But tonight , it is just the two of us and the most delightful Thai food .
The gods are generous .
I have never had my tarot cards read before- is that even the correct expression ? And yet I feel I am at a turning point in my life, I sense this energy and I am seeking a means to translate it.
This Sunday morning on our way to a yoga class we stumbled by, for want of a better word, a most adorable Gypsy wagon .
What was revealed reduced me to delighted giggles , Erin my reader might have thought me loopy. Pentacles and swords and staffs seemed to be popping up all over the place . And although it seems all a whirl of revelation and confirmation I do recall that after an arduous stretch of work and some darkness I am coming into my full self. My authenticity and vision are to be ( or are being) at last appreciated – with praise and wealth. I left feeling, and the cards confirmed this, that I am on the right path, and my occasionally doubts are old patterns that haven’t any bearing on this new realty ( again, so the cards tell me). I sense a new addiction , having my cards read and at some point designing my own. More than once I have been asked of my interest in Tarot, when I replied I hadn’t any I was met with surprise . I have crossed that boundary and I sense no turning back.
Mentally, physically and spiritually I’m ready for home, to my adorable David, the beasties , our Little Hermitage,back to the studio ( in a new location ) and to our many many wonderful and supportive friends .
My time at the school has revealed an elusive clarity ; how best to follow my path. And although I have felt a bit bruised at times and misunderstood , my doubts and any negative thoughts concerning my work magically evaporated last evening when my painting Genesis won first place in the California Open exhibition at Tag Gallery in Santa Monica. If PAFA sniffed at my work, the validation from Jim Morphesis ( the juror an artist I ACTUALLY admire!) eradicated any lingering doubt and insecurity.
As my sister Kat said , how many more hints must Heaven provide to see that this is your home?
My darling David with the delightful ( and lovely ) Melanie Newcombe, an amazing artist and dear friend and his date in my absence.
So westward I go with delight in my heart but I leave behind some amazing memories and wonderful new friends. Especially but my no means exclusively ,my studio mates Christiana , Sarah, Megan, Olivia, Camille, and dear Tony who fed my near daily addiction to art supplies at the in-school Blick. I shudder to see the bill.
Tony with the Antichrist.
Memories of Shabbas dinners with familiar and new friends; spending time with my dearest and longest friends Gerilyn and Michael, on and on . But especially time with my incredible sisters Pamela and Kat and my mother.
I feel like a chapter is closing and an even more exciting one is opening. A few more wonderful days here with those I love best,then home with gratitude in my heart .
As I conclude my time here at PAFA I’m left with three as-of-yet unfinished paintings and now one Minotaur doll. As I stashed my brushes and packed away much of my paints I found myself confronted with a large pile of very attractive paint- smeared studio rags. I was loathe to just toss them as they were so pretty .
So I took the logical step and made a rag doll- a first for me.
I immediately became calmer as I stitched away, listening to the radio and yesterday’s downpour . A cup of tea, Schubert and my dollmaking ; it was the most fun I’ve had since being here. I see stitchery being added to my studio practice, alongside painting, printmaking and puppet making.
My Minotaur looks handsome in front of my latest ( unfinished ) painting – I am enjoying this play of multi disciplines all going on at once. Supporting and inspiring one an another.
As I near the end of this trip I’m still in a bit of culture shock ( strange given I am from the East Coast). First off folks here in Philadelphia tend not to be as warm as I am used to, at least not until they know you. In LA I am greeted with endless smiles almost all of the time . I now find myself not smiling directly at folks on the street to avoid the scowl.
Secondly I haven’t had an avocado since being here. Subway offers I grey mass that they call guacamole but I have resisted.
But most conspicuous to me has been sugar consumption ; across the board, across cultural lines I have witnessed what seems to me insane amounts of sugar intake . My morning ritual includes an excellent cup of joe at Old City Coffee. Consistently high quality coffee, that in my opinion needs only a splash of white stuff . But just this morning as I waited my turn, I witnessed a sweet faced Amish girl sweeten her iced caramel sugary whatever with three packets of added sugar ; the working class fellow after her put NINE packets of raw sugar in his small coffee; and the business man ahead of me poured an endless steak of agave into his Americano.
I was taken aback, I don’t think I have ever seen anyone use actual sugar in LA, fake stuff once in awhile ,in the most furtive fashion, but goodness …
Anyway, soon I will be home, to David, the pups, smiles and avocados.
Closing down my borrowed studio, rolling up the paintings and filling my time with drawings and people judging – I mean watching.
I had my next to last critique this Friday and although I was anxious about it, it was in fact delightful and enlightening . The critic was the artist James Dupree, and although I wasn’t familiar with his work I have since come to realize what an excellent colorist he is.
He is a charming man, very dapper and generous of spirit. When he entered my studio he let out a jolly laugh of delight- it made my morning .
He imparted wisdom in a spirit of generosity , not dogma. Direct suggestions such as which colors would make the work more powerful. Tools not theory ,exactly what I have been seeking.
Most powerfully he reminded me that I haven’t much time , I must make, and to do that, I must in the end listen to my heart. He is a wonderful man, inviting me to his studio to see how he works . I will do that this week and with gratitude I will treasure the pearls he has offered.
Of light and space I have as many questions as answers , light is said to define space and yet the work I so often admire ( such as this 2nd-3rd century sarcophogas relief panel ) defies the contemporary conception of “good ” composition.Yesterday I was reading a slim volume of Blake, specifically the Book of Job. I picked up this treasure for one dollar at PAFA’s library sale as they transition to another floor- it’s a sad loss for the new space not to have this book, but my gain .
But looking at his Inventions as he preferred to call them ( I’m going to adopt that phrase as I have been told frequently by this school that I am an illustrator and not an artist ; inventor seems a sly reply ) one cannot easily sense a definite light or an obvious sense of space . In fact quite the opposite , they are cramped with esoteric curiosities and the most peculiar of light yet still the viewer is aware of being in the presence of a great and universal truth.
One of the criticism of my work, one that stung a bit because I am aware of my struggle with it, was one of light and space . And although I feel I have addressed that issue in other paintings my work here has had less of an emphasis upon those qualities.
I’m aware of this as I start yet again another painting . My last , quite wonderful critique with Patricia Traub concluded with the suggestion that I put aside the paintings I have been struggling with and start something afresh, freer and more joyful. Given that my spirit has been flagging and this program has come to feel an ordeal, I found that sound advice .
I approached the canvas with a light hearted spirit with my friend the Welsh artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins in mind . Clive no matter the subject always seems to approach his work with a smile . I wanted to channel that sense for no other reason than my own deflated personal ones.
The new painting , perhaps defiantly, once again seems to defy conventional /sanctioned/approved space , not unlike in my mind, the Roman example above ( or Master Blake). It is very much in the hatched stage and how light defines the space , if at all, is to be seen. But for now I’m seeing it through .
The program ends soon and I am overall pleased with the experiment , I feel better able to define my intentions and surprisingly , defend them. I hadn’t thought the need for defense existed but I see that isn’t the case. I had hoped to bring my interests to the table and had hope to seek direction as to better express them. That hasn’t happened here with this critique program but I have been able to tap into a truer sense of myself.
Gratitude in the long run.
I’ll conclude with my as of yet , sketchy painting.
My life drawing session was cut short by an alarm , alerting us to leave the building at once . Our pretty model had to hastily throw on her clothes as we rushed to the fire exits. In the end it was nothing but this drawing is left unfinished . I will blame it’s obvious flaws on the imaginary emergency .