Another 30 days of daily, stream-of-consciousness painting. This practice, this 200-Paintings-in-200-Days, is beginning to feel like an almost-needed part of my day. The Inner Critic, well, she still tries to chime in from time to time. But I remind myself the goal is practice, not product.
One of the amazing things of living in Florida in the summer, besides our weather, is the sky. For me, the humidity and heat and rain are well worth it, in part because of the beauty on a darn-near-daily basis of the sky. The cloud formations take your breath away as the weather patterns move across the state in their mostly-predictable patterns.
Aeromancy is defined as the divination or foretelling of the future by atmospheric conditions. It uses cloud formations, wind currents and events in the cosmos to predict the future. There are sub-types of aeromancy, for instance nephomancy relates to cloud formations only. Aeromancy has a long history, back to the Babylonian kings and is mentioned in the Bible – and condemned.
These are photos I took this morning in the parking garage of where I work. In the distance I could hear thunder, but the sheer visual power and grace of these clouds made me stop and look.
Through the years I have frequently (always?) looked at changes in the sky. Only once can I remember when the clouds and sky foretold an event: it was summer, the clouds looked extremely unusual that morning, and a darling child I was caring for as a hospice nurse was dying. The clouds told me – I swear to you I headed to her house solely based on the way the sky looked. She died as I pulled up to her house.
These days, I marvel at how rapidly the sky can change, how the clouds grow in size and beauty, and then clash. I love how the sun peaks out here and there, watching the majesty below it.
For now, let’s say I’m an aeromantic.
This woman does not exist. She emerged from the tip of my charcoal in a process I don’t quite understand yet. Her appearance makes me think there’s definitely some story to her – after all half her face is shrouded in shadow. Is she wary, suspicious of something? Perhaps angry or determined?
She did not exist before and now she does. What shall we name her? Alexandra seems regal enough for her…or perhaps Allegra or Chloe or Marisa?
One dear friend suggested the name ‘Whisper.’ That definitely suggests a mysterious background …what fun to imagine a life story for her.
This woman exists. I know her. She is a feminine essence who exudes caring, talent, humor, love of life, vitality, intelligence, expert fashion sense and a highly developed shopping gene.
The pose of this model reflects her approach to the world: observant, patient, appreciative of the natural beauty that surrounds her, receptive and comfortable in her own skin.
To know your model and paint her – well, it makes you want to do it over and over again to catch things you didn’t catch in the just-finished painting.
Madonna of Release: Beloved Child, I Hear You
She is completed, finally.
This a painting I began awhile ago, I believe about a year and a half ago. I started it before I traveled to New Mexico to care for my dying mother and worked on it a bit when I returned after her death. But in the months following her death not even painting could provide respite from the waves of grief. This meant the painting spent a great deal of time on the floor tucked away in a corner.
As time went on, I would occasionally pick it up and work on parts, but the painting never really engaged me. I listened to what She, the Madonna, wanted – the flowers, the bowl, the candle, triskeles and spirals. The Madonna herself is not modeled on anyone in particular, She just emerged on her own.
The painting started to call to me again this week, and as I have had good deal of free time this week with my fractured ankle, I adjusted my easel and concocted a way to elevate my leg. This time, the painting and I found our flow.
While applying brushstrokes, I came to understand this was the Madonna of Release. The bowl was a receptacle for all the things I wanted to release. I wrote on paper those very things and pasted them into bowl, knowing She had heard me and always hears me.
For those of us who have lost our mothers to death or whose mothers are unavailable for whatever reason, consider the Madonna of Release. She is waiting for us.
This was an unusual week for me. On Monday morning, while walking into work, I wrenched my ankle so badly I fractured it! This was a new experience for me as I have never broken a bone nor ever used crutches. The last time I was in a wheelchair was 30 years ago when my daughter was born.
As the days passed, despite the limited mobility, pain and dealing with Workman’s Comp, I was pretty mellow. After all, it was an accident, and accidents just happen, right? There are some who believe there are no accidents in life and honestly, that includes me sometimes. Also, when your main activity is keeping your leg elevated it’s easy to run the ‘what-ifs’ through your mind.
With those questions ping-ponging through my brain, I picked up my art journal and drew my left leg, highlighting the ankle. Around the drawing I wrote a few things I learned about the symbology of the ankle. I was aware the left side represented the feminine; I did not know there were chakras in our feet. Surrounding the foot are notes and also a number questions pertinent to the perhaps-nonaccidental-accident.
On the facing sheet of journal paper I wrote what came to mind after considering the questions. Outcome: I don’t think it was an accident, and I have a new awareness of some issues in my life. Also, my ankle felt great when I was done! Coincidence? Or was I finally listening?
Last month I joined an online challenge with the goal being to paint 200 paintings in 200 days. After roughly figuring in my head that it would mean painting until Christmas, I thought – why not? There were no restrictions as to size or type of paint used, so it seemed fairly reasonable. The wisdom embedded within the challenge was most appealing to me – the practice of painting each day would become engrained within me. The act of creating would eventually become a needed part of my day, a habit that would softly whisper to me until its itch was scratched.
I’m proud to say I have painted nearly every day, and here are the first 30 days of painting. My media of choice is watercolor, and I have embellished several paintings with acrylic, metallic acrylics (love them!), and pastel. Due to my day job, I knew I didn’t have a lot of time to lavish on my paintings so size and type of paint were crucial. Before the challenge began, I precut a stack of 4 x 6 watercolor paper to which I have added 5 x 7 and 5 x 5 sizes.
Most nights, my usual time of sitting down with paintbrush in hand, I have no idea what I am going to paint. After a hectic and controlled-chaos day, the freedom of letting the brush, water and paint lead me is bliss. Some paintings that emerge are a bit odd, but that’s OK. There is no pressure to produce, no pressure for “pretty,” no need for it to be anything more than the practice. I’ve noticed some nights I can’t wait to sit down at my table and pick up a brush…the beginning of a meaningful practice perhaps?