Thursday, December 07, 2006

The atmosphere is slightly clearer today after a dark sky yesterday.But I am at an impass and have decided to stop and set up camp and consider what road I might take whether it be the one behind me or one of many in my peripheral view. To be direct I am walking away from the easel for a time.

The last few months or I could say several years have born a lot of progress not only in my painting but in my personal life. As well, this time has created a lot of confusion and intense emotional upheaval. I am not sure what I want to do now. So, coming to the realization that what I have been doing has not been working, I have chosen to stop for now until I can get some clarity. Art has defined who I am, so it is with great fear that I make this decision.

So, with much difficulty but also with some peace I have packed away my paints, brushes and canvas. Many will not understand, but I feel it is the best thing I can do for myself and for the possibility of the work in the future.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I think I need a new job. A real job. I find myself exhausted with my head hurting at the end of every day of painting or just thinking about painting. It has become a chore. It has become the thing that produces the excuse to sleep late. It has become an enemy.

I am not one who can cope with a dead end and I feel as though I am at THE dead end. I do not have the character or the stamina to find another route. I have to turn around and go back. Something is wrong with me. I don’t have “it.” I was not born with nor was there grown in me drive, determination or will to push forward.

After all, the idea of closing myself in a room and slopping paint on a stretched piece of cotton is a pretty self-centered, self-focused activity. And for what? It bears no fruit. I feel a profound sense of relief in telling the truth, in letting go of what has been such a burden.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Q and A

I am not a very good blogger, I guess. It seems the span of time between the entries is getting longer and longer. I have three paintings in the works now and plan to get back on them tomorrow. I was in Virginia Beach visiting with my sister and nephew the week before last. My attempts at painting last week were minimal at the most. I really felt "off" in the middle of a liver cleanse that brought on a lot of insomnia and weird sweating……..and now a downhill. I am talking myself into a corner today. All of the unsolved mysteries and unanswerred questions relating forever to the work seem to be rushing in all at once. I am having a difficult time putting them in their appropriate files because they are all screaming to be answered TODAY. It will be twice as difficult now to get my focus toward getting my game on.

Manassas Battlefield, Veteran’s Day

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Alive in the dying season

My favorite time of year has arrived. I anticipate every autumn
counting the weeks once summer rolls around until the evenings slowly begin to show a little drop in temperature indicating the my season of choice is on the horizon. Though the fall is the season of dying I always feel the most connected with my surroundings once the leaves begin to turn and the air has that amazing mulchy "dirt" smell. I feel so sorry for those residing in southern Florida.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Fork in the road

So after many cumulative hours of working at moving forward on "Jeff" I have decided to put the painting aside. Probably a long time coming. What a relief. There is a turning point in a work as the focus becomes totally on technique and this is the place where the work begins to die. I am not ready to begin the death process on "Jeff." It is still worth pursuing.

I had a flood of ideas from some old photos I took a few years back. I am well into one painting and have another canvas prepped and ready to go. So these few weeks have seen an amazing burst of energy and focus on these works. I needed a change and I needed to walk away from the other painting. Thank the Lord for revealing a long sought after path.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I experienced another manic-depressive art day on Saturday. Hours of work that accomplished zero moving forward in the work. So the spiral began with the devil’s whisper, "You know nothing about color harmony or about color theory. Look at it! It isn’t working." It was just like the cartoon with the little red devil sitting on the shoulder.

That night I came across a documentary on PBS called "The Devil’s Miner". Please have a look and catch the film if you can. It will give you some perspective that Americans in particular need desperately.
………."OOOHHH, my life is so bad!!! I can’t get the color right on my painting!!!!!"""…..blah, blah, blah……….

Friday, September 22, 2006

Soup cans and lilly pads

There is a very interesting documentary on Andy Warhol airing on PBS stations at the moment. Though I have never connected with his work on any level, the film is well made and did help me to empathize with and understand him better. Catch it if you can. Like his work or not he is a significant figure in the landscape of the ninteen century and did indeed change the way people think about art.

Back to "Jeff". I spent several hours painting in an idea only to hate it the next day. On to the next idea which seems to be working. I haven’t looked today, haven’t even been in the room with the work today. I am afraid to look. I overthink everything. It seems my left brain is trying to take up more and more of the couch squeezing my right brain onto the floor or even out of the room.

I think I am mastering what Eric Maisel, creativity coach extraordinare, calls "the most important short walk of your life." The walk to the work. I can choose to walk anywhere, to a miriad of seemingly important tasks or amusings, but to choose to turn toward and walk to the work is difficult. It is at the easel I encounter myself. God has used my art consistently to show me things about myself, to dig up, to cut off and to plant, as well. Hence, the difficulty in moving toward the work. What will I find out about myself? Usually it isn’t something I want to look at. Control, impatience, selfishness…. I could go on.

On a lighter note, I had the opportunity to ride last weekend. Yee-haw.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Qbix opening

So, up to Philadelphia we traveled in the wake of Ernesto for the gallery opening at Qbix to showcase new work and volume two of Qbix magazine. It rained the entire drive and by the time we arrived at the hotel, the wind was really picking up. I don’t need to tell you I thought the thing would be a wash out. Most of you that know me are aware that I struggle with a natural negative bent, so it took a lot of faith and discipline to believe God for the best and let it go.
After a delivery pizza and a shower we headed out and up the two blocks to the gallery. Windy, rainy yet the gallery was packed and continued to be full of folks though the night. Apparently, the weather has little effect on the plans of the people of Philadelphia. A few of the other artists, Kenny Brown and Barbara Poole came to the event as well.
The encouraging thing for me was to hear from folks how much my painting impacted them. For most artists, and especially for me, the work making some sort of connection, some sort if puncture is really important. I was happy to have the painting make some marks on people and for them to go away with those marks.
Confirmation about your chosen path is always a wonderful thing. I was confirmed in my call and confirmed in the direction I need to go. See "Craig’s confession" above. The gallery owners chose to hang an older painting of a more surreal nature. So, Craig’s bravery in telling me his gut feeling and the choice of paintings by the gallery solidified the direction.
Today, I feel more confident in the path to choose. And today starting again wasn’t so hard. An artist, whatever their craft, has to learn how to start and how to start over and over. They have to ask themselves what they must give up in order to start whether it is some other task that needs doing or some idea that needs to be released. It is the starting that is the devil. Today I started.

Me with Sharon and Sharon of Qbix (Two of the loveliest people one would ever hope to meet and work with. Many thanks to you both.)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Craig's confession

So, "Jeff" is still staring. Today I did a little mind mapping to unearth some ideas about where to take this painting. I think I have a few……

Up in West Virginia, Craig confessed to me that he felt my work was not going in the direction that it should go. I was a little hard to hear but I know he is right. I have always been very attracted to the surreal and to work of the mind over what I can literally see with the eye or copy. That has always been my strong point and my joy to work in this way. His reference was the "Vincent" painting which to him does not look like one of my paintings, but like someone else’s. It looks unfinished, almost like it is waiting for something. I agree.

For some reason I have moved in a realist sort of direction even though it is a direction that bores me. Maybe it is residue from the art school indoctrination I received. I had to prove I can do it if I want to. Consequently, I haven’t really been honing those imagination skills for some time. I am quite rusty, as I am discovering with "Jeff." I am a not as right brained as a lot of artists are either (therefore I am not flaky, like ALOT of artists….sorry, admit it brothers and sisters.) But because of that I tend to censor myself more…I am reasonable. I like to be on time and like to know what is going on before I go, don’t like surprises and don’t like changes in the schedule. Think that hinders my artistic side a bit?..

Monday, August 28, 2006


OK, so a month since I have posted. Sometimes you just live and don’t have any commentary along the way.

I met my mom at my sister’s in Atlanta a few weeks ago, about the time those guys were attempting to mix explosives in airplane lavatories. I did make it home and left two days later for West Virginia (please hold the regional jokes.) It was the first real vacation Craig and I have had since our honeymoon seven years ago. Our very generous friends offered their mountain home as accommodations.

West Virginia is an odd mix of Appalachian and hippie cultures. It is beautiful up there with plenty of miles of hiking for enthusiasts, like us. We did an eight mile hike one day. Why you say? Well, after the third hour I was asking that myself. Being deep in the wilderness breathing the air, suddenly noticing the lack of engine noise is a wonderful experience, sore feet and all. We even had the rare opportunity to see a black bear. Sort of a "Wow!" moment that turns to an "Oh, S—!" moment pretty quickly as one realizes one is in the presence of a BEAR. We immediately began looking for stuff to throw and trees to climb just in case.
We paid many visits to The Purple Fiddle , the local cafe famous for its showcase of bluegrass bands. I have a new appreciation for the genre after seeing Greensky Bluegrass there one Friday night (Yes, I know. Not very punk rock.) Bluegrass has to be observed, not just heard. Then you get it.

So, back home and headed up to Philadelphia on Friday for the opening. I have done no artwork in weeks save one portrait, so struggling a bit with finding meaning in walking dogs alone. "Jeff" has been beckoning, just staring at me from the easel…….I am still stuck. I still feel it a painting worth finishing.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Gifts and wrestlings

So, I have one week to finish the final painting for the show in September. I have wondered lately about the link between a gift and the struggle to bring to fruition that gift. One would think that a gift would be easily brought into exercise….easily approached and executed. Why is then, kids, that I struggle so much with the working out of my particular gift yet continue to pursue it? On the average moving toward it, getting in there and bringing forth the manifestation of the thing is a painful experience.

Jeff Buckley, my dear, dear artistic brother, said that the nature of making an album is, "excrutiating…or it’s obsessive because you are dealing with ultimate things. It’s like painting……sound painting." I can so relate to that insight. Once it is over, it’s over. How could it have been created differently, or better….with more impact? These are the places one goes even upon the very last application of color. Or before.

But this trip has been good. I started out with confidence that it wouldn’t work, but I did it ANYWAY. And I have experienced the rare place of joy and peace that comes with knowing what I was created to do. We are all created for a specific purpose but I don’t think many people know what that is. I am tremendously grateful to God to have that knowledge. But I understand that it takes a lot of struggling to work that out in day to day life. When I can get to that center, that place of knowing….man, all the struggle is forth it. Do not be decieved. Your call is not always what comes easily to you. It is often what challenges you the most.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I had a most unsavory experience last Sunday in my own church. I love my church and the people who make it up are a great bunch of folks, but I have a problem when Christians use a worship setting to express their patriotism.

In our worship time Sunday the song God Bless America was sung during the offertory. I understand that the majority of the people in our church are baby boomers and that song has and had great meaning not only to them but also to their parents. Written in 1938, or at least the version we now sing, it held tremendous value under the threat of impending war in Europe. These are also the people who believe that America used to be a christian nation. Anyone who has read anything about the founding fathers knows this isn’t exactly true. (Too bad for you D. James Kennedy.)

I believe it is a fine song to be sung in the right arena, but the connotation to me as a thirty eight year old woman who has grown up watching the gross commercialism, materialism and the downright self-centeredness of American people, I hear “God, bless us because we are so great. We are the best so You must bless us.” Sunday worship is for the worship of God, not the worship of America. A few things were even said about the war in Iraq from the pulpit. Well, it was an obvious implication anyway if not a direct statement.

Speaking of politics (and the war IS about politics), there is also the false belief that all Christians are conservative. I had a friend in our church in Atlanta who was a hardcore democrat who was told that one cannot under any circumstances be a democrat AND be a christian. A lot of Christians are totally against the war in Iraq. The assumption that we all think alike and feel alike about all things is offensive and ignorant. I myself, a sincere follower of Christ, have serious concerns and doubts about the war.

So, back to Sunday morning. I excused myself to the bathroom to get my attitude adjusted after the offertory. Upon returning to my seat I noticed that the final song would be “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” A war song written at a Civil War camp. The original song is called “The John Brown Song” some say about the abolitionist, some say about a Scottish Union soldier. I excused myself again………what a bizarre experience.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The message

So, I hurt my back while helping my sister paint her new house. By wednesday I was imobilized. Laying in bed on an icepace gave me plenty of time to reflect on how much importance I place on my health. Too much importance. I idolize my health. Not a good thing to idolize since we will all loose our health somewhere along the way.

I am aware that these ailments, the knee, the back, the ongoing endometriosis issues, are sending me messages and these messages are teaching me how to let go of what I cannot keep. They are saying that there is nothing in this lifetime that cannot be taken away. We all live surrounded by this false appearance of security. The messages remind me to focus on what will last. The pain helps me to refocus on the quality of my relationships, on the health of my soul and the growth of my spiritual life.

There is a section in ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ that asks the reader to think on their funeral. What would people say about you? What would your family and friends say about you had they the chance to stand up at your funeral service? What DEFINES you is what they will reference. Good way to stay centered on priority, right? I don’t want the only thing a friend or family member has to say is, ‘’Tracey was in good shape and she was healthy….she liked to exercise alot.” Heck, I don’t even want them to say I was a great artist. (Well, maybe a little….) Being an artist is great and that is part of who I am, but I don’t want to be defined by that or by my physical conditioning. My friend Jay said years ago, “Everyone has to have something to be crazy about.”

We are made to have a purpose, not to fritter our lives away on things that are passing and without merit. I am a big believer in balance in life. We all have a really hard time finding balance. Most of us are extreme with something in our lives. I have a long history of being extreme with exercise. I beginning to be thankful for the painful (literally) reminders that help me rebalance. Once I stop kicking and screaming I can hear the message.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Battle of the wounded knee

So, now I have injured my knee. After my lovely run on tuesday upon healing up from the aforementioned dog attack, I noticed a weird tightness in my left knee when I squated down throughout the day. I finally noticed this fluid bubble squeezing out from the side of my knee. Though I had no pain at all, I felt a sick panicky feeling come over me. I am pretty tough; been through a lot of painful things physical and mental, but
that nauseating water bubble popping out from under my kneecap made me feel lightheaded.

Every runner knows a knee injury is the worst thing that can happen.
So, I am wallowing in a little sadness these few days of rest trying to keep my mind off of the sunshine outside each day, off of another missed run. All of my maladies are overwhelming me a bit tonight. I have a few ongoing, a few short term……

This weekend we are off to Norfolk to help my sister and brother-in-law paint their new house before they move in. It will be a welcome escape from my self-centeredness this week. Betweem the Philly gallery trip, the dog thing, my back, and the knee ailment I can really feel the crushing weight of myself these days.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Bad dog, bad week

Last week I was attacked by a dog while I was running in my neighborhood. In my 14 years of running I have never had any real incidents which is amazing. I am pretty sure footed and quick, but a dog running full on into my legs from behind made all of those qualities obsolete. I fell very hard on my back and my head snapped back and hit the pavement. It could have been much worse if the dog who was standing over me growling had decided to take a chunk out of me. After a trip to the emergency room and a few to the chiropractor, I have been recovering at home.

Unable to do any painting or running or much less any walking has made me really focused on being thankful for a healthy body and working parts. I sorely miss running. Sorely. I curse that dog. Like painting, I really feel like myself fully when I run. I had not realized that before now.

Running started for me when a boyfriend made a comment to me about “carrying around a little winter weight.” Those of you who have seen me bodily know how ridiculous this is. But it was really hurtful and frightening and I immediately threw myself into running hardcore at 21. I ran every day for at least 6 miles. I also began to eat very little. If I missed a run it would ruin my day. If I had a bad run it would ruin my day. Gradually, my motivation changed to running to manage my depression. At this place in my life, as my self image improved and the depression has subsided I run because I love to run. It has been an activity that has birthed loads of creative energy and numerous lightbulb moments. So, I was back on the road today and though I didn’t run well, I was really thankful to be able to do it at all. Setbacks make the return more priceless.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


We took a trip to Philadelphia last week to meet with the owners of Qbix Gallery. Needless to say, I spent two weeks prior feeling out of my skin preparing for the meeting. Thanks to everyone who prayed for me during the preparation and the trip up.

I suppose we all have preconceived ideas about how things are going to be or how people are going to be in a new situation. It is just our way of being prepared, though our assumptions are usually incorrect. If you read enough books about being a professional artist you will find that ninety percent of them portray gallery owners and the gallery system as awful. The system is often not pro-artist and the owners are often uninformed and they are often artists gone sour. So, having read these statements many times in many resources, I had my hesitations. But when Sharon from Qbix called me and when we finally met all of those preconceptions were quickly dissipated.

I have never met such lovely warm and genuine people. Sharon and her fiance, also named Sharon, took Craig and I to lunch after our meeting. We sat together for over an hour discussing travel, art, movies…..many things. Their philosophy about art and how they run their gallery was a welcome relief from my preconceived ideas.

I came away learning a valuable lesson about my own fears and expectations and the freedom that is availble when I just step out and move forward leaving everything in the hands of God knowing that he has far greater plans and interests than I can comprehend.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Oil paint at disaster

Why pets should not be in the studio…..

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Craig and I went up to Baltimore to see my friend Janie from Atlanta. She had a gig at Johns Hopkins. Janie has just released her first CD. You can go to her site listed in my links and get yourself a copy. It’s a great CD.

I was thinking today about the many months Janie and I spent before I moved to D.C. sitting for hours in the Starbucks on Alpharetta Highway. It was a cloistering season for plotting, working things out and connecting over our respective mediums as artists. Niether one of us was getting much work done, but that is where we were at that time. That was the season. I remember it as a wonderful gray and overcast season.

Seeing her make so many huge steps since I have moved has been encouraging to me and seeing her last friday night I can see and hear just how far she has come. And now having been approached by a few galleries, changing mediums and moving in the direction of the call I can see how far I myself have come since those days. The season has changed, but I see clearly the necessity of the seasons before and the cycle of growth that is inevitable as we work out our paths with "fear and trembling."

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

art 101

My painting class started last night. I can’t even believe I made it to and through it. I had so much anxiety about getting there and just walking into the room that I wasn’t certain I could do it. I was thinking last night and wondering how I got to this point..this place where if something produces bad feelings, I avoid it. Especially when it comes to my work. But I will go further. If I approach something that I feel is out of my control or above my ability, I run. I have lived my life progressively trying to control more, trying to at least look like I know what I am doing and telling myself that if I don’t, then it is a reflection of my value as a person. Pretty distorted. One of the recurring themes I hear in my artist friends is the fear that somehow others will find out that they really aren’t an artist. I have been telling my young friends to be sure to make themselves do hard things and to follow through; to learn the lesson now of living life based on wisdom and not on feelings.

The class is good. The instructor, Scott, is great. The other students are fine. My biggest obstacle is me. It always has been.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Here we go again

I haven’t posted a James Dobson rant lately, so…….HERE YOU GO.
The program this week was a two part show about a family in the midwest that had adopted a few so-called unadoptable kids with serious issues. I was enjoying it. Touching. Nice folks to do such a thing. Then Dobson has to say how great it is that this family lives on a ranch out in the middle of know where so that these kids are being raised "uncorrupted by the culture."
This is exactly the attitude of the christian right that perpetuates the image that christians are narrow, uneducated and afraid of anything or anyone who doesn’t think or believe what they do. It has serious cultic overtones…and, by golly, its just plain weird. And the root of it is fear.

If christian kids do not learn how to engage and answer the culture, we will end up with yet another uneffective generation of christians who are laughed and not taken very seriously. One of the reasons why I was an athiest for so long was because when I encountered a christian, I encountered a self righteous, out of touch person without a clue as to what life is like in the world and no one could give me an answer as to why I should believe in Christ other than I would go to hellif I didn’t. There was nothing compelling to me about it, just a lot of rules and regulations. I was having more fun and living more life than a lot of the christians I met. I suppose that is why God took it upon himself to introduce himslef in such a dramatic way. There wasn’t anyone who could answer my questions in a valid manner.

Friday, March 10, 2006

I feel blue

There are times that I feel the dreaded possibility that people cannot change. Can they? Do they? And for good? Once and for all? My entire life has been driven by this desire to change, to grow and to exceed where I now live in my mind. Sometimes it is so overwhelming that I can literally feel the weight of my self. It isn’t a good place to be. Like Frodo and the ring, it becomes the focus of all my attention, all my thoughts.

I have found myself struggling again and again with the same issues, the same patterns again when I thought I had made progress, when I thought I had grown. And it has led me to wonder if I can change or if the programming of my early years are permanently ingrained in my being until I cross over. I wonder if they patterns, these ways of thinking and living are in my DNA like the number of hairs on my head. At one time I believed I could change and I experienced that change, but it didn’t last.

For those of you who seem to breeze through life with good, healthy and whole person (few and far between), this might be hard to understand, but for those of us who suffer with depression, anxiety and the myriad of other manifestations of a stunted soul it is real. I have never been able to brush feelings off, to stuff them or to deny them. It somehow feels false and untrue to do so. So this last week has been a tiresome revisit of the same old familiar friend. Although it doesn’t visit as often and I have had longer and longer absences of the depression, when my old, tired visitor comes I am at the beginning again, starting over.

I don’t know that we ever get full release from these things. I don’t know that we ever are finished in this broken and fallen state of life. We can improve and learn new ways of coping and handling and living with these thorns, but our lack of complete freedom and release is a reminder that we do not belong here with our scarred and broken selves, but are made for a greater purpose and for a more brilliant existance in another place. But here, in this life we constantly battle ourselves and our inate will to be destructive, to be in control……..

Friday, February 10, 2006

Here in the greater D.C. area there are several Art Walks each month. Galleries in a certain area will all open for a few hours in the evening and have wine and cheese and people can go look at the artwork. Dupont Circle has one one the first friday of each month, so we went last friday.

The whole thing was pretty disorganized. The map of the galleries we had was wrong, most of the galleries were closed and most of the work was, well, forgettable. I had an exchange with a rather artsy looking fellow on the way out of one gallery. Someone in front of us said to incoming patrons, “Great wine! Great art!", to which I responded, “Great wine, bad art." Suddenly the eyeballs of several folks were on me as if I had blasphemed. One of them replied, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth." Again, unable to control myself I retorted, “I don’t see a gift horse, just a giant bull in the corner nobody wants to look at.”

Now, I am the first to say art in the eye of the beholder. But looking upon these works I was struck by the lack of respect or understanding of each chosen medium. Lots of mud, not much understanding of color. Poor quality, lots of quantity. So american, don’t you think?

There was an film installation of a guy playing air guitar to a Creed song. Why ot just learn to play guitar instead of making films about pretending to make guitar? It struck me that the main ways we react to a lot of contemporary art is either with humor, disgust or emptiness. It is interesting to me that these are the ways that we relate to the world at large. It is the age old truth that art reflects culture. We already know the state of our culture is pretty grim, so it makes sense that the art we saw that night was grim as well.

I came away sad and sort of angry. Even the modern art movements during the industrial revolution had a method to them. Pollock had a method. I am not saying that one has to be classically trained, or have a painiting degree to make good art, but I think the desire improve, to know one’s materials and the methods of applying those materials is critical to making decent art. I am learning that the hard way.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Old wounds

I have some friends are are amazing at encouraging their children in the directions that their desires and talents lay. One is away at his first year of film school and the next will be visiting music business schools in the next several months. How many of you had you expressed to your parents the desire to make movies, be a professional musician or be involved in the music business would have been quickly repremanded for being ridiculous or unrealistic? I would suspect most if not all of you. Though your parents do not realize the damage done by these interactions and certainly did not intend damage, the damage is done and done most often for a lifetime. How many settle into the careers pushed by their parents promising so-called stabilty and advancement instead of a life driven by a hearts desire, gifts and talent? Again, I suspect most do. It is easier to settle, to not make waves, to feel stable and comfortable. I have seen many, many people do it.

I have been struggling this week with feeling a bit sorry for myself. Thinking back on my first (and only) year at Atlanta College of Art has brought much regret. I was never encouraged to pursue art as a child and certainly wasn’t told I was any good at it. The gift was just sort of ignored, so it makes sense that by the time I was out of high school, I was pretty uncertain about what to do. Although in my high school years I lived with my dad and stepmom and that time bred a lot of encouragement of my artisitic bent (they sent me to ACA), I still could not rid myself of the doubt and guilt of being ‘an artist’. I was fearful, unsure and although I got a scholarship and did exceptionally well, the ‘reasonable’ side of my brain (the side that snuffs out creativity) and the lack of encouragement as a child stuck to me. I could not shake it. So after my first year, I quit. It made me sad that no one encouraged me to keep going and stick it out. No one recognized that this was my call in life.

So, here I am eighteen years later still struggling with the same doubt, regretting that I did not finish my degree, strictly for the knowledge and skill I need here and now as I delve into "Jeff". All the old feelings and pain have enveloped me this week, but I do not want to give up. I do have people that believe in me and my ability as an artist, my greatest support being my husband. Overcoming those old tapes, or silences, even, is so difficult.

Monday, January 30, 2006

One of the most fearful things about being a person who has suffered with chronic depression is the possibility of it’s full force return. That several year period was the hardest, most painful time of my life. I almost didn’t make it. I have down days now, sometimes a string of them, and when they come the thought that I won’t come out of it this time is in the corner of my mind. Thankfully, I always do.

One of the big issues I am dealing with now, and not very well, is the issue of control. I don’t like feeling out of control. It is one of the most uncomfortable feelings I experience. If I don’t know exactly what to do or look like I know what to do, I feel really horrible. I live my life in the public this way making sure I appear to be in control of myself. Controlled, collected. The fear of looking stupid (or possibly even BEING stupid) keeps me in the place of control. It is a bad place to be and I have been there my whole life learning early that if I stayed in that place I wouldn’t be hurt or ridiculed, both of which I got dished out a lot of growing up.

This new painting is making me feel really out of control because I have hit the wall already. I have no idea where to go or what to do next. I have reached a place where I have to force myself to grow and the fear of not being capable of growing makes me want to run the other way. My fear of being a failure hinders me from doing many things, like facing the work again and sitting in the discomfort.

In a way, there is a sort of arrogance and pride in this control thing, in not wanting folks to see you be human and to make mistakes. It isn’t just fear, it is wanting to be like God who does all things perfectly and never fails in anything He sets His mind to do. We lie to ourselves when we tell ourselves that we have control. We don’t have any control over anything. It is an illusion.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Atlanta excursion

We returned monday from a short trip to Atlanta to see family and friends. The appeal of traveling is wearing for me. Atlanta doesn’t hold a lot of reasons other than my sister and her kids for me to return, but Craig was born and raised there and obviously has much more invested. Starting with the failure of a family member to book us a hotel room and great difficulty finding one, we stayed one night at a dump where the rooms were freshly painted causing us both massive headaches. We moved the next day thankfully having found better quarters.

By the time sunday rolled around after too much socializing, most of which was enjoyable, mind you, a depressing bit of news from my sister and hard to handle in-laws, I was getting sick. Literally. I wanted to go home. I think even Craig did and he is the most social creature I know.
We did go to a friend’s gallery openning saturday night. It was a group show and although most of the work was pretty uncompelling to me, there was this painting by James McLaughlin Way called "25 Hands". Yeah, another horse painting, but the thing about this one way that it is HUGE. It has to be something like 60′ x 30′. That’s FEET. Beautiful and I always love to see things painted big.

Also as we were in the hotel room one night PBS had a piece on Sunny Taylor. Amazing. Have a look if you want to stop complaining and get a kick in the tail.
Home now. And after much wrestling, "Jeff" is finally birthed……..

Friday, January 06, 2006

Jeff in progress

Some of you have asked about ‘Vincent’ and why the painting isn’t up on the site. I now need a new digital camera running somewhere in the $500-$600 range. Oh boy. So, I haven’t been able to get it on site. The painting hangs on the wall close to my easel to remind me that I did it and I did it well. As I begin working on the Jeff Buckley piece by sketching in the face, getting a likeness, I can look across the room and see ‘Vincent’, a great source of pain and of progress in my artistic life. I keep telling myself I can do it. I know I can.

I have been addressing some goals for the next year and thinking hard about my call in life and how to go about it. These are difficult things for someone who fears failure, who fears not being able to make it in the end. But because of the encouragement of my amazing husband and my amazing friend, I actually put a lot on paper. Somehow things look less frightening written down. I suppose the solidifying that words bring does feel uncomfortable, like starting a journey somewhere you haven’t been before, but not like echoes in your own head that go nowhere.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

I had a friend inform me recently that I have an intimidating presence to certain types of people and that I do not "appear" friendly or "open" to approach. Though all sorts of folks approach me and speak to me often, it seems to her that christian women in particular judge me by how I "appear" to be. Apparently I don’t have the "presence" of a christian woman, whatever that is. No fake smiles, big hair, jumpers and eight kids……. What? Isn’t that what they look for?…

I came from almost 25 years of atheism with a distain for christian people. I found them to be the most judgmental and critical of all people insisting that their way was the only way and "shame on you" if you didn’t agree. I found them to be deeply angry, fearful of uniqueness, individuality and disagreement of any sort. It was very difficult to adjust when I did become a follower of Christ. Unfortunately, I discovered that my assessment was mostly correct. The painful judgement and stressed conformity I encountered in the church as a new believer was hard to take. If not for the presence and persistence of the Holy Spirit, I would have left the church completely. And I have at times not attended church for long stretches.

Maybe those early experiences created a guardedness in the presence of christians that I don’t have when in the company of others. I can say that thinking on this really makes me angry and reminds me with force to fight against the ways that I judge others before even speaking to them. I want to shave my head so they can see my skull tattoo…….