Saturday, October 31, 2015

Lifting the Veil

After spending the summer painting with nothing to show for my effort I was wondering if moving to the Northwest had been a good idea. In July I had been here a year. I had moved 2000 miles away from Sedona, a place that had been a home to me for so many years. My people, who are like family to me, are there. There is a beauty and majesty to the landscape that is unparalleled. There is no place like it. The air is clear and dry and the light and the color clears your head and helps you to see more brightly on many levels. But it seems that some inner prompting steered me here. I had to leave Sedona. I found myself in a world surrounded by water and moisture and green everywhere. It is beautiful here but soft in many ways I am so unaccustomed to. It was difficult for me to find my center.  I created a schedule for myself. I made life a series of rituals so I wouldn't have to decide anything. But, it started with things that I knew were good for me and that I could do. The most important ritual was, and still is, my walk on the beach. Each morning, no matter how I felt or what the weather was ---- I walked on the beach. Rain or wind or sun or fog. I walked. I walked without shoes. The one thing I knew was that I needed to be grounded and that was the best way to do it. The beach near my house is beautiful and soft and Puget Sound is the gentle world of the sea. It is clear and cold but calm. The tides come and go but it is quiet. Yet it moves with a wild sea energy. Even in a storm there is no rage in its changes. But there is power and that is sublime. There are trees and bushes and a lagoon and birds and drift wood and old logs as large as cows. There was an eagle who is I spoke to every day. AND-- it was grey. Grey. I was painting with color in a grey world. Perhaps it was time to let color go for a while.

My Sanctuary

When I put away the color it was just to find some enjoyment in working. If we aren't enjoying our art on some level there is a problem. I was out of alignment with the most important element of staying centered, enjoying the process. I decided to do at least 4 drawings a day. The process was predicated on  non judgement. That was the most important thing- and the most challenging. I was not to judge it. The drawings would be non representational.  I used pencil and charcoal. I started. That was the most difficult part. Starting. Crazy. It felt crazy. I felt myself being afraid that this proved that I was indeed insane. That little voice chattered away while I worked. I just made lines. The lines turned into shapes and then areas of tone and I watched and felt my hand move. My hand loved it. My hand loves to draw. I could see that. But as soon as my head stepped in I felt afraid and rather stupid. But--- no---- I vowed not to judge this. I did my first four drawings, pinned them to the wall and went home. The next day I did the same thing. I noticed that I like certain lines. I like certain shapes. It went on. I did this for a week. I had a wall of drawings. They were crazy drawings. But, at the end of the week as I looked at the whole wall I saw that they were real drawings. They had life to them.  I have judged myself harshly forever. My best friend calls it "your mother's voice". She keeps me straight when I say things about myself that aren't kind.

A wall of "crazy" drawings.

"I have things in my head that are not like what anyone has taught me - shapes and ideas so near to me - so natural to my way of being and thinking that it hasn't occurred to me to put them down."  Georgia O'Keeffe

Georgia O'Keefe. I kept thinking of Georgia O'Keefe. I remembered what she had said about shapes. I had read in her book "Some memories of Drawings" that she put away color until she felt like she needed it again. I was doing that too. And, yes, here on this wall were shapes and lines that I knew, that were so near to me. They were familiar. They came from my hand and ----- the big surprise was---- I liked them! I started to go home happy. It didnt matter if anyone saw these. It didnt matter that they wouldn't go to galleries. All that mattered was that I saw some authentic part of myself in them and that was my goal. I felt a little bit of excitement for the first time in months. This was going to be interesting! I am not insane. At the end of the week a little voice of judgement did make its way into my head as I glanced back on my out of the studio. I heard that little voice say- "These are damn good drawings!". I laughed and felt a little bit of confidence dribble in.  That week was the week that I started to move out of the past. The veil was lifting. Something really great was starting to happen. Thank you Georgia! She is one of my tribe and I am so grateful.


  1. this is such an amazing personal journey you are on! thanks for sharing it with us.

    1. I am so glad to be sharing it-- thank YOU Jeane!

  2. I agree with Jeane, Your an inspiration for us all, and a wonderful teacher!

  3. All these surprises! You're relaxing into the Great Unknown, Susan, and finding such treasures!
    "See, the human mind is kind of like... a piñata. When it breaks open, there's a lot of surprises inside. Once you get the piñata perspective, you see that losing your mind can be a peak experience." ~Jane Wagner

  4. Thanks Kris-- yes indeed lots of surprises!