Sometimes I’m reminded of how all things are connected, of how things that are right for you are drawn to you, what you need at any given time…it comes.
Lately, I’ve been working feverishly in my yard – creating new beds, planting new shrubs and flowers, spreading mulch, creating walkways with step stones. And while I’ve been working I’ve been feeling like I’m not accomplishing anything since I’m not in the studio painting. Ridiculous, I know.
Then I realized that this is my cycle. Every Spring when it starts to get warmer out, I get the urge to get outside and plant stuff, and ready my yard for hanging out in the summer. And it’s been gorgeous out! I’ve been able to be outside while the azaleas and dogwoods bloom and everything gets lush and greener.
And in doing all this compulsive digging, I feel as if I’m really getting to know this little patch of earth that I call my own. So far, I’ve unearthed an old metal toy car and two marbles; I’m sure there’s more goodies hidden just under the grass.
And then I come across this article in Brain Pickins about Derek Jarman and his gardening and how this creative gardening process helped him accept his fate, deal with his grief and it was beautiful and I completely identified with his efforts, his process in his garden… Here’s a link to the article: https://www.brainpickings.org/2021/04/04/derek-jarman-modern-nature-gardening/
And all things are connected. I might be working something out, even if I’m not conscious of exactly what it is. Or maybe I’m simply enjoying the hard work, the joy of getting my hands dirty, the time I have now to go wild and do each project that comes into my mind while I’m waiting for my next job, next opportunity. And soon I’ll feel the urge to get back in the studio. (Especially now that the garden I’ve planted looks perfect from my studio window!)
Someone once said, “Do what you love and it’ll all fall into place.” So, after being laid off from my 9-5, (and being relieved of all the stress from an employer that seemed to gain tremendous enjoyment in dicking me around,) I’m in the studio full time, for the time being.
Putting all my energy into my work... my work…my paintings. It feels good and if I keep painting, maybe I can distract myself from the existential dread, the rising Covid-19 numbers, and the fear of uncertainty regarding how I’m going to pay the mortgage on my awesome little house that I love so much.
But it’s all going to be ok. It’ll all fall into place. I’ll figure things out. And in the meantime, I’ll paint. ….and do the dishes sometimes.
And, by the way, don’t ya just love how tomatoes look on a windowsill?
The fear and anxiety of this pandemic is activating that basic irrational human instinct of Fight or Flight. Instinctually we want to live and we want to feel safe and comfortable while we do it. For many people, when they feel intimidated they go into fight mode. See Karen refusing to wear a mask and having a tantrum in the grocery store.
For me it’s always Flight! Run! Get away and go hide someplace where I feel safe! Go to my happy place – go to Poppyland…
For the past couple of days I’ve been hiding in my studio, back to painting my friends, the sock monkeys. Now they are enjoying a huge buttery bowl of popcorn and watching a moving on their vintage Movector Super 16 projector.
#pandemic #fightorflight #inthestudio #workinprocess #wip #oiloncanvas #sockmonkeys #vintage #stilllife #popcorn
Once, for a short time, we were separated. He was lured away by a siren with a pack of lies and a pied piper with an ample supply of pot.
Soon after, he saw through the haze and found his way back to me.
And once again his books, his records, his clothes, and all his favorite things came back into my life along with him. I loved being surrounded by his things. It made me feel close to him. I still do.
Sometimes I carefully select the objects in my paintings and arrange them to tell a specific story. Other times I simply select several items I’m drawn to for unknown reasons, arrange them in a way that looks pleasing to me, and then paint what I see. And then wonder what it means.
This is a recent painting of mine. It’s of three random items that just seemed to go together. An arrangement I stuck on my wall without much conscious thought.
It consists of a small knick-knack, a jewelry holder that would have sat on a woman’s bureau to maybe hold her rings or a necklace when she took them off at night — a trinket to hold trinkets. An old skeleton key on a red ribbon and some dried flowers hang behind it.
What does it mean? Does it hint at the impermanence of life, the delicateness of all things? Do you see the possibility of the plaster of the wall crumbling away, the nail slipping, and it all falling to the floor and crashing into pieces? Or does the light just look warm and make you feel good, like sunshine on a spring day?
Perhaps the items were hung on the wall long ago – a key to a lover’s cabin in the woods tied to a ribbon red like the blood that rushes to flush her cheeks when you kiss her, some flowers she tucked behind her ear one day on a walk through the field…
…Items stuck on the wall to collect dust for years until a great grand-daughter cleaned out the house for the estate sale. Maybe there’s a black widow spider hiding behind the ribbon ready to bite in defense when disturbed. Maybe…
I don’t know, maybe it’s just some crap I bought at a yard sale (but I doubt it.)
It doesn’t really ever stop. It doesn’t go away. The hurt. The empty space.
And you never stop being a widow.
Even if after only a year you think you’re stuck (and wonder about the possibility that you may be holding him back from somewhere he’s supposed to move on to) and you push yourself to let go of some things and move forward. Even if you allow yourself to be manipulated by someone who says your grief is unhealthy and calls you “Courtney Love” and says you weren’t really a widow because you weren’t legally married in an attempt to dismantle your very identity and discount your experiences but at the same time convinces you he loves you and wants to be with you (despite his wife’s objections!) Even if you don’t talk about it, trying to avoid triggering this narcissistic new boyfriend who’s jealous of the dead guy. It’s all still there.
Even when three years goes by after you’ve eliminated the narcissist who tried his best to replace the dearest sweetest most brilliant person in the world and left you even more scarred and scared but in different ways, it’s still there. But now you’re free to express yourself without censorship.
Even when five years goes by, the shock of finding the dearest sweetest most brilliant person in the world hanging from a carefully constructed rope never leaves. It washes over you still sometimes in a giant wave that disrupts the current moment, makes you drop what you’re doing and work to wrap your head around it once again. The images don’t erase themselves. And you don’t want them to. In that image there is also incredible peace on his face. He was calm, his body relaxed. He stopped the hurt.
And you never stop being a widow.
Sometimes it still hits me. Like out of nowhere. I think of him, I feel him. My heart stops for a second. I remember he’s gone.
Five years later and still.
I wonder if that will ever stop. But I don’t really want it to.
Why am I such a misfit?
Too timid for the cool kids; too weird for the mainstream. Wondering where my work truely fits in.
Perhaps I don’t let myself say what is fighting to come out, programmed to censor myself, preoccupied with what others will think and say, struggling against some expected confines of what a woman my age should be (whatever the fuck that is) that I absorbed along the way. Worried about embarrassing my sons with my subject matter (But they’ve told me they don’t care if I paint dolls with vaginas!)
Scarred and scared from the manipulation and betrayal of a most recent relationship (But I kicked his ass out! I was triumphant! But the damage remains.) Semi-paralyzed with anxiety, doubt, insecurity… Fuck that! I’ve got “bells” too! I’m gonna put on my happy clown face and paint them!
The shirt. His shirt. The shirt he wore the first time I laid eyes on him. The time I fell madly in love with him, when I felt as if I’d found something I’d been looking for all my life. When I stopped looking and it walked in the door of the gallery with a big warm smile, carrying a newly finished sculpture. I think I stopped breathing