It’s unusual for me to start a posting with a painting but that’s what I’m doing today. Usually, the words come first and the painting is chosen because of the words. But Art is not the stepchild of words; it stands on its own merit. How right that a painting be first for a change.
A large mixed media piece I recently finished–at the framer’s as I write–compels this posting. The theme, Shifting Mental Gears, speaks to those shifting of ideas that change one’s perspective, a point of view is altered by experience or a new way of thinking. I find this shifting happens frequently. Daily. Sometimes hourly. Creating always involves shifting gears, going into another world where magic happens and ideas flow. Attending seminary is an example of when I experienced this. Shifting happened, too, when something as simple as seeing a play at St. Louis Repertory Theater in which colors–aqua, teal, orange and peach–dominated and influenced my art up to the present. Having Christian Science class instruction in Toronto, Canada with a humble, inspiring teacher would definitely be another gear shifting experience. As is any healing. I remember vividly a bus ride in Italy one brilliant autumn day in Tuscany, as I do four entrancing trips painting in France. Following a miscarriage, giving birth to my son, then my second son, more miscarriages, and then my daughter–each birth a joy, involving plenty of gear-shifting raising them over the years into adulthood. Surviving after someone hit and totaled my car, and nearly losing use of my right arm with which I paint. Discovering religions, philosophers, writers, poets, artists whose words and works have enriched and widened my thought. Listening to Leonard Cohen, Motown, Handel, Welsh hymns, my husband playing guitar and much more music than I can list. Preparing and making special meals for family, friends, neighbors, or just my husband and I begins with freshly shifting ideas, as does coming up with original table settings. Birthing eight Newfoundland pups in my kitchen took much gear shifting. The many dogs, and cats, I’ve shared life with–their unique personalities, behavior, intelligence, kindness–stays with me to this day. Moving is a powerful gear shifting. It involves overwhelming shedding and packing and creating a beautiful home over and over again, from a cottage on Lake Michigan to renovating a 1736 historic house in Pennsylvania, to making a too-tiny retirement home on an ocean estuary work. Gardening and keeping fresh floral bouquets throughout home is an essential part of that shifting, as is baking bread, croissants, and homemade cookies. From walking Lake Michigan beaches to Atlantic ocean shores clicks thought processes into gear. As does teaching, imparting to and listening to students, and watching them grow. So, too, guests from around the world staying at my B&B tugged my gears into edifying notches. Snorkeling in Bermuda with my daughter, swimming past a shark on Grand Cayman with my son, hiking in Wolf Creek Pass and other mountain heights with my husband–these, too, shifted my gears. Since my childhood of imaginative make-believe, paper dolls, endless drawing, playing in summer rain, and Friends School, I’ve been shifting. And moving. Always moving! Thirty-five times, as I’ve mentioned before. Each place shifting me, teaching me, broadening my view.
Shifting mental gears offers a fresh perspective. Just turning a lever in thought provides unexpected adventures, surprising solutions to life’s conundrums, and much to make one grateful.
Artwork: Shifting Mental Gears, mixed media, approx. 40″ x 30,” $1075. I love this painting! Essentially abstract, it represents the shifting that takes place during the creative process, but also the shifting that takes place during any thoughtful process when one is open to new unfoldment. Paint, pastel, pencil, collage, imprinting, gesso, and more went into the making of this piece. Textured raised areas mingle with softer sections. Implied gear parts and pieces move in and out of shadows and light, taking the viewer into new sites and almost sounds.