I imagine by now you've been wondering where I've been. I used to be such a productive artist! This blog will help you understand, I hope, what my journey has been.
I had a dream in late March, 2021. We'll call it the Fire Dream.
"I am in the Pot Creek/Little Rio Grande Valley, at the Art Barn at Ft. Burgwin (SMU @ Taos). I'm there with what feels like hundreds of people, all talking, wanting a piece of me, as I'm trying to think about which paintings I'm going to put into the Fall Arts Show or something like it; a big, juried exhibition though. I meet a volunteer who introduces me to another volunteer who can help me with my computer problems. This second volunteer is the artist Chris Morel (No I don't know him). I ask him if he is the painter Morel and he says yes. He hands me a piece of paper to sign into the show with, rather than the computer; but it still doesn't make it easy for me to find and choose what paintings I'm going to submit. I ask him to give me a ride to the far end of the valley (in my mind, when I dream about Ft. Burgwin, the valley is always huge, as it would be to a 5 year old). We get outside and can see a huge black cloud rising over the hills, and as we head that way, I realise it is smoke. We arrive and the air is hot, dried out, full of swirling ash, and the light is red and dark. It's so hot and dry, it's hard to breathe. There are wranglers there, cutting the fences, herding horses that have been grazing there. We leap onto horses and help get them organized and moving out across and down the highway, away from the fire. People are busy moving vehicles, animals, things important - evacuating. I'm also trying to find a place where I can fill out the form Chris had given me, and manic, trying to figure out where paintings are, images, what I can put into the show, with no success or organization in my head. It is pure chaos inside my skull. I ask for a ride back down to the fort - more indecision....the house, the fort? - not even aware of the landscape zooming past. I ask him suddenly to stop and let me out. I look up, and see what was once the Fort. The fire had split off around one of the hills and gone around us and swept thru the whole valley, taking everything in its wake. And I see a dear friend, George, walking toward me from the ruins where he and other volunteers had been trying to save the fort. The old apartments are still standing, with no logs around the outside, because the roof there never caught; but everything else is gone. There are piles of still burning logs, and corners of adobe buildings and a few hearths still standing. George catches me just as I collapse, crying at the destruction of all I hold dear from my childhood."
I woke there, feeling the devastation. Then, the realization that those flames are incredibly cleansing, sweeping through all my comfort zones. I realized that I was looking at how I have been feeling for several years, trying to calm and center enough to return to focused painting, but completely unable to except for short bursts - especially during covid. But, I COULD work on the giant, living, breathing sculpture that is my house. Since that big dream I have felt more at ease. Being shown just what I have been going through has lifted a shadow over my heart. Cleansing is hard, but I am so very grateful for the grace.
I realized that as there were a few elements to the dream, I needed to paint them. A small series of 6 paintings. Chaos, frustration, heat and fire, and devastation and sorrow. I began sketching the images, and found the smaller sketchbooks too confining. I graduated to my biggest sketchbook (about 18 x 24 in), and picked up my oil paint brushes, and started working with sweeping color, oil on paper without taking the time to gesso the paper or I'd never get them painted. Those paintings are below. The 4 colour sketches for now, as the two chaotic ones are done on small sketchbooks and don't feel as important here. I wanted to express the futility of my art endeavors, while I'm enduring such cleansing. I believe I have. I'm hoping now to be able once again to paint the passion and beauty in front of me! In my newsletter, you can see the final oil series. Thank you for listening.