A Painting A Day: Days 1-10

Day 1: July 4th 2012: "Death Injury Family Freedom" 
Okay, so I just finished Julie Powell's Julie and Julia and I really liked it.  Not just because I love to cook, mind you!  The book showed how a girl my age (29) followed her bliss, and with discipline and good humor, changed her own life and the lives of everyone around her.  In effort to get the juices flowing, I propose to do a watercolor a day and post it here on my blog.  I won't be posting every day (who knows how the day will go??) but I will be painting every day.  So be sure to catch up on the latest development.  Now, I know that there are a gazillion painting a day sites out there.  This is not in competition, or in the spirit of self-promotion.  Rather it is an inner journey shared publicly via the worldwide web.  Occasionally, I will share some tidbits about what inspired the picture. But it's also fun for you to decipher them yourselves.  Please comment when you are moved to do so.  May this endeavor be in the spirit of love and light. Enjoy.

watercolor on paper, 5.5" x 5.5"
inspired by Oyster Beach, Buck's transition, 
Matthew's pain, memories of going to the beach as a child,
 and the love of parents for their children

July 4th was a rough one...but also amazingly fun and relaxing. My good friend Lois took me to the beach and introduced me to some of her wonderful friends. For the first time in months, I was sketching people, laughing as the waves knocked older ladies down (don't worry, they were laughing, too) and gazing at bizarre couples and adorable children. Later that night, however, I learned that my boyfriend Matthew had fallen down some stairs and was seriously injured. This was also the day that my Mother's dog, Buck, transitioned to the other side. A day with the widest range of emotions...and perhaps freedom?

Day 2: July 5th 2012: "How to Control Your Control"
This painting is about New York and all the craziness of the New York streets. I spent the day walking and walking and it was somewhere in the 90's outside. Humid, but not compared to Ohio! One of my favorite New York pastimes is choosing an avenue and walking up or down for several miles, watching the neighborhoods change as you go.  I didn't see any car accidents, thankfully, but was well aware of the healing presence of angels all around. It's amazing how fast your prayers are answered when you just ask.

"How to Control Your Control"
watercolor on paper 5.5" x 5.5" 
walking in New York City,
asking the angels for help and they will guide you
The Law of Free Will

Day 3: July 6th 2012: "The 'EYE' AM Presence"
Last night I spent some time with two good friends, Emily and Sonomi. I hadn't seen them in over a year! We got some drinks and had a wonderful feast at a nearby Thai restaurant. As the hours ticked by, I grew so tired that I only wanted water to drink. Sonomi's boyfriend, who was the bartender, generously refilled my glass time and time again....until I was finally satiated! That night, Emily had wine and Sonomi had a Manhattan. This piece is about the three drinks, which reminded me of the pyramid with the eye symbol.

"The 'EYE' AM Presence"
watercolor on paper 5.5" x 5.5"
Merkana, EYE, 3 drinks after midnight

Day 4: July 7th 2012: "American Museum of Natural History"
On July 7th, the birthday of a good friend and childhood Nanny, Irene, I went to the American Museum of Natural History with a new friend, Shari, her family, and two friends from summer camp.  It was fun to walk through the dinosaur exhibit with Shari's boys, learning new things from them and the displays.  My eye was drawn to the natural patterns caused by fossils and plated armor preserved from an ancient reptile. These patterns reminded me so much of the decorated papers that we sold at Bill's Art Store in Oxford, Ohio. Perhaps we draw our love of patterns from the natural sequence of animals and plants, whose seemingly random placements and decorations are in fact complex sequences of a higher order. 

"Knightia Skeletons: Small Herrings"
5.5" x 5.5" watercolor on paper
fossilized knightia skeletons on display at the 
American Museum of Natural History

 "Sauropelta Edwarsi: Shielded Reptile"
5.5" x 6" watercolor on paper
image of Sauropelta Edwarsi scales at the 
American Museum of Natural History

"Thinking of a new house"
5.5" x 5.5" watercolor on paper
image of our new apartment in Brooklyn,
Trees, symbols and the feeling of Amarna

Day 5: July 8th 2012: "Letting Go of What No Longer Serves You"
While searching frantically for jobs in New York, I was actually hired by a Chelsea restaurant. Upon reading the Yelp reviews, however, I wondered about the quality of food service and management.  Nevertheless, I gave it a shot and spent the better part of Sunday shadowing a server.  The work wasn't too hard: just a different computer system and some slight changes in how they served in comparison to the Quarter Barrel Brew Pub in Ohio...but the main thing that turned me off was the morale. Repeatedly, my inquiries of how the servers liked working there or how much money they made were met with vague and disaffected responses.  And they didn't even tip me out for helping with tables! I thought to myself: I'm done with this.

"Letting Go of What No Longer Serves You"
5.5" x 5.5" watercolor on paper

 Working as a server these past few years has been lots of fun.  I grew as a person and gained profound respect for the services of  restaurant kitchens, management and wait-staff.  But I'm afraid that my time in this particular world has ended.  Like a snake that has out-grown its skin, I cannot go back to what served me yesterday: I must forge on and grow a new set of scales (think: scales~octaves~vibrations).  

This watercolor brought me back to my MFA thesis at the New York Studio School.  Deeply affected by the Bill Moyers/Joseph Campbell interview on PBS, I wrote a thesis applying Campbell's message,"Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls," to my own path as an artist and human being.  The "to serve or not to serve" issue that arose the other day is an opportunity to apply Campbell's teachings.  Sometimes you must be brave and forge ahead into unknown territory, perhaps take a minor pay-cut to pursue a job that makes you happy, rather than struggle along, half-dead, in a miserable environment just to stay alive.  And you know? When you are happy and following your bliss, perhaps an unforeseen opportunity will arise and you will receive that pay that you were hoping for, or be asked to display your artwork, or hear of another wonderful opportunity.

  "Trust in Trust and Faith in Faith" ~Derek

"Live quietly in the moment and see the beauty of all before you.  
The future will take care of itself." ~Paramahansa Yogananda

"As you follow your life's course, do not be afraid to be who you are.  It matters not that you do not fit a mold.  Better to have not fit in at all than to have missed your Truth.  Every being has his or her own gifts and challenges.  Follow your heart to the end, come what may.  I wish you well on your journey." ~Merlin 

 (from "Merlin and The New Camelot: The Birth of Collective Christ Consciousness",
a wonderful new book by Alison L. James, available in paperback and hardcover with accompanying CD, and downloadable at GatherInsight.com)

Day 6: July 9th 2012: "Sai Baba and the World"

"Sai Baba and the World"
5.5" x 5.5" watercolor on paper

This painting came after having finished Alison L. James' wonderful new book "Merlin and The New Camelot: The Birth of Collective Christ Consciousness", available in paperback and hardcover with accompanying CD, and downloadable at GatherInsight.com.  In the book, Alison refers to avatars and other advanced beings who help us in our life-paths.  The figure in the picture is Sai Baba, a saint from India whose charity and loving compassion have affected millions.  I like the idea that saints like Sai Baba are looking out for all of us while we sit on our little lotus-worlds meditating.

Day 7: July 10th 2012: "For Elka"

"For Elka"
5.5" x 5.5" watercolor on paper

This morning, my friend Elka and I ventured down to the Javits Center for a darshan with Amma.  Darshan, or Sanskrit for "sight," is the act of receiving a blessing through the sight of a holy being or a guru.  Amma (Mother) is known as the "Hugging Saint" because she has given hugs to over 31 million people.  Amma also heads a charitable organization called "Embracing the World," which provides housing, job opportunities, disaster relief and green initiatives (and more) to people in need throughout the world.  This watercolor is foremost for Elka, in gratitude for bringing me to Amma this morning.  I wish her love, health, peace and happiness.  It is also painted in inspiration and deep gratitude towards Amma and the amazing work she does all over the world.  It is humbling to think that one person can make such a difference.  It makes you wonder what you could do with a heart of pure love, absent of fear. 

To learn more about Amma, visit her website: www.amma.org
Amma's charity Embracing the World: www.amma.org/global-charities

Also, one of my recent paintings of Sri Satya Sai Baba (another saint from India) was recently installed at the B-Well Center in Scottsdale, Arizona.  What an honor!  To learn more about the center, please go to their website at: b-wellcenterofscottsdale.com

~A peaceful healing space at the B-Well Center

 "Darshan Line"
5.5" x 5.5"
Last night while sketching, I found myself painting the range of people I saw waiting for darshan with Amma (see yesterday's post for descriptions). There were elderly people, disabled people, families, couples, friends, people bearing gifts for Amma, people who came alone, and some really crazy-looking saint-like yogi people (those ones are floating or sitting on top of each other in the watercolor). Before darshan with Amma began, this Indian guy led the room through a brief meditation.  His voice was deep and soothing.  He seemed to lose himself in the pauses, slowly pulling the words out, reluctant to leave whatever he was experiencing sitting next to Amma.  I wondered if this was the type of guy the Beatles hung out with in the 1960's.  When you see people clothed in all white or all orange, silent and holy, you are transported to another world.  For a moment, I felt as if I were in India.

"Saints Bartholomew and Simon"
5.5" x 5.5" watercolor on paper

This watercolor is a sketch of the cover of a Gregorian Chant CD that I purchased at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The Chant CD reminds me of one of my favorite teachers, Susan Walp.  While listening to the chants, I found myself drawn to painting the medieval images.  Imagining myself as a monk in a cell, I painted in silence.  As I am currently staying in an apartment by myself, this visualization was not far from the truth.  

"My Circles"
5.5" x 5.5" watercolor on paper

Inspired by yesterday's trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, particularly the tombs in the Egyptian section, I set out this morning to paint the spheres of my life.  The inner circle is the red Self (think adam); the blue circle contains the animals whom I have loved and cared for; the umber/navy circle contains people in my family and close circle of friends; the outer green circle contains my spiritual family, from gurus to saints to people whom I love who have passed away.  This exercise was a fun, meditative practice which I hope to continue.

 "Faith and Love"
5.5" x 5.5"

This piece is inspired by the book: "Why People Don't Heal and How They Can" by Caroline Myss.  In the book she describes a state of mind called "woundology," where the person consciously or unconsciously holds onto a wound and therefore doesn't heal.  Exercises in the book have helped me realize in what capacity I see myself as a victim and why this mindset is holding me back.  Could the challenges I face merely be tests of my faith opportunities to love my self more?  Quite possibly.

 "The Holy Grail"
5.5" x 5.5"
This is a piece inspired by Alison L. James' book "Merlin and The New Camelot: The Birth of Collective Christ Consciousness" and the Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell PBS interview in "The Power of Myth."  I like the idea of the Holy Grail being the compassion that opens the heart to another person.  In this watercolor, the Grail is given from one person to another.  Perhaps the person reaches for it, or is in a state of meditation, or simply going about their business.  Sometimes, the people playfully interact with the Grail.  Perhaps for me, the Grail is the self-illumination that I seek and must remain patient and disciplined for.

"Bubbles of Self-Interest"
5.5" x 5.5"

This image came to me after spending time with some people and seeing how many of us are caught in bubbles of self-interest.  Rather than being in the moment and enjoying the company that we are in, or our beautiful surroundings, we instead focus on what we have to do tomorrow, or worrying about some project at hand that has nothing to do with the present.  These are our bubbles.  Worrying is passed down through my family at least as a common thing.  We worry to show that we care.  But what if we can show that we care without constantly worrying, running over the same fears again and again, as if to think about them will prevent them from happening.  Only in states of heightened peace, which I have experienced through the extreme focus of meditation, exercise, making artwork or with the help of another, I can break out of the bubble of self interest and truly be present, truly be alive.


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