Birds in the Shadows

_a2015-08-13 17.08.34Birds in the Shadows  – acrylic and charcoal on canvas 24 x 48 inches

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I named this painting “Birds in the Shadows” because when you see the painting in person, the birds are the last thing you actually see.

I did this on purpose.

When you’re looking out a window you see the ground, the trees, the sky.  Right?  Your brain simply interprets the key objects and filters everything else out. However, the longer you stare and the more conscious your observation, you begin to see the entire window’s view alive and moving.  I can’t tell you how many times I wait that extra 2-3 minutes and then I sit in amazement.  There are sometimes 20-50 little sparrows on the lawn which were there the entire time and my mind filtered them out.

I know many people close to me that would say “Yeah, how nice you spend your days in la-la land staring out your window… some of us work you know, some of us have real jobs, some of us can’t afford that luxury…”  Boy I am plagued by this.  I’m sent this message daily by my society and even by those near and dear to my heart.  Somehow I am the weirdo-dreamer because I observe what is actually there and try to remind people of it?   But darling humans around me, could it be that YOU are the ones in la-la land as you sit for hours right by the window not looking out because your hand-held device is the only thing that captures your attention?

You have no time for these frivolities?   Could it be your free time is lacking in abundance because you are pressing little buttons accumulating points from little games on your phones?  Do you need to sit and watch on a screen what someone you haven’t seen in 13 years is doing in Milwaukee instead of sitting and watching the real world right outside your window?

Just shut up. Stop it. Put it down and frigging listen.

There is wind rustling through the trees right outside your window. No really. Turn off your AC and open the window, you’ll hear it.  I swear!  There’s squirrels fighting over territory, blackbirds filling up the trees, sunlight warming up that patch of earth over there and the smell of berries rotting in the vines.  Every day and it’s free, well It’s free right now anyway…

You are right, some of you are not “affording” the luxury and you do appear to have way more to show for yourselves than I.  Go ahead and call me the weirdo-dreamer.

Why do artists paint pretty pictures?   Why do they so often choose the simplest of subject matter?  It’s to remind people of the beauty in the everyday. In all of the minutia that many filter out and no longer see.   Yes to us “freaks” everything in the everyday world is simply mind-blowing :)

Artists are not the dreamers, you are the ones in a dream state.  I’d say artists are the observers.  They are very alert and very awake. They are the ones paying attention to the things the world forgets or are considered less important.

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Yep. That’s what I’m thinking while I paint pretty pictures of little birdies  -Pure piss and vinegar!!!  

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Ok. so where was I before I flipped out on my blogosphere public? Sorry about that digression. I mean who’s really reading this blog anyways…    Mom are you there? You are at least reading these posts right Mom? Ahh… Mom???

Oh yes right…. the progression of my painting…

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Love you all ;) daydream a little!

ETHEREAL

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OK. I’m back from vacation and it is time to start showing some art!

To sum up the last few months, I would say I have gone from more traditional still life painting to exploring abstract painting.

I tried another artists technique which was a wonderful learning experience, but I knew that particular style was not my own.  I unveiled these trial paintings much to my chagrin and then started 5 new paintings taking what I learned and now trying to make it a little bit more of my own.

So here is painting #1 of 5.  I am calling it Ethereal.

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Above is the first layer of the painting.

It is a 24×30″ acrylic painting on 300lb cold press paper and I drew on it with charcoal.

 It wasn’t on purpose, but in this first layer, I began to see a cat or tiger appearing on the right.  I totally didn’t want to go the cutesy route, so I added about 3-4 more layers trying to transform that feline into something else! I also used quite a bit of clear matte acrylic medium to try to make each of the layers translucent.

I tried to keep spinning the painting 360 degrees, to move quickly, not to get attached and to remember to make the painting experience as much fun as possible and in this way, I succeeded.  I had a great time! Strange things began to take form.  See if you can find them.  There’s a dragon, floating eyeballs, a spinning torpedo, and tons of crosses. Do you see a tiger? You better not!

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It was a strange phenomenon.  As I began drawing crosses (and I’m not exactly sure why I was by the way), I felt a tinge of fear or guilt. I slowed down and explored that emotion and tried to figure out where and why it was present. I figured out it was due to my Irish Catholic upbringing.  Just like the sacrilege of defacing our American flag, the cross is the same way to Christianity.  It’s sacred and you’re not allowed to use this icon unless you are praying to it.

So yes, this is one belief, but another is that a cross is also two perpendicular lines that intersect. When it comes down to it, it’s two lines. Why should I feel guilty about drawing two lines? I am allowed to make any marks that come to me and I can disassociate these marks with whatever pre-inherited notion that has been unwillingly attributed right?  Wow.  That I can say, felt a little bit like FREEDOM, freedom from societal preconceptions… Woo Hoo!   Now feeling mentally liberated, I started making tons of crosses, in black and in white and I loved letting go of the idea that I might go to hell for doing so!

As the crosses began to radiate out from the floating orbs in the painting, the crosses did take on some meaning for me.

I believe in life after death and I believe our souls are energy that cannot be created or destroyed.  The way the crosses float in the painting, makes me feel like they are souls around me floating through dimensionless matter. This in turn reflects the rest of the painting; objects floating in dimensionless matter.  To be ethereal.

Weird stuff.

It’s a good-size painting and the color vibrates right off the paper.

I am truly happy with my work.

Wait… did you hear me? …let’s just take a moment, do you realize I just said I have no complaints?

That’s a big deal.  Artist contentment…

I must be getting somewhere!

THE SHAMAN

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OK. The perfectionist in me doesn’t want to show the next 5 paintings I am going to show you.  This is absolutely why I will post them.  Bye-bye perfectionist who lives in a safe little shell where one only shows the world that which can be carefully manipulated.  Hello BRAVE NEW WOMANROAR!!!  These are from an intuitive painting class.   I had no idea what I was doing, and this is what came out.

Abstract & Intuitive Painting DO NOT LEND THEMSELVES TO PERFECTIONISM!

If you are truly in the present moment, then you have absolutely NO CONTROL over what comes out on the canvas.  Planning takes forethought which is a form of control.  This is control-less or OUT-OF-CONTROL!!! Totally out of my comfort-zone. It is great for me. Free therapy!

There is an artist named FLORA BOWLEY.  A friend turned me on to her process and I bought her book called “Brave Intuitive Painting”.

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There are so many aspects of Flora Bowley’s process that I LOVE.  She is very spiritual.  She uses all 5 senses when painting.  I learned SO MUCH about changing up my mark-making and creating texture and movement.  At times I actually finger painted!  I totally forgot how awesome paint actually FEELS.

So today I will show you one of the paintings and in the next week, I’ll unveil the others.

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This was the first two layers.  The first was a layer of warm colors and the second was a layer of cool colors.  I thought this was fairly ugly to tell you the truth… but I pushed on…

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Next, came a layer of black and white and after that, you keep adding layers until something “speaks” to you…

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The first thing that stood out for me was the circle with lines coming out.  I have a shaman friend who literally blows energy in and out of people and that spoke to me visually.  From there, I stayed incredibly alert and kept asking “what do I do next?”.  From within me, a very strong voice began to command what should be done.

The heart stood out next for me which was warm and rich but, to its right I was told was its opposite -it is cold and filled with holes. I was told to put a knife in-between.

Intuitively fire balls started to be painted, but I didn’t know exactly that was what I was making.  I just heard inside, pick up orange and red.  I had hand-made a series of bird stamps which I added. Only right now as I observe do I notice there are 4.  North, East, South & West? What do they carry to and away?  They seem to be flying within the frenzy. I didn’t plan it, so I can’t say exactly what they are doing.

Next the hands were very important.  I distinctly heard “ice” for the hand to the right.  Blues, digits, snow, and the moon.  It’s counter was on the left.  I went to make digits for fingers and my insides said “NO”. Flames full-thrusting flames darn it!

There was so much more.  I saw a sea of fish to the left of the face, blood, holes – are they auras or portals? There is nature and grass down below, night and day. Many dichotomies. In fact the entire painting is about the opposites one finds on the planet earth.  Full/empty, hot/cold, heaven/hell, good/evil, healthy/sick, happy/sad, rich/poor, awake/asleep.

Deep thoughts by Mary Walsh – and yet, I thought nothing!

I simply listened from within.

As for the painting, it’s a little too crazy for me aesthetically, I don’t like the darkness and the color-palette per say, but again, I didn’t spend time controlling it!

I can say I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, the journey, and that is the direction I am headed.  I have to shed making things in hopes that they will make other people “happy”.  I can’t make other people happy nor can I successfully “think-out” what the entire world would like!  Different things speak to all of us.  I have been spending countless hours asking the question “what speaks to me?”  I hope more of what does comes into my work.

I embrace my inner authenticity.  May I share it with the world!

Here’s to the journey!

Flight Patterns

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   Have I mentioned I love birds?

I spend countless hours watching them feed and fly. I can’t help but feel they are more elevated than us humans.  Let’s face it, they figured out how to go from land dwelling to flying!

This painting comes from my countless hours thinking about what it must be like to fly, to soar, to catch the wind and feel the sun.  What is it like to hone in on a specific location and then depart & elevate yourself until that location is merely a spec.  Would it allow you to always keep a balanced perspective? From way up high, all the things us humans occupy our time with would seem so trivial and insignificant compared to its whole.

I often wonder what birds observations of humans are?  What must they think about these creatures so preoccupied with that which no one can see?  What is it like to fly overhead and see trees and water and grass, but also to see buildings, landfills, crops that they would never eat because there’s poison on them, smoke stacks, highways with moving cars, cruise ships, all the things that do not belong in the landscape.  What would that be like?

What is it like to know it is time to leave and then in some magical way, you take form with all who are like you, no pushing, no shoving, no cheating, no martyr-dome.  You fly. With a common destination, you take to the sky, you know your place in the group and you work as one to get there.

Hmm. Humans may find birds simple little creatures but man, I find them spiritual.

Oh by the way, The green little bird in the corner, that’s me.  I love the Ugly Duckling who never feels like it is with its own.  It’s always wondering why it doesn’t fit in, only to find out it was never supposed to.  It’s not a duck.  The more I open my eyes, the more I see these ugly ducklings.  They are my flock, even if we must fly alone among the others.