Tag Archives: Mary

The Lord as my Scout

IMG_2975.JPG unfinished; painted in NC

Sometimes our best experiences are loosely planned but dependent on deep, inner faith! My best outcomes are rarely planned (God’s plans, I bet).

I pulled this painting out of one of my sketch/painting journals this afternoon. I had trouble pinning it down long enough on the driveway to take the photo, with the blustery 80 degree breeze giving it flight several times.

IMG_3157.JPGMy days have been busy but I’m being lured into the garage to paint, the empty canvases calling to me and a wildness in my mood — willing to paint uncharted territory. I’ll be out there tomorrow, if anyone wants to venture by.

As you may know, I’ve closed my studio to prepare for a trip south to NC, where I plan to throw myself into the Asheville job market — and will find a job of my dreams! I pray for God’s help daily. My son wants me to paint on the sidewalk, and I probably will to make some cash, in between interviewing. There are lots of street venues for artists there — and I’m reeeeaaaalllly considering the cheap art idea — a movement in Canada right now — (not new) a good idea, considering the numbers of paintings I amass at times.

I had an opportunity this weekend to work (a little) at the Holy Spirit seminar, where the homeless came for inspiration and self-care provisions for everyday life. I also talked to a Sister of the Faithful Companions of the Visitor. What a beautiful conversation we had, touching on the possibilities of Religious vocation, and the more likely gift of a husband (someday, perhaps, if god is willing to give me an pother try), oh well. Why I even hope for a nice husband, I can’t say, considering my dating record, but nest building isn’t complete without a man in the picture but we’ll see. god’s will, Jane, Gods will; more will be revealed.<!–more–

Spreading the word through visual faith expression is my vocation for now anyway — and where better to do this — the roads and byways, where a chat and a sale will make life more memorable and evangelistic (in a way). body and blood on the page and doing gods work. Sacrifice by brush, one stroke ata time.

Part of making this all out effort to find and make a new successful life nearer my children and granddaughter is that I am getting organized here. That, in itself, is worth making a trip. As of tonight, my essential wardrobe fits in three drawers, on 25 hangars and that all of my shoes/sandals/boots fit into a laundry basket. Pared down from old days when wastefulness was a disgusting problem for me, this portable life of mine is quite spare — but richer for it. The rest of clothing is ready for the needy.

The other aspect that has caught me off guard is the way I’m seeing RI and my friends and family this week. My town is beautiful — breathtaking, waterfront, historic, charming. It glistens in June (all the more than usual, since I am making my goodbyes). I cry thinking about it, then snap out of it, knowing that I will somehow visit for one month every summer.

I’ve been reading the reflections of Mother Theresa and comparing our prayer styles (I’d love to as good). Startlingly similar, hers often began with scripture. I suppose that I do pray with scripture opening the process,especially after the readings at Mass, then later in the week as I either go over them or randomly find passages at random. I’ve never realized it though, as I like to think of the prayer process as my talking to God and then listening in contemplation and oneness – closed eyes — just “being” in his presence. Praying in tongues, the purest communication in the language of the angels is something I practice, only when it feels natural.

Reading I ponder this week is Deuteronomy 1:30 (amazing, in that it seems appropriate for my upcoming trip to NC to stay in the mountains while finding a job. God will lead the way):
30 The Lord your God Who goes before you will Himself fight for you. He did this for you in Egypt in front of your eyes, 31 and in the desert. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way you have walked until you came to this place.’ 32 But even so, you did not trust the Lord your God, 33 Who goes before you on your way. He finds a place for you to set up your tents. He uses fire to show you the way to go during the night. During the day He uses a cloud to lead you.

It gives me hope. Even when I think I’m not going places, I am, and he carries me. While I thought I was stagnating, I was really laying the groundwork (in the arms of God) spiritually for a bursting out, a thrust forward into uncharted territory in peace to love, trust in, and to carry the word of God with me… NC is my destination for the time being… To find work and to be near Anahata (granddaughter). Addy and Pete are there too, of course, as are a “gazillion” friends.

I feel joyous, ready to face the future — a bright future. Meeting with friends daily, as everyone wants to say goodbye — even though this isn’t a final trip down there. The permanent move will only happen with good solid employment there. When I get a job, I’ll fly back for the UHàul. I do love a lot of people here, so this is not easy in many ways — but I won’t just go to NC when it works out — I’ll GO to NC to grab this new adventure. If I come back, I’ll come back. I’m not going to worry anymore.

Below: this For Ronny piece is finally at rest in the Mercy Cafe at St. Patrick’s Church, my beloved parish where I share my faith with the sweetest people. Love my time there and will miss it… But will find a new parish in NC when/if the time comes,

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He is Risen Indeed

Happy Easter to All! This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad.

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It has been an incredible week, with less exercise than last week (my only disappointment, really) but with more progress toward regrouping. I posted an ad to rent out my studio for the time being, so I can go back to school to get a “real” job as soon as possible. Many artists are interested but I pray that one will step up by the first.

I filed for Financial Aid to get a school loan to cover what Pell Grants don’t and I chose a field of study and a quick 7 month Medical Assistant program. It may not be as impressive as my initial college placement but I should have done this (or Nursing) years ago. At 52 and beyond, it will give me opportunities to work steadily in a field that is always hiring. I’ll take the test in January to be nationally certified in phlebotomy and EKG, pre-coding, taking vitals (took them in a previous job) and lab work… FUN (not kidding).

When I realized that I’d passed the safety zone of unemployment without government unemployment benefits and that the movie wouldn’t be done in time for me to hold onto my studio, I felt a failure and was scared. I’m not so much now, except that I want to figure out how to get to Chapel Hill for my daughters birthday in a few days. My classes start on May 15th and I’ll have limited opportunity to leave her until January.

All paintings are at half off until further notice, to earn some quick cash! I need to sell all of them, now that I won’t be using them as rewards on a Kickstarter project. Closing up my studio to paint at home for the time being is necessary, too, financially and to keep life less complicated while I go back to school.

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Church has given me a community with whom to celebrate my relationship with The Lord. Prayer sustains me during my days.

Love to all this Easter Day. I love Easter, especially this year, while I can be born into a whole new life. Resurrection happens here and now, as faith raises us up.

My daughter turns twenty-five on the 24th, so Happy Birthday, my sweet Adelaide Mary Dever! If I sell something this week, I will be there to celebrate with you.

Jane

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“Spring Palette” on a raw and rainy day ~ 4.8.14

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“Spring Palette” watercolor on Arches paper, 9″ x 12″, $150
I woke up late after not walking again… Second day in a row! I felt lousy yesterday (an edgy, unsettled day physically and emotionally for reasons that have since resolved themselves) and I went to bed too late to rise at 6 am last night, after late night texting to my children… And asleep at 1:30 am. Early morning makes sense for exercise but with mom, the dog and a morning routine here, it doesn’t really work. I’ve got to figure this out, even if it means walking to Studio later each day.

I sought the job search advice from Realtor friend Deb Jobin over coffee first thing, so even though I got a late start (and it involved a drive rather than a walk), it was a positive one. From there, a research trip to Rogers Free Library provided inspiration for a mural I’ve been asked to do (a commission for an old acquaintance). I spent a couple of glorious hours reading and web surfing, and found time to also brush up on new interior color trends for a home color consultation that I’ll soon do as a favor to a friend.

With the rain this morning and a lingering nip in the air, my entry to a cold studio was not as inviting as usual. Most days the warm sun streams into the south and west facing windows there, readying it for this artist. Without sun to do that job today, it took twenty minutes for the heater to work its magic. Meantime, I sketched a cold crayon drawing with cold fingers and with a bit of a grudge.

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The first sketch was raw, the watercolor over it was too heavy, and the third watercolor was unplanned and easy. The fourth was enough to send me packing… Not my best painting day… I never warmed up completely, literally or figuratively! I don’t like cold, if you haven’t noticed.

I’d been waiting for calls, then realized that I’d left my phone at the library! I dashed out of the building at exactly the same moment that my expected visitor arrived –along with the librarian, who was holding my missing cellphone! Beata Stiepen-Liu, a painter friend, was there to claim two paintings she’d left for the last Raveis Realty exhibit that I’d curated. We toured the studio and then left for coffee to catch up — such a fun visit.

We enjoyed Espresso and coffee at Angelina’s — AND I was entertained by her lovely story about her pilgrimage to El Camino, where she walked “The Way”. I’ve been thinking about making that walk at some point and it seems that her tale was fertilizer for that seed… Still only a seed at this point. It will require a lot of preparation, should I decide to make such a trip; and if I do it, I’ll have to wake up in the morning to walk, hike and TRAIN for it!

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It has been a great day, overall. Too much coffee maybe, as a started with a cup at Coffee Depot with Deb Jobin — and one before that with mom — but a busy and social day, nonetheless. Catching up with old friends is wonderful — and it is good for me to hear how others are, rather than being preoccupied with self all the time! By sharing my “Way” in the world with friends, family and God, I can be a social being.

“Living Water” & “Ready for The Light”

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Above: “Ready for The Light” by Jane Dever, oil on canvas, 20″x 16″, $420

Painting is a nice change from what seems like days and days of other obligations. A wake, a party, church (my favorite activity these days), reading for the “Life in the Spirit” seminar, a funeral, etc., have given me fuel for more thought-provoking work though, so all was not lost.

These two are a tad different from the norm; and I did a fun little sketch as well. Above, “Ready for the Light” is more about this upcoming Thursday night, my preparation for it, as she stands in the clearing from the past (the mysterious and murky background). She is as much a self portrait as a Madonna painting in that she has firm resolve, my green eyes, my spirit and my best physical figure (on my BEST month/year/lifetime). The painting is an Oil on canvas over background that I painted and really loved three weeks ago. I held onto it, for the right day. Today was it.

This Thursday night, I and fifteen or so people will be blessed with the “Laying of the Hands”, a Pentecostal Catholic baptism of the Holy Spirit with a small (not capital) “b”.  I may or may not receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, since the outcome has nothing to do with me.  It’s the Holy Spirit who decides. In preparation, I am trying each day to clear myself of unrest (sin in thoughts, words and deeds) and leave my wild exploits far behind me.  Prayer and an open heart is my goal for Thursday.   FYI: It isn’t a Sacrament but it is very special; my first Baptism still “sticks”.

Earlier this weekend:

I got my proverbial feet wet on the sketch and the “Living Water” (Oil on Arches oil paper, 15″ x 10″), a tad sad or mournful piece that I painted on Sunday, after Church and the day after an emotionally draining funeral. Seeing so many old faces from a family that was once related to mine through marriage was great; but it was emotionally challenging to watch the weird dynamic of still evident hard feelings from past misunderstandings bubbling up here and there. Shaking my head AND thankful that I didn’t harbor any resentments there, I choose forgiveness and encourage everyone to do the same. Nobody is ever 100% right or 100% wrong. Forgiveness, to and fro = instantaneous relief!

Living Water
“Living Water” oil on Arches oil paper, 15″ x 11″ $420

 

Sorry for the glare on the painting  above but it is still wet.

If the woman in “Living Water” looks numb, its probably because I was numb when I painted on Sunday, after a blur of activity, a lot of bible study, many emotional taunts from the past, diet starts and stops, consistent but challenged restraint in most things. I was as numb as the woman in the reading at church on Sunday… a Samaritan woman met by Jesus at the well. Jesus gave her of her choice between a temporary satisfying drink or Living Water for eternal fulfilment. I understand the choice today and want the long-term solution. To have it, I will be faced with countless tests of faith. No kidding, they have begun and I have to choose every day, all day.

Other photos below:

This is Leslie Rupp Deering, who I met at age 11 when we were students at St. Philomena School in Portsmouth, RI — an instant friend! She is holding her newly purchased “Light of Mine”… Thank you, Leslie. It will look great in the living room of her super sweet Craftsman-style cottage in Wakefield, RI.  A charming village, that Wakefield.

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This doggy is a darling new friend that I met at a Spring (huh?) Soirée at a gorgeous loft in the old Peerless Building in Providence.  I am a sucker for great architecture and the views of downtown were mesmerizing.   I reacquainted myself with new friends and a few that may want to join me at the Studio to paint for an afternoon (with a break at Angelina’s for tea,of course).   It is worth it to make an effort and get out of the house.

Speaking of tea breaks, I’m ready for my studio neighbor to return from Rome! I’ll close this blog with”Cheryl Cavalconte, where art thou?”

And a few more cool photos of “Ready for Light” (below).

And… Has anyone had an itch to Explore Bristol? It’s a great place… Just saying… and you can stop by to see my work in person, if you call first.
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A line sketch on paper, just for fun...  she may have lost an arm, at second glance
A line sketch on paper, just for fun… she may have lost an arm, at second glance

Vermillion Aura in the Garden

Vermillion Aura in the Garden, Watercolor on Arches oil paper, $450
Vermillion Aura in the Garden, Watercolor on Arches oil paper, $450

It was an AMAZING night at the Studio; and while I hardly slept last night, it was entirely worth it to me. Having a beautiful environment in which to work with the inspiration from my heart — where the Blessed Mother and her precious Child fill me with inspiration and leave me feeling as though my art matters at the end of the day.

My first painting involved gathering up and adding faces to the “dry enough” small works that I painted last week. They were fun, all oil, painted on canvas board. My collection of small Madonna Paintings is growing (smile).

Warmed up on the faces, I was ready and excited to try a new cold press 300 pound paper by Arches made for oil painting — and it was wonderful to sit at my desk to paint, rather than sit at the easel. I painted “Vermillion Aura in the Garden” (my favorite), as well as a “Grey Mood” (an odd mother/child).

I’ll be back at it tonight but will concentrate on more involved watercolor than the quick sketches I’ve done in that medium.

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Close-up of “Vermillion Aura in the Garden”

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“Gray Day” by Jane Dever, Oil on Arches 300# oil paper, $200
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“Vintage”, Oil on Arches 300# oil paper, 8″ x 6″, $200
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“Green Jammies” by Jane Dever, Oil on canvas board, 8″ x 6″, $200

 

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“Pale Madonna” by Jane Dever, watercolor on Canson paper, $200

 

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“Purple Light Forgiveness” by Jane Dever, watercolor on Arches 120# paper, $125

 

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“Sunlight” by Jane Dever, watercolor, $200

 

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I’ll close with my favorite for today:  “Vermillion Aura in the Garden”20140312-143817.jpg

3/2/14 – Trio of Impasto Madonnas

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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…

Day 24 – “Old Photos” 1.24.14

In the midst of chaos, comes this beautiful mother — drawn with Graphite on paper. She reminds me of one of my Boston Artist friends, actually; funny when that happens.

1.23.14 started on a great note, with my friend having a successful surgery with an invitation to attend a show at 2nd Story Theater to look forward to at the end of the day…

An accident — burst pipes above us — made the end of the day unfortunate, with plans cancelled and a litany of strangers walking through our home. The flood damage drenched everything in the storage closet. It could have been FAR worse, as the flooding was limited to that one room; but the work it caused is upsetting… police and firemen with dirty boots on moms white carpets, a set of silk drapes drenched, my cherry chest of drawers drenched, and ALL of my photo albums are soaked through — the worst part. I spread them all out to dry, with more to lay out…

The look on the face of this Madonna is probably telling, as the photos I laid out (to dry) were my day ended with reminders of
Life I had years ago when my children were young.

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Day 19 – five watercolors and the Pats lose

Day 19 a Lady in Blue by Jane Dever, watercolor, 8" x 6", $150
Day 19 – Lady in Blue by Jane Dever, watercolor, 8″ x 6″, $140 unframed
SOLD to Joan Janek

What a great day it was, except that I didn’t get to mass at my parish today.  The day ended with five water colors,

Still physically exhausted, still not recovered from the all nighter (painting) on Friday/Saturday. I lounged until eleven, shopped for groceries, had a cup of great coffee at Angelina’s, packed a paint-at-home kit at the Studio so I could watch the Patriots play Denver, prepared our dinner in advance, then settled onto the couch to try my hand at water colors while watching my team get pummeled on the field. Thank God I painted, because I’d otherwise be very upset.

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Red Buoy, watercolor, 8″ x 6″, $125
Tunnel vision by Jane Dever, watercolor on 140 lb paper, 8" x 4", $100
Tunnel vision by Jane Dever, watercolor on 140 lb paper, 8″ x 4″, $100
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Spiritual Path by Jane Dever, watercolor, 8″ x 6″ $125
Day 19 a Upset in the Garden, watercolor, 8" x 6", $150
Day 19 a Upset in the Garden, watercolor, 8″ x 6″, $100

I was going to paint in oils and paint myself into one, as I posed and took “selfies” this morning after seeing myself with my towel — I had the Madonna veil drape going on with my waffle patterned oversized bath towel positioned perfectly over my wet hair. Of course I took photos to go by, if and when I want to paint realistic Madonnas… Or for a mixed media project (Painting over my photos… Or painting and collage). Relating to the holy Mother is what this is about, in a sort of “I honor the god in you and you honor the god in me” way; so one will be a self-portrait soon.

I was irritated this week, after getting harassed for being Roman Catholic by a family member who suggested that it was contrary to pro women attitudes to practice a faith that used Mary as a the poster child for its abuse and disregard for women in a patriarchal hierarchy. While I understand where all that may come from, AND after personally leaving the church for a variety of reasons myself (for years), including the bad judgement of then hierarchy during the Mussolini era and the “conversion” and mistreatment of the Jews (my family). It isn’t that I have been blind — Added to all of that, I’ve also blamed the Church for guilt complexes of mine and others’ (family genetics is responsible on this point, though). I loved it on a purely personal level at age 11 on, my first exposure to it (being raised at the First Congregational Church in Bristol. I was treated so well by the nuns at St. Philomena School, my first exposure (other than my grandmother) . I also loved Mary enough from the get go, that I got ejected from the protestant church my folks attended, after asking the pastor over and over (in front of the others) if he/his church had a problem with women for constantly breezing over Mary.

Later, much later, after college, I found out that my father’s side was Jewish — my grandmother Nunes was a Schumann at birth — ridiculous that nobody knew. Dramatic, she handed the Star of David to my aunt from her deathbed, apparently, after holding it clenched in her hand. I thought at that time, “No wonder I’d been invited to Hillel so many times; it makes sense now.   Mary and Jesus were Jews. I love Jews. And Catholics. And Hindus. And All people. I love God. And I think there’s only one.

I am not and have never been the ideal “church lady” because of my wild streak and my rebellious side;  but if im a good church member, the church will be stronger!  I love the confession — just like the fifth step in detox programs — doing life with a clean slate makes life new again. RE-creation, embracing change, forgiving and allowing people to change is part of life.  So, its the same with a church, made up of people — letting go of past to move forward. I do, for whatever reason, feel comfortable in the Catholic mass, as it is what I converted to at 20, after a nine-year love affair with the church. I fell away later on, after my divorce; and now, after a period of reflection and an annulment my ex ordered, I started going again.

I  also developed a serious affinity with Mary when I started painting Madonnas for no apparent reason… I honestly thought about going to Temple and may at some point, to explore that side of who I am, as I feel a draw to Judaism, too. Is that messed up? No, I don’t think so. I would make a great Jew, just as I think I make a great (eyes wide open’ and trying to be an exception to the rule). Is my current church bad? Not bad.  Has it been? YES, the sex scandals involving children, political corruption, etc. — yes, that sucks! But if I am a member and forgive The art, so we can work toward a healthier future in the church, so be it. The new pope seems better. I have an aunt who is a deacon at her Protestant Church AND is a trustee at the synagogue, so maybe that’s where I’m headed, too. It will be all good, if that happens.

These are the paintings today, in order… I tried watercolor and LOVED it! I seemed to be in a “flow”, although the images are too pale and the body parts are not scaled proportionately today… YOUNG moms and big-headed babies…

Please hit the follow button below, as I have only ten followers and many likes on FB. I share on Facebook — and if you share each post with your friends, that would help, too. I need as many followers as possible, in order to get the funding site to take on my project. Finishing the movie for that tomorrow (hopefully). It takes a long time to plan a project like this. Goodnight.

Day 13 – Bathed in Light 2

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Acrylic on canvas, 11″ x 14″, $425

Aside from another delay in the filming of the documentary about my Madonnas and the fruitless job search, I am thankful that my daily painting is going smoothly. My rigorous<!
consistency has kicked in the ” flow”, as evidenced by this “Bathed in Light 2”. I don’t know if this name will stick, but I loved the Bathed in Light 1 ( sold/ see bottom, inset), so I thought I’d honor her with the same title. Any suggestions for a new title?

The film is something that will be used on the web to pitch the project for funding; but, for now, everything I have posted here is for sale; and I am willing to sell them all. Pricing ranges from $150 to $1200 at the moment. I need to free up space, too, for the MANY paintings to come!

There will be more to this post in the morning; however, I couldn’t wait to share this painting with you! Enjoy!

Peace,

Jane

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Day 6 – “Holding On” (for dear life) 1.6.2014

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Day 6 – Holding On_Acrylic on Masonite board

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”.

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Maria Carolina d’Oliveira

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:the kids in the front yard

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.

kids in front yard

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!
photo cabinet collage of the kids
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 ne???????????????????????ed, 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”.