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Archive for October, 2020

Colors of the Fall…
Birches. Watercolor. September 19, 2020.

Happy Fall!

Is it “oh my God” or “Finally?”

How has your summer been?

Mine was a summer that wasn’t, between the lockdown on international flights and non-stop fulltime teaching plus fulltime academic duties. More work, adjustments, screentime and zoomed/voiced out feelings than i care to admit.

Still, there is gratitude for being able to work, pride in the results achieved with colleagues this summer, and beautiful moments of connections with my students, as we thankfully learn, adapt and evolve to communicate solely through these new media. It was a summer of intense learning, yet the curve was gentler than in the terrible Spring.

The closeness of the human voice substitutes the immediacy of vision – and this whole business of teaching and working remotely is getting a little less painful/ more bearable.

Have patience. All things are difficult before they become easy.

Saadi of Shiraz, Persian Poet, 1210

We are learning, fast, multiple new ways to transmit knowledge, of being there for someone, new ways to stay present, engaging and caring. We are growing and expanding- and this growth will stay with us even when “things return to normal”…whenever and whatever that is. I’m thankful for the enormous adaptability we possess as human beings.

Voyages – Collage June 2020

With more Covid-related uncertainty, rightful continued political protests and unrest against police brutality and killings in the U.S, waves of closures and reopenings here in San Diego, the California/ West Coast fires, alarming news from Lebanon, immense trepidation for the upcoming U.S elections –and these are just the top things that come to mind – the summer of 2020 continued the general trend of this year’s suckiness (yes I just used that term) and moments of poignant glory.

(just added, since drafting this on the first day of Fall, the passing of the indomitable US Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a tremendous loss and the terrifying prospect of trump nominating a third judge to the highest court of the land, with multigenerational repercussions)

—- b. r. e. a. t. h. e. —

Protesting in the streets of San Diego after the killing of George Floyd at the hands of the state. Black Lives Matter ✊🏿 – and that’s just a start. June 2020

Personally, there was heartbreak and loss, hope, and gentle local travel in my beautiful state of California and the West Coast.

Endings and beginnings.

Graphite and Derwent Inktense pencils on paper. August 2020

As ever, the lovely friends and helpful spirits, old and new, God /Universe put in my path —along with a renewed spiritual practice— saved the day.

San Clemente Pier, California. August 2020.

I hope you were able to find moments of peace and beauty in the storms of your life, the nation.. the world. I hope you my readers found oases of joy in nature, friends, loved ones, cooking, yoga, joyful movement….art and spiritual practices. Time for yourself, to learn from solitude and silence. I hope, more than ever, you are taking better care of yourselves physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally – for we are asked to function normally- and, some of us, to work even more, while there is a war going on.

The Surface and the Deep. Watercolor. July 2020.

“When under, remember the surface. When on the surface, remember the deep”. When our days are turbulent and troubled, our challenge is to remember the wave is not the sea. Though it pounds us, the pounding will pass. Though it tosses us about, the tossing will pass, if we don’t fight it. Often our fear misleads us to stay in close to shore, when the safest place is in the deep, if we can get there. Any swimmer knows: stay too close to shore and you will be battered by the surf and undertow. We must swim out past the breakers if we are to know the hammock of the deep. Stay on the land or make it to the deep. It is the in-between that kills.” 

Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening.

I, ever the optimist, even started a running list of “silver linings” which resulted from this uncertain 2020.

Art will save us. Setup for my watercolor classes. One of the good things to come out of this year is my return to art, in form of art classes, and now I can join anywhere in the world, since everything is online!
My first watercolor with Escuela Alda con Limón in Madrid. My teacher was Ana Grasset. An attempt at a monochromatic studies when I still could not tell the difference in my Kuretake Japanese watercolor pans.
Second watercolor with Escuela Alda con Limón in Madrid – Ana Grasset’s workshop.

Six months into the new reality, and with a full collection of artful masks to wear each day before I step outside —and to remind me of our strange time —these are things I know for sure:

Image from lolomercadito.com

I know right now the good is even better because we all stopped taking things for granted months ago.

Rumi

I know the Global Pause ( as a colleague called it) is a chance for all of us to reassess the “ busyness” a lot of us identified with — and perhaps were distracted by. I know this is a chance for all of us to go deeper, to interiorize, and find the center of calm and stillness inside of us. This is life changing.

Watercolor of my favorite tree and remnants of my “Drawing with scissors: Matisse” workshop with the London Drawing Group. September 29, 2020.
Watercolor class with Juan Saturio {take 1} from Escuela Alda con Limón in Madrid. I want to try this again as my street got too dark/muddy ( a danger with watercolors). I think even my imperfect children need to be shown.

I know that the work of lightworkers is needed more than ever, and these times ask each of us to lighten the load of our fellow human beings, in however capacity we can do this. Be a light and help to a neighbor, an elderly acquaintance, a friend you lost track of. We can take this time and insulate ourselves or we can greet our better selves at the end of this surreal journey.

Watercolor experiments in light. September 29, 2020.

Finally, I know and can vouch for the healing power of movement and Nature. Move that body! Move that body everyday, walk or run among trees or by the ocean. Exercise in the fresh air to revive your mind and minimize the dreaded screen time. Open your windows wide ( if there are no fires around that is ..) Make sure you move everyday at least one hour to combat fatigue, depression and what in Italian we call abbrutimento ( degradation, brutalization) which comes from never leaving your home. Challenge yourself to go to different nature spots, to give your eyes something new to look at, and revive your spirit. Rumi also said the soul needs to travel as much as the feet. Daily loving movement, as the FlyLady calls it, is the foremost way we can help our body feel better- and when we feel better we can be better to those around us. Do anything you can not to go default.

The pier in San Clemente beach, which has been my refuge in this strange summer 2020. August 2020.

This summer I managed to steal moments of beauty and time for mini-art and writing retreats in long weekends spent in the beautiful “Spanish village by the Sea” San Clemente, California.

Drawing Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, California. June 2020.

In June I ran away to Santa Monica.

The Music Experience Project by Frank Gehry, Seattle. Graphite and watercolor. July 2020.

There was a brief visit, right before the 4th of July weekend, to a subdued Seattle. The architecture was galvanizing.. and it was so healing for me to give my eyes different views to see, after months of lockdown in San Diego. I visited the Autonomous Zone there and stood in front of menacing police in riot gears . Of course I will share my photo-dossiers of these escapes of mine. All in good time.

This summer I took A LOT of art classes online to stay sane and “force” myself to show up to my art practice. I am on a journey to develop an authentic contribution and I am exploring a lot of techniques and art workshops to find my voice amongst the languages of art. There is a lot of experimenting… right now I’m more sure of what is “ not me” than what is… but the experience is filled with light and play. There is discipline, too.

I hope you are able to follow me and my progress on Instagram, at least unti I develop the practice to post and write here before going for the insta-fix. Below samples of the art exercises I completed and the outcome from the Summer art classes I attended.

Delicate. Five minute collage, following the method of Crystal Marie Neubauer. Mixed Media. May 2020.
The Road Home. Five minute collage. Mixed Media. May 2020.
Ombre watercolor class with Jennifer Evans, of Periwinkle Studio. July 2020.
Abstract watercolor class with Jennifer Evans of Periwinkle Studio. July 2020
Gaillardia watercolor class with Jennifer Evans of Periwinkle Studio.
Fall Bouquet watercolor workshop with Jennifer Evans of Periwinkle Studio.
She Rests. Five minute collage. Mixed Media. August 2020.
Letters to Love. Five minute collage. Mixed Media. August 2020.
Love is Fragile. Five minute collage. Mixed Media. August 2020.
Abstract watercolor class with Jennifer Evans of Periwinkle studio. September 2020

What else? I finally started a morning journaling practice centered on my art development, and came up with with my approach to life and art, in the form of the French word “doucement”- softly, sweetly. How to bring a quality of luminosity to everything I am, everything I do?

“Drawing with Scissors: Matisse” course with London Drawing Group. August 2020. This involved cutting figures and shapes freehand on sheets of tissue papers( no drawing beforehand).
“Drawing with Scissors: Matisse” class with London Drawing Group. August 2020.
“Drawing with Scissors: Matisse” class with London Drawing Group. August 2020.

I watched a film that still echoes, Bright Star, on the Romantic Poet John Keats, started rereading Art & Fear and am finally, systematically, going through my possessions and purging with Marie Kondo’s book.

I know I have said this for years but it took been grounded for a whole summer to finally tackle this.

Postcards from Japan. A collage inspired by the Vintage Collage class by Jennifer Evans of Periwinkle Studio.

Until next time, be well!

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