...the kind of change and transformation that you can feel occuring deep below the surface of your skin, muscle and bones. The kind that is like a wind which can steer the vessel that you move in in strange and unexpected ways. You know that you are being set on a course...
As I have mentioned in previous posts, I get up very early in the morning...before the Sun rises. I typically will go and sit outside for a few moment and take in those glorious moments before the dawn starts to shine her light. This mornng as I was sitting outside holding my cup of coffee, I was watching the play of light and shadow and remembering the dream that had come in the night. This particular dream came on the back of another dream that I had received two days prior. I have been "calling" for a dream. I did not expect to wake from that first dream gasping for air and desparately looking around trying to determine which reality was the one that I found myself in. It was a "shock" dream. One in which you have no choice but to acknowledge or "wake-up" to the message that the dream is trying to convey. I am usually very skilled at dream interpretation, especially my own, however, this one left me shaken and unsure of aspects of its meaning.
If you have been following these posts then you may remember the one in which I shared the story of the painting The Creation of the Firmaments. The dream that came the other night had some of these elements...a completely white building perched on the end of a vast and expansive sea. The arrival of a great whale...except this time the whale arrived transported in the arms of a massive and swirling storm. I am still unravelling the message that were sent in that night vision. The dream that came last night provided a clue or a further unravelling of the first one's meaning.
So...back to me sitting with my coffee, watching the veil between night and day shift and looking up at the night sky. As I was sitting there wandering in my thoughts and the waking of the world, it happened - a shooting star went streaking across the sky. In my life story, shooting stars have historically signalled that a large shift and/or transformation has begun. One night, a long time ago, as I laid on a pile of wooden boards in a small rural village in New Mexico, it was a shooting star that was the final determining moment that precipitated my move to that land of sky and sand. So, this morning, I watched as that streak of stardust tore acrcoss the sky. I have felt its coming for some time now - its arrival confirmation for what I could feel but struggle to have words for. What I still struggle to have words for. What I do know is that I am changing. Of course we are all always changing, for how could we not be, but I am talking about the kind of change and transformation that you can feel occuring deep below the surface of your skin, muscle and bones. The kind that is like a wind which can steer the vessel that you move in in strange and unexpected ways. You know that you are being set on a course. For me, this always simultaneously occurs with a feeling of uncomfortable restlessness.
My most recent painting, The Becoming of Persephone also speaks to this feeling.
This was not how I originally envisioned this painting. In some way, shape or form, all of the paintings are autobiographical - how could they not be. It is not unusual for the paintings to take on a life and/or will of their own, but this one snuck up on me. I am typically working on more than one painting at a time. This number can range from 2 or 3 up to about 9 or 10. At some point while I am working on all of them one will jump to the forefront and let me know that it is ready to be completed (at least in regards to my role in the process). If you would have told me that when I originally began this painting I would later title it, The Becoming of Persephone, I would have been extremely doubtful for I never envisioned it/her becoming what she did or having the feel that she does. This is not one of my facorite paintings. On the day that I completed her, I found myself choosing colors that I would not typically combine in order to convey the feeling of unease or uncomfortableness that I was experiencing as I watched her morph from the original inception that I had for her.
There are certain paintings that have marked a transition or a moment when my painting style shifts or changes, or when I am in the process of incorporating some new aspect of working with the paint, brushes, my soul and the images. This is one of those. She is what I think of as a transitory painting; a painting "in-between" larger movements of my life. What will follow...well...I do not yet know. I do understand that it is about rhythms and cycles that are at play. I do know that in order for her to return in the spring she must let the previous season sleep, become the compost that will nourish the new growth of the following season.
What will I do now? I will go after the riddle. I will spend time researching the images that swim through the dreams, I will research Persephone in all of her various forms throughout time. I will look for the clues that have been left for me to follow. What else will I do...keep painting and keep dreaming...
In Love, Gratitude & Art,
Perhaps I should sculpt chocolate nudes...
OK. I lied. I made a post/announcement that I would not be doing the scheduled blog post today. As I stepped away from the computer and walked through the house and returned to my thoughts - the ones that have been turning over and returning for the last couple of weeks I rethought my previous statement.
If this blog is what I say it is - a journey into artistic process and the life and art of one woman - then writing about these thoughts and the artistic shift that I can feel is in process, perhaps writing about it is just what I needed to do. I feel certain that there are other artists out there...and other human beings who do not call themselves artist (a point of thought that I also think about often)...who know exactly what I am talking about. Those periods of time when you can feel something shifting on an internal level but where it is going, where it will lead is unclear. I dreamt of snakes last night for the first time in a long time - I know when this happens that there is a change coming - a shedding of the skin so to speak.
So what does this "feeling of change" look like in my world? It kind of looks like the photos of my library above. Typically my sleep schedule will change and I will find myself waking in the early hours of the morning, like at 2 or 3 am. I then began prowlling through the house with a cup of coffee in my hand and my thoughts roam and settle, roam and settle. I often get much done during these wee early hours in the morning. I also love the sensation of walking through my home with a few small lights on and watching the light shift and change as the sun rises.
I am fairly certain that the 2 main creative projects that I have committed myself to in the last months have led me to exactly where I am currently at. NAKED: The Art of Exposure and Vision Shift are projects whose inherent nature were intended to reveal and transform my experience of myself and the world around me. So...I suppose I should have expected a shift in artistic direction to arise. The unsettling feeling is that of not knowing exactly where it is leading. But then do we ever really know where life is leading? We can move through our daily life with set intentions and goals, but I believe that part of living life artistically also means watching were the flow of life is changing and being open to what you had previously not seen. I spoke with an artist friend of mine the other day. She too mentioned experiencing a similar feeling. When she said that she thought she might be going crazy I laughed and thought - well, we are both in good company then.
This morning I was doing the early morning task of responding to emails, messages and social media scheduling and I was drawn to an article that anothet artist had posted on facebook. The article was from the NY Times and was titled Is the Age of the Artistic Recluse Over? This is one of those topics that have been milling over in the melting pot of my brain. The vast majority of pantings that I have sold over the last years have happened as a result of social media. It is an interesting time to be an artist. Unless you are in the big leagues and/or are dealing in the world of galleries, in many ways social media is a necessary vehicle for getting your work out into the world. Although in many ways I would be content to do what I do and not have it be public - that does not pay the bills and I also believe that sharing your work with the world at large is part of the definition of being an artist. So I am both grateful for social media and I also find myself feeling ambivalent about it. As much as it can be a useful tool it can also be a sucking vortex of time. I also do not want to live a life in which a social media persona becomes my identity. Who someone is on social media can be a very far distance away from who they are in person. Not to mention that spending any time watching or waiting for LIKES and SHARES begins to feel like a strange way of determining any sort of value for your work, time or effort.
So...where does this leave me?
Well...walking around the house at 2 or 3am...at times contemplating becoming a sculptor of fine chocolates and then laughing because knowing me I would begin to sculpt chocolate nudes - but that is a whole additional topic for another time! Other contemplations include my beliefs that the way I, or any of us, lives our lives is a fine art onto itself. Sometimes I wonder if I could disappear from social media and still accomplish what I believe is my purpose. But in this moment in particular I am curious. I want a conversation with other artists. I am curious regarding who amongst us is also feeling a shift of undetermined origins? I want to ask you my fellow travellers how you really feel about social media?
So today's blog post is a bit of insight into the ramblings of my mind and soul. It is also an invitation for my fellow artist (and any other human being who does not think of themself as an artist) to comment, leave a message and let me know how you feel about feeling or knowing that a shift in your work is in process but not yet realized. Are you wondering around your homes at 3am too?
Perhaps by the next blog post I will be back to the regularly scheduled programming...but I have my doubts.
In gratitude, love and art,
I believe that if we can find our own voice in the world, our own creativity and unique sound, our song, we can metaphorically and literally sing ourselves into existence.
I am awake. It is hours before the Sun will rise and wash over the landscape; bathing what is now unseen in light and making the unseen visable.
There are nights that as I lay sleeping the dreams wash over me and I am awake in other worlds or perhaps I am awake in other layers of the world within which my sleeping body lies. At these times the unseen is also made visible. I am a dreamer...in many, many ways. There are certain dreams that come in the arms of sleep, dreams that carry a message and leave such an imprint upon the eye of my soul that they are impossible to forget. Within the multitude of these dreams there are a handful which always begin with the Moon. She is always full and she is always dancing above the vast expanse of the Ocean. For as many of the Moon dreams that I have received, there are an equivelent amount of paintings that move through me and find there way into the world. The dream that whispered of the image below began over 15 years ago. Periodically the dream has returned, or rather the dream has continued over the course of the last ten years. Each time it returns it begins with the opalescent Moon; heavy, full and hanging over an unending expanse of Ocean.
Dream of the Animals from the Sky (2002)
In the dream, it is night and I am looking out a window which is very high above the ground. The Moon is full and bright and hanging above a vast expanse of water. When I look down I see that the expanse of water reaches to the foundation of the building. From my viewpoint high above there is no shoreline that is visible. There is only water as far as my eye can see. There is a brief moment when my thinking mind kicks in and I wonder if the building that I am in is rising from the Ocean herself.
I turn from the window to look inside the room in which I am standing. I am in a small bathroom and my young son is witg me. Although I understand that the room I am in is a bathroom, I also understand that it is something else. It resembles a long hallway and leaves me with a strange and surreal feeling that I am somehow within a tunnel. Everything in the bathroom is white in color. Everything in the bathroom is pristinely clean and emminates with the same opulesence as the Moon.
I turn to once again look out the window and accutely focus my eyes upon the water searching for some understanding or a clue as to why we are here. A shadow begins to surface upon the waters. The shadow rises and a dolphin breaks upon the slow rolling waves. Once it has broken through the water it turns and looks directly at me. I know that it has come for me. I tell my son to look out the window. When he looks out the window, he tells me that he can not see anything. I look out the window again and see that the dolphin has come up on the land which has mysteriously appeared around the building that I am in and it is underneath the window that I am looking out of. We make eye contact and the cetacean turns and reenters the water.
A few moments later I hear the sound of wind it is a whistling sound which is progressively getting louder and stronger. Within a few moments, a large white whale falls from the heavens and into the water. There is a great splurging of water which is displaced and set in motion. In the splash and displaced water that results from the whale’s arrival, I begin to see a multitude of shapes and shadows surfacing from the depths. The water is filled with a multitude of creatures. As I look at the creatures, I realize that some of them are from times that we consider to be pre-history. At first I think that all of the creatures are from times past; and then I realize that there are also present day animals and animals that I have never seen or heard of before. Somehow I understand that they are the creatures and beings that are still to come and they have not yet been seen on our present day earth. Some of the creatures begin to surface and walk upon the land. As I am watching them walk upon the earth I realize that they are entering the building that I am in. They ascend the internal structure of the building and find me and my son in the white bathroom. One by one, they singularly parade by us, each one pausing to ensure that eye contact has been made as it passes by and exits through the window back into the primordial waters from which it came.
The final creature, which is similar in shape to that of monkey and is entirely white in color, jumps onto the sink near where I am standing and waits for me to look at it. We lock eyes and I see my own eyes reflected in the creature’s face. I then realize that we are standing in front of a mirror and the reflection shows that we share the same eyes. In as much as we are different, we are the same. We are reflections and images of one another. The actions of one will affect the world of the other. The creature moves toward the window, takes one last look and then is gone. I watch as the water enfolds and engulfs the creatures of my dream and returns them to the place of their origins. The Moon's lights begins to fade and I am washed in darkness and sleep.
A couple of years passed after this dream occurence before I would once again awake in the dream world to find myself in the depths of the ocean. This time I was a whale. I was swimming with a pod and I was singing there song. Each sound reverberating through the depths of the water.
In 1991 an all white male humpback whale was photographed passing Australia's most eaterly point. At the time of the sighting this whale was the only documented all white humpback to have been recorded in the world. The Australian Aboriginal community named the whale Migaloo, the word that they use to describe a "white fella". Migaloo is suspected to be an an albino whale, but without definitive evidence for the moment he is known as a “hypo-pigmented” humpback. Humpback whales are an endangered species. Migaloo is part of the east Australian humpback population, suspected to number around 15-17,000 individuals in 2012. This population was likely around 30,000 before commercial whaling began, but was possibly as low as 104 individuals after commercial whaling on humpbacks ceased in the 1960s.
Humpback whales grow to be about 12-15 metres long, weighing 25-40 tons. The females are slightly larger than males, as with all baleen whales. The four-chambered heart of the average humpback whale weighs about 195 kg about as much as three average adult human beings. (Really think about that for a moment.) Humpbacks travel in large, loose groups. Most associations between humpbacks are temporary, lasting at most a few days. The exception is the strong and lasting bond between mother and calves. Up until September 2011 Migaloo was thought to be the only all white Humpback Whale in the world. Then amazing footage emerged of a 100% all white baby humpback calf.
The humpback whale is a baleen whale that sings amazing love songs. Humpback whales are renowned for their ability to produce songs of remarkable beauty, complexity, and duration. But despite decades of research, scientists still aren't sure why these whales engage in such elaborate acoustic displays.
To hear the song of the humpback whale you may click on the Download File button below.
Coastal shamanic cultures rely on whales for a variety of reasons. Different tribal cultures believe that sound holds the world together and that the whales are the record keepers and their songs are the record of Mother Earth. They are the caretkaers of the stories. Many indigenous peoples believe that Creation was sung into existence.
I believe that If we can find our own voice in the world, our own creativity and unique sound, our song, we can metaphorically and literally sing ourselves into existence.
In Gratitude, Love & Art,
If you are interested in learning more about Migaloo the white humpback whale I invite you to check out the following website - http://migaloo.com.au/
I am often amazed when I look back and see what has caught my eye and imagination each day. They (the images), much like my paintings feel like communion. An interchange or sharing of thoughts and emotions and a process in which messages, whispers and stories reveal themselves through a process of co-creation.
A Sense of Place (2007)
In 2007 I began a project that I called A Sense of Place. A project in which I made a commitment and a promise that I would actively and consciously engage in a practice of strengthening my relationship with the land that I lived on and the community that I was part of. The commitment was simple; everyday I would carry a camera and I would walk through the community in which I lived. My definition of community included my neighborhood/town and the natural world that was embedded, inseparable and interwoven with the constructed world of of our human interactions, inhabitance and the society had been built up around, through and upon it. I carried the camera to document my adventures, what was revealed through the process, and what my eyes had been opened to that had previously gone unseen.
I experienced and learned much in that year. I learned about the watershed that supplied flowing life to my everyday world. I learned about the cycle of life, birth, growth and death. I learned of the plants and animals that I shared the geography of my existence and the world that we all knew as our home. I learned about the impact that we curious humans have on the world around us. I also learned that the more I became aware of the movements of the world around me, the more I knew of my own rhythm, impact and my purpose within it.
The "framing" of this mysterious and gorgeous world through the lens of the camera allowed me to shift my vision. It afforded me the opportunity to slow down and see from a different perspective what on other occasions I had been moving to quickly to acknowledge, notice and see. There was something exquisitely beautiful in returning to and/or passing the same giant pine tree everyday and watching as its gorgeous, aromatic, sticky life force flowed in the spring, gummed in the summer and froze into magnificent blue, purple, white and pink crystalline structures in the arms of winter.
Interestingly enough, I do not enjoy carrying a camera when I travel to a place that is new to me or when I am a "visitor". I have a natural resistance to doing so. The further away from where my life is centered and lived on a daily basis - when I am a "tourist" so to speak, the carrying of the camera can somehow feel rude or strangely wrong. My eyes, being and senses are already so engaged and swimming in the multitude of new sounds and sights that the camera can feel like an unnecessary intrusion. In these times it can feel like I begin to rely on the camera to shift my vision and only succeed in creating a distance between myself and the newness of the environment and experience. It can also feel like I am using the cameras ability to "remember" instead of my own. I travelled to New Mexico twice a year for 5 years and completely moved my life there before I ever took a photo of that land.
However...in the place that I inhabit, in the place that I rely upon as a daily source of my existence; the camera becomes a pause and a shift in the way that I can see. It is an opening and an invitation to the world around me. I am called to notice, to see differently, to not take for granted what surrounds me as a result of the regularity with which I pass by and/or my familiarity with it.
Vision Shift (2017)
I have now been living in my current home and location for little under 6 months. I have once again found myself carrying a camera for the same reasons I did in 2007. The reason or intention that I am engaging in the process is the same as it was ten years ago. It is the process itself that is now slightly different. Technology sure has come a long way in the last 10 years.
After taking an initial photograph I do a very similar process as the one involved in the creation of my paintings. I "shift" aspects of the image; altering qualities of light, hue, distortion, inversion, contrast, etc. I think of the process and its actions as a series of doors. One door opens to reveal the next - each door revealing what had been previously unnoticeable or unseen to my eyes.
Writing on Communion (2007)
Sometimes the way a painting begins and takes form is a disorienting experience for me. Although I always feel at peace and at home within myself when I am holding the brush in my hand and watching the colors swirl into formation, sometimes I feel as if I am being deconstructed. Through the experience of creating, I am being taken apart and then recreated in ways that I do not always understand.
When a painting comes into being in this way, it usually happens with a simple and yet overwhelming feeling that some intangible form, feeling, force, thought or aspect of change is lying just beneath my surface. It feels as if it is lying in wait underneath my very skin until I am ready to accept where it will lead me, until I am ready to allow it to rise to the surface and transform my existence from the world and messages of my inner being. It is reminiscent of an alchemical process in that my senses, body, and spirit have taken in ingredients that are being mixed and transformed within, in order to be transmuted and thus transform the outer.
I have learned much from the paintings that have come through me in this way. One of the most important things I have come to understand is that I do not always need to understand. The messages of the paintings that come in this way are not meant to be instantaneously integrated, understood or easy to dissect. They are the very reflections of change themselves. Some aspect of myself, my spirit, my body, or my being is in a state of transformation and change. I have learned to accept that I do not always have neat explanations, eloquent prose, or a nice, neat, pretty bow to wrap a painting up with.
The images that take shape in this way, often continue to transmit their lessons to me for years to come. I have had the experience of looking at these paintings years after they have been brought to the canvas and understanding things that I did not, or could not have understood when the painting came into existence. I often find myself chuckling at such moments, for what I have come to understand or see has been literally right in front of my eyes for quite sometime. I will chuckle again after additional time has passed, and I come to the realization that what I thought I had finally understood had an entire additional layer and depth that I had not yet been privy to. They are my teachers and I am their student, and I experience and accept them as gifts from places and realms that are Mystery to me.
As I look at “Communion” now, I have more questions than I do answers. Is the sun setting as a result of society’s disregard and inability to be aware of the gifts and beauty of our Mother Earth, or is the sun setting because of the simple and glorious beauty that is a sunset? Is the figure on the top layer of the Earth male, or is it female? If the top figure is male, does it represent the suppression of feminine energy and the dominance of a patriarchal society or does it simply speak to the beauty of true intimacy and communion between all living forms? These are just a few of the questions that I am left with as I walk away from laying the paint on the canvas.
In Gratitude, Love and Art,
I invite you tp click on the word COMMENTS below to leave a thought, comment or question.
There is a space and time that exists only before the first rays of the rising sun can be felt and seen. This is when I wake. It is the pause before the world starts to stir. It is the pause in which what has come in the blanket of the night begins to turn and retreat into the richness of the shadows. It is the space before the stillness has been broken. This is when I most fully know myself. This is when I am most able to hear, see and touch my soul. This is when I consciously engage in communion with the source of my existence.
Prior to August of this year, I had experienced a period of time with a multitude of major life transitions. Throughout this period much of who I had known myself to be was called into question. The voice of my Mother as she prepared to leave this earthly plane formed swirling eddies out of what had been flowing rivers in my identity and psyche. Her words and thoughts of who I was or was not swirled with all of the other changes that had so recently occurred. I found myself struggling to hold on to who I had conceived and believed myself to be. Time and life continued to move in an erratic and previously unknown way over the next six months. There was no "normal". There was no getting back to "normal". Normal would never again be what normal once was.
I found myself and my identity being furthered called into question by the relationship that I had begun ten months prior to my Mother's passing. The truth is that I was not who I had been before. The truth is I was exhausted; physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I needed time. I needed space to sit with the parts of me that remained. I needed time to grieve the loss of the parts of me that no longer knew their own name. I needed to enter the silence and sort through the rubble. When asked to prove that I was still who I once had proclaimed myself to be; I could not, for I was not. The relationship ended and I began.
In those early morning hours, before the light reveals the day, I began the long walk home. Who was I when I was stripped bare? Who was I when I turned off the cacophony of sound, stimulus and opinions of the world and those who believed that they knew me? Who was I when I stood naked in the mirror and saw myself through my own eyes and the eyes of my Creator? Could I dissolve my own entrapment? Could I set myself free and welcome the form that I would take? In solitude, could I reach into myself and find my truth, my beauty and my soul?
In the solitude I found myself to be spiritually pregnant. Once again I began to hear that music, the hidden song that my soul was revealing. A deep and lavish richness is gathering within me and within my hands. It is from this palette that I shall paint.
In Gratitude, Love & Art,
If you would like to leave a response or thought I invite you to click on the word COMMENTS below.
I am not who I once was. I am who I have always been.
Those of you who know me on a personal level have probably on occasion heard me say, "both of these things are true simultaneously".
A few days ago a strong storm came through where I live. I woke up feeling like the storm that had passed through during the night had somehow become part of my internal landscape; a disturbance of the normal condition of the atmosphere, manifesting itself by winds of unusual force or direction. Throughout my life there have been periods of time when I have been deeply aware that I am in the middle of a significant transformational shift. I believe that for the most part we are all in a constant change/state of transformation (if we so choose, welcome and allow). What feels poignant about certain periods of transformation is my level of awareness regarding the shift that is occurring.
I could feel the storm inside me. I could feel it changing, rearranging, cleansing, and breaking previously constructed parts of my identity. I cannot say it is a comfortable feeling. It can be rather unsettling, especially when the feeling is particularly strong. It feels like an electrical storm deep in my core. I have had similar experiences before but this felt different. I believe the difference lied within the sharp level of my awareness regarding the significance and impact of my choices on where this transformation would lead.
What did I wish to leave behind? What was no longer mine to carry? What had I forgotten and sat aside that I needed to be willing to pick back up and walk with? What parts of me had formed around others beliefs about who I am or who I should be? Could the storm that I am feeling assist me in shaking loose what was not solid and core? Could it move away debris and reveal what is strong, rooted and growing inside of me? There has been one other time in my life when this feeling came on with such intensity. I started pouring through my journals to try and connect the pieces. Eureka! I found it. It was 10 years ago and it was one of the most prolific years of my life and artistic practice. It was also when I was working on a piece that I called Remembered Pieces.
Interestingly enough, I never considered this piece completed. It had always been my intention and desire to construct a room out of the panels of canvases. A room that when constructed would create a universe and beyond.
When I reread my original writing for this piece I knew that my feet were once again being placed on a path that I believe to be in alignment with my purpose.
A Prayer of Re-membered Pieces
Beyond the Veil of my human existence
deep in the Ancient Womb
where the creative Soil is rich with the dust of a galaxy of Stars
I Cry out to the Divine
on tears formed from the Waters that rise and fall in my body
rhythm takes form and my Soul begins to Sing
I am a song of Re-membered Pieces
the Call is returned, whispered on the Winds
moving the delicate strands of the Web
with the echo and reverberation of the Voices of the Holies
I Cry out to the Divine
on Winds formed from the direction and intention of my Breath
Life takes form and is carried from one Being to the next
I am a Story of Re-Membered Pieces
buried deep within this Temple of Skin, Bone and Flesh
a powerful medicine is known
cooked by the Fire that in its hunger devours all illusion
I Cry out to the Divine
Mountains and Valleys sculpted by the heat and movement of my Blood
a landscape of great Beauty and forgotten history
I am a body of Re-Membered Pieces
on the other side of the mirrored Looking glass
the Eyes of the Snake are clouded
preparations are being made to Shed its Skin and cross between the realms
I Cry out to the Divine
milk of transmutation moving, warmed by swelling breast and beating Heart
nourishment crossing the physical Boundary of skin
I am only part of the Re-membered pieces
the interface is Created
the Veil shimmers and the illusion falters
Re-Membered Pieces merging in a Symphony of sound and color
I Cry out to the Divine
All Life Answers
In gratitude, beauty, love and art,
If you would like to leave a response or thought, I invite you to click on the word COMMENTS below.
Heather J Geoffrey