Day 12. Of Wonder and Grief

“Of Wonder and Grief” 6×6, oil on canvas

I started working on today’s painting alongside day 10 but the figures are from a different day.

I stumbled across a poem on instagram recently which I’ll share in the upcoming days. It describes the “duet of wonder and grief” in a way that made me pause, sit on the paint-stained floor of my studio and read it outloud to myself a few times. 

But for now, know that whether the brass band trio I’ve depicted is playing at a wedding or funeral, their song marks the sacred beauty in either. In both.

** I’ll post each painting at (or close to) 10 am each day this month and they will be available for purchase on my site. However, the pieces will not be shipped out or available for pick up until February 26, after the run of the gallery show.

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Day 10. Magic.

“A Little Bit of Magic” 8×8 oil on canvas

Late in December I started a sketchbook to start brainstorming ideas for the 31. Very few sketches have made it into actual paintings but I think the act of sketching itself helped serve as a warm up, a loosening. The paintings that did come forth did so through that little jostling of planning even if the what of the plan has proved quite different. 

I also wrote in the sketchbook some notes, phrases or mantras I’ve picked up over the years. From my sketchbook on December 28th. 

To Remember:

Things are hard before they are easy

Enjoy the journey (ahem, see day 1)

The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas

There is no path to happiness, happiness is the path

Let the beauty of what you love be what you do

Open mind, open heart

I have the courage to step forward, even when I’m afraid. 

 

I knew I would need reminders so I figured I’d write them down before I needed them. And how I need them now!

Today’s painting is one I started long ago and has been sitting on the fold-out table of my studio for months. It needed less work than I’d originally thought, and it was refreshing to work on the middle/end of a painting instead of the beginning because that’s what I love most. I don’t like the beginning part. It feels like an exhausting, painful, but necessary preamble. It’s the “agree to our terms” box you have to check before you can purchase anything online. It’s the form you have to fill out for the 100th time at the doctor’s office listing your medical history before you can see a doctor about a sore throat. It’s the countertop you have to clear before you can cook. 

 But middles and ends are full of the magic. Magic, I’ll concede, that is only possible because of the grind of the beginning. 

I’m calling this one “A Little Bit of Magic” and I’m grateful that I started the incantation long ago so that today I could see it flutter to life. 

If you have any mantras or helpful phrases that serve to remind you of something essential or calm you when you most need it, I’d love to know. 

** I’m doing something a little different this year. I’ll post each painting at (or close to) 10 am each day this month and they will be available for purchase on my site. However, the pieces will not be shipped out or available for pick up until February 26, after the run of the gallery show.

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More From The Blog

Day 31. If you want to go far…

"If You Want to go Far" 24x30 inches, oil on canvas I started this month with a bike, and I knew I wanted to end with one too. Only this time there’s not just one, but several. All month I’ve been thinking about the African proverb that says “If you want to go fast,...

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Day 29. Intuition

"Follow Your Intuition" 9x12 inches, oil on paper My art studio is a 300 square foot storage room underneath our raised house. I have an AC unit but no heat, so for a handful of days during the year it’s miserably cold. Those days are almost always in January. Those...

read more

Day 28. Except the Opposite

"The Birds are Circling" 9x12 inches, oil on paper Today’s painting is a companion piece to yesterday’s. As I was painting it, I kept thinking “The vultures are circling…except maybe the opposite.” I used photographs of a white-tailed tropicbird for a reference for...

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Day 8. There you Always are

“Sometimes I Need Only to Stand Wherever I am to be Blessed” 8 in diamater, oil on canvas

Yesterday, after posting my painting with the great blue heron, I went for a run. I haven’t been running much lately–  the December marathon felt like a triple exclamation point and now I hardly know how to start the next sentence. But I went, and about halfway in, a great blue heron flew above and over me and then disappeared into the vast distance.

If you followed my 31 in 31 last year, you know that the great blue heron, particularly one flying above me on a run, was a big theme. And if you didn’t, you’re now all caught up. 

There you are, Love, I thought in reference to my day 7 painting. There you always are. 

When I look at today’s painting, I hear a line from Mary Oliver’s Poem “It was Early” which I’ve included below.

 

It was Early

By Mary Oliver

It was early, which has always been my hour to begin looking at the world

and of course, even in the darkness, to begin listening into it,

especially under the pines where the owl lives and sometimes calls out

as I walk by, as he did on this morning. So many gifts!

What do they mean?  In the marshes where the pink light was just arriving

the mink with his bristle tail was stalking the soft-eared mice,

and in the pines the cones were heavy, each one ordained to open.

Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.

Little mink, let me watch you.

Little mice, run and run.

Dear pine cone, let me hold you as you open.

 

 

** I’m doing something a little different this year. I’ll post each painting at (or close to) 10 am each day this month and they will be available for purchase on my site. However, the pieces will not be shipped out or available for pick up until February 26, after the run of the gallery show.

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More From The Blog

Day 31. If you want to go far…

"If You Want to go Far" 24x30 inches, oil on canvas I started this month with a bike, and I knew I wanted to end with one too. Only this time there’s not just one, but several. All month I’ve been thinking about the African proverb that says “If you want to go fast,...

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Day 29. Intuition

"Follow Your Intuition" 9x12 inches, oil on paper My art studio is a 300 square foot storage room underneath our raised house. I have an AC unit but no heat, so for a handful of days during the year it’s miserably cold. Those days are almost always in January. Those...

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"The Birds are Circling" 9x12 inches, oil on paper Today’s painting is a companion piece to yesterday’s. As I was painting it, I kept thinking “The vultures are circling…except maybe the opposite.” I used photographs of a white-tailed tropicbird for a reference for...

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Day 7. Love Letters.

“Led by Love” 8×8 oil on canvas

Writer Elizabeth Gilbert has a spiritual practice called “two-way” prayer where she writes a letter to God which she often just calls Love and then writes a letter back to herself from Love. 

I tried this practice months ago and it was so good, so healing that I promptly dropped the habit after just a few sessions. It is always surprising to me how hard it is to keep good habits, how easy destructive ones seem to be. But this January, I have gone back to it, and already I am learning much about myself. I hear Love’s voice when I’m driving my car alone, which is usually when all my worries tend to gather and gang up on me. I hear it on long walks. I hear it when I’m watching TV on the sofa or squeezing my paint on the palette. I hear it because I’m slowly recognizing it. And realizing that it was never not there. 

Day 7 is called “Led by Love” and born of these letters. The painting did not start very beautifully. The woman’s skin was blue, purple and very ghostlike. But with time and a dash of patience, she eventually got somewhere. And isn’t that all we can really ask for?

** I’m doing something a little different this year. I’ll post each painting at (or close to) 10 am each day this month and they will be available for purchase on my site. However, the pieces will not be shipped out or available for pick up until February 26, after the run of the gallery show.

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More From The Blog

Day 31. If you want to go far…

"If You Want to go Far" 24x30 inches, oil on canvas I started this month with a bike, and I knew I wanted to end with one too. Only this time there’s not just one, but several. All month I’ve been thinking about the African proverb that says “If you want to go fast,...

read more

Day 29. Intuition

"Follow Your Intuition" 9x12 inches, oil on paper My art studio is a 300 square foot storage room underneath our raised house. I have an AC unit but no heat, so for a handful of days during the year it’s miserably cold. Those days are almost always in January. Those...

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Day 28. Except the Opposite

"The Birds are Circling" 9x12 inches, oil on paper Today’s painting is a companion piece to yesterday’s. As I was painting it, I kept thinking “The vultures are circling…except maybe the opposite.” I used photographs of a white-tailed tropicbird for a reference for...

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Day 6. Stand as 10,000

“Never Alone” 4×4 oil on canvas

“I come as one, I stand as 10,000”

– Maya Angelou

My cousin texted me last month to ask me how the marathon went. Her mother is my grandmother’s sister. Their third sister is my Aunt Catherine who was a brilliant artist and my first art teacher. She is the one who gave me the lessons in her studio that prompted me to then get a degree in art. Of the three sisters, my ninety-seven-year- old grandmother is the only one still living. 

I told my cousin that the actual race was harder than I’d expected, and that I called upon my two great aunts towards the end to help me, which is something I did a lot during training. 

These two tiny women loomed large in my life. And they couldn’t have been more different. One, a soft-spoken nun who joined the Carmelite sisters at the age of thirteen. The other, far more spicy and willing to tell you bluntly when you were wrong. I miss them both dearly.

And so when things are hard they come to me in my imagination. Cookie (the spicy one) takes my elbow and says, “Come on, let’s go. Hurry up.” and Catherine, the gentle one, softly touches my hand and says “You’re doing great. Take all the time you need.” And together they get me through it: a race, a tough day, an overwhelming to-do list. 

Today’s painting is a redo of a painting I had sitting around. One that was “fine” but never felt complete. I scraped off all I could. I changed the background color. I added a cardinal as a nod to being visited by those we love. Those who give us strength when we’ve run out. Those who stand beside and within us even when they no longer walk this earth. 

Who do you call upon in stress or turmoil? 

** I’m doing something a little different this year. I’ll post each painting at (or close to) 10 am each day this month and they will be available for purchase on my site. However, the pieces will not be shipped out or available for pick up until February 26, after the run of the gallery show.

Comments

Written by

More From The Blog

Day 31. If you want to go far…

"If You Want to go Far" 24x30 inches, oil on canvas I started this month with a bike, and I knew I wanted to end with one too. Only this time there’s not just one, but several. All month I’ve been thinking about the African proverb that says “If you want to go fast,...

read more

Day 29. Intuition

"Follow Your Intuition" 9x12 inches, oil on paper My art studio is a 300 square foot storage room underneath our raised house. I have an AC unit but no heat, so for a handful of days during the year it’s miserably cold. Those days are almost always in January. Those...

read more

Day 28. Except the Opposite

"The Birds are Circling" 9x12 inches, oil on paper Today’s painting is a companion piece to yesterday’s. As I was painting it, I kept thinking “The vultures are circling…except maybe the opposite.” I used photographs of a white-tailed tropicbird for a reference for...

read more