Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Leaving The Ground

Gentlemen.. start your engines...  Yes, it's true, I have started.  I am going to paint 20 paintings before April.  No reworks of old ones, no fiddling around, no playing the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge game, not this January.  I woke up today into a brighter than usual January morning, recalling how I am usually painting with a new(hopefully) attitude after the bustling exhaustion of December.  I usually hit up my paints before I de-decorate, have no problem walking out of the mess and painting.  Those challenges, oh my goodness, I bet I drove the channels of FB nuts with my daily posts.  Seems so long ago somehow.  Where does the time go?  don't think about it, go paint.. right.

Yes, I have started.  No, I didn't take time to paint a coloured ground on those giant WHITE canvasses that stared me down in my studio.  I just hit one with paint.  A few reasons for that.  I felt like painting for real, as in stir up that creative engine that was needing some ignition. And, because I am feeling the squeeze of a timeline, no time to paint the canvasses like a wall in my bathroom, which also needs painting, May.. I'll do that in May, sure I will.

I conclude, once again, in an ongoing thinking day of conclusions, I like painting on a white canvas.  I feel like I am more at one with whatever appears out of the blizzard of white.  I also like a coloured ground, but I can't remember why.  That one-thought-at-a-time thing, live in the moment and you forget what all those other moments said.  Pretty obvious why I don't teach, isn't it?  It's okay to laugh, I laugh at myself all the time, and it's okay, I'm not offended by myself.

Where will these 20 paintings take me?  I wonder that myself.  This is why I am posting here now at the beginning.  I hope to take this trip into the unknown along with everyone else, the viewer, the cats, the family... I have no idea.  I know in concrete logical thinking, I'll be counting days and minutes while I look at the product.  But what's inside the product, as in soul of it, I am not sure.  This one I started yesterday has already taken over my soul, and I am just following it now.  Now it leads me, and like Peggy March, I will follow him.

I hope to check in here to update my progress.  I hope to follow my impulses to write.  Wonder what I might write in a few weeks or months.. wonder if it will say.. blbbgul llieghhryy shhheirrrlllll  or something that makes a bit of sense.  I wonder.  I am thankful I can do this while the darkness of January passes.  Pretty lucky I think.

Okay (deep breath)... I'm going in....

Mary Ann

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Good Bye, or Hello, 2017... depends on perspective.

I am starting this now as 2017 slides into the history files.  I suspect this blog will take a while, so I doubt I'll be surprised if it doesn't get posted at all.  It's hard to stay focused on a thought when there are so many distractions.  That could be one of my resolutions, keep working through the distractions.. uh huh, is that possible?  I don't think so, but we try.  You know, I have been doing one of my own personal studies on human nature, and this thing called "multi-tasking".  I'm not sure if people are aware of this or not, but it's impossible for the brain to comprehend more than one thing at one time.  I know this well.  It may be possible to engage in more than one thing at a time, keep things on the burners cooking while we stir one thing at a time.  But to actually DO the thinking about more than one thing at a time??  Impossible.  I can't read the news strip of words on the television and listen to what they are saying, along with the shared words beside me from my husband's newscast, all at the same time, and come out of it knowing what anyone just told me.  Nothing.  My brain just sheds it all, and I sit there like a dummy saying.. "what??"  with a screwed up look of confusion on my face.  So, why ever I had to waste a full sentence on that, I have no idea, just sayin...

I look back on this past year, like they do on the television, and have my own life recap to ponder today.  I'd say the best thing to happen over 2017 was a new member of our family being born.  Logan Cameron Laing made his grand entrance last January 27th, and with him came immense joy and love.  His parents, Mike(son) and Adrienne(daughter in common law), have proved to be the most wonderful and adoring parents, which makes me conclude why Logan is so perfect.  He brings the light of wonder and joy with him where ever he is.  I cry with delight just thinking about him.  He is a true blessing from God, Universe, Love, and Living.

What else happened last year, besides Logan and my discovering we can't multi task, let me see.  It's a blur, it's clarity, where do I begin?  After many many months, maybe years, we finally got a clear diagnosis for my husband, Gerry.  Parkinson's.  I must admit, when we finally saw a specialist who confirmed it, I responded with I KNEW IT!!  My goodness gracious, such a shock to learn over a span of years, that medical professionals don't recognize the symptoms of Parkinson's Disease.  I kept telling his family doctor what was going on, Gerry kept telling him of his symptoms, losing strength, and this had been happening for at least 3 years.  Friends of ours kept asking what's wrong with Gerry, and since we hadn't been given a proper diagnosis, we apparently weren't giving them a good enough answer.  I still struggle with being told by someone who is/was actually a family member, that I was so self focused, I hadn't noticed my husband's declining health.  People have no idea what goes on in our own lives, how do they get to decide?  They don't know about our desperation and fear.  They don't know about my tear soaked pillow from watching our life slip into another reality of unknown.  I know I have to check my own thinking, and stop myself from assuming anything about what other people think or do.  I remember thinking my mom was way too off hand some days when Dad was so ill with cancer.  Now I so get that thing called "bravery" that Moms must tap into when they must.  It is so important to keep life as close to normal as possible.  If that appears to be self focused and uncaring, well who cares what appearances say, if people want to hate me, fine, I can live with it.

Change.  Some days it's all I can do to keep the changes feeling like nothing really has changed.  I know the best thing to do is not compare today to days of 20 years ago.  The most unchanged thing about Gerry is his will and spirit.  And the most unchanged thing about me is my need to know he feels okay.  We are still a married couple.  We bicker now and then, he rolls his eyes at me when I walk out of a room, or makes me laugh when I get frustrated and tired over trivial thing.  We are husband and wife. I am not a caregiver, I am his life partner, and if I am stricken with anything disabling, he will take care of me(he better anyways), that's just part of who and what we are.  He is determined to stay well, and that too is so encouraging.  He still loves Big Bad John's, the place he worked for almost 50 years, and even with his loss of physical strength, he does random shifts there. The clientele and staff at the Strath love Gerry, and he loves them.  I am thankful for all of them.  No one deserves that kind of love more than Gerry.

Let's see, what else happened in 2017?  Oh, oh right, after a year and a half of all it took to finalize Mom's estate, it is done, I think, well... maybe one day I'll feel like it's all done.  I trip over boxes of her things I brought here, thinking once the bitter dusts of time settled, someone might want things. No one wants any of it, I guess I should get rid of some of it.  I'm still grieving, and not quite in that infamous grand quoted "let go" state.  I am still digesting it all.  Perhaps one day, my stomach will settle, and there will be a grand dump of it all, big pun intended.  Life is not particularly fair to any of us.  It whips us sideways without warning, or enwraps us in beauty and love.  I keep learning the answers to all the questions I couldn't figure out over the years.  I guess we are supposed to at least try to do that.  Even if not, I can't stop my brain for going where it does, so not trying to anymore.

So now we putter into a new year, 2018.  I have been confirmed to do a solo show in April.  A solo show of artwork that is.  While in choir last month, I made the comment to a friend that I am having a solo show in April, and my fellow chorister said... OH WOW... SINGING BY YOURSELF???  if anyone knows me in choir, they'd understand why I gasped with laughter at her enthusiastic response.  Uh, no, not singing in a solo show, not on stage anyways, maybe in the shower, but not even there, I mean singing, I do shower solo.  The singing is my spirit school, I love it, but goodness knows I'm not striving to become the next female version of Pavarotti.  I digress, where was I?  painting, oh right, I have to paint 20 or so new works by April, well... maybe 15 or so, more than 2 anyways.  That's a lot of work, and considering how many paintings I did in 2017, I know I will really have to button down and be the Nike slogan.  Of course, when asked, I turned to Gerry and asked if he thought I should commit to it.  And he, of course(cha ching cha ching) said well..yeeAAAH!  So that no doubt means he will take over all the cooking and cleaning while I'm in there painting to the tune of Bach's Mass In B Minor.  Never hurts to do some positive visualization, even if it's pretty far off base.

I can't believe I haven't been properly distracted while I typed away here.  I think I have finished my first blog of 2018.  And there will be more to come.  I just finished Jann Arden's book that was given to me as a Christmas present, and it brought me back to how much I love the written word.  I love doing it, I love reading it.  I hope to write more.  I hope if anyone doesn't like what I write, they won't read it.  Thank you for all who do take time to read me, tho, part of being an artist is that ever relentless desire to communicate.  Be it 2 dimensional, 3 dimensional, sound dimensional, whatever dimension we create in, we need to communicate, so we will because we must.

Happy New Year to all, and to all a good night. 

Mary Ann

Saturday, December 23, 2017



It is December 23rd, 2017.  The house is quiet, for how long I am uncertain.  Externally quiet that is, inside my ear canals ring melodies of song I just performed two days ago.  My lingering thoughts dwell on memories from days ago, to years ago.  I am blessed to have my vivid memory collections, and sometimes I wonder if it's a curse.  Would not life be much easier if we only recalled for one day, and just kept moving on from there?  No, Mary Ann, that would be disastrous, in fact, that's a horrendous disease no one wishes on anyone.  Oh right.

The social media threads are flooded with good wishes.  While I was upstairs in between what-to-do things, I glanced down into an empty box that was filled with decorations only month ago.  It waits for the return of their tenants in January, hopefully January, some days I wonder if it might be by August this year, one never knows how things might go.  Anyways, in the bottom of this empty box lay an old greeting card cover, the side that held the names of whoever sent it many years ago had been cut off.  I suspect my mom used the cover greeting part for a decoration, it came out of the box that her wreath was in.  I think about my mom so much right now.  We talk about her all the time, quote her, return to so many scenarios we recall vividly.  I even say out loud when I am alone.. okay, okay, Mom... I'm sorry.  I am sorry for so many things.  I'm sorry I wasn't more patient when I could have been.  I'm sorry I didn't do more.  This isn't to say in all logic understanding, I did do so much with, and for, Mom that I shouldn't feel any guilt or need to feel sorry.  But still, I think about how much I miss her, and wish I could have done more.

And there lies this message in the bottom of the empty box that Mom kept in the downstairs dresser drawer.  I know now, that what I am feeling is peace.  It is a battle to find that thing we refer to as peace.  Looking back, I had no idea of the why's.  I think of decades where so many changes happened, difficulties and tragedies, life deals whatever it feels like without warning.  Christmases come every year to remind us of the beauty, the thrills, the magic, and unfortunately the battles.  Sadly, I know all humanity wants peace, but truly doesn't know how to find it, how to reap it's rewards.  It's only taken me 64 years to figure this out.  I am feeling the sadness in all kinds of forms, and this is to tell me why they happened, it was for love. 

I'm not sure if I can say I am stronger.  But I do know I am more resilient.  As long as God keeps my health in good shape, I do believe I can do anything where love is involved.  I know that.  What a gift that is to understand that kind of faith in oneself.  I admit, I didn't know that 10 years ago.  Life continues to provide us with life changing challenges.  We, my family, face them full on, with strength and good humour.  We, unknowingly it seems, hold each other up, and keep going, feeling blessed for just being who we are to each other. 

This is what Peace is.  Mom's card told me today, there is Peace on Earth.  She left a legacy of good memories, sad ones, too.  I speak out loud my admiration for her strength, her courage, her everlasting ability to make me laugh inside out tears that made me gasp for air.  I believe she has forgiven me when I say I am sorry, but I suspect I'll keep saying it, mostly to remind myself how much I loved her.

I wish Peace on Earth to all.  Whatever it is everyone celebrates at this time of year, may you enjoy the peace in understanding love, and all the blessings that brings to you.

Here's to 2018!!

Mary Ann

Sunday, September 10, 2017

My Annual Mind Meander

" I Wonder What's For Dinner "  This painting is sold, I just didn't want to repeat posting the same painting I posted on Facebook two days ago.  All my inspiration for painting right now comes from a place where I spent my childhood.  Not sure why I am doing that, aside from needing a place to go where I feel sheltered and filled with dreams and imagination. This where I am right now while painting, in spirit.



Today I am fulfilling that threat to write a blog.  The threat to whom is unclear at this moment, but after well over one year, I find myself typing in a new looking window in blogland once again.  And this one has spellcheck, how novel to have spellcheck.  I suppose this will mean I well relapse into my fear of making a spelling error.  I felt empowered by that freedom feeling of not caring I was making spelling errors.

So, why am I correctly making words here again?  I can't remember.  Right now, ideas race through my mind so quickly, I have trouble hanging onto them long enough to do something creative with them.  I don't suffer from creative block right now, no not me.  I am suffering from Hurricane Creative, where the floods of ideas seem to keep me in a daze of not doing anything but run for higher ground.  I have a million ideas, but can't seem to stick with one for much longer than a few hours.  Oh sure, I am painting, well... I know exactly where to put my brush when I get up there to the studio.  I know I am going to keep painting, I know where I stopped, and know where to start again.  I am excited with what I am painting, the flow is there, just as long as I get in the right row boat and paddle in the right direction, and so far, I'd say that the fact that I'm sitting here typing shows I got on the wrong boat again.  Paint, go paint, pull over and get on the other boat, right.

But first, let me meander a bit, clear out some of the brain clutter.  I have been pondering the creative idea thing, why we do this, why do we paint, what makes us an artist.  Time seems to be the cause of that.  Spend enough time painting, and eventually you end up with artwork.  Spend enough time at it, eventually you have nothing to add to the work except a signature.  Spend enough time repeating this act, and eventually people like it enough to buy it.  It's the time doing it that makes us an artist.  I don't believe just thinking about it is enough.  Although, I tell myself the time I spend thinking about it should be added into the value of that final piece of artwork.  Yes, I am being a smidgeon sarcastic, I know it takes more than just time, there are a few other requirements.

I am not going to pontificate on all that I know about art, so don't imagine me standing on a stage here with a magic wand in my hand, or baton, or anything that says I know-it-all, I don't.  All I know is my own story, and even tho a lot of it I wish I could go back and edit, I accept my own story for what it is.  I suppose the miracle of aging is that wisdom thing, the knowing where we were being utterly stupid, and thank God we don't do those things anymore.  I have come to understand well, that the images we need to create in art, must come from no where else but within our own thoughts and impulses.  Yet, I recall sitting in workshops, hoping to come out a changed person, making artwork as good as that instructor.  As good as.  Interesting motivation.  I recall, wanting that fast pass to fame.  I recall, watching intently for ways to skip mistakes, and being able to punch out master works like the instructor.  And, I also remember being motivated to "change" and hitting those canvasses with so much free abandon and glee, only to crash land when all I saw before me was ugly crap.  Still, being foolishly young, thought if someone else said the work was good, I'd be happy, and sign it, and ask someone to buy it.

Don't get me wrong, I know this all part of that artistic growth thing, and maybe there was an audience for those messes.  I think the reason I never gave up was because fellow artists who painted very carefully, and fearfully, told me straight up my work was garbage. I was told to stop making messes, and go back to my old way of painting.  Careful and mundane pretty pictures that looked like the photo.  I remember that being my biggest inspiration, the rage and defiance I felt.  I wasn't sure why I was angry, I didn't like the messes much either myself, but I knew I didn't want to fit in with the mundane norm.  Not saying all of those artist's were mundane and boring, they painted nice pictures, but so what if they did, doesn't mean I should be like them.

I know my work doesn't appeal to a lot of people.  I am deeply joyful for the ones who do appreciate my artwork.  There is always that individual communication thing in art, as well as in life in general, come to think of it.  We all "don't get" some things.  Just don't get it.  I look at some artwork and feel totally baffled, while someone standing next to me is in tears from being so deeply moved by it.  The personal response to things varies from person to person.  Should I go home and paint something that looked like that confusing square I just didn't get, just because I want others to burst into tears when they look at it because they were deeply moved?  It doesn't work that way.  It has to be the artist's deepest understanding of what they are painting first.  Communicating a story that someone else told would not be much fun, not for me, anyways.

Ah, a lot of words when I should be painting.  My story is not unlike many others I am sure.  We go through life absorbing experiences as they hit us, finding our own way of riding out the storms of creativity.  Human nature brings us the genetic need to be social, so it's only natural we feed off of each others stories and experiences.  I do better when I paint alone, but I admit I enjoy painting with other people.  The act of painting seems to bring out a relaxed honesty in each of us, very therapeutic, and cheaper than going to a bar.  But that remains social painting, not serious painting for me.  It is when I only have myself to listen to that I get anywhere close to a successful painting.  I imagine that is due to getting the technique mechanisms working along at the same pace as the intuitive mechanism, both mandatory elements in making good art.  Yes, it's truer than I ever believed back when I was young and stupid.  Technique is equally as important as intuitive response, you can't do one without the other.

Which brings me to a little story, might as well, we're in the bottom of the 8th of the game, I can type further instead of watching the Mariner's lose.  While at one of my voice lessons, I had that "aHA" moment on the technique/intuitive thing, the brain versus the heart thing.  I had been working really hard on my voice mechanics, and finding improvement in my singing.  I learned the benefits of how to breath properly, how to control my breath while making sound, how to gain strength in sound through posture and controlled breath, how to relax my jaw and create a larger area for resonance in my face, relax the tongue, imagine holding an orange in my mouth, raise my eyebrows to lift for more resonance, not pull my head back, or forward, don't lock my knees, relax... relax while I have all these other things in perfect order, right, got it.  I was feeling like I was really getting there, better sound, and not passing out from the tension of staying on high G for three bars.  I had my song to learn for my lesson, and got set up, ready to launch my new and improved vocal amazement.  All set, and thinking about all those physical things I needed to do, and knew the song enough to sing it, I sang it.  My voice coach looked at me... and said..  "okay, you did everything right, now sing it like you mean what the words are saying, sing it with heart."  yes, I sang it technically right, but without the heart and intuitiveness of the beautiful song, it meant nothing.  The songs were written to communicate something.  Technique and note recall alone does not do that.  When we paint, we must always listen to that intuitive side that tells us to face our own true heart.  Don't be afraid of what we already know, it's there, use it.

Okay, on that technical note from my heart, I shall go now, well.. maybe watch the rest of this game.  GO MARINERS!!

Thanks for reading!
Mary Ann

Saturday, July 2, 2016

No Logical Explanation

No photo to attach here for many reasons.  Main one, I haven't painted for a few weeks, and since Mom died, I haven't finished and signed anything worth my sense of pride. Oh sure, tiny areas and bits on the canvas window I like, here and there, but overall?  my painterly sense of pride seems to be on hold.  And, perhaps, I shouldn't be blogging at all if I have nothing to show as a painter, but for some reason, I feel a need to type-expound again, to sort, to think, to maybe recharge my tired brain.

Today, Children, we shall talk about our "sense-of-pride".  I know, I know, we have touched on this subject before, but since my own SOP is filed somewhere between "just do it" and "where do I start?", I feel a ramble is in order. 

I, along with around 50 other participants, have just come out of a 5 day singing workshop.  Hosted by the Victoria Philharmonic Choir, and under the teaching direction of Peter Butterfield, Sarah Fryer and Gary Relyea.  It was an intense immersion kinda thang.  We sang from mid afternoon until 9:30pm.  We learned Bach's Magnificat, Pergolesi/Durante Magnificat, and a few other songs.  We, were given only 5 days to learn the music, then to perform it on the 5th day in two concerts.  I think about that accomplishment that I just conquered.  If someone handed me those scores ten years ago, told me I would learn them in 5 days, then sing them in two concerts on the 5th day, I'd laugh an out loud.. " YEAH RIGHT..AS IF!!! "  But it happened, and I managed to still be singing on the last bar's note and beat, so yay me.

This isn't to say it wasn't beyond my capabilities, it well may have been just that.  I miss Mom telling me "why do you do this to yourself?"  when I gasp over the phone to her, telling her I made it.  I miss being able to tell her how I feel.  Yes, Mom, I am exhausted, and sorry I haven't shampooed your carpets yet, but I just experienced something that was beyond what I imagined I could do.  It's not just about how well I can do this kind of singing, it's a giant palette of other things that went into the final product, and I do feel like signing it, I do.  My SOP feels pretty good.

Mom's right, tho, why do I do this?  I have mountains of projects waiting to be finished.  I am so far behind, I've let Husband G go hacking in my garden.  Wow, now that's busy.  I am still in the adjusting phase of blending our kitty family, which is working out fine.  Other than Grandpa Max, my geriatric Himalayan who needs extra attention, some meds, little chairs and stools to help him jump up, next feature added to the house may be one of those motorized seats to go up and down the stairs.  Awe, poor Ol'Magzeee, he is an amazing force of kitty nature.   Both Gerry and I have become earnest caregivers, pampering and fussing over him, hoping to extend Max's long life from 20 to 25, or 20 and a half, either could become a reality.  I know that this is insane to others who don't have pets, or have had pets who got old and euthanized them before they dropped 20 grand (slight exaggeration) on extending the pet life another 6 months.  But it is really about love.  Love is not measured by logic, simple as that.

Okay, back to sense of pride, and singing.  Maybe this is the same kind of thing as why I am being so intent on keeping Max alive, free of pain and discomfort, that endless energy that happens without any logical explanation.  I admit, I nearly cancelled out of Summer Voices this time.  My logical thinking kept telling me I can't do that, not right now, don't be stupid, Mary Ann, you can't fit that in right now.  So, I got a second opinion from my husband, and he said to do it if I want to, so I did it.  Not because I wanted to, but I didn't feel like I didn't want to, so I went.  The mountain was there for me to climb, I put on my hiking boots and hit the trail, so to speak.

Right from the start, these 5 days were a blessing of joy.  I don't think I had time to listen to my SOP (sense of pride) voices.  I can't expound enough on the wonders of a good teacher.  Someone who has a vision of their own, and the energy to focus on that vision, knowing the limited time to accomplish it, and how to get the very best out of the one's who have to play the part in that vision, that being our voices.  It's a separate thing from our sense of prides, our egos.  Those things are only for us to discipline.  The good teacher gives us the direction to follow, and ways to maximize what we have brought in our vocal instrument.  An excellent teacher looks at us as equals (even tho it doesn't take a lot of intelligence to hear we aren't all equal) and knows how to guide us into a place where we feel really wonderful about what we are doing.  How we manage that within our own wobbly wagon called sense-of-pride calls us to be thoughtful and self reflecting.  I know how lucky I am to be taught by Peter Butterfield and Sarah Fryer and Gary Relyea this past Summer Voices 2016.

I admit, I have a hard time feeling like I have done enough.  I look at Max and wonder how I can do more.  I wish I could have been a better and more patient daughter.  Even knowing I committed more time than most daughters in the world would for their moms, I could have been better.  I know I could paint better.  I know I could be a better mom and wife.  I never feel like I am enough.  Even on days when I feel pretty good, am happy with all the singing I have done, there is a drop eventually, that not-enough vacuum that sucks me back down.   But I know this is all part of who I am, and if it makes me stay ambitious enough to be better, that's okay too.  There is no logic in this.  It's all about love.  The love and passion of those who compose music that has lasted for centuries, and still inspires love in those who deliver it.  There is no logic in the change in the air when I climb out of all that life stuff that makes my head ache, that sudden lift out of the ache that I quickly forget.  There is no logic in the human energy that embraces us as one when we stand to sing.  There is a lot of logic I am sure in the music notes and timing, saying the words right in other languages, those are logical things we have to learn.  But that other stuff??  That surprise of joy, that sense of wonder above and beyond our fragile sense of pride that makes life such a pure and wonderful thing to live.  It's love in the purest form.

As I type, I have the distant ring of Bach music playing softly in my inner ear.  The remains of all those moments that felt better than right, they keep replaying in my mental audio.  I long for more to sing, more to paint, more to love.  And it all waits, I am blessed!

Happy Saturday!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Committed to Committing

There's always a story.  If there was no story to tell, what would be the point of painting?  But this one says more than the obvious.  It's a tale of struggle and self analysing, and discipline.  It's a tale of taking a weary creative mind that needs to speak from another realm of reality.  Ever since finding Mom's spirit had left her body, I know I am not the same person that I was before in many ways.  That day was a turning point for me.  I have been asked if I think I am suffering from Post Traumatic Syndrome, and I say no, I have been propelled into Post Reality Syndrome, nothing speaks "REAL" louder than those moments of being alone, without warning, with our Moms in a passed away state.  That's reality.  Every second since looks differently now.  No tolerance anymore for BS, not from anyone else, or myself, either.  Today is what is REAL from now on.
Painting is the non-stop thing that waits for me, along with everything else.  Another life changing reality is how time is used around this house since my husband is mostly/semi-retired.  Gone are the days of taking to my studio from 8 at night, to well into the hours of the dark morning, with my cd player playing non-stop.  Now that he is at home, we watch tv and go to bed by midnight.  It was a tough transition for me, but now I wonder how I ever did that at all.  I am now yawning with watery eyes at 10:30pm.  How did I ever stay up painting until 4am all those years??  I suppose the good trade-off is I wake in actual morning light, but "we" still take our time with coffee and news, so hitting the studio in the early morning hasn't happened yet.
I wonder if any artist truly feels like they maximize their time with making art.  I recall guest artist speakers talking about that very thing over the years.  I recall being told years ago, stop allowing art to be the first thing eliminated from your days duties.  And one saying how the phone ringing makes us drop our brush IMMEDIATELY, that was before internet.  I don't even want to imagine how internet has effected our creative time. I type that as I ponder how I could be painting right now instead of this rambling, mmmm hmmm.
Oh, I will paint today, once I clean my brushes.  You see, I have realistically re-assessed my role as an artist, and understand well, that in order to move forward, and make decent artwork, I must do what it takes to get there.  My legs are not weak, my eyes relatively healthy, I can sleep well enough to collect a vast array of nightmares, no physical excuses to not get there.  I have a studio that is a mess,  I'm not one to worry about tidying before I create.  And I live with someone very similar to me in living style.  The only difference to my workplace is the time thing, it's different, so I have to change to match the different.  I can do this.  It is just going to take some commitment, that's all.
This painting I posted here is a result of the new schedule I live in now.  Does it look much different than my other artworks?  Not really.  But to me, this has been a HUGE change.  First one, I used an eeeelongated canvas, 12x24, I usually prefer a standard rectangle, or a square, so this dimension brought some composition problems.  I spent a good few hours cropping photos, searching for help in making it work.  Second, I insisted that I only use bristle brushes.  I always start with that, but something happens to me where I give in, and grab that way-too-little acrylic sable brush, and start labouredly placing layers of paint over paint in a dazed zone of not really looking at what I am doing.  Third, instead of that URGE to create drama by going DARKER, I forced myself to go LIGHTER.  And four, every time I go upstairs, I go into the studio first, and do SOMETHING.  And when I get that urge to do all those things while I paint that I am trying to not do, I put my brush down and leave the studio, go do something else.  I can do that, the oils won't dry up, the palette and brushes can take a breather and think for a bit with me.
The reason for making these small changes is something I wonder about.  I may not like how things change, it is taking a large sense of commitment, and discipline.  I rarely look at something I painted after a short term and think it looks DONE.  But I do like those fresh dancing kinds of brushstrokes that have more character than layers of dark paint over dark paint.  I have to adjust to my own commitment. I have to learn to accept change, and trust that the road ahead is leading to a better place.
  Oh, my, the many metaphors of life.  Perhaps this is why most of my subject matter is a road that leads somewhere, or maybe leads back to where I am.  The road in this painting is a place from childhood, one of the many lanes we walked on, learned to ride a bike on, learned to run fast on.  In my dreams, I return to a sunny road often, and try to paint that one that I walk on in my dream, still haven't quite done that yet, and maybe that won't ever happen in life.  Maybe that road, the one in my dream, is the one Mom went on.  And, come to think of it, maybe this is why I insist to stop being DARK.  Follow that sense of youth, feel that Beechnut-Fruit-Stripe-Gum sensation, let the colours be your ride, Mary Ann, and follow it. 
Whatever the reasons are, I know I have a choice.  I am thankful in so many ways.  I recognize how blessed my life is, and every second I get in my studio is a gift.  And that's a REAL thing.  Wasn't that a jingle from a commercial back in the 70s?  I think so.
Here's to today, thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

One Step At a Time

Teresa Joan Zellinsky, born March 16, 1946, died March 20, 1970.  No, this is not a late obituary, just some rambles on this fair day in March.  Not sure what category this blog should be sorted into, not sure what category any day needs to be sorted into of late, about all I am sure of lately is I have to wake up and get dressed. 
So, here I go again, after spending about half an hour trying to find myself in this site.  Be nice if finding myself always took about half an hour, not 62 years, or longer..... not sure if I've found myself at all yet.  And still, questioning that "self" thing again, not only as an artist do I question who I am,  it's an ongoing search of every role I play in this giant soap opera called life.  I realize, though, that one role in my life has changed, I am no longer a daughter.  Since Mom died in January, that role was taken away from me.  Strange feeling just typing that.
I think I have exhausted my Facebook friends with my posts on post-Mom-death, but I am consumed by what a profound change this has been on my life, all of our family's lives I am sure, but I really only know my own perspective on this one.  The way I see my life through my memories and daily goings from point A to Z, my view, my thoughts, selfish as that may be, I accept that I am allowed to ponder my own views.  Through the many many many days and hours of going through Mom's lifetime of collections, I have gone back to times I had forgotten, and that one main one is what happens when someone dies.  I found that Mom's death was a grief I recalled that I experienced for the first time in my life, our sister, Teresa, who died in 1970 at the age of 24. 
 Teresa, or "Zaz", was the eldest of our family of 5 kids.  She and Mom had an incredible bond that was not only held together with love, but a sense of humour that raised the roof daily with the sound of laughter.  I was 8 years younger than Teresa.  Between us were one brother, Stephen, then Jane, then me, then baby sis, Chris.  Larger than life personalities, pretty hard to get heard in our house when we were all together.  I think fondly of the chaos, the insane laughing that I must admit, at my young age, I didn't really get.  It takes living experience to understand humour, especially sarcastic and self deprecating humour, which Mom and Teresa and Stephen and Jane were so sharp with.  Sure, I'd find myself doubled over laughing and gasping, too, but I'm glad no one asked me to explain what was so funny, I would not have been able to explain it.
So, what happened to Teresa?  I still wonder that.  I have found bits of what Mom saved of Zaz's, the odd letter, funny cards, photos, a few things.  Those things accompanied with that familiar pain of loss that I am experiencing with Mom dying seem to have woken up some dark corners in my brain.  One might say their spirit is with me telling me things, or maybe I just blocked things out for so long, I wouldn't allow myself to think about them, that could be it.  Heaven knows, I was the horrible teenager who was rebelling at the same time Teresa got pulled off her tracks of sensibility.  Unlike my three older siblings, I was plotting how to become a flower child in the Haight/Ashbury area in San Francisco.  Bad ass, that was me.  Why, at 14, I even ran away from home.  Yes, that's terrible, what a terrible thing to do to my parents, and my siblings, selfish and for no reason, other than being totally mesmerized by flower-power ideal at that time.  I do recall, tho, thinking no one would notice I was gone.  Not saying that to inspire sympathy, that was just a fact.  The very big and wonderful personalities that lived in our house were of their own world, to get heard among them was pretty much impossible, so I didn't even try.
So, what happened to Teresa?  I wish I knew.  By 1970, I was still being a dense teenager, my poor parents.  And now, something was going on with Teresa.  It was her turn to be lost.  I think of Jann Arden saying " sometimes it's so hard just being a person " and that seems to explain my memories of that time.  And now that I am a mother of adult kids, I know all too well the worry and fear of my kids not being happy.   Mom and Zaz were struggling a lot.  Like a parent knows, frustration and fear makes us do all kinds of crazy things, hoping to fix things with yelling, or grounding, or ANYTHING to make things feel right.  I can see now how badly it all fell apart for Mom and Dad, all of us, the unravelling just seemed to be unstoppable, and one day, we were faced with being told, Teresa was gone.
How did we recover from that tragedy?  We didn't, nothing was ever the same since then, nothing ever felt right, but we survived, I guess.  Dad sat and stared, day in day out, stared into the quiet in his chair in the corner of the room.  We kids carried on with our lives as best we knew how.  I think back to that sick emptiness I am feeling now with Mom gone, that waking from nightmares into a living nightmare.  We should all have had counselling, but didn't.  We carried on.  What bothers me most now, is knowing what kind of grief Mom was going through, and still bravely, carrying on as Mom.  Once the initial agonizing chaos was over, she carried on.  She didn't wail and cry, not in front of us, not that I recall.  What pain she must have suffered, totally distant from Dad, her best friend/daughter gone, being a mom myself, I can't imagine that kind of pain.  Siblings are not children, I do not have the same kind of love for my siblings as I do my kids.  I know I would not be as strong as Mom in getting through, not over, but through those times.  I want to tell my Mom how sorry I am for so many things.  If there are spirits of the dead, I hope she hears me.
Death.  We know it will happen, but not ever when.  I think I've learned over the past ten years that the most important way to prepare for death is to live well.  Whatever that means is pretty complicated and vague, but I did learn (eventually) that I wanted to be exactly who I was to Mom.  I think I was a caring daughter, but I know I did complain when things got hard for me.  I know I lost friends with my continual whining over having to take Mom to the store, have to go to Mom's, have to... have to.... have to... did I really have to?  Now, I know why I put in the time I did with Mom, I wanted to.  Not one second was ever a waste of time, a few may have been infuriating here and there, confusing now and then, but not a waste, no such things as a waste of time when we spend it with our moms.
Yes, Jann Arden, being a person is the hardest part of life.  I sit here today, trying to put the present day into perspective once again.  I understand I am not perfect, never have been, never tried to be.  But I try to be as honest as I possibly can be.  I look a mess, I am overweight, my hair is too long, my face shows the signs of age and grief, but none of those things matter.  My soul is strong and wise and reliable.  As in life, Mom relied on me, and so I continue to follow that path.  Call me names, a disgusting cow, pathetic, unstable, sick loser, low class, I don't care.  I know who I am, and I am thankful for every ugly piece of it.
Thank you, Mom.