On the paintings:
Yesterday, I finally got to finish this painting “Living Water” (above) started last week, the title of which seems to have been a sign of what was to come this past Thursday night at church. I also got back the painting “Vermillion Aura Madonna in the Garden” (below) from Bristol Picture Frame, where I had them mat it to a frame I’d bought from them a while back. It looks prettier than the photo, in person… And they did a great job with a quick turnaround.
This is a stormy Sunday, a very rainy one, with massive floods that had traffic backups for miles and the roads to downtown Bristol blocked off. Instead of my ritual after-church coffee at Angelina’s Coffee and painting at Alta Luna Studio, I was forced to come home. I was disappointed but I’ve gotten over it. Keeping the Sabbath, I won’t work at all at anything job-search related (seems silly since I haven’t worked since November), although I did go online to try to find a used/cheaper set of Rosetta Stone digital Spanish language software, to help me “brush up” and qualify for a more jobs. One I wanted at the Diocese and another two with the State all require fluency in Spanish.
So, even though I feel like I’ve missed something, it has been a relaxed day at home with my dog Zoe, my mom and (even) a visit from my brother (with my sister and her husband coming by later on).
My brother’s visit was fun, since he always makes us laugh with his detailed stories and entertaining storytelling style (his photo, inset, holding his dog)
Regarding my baptism in The Holy Spirit ceremony at the “Life in the Spirit” seminar at church, it was beautiful! After a prayer in which I rejected Satan and chose God and the life of Christ, four spirit-filled women laid their hands on my shoulders and head, prayed over me there and received words from the Spirit to give to me. I was given a card of notations after — all meaningful and appropriate for me, I thought. They’d written on it: “John 4:7 on” (the same reading I’d written about the week before /the Samaritan Woman at the well), the words “My daughter, how long have I waited for you — come into my presence and be with me forever!” (from God, obviously); and a task for me, “Up on a mountaintop, paint a picture of Jesus and keep it on your heart”.
Since then, I’ve reflected and imagined that painting on my heart, reread the passage (the whole book of John several times, in fact) — and I know in my heart that my prayer connection to the Father is secure, really close. I have never felt more loved, really.
I have also been thinking that I want to find a mountain to literally paint that scene… Perhaps Mount Hope, here in Bristol… maybe one in NH or western Massachusetts, not sure… Maybe with serious altitude, like Machu-Picchu… or with Christian significance, like Mount Sinaii… Mt. Eremos or the Plain of Gennesaret? It probably doesn’t matter, as long as its here on my heart. [I’d love comments about great mountains!]
In closing, I’ll share a painting I did called, “Office Politics,” with emancipating ramifications today… Life is good today. Amazing (grace). God bless! Oh the reference to Noah, refers to a new movie that I want to see… One of these days.
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!
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.
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.
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…
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!
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.
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.
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”.