A Painting A Day: Days 11-20

Day 11: July 14th 2012: "Spirals or Mini-Mandalas"

"Spirals or Mini-Mandalas"
5.5" x 5.5"

Spirals are wonderful to draw. I find myself drawing or painting them constantly, without thinking.  Could it be a state of self-imposed hypnosis? A new and wonderful friend Andi, a Master Trainer and Coach at Hoop Habit in LA, suggested that my drawing spirals would lead to a more intensive study of mandalas.  There are several mandala masters out there and she knew of one in the SoCal area.  It will be a while until I get out to SoCal (I have to confess, I'm a NorCal snob!) but the idea of studying and teaching mandalas for personal growth is appealing.  Perhaps private workshops or the chance to study with a mandala guru?  Too cool.
Day 12: July 15th 2012: "Wise Old Being"

"Wise Old Being"
5.5" x 5.5"

This watercolor is based on a guided meditation called "Wise Old Being," facilitated by Derek O'Neill.  In the meditation, you travel through the woods or jungle or whatever comes to mind, until you reach a campfire.  Past the campfire is a cave where the Wise Old Being lives.  This being is essentially your Higher Self or the part of you that is wise and all-knowing.  It is helpful to ask this Wise Old Being questions or hear what they have to say.  In my own experience, the Wise Old Being looks different each time: sometimes they are a woman, sometimes a man and sometimes an entity from another place.  You can find the meditation on Derek's website, I believe. The elephant is here because it popped up in my mind first thing this morning.  Need to do more elephant studies!   

Day 13: July 16th 2012: "Central Park Tree Lines"

 "Central Park Tree Lines"
5.5" x 5.5" watercolor on paper

This piece is based on a drawing of three Central Park tree lines, stacked on top of one another. I was wondering through the Park that evening and stumbled upon Belvedere Castle. Leaning over the rail, I spotted a large mass of people! So I took a photo, but before I could take another one, my camera batteries went out. So I decided to go down and have a look myself. To my surprise, I was just in time for the NYC Philharmonic! What a glorious, unexpected evening. Midway through the show, I drew these tree lines and colored them in the next morning. It reminded me of Graham Nickson's watercolors of the sunrise. Walking home, I looked back and saw a giant stage with a white figure rapidly moving his hands. An orchestra furiously playing, colors everywhere, and a dark park filled with happy, satiated people. And I thought: Sublime.

View from Belvedere Castle

Day 14: July 17th 2012: "Guru on the Mountaintop"

"Guru on the Mountaintop"
5.5" x 5.5" watercolor on paper
This painting is inspired by a recent trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. My friends wanted to go to the Islamic Art section...it was open?? So we went and were blown away. So much stuff! So much we don't know about art from this part of the world! I couldn't help but lament the destruction of irreplaceable art during the current war in the Middle East. I remember reading about the destruction of large Buddhas of Bamiyan, who were carved in the sandstone cliffs of Afghanistan.  Anyways, the Persian miniatures captured all of our eyes. We were blown away by the use of color, and their amazing elephant drawings! Okay, that was only me. Enjoy and check out the Islamic Art section of the Met!

"Don't Worry"
5.5" x 5.5"
A drawing in the subway, colored in the next morning.  Two young men entered the car with a guitar and sang Bob Marley's "Don't Worry" at the top of their lungs. It was impossible to do anything else. What a great song and powerful message, especially for me at this time in life, and probably for most other people. It was fun to draw in the subway again, although you have to get used to people staring at you, which is only fair because you are staring at them!

"Texas Tree"
5.5" x 5.5" watercolor on paper

After my "life-drawing" session yesterday, I focused today on symbolic images. There is a tree near my mom's house that's a destination point for my morning jogs. It feels great to lean against a strong tree with no one around. Next to the tree are golden pastures with cows, bulls and calves. In this painting, the cow, bull and calf represent the mother, father and child. One can also think of them as the Holy Trinity.

I put the seven colors of the chakras, or energy centers, on the tree because I have been doing some tree-based meditations to ground myself and feel connected to the earth. This may sound weird but my grandmother, Katherine Kilgore, used to lead me in similar meditations when I was a little girl! In one meditation, you imagine the energy flow from the branches and the roots meeting and centering in each one of your chakras, clearing out any unneeded debris. Or, you can simply hug a tree and imagine yourself breathing through or with the tree. I heard that hugging a tree from the back is wonderful, so I tried it!

 "A Tuscan Lunch"
5.5" x 5.5" watercolor on paper

Doing laundry last week at my friend's apartment, I stumbled across "Under the Tuscan Sun" by Frances Mayes. I am familiar with the movie but never watched it because I'm not a Diane Lane fan (apologies but who knows, maybe I'll mature and come to my senses?). But the book is marvelous. It has made me fall in love with Italy all over again. This watercolor is based on the cover design as well as memories of a house I stayed at in Umbria for a precious week of good food, a beautiful garden and my first watercolor lessons. Each little plant is from a memory of that garden and perhaps a projection onto the future of what I'd like my garden to look like...full of herbs and flowers and fruits and bugs and butterflies.

 "Leo Bloom"
5.5" x 5.5" watercolor on paper
While looking at my day planner, I noticed that tomorrow is the first day of Leo! As my name means "Lion of God" in Hebrew, I have always had an affinity towards lions. Interestingly, my sun sign, Aquarius, is exactly opposite Leo on the astrological calender. Perhaps the fierce and bold qualities of Leo are behaviors I must lean towards in life.

"Waiting for Friends Outside of Hampton Chutney"
5.5" x 5.5" watercolor on paper

While sipping cardamom coffee and waiting for friends to join for lunch, I drew the next-door restaurant and the goings on in the busy Upper West Side neighborhood. For years I have looked to sidewalk cafe's as inspiration for drawing. It is especially interesting if a couple is sitting with wine or coffee. A heated argument or bizarre conversation is ideal, and occasionally their words will leak into the drawing. When I first moved to New York in 2006, I was captivated by the sidewalks, the graffiti and the odd-looking people. Now these things seem normal (a homeless guy wearing a feather suit of newspapers, holding a paper bag with a beer, whistling at an Indian man crossing the street? what else is new?), but I would like to get back into sketching the everyday, and transferring them to colorful worlds when I get home.

"At the Park with Lois"
5.5" x 5.5" watercolor on paper

This is a plein-air painting of the lake at Central Park. It felt really good and natural to do. A friend of mine is marrying her fiance at the Ladies Pavilion (the little building at the opposite end of the lake) and I went with my good friend (and teacher) Lois Tobin to check it out. It was beautiful and cool, but too crowded on a summer Sunday afternoon. So we meandered across the lake to a cool spot under a tree. Listening to the soothing chants of Sai Baba (an Indian saint with wonderful messages of peace and great music to listen to while painting), we each set about painting from our hearts, that is, without thinking or worrying. 

is wonderful for introducing you to new concepts, artists and skills, but it can be burdensome on the art making process if your head is too full of rules and other people's voices. Last night, I was given the advice to "paint from my heart and not my head," meaning, to let all those worries and rules and concerns slip away while I paint. Focus on the breath, or on my heart center while the strokes of color come out. Let the image create itself in the way. My favorite artists were visionaries, rebels and often misunderstood until much later. It takes courage to be oneself, to stand on your own two feet, to be different. But this is what life is about, yes?

5.5" x 5.5" watercolor on paper

While visiting my PO Box in Brooklyn, I happen upon an abandoned lot filled with flowers and plants. An elderly gentleman with a while beard hovers over a table of light green shoots, each labeled in it's black plastic pouch. Approaching the table, I notice that he was munching on a pastry, in my grandfather's manner. His name is Sandor (pronounced Shandor) and he runs the garden center in Clinton Hill near Pratt Institute. They used to be in Red Hook, he says, but the landlords demanded too much money. Here there is more diversity and the rent not so high. The garden center educates young children in different herbs, fruits and flowering plants and how to grow and harvest your own little crops. He sends children home with bags of scented herbs.  Sandor speaks fondly of his daughter, who is talented in many things, including violin and languages. As we finished our exchange for a rosemary plant and a pot with fresh soil, a horde of youngsters enter, a rush of neon t-shirts. "What's your name?" they ask, giggling. I hope to see Sandor often these next few years. What a place.


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