Blue on Blue

PCT in the Goat Rocks Wilderness, WA  A field of blue lupins echo the deepening sky as day turns to night.  (Based on the photo by Gabi Fulcher 2014)

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When I started this painting I had no idea how blue it was going to go.  I had been doing a lot of inner work, thinking about my inner self, my concepts, my ideas, my integrity, my weaknesses.  Why do I think this way, what lessons are there to learn from our emotions… when I get frustrated or upset, what does that come from? Does it come from the situation at hand or from a lifetime of similar situations that make the current crisis seem bigger than it is?  I examined all my inner wounds like a forensic investigator, trying to make a case for guilt, innocence or acquittal.  I had no preconceived notions of the outcome but one word rose to the surface and I followed it like a flashlight in the darkness.

That word was compassion.  That I find the compassion in myself, that I nurture the compassion and choose the compassion rather than the hard edged anger and meanness that was trying to gain a foothold. I don’t like the hard edge… though I admire the strength anger has given me.  Anger is a good emotion, it’s a powerful one, but not one that should be driving my car.  You can’t make anger go away, but you can recognize it’s usefulness.  Anger is the fire that burns away the pain and takes you down to ash so you can rise again, clean and new and reborn.

Anger turned inward is depression.  There were too many times I had taken that anger and smoldered the flame with my body, inhaling the toxicity, allowing depression to take a toehold deep inside. And so, with the gray skies of the Pacific NorthWest dumping their seasonal load upon my home and myself, I found a deep blue streak staining my life. I had a hard time getting into the holiday spirit.  I just couldn’t do it, that blue funk was everywhere.

But then there was compassion.  And compassion led me to stories and places and videos and chat groups and forums and a greater understanding.  I followed every lead, turned over every rock, searched in all the drawers, cupboards and forgotten shelves.  The anger that had masqueraded as depression was swept out and dealt with.  The light began to shine again as we rounded the equinox and the sun literally returned to my part of the world.

With gratitude, I stood before a blank canvas and painted yet another in my Wilderness Of Women (WOW), a series of paintings from the trail.  All paintings are from photos taken by women hikers.  So far I’ve only done one from my own photo, the rest were taken by other women hikers.  This image of the PCT is from the Goat Rocks Wilderness in Washington State. It was sent it to me last winter by the photographer/hiker, Gabi Fulcher.  It’s been hanging in my studio for some time now… and well, now seemed to be it’s moment.

All these WOW paintings have a vivid saturation of color that connects my deep love of these wild places to my heart.  This one was the same in intensity, but different in just one word.  The word is “I”.  As in “I” painted it, because it doesn’t feel like “I” actually did.  I stood before the canvas after sketching it out in my normal fashion.  I was between the 6th and 7th chakra painting in my last series (see previous post) and using the same palette of color I was about to start when I hesitated.  I’ve done this before, and usually with good results, so I trusted the pause.  And I said to my muse: go ahead… you got this one.  Do what you like, I’ll just hold the brush.  And so, she did. Or he… it doesn’t matter, my muse is gender neutral.

Blue on Blue can speak for itself.  It’s so much more than me.  Just like the word compassion.

 

Alone in a field of poppies

Seems like the holidays always throw me for a loop.  It’s such a social time of the year and I get wiped out by all the parties and visits and, well, people.  I like people, just spaced out and in smaller doses.  I’m pretty good at the small talk, it’s not like I’m in the corner with a wild eyed stare, but after a few months of seemingly endless events, I need a break. The American holiday season seems like full bore, pedal to the metal intensity.  I like to move at a much slower pace and sometimes find myself white knuckling this time of year.  Classic introvert, that’s me.

I finally got a chance to get into the studio and took the opportunity to take a trip down memory lane.  I was hunting through my snapshots for something to paint and came across a wonderful photo.  I took it last year on the fourth of July.

Since my son was small, on every Independance Day, we would drive to a local field to watch the annual fireworks display.  In the beginning, it was just the 3 of us, in the bed of our pick up truck.  We’d arrive early and eat a picnic dinner while waiting for the summer sun to set and the show to begin.

A few years back, we invited some friends to join us and it turned into an event.   We all park in a row, set out a pot -luck picnic, lawn chairs, a cooler or two of beer and it’s an instant party.   The kids set off store bought fireworks on the road while we laugh, eat and have small town good time on the edge of the farmer’s field.

The field in question has been, in turns, planted with mint, grass and last year, of all things, poppies.  It was stunningly beautiful and really added a new dimension to our annual 4th of July lawn party.  I took this picture of my friend’s daughter, just before the sun began to set.  It’s been a favorite of mine ever since.

Here’s the sketch:

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Laying in some color:

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And the final:

Alone in field of poppies

Alone in field of poppies