Winning While Not Winning

Back in September I applied for an artist’s residency at Big Bend National Park, an opportunity to live and work for a month in one of our largest and most remote wilderness areas, right on the Mexican border (image above.)

As I worked on the application, I gained a new understanding of why I paint the way I do:

My painting is both objective and reverent observation, a deep, active appreciation of the natural world.  My aim is to inspire others to look more deeply and develop a more profound appreciation for our world.

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I wrote quite a bit about why painting on the Border would be important to me, and I’ll explore that in a later post.

I didn’t get selected for the residency. When I got the email I was mildly surprised, as if I really believed I would. In the email from the National Parks Art Foundation was a personal note that I was one of the finalists. Which felt really good.

Last year’s Artist in Residence at Big Bend was painter Dawn Waters Baker. I fell in love with her work instantly. I feel it beautifully captures what I had imagined creating at Big Bend.

Please go look at Dawn’s beautiful paintings and leave her comments if you can.

Dawn talks about ‘the emotional landscape’ –  not what is there but how we experience it, what we feel. That really comes through in her luminous paintings. They are filled with awe and a deep respect for the space. And she called the final show Reverence.

I’ve never been one who takes rejection particularly well. But this was a whole other experience. I got to know myself better by applying. I looked forward to bigger, more spacious paintings and the magic of a desert landscape. I enjoyed dreaming about how I would fulfill the residency requirements. And then I fell in love with Dawn’s paintings.

I feel complete, or pau as my Hawaiian healer friend Carol Burbank would say. It’s all good.

defy reality: be an artist

This recent post from Chuck Wendig’s blog Terrible Minds got to me:

Nobody wants you to be an artist.

It’s for a lot of reasons. Some come from a good place — they think, hey, we want better for you. The life of an artist is hard. Be a bricklayer, a doctor, a ROCKET LAWYER, something, anything. Art is how you lose. Art is how you die. Don’t be an artist, because we don’t want to see you struggle, starve, and go mad.

Some of the reasons come from a deeply cankerous place: jealousy (“why do you get to fritter away your hours MAKING ART and I have to sell toilets?”) or misunderstanding (“art isn’t work, it’s just lazy piffle for lazy losers”) or alien menace (“ART GIVES HUMAN BEINGS HOPE AND IT MAKES THEM MORE RESISTANT TO HOSTILE TAKEOVER FROM EXTRATERRESTRIAL FORCES”).

Some governments don’t want artists because art is truth, even when couched in illusion or deception. Some schools don’t want art because how do you test art, and everything is about the test, goddamnit. Want to get a mortgage? Tell them you’re an artist and ha ha ha oh shit.

Art is a hobby, art is a waste of time, art is a thing you do when you’re in elementary school or in the retirement home. It isn’t a life. It isn’t a career. FUCK YOU, NO ARTING.

Chuck Wendig’s blog goes on to explore where his will to persist arises from. For him, it involves a lot of fierce defiance, a big don’t-tell-me-what-to-do with a lot of cursing. And, I get that, being infuriated by this ignorant culture and the stacked deck that creatives seem to face.

illustrator: Shricka

But what if that “F-you” attitude doesn’t really energize you? What if your art needs to be about connecting and caring? What if you really DO care what other people think?

To some extent Chuck is absolutely right, Nobody wants you to be an artist. There’s plenty of discouragement to go around.

But listen inside: YOU DO. YOU want to create, pursue, invent, explore.

Then get to work.

Forget perfection. You can’t control success. You aren’t anybody else. You are you. It doesn’t matter if anyone believes in you. Let their disbelief charge your batteries.

You can believe in you.

Focus on today. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Make something. Create something.

That’s the place I need to dwell. I want to paint. I live for creating. So, back to work! I have buttercups to paint. It’s great work if you give it to yourself.

Music and the Divine Feminine

Jennifer-Berezan_MED_by-Irene-Young copyIn honor of Mother’s Day, I want to share the music and work of Jennifer Berezan with you. Berezan is appearing in concert May 27th in Washington DC for the first time, and I am thrilled to get to hear her.

Jennifer is a unique blend of singer/songwriter and activist. She has recorded over ten albums, and in them you can hear the sacred energy arising from her Buddhism and earth-based spirituality. Jennifer lives her commitment to environmental, women’s, and other justice movements.

Singing Praises for the World

Jennifer’s music is woven with the sacred nature of the Divine, and her work calls of a healing of the world. Listen to a few minutes of “Song for All Beings” and you can hear the invocations, the blessing, the love.

Not only a performer, Jennifer Berezan teaches music and healing, as well as leads sacred pilgrimages throughout Europe. I dream of journeying with her on the Women’s Pilgramage to Malta that she co-leads with archeo-mythology scholar Joan Marler. They visit sacred ancient places like the Ġgantija, the megalithic temple to the Goddess, the world’s second-oldest manmade religious monument.

ancient stones, ancient sea

Upcoming Concert & Workshop

Jennifer is appearing in concert in the Washington DC area for the first time on May 27, 2016, and also teaching a 1-day workshop on  Music as a Path to Mindfulness and Healing Saturday May 28. This  is a unique opportunity to experience her music and her energy. For more information about these events, visit Goddess Works Media.  Link for CONCERT TICKETS. Link for WORKSHOP REGISTRATION

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Printable PDF Flyer

Cherry Blossom Joy!

I try to get out and paint plein-aire from the Yoshino cherries during their brief and glorious blooming. It’s always unpredictable! This year it seemed imminent, then a cold front delayed their progress, then BAM! an explosion of flowers.

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Ducks check out the Photographer

When I first came to Washington, I expected something gaudier. I was amazed by the subtle beauty of these earliest blooming trees. They are a ruddy color before their buds open, then a soft pink when they’re newly opened. Finally they create a soft glow of white with but a memory of pink, as if a cloud were caught in the dark and twisted branches of the old trees.

Morning at Capitol Plaza
Morning at Capitol Plaza

Saturday I spent the day with easel and paints under the pale clouds, enjoying the color and all the other folks who came there to do the same. Lily got lots of petting and I got one small and one large canvas started. It was a perfect day.

If you’d like to join me, leave a comment. I plan on heading down again on Saturday April 2 from 10:30 am to 1:00 pm. Visit me on Facebook for daily updates and spontaneous painting trips!

The Gift of Immigrants

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 9.47.58 AMYou’re young, alone, and surrounded by strangers who speak a language you don’t understand. You’re weary, having travelled thousands of miles into the unknown, because everything you knew and loved has been destroyed.

Meet Bessie

This is the tale of the woman Baltimore came to know as its premiere kosher caterer, Bessie Bluefeld. About 100 years ago she followed her husband Charles from Ukraine to settle in Baltimore.

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You can meet Bessie this weekend at the Atlas Intersections Festival, Atlas Performing Arts Center on H Street NE.

DC actor Terry Nicholetti performs this history/theater one-woman performance on Saturday at 1:30 and Sunday at 2:00 pm

GET TICKETS

We Can Be Heroes

Farewell to the musician who provided the playlist for my young life, and the artist who gave sound and vision to the androgynous, artistic, alien of my soul.

In a world with no road map, as the traditional life of my parents and grandparents became quaint and irrelevant, Bowie blazed across the firmament, operatic troubadour of the next moment.

He released sings I thought I hated: they made me uncomfortable, then liberated me. There was music that described the poignancy of life’s moments, like A New Career in a New Town. There was a heart’s anthem, Heroes, which I was blessed to experience twice in concert. There is so much more.

David Bowie reinvented himself relentlessly as an artist and performer, helping me survive my many metamorphoses. And now I find he has released a new record on the eve of his death, that speaks to the challenge of dying itself.

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How can we ever know what our art can mean to the world? And how can I parse the world without this artist?

Hail and Farewell, and Thank You.

River Painting: Deep Summer Afternoon

I’m in the last throes of completing a series of river pictures that have been ‘almost done’ for weeks now. I nudge each of them forward every time I get out the palette, and yet they seem to stay stubbornly in the ‘not quite yet’ camp. ALMOST!!

Last Sunday I completed this one: (click for larger view)
summerclouds

Deep Summer Afternoon, ©2015
20″ x 16″ Oil on board; $500 unframed

This was one of those summer days when you can feel the thunderstorm wanting to happen. Living on Piscataway Bay gives me the most wonderful relationship with the sky. I am so much more in tune with the movement of weather and celestial bodies than I was living in the big woods.

Moyaone Market this Saturday, October 3rd.

Come on down for new paintings and new things happening at Clearwell Studios

More Summer Painting

I’ve been busy, too busy outside slurping up all the delicious low-humidity summertime that August has brought to Southern Maryland to post work I’ve been doing, so here are a few things I’ve been working on.

click images for larger view

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 Solstice Sunrise, oil on canvas, 14 x 11″  6am, June 21, 2105 ©Patrise

Summer Painting

You can catch me at the monthly Moyaone Markets, where I often have art for sale and in progress. In good weather I love to set up outside and invite anyone to make art with me, and that’s what I did at the August 1 Market, a blissful summer’s day.

I had a variety of guest artists of all ages, and we had fun in the dappled shade, splashing our watercolors, sprinkling with salt for cool effects, and watching the colors run and bloom, just like the flowers we were painting.

Haven’t you wanted to pick up the brush or pen and make images? What’s holding you back?

Next Moyaone Market Saturday September 5
9am-1pm  •  2311 Bryan Point Rd, Accokeek MD

 

Color is Life

I’ve written about my struggles with depression; the past few weeks have been challenging, with the loss of a dear friend, a pet’s death, plus health and money woes. My faith has been tried.

Years ago, when a fellow depression-sufferer asked me, in the throes of her illness, “What keeps you alive when things get bad?”  I knew well the feeling, seeking for a shred of hope. As I gazed across the yard, and saw the shaded sky, the mirror lake, the deep green pines, the word just rose to my lips. “Color. I live for color.”

This week I arose before dawn to paint the sunrise. It was ostensibly in honor of Solstice, but in truth it was intended to wrench me out of my sucking depression.

Painting was good medicine. But the Supreme Court decision on Friday, unleashing a tidal wave of rainbows, is really buoying my spirit in splendid waves of shared joy. Hallelujah, it’s a rainbow! May your life be colorful!

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