I leave this Wednesday for Ibiza, Spain. I’ll stay there three weeks. With me I’ll bring my yoga mat, my camera, my computer, my sketch pad and an open heart. I look forward to meeting the people, taking in the views and doing much of nothing but soak it all in.
“Certainly paradise, whatever, wherever it be, contains flaws. (Paradisical flaws, if you like.) If it did not, it would be incapable of drawing the hearts of men or angels.”
- Henry Miller
“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”
“Let life happen to you. Believe me: life is in the right, always.”
- Rainer Maria Rilke
WHEN you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
- W.B Yeats
“We are all wanderers on this earth. Our hearts are full of wonder, and our souls are deep with dreams.”
― Gypsy Saying
“The reason birds can fly and we can’t is simply because they have perfect faith, for to have faith is to have wings.”
– J.M. Barrie
“Art is an evolutionary act. The shape of art and its role in society is constantly changing. At no point is art static. There are no rules.”
– Raymond Salvatore Harmon
Once in a while, you just have to share something brilliant and witty. Here’s a good one..
“Faith is an oasis in the heart which will never be reached by the caravan of thinking.”
– Kahil Gibran
“It seemed an advantage to be traveling alone. Our responses to the world are crucially moulded by the company we keep, for we temper our curiosity to fit in with the expectations of others…Being closely observed by a companion can also inhibit our observation of others; then, too, we may become caught up in adjusting ourselves to the companion’s questions and remarks, or feel the need to make ourselves seem more normal than is good for our curiosity.”
- Alain de Botton
I’m frequently asked if the women in my paintings are me. They’re not – well, not really. Although…..if what Oscar Wilde said in The Picture of Dorian Gray that, “Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter” then maybe they really are all of me. The truth is, I usually begin with a basic sketch of someone I’ve seen and then sort of create my own women from it. Men have always been more difficult for me to draw or paint. I find the lines blunt and even my brush or pencil strokes are shorter. I much prefer the circles and spirals of women. My next subject I’d like to be a man and woman together. I’d be interesting to see if the lines collide and flow, or if they disconnect and I dismiss the subjects.
The photo below is me, taken recently by my friend and fellow artist Elizabeth. Mr Wilde’s comment of portraits really being the artist and not the sitter had me considering — maybe we should look further into photographs too. Does the same hold true for them? Is the photograph below me? Or is it Elizabeth?
“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”
“I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.”
– Ray Bradbury
I spent the last weekend in Friday Harbor, in the San Juan Islands. As always I brought my little camera and snapped a ton of photos. We traveled by boat and moored up right inside of the Harbor. Anyone who’s from the Northwest knows that the San Juan Islands can be cloudy and brisk, even in the summertime. We, however, were greeted with the most amazing sunshine, warm breeze and calm seas.
Friday Harbor is a quaint little town full of fish houses, trinket shops and expensive clothing boutiques. The ferry-boats come right into town and bring lots of income for the town with them. I must’ve taken twenty photos just of the ferries.
And yet…I found this Doll Face photo one of the more interesting. For someone who gets the willies from old dolls, I sure do take a ton of photos of them. While I should be posting some serene photo of the Harbor or a passing ferry-boat, here I go again with the sideshow creepers.
“Freedom lies in being bold.”- Robert Frost―
“Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.”
- Jim Morrison
“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”
- Frida Kahlo
Amen Frida, Amen
“Life goes on and on after one’s luck has run out. Youthfulness persists, alas, long after one has ceased to be young.”
- Glenway Wescott, The Pilgrim Hawk
“They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves.”
- Robert Frost
I spent last weekend on a mini-getaway in Santa Monica. Before I left I told myself I would only take five photographs the entire four days. It was a challenge as I usually take multiple shots and then decide which I like better. This challenge to myself was to not just point and snap, but search for the perfect subject and then take only one photograph of it. This is what I came away with….just the one…
Most people in Southern California look the roughly the same, so I couldn’t find any real interesting subjects in humans. The trees however, were so cool the way they seemed to emerge from the dirt like a giant earth worm, then settle back in, that I used all of my five shots just on them.
“The light of love, the purity of grace,
The mind, the Music breathing from her face,
The heart whose softness harmonised the whole —
And, oh! That eye was in itself a Soul!”
- George Gordon Byron
I have very few regrets in life, although I have had many blunders. The one I do have is related to a purchase of all things. A purchase I put off, thinking I would return and find it still….
For a few years I would visit Rome every three or four months or so. I didn’t stay in the touristy places, but outside of them, in a neighborhood in which I often found myself lost – the only English speaker. Near this neighborhood (I wish I could remember the exact area name) there was a flea market. The gypsy’s and bric-a-brac vendors would sell their wears. Three times I visited the same antique booth and three times I coveted a large alabaster statue of The Three Graces. It was beautiful. The woman selling the piece wanted 120 Euros for it and I never had the funds to spare. All of my money was spent either on travel or on entertainment while I was there and even then, entertainment often consisted of low-budget stuff.
Each time I saw it I’d tell myself that it was overpriced and the next time I’d return to Rome, have the money, and maybe, just maybe, the woman would lower the price. The very last time I visited Rome over a year and a half ago my intuition told me to just buy the damn thing…although it would have taken all of my money for the week…so again I told myself, “Next time.”
There was never a next time as it turns out. I’ve come across many statues since then of the three graces, but none as lovely as the one in Rome. I’d like to think I’ll find it again someday, if not in Rome, then another flea market somewhere far away…
“No, no, no, I never said that… Yes, that’s right, they can’t be friends. Unless both of them are involved with other people, then they can… This is an amendment to the earlier rule. If the two people are in relationships, the pressure of possible involvement is lifted… That doesn’t work either, because what happens then is, the person you’re involved with can’t understand why you need to be friends with the person you’re just friends with. Like it means something is missing from the relationship and why do you have to go outside to get it? And when you say “No, no, no it’s not true, nothing is missing from the relationship,” the person you’re involved with then accuses you of being secretly attracted to the person you’re just friends with, which you probably are. I mean, come on, who the hell are we kidding, let’s face it. Which brings us back to the earlier rule before the amendment, which is men and women can’t be friends.”
-Harry Burns, When Harry Met Sally
Yesterday I had coffee with a girlfriend. I haven’t seen her in a while as she’s been busy in a new relationship as have I. During our catchings up, she voiced her frustration about her boyfriends ex-girlfriend’s continued contact with him. Apparently, they dated a year, it didn’t work out, so they remain “friends.” I listened on as she explained their relationship and could tell this “friendship” really bothered her and I know why. The truth is – Men and women can’t be friends – and I told her so. I understand that some of you may read this and say, “What? That’s totally wrong, yes we can. One of my best friends is a man/woman!” Though are they truly our friends? Would we call them if we were upset….keeping in mind that it wouldn’t be a call for an ego boost or attention….but a call for comfort outside of our own ego. I happen to be of the mindset that it simply isn’t possible. I’m with Harry on this one.
I didn’t always think this way. For years I would say that I got along better with men then women so had more of them as friends. But who was I kidding? There was not a single one of them that I could have truly called my friend. Either I had a secret crush on them or they on me. When my emotional world came a tumbling down, it wasn’t a man I called. It was my girlfriends that rallied around me like some great elephant tribe and dusted me off. I wouldn’t call a man to do that. It’s not to say that these illusive relationships don’t exist, in fact I know of a few – but the men are gay and the women straight. I myself happen to have a close friend who is a man – and he is as gay as the day is long. How many heterosexual man/woman friendships do you really know of – where there has never been some underlying sexual desire or heart string attachment crush?
Then there is the ol’, “We used to date, but now we are just friends” scenario, which likely consists of one half of the couple not being happy while the other is smitten, a break up occurs and out of guilt, one offers a friendship and out of desperation, one accepts…..hoping for another opportunity to rekindle the romance at a future date. I understand the argument that if it were mutual and both parties wanted an end to the relationship but not the “friendship” that sprouted during the romance, there can very well be a true friendship. However, where is it written that if I sleep with you and feel love for you that I have to continue to be your friend after the break-up? I researched this very question and found it nowhere in the books…. My ex-boyfriend is literally “friends” with all the women he has had relationships with (except yours truly) – and there are many. They are sort of put in this category after the break-up of “Will call in case of emergency ego boost or loneliness.” When I politely declined his invitation for a “friendship” after our break-up he was genuinely surprised. I mean, who says no to a friendship?
One of my personal favorites is the inner-office “friendships” of the opposite sexes. Interestingly enough, my other “ex,” that would be husband, is now in a relationship with an inner-office, much younger, “friend” who happened to end up in his bed at a conference in Vegas. Within my own company I am privy to some interesting “friendships” of my co-workers. Years ago, my father gave me some simple advise, “Don’t shit where you eat.” I have most certainly always taken this to heart. As it turns out, it was some of the only advise I actually followed…much to his dismay….
By the end of our coffee, my girlfriend admitted that she herself has never truly been friends with a man and that is why this “friendship” her boyfriend has with his ex really bothers her. I don’t blame her either. I feel fortunate that in my own new romantic relationship I haven’t had to deal with this as I have in the past. Before we were finished she had decided to talk to him and to express her apprehension to continue dating a man who needed to maintain a friendship with a woman who didn’t want to break up with him in the first place…..such a fuzzy line it all is…. “Which brings us back to the earlier rule before the amendment, which is men and women can’t be friends.”
Rome is not outside me, but inside me.. Her feverish sweetness, her tragic countryside, her own beauty and harmony, all these are mine, for my thought and my work.
Last week I watched as the introduction of Pope Francis, Papa Francesco, was announced to over the one hundred thousand people waiting outside of the Vatican – praying – chanting – hoping – crying. I’m not a religious woman although I grew up Catholic but I found myself glued to my computer – hoping along with the rest. I no longer belong to the faith though my sense of tradition, as well as my academic interest in religious doctrine is strong.
Interestingly enough, while I waited for the announcement I had also been researching an artist I had long forgotten about – Amedeo Modigliani, an Italian born Jewish artist who died tragically at the young age of thirty-five. I’m in the process of playing with techniques and styles and have been painting a Modigliani-like woman. On a side note, Amedeo is the last name of my Godmother and Francis is the name my brother (since passed away) took when he was confirmed in the Catholic church.
As I sat and watched Papa Francesco smile at his flock I couldn’t help but wonder what was going through his mind.
How I connected Amedeo Modigliani and Papa Francesco is simply a matter of coincidence really. But right before his name was announced I had read a quote from Eugenie Garsin – Modigliani’s mother, in which she stated, “The child’s character is still so unformed that I cannot say what I think of it. He behaves like a spoiled child, but he does not lack intelligence. We shall have to wait and see what is inside this chrysalis. Perhaps an artist?”
And then after reading her words, a second later there was a new Pope looking out on the square and I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe as he looked down he thought, “they behave like spoiled children, but don’t lack intelligence. We shall have to wait and see what is inside this chrysalis. Perhaps artists?”
“And what is it you guard with fastened doors? Have you peace, the quiet urge that reveals your power? Have you remembrances, the glimmering arches that span the summits of the mind? Have you beauty, that leads the heart from things fashioned of wood and stone to the holy mountain?”
“The first thing you notice about New Orleans are the burying grounds – the cemeteries – and they’re a cold proposition, one of the best things there are here. Going by, you try to be as quiet as possible, better to let them sleep. Greek, Roman, sepulchres- palatial mausoleums made to order, phantomesque, signs and symbols of hidden decay – ghosts of women and men who have sinned and who’ve died and are now living in tombs. The past doesn’t pass away so quickly here.
You could be dead for a long time”
– Bob Dyla
“I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Today I spent some time at the Saint Mary’s Basilica in Phoenix, Arizona. In 1985, Pope John Paul II deemed the church – the first Catholic Church in Phoenix – to be a Minor Basilica. I was unable to see the inside, as there was a funeral taking place, but was enchanted by the grounds itself. I watched a woman, while clutching a rosary in her hand, stop at each of the three statues in the courtyard. She would press her face against the face of each one, as if they were old friends sharing a secret, say a prayer and end with the sign of the cross.
As I was leaving she stopped me. Opening her hand she showed me a little plastic heart-shaped “jewel,” like that a little girl might have on a bracelet, and asked me if I thought it was a real diamond. It still had some of the glue on the back of it. I wished I could have told her yes…..