this area maybe hit the 90s for a total of one week -- in August. The idea being a three story house sort of insulates itself enough to handle that kind of summer. But things are changing --- oh, did I mention my studio is on the third story?

 

So, today I packed a painting and supplies and brought them downstairs to work on. (I've tried to sew on my fiber collages in weather like this and the water soluable stabilizer leads to sticky (literally) situations with sweaty hands. Below is the painting I am working on for the class I wrote about a while back. It's being done using nearly all glazes. It's been quite a process. If I think of myself as a kindergartener I am fine but sometimes my ego wrestles with learning a new technique. If I let myself think fearfully, I feel myself stiffen-up inside and my breathing feels tight. If I remember to think fluidly, expansively, my soul soars.

 

At any rate, here it is mid-process. It's very different from anything I've done before in terms of subject matter as well. I'm liking the process;


California poppies
12x16 inches

acrylic on canvas

 

 


So, I'ce dropped out of the 30 in 30 challenge. I am still working on 'Copper Dancing Woman" and have actually finished and started two paintings. But last Sunday I found my 18 year-old cousin had been shot (7 times in the back) by police. It was quite a week. And that's only half of what happened this week. 

 

So, I hung in there and keep moving forward, but to start and finish a piece a day is just not in me right now. Also, I am taking that painting class I mentioned a while back where I am learning glazing, a very time-consuming technique, at least it is while I am a beginner at it. So, I found painting hurriedly was counter to something important I am trying to learn -- patient layering of shapes and colors. My hope is to create greater depth in my works. I don't want to negate that by rushing to meet daily goals for the sake of my ego, because at this point, that's what it would be.

 

So, I worked on "Copper..." again today and will post photos soon. Also, I'll perhaps post some progress on my glazing work in painting. 

 

I'll just say in closing, I wish Ebin Proctor could still be sharing his art. He was a very talented young man. He was my aunt's only child. I have only one child myself. The tragedy of such a loss (and in such a manner) is unimaginable. He had not lived long enough. She had not, the world had not had enough time with him.


Another crazy-busy day today. It's almost 11 and I'm just finishing up with business stuff... 

 

I did work in the studio. Worked on a painting but didn't get finished before I had to go to a meeting this evening. So, day 3 and I didn't complete a goal. Oh well. I have to be compassionate with myself. Times are a bit tumultuous. So, working in the studio is a grand goal and one I DID meet today despite it being crazy-busy all day. 

 

So, here is the photo of what I did yesterday on the large-scale fiber collage in progress during the 30 in 30 challenge:



Copper Dancing Woman in progress. You'll perhaps notice the face looks different than originally, that's because it has water-soluble stabilizer pinned (many pins, one through each piece of fabric/fiber) over it. The arms don't have this yet because I have yet to fill in the background around them and details on them.

 

Whew,... this is a challenge. Lot's of tweeking. I don't listen to music or anything during this phase of a work because it is such an intense task just "listening to the piece" as it develops. This requires listening to myself, to the materials, to an ethereal sense of balance in the universe and to the philosopy or spirit of the piece itself. I immerse myself in silence to listen to the music of the experience of building a collage. 

 

A "crazy-busy" day is a challenging environment for such an undertaking...


No photo tonight. I'm tired... Been working many hours in the studio. Working on the new section of the "Copper Dancing Woman" inbetween coats on a painting. I actually felt like doing a painting today, so I experimented with some color combinations. The result isn't something to share. It's done, trust me, but it was an experiment and so will go in my to be painted over pile. It was fun to play with paint again though. And every time I experiment, I learn. Sometimes what to do and sometimes what not to do again.

 

As for the fiber collage, I didn't really finish a section though I got pretty far with her right arm and surrounding area. I took time though to also cut out the left arm because I was interested in placing them in relation to eachother and actually the left arm position revealed itself to me first so I thought, what the heck, get that started too. I'll post a photo tomorrow. Off to bed...


Here we go.... I decided to use this 30 in 30 challenge to dig deeper into what is happening for me right now in art, fiber collage. So,... I am building a larger work. Because I use a humble little sewing machine (a workhorse that contains not a single micro-chip) it is very difficult to sew a larger collage, therefore, I am trying my hand at building the larger work sectionally. Today I began with the face. Mind you, I "paint" a lot with threads on the machine, so this will look very rough but piecing it is pretty significant, especially when it's a human face. Details will of course emerge with the sewing. I will decide tomorrow if I will go ahead and stitch (I need to buy needles) or if my 2 of 30 will be to build another section... we'll see...BTW, this showing you my pieces early in their development, this is scary. Not terrifying, but also not easy. I'm pretty private in my art-making. It's a quiet process between me and the universe. Sometimes a piece can look nearly finished and it has to be taken apart and started all over again because it doesn't quite feel right. These collages are adventures packed with perils and challenges and joys and mysteries and revelations all along the way. So tonight I invite you in... to see a bit, just a glimpse of beginning the journey.


"Face" section pieced for larger work "Copper Dancing Woman"
14 x14 inches

fabric, wool, yarn and toule


So,... Starting a 30 in 30 challenge on Monday.... I'm also taking a class in glazing techniques with acrylics. Painting via glazing is, IMO, a very slow process for painting. And it's new for me. Interpret that as, it hurts, it's painful AND it's   very     good     for     me     to learn. It will be an interesting 30 days. 

 

I am however pretty seriously considering "painting" with threads for the 30 in 30 challenge. My fiber collages have incorporated increasing details created using different colored threads in the sewing process. I have some ideas I want to play with, so, these will likely be something I play with in the next month.