Constellations...

I’m excited about a new series I’ve been working on for the past few months.


The work is a radical departure from previous efforts and combines my love of sculpture, photography, painting and drawing.

These posted images are of photo transfers and acrylic skins on steel plate. I’m working in copper, aluminum and brass, as well as dimensional formats. The “paintings” combine my current images of contemporary structures with my father, grandfather’s and great-grandfather’s photographic portraits.

The pieces give form to my interest in genetic memory and it’s impact on our beliefs and choices.

Friend and teacher, Corrine Loomis Diets, visited my studio recently. While she taught me the initial transfer techniques she remarked that she’s never seen anyone try color photo transfers or photo skins on larger metal supports. She was so enamored we took a field trip to my favorite suppliers so she could try a few for herself.

It’s always gratifying when explorative efforts spark creative dialogue.

Communion. Photo transfer and skins on steel, 18” x 12”.

The first larger effort and while technically this falls a bit short of my imaginitive mark, the communication of intent is satisfied. Communion combines my image of the Florence, Oregon bridge with a portrait my father took in the early 1950’s. 

No Clearance. Photo skins on steel, 18” x 12”.

Images of my father as a young boy (photographed by his father), and my father at the end of his life, illustrate the impact of self as observer in our lives. The structure is a railroad stop in Chewelah, Washington.

In the dark...

My spouse was already out cold. I’d almost completed the rituals in preparation for rest and stood at the side of the bed after a very long day. I flicked on the light, set the phone alarm, applied lip balm, fished the sleep mask from the top drawer and skimmed it into position across my eyes effectively blocking all visual information. I kicked off the slippers and slid into bed, pulled up the covers and the universal sigh of “I finally get to lie down” emanated from somewhere deep in my soul. Blissful deprivation with the relative quiet of evening in a suburb of twenty thousand people right over the back fence from 2 plus million. I’d curled into my favorite dream position and was dropping off when the voice came out of the dark, very close to my ear…


“So, Zorro, you gonna sleep with the light on all night long?”


I’ve mentioned before our bodies are the evolutionary product of thousands of millennia and physically our responses are slow to catch up and cope with the myriad of technological stimulations we’re subjected to. Back in the day, we slept in caves and didn’t have to deal with blinking cell phones, glow from alarm clocks, computers downloading at three a.m. and street lights seeping glare through the blinds. I’m told there are even those who sleep with the television on. In the bedroom.

The consequences of these exterior conditions are hard on the health of our still indigenous bodies. Melatonin is a hormone necessary for the regulation of numerous critical physiological functions. Melatonin doesn’t trigger and function properly in the presence of a light source, no matter how small. Recently, studies suggest women who sleep with lights on have a higher incidence of breast cancer. Yep. It’s serious.

One of the solutions, when we don’t have the option to regulate our environment, is a simple sleep mask.

So, turn off the lights and keep the sword handy, just in case.

Hope


 

What if it were this easy?

What if we could look up the hill when we’re slogging through the dark places of our nightmares to see a sign announcing hope only 16 miles away? Not only that, we’re offered rest and time out for a little fishing.

Hope is a commodity so dear to the human condition we’re willing to walk through the fire if we think hope is waiting with a cold drink and cool towels on the other side.  We all seek the relief of hope.  

What happens if we’ve trusted the sign, and we’re halfway down the trail with a burning thirst and blisters and wonder if we really saw a sign?

When the flare isn’t this clearly visible, where do we find hope?

Often, hope ignites when a complete stranger shares a moment of compassion through kindness and our optimism restores or hope may be a spiritual gift from a gracious Universe very personally invested in our aspirations.

Most frequently, hope resides as an eternal spark in our own murky interior. When we can’t find hope in the present we can access our memory of hopeful times and memory will stimulate a regeneration of incentive. Because of the way the mind works with memory, the same chemicals produced at the time of the initial hopeful episode recreate in the present and flood through our systems to bring the uplift we desperately need. This is one of the times there is merit in looking back.

We humans are in all, amazing creatures.

Intention and Carrots

The carrots in the cold bed garden are sprouted and at the stage where shoots differentiate into the ferny stalk we recognize and stop yanking out as another annoying weed. 

Poke a seed into the ground when it’s cold, dark, deluged with rain and there’s a reluctant nagging doubt spring will ever arrive. 

Abide.  Hope. 

Imagine the seed becoming a carrot. Or a beet.  Or an onion. We have no guarantee of what’s transpiring beneath the surface of the soil while we wait for germination to construct the end result.

Intention is rather like a carrot.

The smallest kernel of an idea or desire, sown  in the gloom of uncertainty where we can’t know for sure anything is happening. Time. Meditation and prayer.  Then a tendril of manifestation so small we could mistake it for random coincidence. Patience. A gradual recognition of stirrings for the next step and  glimpses of a propitious design. Intention aligned with universal movement and fruition.

Flow.

Kid's Today

Some of you may recall my guest post on Lisa Nowak’s YA blog about kids these days. Fasten your seat belt because here we go again. I heard a comedian disrespect kids today as impatient with technology when we should be counting our blessings that we even have technology. I agree with the comic, however, I didn’t appreciate the way he chose to dismiss young people to make his point and garner a few laughs.

Admittedly, I’m a log jam in the flow of evolution, so indigenous and mammalian I won’t live long enough to experience any internal shift toward speed no matter how hard I try to force one. The seasonal rhythms have governed my life and the patterns are imprinted and set.

As a world population, we’re genetic cave persons. Only in the past century have our bodies been required to deal with electricity, land speed, air travel, woofers, lasers, microwaves … and velcro - ad infinitum. Society, technology, whatever ology out there is accelerating quicker than we’ve ever experienced as humans and genetically we’re scrambling to adapt. Some question whether our ethics are evolving as fast as our technology let alone our physical bodies.

Children are coming into the planet wired to keep up with their environment. Anyone under twenty is obviously smarter and faster than we are. They make connections and see solutions while we’re stuck on assessment and analysis. Each child has their unique genius. They know what they want and how to achieve their goals. Many of them are looking past their own self serving ends to make contributions on a world wide scale because of the technology available that makes connection possible.

Medication seems to be the  current solution spearheaded by school systems and physicians. Slow kids down enough to dissect and understand the alien when what we really need is to allow them to show us how to integrate the light speed of a new way of being. The real issue is our ineffectiveness at managing all the tools and toys we’ve invented. How sane is that to create the monster and tell the people who might know how to tame the beast they need to be on drugs? In some cases, valid biological issues need to be addressed with medication. Our own envy and confusion when presented with these amazing Beings is not a good enough reason to drug our children.

Instructors tend to panic when a child thinks beyond their scope and thank heaven for gifted programs and educators with the foresight to implement them. Profound gratitude to the teacher who recognizes a child that seems slow may be operating at a frequency so fast we can’t even relate.

One of the reasons some doctors are so ready with the prescription pad is they don’t understand how to effectively mediate their own compassion so they prescribe for their patient in an attempt to ameliorate their personal pain when they’re not omnipotent and omniscient, or in other words, don’t know how to fix IT. Perhaps, it’s our approach and attitude that warrants fixing.

I have the good fortune to know amazing young people and children.  One young woman is training to be an aerialist with the circus.  When’s the last time any of us had the same nerve and discipline to live a dream?  Or what about the six year old who broke open his piggy bank and gave the money to his mom when her purse was stolen? I was at a birthday party for a two year old recovering from cancer treatments.  She noticed I didn’t have any cake so she scooped up some of hers with her tiny hand and plopped it on my plate. Where are we on the spectrum of giving so generously? If we’d open our eyes we’d see a great hope for our future in the children and young people around us who manage in their audacious purity to remind us to dust off our jaded ethics.

The comedian was preaching gratitude. How about some gratitude for these Beings who are showing us the way out of the mess we’ve made for them of the planet they’ve come to inhabit? At least as much as we’ll be able to muster as genetic dinosaurs.

The O word...

I was just getting my head out of the hyacinths when realization hit that I have several large projects looming. Being a competent, well-adjusted, mature adult, I proceeded to remind myself even I could eat an elephant a bite at a time. Then, the projects took on the energetic appearance of a rogue bull charging down on me at full speed and I envisioned my skewered future as a tusk decoration.

Still in pajamas, I curled up in the recliner in preparation to hyperventilate. I called Janet, a friend of mine. This amazing woman is a Conflict Specialist and certified in mediation. She’s also very good at strategic planning. As usual, she was able to cut through the extraneous material straight to the core of the matter.

After her dry comment about feeling my agitation (did I mention she’s also an intuitive?) several hundred miles away, she reminded me, “You have all the time in the world”. Yes, I really do. I have all the time and assets I need to live my mission, and to accomplish it in the perfect order for me. She told me to get a grip because I was stressing myself out without actually going anywhere - an exhausting state to be in, wasting the resource of the moments I have. Janet stated we can overwhelm in our mind and we can reverse it in the same space. We have a choice. The elephant stopped to munch leaves as we talked.

We’ve traded these phrases back and forth for years when one of us has faced a crisis – real or manufactured by our own psychosis. When I left orchestra rehearsal last night, the bass player stated he was much happier since he’s clued into the concept people are imperfect. What a relief to find I’m in good company and have wonderful people around to point out growth is always possible.

Back to Janet. She counseled me to purchase a calendar dedicated specifically to the project, a large one with plenty of room to write in each date square. (And yes, I still have the smaller one used to keep all the plates spinning.) After a stint at the office supply store, I chose a very plain one I could fold up and toss in my computer bag to take along. All of the flowers and beaches on the other ones will only be a sidetrack for the artist self. She said mark the due date and work backwards from there to chunk it down in to pieces easily handled, marking the interim deadlines in special colors. I’m big on colors and visuals. My dear friend reminded me to build in the time for research and cooling off before review.

I have to admit my ego is screaming to add I already knew all of this. Yes, and it helps to be reminded of our skills when we lose sight of them occasionally.

The pachyderm is now a cute little baby nudging my elbow to get on with it. I have a plan.  I feel confidence return and know I am truly in control of my experience. Opportunity for fun and relaxation is built into the progress. So, the sun is shining today. Spring breezes are pressing me to take a jaunt outside. I’ve put in my time, and with a clear conscience am on my way out the door. I’m organized.

There’s a great Guthrie song lyric ~ “Blow up the tv, throw away the paper…”

      When people come to see me about faltering creative enthusiasm, I usually recommend a news fast for at least six weeks if not permanently.  I tell them to turn off all media stimulus – tv, radio, and throw out the newspaper.  My premise is that if we disconnect ourselves from the iron lung of the media telling us how to breathe we will take imaginative breath more freely on our own. We will begin to think for ourselves and find a center of peace from which to gift ourselves with inspired effort.
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Ancestor Wall

 This site is for everyone interested in exploring their creativity and artistic abilities, including people who consider repairing an automobile as expression or those who like to build houses as a form of sculpture.  There are thousands of ways for us to allow our creative energy to manifes by taking raw materials and turning them into living things.  We’re not limited to paints or crayons on canvas or words on a page or a baby grand piano. Creativity is for everyone.

That said, today’s post may seem to be more specifically addressed to women who have been having trouble with blocks to their efforts simply because several have approached me on the subject lately. However, there is application to be gleaned for all of us, and many men may find this useful to them as well.

We live in an exciting time.  I believe we are coming into an era that will allow and foster creative effort for its own sake and give financial reward and social acceptance for those who pursue their talents.  Allie, a gifted fiber artist, calls this the New Renaissance.

However, I believe we carry the historical, ancestral, and social experience of all of our forefathers and mothers in our genetic makeup. While government has signed emancipation for women into law and we have achieved positions of perceived power in the culture, our genes are still trying to catch up.

For thousands of years, women existed under the protection of men and sought marriage for security.  That idea is deeply embedded in our makeup.  In the old days a woman could rarely succeed in any endeavor without the energetic and social approval of the males in her family. While our brain may fully accept the laws, codes and social progress of this past one hundred plus years, our bodies are reacting to stimulus in the same way our ancestors have for millennia.  This is confusing at the least.  We have goals and things we want to accomplish and in our head we are clear on it.  Then, from somewhere deep beyond our own thinking a phrase or dictation seems to come that inhibits our progress or stops it cold.  It’s as if we live as two people in the same body with two idea systems and two (or more) sets of responses. Our ancestral “code” has been activated and is rearing the protective head of our collective progenitors. 

To take a small but illustrative detour, I heard a sincere young mother state very emphatically that she did not allow her daughter to watch the “princess” cartoons. The mother’s concerns are valid for her and I support whatever young parents feel they need to do in their families. However, we have more to be concerned with in mentoring our daughters and sons than the influence of current films. We have thousands of years of genetic programming to turn around. 

 We are moving so fast in our culture we rarely pause long enough to understand the effect our ancestors have on our lives.  We are flinging ourselves headlong into an exciting future and often don’t take the time to show the living family members the regard they deserve for having walked on the earth longer than we have.  Respect for and appreciation of the gifts of those who helped to form us is lacking. We feel the backlash in many areas - “blocks” to our creative endeavors is the one we are addressing here.

 A powerful release from this kind of block is an ancestor wall. Make an ancestor wall, sit in a chair with your back to your ancestors and meditate with them. Feel the strength they offer you.  Absorb the support they are willing to extend. If one of them has been hurtful or neglectful, learn to see their strengths and what they have passed to you in positive ways. I’m not negating the effects of abuse.  I’m saying this may be one way to begin to facilitate healing for your personal issues and your creative endeavors.  I encourage you to concentrate on feeling the support of the “grandfathers” and the encouragement of the “grandmothers” of your family. Feel the pride they have in you. Feel their desire for you to succeed.

 If you have photographs of your ancestors, put them on a wall where you can sit comfortably in front of them.  If you do not have a photograph, write a statement of what you know and put it up on the wall in place of a picture. If you don’t know your ancestor, what do you wish that you would have from him or her?  Some of you might choose to draw or paint a portrait of your ancestor. As an artist, I’ve found painting a family member I’ve had a particularly difficult time with softens my outlook and engenders more compassion for them than I might normally evidence. You might choose to write a short biography of the person and frame it.

The point of this exercise is to begin to cultivate the strength and gifts that are your birthright.  By bringing our current thinking into harmony with our ancestral heritage we increase the energy we have for our present day artistic efforts.  We acknowledge the voice of our ancients and their contributions to our success and gain their support and approval. We come fully present to our creative efforts and enliven our creative focus.