Changing Seasons · Garden · Nature · On Being Green · Painting · The three R's

Renewal

On our way out to an island in Maine the trees were not yet showing signs of spring, but by our return trip the forsythia was blooming in Albany and the willows had gone from gold to green. Maine for me was wonderful, I am certain it was not so wonderful for the man, and for my friend.  Dog ate a toy and managed to barf on a white rug and a brand new mattress.  Of course after that she was fine, she doesn’t barf a lot so of course she had to christen the new furnishings.  grr.  But for me the peace of painting in a place, outside, despite cold temps, downright drizzle and brutal wind.  My legs cold through and my left fingers icy from holding the palette.  Upon return and viewing this work with the work of last summer I am super pleased with this new body of work.  I am really looking forward to the summer when I can go back and paint more.  There were several sites I would like to sit and paint from, just from the brief tour we had by our hosts.

I wandered around my yard on Easter Sunday after two days of spring cleaning, still utterly not complete, and noticed the tulips pushing their heads up past the mud and coal ash.  The tips of the elderberry bushes have started to bud, the rhubarb with its dark green leaves is growing beautifully.  The crocus and hyacinth are blooming, though my transplanted grape hyacinth is not too happy with life just now.  The tansy and the comfrey are looking healthy, and my transplanted lilies look like they just might bloom.

The man made a compost tumbler out of an old dryer drum.  So impressed, he is really an artist in a way, he can fix anything, he can cobble together anything.

The dogs, particularly Marley the little beast, ran to the neighbors house for cookies.  Following L. into her kitchen while I shot the breeze with M. who lifted the lid of his grill to show me Easter dinner, roast venison on a spit wrapped in bacon.  “This is what rednecks eat for Easter he said deprecatingly, though I did not say it, I thought this is what I would consider a superior culture.  He again iterated my option to walk his land and gather plants from his property, along with a hug and a kiss on the cheek, as my man says, M. likes me because he usually doesn’t let anyone on his property.  We talked about natural dyes.  He thought I said natural guys.  So we made a few jokes about manscaping, and ear whiskers….

I looked up the possibility of using rhubarb leaves for dying wool, high in oxalic acid, I think it would be cool to mix them with pokeweed which grows in abundance in the yard, nettles or maybe sumac.  My summer project slowly forming.

I spun my white wool for a while and finished a recycled sari silk scarf.  STILL trudging away at the brown and white log cabin weave on my 32” Ashford.  Blah.  So dull and my tension is wonky and annoying.  So much to do for spring.  So very little time in the day.

 

 

All things melancholy · Buddhism · Musings · Nature · Painting · Small Joys · Strong Woman · Yoga

Sanctuary

My bedroom, my bed, my comforter, me like a burrito, windows open, crisp air, already autumn in New York.  Shhhh.  Rest now little one, let your cares float away.

Yoga.  Surprise, the wrong teacher becomes the right teacher, yes.  The ego is loud, and obnoxious and annoying and you don’t have to listen to it.  No.  I am me, I am a bird flying over me.  I am not who I was five years ago.  No.  I am not.  No.  I am not.

I miss you sometimes.  I miss your smile, I miss your silly dance, the intense way you looked at me, the way you read aloud to my daughter, the way we read Anna Karenina together, the way you were before you got too big for your britches, the way you were when you saw me as a gift, the way you jumped the fence to hug me, the way you cried when I flew away, the way your eyes melted my heart, the way you gave up everything to be with me.

I float on the water, or more precisely explore the reeds and rushes in the shallow edges of this woebegone lake.  A heron flies away before I get too close.  Two turtles make love, turning slowly over and over on each other, until they see me watching them.  They look embarrassed.  And the Loch Ness monsters flip away as I paddle over them.  Their giant striped bodies undulating under the thin hull of my carbon fiber boat, I feel them, on my bottom, sliding, giant ugly things.  Last year someone caught a 41 inch Muskie from this place.  Two women sunning on kayaks stop to talk to me.  I hate my ugly life vest.  I wish it were purple.

I sleep with the light on sometimes, ever since you left.  I don’t know why.  Especially now when I just don’t care anymore, when I am not the person you left anymore.

Yoga the right teacher.  After we talk, I tell him how happy I was to live in the quiet solitary woods.  Not to say I was alone, because I wasn’t, but when I was, I cherished it, adored it, loved it.  I see surprise on his wrinkled and spotted face, so youthful, and yet showing his age, his impish smile and sparkling intelligent eyes.  He tells me of backpacking alone in the wilderness where my uncle was born, of not wanting to return, and the surprise, that we are kindred, that we are alike in this way, a thing he did not know of me, nor I of him even after all these years, and friendship.

They sit across from me, shoulder to shoulder, as long as you are not behaving, he says in a co-dependent manner.  Ha.  I say.  I am so not co-dependent.  So not.  Not even close.  I am fully cognizant of my choices, of where I am and what I am doing.  You can be alone, he instructs me, even in the company of others.  Oh sweetheart, I say.  I know that.  Oh.  Don’t I know that?  He of course is at the gun show for the millionth time, and I am with men who know how lucky they are to have worked through the times that IN love was a challenge, buoyed by just plain love.  Isn’t it funny how I don’t have any problem doing my own thing, going my own way and waving as he goes off to do his?

Kateri Teckawitha, I say, I cannot even pray, because I don’t even know what I want.  Or I do, but I don’t know how to sustain it.  But anyway, thank you for what you did for my daughter.  Thank you.  Thank you.

Hot tub.  Me, wishing to get out, now that my limbs are warm.  The music is so loud it hurts my sinus infected head which is dripping from the steam.  My heart is pounding, I am a million miles away.  I am on my haunches ready to spring, like an animal, like prey.

Do you know what it is like to sustain this?  How hard it is, truly hard it is to make the choice to live alone, and that is what it will be, alone, because I will never put myself through this punishment again.  Do you know this?  That my ego tells me things, like you are so fat, you are a stupid fuck, you are a lazy piece of shit, you are ugly,  you are not worthy of being loved, you are not worthy of time or attention.  SHUT THE FUCK UP.

I love myself, you see, I do, this girl who makes herbal salves, this girl who paints driftwood for hours, stroke by stroke, this girl who knits until her fingers ache, this girl who throws the boat on the car and goes, this girl who would rather be in the woods than in this stinking place.  This girl who is a great cook, this girl who recycles, this girl who loves her dog so much, this girl who cries, and laughs and talks in her sleep, and does yoga and rides her bike while reading a book eschewing television, this girl who loves star trek, and doctor who, this mama llama, this everything and nothing.

I do not love my ego though, my God, it will not shut up.

He climbs into my bed, and promptly falls asleep, taking up 2/3rds of the bed.  He snores loudly, and grunts and farts and moans in his sleep.  Not to say I don’t have my own animal noises, but to say instead that he is like my ego, keeping me from rest, trapping me in place, what if I feel sick from the chicken, what if I have to pee, what if I need my joyful cocktail of benedryl and melatonin?  Oh please, I say, wake up, I have to take medication to sleep here, with you.  He goes to his own room leaving the light on.  An hour later I am still awake.  Thinking of my ego.  Thinking of the lesson.  Listening to the sounds of cars on the street, and an airplane off there, flying in the dark.

And now I have nothing more to say.

Except this:  Clark Reservation used to be a sanctuary to me.  I haven’t been there in a year.  I miss it.  Can you please ask her to let me go back, to please leave me to it.  Let me have this one small place.  Because I really do need it, way more than she does.

And I dreamed of you last week, and I finally remembered why I loved you, and I stopped being angry, and in the dream, and for once, I didn’t even ask why  you left me, but I told you this, you were my best friend, and I really believed you and I were meant to love each other for the rest of our lives, and it crushed me when you left.

But I am okay.  Really.  Really.  And I actually don’t even think of you every minute or every hour, or every day any more.  I only think of you now and then.  Sometimes I am surprised how long I go between thoughts of you, driving, in the car, I think, oh my God its been days and days.   What a relief.  What a relief.

This place is a sanctuary.  This place, this place inside me.   This place.  Inside me.

 

 

Nature · Painting · Paintings

Inspired Summer

I am not yet ready to write about my experience this summer, maybe I never will, but I did take many photos, and then yesterday I painted an image from one of those photos.

So the lake I paddle in, I will not name it because of the stalker, sad, anyway, there are in the outer edges what I call the tree graveyard.  There are many stumps of trees sticking out of the water, and also underneath there are many logs, when you paddle through it is like an obstacle course.

I began by drawing from the photo I took, since painting while in the canoe is not really an option.  I love this particular branch sticking out of the water because when I first saw it I thought it was a bird standing on the end, and as I paddle closer I thought it looked like a dragon.  As I look back through my photos from this summer, I see I took a few pictures of it, on different days.

I then went to my art area and painted, forgetting everything, the phone, the internet, using the bathroom, everything, completely lost in each stroke.  I had a teacher in high school, whom I overheard talking to another student about painting hair, and that moment when you get so lost in painting hair that you forget what you are painting.  That was me yesterday, painting the twisted and gnarled branches.

I love Georgia O’Keeffe and I did go to a show of hers in Glens Falls this summer, and there is no doubt that I was inspired by her while I was painting.  She has always inspired me.  But I think in some ways I did what she couldn’t.  She did not like the Adirondacks, found it too green, painted dark and blocky paintings of the grounds of the Stieglitz estate, twisted the ubiquitous birches into some nearly unrecognizable form, but there are bright lights from this time though, short star bursting breaks into the artist she would become.  But I do not find the Adirondacks to be so green, if you look and love this place with all your heart, the green goes away and all the other colors come out.  The green becomes like your skeleton, its there, it supports everything, but it is not all, and in the winter the green is gone.

Anyway.

Here is my painting.

Dragon in the Tree Graveyard
Dragon in the Tree Graveyard
Artists · Painting · Paintings

Experiments in Watercolor

This was the first watercolor painting I have done in a very long time.  I think the last was the year my father died which was nearly 18 years ago.  I did this at Bachelor #1’s house on the shores of Fair Haven Bay Lake Ontario.  It was a very cold and windy day, and I really struggled with placement of the buildings on the isthmus opposite where I was sitting.  I don’t think I am very good at watercolor, but at least I was painting.  (insert grimace)

I did this painting in my friend Bill’s backyard.  He has the most restful and peaceful backyard, I find myself sighing with pleasure every time I am there.  He gave me permission to paint there anytime I wanted to, whether he was there or not, and I took him up on it.  I struggled with getting the shadow and subtlety of the black markings on the birch while still trying to maintain the white.  I failed bitterly, alas.

I did this scene near a dear friend’s home in the Adirondacks.  Her young daughter sat beside me creating a painting of her own.  When we moved the blanket to place it better a small snake slithered out from underneath.  We were buzzed by red and blue dragonflies and her daughter and I discussed Bigfoot and how she was of the opinion that it could be living in the caves that spot the cliffs high above the meadow.  Ironically there have been many Bigfoot sightings in this area.  I think this one turned out best of all.  But it seems dark in comparison to the brilliant hot day.

Birds · Painting · Poetry

Pajarita Muerto

The dead bird

Pajarita Muerto

om shanti om shanti om shanti om
your skeleton is placed lovingly in a carved wooden box
lined with shimmering red velvet
as the prayer maker sheds a splashing drop
on your lifeless skul
tenderly caressed by calloused fingers
wiped clean of the salty tear
your flesh has come and gone
your chance to beg for worms has ended
and never will your voice know song
your vacant eye socket will never see the sun rise or set again
your soul, it flutters nearby
waiting for the chance to fly
your one attempt at flight
the disaster of your demise
the nest from which you tumbled
disintegrating twig by twig
moldering bit by bit
a downy feather drifts and is caught
like a faint memory of your scent
before being lost again
on a current of a passing wind
pajarita
muerto.

Buddhism · Cooking · Great Quotes · Painting · Small Joys

In Between the Trees

“A desire arises in the mind. It is satisfied immediately another comes. In the interval which separates two desires a perfect calm reigns in the mind. It is at this moment freed from all thought, love or hate. ” Swami Sivananda

http://vidushini.blogspot.com/ or http:www.madhubani.co.in

I watch a finch and a female cardinal trying to dig the last bits of black oil sunflower seeds out of the feeders.  I am out and need to get more.  I do have a suet cake left so I put that out for them.  It will probably melt in this heat but it has seeds in it.  I also watch a grackle try to climb the shepherd’s hook and then slide down the slick metal pole despite its grasping claws and a beak that is trying to grab too.  I put down my book, and just notice the space between the trunks of two trees, it is so green and the contrast of the dark trunks draws my eye, my mind, my heart to it.  It has a profundity of feeling that catches me.  I remember something my art teacher in high school said about noticing not just the objects, but that which is between the objects.  I think now with my grown up brain that was a very Zen comment coming from a Mormon.  I breath and try not to think of anything, just my breath and I feel suddenly like this time in my life is like a space between objects.  I relish the time with my book, the lazy nap in the chair, the time to write, to make art, to walk and bike.  It feels good somehow to just do these quiet things that I like best and not have to be running off somewhere on an errand, or answering a text, or even having to get up to cook for someone when I am quite satisfied with my bowl of macaroni salad and a bowl of soy ice cream.    I had a big salad and some Bing cherries for lunch and another bowl of mac salad for breakfast.  (using Plus pasta (high protein and fiber) green peas, celery, scallions, eggs and tuna it is a very nutritious high protein breakfast).  So I feel actually quite full and satisfied.

I feel sometimes, and only sometimes, like I could really live this kind of quiet life, with visits from friends and family.  But sometimes, and only sometimes, I still want a lover.  Just not one who will steal these moments away from me.

Buddhism · Musings · Painting · Zen Buddhism
Bleak Doll Painting of Zombie of doll of destruction of bleak landscape
Bleak Doll Acrylic Painting.

I wake from a night filled with dreams.  I dream of  a dog chained to a dog house, it is crying out for water and food, and yet it has a shining silver bowl and it his dog house is flooded with spring melt.  I drive by and then stop, opening my window and listening to it cry towards the house, yearning to be brought in.

Later I stop and yes the dog is still chained to the dog house.  I contemplate calling the humane society.  I get out of my car, I go to the friendly little pup, I pick it up and place it on dry ground to pee.  It is firm and clean and well fed.  I find myself wishing this dog were my dog.  It is just a charming lovely dog.  The house is nothing special, a salmon pink shingled ranch house, the light comes on not because the dog is barking but for its silence.  The front door opens, only a shadowy figure stands there.  A sleek, well groomed, ears clipped and bejeweled doberman bitch stands alert at the doorway.  The shadow retreats, the doberman does not bark as I get in my car and drive away.  I feel sorry for that pup chained to the dog house.  But she is not mine.

I wake, I am sobbing.

I dream that his father has cancer, and he cannot understand the blood chemistry.  I dream that the only person he wants to talk to about his father’s illness is me.  But he cannot.  I worry.  It feels like a prophetic dream.  And I feel sad.  I will never know.  He would never tell.

I dream that I am driving a route I have driven before, with a smaller car, with a car that maybe could do the hard parts better and fit in smaller spaces, but here I am driving the route again.  It is through a cemetery with a beautiful view, an historic cemetery, filled with angelic sculptures.  I am driving my new car, it does just fine on the rough terrain, it squeezes through the tight spaces.  And yet he stands over me judging, assessing.  I wake, I am annoyed.  Why do you haunt me now?  I haven’t thought of you in weeks, I haven’t dreamed of you or your bitch in months.

Once I painted a thing of beauty, arching bodies, brilliant colors, butterflies emerging from cocoons, and ugly things crawling from my head and women aching to be touched.  Now I draw dolls, and flattened women, and zombies, gargoyles and dark winged angels.  I have discovered darkness in this cemetery, and I find it comforting to know that you brought me here.  That dog you have chained to a flooded dog house, that you allow your bitch to keep you from?  She is a charming and lovely little thing, and you know she deserves more.  But you too a creature of darkness, which is why you hide.  In the shadows.  And haunt my dreams.

Black Ink Drawing · Painting

Nemesis Kiss

This is a drawing and then the subsequent acrylic painting I did to go with the dream I had recently about being unexpectedly kissed and basically told it was a kiss to hold me captive for all eternity by my nemesis.  I know it was a dream but it really shook me this week.  Anyway best solution to deeply emotional things is to quietly paint them into something positive.

Curio Cabinet - Ragdoll or Nemesis Kiss Preliminary Drawing.
Nemesis Kiss - the painting

Please comment I would like to see what people think of the art.

Painting

More Paintings

Here is the original Curio Cabinet painting which I realized I signed too soon.  The “guts” portion of the painting were too flimsy and lacking in form.  Instead I added a clam like creature to the gut.  I was thinking of the word guts and what it means to have this courage and internal strength, so the clam represents how the grit creates the pearl.  Which is a symbol that helped me to name this blog.  This pearl is the pearl that has been created through the day to day things that add their nascent qualities to life.  I still may add something to the doors of the cabinet but I am not really sure.  Thinking.  (I think showing process in working on art is important too, but this may just be because of my experience with teaching.)

Curio Cabinet 1 by Meg Gregory

This new painting is part of the four that I have sketched out but now only this one is painted and part of a second.  I was struggling a little with maintaining the hand control I wanted. I need to change up my work surface.  My easel doesn’t tilt backwards enough, so I laid it flat on the counter top but I don’t like working that flat either.  Again this struggle with process.  I feel like I need something that is angled at about 75 degrees. I wonder sometimes if my vision (I have a severe astigmatism and am very near sighted)  affects my painting.  I know when I hang chldrens’ art work I sometimes struggle with making it straight. I think the curve of my vision makes me tend to turn up the edges sometimes making the ones on the outside incrementally higher than those  on the inside of the bulletin boards.  I also have this weird thing where if I have an idea in my mind and I try to sketch it out as I “see” it, I am never happy with the results. I have learned quite recently that if I mentally flip the image when I draw it, I find myself more pleased with what the end result is.  I know I am idiosyncratic, thank goodness I am not a zombie sheep.  So this painting is called the gauntlet and the goose.  The the silver filigree on the gauntlet depicts the tree of life and a gate among other natural symbols, flowers and so forth.  The gauntlet is a symbol both of the artists hand, my own, which in many of my paintings is reaching towards “god” and every painting I do is a symbolic gift to that god.  It is also a symbol of the stuggles which have gotten me here.  The goose a symbol of faithfulness, of a kind of fierceness, and the bird always a symbol of spirit in each and every one of my paintings.

Curio Cabinet 2 - The Gauntlet and the Goose

When I look at this painting I find myself really seeing a continuity of painting style.  For example this painting is one I did a few years ago:

Emergence 2

I see a similarity in form and shape.  But the colors and subject have changed.  These Emergence paintings are all symbolically tied to the butterfly emerging from her chrysalis.

Painting

Curio Cabinet1: a new painting

Acrylic Painting - Curio Cabinet 1 by Meg Gregory

I have only done a couple of really lousy paintings in the last three years or so.  I definitely go in fits and starts with my paintings.  I have consistently knitted, and sewed my way through the last six years or so.  And I have blogged almost daily for three years, and now I also am writing some rather decent sci-fi short stories.  One I am going to try and get published, I am pretty sure I will be able to.  It is excellent.

This painting came to me suddenly as the best ideas do.  When I teach my students I often have the little ones start out with a simple black crayon drawing.  This creates a really dramatic visual element and keeps them from putting yellow crayon on white or manila paper, which tends to make the marks invisible.  I also frequently have them outline everything in a dark color which helps to alleviate the monochromatic effect of crayons.  That was in part the inspiration for the black outlining.  Another reason for it, is that it ties in with my doodle style.  And I think this painting strongly suggests a picture of a greater image, as though it were one big giant doodle and then this is just a tiny square of the larger image.

I named it Curio Cabinet, because I wanted to show that what is inside the female figure is like this idea of a curio cabinet, interesting oddities on display.  This one shows a heart bleeding into the gut.  Do not mistake it with the common phrase ‘bleeding heart liberal’, it is not meant to convey this idea at all.  Instead it is this idea that the woman’s heart is completely open.  And yet she is turned away and closing her eyes and has no mouth.  She cannot express what is inside of her with words, she can only show it.  She cannot even stand to look at what is there now, on display for the whole world to see.  And her heart how it bleeds, into her gut, what is in the heart for her is total shit.  And yet there it is pumping blood and shining red.  But on second look it is not a heart at all but just a symbol of a heart and it is outside the ribs not inside.  So is it truly her heart or is there a mystery here?

I added the number 1 because although I have not yet sketched out the other paintings, I have that strong feeling that I get when a series of paintings is forthcoming.