Themes

Exploring Themes

“The greatest forces lie in the region of the uncomprehended.” ― George MacDonald

Finding Threads

As I wait for “What’s Next,” I paint my way to understanding the present moment, what came before, and what lies ahead. Looking for themes in my work helps me in this process. Join me as I explore the themes weaved within my works. Finding threads that connect artistic works is part of the process: a process that brings the artist and the viewer to a deeper understanding of oneself and our place in the world.

Creative Process Series

Dad never considered himself an artist, but his scientific research is full of detailed drawings of cells. I like thinking that I made “Dad’s Cells” with my father. Look and you will see his cell drawings hidden throughout this canvas. This creative act supports my process of letting him go. I am better today because I painted my way here. My creative process is with me in my “Yesterdays” my “Right Nows” and my “Tomorrows.” Art is my greatest companion in any time and place I find myself.

Explore the “Creative Process Series” and learn more about art’s power to make sense of one’s liminal places and spaces.

Dad’s Cells, 2018

Creative Process and Making Meaning

I am very much aware of the meaning behind each choice I made for this painting. I’m sure there’s subconscious meaning, but much of it is very conscious. People will ask me if I was aware of what I expressed: as though they could see into me from my painting in a way I didn’t comprehend as the creator. I am very much present when I paint. I am mindful of my choices. I choose to represent things that are loaded with personal symbolism. My family gets it. They know about the stove, the spigot and the flowerpot. They were there to see it all play out. These are the things that were on the stage of my life. From the present moment, I capture the past, what still brings me joy, and what holds great meaning.

Stove, a Spigot, and a Flower Pot, 2021

Stove, a Spigot, and a Flower Pot, 2021

Creative Process and Your Right Side Up

I give a lot of lip service to the idea that my art making is all about the process not the product, but sometimes I get caught in the approval and judgement trap. In these moments, I am not in the flow. I’m not gently noticing what’s happening in the present moment as I work. I am not mindful, centered, and at peace. Instead, I’m outward focused and looking to some kind of recognition and validation for my work. This piece I just created has helped me realize that I need to turn my attitude towards my work on its end. I need to get back to having my personal “Right Side Up” in the “Right Now.” This is how I paint my way to understanding the present moment, what came before, and what lies ahead.

Right Side Up, or Upside Down, 2021

Right Side Up, or Upside Down, 2021

Creative Process in Challenging Places and Spaces

Painting is my attitude adjustment. Even on the most upside-down days, I can find a way to turn most things right side up. Creative process allows me to be mindful of the present moment, center myself, and find gratitude. In the peace of my art studio, I make a painting. I notice that I’m safe and warm. I get a chance to calm my thoughts. As I create, things shift and ease. I sense that everything is going to be OK. Even in the most challenging moments in time, I face tomorrow with the knowledge that art making will be my refuge.

Which Way is Up? 2021

Liminal Hope Series

COVID-19 has created a liminal landscape where we cannot get to “What’s Next,” and we intensely experience “Waiting’s” power to alter time and space. We are all hovering in time- waiting with a strange anxiety to see “What Will Be.” Liminal Hope is a series of paintings that explore liminality in the “In-Betweens” of life. Some of these “In-Between Paintings” explore ordinary waiting spaces that depict the tension, confusion, and anxiety we experience when transitioning from what has been to what will be in normal, everyday life. More recent works depict liminality amidst COVID’s influence on our experience of place and space. Liminal Hope reflects the strange, disorienting, new COVID -19 landscape that leaves us all grasping for hope juxtaposed by the ordinary, everyday experiences of liminality we previously waited within. Weaved throughout is the theme of hope and its power to allow us to sit and wait for tomorrow a little less anxiously.

Explore the “Liminal Hope Series” and learn more about art and hope in one’s liminal places and spaces.

Liminal Hope, 2020

Art, Liminality, and Thoughts on Hope

I create marks, choose colors, and make choices on a canvas. “Right Now” is all mine and I have some control over something. In an unreliable world, my canvas can be relied on. I still have a place where I can dream. As I paint, I hear the words “I am Hope” rise within me. I sense, against the odds, that hope is here.

I am Hope, 2020

 

Finding Hope

Creative expression draws liminal spaces to speak to us. A trip to a museum feels mundane and dry. To your great surprise, a piece of work captures you in time and space, stirs you within, and leaves you enraptured. A Broadway show passes slowly until a song wakes up something inside. You look down on the stage and notice that the song seems to slow and the stage seems to glisten. Suddenly, you ache for a new day. A sympathy card looks like it will hold the usual niceties, but it surprises. The careful and sensitive crafting of words first makes you stop and sit in your sorrow, but then it magically transforms your sadness. Finally, you see the possibility of joy. On a day that pretended to offer the same as the day before, a song brings you out of a seemingly endless sameness. Where the hands of time once refused to budge, at last you hear a ticking. Art can hold us in time and space, but it can also move us through it. Art ensures that there will be something easily overlooked that you must see, experience, and understand: something crucial. With it, we may finally move through our liminal places and spaces and find new hope. Even though today may look like it holds less hope than ever, hope is here.

Hope is Here, 2020

Big Hope Today

I don’t know about you, but I could use some “Big Hope” right now. I’m tired of being locked in my house. I’m tired of not knowing whether my toilet paper will run out. I’m tired of worrying about the future. I’m tired of the waiting and not knowing what the future holds. I can’t make plans and I can’t revisit things. I am stuck in time and in place. Liminality rules.

Social distancing is getting really old. I don’t have a lot of places I can go. There are so many restrictions. I know that staying home is the right thing to do, but I still feel the isolation and uncertainty regardless. COVID-19 is not Hope’s friend.

People worry that things will get even more restrictive and there will be little space left for escape and pleasure. I’m lucky that they can’t take my paintbrush away. My canvas is my escape, and my paintbrush helps me find new energy and purpose.  No matter what happens, I have a place where I can sort things out and remind myself that there is hope. Painting tells me that better days lie ahead. Even when the outcome looks bleak, I create my way to a better place. That’s why I have “Big Hope” today.

Big Hope Today, 2020

Hope is Everywhere

There are a lot of places I can’t go right now. I can’t visit my family out east, I can’t go swimming, and I can’t go out for coffee with a friend. It will be a long time before I will sit down for dinner with Craig and the kids in a restaurant. Craig’s heart condition leaves us on a very short leash during this time of social distancing. Once they have a vaccine, we can explore the world again. Until then, I sit at home wondering what’s out there in the world. What are people doing? How are they handling it all? It’s so strange waiting here with no real plans and no real future that promises to be much different than today. That’s why I have got to find some hope that’s not grounded in some thing, some place, or some plan. My hope has to come from within me because that’s a place that can’t be put on lock down. I control what happens inside of me and I have autonomy if I look in the right places and if I look for the right things.

With every stroke of my brush I am re-grounded in the moment. I might sway back and forth a little bit- gently drifting into yesterday and floating towards what might come to be tomorrow. I’m not tossing in a tumultuous sea, though. My canvas keeps me moored in the “Right Now.” It gives me a place to reflect and think about what I put my hope in today. I discover the spirituality of the present moment and the types of simple gifts God gives there: things like health, hot water for a shower, safety, a full refrigerator, and a sunny day. This strange liminal space that I am waiting in is showing me that there is good stuff in places I never really noticed it before. Today, liminality speaks to me that hope is everywhere.

Hope is Everywhere, 2020