Today I feel whole again, my soul satiated with delicious hours of mucking about with oil paints. I had forgotten after years of acrylics, cumbersome and fast drying, how sensual and delightful painting can be with oils. I can’t keep my fingers clean as they itch to ooze with vibrant and muted colours. Today I greet spring with abstract splashes of primaries, tired of portraits and people that I laboured over in winter.
All the resolves to paint or write every day fly out on the wings of the North Wind, as daily living takes priority. The need to make money trumps the needs of soul and senses.
A grey overcast sky greets me as my stolen rendezvous with painting, away from my children, comes to a regretful end. I see the cars and streetcar ahead of me as an oil painting, rich in tones, a little blurry and intense in hue. The greyness of the light makes a perfect neutral canvas for this lush scene as I drive home from the studio. Green grass is also most vivid after the rain. On hot sunny days the colours are washed out making everything appear dry, dusty and brittle.
Before going home to my duties as mother, I decide to wind down with a cappuccino in my favourite outdoor Portuguese café in Little Italy on College Street, near Shaw, Nova Era. I sip the frothy warm espresso, enchanted by the bright greenness of newly birthed leaves on the neighbourhood trees and the hushed stillness of the air on a Sunday afternoon.
My reverie is slightly disturbed by the memory that I missed going to my weekly meditation class at my regular Zen center. Yet, I feel no guilt. The pure joy of being alive which painting affords me, has no competition. If it wasn’t for my creditors hounding me almost daily, I would walk on winged feet, each and everyday.
I suppose the incessant calls of people I am indebted to, keeps me from flying permanently into the shadowy realms of imagination or other dimensions. I wish there was some other way to keep my feet firmly planted on the ground without giving up my love. I need a home I can afford where I can work and sleep dreamlessly.
I love the view from my patio seat at the café. Watching the people strolling with their children, dogs, pals and lovers, makes me feel like maybe I do belong on this earth instead of being one big tragic mistake.
At one time I thought my paintings had inherent meaning, that in some way, they moved people. But, if no one wants to buy them, is there a purpose in my having birthed them at all? I understand why Van Gogh possibly went nuts. He couldn’t reconcile his extreme joy and fulfillment (like a prayer) in creating his works with the fact that no one was interested in buying his paintings. But, of course, I am not Van Gogh, just one of thousands of minor players who die uneventfully of extended exposure to turps.
I must stop this downward spiral of negativity that threatens to overturn my previous elated mood and turn me into a prematurely aging, bitterly morose matron.
…Not always so… said Shuryu Suzuki, the famous Zen master of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.
…Not always so…but mostly… I would like to add.
M a y 2 7
Day 3. What happened to day 2? It came and went, filled with stuff and no reflection. A lost day?
I skipped a day
Is it a sign
Of overeagerness Divine…
Or rash disregard for natural resources
Will Divine retribution
Fall on my head?
For wanting more, faster than daily bread…
The muses’ magic wand
Ignites my soul
But will my body,
pen and brush, follow?
Wait till tomorrow.
The evening was a trip to IKEA with my daughter, Nicole and my eighty-three year old Mother. She needed a throw rug for her living room. She found one ironically in the children’s furniture section. The pretty colours and innocent patterns appealed to her senses. What happens when you age, do you revert to childhood? Maybe it is true that the kingdom of heaven can only be entered as a child.
Writing is difficult, just like painting. The actual putting pen to paper or brush to canvas requires a push, a few rituals, and just the right mood. There is always reluctance, an in-breath of hesitation. Some say it is fear. But what am I afraid of any more? I’ve had enough rejection with my art to be quite familiar with the sinking and prickly feeling in my gut, like having swallowed a coconut. Enough also acclaim to persevere.
It would be s y n e r g i s t i c (I love how the sounds roll off your tongue) to have a goal to paint and write towards, like a big solo exhibition or publishing a book. Ah, well…. sigh… maybe someday…hope, faith, hope……………then death.
My neck is sore and I am listening to Saturday Night Blues on the radio. How s y n e r g i s t i c. The music speaks to my body and not my brain. My feet, hips, and shoulders twitch. My head bobs up and down. The mood is mellow. I remember that my 67-year-old friend, a wise, sophisticated, knowledgeable woman told me yesterday about a crush she has recently developed on a 43 year old fitness-freak and pot-head, turning her into a puddle of mush on the floor. Jesus, do we never change?
Digging in the garden has left me somewhat tired, too tired for any lengthy writing or painting. It felt good to clean up after winter, turn over the fresh earth, and dig dirt into my fingernails. Each year is a surprise when flowers blossom, like paintings with their own momentum.
My thoughts turn to greenhouse emissions I don’t want to think about the ozone layer and all the other gloom and doom prophecies. It must be age. When I was much younger I was passionate about all ails and injustices of life. Today, I only have so much space in my heart and want to leave room for beauty and creativity.
It is true that we have been killing life in the 20th century more so than in any other era. We are the product of a rampant industrialized, profit-making epoch. Although we all feel better in nature, it is hard for us to accept the reason for this, that a tree is alive, as well as a chicken, and a computer is not. We treat our machines with more compassion and care than we do people, animals and plants. Go figure… I think the reason for this is that we do not acknowledge death as a reality, we think we will always be able to fix everything, using the machine as a model for life. If we jog enough, take enough vitamins and do the right things maybe we will live forever.
I love watching babies. They are still alive and know it. Maybe I am warming up to the idea of becoming a grandma soon. Wow! Where does the time fly? I am still wondering what I’ll be when I grow up.
A little break for a sip of soya latte in a vente cup. The girls at Starbucks like me and occasionally give me a bigger cup than I ask for. They take pity on this caffeine addict. If not coffee, then something else will end these ruminations some day. Worry only makes you contract. To flow with creativity you need to expand. If God/Goddess worried, he/she wouldn’t get as far as the Big Bang, and we would all be amoebas or viruses, or….
That’s it I am done, my song has been sung,
Let’s end this tortured poem with one last moan and groan,
Yo! Sister! Release the pen before the pen releases you…
Into the never-ending whiteness of the page
Let’s just disengage!
M a y 2 9
There is nothing more healing to the eyes after a day on the computer than green grass. The rich almost emerald green bed found in May, which was mostly mud in April, is suddenly exploding with colour and energy like a bushy crew cut on an alien. The squirrels are playing chase in Trinity Park, delighted with the end of a barren winter and the beginning of green fun. I know why people speak of Mother Nature, I have an urge to wrap my arms around the trees and roll in the dewey grass as I inhale the shimmering air. May in Toronto this year is perfect. Later on in the summer the hot sun will parch the land causing dry dirt patches to protrude, yellowing the green. For now, the rich carpet begs attention. A deep sigh escape my lips as the green energy soothes my tired eyes. Yes, I love to watch the grass grow.
My thoughts turn to a 60ish old man walking slowly down the path past
my bench. I catch myself thinking, too old. Too old? Hey I am 57 and he is probably thinking three is an old lady feeding peanuts to the squirrels. Our inner eyes fool us into believing that we are young and attractive, at least mine do, ignoring the wrinkles and sagging chins that this man is probably focused on. How many of us are really capable of seeing the gold in the burlap sac, in others or in ourselves?
Here I go again trying to be profound. Just more bull probably. No matter what we think we know, we don’t know anything. The more I read and learn, the less I seem to know for sure. Everything can be this or that… I am beginning to understand where the phrase in Buddhism, leaving no tracks came from. In my jargon it would read.. all talked out, no words flowing, time to stop to just see, to just be, just pee…
Not me, I want to leave big muddy work boots tracks. Does that mean enlightment will elude me this time around?
J u n e 2 9
A whole month has rolled by, with my art show hung and dismembered at the Art Square Gallery across from the AGO on Dundas Street West. Five Slavic-born women artists, five strangers with a similar sounding native tongue, all settled, more or less comfortably into our Canadian multicultural society. Hopes are dashed as there are no sales once again, despite our best efforts at display and a sparkling opening, which was attended by multitudes of friends, and associates drinking the free wine we so generously provided. No Collectors, just the Czech TV with individual interviews for OMNI, a multicultural channel on Canadian cable. Despite my charming white bullterrier grinning at the viewers, against a red abstract skyline of the CN Tower, silently pleading for attention, a home, there are no bites, not even a nibble. Admiration is fine, some young artists having said they really liked my work, mentioning that I am an artists’ artist, but selling is better. Shall I quit? Over twenty years of painting down the tubes. Yet, I can’t imagine my mental state if I stop feeding the Muse. I am sure to be a sorry sight. In the end, I think I would rather be a Picasso then a Van Gogh, even though the latter is more likely to end up in heaven. There is just so much ignoring one can handle before telling the Muse to take a hike or come up with something more appealing to the Canadian collector, whatever that may be. Maybe being of Slavic descent is really not acceptable in this town. One gallery owner in Queen West told me my work is too European, not Canadian enough. As he was of Korean descent himself, I wasn’t sure what that meant. I still don’t know what that means except that perhaps, I cannot make a living at my art in Toronto. Possibly my demise may make a difference and my children will reap the benefits of my labour of love. Many Canadian artists only get recognized after they pass away. Better it should happen sooner then later because I am running out of storage space for all the paintings.
Then of course there is Nova Era Café on College, where small cheeky birds fly straight to your table to stare you down until you feed them. Again I add a lemon loaf to my dinner for the benefit of the birds. It makes me feel like Mother Nature herself feeding her flock. Nature heals, and again fresh ideas swarm my brain of new paintings needing to be born.