I just put fish in the oven (Thanks to Linda Rego of East Bay Newspapers, for her Mock Lobster recipe/inset photo), Andy Griffith is playing in the background (Mom loves the old programs) and the dog is napping after a workout at doggie daycare (my niece owns Club Canine), so I jumped on to write about the painting that I just left to dry at the Studio.
I used the palette knife for most of this “Impasto Sun Madonna” painting; and when using one, the thicker the paint is, the better. It could have been even thicker. The Mother had a perfect face until I swiped it with the palette knife and had to start again, so she is a bit peculiar — but fabulous. I am impulsive and didn’t think too much when I began, so she is standing on the bottom line, right at the edge of the canvas — something I can consider when/if I frame her. The best selection, I think will be a drop in/floating frame. If I can find access to a table saw, I am thinking that I might start building my own frames again, out of oak slats — not the cheap ones this time. A bit thicker (1/4″), in hardwood, nail-gunned to the edge of the canvas so it doesn’t cover the painting edge at all.
All that writing about time management is a joke, I guess, as I rushed around today (again). I was late coming home with the fish (mom eats at 7pm), late enough that my niece dropped the dog off after daycare, and I left a bit of a mess on my desk at the Studio.
I guess I don’t care as long as I paint, apply for jobs, and meet my obligations to family, my mother and my dog.
I like the painting, too, a bit disheveled — and I love it.
A landscape by Jane Dever, acrylic on Masonite board, unframed $200
Funny how my day went — full and productive — but Madonna-less. The dog got me up very early, followed by crossword/coffee/rye toast with Mom, a mammogram (better than the torturous boob-pressing torture of the past), a meeting at the East Bay Chamber of Commerce (I sell memberships, in case you want to join – call me), and writing at the Coffee Depot with lots of friendly interruptions (mostly on my part, saying hello to people I rarely see).
The calendar included Dinner and a lecture at 5 pm in Newport (on my friend; a nice thank you dinner) so — SO once again, I left too little time to add Mary to this painting. I love it, really, and it is (maybe) a God thing that I kept it Madonna-less (either I would have made a mess of it or I’m letting myself off easy).
She really is in all of my paintings — anyway; and now I’m going to share why I say that… On the night of my very first opening of the “Madonna Nights” Exhibit, it became clear to me that she was always part of them. That exhibit included over 30 paintings of which SO MANY sold the first night that it felt like a miracle — a total affirmation of my dedication to my dreams and dedication to painting. I had quit my day job to reduce stress and to get back to basics (art/prayer/meditation). Getting to the point (bear with my meandering): I had included one or two Madonna-less paintings in that show, landscapes; and one of them sold to a lady who told me that she had (finally, after scrutinizing it) found the Madonna in it. She showed me where she saw her (in the clouds I think); and sure enough, I saw it, too (though not intentional). See, my Sacred Mother really is in all of my paintings — and that makes me happy. It also a miracle, as I am not perfect in any manner.
Thoughts about this “Back to Business” painting: I have always associated ice with harshness, lifelessness, frigidity — universal stuff. Warming up is a positive for me, and I think I’m warm, mostly (sometimes too warm, occasionally hot tempered, in hot water with the ease of a sharp tongue, and a propensity for lustiness — at least prior to my “crone” status (not a kind word). There is definitely a negative end there, too. Gotta watch that!
The colors and temperatures of life are so often captured in art. I like the contrast of the ice and the warmth in the tree line, with that one white speck in the sky, enticing us to seek it out. The perspective of the scene leaves us with so much cold to pass over before getting to that tree-line and a warmer place, darkness and uncertainty. That star seems so distant, almost impossible to get to… It is a simple yet striking scene.
The lecture (back to my day) covered near-death experiences and meditation, given by a Dr. Allen from Saunderstown. We were late getting there, after (aptly named) Wednesday Menu Madness at the Atlantic Beach Club (everything but lobster is $15 per plate); but it was still worth the mad dash across Newport to the Middletown Library.
Dr. Allen cited patient accounts of light,immeasurable love, warmth, (I love the word rapture, so I’ll use it) rapture, and messages to the living from passed loved ones. Some of the patients were children who “came to” with spot-on messages from relatives who had passed over before their births. He ended the lecture with a 5 minute meditation.
My two cents about Meditation: in a perfect world, with 36 hour days — or 40 with my time-management issues — I’d write/record a meditation about each I painting, in addition to my blog. I sort of have a good audio voice when I don’t have my sleepy lisp.]
Visualization is a form of meditation that really helps folks with post-traumatic stress disorder and i have experience with bot. When I first moved back to New England from NC, I worked at a detox in Fall River, as a Milieu Therapist. They hired me because I could help them paint through their traumas; but meditation was something I did daily, so the task of leading them in meditation was a perfect fit, too. The Visualization and Painting hours with them was interesting; and, hopefully, it helped.
Last year, I planned a meditation at the old Alta Luna Gallery (now closed) to visualize ourselves traveling through a painting each month, but it never took off; maybe seen as hippy dippy, not sure. [i must add a recording system to my wish list, along with a video/still camera and art sales to fuel the completion of 365 Madonna Nights of painting.]
Worried about me, my sister said once that I set up unrealistic expectations, and maybe she is right. I like life that way, though. I think it is my way of forcing myself to do more stuff. I am not sure that I like it being so public; but I feel compelled to share everything. (TMI is my specialty).
Adding art to a daily calendar allows me to paint more. Adding prayer/worship/meditation to my calendar, allows me to give my spirit time and energy. Being unemployed — while ridiculously embarrassing and unexpected at this juncture — is something that has me assessing my life (never a bad thing, when coupled with action). If I start to sell these paintings, this CAN be a living, so perhaps that will be the silver lining in this meager financial picture. A big dream? Yes. Will the world embrace it? Maybe; maybe not.
Plans go awry and maybe they should. I had a great day that included quality time with mom and my dog, a doctor visit (hallelujah), dinner with an old friend (a friendship that survives starts and stops; and her new friend/now my friend). And my very last stop, after a text from my guy buds, even allowed me to fit in a fun game of darts and sharing the paintings with youngins — evangelism of sorts at the Wing Wednesday minus the wings (I’d eaten).
Last but not least, a Consecration Prayer to Mary:
Hail, White Lily of the ever peaceful and glorious Trinity! Hail Vermilion Rose, the Delight of Heaven, of whom, the King of Heaven was born, and by whose milk He was nourished! Do thou forever feed our souls by the effusions of your divine influences.
I started painting this way back in September, when I was sitting outside the (former) gallery awaiting customers, and trying to entice them in…
She had an instant appeal to me, likable, spiritual, down to earth and beautiful. Her bandanna, loosely knotted ponytail and linen dress reminds me of music festival folk and the light-hearted life that I so enjoyed in North Carolina — with music and company to lift hearts and free oneself in good times. Shakori Hills Music Festival in Pittsboro, NC, is my favorite venue for hearing music (and camping) and i plan to get there somehow in April! Two years ago, we took my granddaughter (6 months old at the time) and I have other great memories of it, too.
In 2007, a year or so after I first connected to God in a new, personal way, I remember going to that event and really meditating easily there. Alone and camping out for the weekend to float off in prayer and meditation — and to dance in celebration of what felt like a perfect life. One of my best memories is falling under Carolina blue skies in warm sunshine, on a blanket in an empty and open field and falling into a glorious nap; then being woken by music a few hours later in a warm and fuzzy state (it was such a good nap, I had to be drooling), surrounded by a huge crowd of people. I just sat up and was astounded by what I heard — a total God gift — HuDost, a band called HuDost. I listened to one of their albums nonstop for at least a year (My favorite songs of theirs are “99 Prayers” and “This is Me” (it embodied my life then).
Music and God — music is such a blessing! Nature and being near water really helps me to connect, too; probably the serenity of it.
I reached for this partially done painting, Blue Bandanna Madonna, yesterday. I’d wanted to keep it spare, as the first phase was beautiful, too (except for her missing forearms, of course). It developed more detailed than I thought and I am happy with her still. The crown of stars turned into twelve red birds, for some reason. Shakori is an old Native American reservation, so maybe the birds are linked to that, not sure.
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!
I named this “Holy Water” because I painted it after being blessed with Holy Water today by my Parish priest, Father Ruggieri. It embodies the blessings and unlimited love that the Blessed Mother has for those who seek comfort from her.
This day was the day in scripture on which Jesus Christ was baptized. Although he was 30 at the time, this painting is dedicated to baptism. I also watched a beautiful 2 year old (maybe 3) boy be christened today, and it was moving. His entire family was there… Precious. I also renewed my baptismal vows during their ceremony, which took place at my church.
I had a great conversation with a woman there, too, about Mary, and it just reinforced my love of this topic. I told her how hard it has been to follow through and she said that Gods work IS hard, always hard. We (I) are not perfect and the world sidetracks us… The benefits from doing work in the name of God is worth it. Even in my non-saintly way, the results are heavenly. The love and peace. The mothering. The sharing and humility. The ease that comes with turning my worries over. The unconditional acceptance of a loving Holy Mother. Forgiveness is real here, too.
Goodnight. I’m tired after a full day with family and don’t want to write a long passage today. I sometimes think that over analysis can hurt things. Just trusting the outcome once I’ve done my work, works for me.
This painting was one that flowed from my soul, like meditation and complete clearing of the mind, after passing through a muddle (painter’s block). It felt effortless to paint it, a quick painting. The background held its own and I considered leaving it Madonna-less but my gut didn’t. She came effortlessly to this piece, in her strong, assured, gorgeous “Silver Light Fantastic” way. This (I think) is the light that shines brighter after darkness.
Using silver again and loving it. It’s often used to kill germs, on surgical equipment, in pool chemicals, etc. I prefer it to gold, in terms of jewelry, for it seems less opulent with a “less is more” bent to it — back to basics, fresh; like prayer on the floor rather than on the comfort of a chair (humble, not high and mighty).
My Sufi friend once told me that the only sin in Life is not remembering. I asked, “Remembering what?”, to which he answered, “Where we came from.” It’s so simple. (I think) we start out perfect at birth, get damaged, do damage to ourselves and others, spend our lives trying get over all that, and wish to relive the “good times” while wasting the now; when, if we remember the beginning and honor that divinity in ourselves and others, we can find bliss. Why suffer with unhappiness when we are still children of that perfect Love, our Creator (God). I used to be able to close my eyes to go back in an instance, to be held by God and to be in that light. When I’m not well, it’s because I’ve lost the simplicity of that.
I will paint my day silver today to keep my attitude positive, maybe as positive as it was when I “flowed out of this painting” or into the world the first day of life in Silver Light Fantastic. And I’ll go for a walk In this beautiful weather to meditate and “remember”. My friend Frank gave me this quote today to keep me on track, too:
“Good things come to those who believe. Better things come to those who are patient. The best things come to those who don’t give up.” (Author unknown)
The caption for this reads, “This is how I want to remember fifty; at the water, enveloped in light, loved, being a good mother/grandmother/friend/daughter/sister/child of God/creator; and I want to make progress in my dreams of painting more/ showing more art/ creating a new art space in RI (huge), shedding light on a food sharing in RI, and I want to make a short film/documentary (need a flip camera if anyone has one to share. It will be a busy fiftieth year; so, having said that, I’d better get my beauty rest. God knows at fifty, I’ll need a lot of it! Oh! Important! I want to do more yoga this year. And I want to record some meditation CDs to share the guided meditation I do by myself! Good night. — with The Madonna Painter.”
In terms of that day and what I wrote, I guess my life followed my dreams over the next two years. I found this caption and photo yesterday, just when I needed it… to realize that I am doing okay — on my own terms. I have dreamed large dreams and I am allowing myself to see them happen. [of course, I haven’t gotten to all of them; but definitely to others, with the film in progress and help i gave to the food sharing help was less than it could have been]
This 365 Madonna Painting project is a big dream, a big undertaking, and I pray that I make it. I was ready to pack in the 365 in 365 idea yesterday and then — just decided that I could do it. The actual BIG project hasn’t started yet; many of you don’t realize that. This is a primer of sorts…
I get scared when I think Big Dreams, though. Sometimes I PROCRASTINATE in fear. Before I painted this painting, I STOPPED and really Procrastinated: I blamed errands, the weather, the dog, you name it; I drove by the studio and kept driving; called and wrote a few friends to go out; ate dinner; had a bit of a pressure-derived panic-attack or several; then, finally JUST went to the studio and got it done. Writing is taking me a bit longer and you’re seeing paintings later as a result — but for now, this is the way I’m doing it.
Walking the path, just continuing… seems so easy now — after the fact.
I hope you like this painting. I love her and the baby… I was going to call it Children of the Corn or something, fitting for the day I had; but as I was finishing this painting at the studio, I heard a ding from my phone, and it was from one of my friend Elaine was concerned about my carrying on about my procrastination and her simply question on the text was, “How art Thou?”
I tweaked it with caps to “How ART Thou?” and so now you have my answer. (okay for now.)
I named this painting “Miles to Go” because it shows a vast and changing landscape behind the Blessed Mother and Child on a journey. The baby is looking up at her adoringly and for security (I imagine) and they are surrounded by an aura of silver light. Silver is symbolic of spiritual guidance, feminine energy, and the ebb and flow of the tides, the moon, among other things. Red is my favorite color when I paint, for its warmth and grounding.
A few years ago, I enlisted the help of Spiritualist Sybil Pierce at SunRose Farm in Saunderstown, to counsel me through a successful career patch of my new life in RI. I had been struggling to balance job/career/relationships and conflicting soft and competitive sides of my persona. I am a flighty person when I have too much on my plate, flitting from one thing to the next at times, with dreams all over the place, big ideas and great achievement at times — often in need of GROUNDING. It sounds crazy, as some color theory does, but she said to wear more RED. It makes sense now, as it just occurred to me that I instinctively paint red in my Madonna paintings, chose red for my logo, and used it for the background of this painting.
This Madonna in search of grounding and with “Miles to Go”, is offered to highlight a cause today. Normally, I do not have a theme in mind but I found out that this week is National Migration Week, so this was painted/dedicated to the migrants (of all ages) who suffer through extreme hardship to find safe havens, are victims of human trafficking, and other atrocities every day.
“National Migration Week 2014: January 5-11
National Migration Week 2014 will take place January 5-11 with the theme, “Out of the Darkness.” Migrants and particularly the most vulnerable migrants: children, the undocumented, refugees, and victims of human trafficking, often find themselves existing in a kind of figurative darkness where their options remain limited and their ability to live out their lives in its fullness severely restricted. Often at risk of violence or exploitation these vulnerable populations need to be provided the support needed so that they can thrive.” ~ from USCCB.org.
Reminded of a group of such refugees I met in NC:
Before painting, I thought a lot about a New Year’s Eve party I attended in Raleigh ten years ago. The revelers were mostly Columbian but some were from other Latin American countries, women and children (mostly) who truly loved life! During those twelve hours (9pm to 9am) I learned to cook their Native new year’s specialties (Colombian chicken soup, my favorite to this day) and made new friends. Friendly to this newcomer, they pulled this “sleepy American girl” out of her chair to celebrate, eat and to share what I thought were peculiar traditions. Dried lentils were passed around just before midnight (for prosperity), we had to don yellow garments (can’t remember why; to bring love, I think), then took empty suitcases around the block (to bring travel in the new year), fun! They all took snap shots of me napping at times throughout the night, as I was just not able to dance anymore!
What happened next was most remarkable. After midnight, I felt honored to witness their outpouring of emotional anguish as they took turns making phone calls to loved ones in other countries (who they could never go back to see).
I asked them to share their stories with me — and one by one they did. They were amazing stories (some of which were translated for me), heart wrenching accounts of WHY they HAD TO come to America to give their children a fighting chance at a safe life. One woman fled the social humiliation of a spouse who abused and neglected her; then, also told of her sister who had been kidnapped several times in Bogotá for being an attorney. Another was a physical therapist in her own country but working as day care worker here (getting minimum wage with many toddlers in her care). One woman’s family had lost a whole farm to cartel bandit. And finally, one fled with her baby, lest be killed, to avoid laundering money for drug lords.
Their attitudes were so positive — truly spiritual and inspirational! I never saw these woman again but will never forget their tales of courage. I hope that in a small way, I can shed light on this topic — and help people to look at migrants in a compassionate manner.
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”.