Originals by Synkroniciti: Outgoing Tide

After a few years and two floods, I’m finally painting again. Nothing calms me down better than putting some color on canvas and seeing what crops up.

The section of wall to the left of our fireplace has some damage from whatever hung there in the past. It’s a rather tall footprint, and I didn’t have anything to fill it, so I headed to the craft store and bought a canvas. I hung the bare canvas briefly and realized that I should have bought a taller one, as part of the damage still showed clearly. Instead of returning it, I decided to make this a mixed media piece and attach a fabric skirt to the bottom to extend it.  I went through my fabric stash and, after some deliberation, settled on a gauzy green fabric embroidered with vines. I gathered it in the lower right corner and tied it off with some twine. To make the transition work and help anchor the fabric, I glued pine bark gathered in my back yard across the top of the skirt. Then I applied gesso to give the canvas some personality and texture.

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The next step was to make the piece more cohesive and cut down the contrasts between the canvas, bark, and fabric. I began shading the canvas with tones of yellow with red and pink mixed in. I painted the bark, favoring metallics, yellows, greens and blues that would give the bark more color and some iridescence, exaggerating the edges and patterns that were already present. White gesso, which has more body than paint, created a smokestack effect across the upper third of the painting, while a blue creature with arms appeared in the middle third. At this point I had not yet made a conscious decision as to what this painting was going to present, but the hints were all there.

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With the encouragement of Facebook friends, the painting became a beach scene featuring a starfish. As I began to paint and overpaint the starfish, building a nice layer of impasto (texture achieved by layering paint), I also detailed the foliage of a plant, intending to place a flower between the rocky bark and the creature, who appeared to be stranded on the sand. I worked more pink and red into the sand, which I later toned down.

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I could not leave that beautiful creature to die on the sand, so I began to shade in some water, thinking he was in some inlet or tidal pool. The water grew deeper and more turquoise, then I decided it was deep enough to splash where it hit the starfish. White gesso created the illusion beautifully. The flower had its first incarnation and other plants sprang up on the shore. At some point, I noticed that there were pockets under the bark where I could put items… a bit of pine cone, some fuzzy dried plant matter. Have you ever cut up a pine cone? It’s a daunting task.

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During the next phase I tried out some things that I liked, messed them up and then came up with better things. The only time that painting gets stressful is when I get attached to a particular item… a texture, a line, some shading… and it gets destroyed as I’m working. I’ve learned that, most of the time, the thing that comes next is more well-suited to the piece as a whole. Here are a few nice near misses.

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Here is the final product, Outgoing Tide, my seventh completed painting. The shading on the sand and the plants took me some time, but I am pleased. There’s a painted seedpod added that I find a happy touch. Painting the sides black makes the piece stand out; I went back and did that to 5 of my other 6 paintings. They won’t need framing now. As far as perspective goes, I decided we are on our stomachs looking down over a rocky ridge past some plants in the foreground  toward a tidal inlet surrounded by sand. The tide is going out, and that starfish will be carried back out to sea, far from the yellow flower that reaches out to him. From a damaged wall comes a vibrant new piece of art. I’m going to have to paint more.

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Quote for Today: David Baird

 

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Yes no yes no yes no?
Red blue?
Yes red, no blue?
No red, yes no?
In out, up down?
Do don’t, can can’t?
Choices sit on the shelf like
New shoes in a shoe shop.
If the in crowd are squeezing into a must-have shoe
And the one pair left are too tiny for you
Don’t feel compelled into choosing them
If you’re really a size 9, buy that size.
While everyone else
Hobbles round with sore feet
Your choices should feel comfortable
Or they aren’t your choices at all.
Why limp when you can sprint?

― David Baird, Fiesta of Happiness: Be True to Yourself

Image © Andy Mabbett with CCLicense

Quote for Today: Harold Kushner

Abandoned Destroyed Disaster Debris Buildings

In the final analysis, the question of why bad things happen to good people translates itself into some very different questions, no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, what we intend to do now that it has happened.
Are you capable of forgiving and accepting in love a world which has disappointed you by not being perfect, a world in which there is so much unfairness and cruelty, disease and crime, earthquake and accident? Can you forgive its imperfections and love it because it is capable of containing great beauty and goodness, and because it is the only world we have?
Are you capable of forgiving and loving the people around you, even if they have hurt you and let you down by not being perfect? Can you forgive them and love them, because there aren’t any perfect people around, and because the penalty for not being able to love imperfect people is condemning oneself to loneliness?

Harold Kushner, When Bad Things Happen to Good People 

 

Public Domain Image via MaxPixel.com

Quote for Today: John Steinbeck

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“This here ol’ man jus’ lived a life an’ just died out of it. I don’ know whether he was good or bad, but that don’t matter much. He was alive, an’ that’s what matters. An’ now he’s dead, an’ that don’t matter. Heard a fella tell a poem one time, an’ he says All that lives is holy. Got to thinkin’, an’ purty soon it means more than the words says. An’ I wouldn’t pray for a ol’ fella that’s dead. He’s awright. He got a job to do, but it’s all laid out for im an’ there’s on’y one way to do it. But us, we got a job to do, an’ they’s a thousan’ ways, an’ we don’ know which one to take. An’ if I was to pray, it’d be for the folks that don’ know which way to turn. Grampa here, he got the easy straight. An’ now cover im up an let im get to his work.”

―Casy in The Grapes of WrathJohn Steinbeck
 Tollund Man, Public Domain Image

Quote for Today: David Baird

© Conny G. with CCLicense

© Conny G. with CCLicense

Yes no yes no yes no?
Red blue?
Yes red, no blue?
No red, yes no?
In out, up down?
Do don’t, can can’t?
Choices sit on the shelf like
New shoes in a shoe shop.
If the in crowd are squeezing into a must-have shoe
And the one pair left are too tiny for you
Don’t feel compelled into choosing them
If you’re really a size 9, buy that size.
While everyone else
Hobbles round with sore feet
Your choices should feel comfortable
Or they aren’t your choices at all.
Why limp when you can sprint?
David BairdFiesta of Happiness: Be True to Yourself

Quote for Today: John Updike

Villa Poppaea near Naples, Italy © Tierceron with CCLicense

Villa Poppaea near Naples, Italy
© Tierceron with CCLicense

A narrative is like a room on whose walls a number of false doors have been painted; while within the narrative, we have many apparent choices of exit, but when the author leads us to one particular door, we know it is the right one because it opens.

Quote for Today: Jim Butcher

© Matt Erasmus with CCLicense

© Matt Erasmus with CCLicense

No one just starts giggling and wearing black and signs up to become a villainous monster. How the hell do you think it happens? It happens to people. Just people. They make questionable choices, for what might be very good reasons. They make choice after choice, and none of them is slaughtering roomfuls of saints, or murdering hundreds of baby seals, or rubber-room irrational. But it adds up. And then one day they look around and realize that they’re so far over the line that they can’t remember where it was.

Jim ButcherCold Days

To Listen or Not to Listen: Creativity and the Voices in Your Head

© Duster Amaranth with CCLicense

© Duster Amaranth with CCLicense

Being creative requires listening to our thoughts. How do we find our own voice amongst voices internalized from our surroundings?

Interest in yoga and meditation techniques seems to be increasing day by day. In a world connected by social media and sped up by machines that work and play for us, it can be difficult to find the solitude required to access our thoughts and internal voices. When we do get away from those voices, the sounds and rhythms of our own selves can be foreign to us. How do we choose what to listen to, what to act upon, what to believe?

As creative people we have many voices in our heads– voices that reflect our interpretation of ideas from teachers and colleagues, from society, and from our families. There is also the voice of our own ego, our own mind.

There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind – you are the one who hears it.

― Michael A. Singer, The Untethered Soul

food-31775_640Imagine for a moment that all of those voices in your head are suggestions, including your own ego. Do this, do that. I want a hamburger. These are the voices of your operating system trying to get you moving. They don’t have a clue what you want to do or what your purpose is. That comes from some place deeper in your being. This is why singers love to sing and painters love to paint and so on; somehow creative activity allows us to get caught up in what we are doing to the point that the inner self takes over. The more complicated and traditional the task the harder it gets to come to that point. You have to be so practiced and comfortable with your technique and medium that you can let go. The alternative is to become subject to those voices so that you wear yourself out trying to appease all of them at once. Finding the balance between these voices and your self allows you to be “authentic” or “in the moment”. This is your true voice, and it shows through in your actions, not your thoughts.

580px-OOPS^_NEGLIGENCE_IS_THE_CAUSE_OF_MOST_ACCIDENTS._BE_THOUGHTFUL._-_NARA_-_515130Thoughts do have value. They are designed to be our friends, to help us organize, explore and act by giving us options so that we can carry out a task to the best of our ability. Often they play a big part in assuring that we aren’t complete jackasses.

The strength of the thought process is being able to choose between options, to find the gradations between good, better and best on hand and fair, poor and unacceptable on the other. Individual thoughts are one-sided points of view; we create harmony by picking and choosing among them. Sometimes we reach a point in our lives when the voices are deafening, arguing and seeking to bully us into their corner. Sometimes we do something that cuts against everything the voices have constructed. Either scenario is an opportunity to discover ourselves.

“Once you know that you have a voice,” Louis said, “it’s no longer the voice that matters, but what is behind the voice.”

―Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice

© Kevin N. Murphy with CCLicense

© Kevin N. Murphy with CCLicense

When this conflict happens, Synkroniciti would encourage you to go to what you love, not what you are told to love, not to what you have settled for. It may be that, even if you have achieved your original goal, what you are actually passionate about is a few steps from where you have ended up. You aren’t married to your art or your profession, so it is perfectly okay to adjust! Our society likes to know that you fit in early and remain fixed in your position, no matter how painful it becomes to hold your place. This is a destructive philosophy. Don’t be afraid to change mediums, to alter the course set by internal and external voices. This is your self taking over, a process Carl Jung called individuation, and it is to be welcomed, not feared. The result will build upon what you have already discovered and is frequently more satisfying than what was hoped for in the first place.

Come on in; the water is fine!