Sunday, March 04, 2007


Well, my foot is back in the water. I've been off blogging about all my vegan meals for a while... fun, but rarely so thought provoking as my fellow art bloggers. So, it feels good to step back into the pool. Thanks to an online converstaion with Art Powerlines for spurring me on.

I took a little break from making art, to focus on the expression of teaching yoga. As the Bhagavad Gita says "no effort on the path of yoga is ever lost, and no obstacle can hold you back forever." Art and yoga and teaching yoga are different expressions of the same pursuit for me. Namely, learning to love.

How grateful I have been to discover bell hook's recent book "All About Love: New Visions." This is what I have been wanting to read for some time now. This phrase "learning to love" has been stewing in my thoughts (and heart) for over a year now. A recognition that I often hold back from loving fully - whether it's toward myself or others. A recognition that "how you do anything is how you do everything" - thus, this reluctance is manifested in all aspects of my life. A recognition that the bullyish, aggressive, & excessively defensive nature of our national politics reflects the same lack of ability to love.

When I started my series of world leader portraits, I had something very specific about empathy and shifting one's perspective that I wanted to say. So far, I've exhibited the series twice and it's gotten a great reception. A few things in particular have suprised me:

One, I learned a real lesson about "saying something specific" - and that is the importance of saying something in a way that people want to hear it. Even in day-to-day interactions, we learn to use "please" and "thank you" so that people will be more receptive to our requests. I was surprised to find that the gentle tone of these paintings helped people soften to the message. Even better, the viewers felt like the message of the paintings was their own idea, that the message was not so blunt - rather that while looking at the paintings the understanding of the message rose organically inside of them.

Secondly, I learned something about the making of art. In the past, the majority of my artwork was generated by a largely unconscious process of vomiting forth the contents of my subconscious mind. (Sigh!) This series was the first time that I started with an idea, with the thought "How can I possibly express what I need to express - because I feel it is so important?" So, it started as a means of communication with OTHERS. (not as an expression of self). The lovely and amazing discovery though, was that the process of painting these paintings has been unlike anything else for me. While painting these portraits, I feel my own heart softening. I feel my own empathy expanding. I feel the sweetness in my subjects - such that when I see their adult selves in the news I see them more fully as complex beings. So, the act of making art can be a prayer of sorts, the actual act of painting is also the act of learning to love.

I felt maybe I should try some other ideas... but thus far nothing has been granted to me. So, I've picked up the brush again and I'm back at work on the world leaders series.

There's more to say, but I'm quite sure I've rambled enough for this time around.


Blogger geoffrey said...

"all about love" is the only book to have ever really changed my life. good to have you back woman!

12:25 PM  
Blogger springsandwells said...

It's so great to hear from you! I'm inspired by your comment about "all about love." so far I'm really, really enjoying it.

9:38 PM  
Blogger Vincent Guihan said...

I love bell hooks. I have half a dozen of her books (but not this one). Each is excellent. I'll have to look into getting a copy!

8:58 AM  

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