When is Enough Enough in Art

How do you know when you are finished? So often people ask me this question. I think it might be because my work is so bold and vibrant. They are basically curious as to what the top is as in going over the top.

taking risks

taking risks

It reminds me of a more pure and direct question that was asked of me once in a Korean restauarant in Victoria. I was marking provincial exams and alone. After the hours of reading truly puzzling and frustrating prose, I needed something to wake me up and clear my mind.

local library windows

local library windows

I headed to a Korean restaurant and ordered hot and sour soup. “How hot do you like?” the waiter asked. I said ,”Give it to me. I like hot.” He went into the kitchen. A puzzled cook came out to check if this was true. Did I, a middle class white woman eating alone want the hot, hot soup. He seemed concerned and obviously didn’t want to take any responsibility for whatever my reaction might be. I felt as if I should sign a voucher so there would be a legal record.

believe nothing but your own heart

believe nothing but your own heart

When I lovingly sipped the soup, I looked up to see two waiters, the cook and the owner of the restaurant all staring at me. “Do you like it?” the owner asked me.

“Oh yes,” I replied, “it is wonderful.”

They spoke together and one waiter leaned forward slightly. “How did you get like that?” he asked.

cd cover design

cd cover design

And that, I think is what most people mean when they ask how I know when a piece is done. How did I get so intense and brave? What is over the top or a stopping point for someone who works in a magically technical world?

“I know when it is done”, I tell them, “because I feel it in my body.” How strange that it is never the response they expect.

How to create mixed media pieces using Paint Shop Pro

ten images in

ten images in

Paint Shop Pro came bundled with my computer eleven years ago when I began and while I have not thrown money at technology to increase my agility as a computer based artist, I have spent six days a week for eleven years deepening my understanding of who I am, what I want from my work. Finding my voice has been very much about time and being open to discoveries.

the next step increasing contrast and saturation

the next step increasing contrast and saturation

First I take a photograph and “feed” it into the computer where I begin to use filters to move the pixels around.

increasing intensity again

increasing intensity again

The outlining filter is set on chrome to really pop the image and increases the presence of the rainbow areas.

Using filters to move the image around

Using filters to move the image around

The next filter I used takes a faint image and lays it over the original image to create more linear lyric movement and greater depth.

The final image is organic and asian looking

The final image is organic and asian looking

Art Walk and Beyond: What keeps an artist going?

Shows, submissions, sales. The ssssing sound of energy.

working on the pieces in my studio

working on the pieces in my studio

On November 14th I will have a show at Kalamalka Library in Vernon. A supportive friend has provided the possibility for another show in a show home. Wilden show home by Authentec still houses some of my mixed media pieces. Some time in the future I will be hanging work again for Artscape in Kelowna.

smaqll threads are glued on the surface of this canvas piece

small threads are glued on the surface of this canvas piece

But last weekend, it was Art Walk.

red brick wall circle

red brick wall circle

Over six thousand people came past each day. Being with friends around me, fellow artists, was really enjoyable.

mixed media on canvas

mixed media on canvas

The images that I selected for the show are always a bit of a gamble. Does one select works that the public might understand, or does one go to the works that one loves.

My friend Rose looked great with two of my works around her.

My friend Rose looked great with two of my works around her.

This year I created mixed media pieces that I responded deeply to. Color. Moving Planes. Vibrancy. These were the direction that I explored.

Embrace is a sensual exploration of two people

Embrace is a sensual exploration of two people

Whaaat is Happening Here isn’t quite clear.

Up against the wall

elbows out

fighting to feel.

The background glass

allows the light of leaves,

mosaics the yellow

next to my bed.

The pain of being body,

swollen round

arthritic pulse of flow.

I will not curse

the heart at work.

Art Walk and the standing for hours each day have taken their toll. I awoke with stabbing pain in my wrists, knees, ankles and feet. My stomach was burning. Strangely hard to settle on one spot when back, neck, head and all of the rest are screaming at me like an unruly group of children all demanding attention. I moved the bag of lavendar closer to my head and let the aroma flood over me.” Resistance is futile,” I reminded myself. Just let the high notes play like a zylophone first here then there. A tune of physical despair. I listened until I sank back into sleep.

poetry in the folds

poetry in the folds

Today I had the wonderful gifts of emails from friends sending love and congratulations on my work. Even my taciturn brother said, “You know you are good, now go get buyers.” From him, that is high praise. He speaks little, infrequently and usually laces the comments with sarcasm.

Trying to get the house back in order and return my focus to those things which I have promised that I would do for people was what entertained me in the afternoon.

But the morning was sheer frivolity. We awoke at 7 were at Valu Village at 8:30 where I purchased $300 worth of thrift store clothing for myself, Cameron and my grand daughter Rhane for $150. This grand girl skyped me to inform me that “I have nothing to wear in my closet. I have no dressed for preschool, grandma.” Actually she says gandma. So today I got her dresses, skirts, blouses, sweaters and a pair of shoes. Mostly pink. Mostly very, very pink.

So what of this day? What of any day? Where did I make good decisions? Where did I go wrong?

The body is asking for care. Order and quiet needs to be vigilantly but gently reinstituted. The quest for more galleries to carry my work must be taken up again.

And the breeze that flows past me from the door asks me to come outside.

Which Way Up the Mountain?

Recent events where people I see as friends or care for have caused me pain through their comments or actions have served to further my practice and so I work my way through the sadness.

Try to stay calm

Try to stay calm

There are many ways to higher ground, we are taught. No one path is singularly correct. But what they all have in common is the pushing against gravity. Leaving the primrose path, walking at stressful angles, breaking a sweat. The difficulty with Buddhism is that it asks of you that you “Step back from yourself to have a clear mind.”

How much easier it is for me to react when those I would befriend goad me to reaction. How much easier it is for me to blame, to re-victimize myself than to observe both the mindset of the other and my own weak and needy responses. The habit of criticism. The habit of judgment. Those I have honed to a fine point.

Thoughts circle seduce

Thoughts circle seduce

Both personally and societally we are encouraged to think in competitive terms. “The Universe is like a pie and when anyone gets a slice… it is less for you.”.. we are taught.

Games on the internet help us to practice habits of anger, retribution and competitiveness. Television shows feed back to us that the world is a dark and dangerous place. We are schooled to believe that we are all trapped in a “big brother” house of existence and that there is always scheming.

Where I am emotionally and spiritually at this time is trying to forgive myself. Each time someone goads me, or lays out a competitive scenario, I see myself engaging and giving the script power through my reactions. I observe my attempts to be superior so that I don’t feel inferior. So much of my energy is wasted in Dukka. So much of my time is involved in going back over the past. I actually envision myself as a primitive being, raking over the coals of a dead fire looking for the shards of what I have lost in the blaze. Ruminating, rerunning the script, rewatching the video of someone unskilled attempting to create a surface out of me to project their own games. I comply. I am drawn in.

flowers are able to take us to another dimension of happiness

flowers are able to take us to another dimension of happiness

It is almost like the proverbial emotional elevator, only the elevator has an attendant wearing the beautifully vibrant white gloves… motioning aboard so that I can go up… and be elated or go down to depression. “We are now at the floor of poor me apparel, ” the operator tells me.

The best I am able to do at this point in my development is practice. I practice observing myself.

I am pleased that I allow myself to feel the full sting when an event occurs which is sudden, surprising and upsetting. However, at least now I can see how all interactions are …interactions. Being happy and content is catching.

The energy is catching. So my desire to live more consciously and more fully is about coming back to self. The questions: “Who is thinking this thought”, “Who is living this moment” are powerful.

symbols, icons to remind us to be peacefully loving

symbols, icons to remind us to be peacefully loving

What I big, fat capital I want….. I see myself grasping, attaching like a four year old running to every object in the room and picking it up. I want. I need. I must have. They don’t like me. What did I do wrong? Why can’t she treat me kindly. Why is life so unfair. Why do I have to suffer? I am an innocent..

Now I see with this amazingly highly honed practice of focusing on desire, self and ego, I am able to be justified. I am able to be righteous. I am able to go out into the competitive jungle, armed and ready for a thousand losses.

Practice is Perfect. What I am trying to teach who ever is writing this, who ever is thinking this, is that I am evolving.

My desire to control others, to be a “good” girl and not break rules, to be liked by everyone, is (I have come to realize) actually ego.

Wayne Dyer has said, “What other people think of me is not my business.” I love this statement. On my steep and faulty climb up the mountain… I use it as a stick to lean upon.

How does one protect self, act in a loving way toward self and still be compassionate? I hazard a guess that it is by realizing that the world of competition, envy and judgment is a created world. To remember that hurt people hurt people and that we are ALL hurt, helps with finding compassion. Even turned inward to oneself who is a perfectionist. I am where I am right now and it is one frickin big mountain. I can hear myself breathing.

Five Precepts

Buddhists are encouraged to follow five precepts,

These are the Five concepts.

  1. I will not hurt a person or animal that is alive.
  2. I will not take something if it was not given to me.
  3. I will not have sex in a way that is harmful.
  4. I will not lie or say things that hurt people.
  5. I will not take intoxicants, like alcohol or drugs

This is the path I am huffing up….so bloody steep. But practice is perfect.