There is a Wind Horse that runs through my Soul.
I am learning to recognize the sound of its approaching hooves
by listening to the thundering echo that remains when yours passes by.
First, thank you for taking a moment, pausing your day and being willing to stop and step into mine.
I am blessed. Every morning I wake between 4 and 4:30am. I make my way downstairs, fill the kettle with water and go about the early morning business of feeding Pebble the cat and Sadie the golden retriever. If there are dishes that have waited overnight in the strainer I will often pad around the kitchen and the pantry returning cups, bowls, plates, pots and pans to their various locations. Next, I pour the steaming water over the waiting coffee and chicory and as it makes its way through the grounds, I prepare the morning meal for Disco Kitten who is patiently waiting in the studio, staring up from behind the most beautiful blind eyes that see more than most.
Once the coffee is ready, I make my way back upstairs and enter the studio. I sit at the old desk that was once my great grandmothers, I turn the light on next to the desk, light a candle and then I begin. There is always 3 pages of stream of conscious writing in the journal. Dreams, thoughts that are caught in corners and refuse to let go. Questions that continue to be asked. Cycles and rhythms. Stories of love, joy, grief and the everyday. Next is the writing that is done as reflection and self examination. This is the writing that allows me to examine my character and keeps me in touch with what I know to be my truth and, to the best of the ability, live a life of integrity. As I engage in this process, I ask that God continue to hover over me.
This time before the sun rises, and while the world is between sleeping and waking is my favorite time of day. The magical pause before the rest of the world comes to life. Sometimes as I am writing I can hear the squeak of the bedframe down the hall as my beloved rolls over and sinks deeper into sleep. Sometimes, the gentle snoring of Sadie who has followed me in and lays next to my feet on the floor keeps time to the rhythm of my moving pen. Sometimes Disco Kitten rolls between my feet and playfully sinks her tiny razor teeth into my toes and ankles. My extra fine point pen continues carving the lines that form the words that comprise my life across the page as I sip coffee. To me, this is a truly delicious life and I am poignantly aware that I am blessed.
This morning as I moved through my morning routine, I was both grateful and comforted by the ritual; the tending to the seemingly simple nuances of my everyday life. I also moved slower, feeling into the surrounding sadness and beyond. I, like many of of us in this country, slept tenuously last evening. We are such a deeply polarized and divided people. I sat at the writing desk that was my great grandmother's and I wondered what my ancestors would say...what they are saying. I wrote about children in cages separated from their parents. I wondered what my ancestors (only a very few of which came from this land and the majority of whom immigrated to these shores) faced upon their arrivals. I wondered about families and friends whose lives and configurations have been altered by a pandemic and who turn to face empty space where loved ones once stood. I wondered about many things (pepper spray, confederate flags, boarded windows and storefronts, climate change). I opened my most recently completed journal and reread the poet's words that have continued to remain with me throughout the last month.
I want to love more than death can harm.
and I want to tell you this often
that despite being so human and so terrified
here standing on this unfinished
staircase to nowhere and everywhere
on this night
we can live forever and we will.
Among the list of things that I thought about this morning is love. Truth be told, I actually think about love a lot. What does it mean to love your neighbor? What does it mean to love your fellow citizens? What does it mean to love those who are less fortunate? What does it mean to love this beautiful planet, our home? What does it mean to actively practice choosing love?
I wonder, what is the sound that remains after our lives touch another, once we pass by?
I will end this blog post in the same way that I ended my writing and prayers this morning.
God, please, hover over all of us.
Yours in love, creativity and 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 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.
Heather J Geoffrey