Day 31. Blessing for the Seeker

“Seeking, Striving, in it with all my Heart” 48x48in oil on canvas

“I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart.”

-Vincent Van Gogh

This is the part where I stare at the blinking cursor on my screen. Because there’s a jumble of thoughts, of what I could or should or want to say to bring the whole thing full circle, to express my gratitude, my pervasive hope that creating matters– to our spirit, to our homes, to our world. What a wild thought.

Today’s painting is large. I’ve been working on it on and off all month long, and this morning I put the final touches on it, stood back to look at it, and was overcome by how hard this month was, how much joy it produced. 

My dear community of fellow 31ers, I have many times this month been awed by you, your work, your vulnerability. You’ve made me laugh and cry. You’ve made me hopeful. I’ve been impressed, jealous (not super proud of that one), moved, curious, excited. But most of all, I’ve felt supported and held by a precious community. I hope you have felt the same.

I wrote a blessing as a companion to today’s painting. It’s for the seeker, the 31er. It’s for you. 

 

For the Seeker, A Blessing

May you uncover not only what you seek

But what the soil of your search makes bloom

Not only what you are certain of

But mysteries holding together that which fades

 

May the light that is already yours

(and always has been)

Find new cracks and crevices

Into which to pour and reveal itself

 

And when petals turn brown and crisp

Clinging, absurdly to what is disappearing

May their memory guide you

To your next discovery

 

But until it beckons, 

May you stand still, awed, 

long enough to know

The joy of flight

The blessing of travel

The gift of the season that was

And will be

Again.

All 31 coming exclusively to my subscribers list tomorrow Feb. 1 at 8pm. Make sure you’re on it here.

 

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Day 30. Ride the waves

“Circling Back” 8×8 oil on canvas

If you aren’t a painter, let me describe the typical process for you. 1. An idea! 2. A decent start with the first few marks of the piece. 3. Looks like trash. 4. Looks like the most glorious things you or anyone else has ever created 5. Looks like trash again. 6. Looks fine. 

I don’t know why such extremes are involved, but I’ve talked with enough painters to know that it’s not just me, we somehow require them.

Today’s painting was extra extreme for me. Moments of glory and devastation all wrapped up into a tiny little 8×8 inch canvas. I’ve ended where I usually do: it’s fine. It’ll do. And tomorrow, well, tomorrow, there will be potential for magic once again. Rinse, Repeat. 

The month is closing out more quickly than I could have imagined a couple weeks ago when time was moving slower than a herd of snails traveling through peanut butter. But here I am with only one day left. One more attempt to ride the waves of emotion that show up every time without getting thrown out into the abyss.

All 31 coming exclusively to my subscribers list Feb. 1 at 8pm. Make sure you’re on it here.

 

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Day 29. Probably had been for quite some time.

“Expanded Horizons” 10×10 oil on canvas

This bird has been my mind all month, but I’ve resisted the urge to do 31 paintings of her. I’ve seen several since the start of the month: on a drive where she flew over me for at least a mile and I had to force myself to focus on the road, when I was leaving for a run and just yards from my house and she hovered above me as though ordaining the journey. 

There’s that saying about love: you find it when you stop looking. But maybe it’s not that we stop looking. Maybe it’s more that we find it when we stop looking only in one spot. I stopped seeking out that one Great Blue Heron in that one spot by the train tracks. And without a one track mind, the blinders lifted, and she was everywhere. Probably had been for quite some time.

All 31 coming exclusively to my subscribers list Feb. 1 at 8pm. Make sure you’re on it here.

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Day 27. The bird is coming from inside the house.

“Breakthrough” 6×6 oil on canvas

Today’s painting started off just as the egret, but I placed it too far to the top of the canvas which in turn made the whole thing just beg for a figure. And the stripes? Those are an experiment. Let me know what you think? 

I can’t get enough of these elegant coastal birds, the Great Blue Heron, The Great Egret. I must not be the only one, because whoever named them did so using the accurate but not very creative or scientific word “great”. They are great. They fill me with awe.

These paintings are not of hats. They are of ideas. The bird is coming from inside the house.

All 31 coming exclusively to my subscribers list Feb. 1 at 8pm. Make sure you’re on it here.

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Day 24. Complicated dinner recipes and photographs of birds


“Paraclete” 6×6, oil on canvas

I was scrolling on pinterest. The algorithm seems very aware that I am into both complicated dinner recipes and photographs of birds. 

So right after the “fiery lamb ragu on parpadelle” pin, I saw a stunning image of a white peacock. A white peacock? 

The way the feathers flowed down like a waterfall, I immediately saw where I would put her in a painting. Today’s painting is my earnest attempt to paint what I’d imagined after seeing the photograph. It fell short, it always does, but the going after it, the drawing, the painting, the mark-making? That part always feels right.

After several emails, I’ve decided to change things up. I want to offer my 31 paintings this month to my emails subscribers first. So many of you have asked about certain paintings but are not local and cannot make it to our celebration on February 3. I’m working to give my email list first dibs on all 31 on February 1st. Details coming soon. 

 

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Day 22. You do not have to be good.


“Family of Things” 6×6, oil on canvas

Every time I do a 31 in 31 there comes a point where I hit a wall. I question work I once adored. I worry that, contrary to the stacks of paintings that have already collected and which stand firmly in evidence of my ability to create, that I will not be able to finish the 31 days. 

Yesterday was my wall. Brick, not too tall, just tall enough that scaling it would require some help. A rope maybe. Some sticky shoes like a cartoon where the character walks up the wall parallel to the ground.

And then that wall whispered to me, as it often does, the words from a Mary Oliver poem. “You don’t have to be good,” it said. “You don’t have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting…the world offers itself to your imagination.”

And I saw a photograph of geese saved in one of my pinterest folders, and even though the painting didn’t seem like it would turn out, I did it anyway, knowing I did not have to be good. Just present. Just a part of the family of things.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

–Mary Oliver

 

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Written by

More From The Blog

It’s been twenty years since…

I nervously took my first art class in 2000 at Spring Hill College. My professor’s kind but direct handling of me and my work turned out to be exactly what I needed. Unlike my peers, I was just discovering a penchant for art– not at eight, but at eighteen. And so for...

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