I got inspired to create a painting titled "Heart Beat" at winter solstice and completed it at the entry of spring. I wanted to create a painting with a fair amount of depth, and while at my easel, imagined that I was inside my body listening to my own heart
beating, and feeling the blood pulsating through me. I imagined the areas of oxygenated blood, contrasting with the deep, dark tissues and organs in the darkness of my anatomy, quietly sustaining the fragile physical balance. I explored the inner core, emotions and psyche of my being.
The painting was a good companion for a longish winter with many dark and stormy days, finding the dreary, very cold and wet weather to be a basis to contemplate the state of one's being. The color relationships of the reds and mixed blues were extremely enjoyable to explore, very cathartic. Cadmium red and Cerulean Blue were the most used tubes of paint.
The slide show demonstrates the various stages of the process. Masking tape goes on the canvas before a painting session, and it is pulled off as soon as the session is complete. The colors of the paint are selected for their reaction to each other and the mood that I'm channeling.
My mother and father grew up in Kansas and in upper northeast Texas during The Great Depression, and simultaneously, the Great American Dust Bowl. The Herculean challenges of these times were miserable and demoralizing.
Despite that my parents' respective families experienced resilience and determination and happy times as well. One of my aunts personally recounted a memory of seeing pies cooling on the railing of the front porch on Sundays when they went to church.
Mom and Dad got married after WWll and moved to California. It must have felt like heaven, a brand new life in a brand new place. My dad worked over 30 years for the Southern California Gas Company. My mom, Maxine, raised my brothers and I, and later ran the kitchen at a large church and nursery school. Their practicality, fortitude and ability to make life cheerful were a result of the character that was formed in their earlier experiences.
My parents had a high school education. Our family lived simply and always had plenty of healthy food and pies. I recall my parents loved Fritos and bean dip. We lived in the San Joaquin Valley, where my eyes continually drank in the Sierra Nevada, vast fields of cotton and alfalfa, and orchards of oranges, walnuts and plums.
Grandmother came to live with us for a few years when I was ten. She shared a room with me, and I believe we both secretly longed for rambling conversations with lots of giggles, but she was the quiet type . . . like her granddaughter. When I could, I hid away in my room, sat on my bed and secretly drew 100's of pictures on white bond paper.
How does one become drawn in to being an artist? Does one's childhood need to have artistic advantages, tremendous talent, trips to the art museum, tons of praise and fostering at a young age? Although I was a well-loved child, those were not a part of my experience. However, my eye was unsuspectingly pulled in to beauty and design, and I came to seek more and more of it.
How we get to where we are in life is fascinating to me. A one step at a time process, one little step starts it all. The pressures and influences, the lucky breaks and the long, dry spells are the yin and yang of our development, our life long road that requires grace and love and passion.
I write this article to those who have a passion for art, but think they have no great talent for it. I believe that art comes from out of our life experiences and personal relationships. For me, it is from the time that I shared my room with my grandmother and the view of the vast, expansive fields and orchards.
I woke up one day and from the depths of me came the words, "I am an artist." I just knew, and accepted it. If that happens to you, take a step, smile, and get ready for one crazy beautiful ride.
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An aside: I strongly recommend reading Timothy Egan's book, The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl.
I wish I had learned directly from my mother and father what their experiences were from their point of view. They never said a word about it.
When my friend recently called to tell me she had retrieved my old view camera out from storage, I was ecstatic! I opened the wobbly case and found it to be encrusted with grit in some of the nooks and crannies. Seeing it sitting on the chair in my home now, it causes a gut reaction as it brings me back to a time when I had to learn to maintain my creativity while learning a complex technical procedure.
While slogging away at photography school, my emphasis was on portraiture. I remember the expansive studios and tungsten and strobe lights where we photographed portraits and product shots, but I was more drawn to the natural light from windows and the outdoors. I was the champion film developer in the darkroom and helped out students whose sheet film got surge marks which were visible when when the negatives were printed on photo paper. I learned negative retouching from Kitty West to bring in a little extra cash.
Following graduating from Brooks, I went on to join in a partnership at a portrait studio that I co-owned and managed in Marin County for over twenty years. My experience taught me a huge appreciation for well executed photography and cinematography. It is certain that photography developed my eye for design, and even more so, enhanced my ability to see the nuances of various types of light and its simple truth. It's always been the light,
Much appreciation to my mom and dad for believing in me and giving me my start.
Luminous Color Explorations