Above: “Ruby Red Day”, Acrylic on Arches oil paper, $300
Saturday, April 6th: Gallery sitting today, I have time to reflect and share. Starting each day walking in only slightly chilled air, seeing the breathtaking beauty of my hometown with the visual delights of the shoreline and nature, and (even) glimpses of the homes of my youth along the way, I am starting to feel roused from winter doldrums.
Aside from a brief panic attack over financial worries and the still unfinished Kickstart movie, I worked hard this week and feel a sense of accomplishment. The acceptance of 3 pieces into Bristol Art Museum’s upcoming juried show, “a Call to RI Artists” has also given me a needed lift.
The possibility of a globally publicized project looms in question, with the movie to pitch it in the hands of a too busy filmmaker, like a mirage of sorts! Holding on with a few meager sales and the charity of family, I crawl along with high hopes through a financial dry zone. I won’t let it go. Lest the world sees a “365 Madonna Nights Project”, I will never know what should become of this nine year vocation.
Above: “Mary and Boy Jesus”, acrylic on YUPO, $150; this reminds me of ‘the scream’! The removal of the paint, scratching it away, was a lot of fun.
Painting at Angelina’s Coffee and at home today, I used watercolor to continue the fun I’m having using this new medium. It was great to be out in the public, running into old friends from my gallery days and having great tea.
About the paintings: The top one is “Child’s Play” with the baby reminding me of my granddaughter Anahata. The middle one is “Mod Mama”; and it reminds me that I should be more precise, if I’m going to use designer-style swirls and shapes. The last one “Shoes on the Beach” is funny, as it shows my habit of making the women way too short — and she has terrible shoes. I consider these all child’s play, part of my ongoing lessons in my self-taught trials in painting.
Life lately: My experiences this week have been dramatically different then last week… More content, yesterday’s fun with oils is reflective of this shift. The changes involve reacting to feelings differently (job search, weight, rejection, family, financial challenges); less acting out or wallowing (this week I did both for one day) and more prayer and honest reflection. Sounds exhausting, right? No, actually, it is easier to see myself get better through the eyes of God. Seeing the truth faster allows me not to lose myself — and punish myself. Forgiveness of small failings also helps me to get back quicker… And god is not as punitive as he is forgiving! I used to be able to laugh at myself easily and hope to again.
When Ash Wednesday came, I kicked into Lent (cleansing) mode with a brand new vigor and was reminded at Sunday mass to spend time in conversation with my best “friend” — Jesus. Joining a group at church for “renewed spirit”, praying throughout each day to keep the friendship going and devoting at least a half hour of each day to reading scripture and contemplation are helping in all aspects of my life. With the exception of my giving unwarranted advice (imposing my opinion) on a family member and an acquaintance, and a three instances of gluttony, it was a great week!
Disturbed by my physical health and knowledge that I’d never have been able to walk very far if Jesus had ever asked me to physically follow him as a disciple, I’ve decided to incorporate self care with spiritual devotion in a non-gluttonous cleanse during Lent. I started the week off miserably by eating two boxes of candy and what seemed like half a chicken on Ash Wednesday, then completely forgetting not to eat chicken on Friday, and having a two martini Sunday at the pub during a fundraiser (dangerous thing to overdo). Self-Forgiveness was given, and I restarted with a low carb routine that includes at least one protein shake per day.
My food issues: emotional eating, grazing, starving myself in high school, self-loathing binges followed by hateful mirror conversations, and happiness definitely curtailed in all other areas of my life when I am overweight. I use food to rebel against people, places and things that upset me. You name it; and I’ll have used food to respond to it. The least pretty (interesting choice of words) side of myself, I make vain efforts (aah, another interesting word) at going back to a healthy weight but usually fail. Another side of these food issues: when I succeed, lost weight lightens me but the extremist side of my personality sends me to my own private ‘vanity fair’ of sorts, at which I become the equally revolting, hell on wheels ego-maniac — until I gain it back to start the cycle again.
I believe in the power of Love, so using God should help! And a few affirmations in the mirror might also help — and thanks to my Irish friend, Helen in NC, I have a tirade of these loving self-affirmations to take out of my toolbox. “Youre a beautiful Childnof God” is actually one of them… No joke, this is a loaded issue (unfortunately, a loaded potato came to mind as I wrote that — Dear God). For those of you who think I’m rambling, I probably am; and, if you aren’t into non-filtered banter, I am sorry to hear it.
Back to the art talk (this emotional stuff is actually all related, by the way, since painting purges my feelings):
Next, I’ll work on adding figures to a background I’ve started more than a week ago — and trying a black, white and grey-tone Madonna in Acrylic for a friend (if I can finish the other one. Taking my time will be my goal for the day — not rushing but enjoying the process. I’ll have plenty of time to rush and finish, when and if I get funded for the 365 Madonna Nights project…
Spending time at the Studio was a hiatus from a steady stream of racing thoughts and too many lost weeks at home. Using oils and three small canvases, I wet my feet again and felt the release that painting is for me. Unemployment and worry has set me back in many ways, combined with an odd feeling of dread of late, so getting back to my life work is important.
Church helps me a lot, too, and today’s readings were intensely appropriate for what I’ve been fearing lately — exactly tailored to me!
God is always part of my innermost dialogue, so reading about Gods limitless love for me and listening to audio scripture while painting helped a lot. Today’s readings were about NOT worrying and trusting in God’s care. I do know how much I love my children — and I trust that I’m loved that way, too. Making God first allows everything else to fall into place.
I’ve decided to broaden my horizons to beyond the immediate, beyond the immediate company, beyond the immediate landscape, and beyond the imagined limitations that I’ve allowed to hold me back. Time to break free from molds that keep me in my self-imposed restraints. It’s hard to say why I’ve fallen into this rut; Lord knows that I’ve been given limitless possibilities. It occurs to me that it is time to bounce back.
I’m heading to see my children in my old town, Chapel Hill, NC, next week. Long overdue, I long to hold my granddaughter, to see my daughter and son and to visit with my granddaughter’s mama. I love Chapel Hill for its endless supply of dear old friends, cultural diversity, its music and intelligent open mindedness. I’m due for an infusion of its warmth and coolness! The fact that Ill hit the road on Ash Wednesday speaks to my need for a cleansing road trip — like returning to ashes where I once started my trip back here. Full circles are good. I may want to stay when I get there and I may want to come home; not sure. I’ve said that ill move to wherever I get the best job fastest but we’ll see. God will give me the gut feeling to know, I hope.
If I leave RI, I’ll worry for my mother and will miss my siblings. If I stay, I’ll worry more about the lengthening gaps in seeing my children. The visits north or south will have to be more frequent, regardless of what happens. The thought of not really knowing my granddaughter and being more available to my children hurts. Life is difficult when miles separate us from our loves. I’ve got friends in both places. The movie will help decide things, too, as a funded 365 Nights of painting will keep me at this studio for another year. I can paint in both places, though, so visits won’t interfere with the project. It’s all about being the Mother and being the Child — life.
Back to the studio tomorrow. Hope you enjoy my trio of impasto Madonnas…
I painted this today, after 21 days of being away from the studio. My mother fell sick with a BAD stomach virus, later complicated by an infection, then hospitalization. I caught it a few days after the doctors had admitted her. The recovery time was lengthy, so we are well again but still tired, believe it or not. I hope there isn’t a Phase II to the ordeal — but trying to be positive!
I had laid the foundation for this painting on the 6th of February (or thereabouts) with a simple outlined mama and child in green, yellow and white — wearing a fun outfit, well suited for SUMMER! The timing of this painting is perfect, since my mind has wandered South a lot this month — to warmth, my children and the thought of a job there if one arose. Warm tootsies, warm hands, warm hearts!
The cold season is wearing thin on Rhode Islanders, right about now, with temperatures in the teens all week and leaving me ready for SUN and SUMMER. This Madonna is wearing my favorite summer skirt — one that I actually have in my closet! Crisp cotton, white and Kelly green eyelet, gathered at the waist, a tad to short to be considered appropriate for my age group, it screams FUN (even though she looks as tired as I have been feeling). It makes perfect sense for today and the baby is just a love.
Speaking of total loves, I am praying that I’ll see my daughter, my son, my grandbaby and her mama next week. I hope to drive down to NC to love ALL of them with REAL hugs, not the across-the-miles hugs! Last week, my son was hospitalized out of state for inhaling the smoke of burning pressure-treated lumber (he didn’t burn it; someone else did) and he should be back by next week! PRAYER is needed for his health and a new job for him, if you are so inclined to pray. Addy has a lot of change in the air, too, including new bangs this week — like this Madonna’s! My daughter is a beautiful present-day Madonna with great adventures ahead and dreams of living in foreign lands… often the old-soul Child over the years, when I was most fickle. I want to touch base there to see them in LIVING COLOR… cannot wait… I’m tentatively thinking that when the snow stops here on Tuesday or Wednesday, I’ll hit the road.
[E. T. Phone Home…]
It isn’t easy for the 20-30ish year olds today. They have a lot of pressure in an uncertain world! It gets harder and harder to find work and it isn’t easy to make a living; seems harder than the old days, anyway. I support their dreams and try not to interfere BUT I worry more than they know — trusting in GOD but still worrying!
To find work for myself, I’ve resorted to creative marketing. I actually created a website, www.hirejaneanndever.wordpress.com with my first post called “See Jane Work… With your help”. On it, I included a link to my plain old resume (PDF) and video resume (below/click on photo):
I figure that hitting them with visuals might help — and it will SHOW them that I actually know how to design attractive marketing sites and presentations!
MORE on ESCAPING reality: and speaking of taking to the road, I saw a VW Van today and wished for one… and I watched an RV show for a bit tonight and I honestly may like to retire in one of those… I’d park it at South Shore Beach by summer and in NC in Spring and Fall and somewhere else in winter. Sounds great to me, anyway… With grandbabies sleeping over at Nana’s RV. I’d move it four times per year, painting all the while (of course)!
I’ve thought of designing and building a moveable solar cabin on a flatbed (a friend of mine in NC lived in one and it was really cool and “rough”!) or having an RV at some point. I have (thankfully) scaled life down to very little “stuff” — my best way to exist, I think — so I’m “portable”. Of course, God only knows the future; and beyond my drive to NC soon, I have no idea what it holds for me.
2.7.14 Green Shoes Madonna, Watercolor on acid-free paper, 11″ x 14″, $150
I created this on a busy day, on the fly (not ideal), in between taking down one show, hanging another and scurrying around town buying wine and cheese for the opening that week. Green Shoes is the title in the end, because they are the most prominent part of the painting/sketch — and she has connected ankles, the poor darling (as unforgiving as the medium I was using at the time).”
The openings were a success, with lots of attendees, lots of conversation and other art to inspire onlookers! Photos will be on my next post!
Thankfully, my studio is a warm and inviting oasis on this rainy slushy, warmish but damp, dreary day in RI.
After a busy day of Mom-related errands on her only chance to go outside without ice this week, with job search work, Chamber of Commerce sales calls, time spent sorting through old paint tubes, and organizing my studio a bit, I finally settled in to paint this painting. I chose a VERY “sunny” palette today, probably to counter the dreariness of the day and youthful (to me). Brightness and cheery yellow is so NOT what the sky offers New Englanders this week, with the sun socked away behind rain clouds. I once wrote in a poem that “I want to shine before the final coat of varnish is applied” (referring, back then to my hormonal urges of the early 40’s, of course) and am reminded of that by these lively colors.
I painted this without a plan, as I always do. I like the playful colors, the graceful femininity of the mother, and the trace of a worried expression on her face. While I positioned the child in her arms, it brought back memories of my own children and the various ways a mother holds onto a squirmy child. Holding babies, my own, even when squirmy, is what I consider to be the best role I ever had (an odd choice of words, but they don’t give out manuals, so I played the part as best as I could). Was I a natural? Yes, in some ways, and in others I was challenged and am still, apparently (A is for ANXIOUS in my world, even when bad news comes by phone).
I was not exactly calm a lot of the time; much the opposite, I was high-strung and always worried that they would get hurt. One thing I was not, also, was strict or well-disciplined in keeping rules for them (I found them funny or was a total pushover when nagged) so our house was a fun house, too. We always had a lot of neighborhood children around, sometimes checking my fridge for snacks before my daughter made it off the bus (I could never understand the audacity of that one). Both of them were active and both had wild moments, like the baby I painted here –“Squirmy worms”.
When I painted the Blessed Mother’s hand (at center), I remembered my mother’s “vice grip” fingers that could hold our little fingers very still when we were getting our nails clipped my mother wasn’t tough in any other way, incidentally; she rarely got mad and her only corporal punishment was the threat of the wooden spoon; and we were all twice her size, so we giggled when she took it out, knowing it wouldn’t be painful if she ever used it.
I also saw that it really looked like the hand of my maternal grandmother, Maria Carolina d’Oliveira, who had a shrine of roses on her bureau for her “Santinos” and the Blessed Virgin. She was a lovely woman with long, soft, beautiful hands and she prayed non-stop with her rosary beads in hand much of the time. I inherited both sets of hands, I think, as well as my Vovo’s sharp wit and the ability to make a face that spoke a thousand words (both a blessing and curse). She used to call the elderly folks in her complex “Sheep” for their white hair… when she was 95 (and colored her hair until she was 96) and she could look disgusted with a person in a way (with the tilt of her head) that could make me cringe.
Some favorite memories of “Holding on” to sometimes squirmy babies:
My daughter Addy was always a sweet, cuddly baby, fairly calm, mostly well-behaved with a (very) quick wit and wild sense of humor. My youngest, she loved bath time and would race around the house after with undies on her head to be silly (with her still contagious laugh). She could lob her baby bottle high over the pews/heads at church, got into occasional scuffles with the “naughty” boy in pre-K at “Mount Caramel” (Mt. Carmel), played hide and seek under clothing racks in department stores (with her brother in the lead; scared me to death, and once refusing to play with a neighbor who was the same age but as she put it “Clearly a young three” (verbatim/best friends later). She is still a perfect daughter — beautiful, hysterically funny, an amazing artist and friend to those lucky enough to have her, smart and squirmy.
My son, Peter, terrorized adults with his unruliness got away with it because he had “Tweety-bird” eyes, and could wriggle out of any situation with break-neck speed to get to where HE wanted to be (he is still very direct and walks his own path well). He could outrun ANY adult to the dock at my folks’ (not funny), could breakaway to random neighbors’ doors to ring bells for popsicles (we made many a friend that way), or race to the church altar after communion when everyone was quietly praying. He acted out in church a lot: He’d also remove his pacifier to cry out (AUDIBLY WELL for age 2) a 4-letter word that starts with S and ends in T — during peaceful moments in mass (bobbing heads and gasps resulted). Raising children was stressful for me, honestly, and I was a screamer (and high-pitched at that), with my heart in my throat half of the time. He is and always will be a handful — alpha in every way, a totally unique, wise, music-making, loving son and father to my granddaughter.
For all my worrying, they had few calamities as youngsters (these come to mind): Addy broke her wrist at the bus stop from a fall off an icy boulder — then sprained her arm after shoeless ballerina twirling on the kitchen island (in leotards); and Pete stepped on a nail once that went all the way through and didn’t hit anything major; and broke his finger (at two) by throwing a brick up in the air to have it fall on his own hand. Most of the damage was to other things.
I recall “Miss Mouse’s” unintentional Barbie Car mishap during which it (the car) sped out of control and hit the cellar wall, leaving the hamster a goner after he was thrown from the vehicle (lots of crying neighbor kids; funeral procession/backyard gravesite). I recall her very brief “dachshund painting” phase, too, with a stencil I helped make (me: what a neat project/so glad to help) that she used on the sidewalk(!); and most shocking at the time, her intentional nose piercing and tattoos (she wears them well). She rarely got into trouble.
Pete, on the other hand, did off the charts damage to things like painting his entire bedroom carpet black while we were trying to sell the house, spray painting the Christmas tree and all of our heirloom ornaments gold, and (at age 3 or 4) spraying the garden hose into the family room window for five minutes or so (he had been in the sand box when I left to see his cousins shoot hoops in the front yard) leaving the carpet ruined, the plaster falling off the walls, electrical appliances became shock hazards, the pull-out couch very absorbent. Dumping a bucket of water off the deck and onto the play date and mother that were coming to play in the sandbox on a beautiful summer day was memorable, too. He was into water!
I may sound like I am complaining but I’m not. They are my children and I am as proud of their disobedience (when they are on their missions) as I am of their conformity (when it makes sense). I love shock value, anyway, (no surprise, to those who know me) and am just now (too tired, frankly) growing out of that. I am so relieved that they made it through, alive and well — and have grown up! Of course, I’d go back in time in a minute!
Living in my home town makes sense for now with my mom being 86 and before when my dad was sick (before he passed); and, while I am often envious of my ex, I am thankful that my children have their father near them (in Chapel Hill). I know that they are God’s, too, and I do believe that our parenting doesn’t always come from blood relatives. Friends, step-family, extended relatives, fathers, strangers — you name it; they’ve been there for me, so I am sure they are there for my children when I am not. That isn’t to say that I had (or have) an easy time with separation. I still worry and its sad, really, as they aren’t part of my physical world often; but Love is not lacking in either direction, a help.
“HOLDING ON” — holding onto babies, onto jobs, onto God, onto my best self, my sanity, my self-control, onto money (job search) holding onto sanity, friends in need, someone who gives you a hand when you need it; whatever it is, we have to do it when its something important to us. There is a time for letting go, too, I guess. I’m not ready to let go of the Madonna theme. Maybe 2014 will be the year, not sure.
“First Night” oil on canvas
Wow, I went on and on again. This last photo is the first Madonna I ever painted, “First Night”.