I usually experience an opening or awakening in the springtime when my soul seems to wake up after a long troubled sleep. I see things clearly again. That didn’t happen this year. It started to. I felt a few moments of wide open clarity early on when I first saw the daffodils come up or on the first warm day, but I feel like I never really woke up. I’ve never had an awakening at this time of year, in the late fall or winter. This is usually when I feel my spirit darkening like tinted glass, when I close off and hunker down inside for a long period of deliberate unconsciousness where I try my best to ignore what’s going on around me.
Instead, I feel bright. Sure, I get tired and a little gloomy in the dark, early evenings sometimes, but most of the time I feel amazing. Something about these cold, clear days; the changing color palette; and watching the trees strip down to their essence is incredibly cleansing, as if the old ideas are becoming brittle and breaking away, leaving me sharp, clear, and wide open for the cold winds to whistle though. It’s like splash of cold water to the face to wake up in the morning.
I may feel differently in a few weeks, but right now I’m going to enjoy this. Maybe winter and I can be friends. Anything is possible.
The part of California that I struggle with is the driving, but luckily I got to ride in the back of the van the whole way and take pictures of trees out the window.
I went on a lot of car trips growing up, and I think a lot of my work stems in watching the trees and landscape as we drove back and forth to California and southern Utah. I pay a lot more attention to trees than that stuff than I used to, but I noticed that the trees and sky in California look so much different than they do in Utah. Utah is full of trees standing out in the middle of nowhere by themselves, or huge dead trees. They’re very gnarly looking. Everything in northern Utah is very jagged and sharp. We’ve got the Rocky Mountains and the trees are…sharp-looking I guess. The trees in California are much more serpentine. The San Gabriel Mountains are hilly and round rather than rocky. All the trees had their leaves, and as far as I know, most of them don’t lose them.
As I snapped pictures of trees by the freeway, I wondered how my art would change if I still lived in California, or if I go back. I was actually born in Pasedena and we lived there until I was almost five, but I remember it very vividly. Every time I go back, some part of me feels at home. There’s a California girl in me somewhere. Not the part of me that has to drive, but some part. My husband is an animator, so we may very well live in California at some point. He certainly wants to. What would that do to my art? Would my trees get more snakey-looking? Would my skies get flatter, because the sky in California mostly seems to vary between blue and brownish-gray? There’s the beach though. I could get into that. There are palm trees, and all kinds of flowers.
It’s an interesting thought. Though my work really isn’t realistic or representational, the Utah landscape is a huge source of inspiration for me. I think my art will always have some Utah in it, but it will probably change to reflect wherever I’m living at the time. I may try to incorporate a little of my California girl into some art this summer. I’ve been playing with some ideas all winter while I was pining for the sun.
I’ll probably live in California again someday, as well as other places. My art will change right along with my surroundings, because my surroundings are part of me. I project myself into the landscape.
One of my favorite things about spring is the lengthening days. It’s interesting how I may feel like going to bed at 7 pm in the winter, but in the spring when it’s still light at 7, I feel like playing. Our sense of time changes right along with the light.
This is now available in the small paintings section of the shop. It’s is acrylic on 11×14 stretched canvas, and the sides are painted to match the frame, so it’s ready to hang! It also features real clock hands! I love this piece so much, I’m planning to play with this idea some more and even create a large painting with this theme.
Available for purchase here, just $85.
Have a fabulous Monday!
My paintings always surprise me because they almost never turn out the way I plan them. I may go in with a plan or an idea that I want to express, but somewhere in the process, that idea changes. Once I finish, I realize that whatever the painting ended up saying was what I needed to express all along.
This painting was no exception. We had a few springy days and I felt my soul stirring. I planned on painting something very gold, warm looking with lots of movement in energy. I wanted to paint hope and excitement. As the painting got away from me as they always do, it grew more white. It looked more calm than I’d wanted it to. It was misty and cold rather than warm and vibrant.
That’s how it had to be though.
After I realized that I needed to be sitting under that tree, I realized that this piece is about patience and faith as we allow things to pass.
Sometimes, the best thing to do it wait. Understand that things pass. Remember that spring comes each year. Observe things as they happen, but don’t let them sink into our hearts. Sometimes detachment is the healthiest thing in the world.
Ok, I’m a little late to the party on this one, but better late that never, right? (I hate cliches, but sometimes they’re overused for a reason: they work.)
All week long I’ve read amazing posts from bloggers who have chosen a word or a theme for 2012. I’ve heard of this before and though I set intentions each year and have used mantras before, I’ve never actually chosen a word for an entire year.
So, after a few contemplative walks and some journaling, I’ve chosen my word:
This isn’t an exciting word, and I definitely considered some snazzier ones, but that’s not what I need. For the past several years of my life, many thing have felt unstable. Relationships, income, self-esteem, my body, jobs, career plans, and mental health to name a few.
That’s a rough way to live.
This word fits perfectly with my intentions for 2012, and now that I think about it, stability is what I’m seeking through those intentions: a stable income, stable moods and health, relationships, supportive habits, creative flow, and a stable career. By that I mean that this year, I want to create a stable, solid foundation for my art and writing career.
Stability. Just saying it in my mind makes me feel grounded and focused, which is exactly what I need to create this in my life.
It reminds me of this quick little collage I made several years ago when I was struggling with anxiety and panic attacks. All I wanted in the world was to feel grounded, strong, and secure.
I’m actually working on a small painting version of this that I’m not planning to sell, but I promise I’ll show you when I’m done. It’s funny to look back on past artwork and see “seeds” of what I’m doing now!
Best of luck in 2012.
Sometimes the best thing to get inspired is to take a walk or a drive with a camera and a sketchbook.
Last week we drove to a family Christmas party two hours away to Redmond, a tiny town in central Utah near where my mom grew up, and where I spent quite a bit of my childhood. It’s in the middle of nowhere and probably has more horses and chickens than people. I love the rolling hills and wide open fields.
Recently I realized the the surreal landscapes I often draw and paint are my own versions of this landscape, so I made sure to take a camera and sketchbook to hopefully catch some inspiration as we drove.
Winter and I aren’t the best of friends, but I love the way trees look without leaves, and I love this landscape any time of year. I watched these same hills in the car growing up as we drove down to Redmond to visit family, go to parties, or to camp.
It’s hard to get good pictures at 50 miles an hour (don’t worry, I wasn’t the one driving) but I did manage to get some decent ones. Please excuse the blurriness. I hope you can see what I see in these tangled trees and speckled hills.
I think I need to drive down to visit my aunt, and this time actually get out of the car to take pictures.