Sssshhhhh. Do you smell that?
Creeks swell with April rain. May flowers perfume the air and seduce the birds and the bees. *sneeze*
This Spring feels particularly springy to me. Out with the old and dusty! In with the new and lusty! The Earth stimulates my senses, whispering, “Come. Touch. Smell. Feel. Taste. Listen. Everything is reborn.”
Somewhere between February and March I made a sharp return to painting the outdoors. I missed Spring last year in the blurry busy-ness of Sing Me to Sleep‘s release. (Oh my gosh, can you believe it’s been a full year now?) This year I consciously reopened my senses to the seasons. And you know, I’ve noticed that in the simple act of noticing, paying deeper attention to the itty bitty changes in the woods surrounding my home, time slows down. The anticipation of Spring greens seemed to delay their arrival. Each bud and sprout appeared so darned stubborn, as reluctant to wake as my beagle baby nestled among my bedcovers on a grey morning.
As I draw and paint the landscape, however, time speeds up. The sun’s position shifts from one blink to the next. Photographs may remember the position of things, but it fails to record the color and quality of the light exactly as I see it.
My purpose in this painterly homecoming is to record the moment, as I see, feel, smell, taste, and hear it. Each moment is precious and fleeting as a hummingbird’s heartbeat.
Recent works from March thru April:
Follow my Facebook page updates for more works in progress and upcoming exhibits.
It took me 37 years, but I now understand just how important my natural “talents” were for my success in school. The right side of my brain carried me through with its affinity for writing, drawing and language. My memory was highly visual, and I relied heavily upon its ability to “photograph” what I needed to memorize to pass each test in the subjects I found boring or frustrating. When I couldn’t do that and was forced to reconcile with the numbers for what they were, it ended in wailing and tears. Algebra, how I hated you.
Due to my strengths in Art, English, French, Music and Geometry, I managed to completely dodge Chemistry, Trigonometry, and all but one Biology class in high school. In college I flocked to Art again, and managed to dodge math altogether. After a few semesters of flux I settled at the University of the Arts in the Illustration program. There, I became fascinated with Apple computers and the internet, which were relatively new and green with possibilities. Our design teachers didn’t even fully realize the potential yet, and insisted we learn paste-up and cut our own rubyliths. Wikipedia it if you’re younger than 30.
I thrived in an environment where I could work hard and perfect my craft. My attention to detail in illustration won me scholarship money and other rewards. My understanding of color and light translated well to photo-realism. The pressure of deadlines and pleasing professors ensured I show up and do the work, and do it exceptionally well.
The structure of school itself was a comfort, though I resented its restraints. I was late for high school buses and often paid for public transportation when I missed them completely. I still have nightmares about missing classes, forgetting my syllabus, losing my way in the long, dark halls, forgetting my locker combination, forgetting my lines in school plays. None of the most basic, regular day-to-day parts of school were easy for me. Even the parts I loved were difficult. Being an artist, I did get a “pass” in being the absent-minded type, I guess. Certain teachers understood me, and valued my talents more than they cared to punish my inadequacies. While my classmates studied or read the next chapter in Social Studies, I stapled away at holiday billboards, high above the rest on a wobbly chair, ever aware and fearful that the boys might see up my pleated uniform skirt.
What no one saw, not even my parents, were the catastrophic situations I’d imagine, the nightmares I’d live in my brain and avoid playing out in real life as much as possible. Constantly thinking, imagining, avoiding. The exhaustion of the effort. The pain of imperfection. A lingering, doomed feeling that I was not like anyone else, but I could not understand why. Not quite a brainiac, definitely not with the hip crowd, a brown-noser to most, I felt forever in between being somebody and nobody, an achiever and a poser. I tried so hard.
I always did well in school, but I am certain I worked much harder than anyone could see on the surface. Not until I had the arts at my disposal did I feel any peace, belonging, acceptance.
I feel there is an important link between mental capacity and art. It pains me that the arts are first to be cut in schools, businesses and cities when finances are strained. Art is not a luxury item. It fills an intellectual, emotional need for the children and adults that benefit from the creation of it. Beauty lies in the eye of the artist.
I hope all of November is this good.
The Art of Giving
This Saturday I will join some of my favorite artists in Philadelphia in the No Name Art Group‘s Art of Giving exhibit and fundraiser at B Square Gallery. The opening will be a warm mix of wine and charity, with artists’ work printed on wine bottles donated by local wineries, and all proceeds benefitting Philabundance.
Why Philabundance? Because Philabundance is the Philadelphia area’s largest hunger relief charity, and much of Philadelphia is starving due to poverty and suffering from malnutrition. From the website:
Food poverty—the lack of access to nutritious, affordable food—is present in every community. From children and seniors to the increasing number of working poor, hunger affects close to a million individuals throughout the Delaware Valley. Philabundance provides food to approximately 65,000 people per week through our direct services and network of 500 member agencies including emergency food kitchens, food cupboards, senior centers, and more. We serve low income residents at risk of hunger and malnutrition, of which 23% are children and 16% are senior citizens. These services are accessed by vulnerable populations such as those with disabilities or suffering from mental illness, as well as families slipping through the hunger safety net. The Federal Poverty Line formula disregards the qualifying poor who receive food stamps but live above the poverty line. It also doesn’t acknowledge the working poor who make too much to collect welfare, but are unable to make ends meet, in spite of being part of the workforce.
In response to these challenges, Philabundance has taken a strong hold of the hunger issue in the Delaware Valley. By collaborating with the food industry and others committed to ending hunger, we are able to reach more people than ever before, with the goal to make nutritious food accessible to all.
Please read these articles about hunger in Philadelphia:
Your help is needed. If you can’t make the Art of Giving opening, please give Philabundance a direct donation of money or canned goods. You know you have a can of something in that pantry that you’ll never eat.