Friday, June 9, 2017

to make a long story short. Or long. :)

You need to spend time
crawling alone through shadows
to truly appreciate what it is
to stand in the sun.
- shaun hick
hello friends!
I was thinking the other day
about why I paint what I paint.

I've been painting or sketching
about things that don't sit well with me
for years now.

Basically, I've been painting
about life.

You all know by now,
that I don't just paint pretty pictures.
If you love painting pretty pictures,
good for you! 
Carry on.

I like painting pretty pictures too
but I also like painting sad, angry ones,
if that's how I'm feeling at the time.
I am inspired by anything & everything,
but more often than not,
I am inspired by what is happening
in the world,
and how I feel about it.
This painting/collage was done in about an hour
and it happened a day or two after
the recent bombings 
in London.

I kept thinking of the song
we used to sing as children:

London bridge is falling down,
falling down,
falling down...
And after a day or so,
I picked up the paint brush.
When something happens
in one corner of the world
we are all affected, one way or another.
Some of us (the sensitive ones) are perhaps
more affected than others.
So we do what we have to do
to help us deal with the craziness
and to make sense of our lives again.
Some people turn to God or religion or faith.
Some people turn to drinking or drugs.
Some people shut down from the world.
And others (like me) turn to things like
and art
and music
and reading
and meditation
and poetry.
We turn to something
that allows us to express our worries,
fears and questions.

I've been painting about things
that I don't understand

for a long time now,
and somehow,

it has helped me better accept things.
It doesn't mean I understand them,
but the accepting seems to come easier.
I painted this one (above) 
right after mom found out she had
ovarian cancer.
I painted this one
right after the devastating earthquake
in Haiti, in 2010.
I painted this from a photo I saw
on the newspaper,
because it tugged at my heartstrings.
A WW2 veteran at the tombstone of a friend
who died in battle.
This was done years ago,
the day after one of my son's friends
was killed in a car accident.
The car caught fire
and they couldn't get him out.
I couldn't imagine the pain
in his mother's heart.

This little sketch was done a year or so
after mom died.

Little snippets of a life.

I've also painted (and still paint)
fun, happy things too - 
when the mood is right.

This little bird on acid. ;)
his cousin the cow. 
You know when people say:

" make a long story short"

and by the time they say that,
it's already a damn LONG story?!?

Well, this kinda feels like that.
My own long story.

I'm sure some of you out there are wondering
about the point of this long blog post.

The moral of the story is:

Do whatever YOU need to do
to make sense of your world.

If it makes you happy to paint flowers,
then paint flowers!
If it makes you happy to PLANT flowers,
then plant flowers!
Life is short.
Do what you love as often as you can,
'cause before you know it,
you'll be old & gray.
And bitter if you didn't do
what makes your heart happy
once in a while.

When I first started painting (in my mid teens),
I practiced A LOT with wall calendars.
I'd find a photo of a beautiful landscape,
and practice my technique to make the painting
look as close to the photo as possible.

I got good eventually and everyone would OOOOO and AAAAAH
and it worked for a while,
but then it just wasn't cutting it for me.

I wasn't proud of what I had done,
because I had basically just copied and
because with practice,
ANYONE can make a painting
that looks like a photograph.
(yes, you can).  :)

But not "anyone" can see the world
through my eyes.
Only I can do that.

Just like only YOU can see the world YOUR way
and only you can show the world what you see!

Art to me was about expressing
what I felt inside.
It was about the pleasure of painting or sketching.
It was about giving a specific
moment in my life meaning.
It was about keeping a visual record
of something that happened
or someone I loved.
It was about helping me remember
certain moments in my life.
And of course, it was a 
reflection on what was happening
in the world and
in my life at the time.

I'm not sure this makes sense to anyone,
but there you have it.

My long, short story. 

Happy weekend everyone!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

cleaning and illness and art and the beach

I’m sitting here in my blue room
with classical music playing on low
and an open window
so I can hear the pitter patter
of rain on the pavement.
The lilacs outside are in bloom
and now and then,
I catch a whiff of sweetness.

I had every intention
of starting my day today
with yoga, and then painting.
I got up earlier than usual for some reason,
and decided I needed coffee
more than yoga,
so I made some coffee,
fed Fluffy (see below) 
and read for an hour.
In an actual book.
Yay for me. ;)
Then I put the dirty dishes
in the sink to soak,
put a wash load in the washer,
took some clothes out of the dryer to fold,
opened the oven to put away some pans
and realized how dirty it was,
so I took out the EASY OFF oven cleaner
and sprayed the oven.
What the hell,
I may as well clean all the burners too
while I’m at it…
Before I know it,
I’m in full cleaning mode.
I’ve got the rubber gloves on & everything.
And then I remember how little time
I’ve had to myself lately,
and how long it’s been since I’ve had fun,
and how sickening it is
to hear about what’s happening around the world
and how much time I’ve spent
with dad lately in the hospital
for appointments or visits to emergency
and how it feels like illness (or talking about illness)
has been part of my life now for too long.

Things have been a little rough for dad lately...

I feel sorry for him.
He’s 82, has Parkinson’s,
asthma, lung problems,
and now, allergies,
so I’m guessing hospital visits
and doctor’s appointments
are gonna happen more often than not.
And what can be more exhausting
and worrying
than not being able to breathe properly?
We’re all continuously adjusting
to new “normals”, aren’t we?

So as soon as the oven was clean,
I left the dishes in the sink (they’re still there),
left the clothes to be folded (they’re still there),
and took Fluffy for a nice walk.
Nothing soothes my soul more
than a walk in nature & fresh air.
After we got back,
I came here, to my blue room.
Lit a candle, opened the window,
and put on some soft music.

First I journaled a bit
(because that always grounds me
when I feel like I’ve got the
attention span of a pea.)

Then I painted (on paper) a bit.
And now, I’m here - blogging.
Not sure what I’ll do after this,
but it won’t be cleaning. :)

Mom always used to say:
“the dust will still be there tomorrow”.

Thanks mom, for reminding me that
there are always more important things to do
than cleaning.


I took these photos (below) last weekend,
when I went for a walk on the beach.

I may need to go again tonight.

Aren't these patterns beautiful?
Sand that looks like tiny hills & craters.

thanks for being here.
Happy weekend everyone.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

A day in the life of you

hello everyone.
I've probably already told you this,
but i LOVE this quote by Anaïs Nin.

I said no to an office job a few weeks ago
because i felt that saying 'yes' 
would keep me tight in a bud.

So now, let's blossom!
I've done nothing different this week
than any other week,
but somehow, it feels lighter.

I know it has everything to do
with my decision not to return
to an office environment.

I feel less frustrated.
I feel less afraid.
I feel more focused.
Even if I still have no idea
how this is all gonna work out (financially).
I'm proud of myself
for having dared to go
a little further than before.

For having stepped outside of
the goddamn box for a change.

We fill ourselves with fear sometimes
for absolutely no reason.
If this doesn't pan out for me,
and I'm not able to make at least
a bit of money by teaching e-courses,
I'll do something else.

My art changes, depending on how I feel
and over the past while, 
I've been doing a lot more 'illustrated journaling'
than actual painting.
Maybe because this feels like
the beginning of a new story for me.
Friends of mine went on a 3 week trip 
to Europe about a month ago
and brought me back a few nice surprises.
(hint: Belgian chocolate was involved). ;)
Merci Aline & Renée!
In 20 years from now,
the memory of these little surprises
may be long gone from my mind (or at least murky)
so I did this little collage,
not to forget.
Plus, it's so much fun to do!
This is why I love illustrated journals/collage so much.
It's *a day in the life*
and sometimes, when I look back
at some things I did from years ago,
I remember it as if it were yesterday.
It's not important that the art be perfect.
It's not important that it makes sense
to everyone.
Just to you.
It's not a masterpiece.
It's a day in your life
that you may look back on
with more fondness than you think
in 5 or 10 or 20 years from now.
It doesn't need to be a day
filled with activity & outings.
Sometimes, the simple days
are the best.

Thanks for hanging out with me.
Have a great long weekend!

Friday, May 12, 2017

the shackles are gone...

hello friends!
A lot has happened this week,
but it's been more about internal shifts
than anything external.
Although an external decision had to be made
in order for the internal to change and feel lighter. 
I had a decision to make this week
that I've been putting off for years now.
I've been going back to an office job
on a part time basis for about 4 years.
It worked for me in the beginning,
but hasn't worked for me in a while
and I knew a decision had to be made eventually.
I just kept putting it off.
I doodled about it.
I wrote about it.
I journaled and painted
and thought about it.

Circumstances and life choices sometimes
force us to make decisions based on
what's necessary at the time,
rather than what we want.
Based on what our MIND wants
rather than what our heart wants.
The best decisions are always those
made from the heart, for the heart.
So this week,
when I got the phone call,
I said no.
I made the decision to say no to something
that was no longer fulfilling me,
so that I could say YES
to something that does.
And I am ecstatic.
I literally felt a shift within me
as soon as I got off the phone
that brought me back to that quiet place within
that we so often forget is there is along.

Especially when things get antsy and rushed
and chaotic and crazy.
I feel such a sense of relief.
The floodgates have now opened
for bigger and better things.
Making room for the e-course I want to teach.
Making room for art and books and writing.
Making room for so many projects
I've had on the back burner,
because of that dreaded phone call
I knew would come, asking me to return.

It wasn't easy to say no to this job
but it felt necessary to say no.

Do you ever feel that way about something?

Like you KNOW with every bone in your body
what you should do,
but you do the opposite,
because it's what normal people do.

Because it's what's expected of you.

Because you have bills to pay.

Because you're afraid.

Because you just HAVE to, otherwise,
people would think you've lost your mind.
I chose to listen to myself this time.
I know many people who will think
But the few people who matter to me
are already proud of my decision,
even if there are still so many unknowns.
The few people I care about
are happy for me already.
Those are the only ones
I'm listening to these days. :)

How can I preach about courage
if I am not courageous myself?
How can I teach others
to listen to that quiet space within them
if I don't do it myself?

Already, I feel a 200lb weight
lifted from my shoulders,
and I feel more hopeful about tomorrow
than I've felt in a long time.
I feel energized and inspired
and full of so many ideas
that I cannot wait to share with all of you.

The 1st sign of having made
the right decision.

I'll keep you all posted as I go along.
Who knows... I may be crying in my beer by next week,
but I doubt it.
It all feels too right to be wrong.

I'll close with this... it cracked me up,
probably because we now have
a furry little addition in the family too -
although not quite as white as this one. :)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

are we there yet?

hello world.
I’ve been thinking a lot about women lately.
About us.
About my mom.
And my grandmother…

I’ve been thinking about how far we’ve come
and how far we still have to go.

Since Trump became POTUS,
I’ve become far more cynical,
far less trusting,
far more awake,
far more determined
to take my place in this world
and to speak against injustice.
I’ve also become more angry.
But it’s a good kind of anger.
(yes, there is such a thing).
Years ago, in my early 20’s,
I bought myself a car -
an Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme.
Kinda like this one.
Does this look like the kind of car
a young, 5' woman
would want to drive?
No. I didn't think so either.
I was so proud of the fact
that I was making my own payments
and that eventually,
the car would be mine.
But more than anything,
I knew my dad would love the car,
so in reality - I bought the car partly to please him.

We had an outdoor gathering that summer,
and after I had parked the car there,
with my then boyfriend in the passenger seat,
I stepped out of the car,
and heard an older woman there ask me:

“why are you driving instead of your boyfriend?”

The question sounded so strange to me.

Why is he not driving?

Um, maybe because it’s MY FUCKING CAR?
(I didn't actually say this, but I thought it)

Why would I NOT be driving my own car?

She was from a generation of women
who gave their husbands the wheel
in more ways than one,
so seeing a man in the passenger seat
and a woman driving
made no sense to her.

She was from a generation of women
who let their husbands take charge
and they (the women) were expected
to sit quietly on the sidelines.
This whole Trump thing got me thinking
about how often women are dismissed
as ‘less important’ than men.
It got me thinking about how often
so many of us put up and shut up
rather than stand up and speak out.

It got me thinking about how often
I had to fend off comments of a sexual nature
from my “bosses” in the workplace
when I was in my early 20’s.

It got me thinking about why so many women
keep rape to themselves.
Why would they say anything,
when history has shown,
time and time again,
that the victim becomes the accused,
because she was wearing a skimpy skirt,
or because she drank too much,
or because she was asking for it,
and the accused is so often set free?
Then I saw the movie Maudie in theatres
a few weekends ago, and again,
I thought about how many women
had learned to stand in the shadows
of their husbands -
because they were taught to believe
that they belonged there.

They were taught to believe
that they themselves had no right
to stand in their own light.
And how this feeling of being treated
as less than another
gave birth to stronger women,

with soaring spirits,

and determined minds,

and a relentless and persistent
quest for truth and fairness.

This whole Trump thing has made me 
more of a feminist than ever before.

In a good way. :)
This is my grandmother (mom's mother).
Eva Doiron.
A colored pencil drawing I did of her years ago.

She raised 13 children
while she kept the home
and baked bread & cookies early in the morning.
She loved conversation and politics.
She may have dreamed of a different life,
but this is the one she lived.

And she did so with a smile on her face
and lots of love in her heart,
especially for children and the poor.

I'm willing to bet it wasn't always easy for her either.

And on that note, I'll leave you
with the trailer for another strong woman: