A creative malaise crept into my studio during the beginning of 2014. Feeling creatively stuck, I did what I usually do in these circumstances: I searched for a creative place to immerse myself in.
I signed up for a week-long workshop at the Wildacres Retreat in the mountains of North Carolina where I studied Printmaking as Invention in a summer program offered by The Ringling School of Art + Design.
I fell in love with the monotype—a kind of print made by drawing or painting on a smooth, non-absorbent surface. After painting, smearing, wiping and using hand-cut stencils to form an image on “the plate,” the whole thing is run through a printing press. The following series was launched.
At the heart of all new ideas and ventures are the unfortunate, paralyzing phrases we tell ourselves.
The Doubter says, “This will never work.”
The Imposter taunts, “Who do you think you are?”
or the deadliest of all: “Who really cares anyway?” All are poisonous creativity crushers.
This is the voice of Fear. Fear stomps on our dreams and waters down our visions. It squelches our uniqueness and silences our voice. Fear is a hard companion to rid ourselves of, but if we have the courage to risk making changes in our lives and doing things we never thought were possible, we gain the phosphorescence of life.
This series of work has allowed me to reconnect with my courage to go out on a limb. I hope it will do the same for you.
“Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on the earth to climb.” - Hugh MacLeod
Birds have begun to fly in and out of my nighttime dreams—soaring through unexpected places, perching weightlessly on the end of tree branches. They have even shown up as inanimate objects.
Strangely, I began to find dead birds in my garden. The first one was so beautiful, peacefully lying unscathed on my stone patio without a trace of what caused her death. I felt compelled to honor her life.
After creating a prayerful flower mandala around her, I had planned on burying her, but something yanked at my heart. I wanted her life to live on through art, so I photographed her and read up on how to preserve dead animals. A Native American tradition taught me to surround the body in cornmeal within a box and seal it up for 4 months in a dark cool place. So that’s what I did. I have three of them lying in wait.
This painting has been in my office/studio for many, many years but I had not really seen it for many, many years. Then I remembered.
My art collection began in 1965 when I was 11 years old. It was the year my younger brother died of brain cancer.
Jerry Coulter was a family friend and colleague of my father’s at Columbia College. We attended his opening reception at The Columbia Museum of Art, and I immediately fell in love with a small watercolor of his. I stood in front of this painting for a very long time and kept returning to it throughout the afternoon. It touched something deep inside me that I could feel but not name. I remember my mother coming up to me and saying, “Your Dad and I have noticed that you really like this painting and we’d like to buy it for you.” I was shocked. Surprised. Thrilled. I felt nurtured, and I have carried this artwork with me throughout my life. It continues to encourage and comfort me. It helps me to understand my life.