a journal of...

A journal among friends...
art, words, home, people and places

Thursday, September 15, 2016


September 15, 2016

Feeling a bit twisted-up a few days last week, I made an appointment for a Reiki treatment with my daughter-in-law Tricia Weiner at her new studio Happiness Is The Key Company,.  In that place of calm, she took me through a tranquil, meditative session.  I came out not only myself again, but also with a greater understanding of what my body was trying to tell me.  At my age, it seems to be speaking a different language, one I've been a bit slow to pick up on.  Not entirely a disagreeable stage of life (recalcitrant joints and such notwithstanding), I've found myself heading in new directions, as she has, bringing together the diverse experiences of a many-faceted life to begin a new way of thinking and creating.  I wish us both luck with it, as I do all of us who, at one point (or more) in life, decide to open new doors, or at least windows, and live more expansively.

 I remember the day I began to be an artist.  It took a friend, Helen Raplicka, a marvelously creative woman in San Antonio who allowed her art to take her in all sorts of directions, to bring me to the visual arts.  One day at Journal Workshop (I'll write about that long history another day), I had told the others what suddenly facing a blank page was like.  I was new to writer's block; all my life I'd been able to write what I wanted, spilling words out on pages in one wave after another on a ready shore.  But now, though words came, they seemed superficial--seemed not to mean anything, really.  It was a lesson I could teach, but also one I was living through.  After our workshop, she came quietly up to me.  "I think you need to do something else with your hand," she said.  "I'm going to sign you and me up for a drawing class with a friend of mine.  She's teaching at the Botanical Gardens.  It's so beautiful there."  

"Helen," I told her quickly--too quickly--"I can't draw!  All my life people in my family have told me I'm not the artist."  "Never mind," she said.  "Just come."  In the lovely setting at the front of the Gardens, which each week we traversed from one biome to another, Jean Rosow took my pencil and eraser away and handed me her pen.  "Trust your hand," she said.  "A mistake is just an opportunity."

And I did, or learned to.  From drawing, I moved quickly to watercolor, filling in where those brooding lines of ink left off.  
one very early spring
Happy with the fluid way that medium performed for me (that's the way watercolor works at its best--you let it do what it wants), I took to it for a good two decades before, once again, I felt constrained.  Two-dimensional work was pretty, but a window slowly creaking open made me see that I was lacking depth.  Collage came next (like these small card/paintings I still work on), tempting me to collect much of the earth's leavings. 

cross hatch

bright leaf

At the Print Council of NJ, I learned monoprinting and bookmaking, which I still love.  Then, soon after life dealt me two impossible blows, came the hangings I assembled out of fiber, found things, needlework, natural elements--pushing me forcefully into the three-(and fourth-)dimension, expressing what I couldn't any way else.  
love letters

Encaustic is enticing me now, too, bits and pieces put together in layers of wax like archaeological finds. Everything is a possibility.  It's as if one really didn't give up one medium, but simply carried it forth into the next. Starting something new is a beginning, but it's also a continuum.  When one learns that, one learns a lifetime of knowing.

In the way that life has of integrating everything, I am finding myself more earth-oriented, as metaphor and meaning, not only in art but in body, too.  Will you be surprised to know that Tricia noted, at the end of our Reiki session, that my chief issue seemed to resolve in my feet?  "Be more grounded," she advised me, and showed me how, physically, I could better connect earth-wise.  Her remark brought me back to a painting I'd seen a few years ago in the Blue Spiral in Asheville, so large it covered a whole wall at the back of the gallery:  if I remember rightly, a small park in front of a few houses, some nearer, some farther away, and in the foreground some trees with grass and stones.  "The Earth Remembers Her Name" was the title.  It was less the painting, though beautiful, than the title that I have remembered all these years and taken as a sort of numinous hum.  The earth remembers my name, I repeat, and it goes on echoing in so many things I do and am these days.

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