no woman is an island

This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet.
Rumi

 


I have worked on this commission for most of the last 3 weeks. Normally I don’t do this kind of work that fast, I tell Terri yesterday when I deliver the completed, though unframed, large work on paper. I enjoyed it and I struggled with it. In general my drawing is changing, I am including much more information, if I can figure it out.

There are things about this composition I don’t normally set up to do – like a smiling face. Because I told Terri to stand in a natural way and she stood firm, bright-eyed, strong, chin up and she smiled, I worked very hard to get the face just right – eyes, smile and all.

Here are a few progressive shots of it:

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general sketch

 

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refinement and muscle structure

 

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anatomy goes in

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completed head includes cranial nerves in and out the head

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I wish I could take that, Terri points to all the internal anatomy in the artwork, and place it here, inside me – she points to her chest. It came from you, I say as I laugh. She nods and repeats herself, I wish I could bring that inside me, now.  That’s a great thing to hear.

This is an anatomy study , it’s a study of an energetic system, it’s Terri. And Terri has brain cancer.

I ask if she is okay with me sharing all this. She nods her head – Yes, I am. I ask a few more times. I feel protective. But whom am I protecting, I wonder. Terri is accepting of her life. Her son, who is present, agrees – she’s accepting it all!  Terri is forthcoming about where she finds herself, and she’s at peace. I see it in her expression. I hear it in her voice. She tells me she’s had 3 other cancers – of the colon, in the sacrum, in the lungs, and now – the brain.

I consider the physical body a lot these days, as I immerse myself in these anatomy studies. The body serves a great purpose, it holds the spirit. As human beings we live and connect with it and through it.

I prefer to use medical terminology when I title a work. This could be different, it is a human body, a female front body, from head to hips. It is a  Study of a Human Female Body, Anterior View. But I am thinking of another title, a sub-title, something like –  Inside me, Inside you.

Thanks again Terri. It’s been some assignment to study your spirit – strong-willed and so directed.

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The work is casein, gesso and graphite on cream Arches paper, 36″ x 25″


The blog posts titled No Woman is an Island acknowledge the people and/or organizations who support me and the work I do.

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The art in this post connects to another work completed in 2012. Terri and Patricaia traveled to Italy recently and upon their return, drove to California and married.

a new commission

 A circle is the reflection of eternity. It has no beginning and it has no end – and if you put several circles over each other then you get a spiral. ~MJK


I work on a commission –  a painting on paper of a female front body – head to hips. I began 2 weeks ago when I photographed and outlined Terri, on a Sunday afternoon. The colors, forms and angles on this life-size study feel different to me and so I move more slow and careful. Each day I detail out one or two organs. I have a few more anatomical systems to bring in that will pull the structure together more. Of course I also plan to work the background. I know the composition will look different even a week from today, so I document process.

Someone asked what I read – he was curious, he said. As I work on this I am both listening to and reading Caroline Myss who deals with the energetic systems of the human body. Myss looks at everything as symbol. I understand this.

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IMG_6407bNo Woman is an Island.

 

a jerusalem cricket

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This bug is neither from Jerusalem nor is it related to a cricket. It is found across the western United States and Mexico. Years ago I met one in the Texas desert. It jumped, I ran. In Spanish it is called Niño de la Tierra – which translates to Child of the Earth. The one I met had a lighter colored head, more truly like a baby. This one is darker.  They are also known as Potato Bugs. They have many Navajo names that all refer to the insects head:

c’ic’in lici (Tsiitsʼiin łichíʼí) “red-skull”
c’os bic’ic lici (Chʼosh bitsiitsʼiin łichíʼí) “red-skull bug”
c’ic’in lici’ I coh (Tsiitsʼiin łichíʼítsoh) “big red-skull”
wo se c’ini or rositsini or yo sic’ini (Wóó tsiitsʼiin/Yaaʼ tsiitsʼiiní) “skull insect”

While the nocturnal insect has strong mandibles it has a supposed meek disposition. It may bite if threatened – but no worry, the bite is not venomous.

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I think my almost complete painting resembles Talavera pottery. Somehow it goes from creepy (above) to sweet (below). I had the similar challenge with this bug as I had with the Palo Verde Beetle.  I work at keeping translucent what should really be darker  and opaque – so one could still note the anatomy. I may go darker if I find a balance.

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Every summer for the last few years, I spend a week doing a drawing a day. This year I focus on a series of small bug works. The time line is more like a bug a week. I intended to only make four, but as bugs came my way (via friends) I kept thinking – only one more. I enjoyed the learning experience so much I doubled the plan.

Some of my bugs will show at the i.d.e.a. Museum in an invitational  titled Jeepers Creepers – Bugs in Art Exhibition. The show opens in October and will be in partnership with the ASU natural history entomology collection.

This Jerusalem Cricket is commissioned by Liz Casebolt and her cat Charlie Goodyear. Liz was my neighbor here in Phoenix. She now lives in Burbank – hence the AZ and CA maps in the background of the artwork.

Thanks Liz –  No Woman is an Island.

nothing in stasis

MM8

Subtle – from the series Nothing In Stasis
Casein on Paper
36″ x  25″

I can tell you more about this commissioned artwork, about the framing, the tile wall it sits on, and the search for a hanging system. I could share lots of little details about how things played out. And about the poem that made its way here. There’s story.
But all I really want to say is today we hung the work titled Subtle.

She is in a beautiful environment of her own. Namaste’ Patricia.

#2 copy

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“Circles” by Hafiz

The moon is most happy
When it is full.

And the sun always looks
Like a perfectly minted gold coin

That was just Polished
And places in flight
By God’s playful Kiss.

And so many varieties of fruit
Hang plump and round

From branches that seem like a Sculptor’s hands.

I see the beautiful curve of a pregnant belly
Shaped by a soul within,

And the Earth itself,
And the planets and the Spheres–

I have gotten the hint:

There is something about circles
The Beloved likes.

Hafiz,
Within the Circle of a Perfect One

There is an Infinite Community
Of Light.

the subtle body – nothing in stasis

Subtle
in ref. to things – of thin consistency
in ref. to craftsmen – skilled, clever
From O.Fr. soutil, from L. subtilis  – fine, thin, delicate, finely woven
from sub under + -tilis from tela web
texere to weave


I like the desaturated photograph below. It comes alive in a different way, for me. I have documented most everything in both color and black and white for this new series.

The work represents the posterior view of a female torso. I’ve completed a male posterior already. I use a model (the person who commissioned the work) for the initial layout. It’s a 36″ x 25″, casein and graphite painting, on a fine sheet of cream Arches paper. I’ve been working on it for about 3 weeks.


The moment of change is the only poem.   – Adrienne Rich

 

no woman is an island…cont.

This post is about Joe and Jane from San Antonio, the patron saint of kitchen and cooks San Pasqual, and about a commission (…no woman is an island).

San Pasqual, Patron Saint of Cooks and Kitchen

On Friday, March 18th, I receive an email from Jane.  She found my blog and read about the  San Pasqual tile mural I’d designed for Greg and Veronica, back in 2008. How did she find that posting, I wondered. I don’t know, but I’m glad she did.

I love your San Pasqual mural and am looking for same for my renovated kitchen that I am doing in Talavera tile. Are you still painting tiles?
Hit Reply, Yes. Send.
Our conversation continues over the telephone. Before the call ends, I’m surprised to learn Jane lives in San Antonio. I’m originally from Texas. I spent one college summer working in San Antonio. It’s good to make this connection and I am pleased to take the commission. She’s excited with her project.  I’m excited with mine.

After more communication to gather information to personalize the small mural, I begin prep work and design. To be included are their 2 dogs: Sophie their pup, and Sarah who’s with them now, only in spirit. Jane bakes bread. Joe bakes Cherry pies, in a red pie pan. They love cardinals and squirrels. Jane sends along a quote that had been on the wall of the new home, Júntate con los buenos y serás uno de ellos. Gather together with the good ones, and you’ll be one of them. She shares a few more details for me to pick and choose from. My sketch takes hold. Later she sends me a photo of a heart that holds the couples initials. It’s a playful note her husband painted onto a bare wall, pre-remodel. Could you include this, she asks. Of course…it’s just the right story telling element.

San Pasqual has symbols connected to him, and some appear in the design. He’s devoted to the Holy Eucharist. It’s believed that he cooked in a monastery and his kitchen duties were miraculously taken care of because his devotion was so great.  It is said he fed the poor, and story has it that his baskets were always miraculously refilled.  I include the chalice, and a basket.  I show him with a (grey and white) cat, because he is also caretaker to domestic animals, and a grey cat often accompanies his image. I use my tabby as the model.  I include the cardinals, a red male and a golden female and below them, in a nest, a young male peeks out…(in this case representing the family).

Jane asks for Iris’s, Bluebonnets, and Geraniums. I want color across the bottom scroll of words, and this is the perfect solution. She tells me about the squirrels in their backyard, a squirrel appears at the upper right corner of the arch. I include hummingbirds, a personal favorite symbol.  They represent spirit, holy spirit. Native American legend tells that if you are ever lost in the desert, look for  the hummingbird to lead you out. Jane tells me Joe feeds and photographs hummingbirds all summer. I include a turtle, because I receive a card from Jane that Joe has designed. It’s a photograph of turtles.

Finally she tells me to please include the year 2011 somewhere in the composition. And then ends the email with…
Please sign the mural..and then visit it in San Antonio.
I can do that.

a hubcap for sam

A Studebaker hub cap arrives UPS to my studio, from Meadowland, Minnesota. Sam placed the order himself. Unbeknownst to him, the hubcap is his birthday present.

Greg and Veronica commission a painted and personalized hubcap for Sam.  Commission, good in that I generally do something I wouldn’t otherwise do. Out of my comfort zone. New challenge. Problems arise. Solutions follow.

Once upon a time, I painted my first hubcap  (9-11/08 You Rock!). Didn’t necessarily like the experience, but I liked end result. The exhibition, at the Mesa Arts Center, very hip. Artists created cool and thoughtful designs.

This second round of hubcap painting, a good time from the start. Feeling open. I research a few choice subjects, learn some interesting things I’ll be considering to use. I start to paint. Two challenges. One, design of the hubcap itself, space is compartmentalized in a way that doesn’t suit my original idea. Enter in…a new idea.
Two, painting on metal…bleh.  It doesn’t f-e-e-l good. A hubcap is a hard, unforgiving, and an easy to damage surface. Not like a beautiful smooth sheet of BFK or Arches paper or heavy-duty, giving to the touch, pristine canvas. Sand and prime, sand and prime.

The Studebaker emblem, in the center…it’s supposed to be an ‘S’ but it looks more like a  ~ (…squiggle) to me. I know what to do with it.
Why a Studebaker hubcap? Let me tell you about Sam…

Indeed, Sam has a Studebaker. Sam has several cars. And a Harley Davidson bike.  He’s designed for himself, one beautiful garage. He spends time in that space. Check out the striking black and white floor tile, it’ll appear in the final hubcap design.

I meet Sam and Francene, over spring break, up in Northern Arizona. The information gathering begins quickly.
I learn Sam is born in Missouri, and now lives in Arizona, with his wife, Francene. Francene is in on the surprise. She shares how they meet. I decide, after her account, the relationship has to be Kismet. The circular center S/~ (…. squiggle) on the hubcap will become a yin/yang, symbolizing a balance of female and male energy. It’s what I see between them, strong balance.

Sam’s a retired Engineer (Aviation?…maybe.  Aerospace?…maybe.). We have dinner at La Posada, in Winslow Az (yes…we do sing The Eagles song while arriving there). He talks about building Apache helicopters. An unusual conversation, in an off the beaten path location, with an extra-ordinary man, good company, spirited waiters, and excellent food. Told you this was fun. I learn Sam can build just about anything. And he’s green! Veronica enthusiastically says. Meaning…he’s conscientious and recycles. The shelving for his garage comes from the close out sale, of a CVS. I like Sam. He’s creative. Engineers usually are. I get the sense that he enjoys learning and maybe even teaching his skills. He appreciates history. While walking the restaurant grounds, he tells me about  Mary Jane Colter, the early American architect, who created the landmark building we’re walking through. He talks about her as though he knows her. I’m impressed. He’s kind and generous, and has a precision about him. I learn from friends he faithful, loyal and LOVES Dos Equis beer. When I hear the latter, I know the emblem will appear in the hubcap design.

His favorite animal, at the moment, is the mountain lion, hence the paw designs on either side of the hubcap.  He describes the animal as strong, elusive and vulnerable. Purple, he tells Veronica (cuz she asks), is his current favorite color. He describes it as regal, stoic and compatible. These descriptive words say something about him. They’re the last design element to go into the circular composition. I paint the outer edge of the rim a deep purple, with a copper metallic wash, and I place in the text.

Overall, I get the sense that Sam is an intelligent and thoughtful man. He’s comfortable in blue jeans, a cowboy hat and boots. I want to put his distinct profile into the hubcap. The small areas don’t allow me enough room.  I do include a small frontal view portrait. Though my preference would be, that it appear larger. Design is resolved. It’s balanced, measured out, and clear.

I realize only now as I write, Sam is a Taurus. An earth sign. Fixed fire. No wonder he felt so familiar to me.  Both my husband and my dad are Bulls….persevering, down-to-earth, stable, stubborn, possessive, prosperous, dependable, and physical. Now I see why I instinctively put that copper wash atop the purple. Copper is the Bull’s metal.

Both Sam and Francene have interesting histories they openly share. This circle of life…is sure to continue.
Happy Birthday Sam.  And many more!