A Buddha Takes a Bath

In my last post I talked about breaking a stereotype. . . it felt so good I did it again.

There is an old Zen saying:  “When you eat, eat.  When you sleep, sleep.”  May I add:  When you take a bath, take a bath.  Be totally present in whatever you do and you will find balance and peace of mind.

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The history of this piece is unique.  It started out as a seascape.  I wanted to paint a gray ocean below a huge tumultuous sky.  The majority of the canvas was taken up with wild brush strokes representing an impending storm.

I showed the work in progress to Chris, my boyfriend and live-in art critic.  He pointed out that the clouds seemed to form the shape of a woman.  I looked at the piece again, and there it was, the curve of a woman’s body.  Immediately I abandoned the seascape and started outlining the female figure.  Following the contours of the clouds, she became a small breasted, big hipped woman.

Occasionally, despite all your ideas and designs, the canvas will tell you what the painting is all about.  When this occurs, just let go and see what happens.  In this case, it was a completely different painting.

But– a little of the seascape survived. In the background you see the turbulent clouds that once dominated the piece.  They are a perfect contrast/compliment  to the peaceful face of this buddha.

Acrylics on unstretched canvas, mounted on a cradled wood panel,  40″x 30″

The zen of a woman

It is often said in Zen Buddhism that everybody has buddha nature. Not just Siddhārtha Gautama, but every sentient being is Buddha even though most have not awoken to such realization.  Yet, you see countless images of the buddha shown as a male figure.

I think this is a stereotype worth breaking.  I doubt I’m  the first artist who has portrayed the Buddha as a woman, but in this era of #MeToo, and the seismic shift in awareness of  a woman’s worth, I think it is important to break with this assumption that males have a monopoly on spiritual wisdom.

My Buddha is a woman in her natural state, meditating as the world grows around her.  (BTW:  why is pink designated as the color of women? Should it not be green, the color of nature and growth?  After all, women, biologically, can grow a baby.)

Buddha Girl, acrylics on paper, 11″ X 7″

 

 

 

 

Poppies

Acrylics on unstretched canvas, mounted onto a cradled wood panel,

36″ x 48″

These are BIG poppies!

 

Tulips Rising

A few weeks ago, I saw some very strange tulips in a flower pot.  Tulips usually  grow quickly past their leaves, but these blooms were snuggled deep within the crevices  of the  green foliage.  I took about twenty pictures of that plant because within 48 hours the flowers had charged ahead on slender yet surprisingly strong stems. Then, I sat down to draw the tulips as they look for that brief time between pulling themselves out of the soil and rising above the greenery.  Like all blooms in Spring, they grow fast, then die.  Maybe that is why the true colors of Spring are purple, green, and white.

This piece is 30″ x 40″, unstretched canvas on a cradled wood panel. (1.5″ sides)

This is What reality looks like

What? A painting of a flower?  That’s what reality looks like? And the answer to these questions is yeah, this is reality.  Take a closer look at the piece, do you see the frayed  edges of the canvas? Do you see the creases and wrinkles on the painted surface? Do you see that this is not a flower at all,  just paint on a rag?

This is not an earth shattering statement of truth, but it is truth nonetheless. In our current world, “fake news” is a household term and conspiracy theories ride the wind like shreds of broken glass cutting away at our democracy. We need to recognize truth wherever we find it.  So here is a little piece of the real world.  Yes, flowers are pretty and shadows add depth and substance to a painting, but look at the reality behind the illusion.  In my work, I put the reality front and center, the faults of the canvas are right there on display with the oversized flower.  See the whole of the artwork.  And see that it’s flaws actually enhances the piece.  To a real world person, it gives the “pretty” flower balance and makes it far more interesting than pie-in-the-sky fakery.

Acrylics on unstreched canvas 36″x 36″

New works on old themes

I’ve been experimenting with the traditional still life. It has always fascinated me how, with a few brush strokes, an image can arise out of raw canvas and paint. But the conventional painting is usually framed so that the raw canvas is hidden and the viewer sees only the finished image. To me, seeing the image together with the raw canvas adds another dimension to the work.  It is something like looking behind the curtain at the man creating the Wizard of Oz. Or you could look at it as another way of showing what Magritte did so well in Ceci n’est pas une pipe.

In order to do this. I take unstretched canvas, soften it, then distress it.  I paint an image onto the raw canvas with acrylic paints.  Acrylics, as opposed to oils, will soak into the raw canvas and give the piece a soft edge look reminiscent of pastels.  But since the medium is acrylic paints, there is no need for protective glass.

This one point (no need for glass) opens the piece up to a more modern presentation. Instead of framing the work, I mount it on a cradled wood panel.  The distressed edge of the canvas along with the image are front and center. The work is totally accessible to the viewer, who can see it for what it is in reality.

Most of these pieces are large.  Iris, shown above and Tulip, are both 30″ x 40.”

Tulip

 

Then again, smaller is good too:

Calla Lily is  18″ x 24″

Calla Lily

 

And Cherry Blossom is 20″ x 20″

Cherry Blossom

 

Out of Time

Life and art.   I was given some sunflower seeds this spring and decided to plant them in flower pots and placed them on my deck.  And watch them grow.

I decided  to do a piece about sunflowers.  This is not the first piece I’ve done on sunflowers.  But since I had them growing right outside, it would be interesting to do a piece which captures sunflowers in different stages of growth.

I wanted to do images  from seedling, to full bloomed, to over bloomed, to dying and create a piece that would show all these aspects at the same time.  To do this I painted small paintings on unstretched canvas, mounted them on chip board,  then arranged them on stretched  canvas. Not all of the small paintings are aspects of sunflowers, some some are abstracts that suggest cityscapes.  This is probably because I live in a city and the concrete chaos is a common backdrop for sunflowers.

The paint splatters were the hardest part of the piece.  I just had to let go and let the paint fall as it would, knowing that it could as easily ruin the piece as pull it together.

You are Here

The red dot marks the spot. This is where you are standing right now,  but where do you go from here?

(unstretched canvas, acrylics, and watercolor paper on stretched canvas,   12″ x 48″ )

Lantern

Sometimes I like to paint situations rather than objects or abstractions of objects.  I call this piece Lantern not because it looks like the object, but rather it infers the discovery of a light in the distance. It is the moment when you realize there is  an idea or a perspective, or a secret you’ve never understood before. The Zen Buddhists call this moment “satori.”

(mixed media on a cradled wood panel, 40″x 30″)

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