To be home we must find solace. It must stir our heart.
Sometimes home is the place where we live physically—where we earn our living, where our children play in the park, where we walk our dog. Other times “home” is another physical location, somewhere else—away. Because to be home we must find solace. It must stir our heart.
Some of us have several homes, but they are not structures. Don’t get me wrong. I love the house I share with family, but the place that gives me solace is nature: the mountains, the rivers, the fields, the marshes, the ocean. I think I am made of a bit of it all. I breathe it in and become part of it.
“Away” was inspired by a trip to the barrier islands of the Carolinas.
You know how you hear something, but don’t fully take it in. Then some time later, you finally really hear it. Yesterday in yoga class this happened. As encouragement the instructor said, “Its about effort not attainment. I wish I could tell you I was focused on my yoga practice, but all I could think about was my art.
You see, rarely do I start a painting, complete it, and know it is finished. And many times I “beat myself up” because I can’t just get an idea and execute it perfectly. Many times in many paintings I make two or three tries and not just at one area, but two or three entirely new beginnings.
The one pictured above may not be finished yet, but has been “completed” at least four times—wrong colors, image not right, texture not right. It started in my journal, went to paper, went to board, went to board again with numerous changes between. During my session with Katherine Chang Liu in April, I shared this “problem.” She immediately dismissed it as a “problem” and encouraged me never to give up on a painting. She said she continues to work until she knows it is right.
Art can be “play” because it is so engaging, but it is also work that requires study, skill, and most of all effort. Namaste.
We hear so much these days about how divided the country is, how one group is just so very different from another. It true, we are different; yet, we are the same. I personally believe it is not either. It is both.
The problem is fitting it all together. How can we “be an individual” if we are like everyone else? How can we support each other despite our differences? How can we trust each other? How can we bend just a bit to keep the structure whole?
Leaning in is not a weakness. To me it takes incredible strength. Just as the structure of a building depends on every component working together, community is also about support—even when we don’t agree. It’s about leaning in—both to get support and to give support.
Leaning in is not about destroying the differences and making everyone and every group the same. Without the differences, without the sameness, and without the leaning in, the picture would not be nearly as beautiful or bold.
Moore Cove Falls in the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina is certainly not as spectacular as the cascading Looking Glass Falls nearby—and it’s further into the woods. But all along the trail you hear water, soft little gurgles, then stronger burbling as you are forced to hop, skip across the stream. It is a beckoning that reminds me of the Rumi quote that begins, “Come, come whoever you are.” Then when you reach the bottom of the falls it is almost an anticlimax. There is no roar. The fall is a simple horsetail waterfall, mostly maintaining contact with the rocks. But I am strangely satisfied—content to stop and look and just be.
For what fascinates me even more than the sounds are the shapes and textures of the falls. It becomes a puzzle to reduce such an intricate picture into shapes, textures, a few colors, and hopefully feeling. Is this fall square or rectangular? What about the fallen limbs that come out from each side of the creek or the rocks that have settled there hundreds of years before? And what would the markings look like?
A timpanist will beat the head of the drum approximately 4 inches from the edge, knowing this will make the best sound. And that is my job, to find that point, the one that visually communicates whether it is in the center or close to the edge. So painting after painting, I keep trying.
I spent the morning with my grandson. After almost two weeks, it’s almost like seeing another child. While much of what he does remains the same, so much changes. He still doesn’t have a long attention span at four, but he will spend about 30 minutes painting, and he loves to see what marks can be made with my different “tools.”
Watching him making marks with a wide brush, a soft brush, an old membership card, a small roller, and a yogurt container he had saved for art was illuminating. It is difficult to remember if I had this same observation and clarity with my own children, but the process made me remember a small painting I did a few years back. It was a period of breakthrough—a big step toward abstraction, a journey I enjoy every day.
It’s another hot day as I make my way from the camper to the beach. All along the path are yellow flowers growing low to the ground on both sides. When I come to the top of the dune, I see a single, unoccupied beach chair.