A Matter of Security.

If you’ve spent any time around me, you’ve heard me say “Attachment is the trap”. I’ve seen you roll your eyes at me and I’ve fielded the questions…
“Aren’t you attached to your husband/daughter?”
“Aren’t you attached to your body?”

This gets into some tedious wordplay and I kind of feel the need all of a sudden to try to put myself to the task of clarifying my position and the way I deal with attachment.

Firstly, of course I love my family. Of course I want to keep my body alive. My brain is hardwired to make sure those things happen. I have very little choice in the matter – and that’s as it should be. Where I do have choice is in how much weight I put on those loves. Will my clinging to my daughter as her child years melt away make anything any better? Clinging to those moments with tears in my eyes only puts bittersweet all over them when they could be full of more pure joy! I want the memory of pure joy to be clear in my mind when I’m 70 and haven’t held a 4 year old foot in my hand for 35 years. That’s why I work so hard to let go of the bittersweet – the fear of losing what is ABSOLUTELY going away right now like sand through my fingers.

I cannot make her tiny and precious forever. The whole point of raising a child is to help them GO AWAY! If you do it right, maybe you get a continued good relationship… but maybe you don’t. Maybe it’s not even your fault. Life is like that. Accepting that possibility of loss at every turn is really hard. No joke, but if you can let go and just enjoy the hell out of your moment RIGHT NOW, I promise you, it feels like all of eternity has just unfolded before your eyes and in your heart.

Every time I feel the fear that I’ll lose a moment, a person, a possession, my health, it feels like time shrinks in on me and chills my soul. I don’t like that feeling. That is as simple as I can possibly make my philosophy I think…

What about godstuff? Well… On my path, I have found it useful to accept that all the godstuff is beyond my feeble brain’s ability to completely suss out. The more I study and learn, the more I realize that the Great Mystery is easier for me if I just kind of try to listen to it without defining it. That doesn’t mean I think that’s the best way of thinking for everybody, but that’s what I do.

So there’s that.
I feel better now.
Onward and upward!
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Blushing

When I wake up in the morning and am greeted by a pink sky, I get this funny feeling, like the Universe is blushing with happiness.
As the seasons turn this year, I’m comforted and amazed once again at the predictability of cycles… summer and winter, joy and grief, birth and death. I mourn with my friends who are in a cycle of loss and rejoice with those who are having the fun parts…
Me? I spend a lot of time with both sides of the coin. My family is happy and healthy. We have a place to live that we enjoy. My muse has not yet abandoned me 🙂

But just now, my darling daughter is running to the fridge to get yet another snack… so I’ll leave you with this:

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Onward and upward!
As always, with love
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Ferocious Equanimity

I had the most wonderful evening last night. I usually put my work up in cafes and bars and similar places (so that people can enjoy them in their REAL lives) and seldom go for real “gallery” type hangings. I love it when people can eat a meal or something while looking at the work as opposed to just a reception evening.

On the other side of things, though, it’s really nice to see people walk by and talk about pieces. I love to see what they’re drawn to. This piece was one of the more popular ones last night.  As I talked to people about it, I realized that a little explanation of where I was coming from with it would do some good maybe.

Equanimity… I saw several people look up the definition on their phones last night…

Equanimity is about calm; peace of mind.

In this time of political schizophrenia, media insanity, global conflicts, and fear mongering, I am tempted to delve into the deepest reaches of my anger. Oh I have a powerful anger! But what I’ve learned over the years is that I just can’t get mad enough to change anything (except my blood pressure).  The choice that I make with my own mind is to seek the greatest peace that I can and to let even the most horrible things… exist without bothering me.

Balance is important. Of course I’m heartbroken when I see the broken bodies of children and mothers and young men… regardless of whose family they belong to, but my hurt doesn’t heal them. When I try to radiate peace and love and calm, things around me change for the better. Maybe the changes are small, but I can see them. They’re real. My anger doesn’t make positive changes in the world…

So this piece is about the tension between my immense desire to fix all that’s broken and the temptation to be just plain mad about it all. I will be calm with a vengeance! I will be peaceful and loving with as much enthusiasm and dedication as I can muster. That might be all I can really do, but it’s something… and it makes it easier to deal with all I see on the infuriating news channels while I work out at the gym…

So onward and upward, dear friends.

As always

with love

*

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Ferocious Equanimity

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Beware the English Major

One of the most common things people say to me is “at least you get to do what you love”.  I’ve mentioned this before. It sticks in my head… especially when I’m doing something tedious like updating my spreadsheets or putting addresses on packages or carrying paintings to and from the car…

I do love my life, but I think it’s not because I have the right occupation. I made a decision many years ago that I was going to find a way to love my life no matter what it was.

There’s this book, The Gulag Archipelago, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, that I read many years ago. I found a hardback copy in an antique mall of all places, when I was about 16 and read the thing from cover to cover. Being 16, I was filled with all the usual ambition and angst and superfluous passions, and reading such abject miseries made an incredible and indelible impression on me.

One of the ideas I took away from the book was that sometimes life is just patently unfair. Some wonderful people get the most unbelievably difficult paths to walk. It happens over and over and over, assaulting the spirits of the sufferer and the bystander.

So, I think to myself, if all this unfairness is going to happen, what am I going to do about it? I have seen mixed results in the “justice system” and don’t feel like I can really help there. I’ve seen the same mixed results in the “education system” and did my time trying to help there… but even when I work as hard as I possibly can, it’s still like pouring water into a bucket with a giant hole in the bottom. The need is so exceedingly cavernous that my efforts disappear almost instantly into the void.

What is left for me to do? If I can’t save “them”, I guess I’ll have to save myself. For all the deprivation I see, I will try to appreciate what I have all the more. When I see the images of famine and genocide, I will love more. I will make my life worth it… because whether it gets better or worse for me or anyone else, if I live with joy, I’m adding more joy to the universe. If I mourn for those who suffer, I only add more suffering. That’s the best I can come up with…

Ah… the peril that befalls the English Major… A simple conversational utility like “At least you do what you love” becomes some extended, existential meditation. How silly and frivolous!

Here! Have a painting. I hope it gives you a good feeling.

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Come Along

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Things That Feel Like Home

Things are delightfully busy here! In addition to my normal painting regimen, I’m trying to really focus on collaborations this season. For a long time, I’ve painted from others’ photos or writing, but I’ve had the chance to expand that pretty wildly in recent months.  

Of course, the collaboration that’s closest to heart and home is with my dear daughter. She bought the little easel to the left with proceeds from her own print sales. I have to borrow it from her when I go out to paint in public. Fortunately, she’s quite gracious with her loaning policy. I know the shot below is fuzzy, but it’s the best my cameras can do inside this house.  She and I have been painting side by side a little every morning recently and it’s just lovely! “Mommy, can I have some David Bowie?”

“Yes, dear. Yes you can”.ClineandDaughter

Another wonderful, exciting collaboration I’m into these days is with Wendel Werner, a wonderful, gracious, and incredibly talented local musician.  We just finished up our second engagement at The Red Piano on Friday night. It was a blast and we’re definitely going to schedule another evening together!

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Short video clip from the performance (YouTube)

This is the completed piece from that evening.

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Things Happen All At Once

I’ve also been most graciously invited to hang my work on the walls again at The Red Piano for the month of March. These people are really too kind to me!

This is getting long so I’ll leave it here. I have more collaborations and .news to share, but I’ll save some of that for later.

If you missed it yesterday, here’s a link to the spot on me in the Knoxville News Sentinel that ran 2/28/16

Interview in Knoxville News Sentinel

Onward and upward, Dear friends!

As always, with love

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Events and Things

Oh winter…

It’s cold and damp and the light is not good. Sometimes it’s incredibly frustrating to get colors right on a painting or to photograph a piece in this winter light.  It is really nice to be so focused on the work and to get a larger number of paintings ready to show. When spring hits, I’m sure I’ll have more company and more events to go out to. It can be harder to focus on creating new work when other aspects of the job take more time.

I just read a couple funny things about working at home… It can get a little crazy… I wake up thinking about painting and only go to sleep when I’m sure I can’t do any more useful work at night. There’s no real commute… except to the kitchen… all the way down stairs.

It is a luxury, though, to be able to focus on the pursuit that transfixes me so. Words are really tricky… I can’t say how many times people have said to me “at least you’re doing what you love”…

Yes! I am! It’s WAY better than writing lesson plans, grading papers, or selling insurance policies! But those tasks didn’t consume my thoughts in such a voracious way. I’m always hungry to see what image appears on the next canvas. It’s always a surprise to me! Even if I think I know what I’m painting, I am always surprised at the end product.

So one of my favorite things to do is to paint with live music… It’s especially exciting when I’m on stage. I’ve been on stage a fair amount in my life – quite a bit if you count time lecturing – but in most situations, one gets to face the audience. When I paint on stage, my back is to the audience and they can see the bare, raw, unfinished work! Of course I never know how it’s going to work out! I just keep going with my fingers crossed – no looking at a clock. No looking at the crowd. Just warm spotlight and ambiance and good music…

It’s kind of funny to me because at the house, I often turn my unfinished pieces around so that people in my house don’t see the works in progress.

In order to finish one or two pieces in 2 hours, live, I have several hours of canvas prep to do. First, I prime the canvas. Then I add fabrics or papers. Then I have to apply at least 2 coats of additional paint to make sure it’ll take the paint the way I want. I try to be as random as possible with the colors. Using white as a background would be more standard, but then, sometimes, in low light, I miss spots and have white gaps in my painting. That’s not cool…

Here’s a random painting I’m particularly fond of.

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Hope Springs

I don’t have a show to represent in March, but I have April at 133 S Gay St, Knoxville, followed by shows at Central Flats N Taps and Crafty Bastard in the following months.

I’m sure I do things other than paint, but they’re not nearly as interesting so I’ll leave it there.

Onward and upward!

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All I Want

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Walk With Me

Sometimes, in life, great moments flash before us. I have one in mind at the moment, but it’s irrelevant. These little sparks of brilliance appear and awaken hungers for the next time… but the next time is never the same and the next moment of brilliance only really appears with the shock of newness.

So we can’t anticipate the next wonderful thing. We want to taste the last one again. We appropriate pronouns to drag the collective into “our” desires and validate our appetites.

One great quest of discipline that I enjoy setting myself to is forgetting the most awesome moments as fast as I can. I come home from some event with faces and hugs and conversations dancing in my head and if I don’t make a conscious effort to clear my mind, I never get to sleep.

Sleep is good. Peace is good.
Still I spend most of my time on fire inside, ravenous for the consummation of yet another frivolous creative whim.

Onward and upward
As always with love
*

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January Fires

Oh January… It’s cold. It’s dark, but the light comes back a little more day by day.

January is the most intense month to me I think… a time for reflection.  This January has been incredibly intense creatively… I’ve had some transformative experiences that sound like nothing when related… so it all comes out the end of the paintbrush. This piece is more intense and conflicted than I usually allow myself to follow through on, but it is as it is and I thought I might as well share it anyway. When I’m completing a new piece almost every day, it’s hard to hold back. I know it won’t last. In the spring and summer, I may be too busy with other things to do this kind of work…

Or I may just continue on like this, on perpetual fire, rushing to expel the colors lest they consume me.

Time will tell… Until then…

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Conversion Factors

 

Conversion Factors
Acrylic/multimedia on plywood
18″x24″
$325 includes shipping. Edges painted black. Hanging wire attached.

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How was your weekend

One of the most amusing questions I ever hear is “how was your weekend?”

I don’t work at the command of any manager. I just have this crazy compulsion to paint. I have been accused of being a workaholic, but considering that I’ve arranged my whole life around my passion…well… I don’t think the definition holds.

Anyway, it is the season for baked, steamy things and hearty soups. Leaves are changing colors and driving me mad to mimic their awesomeness.  Even though I have lots of canvases and boards to paint upon, I still feel insane to paint over things that suddenly feel like “old work”. This piece is hanging in my hallway right now and is just begging to be repainted… I think I can hold myself back for a few more days. I have some other pieces ALMOST ready to show.

Every once in a while I just overflow with ideas and can’t seem to hold myself back.

Biscuits

Happiness Is a Buttered Biscuit
Featured in 2014 International Biscuit Festival
Acrylic and textiles on canvas
22″x22″
$175 – edges finished black, hanging wire attached – includes shipping
10″x10″ prints available for $25 signed and delivered

Many dear friends of mine are going through intense trials. Thanks to Facebook, I can go directly from a friend who is fighting for life or praying for the life of a dear one to someone else’s dream vacation. It’s surreal to the point of robbing my words… So I paint like mad. Maybe it is a prayer… maybe it’s just a way to make myself FEEL like I’m doing something to help… I suppose we’ll never know, but I’m going to keep on doing it anyway.

Now pardon me while I stuff my face with banana muffins and get back to the easel.

Onward and upward

With love

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She Dances With Fire

Life and work have been very exciting and busy lately. I was invited to show at Jazz at Ijams on April 12th and had an absolute blast! It was like setting up my own little house to live in at the concert. The whole family had a fantastic time and good business was done as well.

Since the long and lingering season of car repair has ended, I have been super busy driving around and mailing art out to people and making contacts and all that sort of thing… I really enjoy delivering pieces in person when I can and have met some lovely people recently that way.  I know so many people who are stuck in seemingly interminable stretches at “regular jobs” while their creative parts wither and suffer… And I just want so badly for them to be able to create a new and better life through their passion.

Of course every job should be done well and with love, but it hurts me to see people in the WRONG job for who they are. I have been painting for just over 20 years now and have reached a point where I can make the same or better money with art than I can with a “regular job”. I’ve studied things I never wanted to learn – like Excel and HTML – and learned SO much through mistakes and hard work. My heart just wants to encourage all those people to keep trying and keep working toward the goals. Keep making and meeting deadlines and keep making new beauty enter the world.

I had a dream the other night that “we all” were climbing a ladder over and over and over. At the end of “the cycle”, we all got dumped back at a starting point with no injury and no cost… In the dream, I always jumped right back up to climb the ladder in spite of the biting pain in my fingers from the rope and my own weight. I climbed with all my energy over and over and over even though I knew it wasn’t going to give me any “real answers” or “nirvana” or whatever… I guess some of us are just made to be climbers and strivers. I don’t feel a hunger within, just a passion to show other people the beauty I see in every moment of life – even the really shitty ones.

This painting is based on an image of Knoxville area dancer, Jaia McClure who I think is just beautiful. When I see images of her dancing, I see such love and focus on her face… and the lines of her body are amazing and so perfectly expressive of womanhood at its best. So I painted her. She Dances With Fire:

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