Tuesday, October 28, 2008


There are limits to what one person can do, and at the moment my limits seem to be in the realm of taking the photos of my paintings to get into the blog. It's just one thing that doesn't seem to come easily for me: either too much time passes since I last used David's too complicated digital camera, and I can't remember or figure out something important. It even happens with Anna's very simple camera. 

Today I had hoped to post a photo of a sketch of a wad of money that I found the other day, along with a story, but I can't seem to get a photo. That'll have to wait. 

But, since I'm on the topic of limits, I'll post a photo of one of my paintings of our backyard fence. It's a limit of sorts (although after a section got blown down in the wind the other night, it's an even more permeable boundary than before). Sometimes I ignore it completely and paint the trees beyond as if it weren't even there.

Monday, October 20, 2008

All Trees All the Time

Today I decided that if I were a radio station, my tag line would be "All Trees All the Time"--at least as far as my painting goes. I am smitten by trees, the light in trees, all colors of trees, not just the fancy red ones. I love looking at trees, admiring them, painting them, enjoying them, sometimes even talking to them. (Which reminds me of another college story which I'll tell another day.)

Today when I was cleaning up after painting, I came back to my palette to find that a leaf had fallen onto the palette in a wonderful art-imitates-life-imitates-art kind of way. Almost like a hidden picture or tromp l'oeil. Way better than anything I could have planned or painted. Sometimes, it seems, art happens.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Early September. How different the light in the trees is now. When the sun's out, the light is as sharp as it comes, clear and piercing. And then there's the light diffused through yellow, ochre, and orange foliage.

For some reason I remember walking through yellow leaves in college (Trinity, in Hartford), pushing my feet through them, savoring the sound while also marveling at how much light radiated upward from the fallen leaves. As if there were two primary sources of light, one up, one down, and it was hard to decide which one I liked better.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Election Season Fears

Not long ago I read that people in South Africa, when facing the unknown future between apartheid and a new order, used to gather in groups to offer up their positive visualizations of a peaceful South Africa. This was not just a matter of words and thoughts, but of engaging all of their senses and their fullest imaginations to envision a peaceful and prosperous future. Some would even say that their communally shared imaginings made a real difference. Even if you're not willing to believe that doing this helped to shape the future reality of South Africa, perhaps at least you can imagine that it helped to allay people's fears and  allowed them live from a more positive and hopeful place.

I began thinking about this as a personal (and potentially communal) strategy for dealing with my own pre-election fears shortly after the announcement of Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate. I remember all too well how I was gripped with fear four years ago,  how exhausting it was to live yo-yo-ing between panic and buoyant hope, and of course how utterly devastating it was to experience yet another W victory (never mind that it was actually W's first true victory). Inspired by the story of South Africa, I decided to make this a personal practice until November 4: whenever I feel the cold claw of fear begin to close in on me, I will stop and take a few deep breaths and invite myself to imagine election night with all my senses and cylinders firing. Where will I be watching the returns? Who will be my companions? Think of the food and drink, perhaps there's music playing as well as the TV--Jim Lehrer, Gwen Ifill, Judy Woodruff and the PBS gang--and the voices of friends and neighbors. And especially, what will it look like, sound like, feel like, taste like, even smell like when it is announced that Barack Obama is without a doubt the next president of the United States!  Imagine the cheers, the tears (of joy and relief!), the excitement and exhilaration--I can SO get into it!! And you know what? It makes a difference. It removes the cold claw, or at least pries loose its grip a little bit. Perhaps that in itself isn't enough power to turn an election, but it sure beats fear and panic. With a few companions, it could even be fun! (Everyone can pitch in a piece of the imaginary picture.)

Today I was asked by a small group of friends to lead an impromptu "positive visualization," so we simply stood in a circle and held hands, and I offered the briefest guidance, even briefer than what I've written above. The only "rules" are that you don't have to believe anything; you don't have to have a clue how this is actually going to come about--no fussing about the electoral college map or who wins Florida; and you don't even have to think that doing this will have any impact at all on anything other than your own (and your close others') state of mind at the moment. And that's enough. It sure beats fear.