I started my latest painting a couple of weeks ago. Beginning with constructing the stretcher frame and then moving along with measuring, cutting and then cotton canvas. After stretching the canvas I spent 2 days coating this 5’ x 4’ with 4 layers of gesso.
This is a portrait of Jack. He’s been my companion since he was only 4 weeks old. He turns 10 yrs old this month. Jack is blind from cataracts but follows me everywhere and runs around in the back yard as if he could see.
The reference photo was snapped while Jack and I were swinging on the hammock. His smile filled my heart with such love and joy. He’s such a loving and loyal companion.
It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve been in the studio. It feels good to be in sacred space and stretch my spirit and allow creativity to flow.
I like to read, like everyday. If it’s not news articles then it’s books about art, society, and culture. I’ll let you in on a secret, I was functionally illiterate until I was discovered by a 7th grade remedial reading teacher. My life long secret (13 yrs at that time) was up. I was found out. That woman, Ms Mobly stood before me and saw me. It was at that moment that she crafted her medicine, created safe space and held me. After school she tutored me for an entire school year and taught me not only to read but to comprehend what I was reading. She ignited my mind. It was on fire!
How the f&ck can that happen? How could you go so long, be passed from grade to grade and no one knew?
They knew I was a D & F student. They were more concerned that I attend speech therapy because my southern, Creole, Native American speech, vernacular and sound was not like the other children. They passed me along anyway.
I’m was a biracial child in a suburban schools system. You see, my father was a Creole Arcadian Frenchmen and my mother was Scottish & Norwegian. My ancestors roots run deep in Louisiana & Texas. The Creole term,originally, meant Arcadian French and Spanish mixed people. Now it’s evoked to mean French and mixed. Well, through the generations of my family tree let’s add genetic inheritance of Italian, Portuguese, African and Native American. Modern technology, ancestors DNA and a couple of decades of genealogy research has revealed a great deal.
However, in the 60’s when my parents married in Texas and left the south due to racial discrimination and tensions to Omaha, they faced discrimination their entire lives together and so too did us kids.
I do believe it was a combination of discrimination, school policy and practices that delayed my academics. I had an academic advisor once tell me I was only bred for manual labor and not to bother with college.
Now fast forward not only can I read and not only did I pass 7th grade with A’s and B’s but I went on in life and earned my Bachelors degree & Masters. What I find most intriguing, it was in Adult Education and Instructional Design. It’s the fascination in how we learn and how we develop strategies for learning that inspires me.
So back to today, back in the studio painting.
I am working on a portrait of my daughter Lily. As I’m painting, mixing colors, I am contemplating the messages of inclusion, equality, justice, education, hold space for each other, love humans that I gave her throughout her life… all the experiences of subtle and explicit hate, discrimination and being marginalized that I experienced and the hope she nor anyone else has to experience through sharing my stories, sharing the stories of her grandparents and ancestors.
Share your stories. Hold space for each other. Hold one another in love and acceptance. See each other.
Lily helped me paint her face. However, it’s not her we see. Is this an ancestor coming forward through paint? Who is she? Has she been hidden out of sight and unseen? Time will tell what spirit came forward.
Oh how I wish life was as exciting as the 1st time Lily experienced London and riding the Underground.
These days many of us are doing our part to flatten the curve and remain healthy. I started this painting last Sunday and hope to have it finished this weekend. I’m only able to be in the studio once a week since I’m working from home for my day job.
I ordered a few new colors and hope they arrive soon. I think this painting would benefit from some diversity in colors.
Any way, this is part of a series I’ve named “A girl…”. It’s part of a mother and daughter collaboration with my artist daughter Lily. She’s busy with college still but has completed a couple of paintings so far.
Being in my studio and allowing myself to experience Awiya, creativity to flow through my being is my souls center. It is where I am most connected with myself. It is where my connection to the world around me is clearest. It’s not an escape from reality, on the contrary, it is a space where I am open, clear, vulnerable and honest with myself. It’s where I allow thoughts to flow by and simply acknowledge their presence without holding any of them. In many ways it is similar to an active meditation.
It is my hope, that in these difficult times, that many of you experience Awiya for the 1st time and create into this world some beauty.
Stay safe my friends and be well. until next time, stay in the Awiya side of life.
So I spent about a half an hour writing a blog post about this latest painting. Unfortunately when I pressed publish it disappeared. I have no idea where it went and I was like darn it that was a great blog post if I do say so myself.
Here I go again. A couple of years ago when my daughter Lily graduated from high school and at her graduation party we created a photo booth that included a handheld Polaroid style type frame made out of white eraser board. Guests could group together and write on the bottom with dry eraser markers on the bottom of the Polaroid goofy, cheesy, wise sayings or hashtags or the what not and then hold the frame up and then take a picture.
Well one of the pictures that was taken is represented in this painting. When it was taken I thought it was cute but it wasn’t until I saw the picture a few days later that it really spoke to me on so many levels.
First, this picture immediately reminded me of American Gothic painting by Grant Wood. It is said that Grant Wood in the 1930s went back to Iowa where he was from and saw an old farmhouse. He was inspired and wanted to do a satirical painting about the architecture of an old Iowa farm house. He titled the painting of the old farm house & its farmer & wife “American Gothic” as in reference to the lack of Gothic style architecture and it being the Midwest’s version. It’s further written that he utilized his sister and his dentist as models for this painting.
So now this is my version of a satirical painting of what I envision of a young Generation Z couple would look like on the World Wide Web posting on different social media sites, sharing their selfie’s.
This is a portrait of my daughter Lily (Oriana Designs) & a classmate at her graduation a couple of years ago. It reminded me of America Gothic by Grant Wood. However, in this modern rendition, the couple is holding a Polaroid style photo frame, in classic Generation Z (or Zed) style selfie posing. The bottom of the frame will have the Hash tag #American Zed.
My style of painting with acrylics is likened to water colors. However, the paint fluctuates in thickness. Through thin layers of color applied on top of each other, I get a hybrid color. Instead of a solid mixed tone or color and blob it on. It’s a bit more time consuming, but the effect is visually dynamic. This is stage 3 layers of thin colors… cadmium red, medium yellow hue, Payne’s grey, and white.
Hope to have time to paint in the studio this Sunday… my sanctuary time… I am very excited about this painting.
Now that I’ve had a chance to go through the majority of my photos from my U.K. Trip I’m settling in to exploring the images in greater depth. I’ve seen some artist grab a reference photo and as if in robot mode paint the image in expected color combination and with a boring palette. The end result may be “technically” in vogue and aesthetically pleasing but does it have passion? Life? Awiya?
As I explore this reference photo of the North Sea I am flooded with memories of how the cool and moist wind felt on my skin. The brilliance of color and how different the light bathed everything. The sea was a blue grey color I’ve never seen in real life. As I explored the North Sea from the beach, on a boat and walking along the peer at different times of day, the suns light changed the appearance of the sea from blue-grey to light pale blue, silver, and liquid gold floating on a silver surface.
Living in Nebraska, relatively in the middle of the country, I have grown accustomed to the orange, red and dark yellow sunsets. The coloring of Midwest light from the dust, pollution, and heat within the atmosphere of a heavy agricultural state.
I will enjoy every moment as I explore this reference photo, unedited, edited and diving deep into my memory and allow Awiya to flow through me as I prepare for a series of North Sea paintings.