yikes, day 152.
i have essentially nothing to show for myself
Still slowing working on the embroidered bird/backyard piece from April (theme: happiness). Time is winding down and I need to pick up the pace so that I am ready to go come show time in September. I have made a lot of progress, but I usually only work on it before bed ….which typically means about 10 minutes every few nights before I am zonked out drooling with a needle floating dangerously about the bed. My goal is to finish this by the end of the weekend, but the bird might (will) take longer than expected to embroider. I’m thinking of making a frame from sticks to adhere to the whole backyard theme of it.
For my second piece this month, I’m looking at this St. Christopher medal my maternal grandmother gave me when I was in high school. It clips to the visor in your car and it has traveled with me through every car I’ve owned. In my current car, it doesn’t fit on the visor so I keep it in the glove box. My grandmother used to always tell us to say “nine Hail Mary’s” before a long car ride, like summer trips to the Cape and was very superstitious about travel. Although “travel” in my family was pretty much limited to the state of Massachusetts, we did have a string of bad luck on car trips including a tire blowout and a wheel coming completely off my aunt’s Jeep Cherokee on the highway but no one was ever injured and we always made it to Dennis. This just fed into my grandma’s superstition that we were protected from injury because of our faith and because she had said all the right prayers. Faith is an interesting thing and though I don’t share my grandmother’s dedication to Catholicism, I always found it very inspiring that someone could have such conviction about something up until the day she died.
I spent this past weekend on Bailey Island in Maine at a friends cabin. The ultimate sanctuary. No cellphone coverage, no distraction from electronics, no hustle. Just good company, good conversation, exploration, contemplation, and the ocean. There is still a hint of camp fire scent in my hair although it has been cleaned. I love it.
I spent a little time working on my piece for this month. I tried out a new method for mixing flesh tone. My flesh tones tend to be more on the pink side, so I wanted to mix in a different order. Typically, I mix red – pink (or just white)- yellow (for highlights) then blue (for low lights). This time I mixed yellow – orange – purple – pink (in that order) and am pleased with the results. I could have finished this, but I am avoiding the fine details; the hair, the small purple flowers, and the background. Hair has always been the hardest for me to paint but I like where this is going so far.
This painting really summarizes how I feel after my retreat this weekend.
Inspiration is following me this past week.
Coincidentally, my dad is doing some work at the All Saints Church in Dorchester which is currently under restoration. He invited my brother and I to go poke around on Friday before we all went out for lunch. It was built around 1892 and holds so much history. Though a lot is concealed by the scaffolding for the restoration, a lot of really beautiful imagery is still visible. While I could walk into any church on any street, there was something so much more mystical about exploring this church while under construction. It’s also a different level of nostalgia for me in remembering visiting work sites with my dad as a kid and getting to see inside some really interesting spaces I wouldn’t have otherwise noticed.
These are the stairs to the bell tower, 60 feet high. I really wanted to climb up but my dad wouldn’t let me. I walked up a little ways and there were some old gas lamps jutting out of the cemented walls.
At the back of the altar.
I couldn’t get a good picture but above the altar is a skull with snakes coming out the eyes. I’ve never seen this in a church before so I did a little research. According to one website, it represents the impermanence of life and inevitability of death in Mexican culture, which is really intriguing to me. Another website described it as representing the skull of Adam at the base of the cross and that the serpent itself is a symbol of immortality and knowledge.
Over the weekend, I also spotted some religious pieces from one of the vendors at Starlab Fest. I found the cover of this old Bible really beautiful.
I’ve been reflecting on my own about my religious heritage as well as the beauty I find in these images. After my visit to the church and my encounter with that old Bible, I feel like some of what is so breathtaking for me is the history and how important religious iconography is from an art perspective. Thinking about how many billions of people have experienced so much meaning from these images over thousands of years, how many artists who have felt compelled to work with them over and over again is really powerful to me spiritually, regardless of the fact that I certainly have my issues with religion and faith.
As I’ve completed my first piece in the series, I also noticed how different it was for me to work with such a specific image and concept when usually I’m a lot more fast and loose with my process. I also feel worried that I’m trivializing these images and I’m not sure how much the finished product will convey the meaningful experience I’m having this month in confronting them.
I’ve been working very slowly at all the pieces I’ve been going for. We are half way though sanctuary and I have a couple ideas, and they gear towards a more abstract flow of images. I’ve been working on stuff that I feel is “my style”, but we’ll see if I go in a more familiar directions or just try something new.
Here are some images of what I’ve been doing. Pass and current.