I love the wild parrots!
This is a very controversial statement to make in LA, where the racket of these birds roosting by friends homes is a sore spot. I do not live in proximity to a rookery, and encounter the parrots at the height of golden hour when they head home. Their sound is loud, but not like passing ambulance sirens. It causes me to look up from reading and away from the computer. It is a natural noise, in the manufactured landscape. The parrots are an indicator of this other life that continues in other rhythms, a life that adheres to something other than a syllabus. The parrots cacophony is a delightful alarm clock going off and reminding me to delight in the changing of the light.
The wild parrots also remind me of Mary Olivers' Wild Geese:
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
May you experience the delight of having your place in the family of things announced.
I have just started my second quarter at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. In my first quarter I encountered many thoughts and ideas. The most readily applicable to the majority of people is the Rule of Life. This phrase is frequently used to describe the guidelines used as as the construction blocks for your time, actions, interactions, and resources. Encompassed in the Rule of Life are concepts of rest, simplicity, lament, honoring the body, listening, stewardship, solitude, silence, guidance, and discernment. I have been creating a Rule of Life for myself for years without calling it that. I venture to say that with some reflection you have too, consciously or subconsciously. I crafted my first overt Rule of Life in 2012 and called it Rules for Healthy Living. It was followed by a revised list in 2014. My current list is very much streamlined as evidenced by the image about, but no less comprehensive in scope as each word is an inclusive umbrella term encompassing many regulatory elements common to the Rule of Life ideology:
Read: Guidance, Discernment, Lectio
Pray: Listening, Guidance, Lament, Discernment, Examen, Stillness
Rest: Honoring the Body, Stewardship, Stillness
I encourage you to consider what rules are governing your life. Are they taking you in directions that are helpful and constructive? Do you want to be going in another direction? Prayerfully ruminate on what your Rule of Life is. Write it out and place it somewhere as a reminder of the direction you want to be moving in. I made a little sticky note on my computer desktop since as a student I am looking at that screen for hours every day.
Apropos sentiment for my year
I stopped 5 day a week blogging last March for health reasons. When I paused I did not know that it would be such an extended hiatus. I happened to be in the middle of #40daysofprintmaking when I made the decision, but preserved with that project on Instagram. By December of 2015 I was feeling much better & inspired by the beauty of the LowCountry winter flowers I embarked on a #12daysofflowermas project on Instagram. I am now on day 63; well over 5x's the goal I set. Yay! Georgia O'Keeffe say's it best regarding flowers, & recuperative time: "When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not."
I have been documenting the winter flowers that bloom, mostly in my backyard, during the LowCountry winter. I recommend checking out the images on Instagram, as they are sure to be the cure for what ails you. Originally I thought I would just post for the 12 days of Christmas, but the blooms have been just too lovely, so the project will continue as long as I find flowers.
"When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not. -Georgia O'Keeffe
I recently used the phrase "sunshine & rainbows" with someone who was up to their ears in frustration with their colleagues. I like the phrase, which did bring a smile, because it implies that the storm is over. The rain has passed & now we might have very soggy ground, not the place to build anything on, but we also have startlingly long sunlight and vibrant surprising rainbows to admire. It is important to appreciate this & when the ground is dry to build things up again.
As I have started feeling better I have begun reading books again. Those of you that know me well, or have known me for a long time know that I LOVE BOOKS! Always have & always will. When I was younger the most grievous punishment my parents could inflict was to ground me from my extracurricular reading.... #NERDALERT I hadn't even realized I was no longer pursuing long form reading, thinking that perhaps my interests had shifted & that I was no longer into books. Nope, that was pernicious bacteria taking over. I LOVE BOOKS! Some wonderful books I have read in the past few months include, Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, The Dirty Life by Kristen Kimball, Dirt Work by Christine Byl & Midnight in Siberia by David Greene.
The crux of each book
Ender's Game; "When I understand my enemy well enough to kill him, in that moment I also love him." I recommend reading the entire series!
The Dirty Life: Sometimes the life you think you want is not the life for you. And the life for you might be much more complicated & hard, but it will be satisfying.
Dirt Work: What does it mean to labor? Is there value in physically draining work?
Midnight in Siberia: Excellent perspective shifter on Russian values.
John Green posted a Vlogbrothers video this week that I have included below. It is the inspiration for this post.
What color do you wish wasn't there?
I put together a new palette for each painting so I rarely wish a color wasn’t there. That said, I paint with liquid acrylic and there are lots of times that I accidentally squeeze too much out, resulting in WAY too much of one color.
What is your favorite brush?
My absolute favorite is Robert Simmons' short handle Sapphire series 1/4” Angle Shader. When these brushes are brand new, I’m able to get really precise crisp lines and smooth edges with them. They are also beautifully responsive and lovely to work with when building up thin layers of paint to create gradations of color. Finally they are relatively inexpensive brushes, which is important because I go through A LOT of them. Since I really need the bristles to be in near perfect condition for the kind of detailed painting I do, I usually can only get 3-4 solid days of painting per brush. I periodically donate 50-100 gently used brushes to my kids’ schools and after school programs so they can continue to be used by others.
What is your favorite paper/surface to paint on?
I begin each piece with a photographic image that I print onto one or more pieces of archival paper. After cutting away parts of the print and reassembling it, I mount the paper to a panel and then paint over every part of the printed image as well as all exposed parts of the panel, including the sides.
What is your favorite color to work with?
That’s a hard one for me to answer because it’s mostly the relationships between colors that really excite me - especially where cool and warm colors meet. One of my favorite pairings: Prussian Blue shadows on a surface warmed by a (very wee bit of) Pyrrole Orange.
While this break was much longer than I anticipated it did provide ample time for reflection. I came to some conclusions about my blog & the direction I want to take:
1. I had become a slave to the deadline. It didn't matter if my work was not up to my standards. If It was Thursday a new painting had to be posted, even if it was a slapdash effort. Sometimes I rationalized this by claiming it as part of the process, but I knew that was just not true at least half of the time.
2. I am a private person. Most bloggers share the intricacies of their lives. I am not the kind of person that does this. Yes I will share process, materials, & scenes from nature, but I will not be telling you about anything else (relationships, what I had for dinner, a current moral quandary). And this stifles the blogging relationship. Blogs have that very personal element that I would share if we are in a face to face relationship, but I am not going to share across the internet in that way.
3. I love the #PaletteProject. Collecting & curating other painters palettes has been one of my joys in this past year. I love seeing the process & diversity of responses. I am thinking about ways to expand this project & welcome input. Many more #PaletteProject posts to come.
4. The blog will continue. There will be blog posts, however they will not hold to the previous 5 day a week schedule. In fact, there will be no set schedule. I will share when I have work of value & not when I feel I must.
5. Thank you! To those of you that have liked & commented, encouraged & critiqued.
I am taking some time off from posting here to spend time with family & deal with some ongoing health issues. The #40DaysOfPrintmaking will continue on Instagram.
It is interesting how phrases are transformed when placed on functional objects. For example, by putting "C'est la vie; c'est la guerre." on a pillow are you placing your invite in the mail for a pillow fight? Each of these phrases from the #40DaysOfPrintmaking has particular resonance with the object shown here & while this was not the intended outcome, it is a fun by-product. All of these & many others are for sale on society6.
If you are interested in licensing or commission work please contact me.