Making Room for all My Loves – Music, Art, Writing


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Rene Magritte Georgette At The Piano -

Piano by Rene Margritte

A year and a half ago I blogged about Learning to Play (Again) and wrote this

I played piano as a girl and always regretted giving it up. Lately the thought that I may never play again, never experience the pure pleasure of music slipping out through my finger tips onto the keys–-to lose that forever– -seemed too sad to bear. So I bought myself an electronic piano, something I could set out on my dining room table to play.

Nothing so romantic as a baby grand–-but it has the touch and feel of the real thing. I can close my eyes and listen and imagine that heavy-breathing instrument bowing beneath my body as I play it.

The music I want to play is the kind that sweeps you away–Chopin, Mozart, Brahms, Beethoven . . . . What I yearn for, and seem to remember, is the kind of playing where body and music meld, where the notes sway through my body and spill out on the keyboard, like some lover I’m caressing. A musical love-making.

Sad to say, I did not play my keyboard as much as I had first thought I would and eventually it was put away to make room for my painting, which I also pursued on the dining room table.

But I regretted not having a permanent place for my keyboard, where I could go whenever I wanted and just sit down and make music. I still longed for a “real” piano, but it seemed, even in this large new home of ours that there just wasn’t a good place for one.

Then this summer my daughter came for a visit and stole back the large antique cabinet that I had been storing for her all these years. I knew she would be taking it now that she had her own home to fill up. But what could fill that empty space in the corner of our foyer, which was so much larger and “grander” than any home we had ever had.

And then I knew.  Why a grand piano, of course! Which is what I had always wanted but never thought I would have.

I discovered that used baby grand are not so very expensive.  And antique baby grands are so inexpensive that some are given away for free. So we found a beautifully cared-for antique on Craigslist and moved it into the corner of our foyer. Now it takes center stage in our home where I pass by numerable times a day. It’s always there, beckoning to me as I pass by, and now I play, not only daily, but several times a day.

But my dining room table is still a mess, covered with tubes of paints, and brushes, and palettes. It’s time to make a permanent home for the newest love in my life, my artwork.

This fall we plan to add an “art studio” to my home office where I do my writing. We’ll build a counter-top across one wall and halfway down the center of the room, to create a T-formation and two work stations.  On one side will be my computer and printer and all my writing paraphernalia, and on the other side will be room for my artwork.

When it’s done I finally will have a permanent place to play with all the loves in my life. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to do that, to even discover what all your loves will be, let alone make room for them. My only problem then will be finding time each day to enjoy them.

How do you make room and time for all your creative endeavors?


My new piano



In the Mood for Love, in Music and Art


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Emil Nolde - Reddish-brown Couple (Embracing)

Emil Nolde – Lover’s Embracing

Some favorite pairings in music and art to start your weekend off. I fell in love with this hauntingly sad-sweet piece by Shigeru Umebayashi and paired it with some of my favorite romantic images on my “Mothers and Other Lovers” Pinterest page. Enjoy.


Antonio Canova - Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss, 1793

Antonio Canova – Psyche Revived by Cupid’s kiss


Edvard Munch, Kiss by the Window, 1892, Oil on canvas    73 x 92 cm   See the best #Art installations in New York at www.artexperience...

Edvard Munch “Kiss by the Window”


Guinivere, Emma Florence Harrison.

A Knight’s Kiss b Anne Anderson

Autor:Rodin Obra: El beso Obra hiperrealista realizada en mármol. Tiene una textura la cual interpreta el artista sobre la obra totalmente de acuerdo con las características de un ser humano. La obra se encuentra en Paris

Auguste Rodin

Tristan and Isolde by Mac.Fisman

Tristan and Isolde by Mac Fisman

Lovers William_Powell_Frith_The_lovers

Lovers by William Powell Firth



Very classic Picasso style - love these!

By Erhard Loblein


One of Ireland's favourite paintings and also recently voted as the nations favourite as well -Frederic William Burton's 'The Meeting on the Turret Stairs'.

Meeting on the Turret Stairs by Frederick Burton


Marc Chagall

Marc Chagall

The Kiss by Gustav Klimt


The Fisherman and the Siren - Frederic Leighton -

The Fisherman and the Siren by Frederic Leighton



Adam and Eve from Milton’s Paradise Lost


Extremely rare 1923 edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren...

Gustaf Tenggren illustration for Grimm’s Fairy Tale



by Emil Nolde 1867 - 1956.

By Emil Nolde


“Slow Swirl at the Edge of Time”


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“Slow Swirl at the Edge of Time” watercolor and oil pastel by Deborah J Brasket

This naming of this painting did not come “like a conversation between two lovers,” as the name of my last painting did.  The one came suddenly, serendipitously, like a gift.

While pondering what to call this painting, I opened a post by the Humble Fabulist and saw this whimsical painting by Rothko, and it’s equally whimsical naming. I fell in love with the name.  “Slow swirl at the Edge of the Sea.”

Slow Swirl at the Edge of the Sea, 1944. Oil on canvas || Mark Rothko

Having had such a long romance with the sea, it conjured up all sorts of ideas and images that I immediately wanted to paint, a whole series, I thought.

But then I glimpsed my unnamed painting waiting so patiently there, propped on top a bookcase, leaning against a wall.

In another post writing about the process of painting it I wrote:

In the end, this piece reminds me of the night sky, with its swirling galaxies, shooting stars, and so on.  Although intentionally, as hat wasn’t what I had started out to create, I think my love for the night sky, that mystery and romance, was expressed here subconsciously.

All that deep blue and turquoise and swirling motion still makes me think of deep space, the edge of the universe, the end of time, and how in reality there is no “edge,” no “end” to any of it.  The thought of that “endlessness” seems to swirl around and around in our minds because we cannot quite grasp the fact of it.

So I knew then what the painting was trying to tell me, and so named it.

But the idea of a series of paintings about the sea, the ocean, remains. About what it brings up out of me, the gifts it lays at our feet, the ease its motion gives our eyes, our bodies, our minds. It’s unfathomable depths and expanses. It’s hidden treasures.

I’m keen to see what this idea will bring forth.

How Art Intensifies Life – Robinson on Writing, Metaphor, & the Sacred


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I came across this interview with Marilynne Robinson, who is one of America’s finest living writers, in an old edition of The Writer magazine when I was cleaning out my bookshelves.

I know now why I saved it, and why I will save it again. She speaks my language and the language of so many creative people I know. That she feels the same way about art, writing and the sacred as I do, is an affirmation. That she expresses it in ways that inspire me anew is a gift.

I hope her words will inspire you as well.

Excerpts from “Waiting for Gilead,” an Interview with Marilynn Robinson by Sarah Ann Johnson

On what drives her to write

“I write for the same reasons other people dance or paint, I suppose. Any art is an intensifier of experience, an exploration of experience itself. The recruiting of one’s faculties in order to do something so difficult and, in the ordinary sense, unnecessary, is really  very interesting, in part because so human. I feel that I am in the world in a particularly interesting way when I am writing, or doing anything that makes that kind of demand.

Of course there are things I wish to express, but it is truer to say that I find or understand them in the course of writing than it is to say that the writing simply serves as a way to express them”

On the power of metaphor?

“I share the Emersonian view that language is metaphorical in its origins and its fundamental character. The fossil poetry of single words is generally lost to familiarity, and we forget the potency of syntax, its amazing ability to capture meaning. Extended metaphors have syntax at a larger scale, and they exploit the fact that the mind moves through the likenesses in things.”

On what she admires about Melville, Faulkner, and the Old Testament

“Melville and Faulkner both write from a love of the splendors of consciousness, of the largest life of consciousness, including such things as knowledge and speculation, never to the exclusion—instead the enhancement—of immediate experience . . .  .  They explore conceptions of reality that are vast, generous, open and as ambitious as any metaphysics. The demands they make on language and the possibilities they open for it—these are the things that yield great prose. And, in the case of the Old Testament, great poetry.

The Old Testament is an entire, complex literature, which developed over a thousand years—a conservative estimate. It is dedicated to the proposition that human life and human history have very high meaning . . . and to the proposition that the cataclysmic world and obstreperous humankind are essentially holy and good. So it is a very this-worldly text in which metaphysical attention is brought to bear on sunlight and childbearing and warfare and greed and love and despair.

All its great beauty is earned by the directness with which it confronts , and laments and celebrates the world as it is .  .  .  . The beauty of the literature is the character of its engagement, the lyrical or pained or astonished—but always imperfect—perception of the holy.”

On the sacred and secular

“I don’t really accept the distinction between sacred and secular. . . . Nothing is without meaning, [everything] has its truest meaning under the aspect of eternity. The fact that we have no name for the  sacredness of most ordinary things does not by any  means put them in a searate category.”

Advice for new or aspiring writers

“Write the book you want to read. Never calculate or condescend. Keep your eyes open. Listen for the music of the language. Enrich you own sense of things and then be loyal to it.”


Naming a Painting, “Like Two Lovers in Conversation”


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“Warm and rich, rich and warm, which is which?” Like a mantra, these words echo through my mind as I stare at my painting, trying to discover its name.

I’ve hardly bothered with naming other paintings. They seem content with brief descriptive titles: “Sea Cave as Seen from Highway 1,” “Blue Bowl with Dancing Poppies,” “Landfall, the Marquesas.” Some I never name at all, or having scribbled something on the back of the painting before framing, have since forgotten.

But these recent abstracts seem to want more. Or maybe it’s me that wants more. We have a complicated relationship.

It began with a playful intent, the desire to enrich myself with color, to see what these two vibrant colors in juxtaposition had to say to each other, and how they made me feel as they danced across the page and spilled down the edges.

It started with oil pastel, a ribbon of red, a ribbon of yellow, swirling across a blank page. Then a line divided them, not evenly, but generously. Each color sat side by side, like lovers in conversation. But what they had to say swirled around them, crossing lines, and mirroring each other.  Each crossing enriched, lighting up and warming the other. They seem separate and distinct, yet the swirls of pastel beneath them, the patterns that play across the line, unite them.

They seem two but are many. On one side, first vermillion, then scarlet, then crimson, each layer texturing and deepening the other. On the other side, cadmium yellow,  quinacridone gold, drips of vermillion. Streaks of French ultamarine blue on the left, then a swathe of it at the center washed away. More gold on top of that. A glittering of yellow oil pastel at the center creates a single, subtle eye.

The whole process is like a conversation between myself and the painting that emerges on the page. The paint and brushstrokes, like words we use to speak to each other. Do you like this? Not so much. How about that? Better, but I need something more. No, not that. Yes, this. I love, love love this! Big smiles all around.

Making, erasing, dripping, glacing, washing away. On and on it goes, not knowing when to stop, where to stop. Then stopping.

Once it’s complete, the question comes. How do I know it’s done? What makes it complete? Is there simply a sense of resolution? Of satisfaction? Or the sense that any new mark-making will be its unmaking? A made-thing would be undone, so therefore, no more making? I do not know. The painting itself seems to tell me it is done, and I cannot translate the words.

But now the naming. How do you name such a thing? Can it go unnamed, untitled, a mere number? Why not? In truth it is nothing. Paint, paper, play. It’s not even art. Who is to say it’s art? Who can proclaim with absolute authority, this is art, this is not?

There is but one creator. One I. It spills through each of us, every day, every moment, each time we pick up a pen, a brush. Each time we walk into the kitchen and pour a cup of  tea, a cup of coffee. What is this? A new thing.

I am the only one who can name this new thing. It came from me, or at least through me. It swirls around me. All that crimson and gold, warm and rich, rich and warm, but which is which?

All that spilling together, washing through me as I view it, as I take it in, this painting, this new-made thing. A part of me, speaking to me. Creation to creator. What is it saying?

“Like two lovers in conversation.”  It speaks and I complete its thought, I speak and it completes me. And so we name it.



My Undersea Gardens


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One of our favorite things to do when we were sailing was swimming through the undersea gardens that lay hidden in the coves where we anchored. We would climb into our dinghy and row toward the rocks then dive overboard. My daughter and I would go one way with our net “goody bags,” and my husband and son would go the other way with their spear guns.

We’d spend hours just snorkeling and diving, watching and chasing fish, looking for shells and scallops, and just watching the marvelous show with all its colorful array of sea life. The coral beds waving in the current, the tiny shimmering schools of fish, the eels peeking out from dark caves,  the small reef sharks at the far edge of our vision watching us like guard dogs, the dazzling display of fractured light streaming down from above.

I tried to capture some of that in these paintings, especially the two abstracted scenes. I wanted to capture the feel of dazzling colors and shapes and not quite being able to identify what everything was because the scene moved and changed so quickly with the flowing current and water and darting sea life.


Here I drew in a few shapes, the fish at the center, and coral on either side. Then drew slanting wavy “light” lines crisscrossing each other all through the paper. I added some markings and stippling with oil pastel, then painted each fractured shape different colors.

In the end, the coral shape on the right looked more like a turtle so I went with that, adding an eye. Other shapes looked like fish or the tail of a sting ray, but they could be something else.  I liked this so much I painted a companion piece, something to keep it company.


This one features a sting ray as well as more fish and sea-weed, some planned, and some created through the fractured light lines.

I created a more traditional underwater sea scene too, as you can see in the first photo of all the gardens above. But the abstracted ones capture more of the “feel” of swimming through those landscapes, being overwhelmed by the color and beauty, and constantly surprised by what you find, and knowing that you are missing so much that still lies hidden from view.

“Wondrously Strange,” Our Crossing to the Marquesas


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South Pacific12

I was reading from some of my old sailing journals when I came across this entry. It captures so perfectly what it was like to be crossing oceans in a small sailboat with young children, that “wondrously strange” brew of the ordinary and extraordinary mixed together.

The photo is of our landfall at Nuka Hiva in the Marquesas Islands after a 28-day crossing from Mexico. But in the middle of the voyage we had no idea how long it would take or even if we would ever reach the islands. The fact that that mist shrouded green gem rose from the sea exactly where we thought it should rise seemed a miracle.

May 1, 1986,   11° N 123° 40′ W Pacific Ocean

We are flying wing to wing at 6 1/2 knots toward the Marquesas, at last. We’ve been at sea 16 days, since April 16, and are not yet to the half-way mark. Out of 2800 miles we still have 1560 to go.

So far our crossing has been better (physically and mentally) than I imagined. We were all a little sea-sick our 2nd and 3rd day out but have been fine since. We try to live one day at a time (always a good idea) and not think about how long it might take us to reach our destination–especially now when a 40 day crossing seems likely.

Our worst days (and nights) have been during the two rain storms we’ve had so far. The dampness and clamminess of everything is disheartening, and the black, wet night watches uncomfortable. The constant roll and pitch of the boat make the simplest task arduous. Brewing tea can become a chore of maddening dexterity and frustration.

And yet in other ways, life goes on uninterrupted, unperturbed, as if we were still at anchor in San Carlos. Sometimes I sit cuddled with Dale in the dark cockpit surrounded by a stream of sea and stars and marvel at the children’s voices drifting up from the galley, their light banter as they do their nightly dishes amid a dim circle of light. The only light in a thousand miles of darkness.

Then it strikes me as wondrously strange, our few feet of ordinary human activity adrift upon an endless indifferent sea beneath an ocean of stars.

Other sailing epiphanies you might enjoy

Water with a Razor’s Edge

The glassy surface of the ocean rose up creating a razor-sharp edge as it continuously slipped along beside us, like a wave that never breaks.  Watching it, I thought, I never want to be anywhere but here. And, I never want to lose this. I sought to etch it in my mind so it would always be part of me.

La Gitana – Our Larger Self, Sea Saga, Part V

She seemed almost as alive to us as the other creatures that she cavorted with, the dolphins that played at her side, the whales that swam beneath and circled her, the flying fish that landed on her decks. Her spirit was all her own. But her breath, her pulse, her beating heart, her life blood, was us, the people who inhabited and cared for her, plotted her course, walked her decks, stroked her beams, and dreamed her dreams.


The Pieta & the Writer’s Palette, Redux


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It’s been said that for writers the blank page is our canvas and words our paint.

But I don’t think so.

Images and ideas are the paint, words the loaded brush, and sentences our brushstrokes. The mind and imagination of both writer and reader is the blank canvas.

Nothing is there on the page—mere white space, black ink strokes. Yet in the act of reading the mind becomes awash in colors, images, ideas, emotions. Like magic. What the reader draws upon is not only the writer’s words and images, but the reader’s as well, his memories and associations. Our reader co-creates with us.

What both the writer and reader draw upon, as do all visual artists, are all the images and associations from our own lives as well as all those who came before us and left their imprints upon our imaginations, through books and artwork and film and advertising. Scraps of overheard conversation, images of bloodshed and atrocities on nightly broadcasts. Scenes drifting by a train window, songs played upon the radio, sounds of playground laughter. Faraway land and cultures and wilderness areas glimpsed in our travels or from magazines or TV documentaries.

We draw upon myths and legends, iconic images and personal histories passed on from one generation to the next, spanning back to the beginning of life, perhaps, if we do indeed carry within our genes memories of primeval birthing. All these images and association stored in our personal or collective unconscious.

What interests me in all this is the creative process. How we dip our brushes into this swirling palette, and bring out more on our loaded brushes than what we had intended or even realized at first glance. And yet our work is the richer for it.

Here’s an example of a scene I created without being fully aware of its implications until in the midst of the writing, and moments afterwards. This is from “Tamara in Her Garden.”

I was eleven years old when the house burned down one night. Burned clean to the ground. Nothing left but heaps of ashes and twisted metal folded among the stone foundation. Sifting through the silt and rubble, firemen found the charred remains of my father, who had died in bed, and the broken bones of fifteen young men, boys really, buried beneath the house.

They found me crouched in the garden, dress torn and singed, eyes so wide, they said, it was as if the fire had burned off my eyelids and I would never sleep again.

What I remember most about that night now is the way my Aunt Rose held me afterward, drew me to her lap and rocked me. I was tall for my age, taller than Aunt Rose by then, but she held me nonetheless. Gathered me up, all the odd and bony parts of me, the long thin back and stooped shoulders, the heavy head. Folding herself over, stroking and holding, rocking me like a baby, like I was part of her lost self. And I, spilling over her yet holding too–tightly, tight. And thinking with open eyes: She knew. She knew, too.

Now when I remember, and remember how she held me, I am reminded of ancient Italy. Of towering cypress pressed against an Aegean sky. Of sun-drenched doorways and crumbling stoops. Of Michelangelo’s Pieta, cool and smooth in a cool, dark hall, the Son’s body spilling half naked across the Mother’s lap as she held him. Holding and spilling. Holding and spilling. Remembering places I’ve never yet always been.

As I was creating the image of the child being held by the Aunt, I began to realize I’d seen this before—it was a deeply familiar, iconic image, steeped in religious, artistic, and maternal associations. The Pieta was already part of my palette.

I didn’t realize until after I had written the words that drawing upon this iconic image was thus imbuing the scene with a sense of suffering and sacrifice, of sin and redemption, of death and the hope of resurrection.

Realizing this, it became part of the story. The protagonist herself realizes the implication and draws upon images of beauty and decay, life and death, art and darkness, all washing together but impossible to hold without spilling. She draws upon places we’ve all been, or know, figuratively, without perhaps having been there ourselves.

The phrase “remembering places I’ve been and never been” is particularly potent because it captures for me some deep truth—that humans, particularly with our exposure to film and art and news, are exposed to places, scenes, people, cultures, that become part of our world view, our memories and associations, without ever actually having “been” there.

Which brings us back to the original point of this post: The paint we dip our brushes into is so much more deep and vast than any of the creators who came before us had. Along with our individual experiences come experiences filtered through the minds and imaginations of others, framed by their cameras, their perceptions, their agendas, their images—but it all becomes part of our consciousness, gets missed in with the personal, and recreated into our works.

Art that inspires us becomes part of our subconscious, our memories and association, part of that “paint” swirling around in our minds upon which we draw when we “paint” with words. The Pieta was already there, already steeped in associations, already all-ready for me to draw upon when seeking the perfect image for this particular scene of a wounded child being drawn to the lap of her maternal aunt to be comforted, the child herself being “too big”, her wound too devastating, for the Aunt to hold, so spilling past her, unable to hold it all, to even grasp it all, all that her niece had suffered, and so spilling beyond the aunt’s ability to comfort, hold, heal.

And yet the act of attempting to do just that—that despite the enormity of the task, its impossibility, its futility, the attempt in itself becomes a kind of absolution, a love beyond love, a sacramental act, that touches the child more tenderly than anything else might have.

I think in writing this, I have touched upon, unawares, a realization, that this is something I seek again and again in my writing to capture, articulate. The impossibility of healing, comforting, redeeming, forgiving, witnessing, the sorrow and hurt of this world as it unfolds in each of our lives, and yet the absolute necessity to attempt to do so, for just the attempt itself—the whole-hearted, deep-throated, full-bent attempt—is enough. The attempt despite no hope of succeeding, is precisely what’s needed, and will suffice.

If we live a million years, we can do no more, nor less, than that.

We are so much deeper and wider and richer than we will ever know, so much more than our personal histories can account for, and we might never know it but from these percolations bubbling up from the deep Unconscious, or those deliberate dippings below the surface.

Lending our pens to that which writes us.

[I wrote this post several years ago before I began painting myself. Now I find it more true than ever. Even for painting, my “brush” is dipped into the deep unconscious before I ever put a stroke on paper or canvas]


Favorite Pairings – Peace and Power in Art & Music


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Joep Franssens’ Harmony of the Spheres and the art of Sohan Qadri

Both express the sense of peace and power that comes from mediation and tapping into the Unconscious. A powerful duo. Enjoy.



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Image result for sohan qadri paintings

Image result for sohan qadri paintings

Playing with Abstracts, Loving the Process


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I was surprised by how much I love painting abstracts. Just playing with color, design, textures is so freeing and creative. There’s no worry involved, no trying to make the work look like something in particular, or any hesitation to try something new for fear I’ll “ruin” it.

Yet it’s not like I begin with no thought in mind. I have a sense of what I want to create or capture. It’s not like I’m just throwing down color willy-nilly, although I suppose there would be nothing wrong with doing that either. But I like the creative process of laying down lines, swirls, design and adding paint to create a sense of balance, interest, complication, and completion. Each layer or choice adds something distinct and interesting to the whole.

In this first piece I started with that primal swirl in white oil pastel, then added the three slanted lines at the top in gold oil pastel. After that I dropped in various hues of blue, wet-on-wet so they could mix and mingle, and let it dry. When dry I added the dark blue dripping at the top, coaxing the drips around the oil pastel. I added the dark gold at the bottom and in various places for interest and balance, then let it dry again. In the last pass I toned down the gold pastel with blue pastel, added more “sparkles” and swirls of white and gold pastel, then more blue pastel toward the center of the major swirl to help the white pop.


It was all a careful, studied consideration, born of intuition and gut-feel, to reach the balance and interest I was looking for. My love of blue and gold in combination was given full rein to play with each other, and I noticed how my favorite doodles when I’m lost in thought made their way into the painting as well.

In the end, this piece reminds me of the night sky, with its swirling galaxies, shooting stars, and so on.  Although intentionally, that wasn’t what I had started out to create, I think my love for the night sky, that mystery and romance, was expressed here subconsciously.

I think that’s what I love about the making of abstract art, the little I’ve done so far, surprising myself with what gets pulled up subconsciously from some deeper inner reservoir. It’s what I’ve always loved about writing too, surprising myself with what comes out on paper.


The next piece I created was totally different in style and by intention. I wanted to experiment with lifting out a figure from layers of paint, which I did on the right. I wanted bright primal colors. After the deep blue and red on the right I laid down a brilliant yellow and then a dark gold below. Then I added the marks at the top and bottom left purely for what I thought would be “interesting” and enough to balance with the dark red and blue on the other side without taking away too much attention from that vague ghostly figure, which I saw as being the main focus.

When I reached what appeared to be an interesting balance, I stopped. “Man in Motion” came to me unbidden when I looked at the figure, so I suppose I will name it that, although what that means, if anything, I do not know.


This last piece was inspired by my love of scarlet and gold “in conversation.” I decided to split the painting into two unequal wholes. I started with swirls of gold and red oil pastel across the whole sheet. Then I used masking tape to divide the two sides and began splashing on two or three variations of red, one on top of the other, wet on wet. I did the same with yellow and gold on the other side. Then I used crushed cellophane to add pattern and texture to both sides. Finally I added some drips of blue on the red, and drips of dark gold and red on the yellow side.

But I wasn’t quite satisfied.

So I did something dangerous and daring. I added a strip of dark blue across the middle of the yellow side. It was awful! I thought I had ruined it and began trying to sponge it away, then I washed and scrubbed it, but a green stain remained. So I added more yellow on top of it and added more swirls of gold oil pastel. And I kept playing and experimenting until finally I was satisfied, and decided I liked this better than what I had before after all.DSCN3425

This is what I ended up with. For some reason the colors seem brighter in the previous photo than in this one, but in actuality, this is as rich and luminous as the one above. However, this final version seems more interesting and “complete” to me than the first, which seemed to lack “something,”  a depth, perhaps, or focus, or darker interest.

Anyway, I enjoyed this whole process so much, I know I’ll be painting more abstracts.

Knowing little about abstract art I did some research online and found this essay on the Metropolitan Art Museum website. It was fascinating how many abstract artists felt they were tapping into some “universal inner sources” when they painted, and how they felt their works “stood as reflections of their individual psyches.” I also like how “these artists valued spontaneity and improvisation, and accorded the highest importance to process.”

“For Abstract Expressionists, the authenticity or value of a work lay in its directness and immediacy of expression. A painting is meant to be a revelation of the artist’s authentic identity.”

I suppose that’s why someone like me who is playing with art and doing it purely for my own pleasure and interest would be drawn toward the abstract. And no doubt it is why the creation of art itself can be such a healing activity.

The essay ends with this interesting bit about the “expressive potential of color,” and the artist’s quest for the sublime.

Mature Abstract Expressionism: Color Field
Another path lay in the expressive potential of color. Rothko, Newman, and Still, for instance, created art based on simplified, large-format, color-dominated fields. The impulse was, in general, reflective and cerebral, with pictorial means simplified in order to create a kind of elemental impact. Rothko and Newman, among others, spoke of a goal to achieve the “sublime” rather than the “beautiful,” harkening back to Edmund Burke in a drive for the grand, heroic vision in opposition to a calming or comforting effect. . . . For Rothko, his glowing, soft-edged rectangles of luminescent color should provoke in viewers a quasi-religious experience, even eliciting tears.

Certainly color and color combinations have always had a particular hold on me, even to the point of a “quasi-religious experience” that has led to a “tearing up.” It’s how I judge art in general, not so much for its beauty but for its ability to move me, whether toward the sublime or in some other deeply felt way.  This is true for me both as a maker of art and a lover of art.

Love, I think, is the glue that holds it altogether.