Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The forest-dweller stage....

Winter #4, watercolor,  20 x 14"

Life and art are a fascinating and wonderous journey.

This has been a winter of discovery and change some of which I covered in my last post.  But here's what brought me to this moment - During a long convalescence a short while ago I had the luxury of time to dig into my deepest self to consider how things are "going", to check my happiness scale as I hadn't been feeling too good about things and it had nothing to do with the surgery or getting better.  For quite some time I had been aware that things needed changing and it was becoming a priority to do so.  Some parts were in my control some needed a miracle, but the big questions were what exactly needed changing and how do I go about it.  That's when a series of little miracles did, in fact, happen one of which was coming across a fantastic article in Yoga International, here's the link http://yogainternational.com/article/view/aging-gracefully-yogic-wisdom-for-the-third-stage-of-life  The  author of this piece was recouperating as well.  I have quotes from it below but hope you will take time to read it and maybe it will be inspiring for you as well.  The article is called "Aging Gracefully Yogic Wisdom for the Third Stage of Life" by Deborah Willoughby.  I am grateful to Yoga International and Ms. Willoughby for allowing me to quote from her work.

Winter #5, watercolor and pen, 20 x 14"

"Here, in the third stage of life, we have the privilege of stepping away from the external identities that so easily become all-consuming. By the time we’re approaching our 60s, we’ve lived amidst the rush and roar of life long enough to recognize the outer world is, in the words of Alistair Shearer, “a place of limited charm, a realm hedged in by restrictions and forever being eroded by transience.” We have enough experience to realize that name, fame, possessions, and power will never be a source of lasting fulfillment, and as this realization dawns, our attention shifts from what changes to what endures, pulling our focus inward.

Winter #6 (Saplings), mixed media, 20 x 14"

In the traditional culture that gave rise to yoga this was called the forest-dweller stage, not because people literally retreated to the woods (although some did), but because, recognizing the transient nature of external achievements, they withdrew from these pursuits to strengthen their connection with the deeper dimensions of their own being. ...   But above all, they had a vibrant sense of the meaning and purpose of life.

Like a car, the body is well engineered for a long journey. And the purpose of this journey is not to accumulate possessions or experiences or power or fame, but to gather the tools and means to promote awareness of the luminous field of conscious energy that is the core of our being. They knew that to die without having accomplished this purpose is the greatest loss."

Winter #7, watercolor, 20 x 14"

External achievements, the journey, accumulate possessions or experiences....fame.  I am ferociously competitive and I wanted more and bigger exhibits, grants (big important ones but was told I'd never get such a thing as a realist painter).  Any rejection was painful and I felt that "failure" was stamped on my forehead.  I competed with myself on everything...if I did a painting I liked I wanted to do an even better one, when I got a grant I wanted one every time I applied.  I knew these were not rational desires but they were completely understandable.  When it all finally collapsed with losing my job and being faced with change I never asked for all it did was set me free.  For so many years I kept saying "all I want to do is paint" so fate intervened and now I really have all the time in the world to paint, explore ideas that have been smoldering while I was busy doing other things and I feel like I've been let out of prison...it is scary but I'm free to pursue and strengthen the connection with what inspires my work: nature.

These paintings of the woods are exploring a concept that I will talk about in my next post.  Stay tuned!

Winter #8, watercolor & acrylic, 14 x 20"

Friday, February 21, 2014

Just before the snow set in...

I went around doing some fast plein air color sketches of the first snow as it settled in the hollows of the fields, here are some of my favs.  So much more snow came after that...I'm SO ready for Spring!