Saturday, May 31, 2014

Thought for The Day - The Unspoken Tongue

The Elements - 36 x 42, Oils

Red typically represents excitement, energy or passion. But it can also represent blood, which is life or in some cases, death.

Blue, depending on its shade, represents sky, water, cool, mellow or relaxed.

Green usually means life or nature.

Orange usually represents energy as well, but because of the association with the fruit, it can mean nutrition and healthy eating.

Yellow represents light, illumination and of course energy.

Without much thought, whether you have a favorite color or not, when you wear certain colors, it reflects your mood or personality. For some, it may represent a subtle impression about the environment where you are or you're going. Certain patterns in clothes, loaded with colors, attract us as we're shopping. Years ago, while working at a particularly reserved bank, a consultant came through and seeing the tie I wore that day, he said: "That's a power tie! That tie means something!" Mind you, I loved the subtle browns, deep oranges and burgundy colors of the tie and I know in some strange way, I liked the way it made me feel, but I hadn't given much thought to what others would think. I especially didn't think of it as a power tie and most importantly what "power" it gave!

Years ago, in college, a teacher of mine critiqued the above painting and said that I forced background tones to the foreground and vice-a-versa. Once again, I didn't see it that way; I only knew the feeling I had rendering it. I loved the way the colors moved and seemed to have an energy of their own.

There are things we immediately "know" while others dance around the periphery of our understanding. We can assume it's day because the sun is up or if you're like me, rising before it does, you know it because you're body responds to the time of morning. But there will always remain a degree of mystery; some facts remain incognito. But we can know about them, we can experience them without naming or identifying them.

Have you ever felt like the floor was dropping beneath you, or as if the area where you stood tilted? More on that another time.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Thought for The Day - "Between My Heart and My Mind..."

Triplicate - pastels complete the thought, you need the full line from the group Incognito's song "It's Just One of those Things": "Between my heart and my mind, a loop is turning, every word and everything you said." The lead singer, Maysa, sings the song so masterfully, along with Tony Momrelle. The CD is Eleven...please check it out!

But that line - between my heart and my mind, a loop is turning - played in my head as I woke this morning. For the time being, I'm following the "muse," or in better terms the spirit as I'm guided by the one creative influence in my life. I see plenty of images to spur my imagination, read many lines in books, magazine articles and online posts and many thoughts run through my head daily (seriously, if I wrote and published a blog as fast as the thoughts came the blog would be titled "Thought for the Moment!"). But the music is a constant, whether it's playing on my computer, ipod, phone or in my head. There will be a line, a rift from a song and often, I whistle a line or two.

I grew up in a house where music played often. There were times when the television was turned off to listen to music. And on many Saturdays, rather than Saturday morning cartoons, there was Saturday morning records and albums (born after the 80's? The equivalent of playlists, except on circular vinyl!). Though I don't listen to radio stations as often as I did years ago, my music influence has not faded.

But please understand, music is less entertainment and more...I struggle with a "right" an influential 'theme,' if you will. Like a scene from a movie, television show, documentary or drama, music is often played in the background. We're so accustomed to it, we almost expect music to accompany any scene. We scarcely notice it, but it's there. Music seems to have a theme for me and that rhythm influences my thoughts. Not "drive" or "control," but a subtle background sound, that provides a stream on which clarity and purpose ride. There's a great deal of movement and possible confusion gathered between these ears! Much of what I've done and hope to do is a constant stream between my heart and my mind; music represents a connection between "intent" and action, for me.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Thought for The Day - FIGHT!

Shaken up! 8 x 11 pencil

Certainly there are days when the last thing I want to do is get out of bed. I haven't slept eight hours in years and on rare occasions I get nearly 7 hours. But my "rise and shine" time is one I choose, not based on getting to someone's job. It's one way I fight.

I've longed to get back to painting and drawing most of my adult life. For many years, the idea of doing so was met with anticipation as well as anxiety. What if my work isn't good? What if my head is empty and all the ideas for rendering are gone? But one quiet summer, in between classes I attended at the time, I sat in my car, looking at the complexities of trees. I examined the roots, the trunk and the branches over head. And though trees, in all their complexity are difficult to draw, it was something about that complexity that guided me to bring along a sketchbook to lunch in the park. I began drawing after a very long time.

People say I have a bit of talent when it comes to words. I've written poetry, there are a few stories that I could easily recall the details and plot on a whim; I haven't touched the stories in years and can recall those details in heartbeat. But writing daily, in my journal and offering this "thought" are my ways to fight my own insecurities.

I find myself in the position of counselor, though I am, by nature quiet and reserved. It's been that way since I was a child and every now and then I wonder what it is that draws people to me. But though I like my quiet time, I somehow sense when people are hurting or struggling and it's hard to not offer a listening ear, if that's all I can do.

I guess the fight exists mostly can't simply exist in this world. Like a butterfly fights to get out of its cocoon, I fight to be all I can. And sometimes, most times, it's a battle with myself.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Thought for The Day - Just Keep Swimming

The current goes "that way."

Everyone else is doing it "this way."

A real man lives like "this!"

Something's wrong with you! You don't act like everyone else!

You've heard it, I've heard it, the loop plays in my head ALL THE TIME! And yet I get up early every day, I write and cleanse my soul.

I paint in bright colors, that to me seem as 'normal' as a subtle brown.

That line from "Finding Nemo" doesn't regularly come to mind, but that's okay, I'm swimming and swimming and swimming. There are times I "just want to be normal," stop where I am and be like everyone else. The loop is, after all playing in my head. But sickness, injuries, body aches and just plain mental "rebellion" will not allow me to roll over and play dead. Many days, I don't want to write another line, or more importantly, I want thousands of people to read and respond and to create such a buzz 'bout "Eddie" that I can't work a "regular job." But I have to keep swimming and swimming and swimming.

What's my destination? It isn't a place or people; it's "me." I'm finding M-E.

Just keep swimming...

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Thought for The Day - Dream Reader

Am I saying the reader is a dreamer or talking about an individual who interprets dreams? Not certain, I'll allow the word stream to take me where it will.

This source of self-revelation, this means of communicating between you and I in ways that allow mutual understanding; words, images, sharing. I love this, I hate this; it's load is often hard to bear and at times I bear it as if it was the sweetest load to bear. Words carry me on a sweet journey, into the lives of others, their ideals and fantasies, the worlds spinning behind their eyes. It's a wonderful journey to take each day, as it is recited in verse on top of a good rhythm. And from the time I heard stories as a child, I have loved this blending of words.

Bearing the weight of thoughts, words strung together, I often wonder what it all means? Like a typical night filled with dreams, whose meaning(s) remain a mystery, I wonder what consciousness does for me? How does one have all this jammed in their head and it never seems to stop? How is it I share fragments of it at any given moment? Life is funny that way; just a head filled with a mush of grey matter fueled by blood cells and ideas, thoughts and feelings...

...merrily, merrily, merrily life is but a dream...

Monday, May 26, 2014

Thought for The Day - Dive In

I begin a process of writing, journaling, near random , free association about four years. A book, "The Artist's Way," by Julia Cameron, added another dimension to something I began nine years prior. Funny how life works: I begin back in 2001 or 2002, at the suggestion of one of my wife's friends, writing my thoughts on paper. I remember her suggesting that I write three pages a day and that she got the idea from "some book," that until I bought "The Artist's Way," I didn't remember was the book she suggested. I never got to three pages a day, but I found myself writing a paragraph here, a page there; very therapeutic.

Dive In: I can't begin to tell you how many times I sit in front of a plain "electronic page," and though thousands of ideas, themes and subjects spin behind my eyes, the "critic" tries to silence or edit the process of revelation. The beauty of a book like "The Artist's Way" is you don't have to be an artist, writer, dancer, or photographer to use it's instruction. You have to be willing to dive in, though; you have to be willing to move your body through the stream of consciousness behind your eyes and dip your brush in the one medium we share: words. This exercise isn't about writing the great novel, writing your memoirs or the next great broadway play. But it is telling your truth to paper. For a few minutes a day, you are seeing your emotions, thoughts, impressions and memories. Each day, without fail, before you begin the morning rush, before you take the dog for a walk, sit, write and be cleansed.

There's also the artist's date, a exercise I have yet to do with any sense of consistency. But it's an exercise of self-care. Where the writing allows you to release what is in you, the artist's date allows you to treat yourself. Going for a walk, visiting a gallery or two, buying a slice of pie and ice cream or buying some trinket you've had your eye on. But it's about you. Sitting here and considering the aspects of "the date," I understand why I don't do it. But also considering why it's necessary, I see the need to incorporate this once or twice a week exercise as well.

Too often, we spend our days taking care of everyone but ourselves. Certainly we don't want to be accused of selfishness, but truthfully, the opposite should be true as well. And in truth, self-care is not self-indulgence. It isn't about lavishing one's self with unnecessary luxuries, or spending more than you have available. But it is about realizing you deserve to be yourself.

So, this week...I'm struggling with the idea but know it has to be done. I have to 'sneak off' and spend a little time with me. No, working through lunch or sitting at my desk. One evening, rather than come home and spend time with the family or maybe on the weekend, I should disappear (let them know I'll be gone, of course) and treat me to a bowl of ice cream, or find a hobby store where I can look and buy one small personal item. Dive In.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Thought for The Day - A Great Cloud/Crowd

I’m writing from the 14th floor of the Marriott in Kansas City, Missouri, a city I haven’t visited since the early 90’s at best. My son and I made the drive for the funeral of one my aunt’s, one of my mom’s many sisters. I’m also here because of her son, a dear cousin, who now lives in Dallas. I’m sitting here shaking my head at the thought of so many cousins from childhood; we are now the parents we saw our parents being, and in many cases, the grandparents.

My son and I made it to the small church where the service took place, early enough to get a seat. At first it seemed like it wasn’t necessary to be there 15 minutes before the viewing; the church wasn’t a quarter full and yet, I hardly noticed, for seeing the living. Cousins I haven’t seen in 30 and 40 years to greet. Some with grandchildren of their own; and they were only a few years older than I. 

By 10:15, more people came in and as more familiar faces and voices came in, I stood from the back pew, turning to greet them. At some point, I told my son I may as well stay like this. He asked why and I explained there were a lot more folks coming and a lot more ‘hello’s’ and hugs were due. Didn’t come close to imagining the number. If the church sat 300, the family members that attended the funeral were easily two-thirds of the number. They easily filled the “family side,” the first row reserved family quickly becoming the entire side. As the funeral service began, and more relatives appeared, they filled the front of the other side. And more and more people came, having to take seats in the choir stand. And yet, folding chars were used on either side of the two rows.

My Aunt Dorothy was strong and tough. It occurred to me more than a few times during that service that she had to be, to be the mother of my cousin John. He was a tough and energetic boy. But he LOVED family, though for years, he was an only child. It was okay because in KC, he had enough cousins and aunts and uncles to make him feel like he was part of a large tribe. His strong will and energy was always a force to be reckoned with, but so was his mom’s. She would give him a look and say “lil John,” with such a force, the rest of us would calm down for a bit. Over the years, she put him in sports as a way to give him structured outlets for his energy and a sense of camaraderie. And the man he’s grown into is AMAZING. Strong face, big smile (like the “lil John” I remember from so many years ago!) and a loving personality; he’s always fighting for family. Though he lived far away from his mom, for all practical purposes, he may as well had a house in the next block, the way he cared for her. 

His sister, my cousin Marisa has grown into a beautiful woman as well. I remember when she was a little girl, she barely said more than a few words, at least when she was around me. She has two handsome boys, also athletes. I figure that’s not only their grandmother’s influence, but their uncle John as well. 

The amazing thing, the thing that still has me shaking my head is the number of cousins I remember and didn’t make it to the funeral. I’m only referring those who stay in the area. And I can only imagine what the place would be like if my relatives from Chicago, including my parents and my children and wife, had been there. I’m certain if all my relatives had been there, the church could not have space for “non-family members!” But one thing that seemed quite clear about Aunt Dorothy, though I remember her as a stern and quiet woman, EVERYONE else knows her as a sweet motherly type. 

I guess the traits runs strong through my family. A sense of family extends from all of us. The many occasions and events I’ve attended over the years, an invitation was always extended to non-family and you would be surprised how many in-laws and friends showed. A Great Crowd, a Great Cloud of witnesses, of participants, of folks touched, touching and extending the FAMILY; that’s what I take away from being in this small town. I will probably search faces with greater scrutiny now, having seen so many faces with that “Lee" jawline and those “soulful” eyes like mine. I think my family is so huge that we could fill this small town. I'm certain, when I reach heaven, the FAMILY will be there to meet me.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Thought for The Day - Expansion

You know, nearly every thought is an opportunity for growth. Merely allow that energy connecting heart and head to flow and you are well on your way. we have notions and intentions, dreams and plans and any given moment is the doorway to become what we desire. It's long been my thought, since we are made in the image of God, at the core of our thoughts and desire, we long to be like him, producing good, light, love and growth. But it is the "weeds" of life and our reaction to them that allow evil to make more sense.

A heart that chooses purity and love is a heart that continues to grow. One chooses to respond to difficulties, hardship and heartbreak in a way that fosters these essentials of life. It's a continuous process and one that circumstances can dwarf, but keep at it. Each day we are choosing to live more and more like God and less and less like some warped 'demigod.'

As a child, my father was the shining example. My father's hip was displaced when he was a teenager, still growing, so one leg was just a bit shorter than the other. He walked with a limp all my life, but it never prevented him from doing what he chose to do. I don't know if he felt pain from this injury, or how bad he felt when asthma developed from years of working in a chemical plant and smoking, but he wouldn't tell anyway. He always moved fast and thoughtful, always working to ensure his family had what it needed. He worked hard on his job, taking on more and more responsibility. And though he wanted "something" of his own, he continued working at what he knew. Physically, my father was worn down, having many injuries on his job, but not only did he continue working, he continued smiling. One thing I've learned from my father is to listen. Certainly I have a great deal to say, I could probably talk for hours if allowed, but its better to listen. Others need to talk; people need someone to hear their concerns and pains, their desires and needs. And if I offer a listening ear, gentle reassurance and an open door to allow the person to come back and talk again, I've lived my life, growing and expanding.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thought for The Day - The Winding Road

Follow your path where ever it leads. Don't follow anyone else's path or try to model your life too closely after anyone else. You can desire similar successes, but your life, your journey is yours.

The other day, I talked about "Originality" and tried to present my life's journey as an artist, how I evolved from a kid drawing a portrait of his dad, modeled after a court reporter's rendering to truly doing my own thing. My writing has always been it's own animal. There are author's whose style I love and some parts I emulate, but my voice is my own, in speaking and in writing and it's a lot easier to be me, than anyone else.

You never know where your talents, skills and interests will take you. You may have in mind to go "here," but find you end up "over there." The path winds around, down and up and it is often unclear which way you're going. But keep this in mind: the vision of your life is your's alone. Other singers, musicians, dancers and corporate executives may have walked a similar path but when you find yourself in dark places, while you may want to read the biologies of similar people, you will ultimately have to find your way out of those places alone. It will be your steps, your effort that keeps you moving down that path and to the places you want to be.

One last thought: it's never too late to begin on the journey you had in mind while laying in bed, looking at the ceiling as a child. No matter where you are in life, no matter how far that "childhood wish" is in relation to your current life, you can always start down that path. And truly, only God knows "the way you go." Trust your heart and trust His hand.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Thought for The Day - Further

Sailing under Penny Sunset 12 x 18 pastel

You are HERE. But you want to be THERE. Over there, not that 'here' is bad, but you've wanted to be 'there' for a long time and the longer you wait, the more aggravated you become.

Don't stay here; don't live your life - if you can call it 'living' - wondering what life would have been like "over there." Practice bravery, get up, gather your things and go.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Thought for The Day - Exercise

Soul Dance 8 x 11 colored pencils

Very physical

Very demanding

Taxing the soul and mind and body

But beneficial as well...

This exercising of energy and thought and emotions. This breaking of solitary contemplation. The cessation of activity to quiet the mind. Unfortunately, we leave our mind to languish, while we drive and perform 8 hour tasks, once we learn how to do with little menal participation. I mean we sit or stand and think about stuff like, "where is that woman now? What am I eating for dinner? What was that movie, that Sidney Poitier starred in back in 196_?"

I've watched my middle son build cranes and pulleys with his toys and my weight training equipment. Then he moved to robots used for competition in high school. Now he's the consummate photographer, understanding the complexities of apertures and shutter speeds and multi-flash units. I've observed actors and actresses take on the persona of their character and do it with such little effort, you are certain that's who they are in "real life." I've listened to Sarah Vaughn sing with such velvet fluidity that I'm certain she must  have drank olive oil to keep her voice smooth. People practicing their craft or their intellect or their desire.

Exercise calls for a unity of mind, body and soul. It requires going into places where difficulty lives, where stress works for you, not against you. And it requires that you pull for sources rarely encountered in our "real world." Here's a little known fact: everyone has the ability to EXERCISE. It requires a willingness and it requires time.

Today: "bend and stretch, reach for the stars, stand on tippy-toes, reach for Mars." EXERCISE!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Thought for The Day - Tick-Tock

Hey Mama! 18 x 24 charcoal, pastels

Whatever your age, have you considered how quickly your life has gone by? Depending on your age, you can recall the markers, the indicators that give the impression you've been "here" for a while. But walk with me for a little while. Consider these indicators:

  1. A time when you were a child, before school, even kindergarten. Recall an event, a memory of being the small one in a room or playing with 'peers.'
  2. The years in school; a teacher you admired or a teacher who made you miserable! Classmates, endless homework, being ridiculed, bullied, or maybe you were the Big Man/Woman on Campus!
  3. College years; those few years before you are ushered into adulthood. Your sense that while college was fun, it was a short distance between childhood (being taken care of) and adulthood (the time when you were expected to be the responsible one - and everything that comes along with it!).
  4. Your first, second, and maybe third "job." Maybe it was your career, the dream job, the place and occupation you always wanted. Perhaps it was less so, it was a means to an end, a way to put food on the table. And maybe you truly despised any number of jobs held in your adult years
  5. Watching your children being born, growing older and seeing yourself and your parents in this new relationship. Remembering their days in school and struggling with homework. Your challenge either being learning the "new math" or trying to recall how to do this stuff.
  6. Sending your children off to college - I'm there now - or realizing they would never "come home again." But your trying to put on a brave face, while your heart aches to have them near.
  7. Looking forward to retirement; who wants to do this stuff for the rest of their life? Rising early, fighting traffic to get a place where you are considered the Old man or woman, and nearly dismissed. Or maybe you're respected, but you know it's a matter of time before you need to put this behind you.
  8. Grandchildren! The circle of life continues as you listen to your children's stories of "firsts" and having to help with homework!
  9. Retirement; those years where life seems to slow down, but in retrospect, weren't you just a little boy or girl, sitting at the kitchen table?
My wife's aunt passed away yesterday and as I got up this morning, I remembered one picture of her with my mother-in-law from our wedding photo album. She would have been in her early 60's when we married. She died at the tender age of 87. That was 26 years ago that my wife and I said "I do." There are days where I can't wait for _______! But it's moment's like this, I wish I could freeze or slow down time and just be in this spot for a lot longer. Consider your life; the moments, days and years...time doesn't seem as long when we consider how quickly it flies. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Thought for The Day - Thank You!

I've said it before and it bears repeating: each day I think of you! And while many people I don't know personally, you are in my thoughts as I sit to write. Some comment, some simply "like" the post on Facebook or "Favorite" it on Twitter, but it's all appreciated. Others never comment, "like" or "favorite," but they stop by and read; I would like to think it's done because something is written that makes you think or feels good "to the bone!"

It's great to have people who "stop by." Real life isn't quite that way; there are times where my wife  and I recall when friends and a cousin would simply "pop-in." Often, it was inconvenient and unexpected, but given my wife's nature for entertaining, it was quite ok. Our Saturday routine would come to an abrupt halt, laundry in mid-stream and errands incomplete, we would hit the malls, go "house shopping," or ride out to one of the friends' house. But those friends have moved on with their life and the cousins reside in another state. But the great thing about your stopping by: I don't have to be "here;" you can stop in, read, comment or not and be on your way.

This note is written to simply acknowledge you. I write this "thought" because it and "you" are in my heart and I hope it inspires and cause you to reflect. Thanks again!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Thought for The Day - Today

How do we effectively utilize today, this day, these 18 hours of wakeful time? On a typical day, we are "at work," someone else's place of employment putting in 8, 10, or 12 hours. But while our body and mind are there, for the most part, our 'intention' is elsewhere. Perhaps, a first step is to be in the same place where our intention, our desire, is.

For me, it is a lifelong goal and though I've tried a few times to get from underneath the need for "other's employment," for the time being, I'm there. So today, I will spend it quietly considering the life I desire. Not the escape route, with whom I need to network, or where my plans may fall through. No, dreams don't need to be nightmares full of debt and failure - we've got real life for that! Today, I will enjoy the day, the marriage of my oldest niece and leave room for thoughts about a better life. Tomorrow will bring it's own challenges and yesterday is history; today is the day for dreaming, planning and hoping.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Thought for The Day - Originality

Gift to all
The collective exercise of our gifts and purpose can improve our world!

When I was in grade school, around the age of 11, my father had jury duty. He came home with a drawing a court artist made of him. It was a profile and just his head, but that inspired me to try to do the same. Any drawings of people to that point were basic faces and rubbery arms, but that image inspired me to examine the bone structure underneath the skin and take note of the muscle and mass.

In high school, art class, we learned how to use ball point pens to create incredible abstract images. We learned how to create still life images, taking ordinary household items and arranging them in front of us. We learned about capturing details of fruit and odd shape vegetables called "gourds." And we learned how to render portraits. It was my introduction to formalized art classes and I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life! One drawing done where I took a photograph of a old house creased it in places and blown up to show the details, still hangs in a relative's home. That was done over 35 years ago!

In college, composition and subject matter didn't change much. What we learned was better technique and execution. I had figure drawing and figure sculpting classes where the model was nude, so we got to see true muscular and skeletal detail. In the figure drawing class, we "warmed up" with 10 second, 30 second, 1 minute and 5 minute drawings, where the goal was to improve our hand-eye coordination. Very challenging, but by the end of the semester, my renderings and skill had improved greatly.

I graduated from college with no prospects and vision of how to 'be' an artist. It was so hard, the next couple years, trying to render anything. I would put images on paper, rendered from my head in beautiful detail, but usually they didn't fill the page so I simply made collage images. But it was the sense of not knowing what to do that left me discouraged; there was no one guiding me, no live model posing before me...

Flash forward to now; children are grown and time permits a few minutes or an hour or two, to render as I wish. No one stands before me, no models and no teacher to assist. But there is an "unseen" guide that directs my creativity. The drive to render, to provide subjects and themes comes from within. No longer do I need to see objects arranged in front of me or have colors suggested. Often themes and subject are developed "in the moment," as pencil or oil paint hits the surface. Most of my images aren't planned, unless I'm working on a series. And then, an image can take an unexpected direction. I don't have classroom critiques, though sometimes I miss the comparison. No, these days, my critic comes from my own critical eyes, examining details others may be oblivious to see.

As an older adult, I create original images and concepts. And my soul is my teacher!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Thought for The Day - Where Does It All Lead?

The planning, the dreaming, the effort and the failures...where does it all lead? The times you couldn't wait to get to the next step up, in your career, your relationship, to see the kids grow up and move out; where does it leave you? When you moved from this "hick town" to the big city or from the hustle and bustle of the big city to a town where everyone knows everyone, now what?

We are always reaching, grasping, trying to be there, rather than here; to make it big and to be rich. For what? What are we gaining that we didn't have before? And what are we losing that made us who we are? We read the latest self-help book, the Bible or other sacred texts and yet we remain petty and greedy. To what end?

There are moments when you stop and wonder what's it all for? And what am I gaining through all this effort? I'm merely asking questions today, wondering if this is where you find yourself as well. It's a moment of hypercritical reflection; a moment where I wonder if my life means much more than my next exchange of carbon dioxide for oxygen.

What about you? You ever feel this way?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Thought for The Day - Follow the Direction of Random Order

Glorious Mistakes!

Unexpected Errors!

Joyful Calamities!

And yet we survive and dare I say, WE THRIVE!!! In the beginning stages of this painting, I had in mind to put a little blue in various areas. I had an original vision for this painting and yet, I know I have to leave room for surprises. Sometimes, they occur as I'm in mid-stroke, about to apply an expected color to the canvas. In this case, as I said, I felt like I needed a touch of blue here and there, so I cleaned out my brush and reloaded it with a mix of cerulean blue and French ultramarine blue. And since I like the way paint moves around when blended with oil, I added it to the colors. I applied it in the places where they needed to be and concluded my time of painting. I came back the next day and each spot where blue was applied, the paint ran! It just dripped down; completely unexpected!

There are times when you can't do anything but laugh, though other calamities are no laughing matter. Well this was one of those moments where laughter was the perfect response.To remove the color, I would smear it into the colors beneath it, so the drips had to remain. I also lifted my head and said: "well Lord, whatever you have in mind, Thank You!" I have continued to work around the errors, finding new ways to cover them. And doing so, I think the outcome is better than my original idea for the painting.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Thought for The Day - Riding on Vapors

Dancing Against the Rhythm 11 x 14 pastel

Terrible experience and one I don't care to repeat; riding on vapors in my gas tank! It's a state where the amount of gas in car's tank is so low, that the car almost stops running. I've actually had it happen a couple times and it really makes me appreciate my public transportation commute. I take a five minute drive to the train, jump on it and my car only needs a little gas each week.

But of course, that thought is only an introduction; the meat of the theme "riding on vapors," is about my current state of energy and exercise of creativity. You see, my days are very long and purposely so. I don't "punch the clock" for another three hours and when the work day is done I'm spent! My energy is drained by the end of the day and by the days' end, it's all I can do to prepare for the next. So I have allocated weekend time to painting and drawing. Well, it's been a hectic month or so, where weekends are full of errands, broken water heaters, endless household chores and a bit of recovery from the daily grind.

But all the running, the constant demand on my time and energy also dams up my creative flow! So the painting sitting over my left shoulder, sits. I can look at it a hundred times and come up with a thousand ways to complete it. But the constant interruption, the need for a "kickstart" on my creativity, well that takes it toll on me. So days and weeks and hopefully not much more, go by before I get to it. Not to mention the other pieces sitting off in a corner. Funny how this works: it seems like I waited most of my life to be doing this type of work. And yet, when time permits, I don't make time or set aside energy for it!

I can tell you for certain, this is the "slippery slope," where I know I need to turn the momentum upward before I slide back to a place where art supplies and incomplete drawings and paintings sit fro years!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Thought for The Day - A Kiss

A Kiss 11 x 14 Pastels

Mommy kisses the baby
Uncle kisses the baby
Grandma kisses the baby
And each time lips are pressed against the cheek
Nose or neck
 A sense is 
Unconditional caring
A message declared
You are unique
A treasure

A man and woman
Out for a ride on a bike trail
Stop to wait at a traffic light
Talking about whatever couples talk about
He ponders her
Moves in closer
And kisses her on the lips
A light kiss
But its message is clear
I cherish you
At this moment
You make my heart sing
There is no one else like you in the entire world
And I’m blessed to have you

The many years have dulled
The edges of this man and wife
Children grown and with children of their own
A kitchen table
Once the center of family gatherings
Now a quiet place for the morning paper
A cup of coffee
And quiet comments
But this day
The husband looks over at her
His sweetie
And in a second
She is sweeter than ever to him
Reaching over further than his old frame should allow
He finds her waiting lips
Poised to receive what years have not dulled
An expression of love
And received

In a dark grove
Where olive trees are grown and harvested
A troubled man
Resolved to complete his work
Quietly wakes his students
Early morning hours
Lessons remaining to be learned
But no time to learn them
A friend approaches
A strange band of soldiers 
He greets his rabbi
Embraces him
And with a kiss
He seals an act of betrayal
Forever changing the fate of the world
And giving him an infamous name
Love gone wrong
A bond destroyed

Yet an exchange is made

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Thought for The Day - In Mid-Sentence

Thought separated by an interjection of other thought
Crossing an intersection and t-boned by another vehicle-interruption

You are flowing, mind and body progressing and suddenly, you're brought to an abrupt HALT! Couldn't continue if you tried. Words pile on top of one another like a stack of matchbox cars. Body, spasming, nerve endings firing like a bag full of firecrackers going off.

...And that's life

Events occur - we don't consider to be "natural changes," but sometimes they are - and your course of action and thought have to change. It's been said life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react. I believe it's true, but there are certain events that we give a "governing vote" in the direction of our live from here on out.

Funny how these thoughts come randomly and find their way into this space.

We live our lives in light of what has happened and though we aren't completely at the mercy of circumstances and occurrences, they influence our thoughts and therefore our actions, henceforth and forever. Believe me, we can change, we don't have to remain stuck at the accident scene and the remainder of our life playing like a scratched LP (that's a vinyl record, for those born after 1990). Two analogies are my personal reminders, my tools to get passed the "stuck places" in my life. Both involve prayer:

  1. Pray yourself out of yourself
  2. Pray until you pray
Both suggest that "we," or "I" can be my impediment when it comes to seeking guidance/change/the will of God in our lives. Both imply greater effort, focused on removing the block and allowing our soul to soar to the very heavens for help. I'm feeling this myself this morning, even as the words leave my hand and land in this space. There is a need, a request, stuck mid-expression in my throat and I'm certain I have the power to utter it, but "I've" got tot be removed from the equation. I hope you're feeling me!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Thought for The Day - Skewed Vision

Of the Beholder 18 x 24 pastels

When my daughter went off to college, years ago, shortly before her winter break, she noticed a problem with her right eye. Initially, when she described it, I thought she may have had an infection or she kept a contact in too long and it was ripped. She said it looked like a black line running vertically along the corner of her vision. We were very concerned and wanted to put her on a plane right away! This was her first year away from us and while I was okay with that part, the "father" in me (protector, provider) wanted her back home ASAP! She assured us she was able to see well enough to complete her semester and would be home before Christmas. Hoping it was an easy fix, we took her to a specialist who told us this was a rare occurrence for a teenager and typically only occurs in the senior years. She had surgery and had to spend the majority of Christmas break lying in bed. And of course, as a parent, I thought of all the implications this injury could cause down the road. It was so bad, the doctors said if healing took longer than expected, she couldn't fly back to school. Believe me, we were in full parent mode!

It is the job of parents and "wiser adults" to guide youth. Sure teens "know more than we do," at least they like to think they do. They think we were in school when man first discovered fire, but we know we started school shortly after that! (smile) But there is a problem with trying to protect and nurture your child when you try to guide them toward "safe careers." As teens and young adults, unless we choose a career like an accountant, teacher (in some cases) or doctor, we are told to consider a different minor or, as I was told: "Plan B." I remember when this was said to me, I heard it often and begin to question my abilities and my dreams. Did I really have the skills and aptitude to be an artist? Could I compete with the other artists?

When I entered high school and college, the art teachers loved me! They loved my ability and encouraged me to expand my capabilities. But I could hear my original guides, my mom and dad saying "don't put all your eggs in one basket." What I really heard was "the world is difficult and you should choose the easiest route through life as possible." I also heard: "you're work is okay but I don't think it's good enough to compete with everyone else." Amazing how, the introduction of plan b, became my ONLY plan. Oh, I didn't roll over quite that easily, I graduated from college, B.A. of Fine Arts, but by senior year, I was sure I wouldn't be able to use my diploma as anything more than a wall hanging.

By the time my children begin to fill my days and go to school, I was entrenched up to my neck in Plan B living. As such, I was determined to allow them to bend in the direction they deemed best. I would steer, but not control. Guide, but not manipulate and force them to see life through my disappointments. It's always my hope, as they grow, that their vision remains clear and they find the guide God placed in them, guides them TRULY! Certainly, I hurt when they do, I hate it when my children are in pain of any kind, but it is far better to experience pain in your efforts to manifest the life you've always dreamed of.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Thought for The Day - Brick Wall

"I've hit a brick wall." I don't have to say the words because I feel it in my soul. It would be wonderful to hit it as a result of weeks or months of constant creativity, but no, this is a result of the opposite. I get to points where writing and rendering hit a snag, face a sharp right turn or in this case, a brick wall and the flow all but stops. I can write about it, think about it, but quite honestly it is the "ugly" emotions that draw the air out of my lungs.

Let me give you a closer glimpse into this struggle: I have goals, dreams and aspirations. They have never gone too far from me. If I never picked up a brush or wrote another word, I believe the bricks would collapse on me! There is a sense of panic, a sense that if I don't do something creatively, I could drop dead. It's funny, with age, I can anticipate the feeling; I can see it coming from a few "miles" away. When I go days, or as it has been, from one weekend to three or more, without painting, there is a sense of loss, an absence. Again it is painful, an ache in my bones. The brick wall is real because it says: "You can't go any further; your dreams will not be realized." Now that's when I know it's time to set aside the demands on my time and carve out a couple hours to exercise this gift!

One way to overcome this sensation is to tap into other resources. I draw strength from the creativity of others as well. A song, graffiti on concrete and brick walls, the designs in a tie, sources that vibrate my own creative flow. Since childhood, I've loved jazz music, even though it wasn't the music of my parents. The message woven into the notes and sounds coming from a piano, guitar, upright bass, horn and drums, is like an intravenous "link" for me. The years where I would not write or paint, this music stirred a range of emotions for me. There were times I would cry at the sound of a song or get so excited about a song's arrangement, I wanted to share what I heard. But most people don't appreciate the work of composers and arrangers, so I would sit quietly, listening to my inspiration.

There's a painting sitting on the easel asking to be completed. There are two pastel renderings on drawing boards, pleading for equal time. And there's a stretched canvas and a rectangle of stretcher bars awaiting canvas and then paint. Sometimes, I have to simply realize I don't want weeks or months to go by without exercising creativity and amazingly, I find time and energy to do so. My "will" is my wrecking ball when facing this brick wall. Thank you Lord!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Thought for The Day - A Liberal Dose

Expectation 24 x 36 Oil

...Of Encouragement!

Sorely needed, but spread out over long periods of struggle and perseverance. There are times - I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels this way - where it seems the help you need doesn't arrive "on time." You and I have a time table, usually more urgent than our circumstances dictate and when that help doesn't come by that due date, we feel disappointed. But a lesson learned and repeated often: continue functioning as if you have other priorities and as sure as a new day arrives, an answer to your dilemma comes as well.

Liberal doses of encouragement, when they come, change the landscape of your days. If you've spent the last few weeks in cloudy and foggy days, let a few well placed compliments, a dash of a reminder about your dreams and plans flash across your brain. You will be surprised how that cancels out the sense of loss and despair. Of course, if we had it our way, the encouragement would never end. But another lesson learned: few of us live our lives on the mountain-top. We live our lives in the valleys and plains. Meaning, we have to struggle, there will be loss and disappointments. Even when you've received "a blessing," following closely on its heels, comes an unexpected turn of events. But keep your head up and keep pushing forward. The race is not over!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Thought for The Day - Now What?

I'm Listening 24 x 36 Oil


Usually followed by a quick absentminded stare at nothing and everything in particular. The face gets a far away look and if you look closely, you can see the wheels turning in the individual's head. It's a big question because usually, the context of the question follows a crisis. We either ask it of ourselves, of someone who is a partner in our crisis, or it's asked as a challenge to create crisis.

Now what? What will you/I/they do next? Too often, we are unprepared to answer the question. It's a challenge to our ability to act, to respond and to be prepared. I'm facing the question at the moment, having arrived at a place in my life where I feel like I've reached the end of my resources. I still have life in me, I am relatively healthy and strong and capable of making decisions, but now what? What do I next? What's my next move? I'm considering what's desired, what I pray happens, but on my part, I'm not clear. And for all my past successes and failures, this "turning point," this curve in the road, I'm uncertain what can be done to prepare. This is a moment where I bend my knee, bow my head and look to Him who is able to "keep you from falling and present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy..." (Jude 1:24)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Thought for The Day - Hasty

"Desire without knowledge is not good - how much more will hasty feet miss the way!" Proverbs 19:2 NIV

We are perpetually in a rush! There are few who are exceptions to this phrase. We are on the go, chasing after stuff and people. Our four year old car is no longer adequate, we MUST get another. Our clothes are last year's style; there are new clothes to be had. And electronics? At an average price of $200, we are prone to tossing out phones, televisions and computers every two years! We want what we want, except we aren't really sure why.

To the destruction of ourselves and those around us, we rush, lead by needs and desires that really won't satisfied. So what do we do? How do we put "knowledge" to use rather than being lead around by our desire? Consider professional athletes, dancers, and accomplished actors. Their success isn't made in minutes or hours, it is the result of years of hard work and discipline. It is practicing while others are asleep, it's waiting patiently for opportunities, all the while pressing for an open door to display their talents. The same goes for any person, celebrity or not, who desires something worthwhile and long lasting. Dedication, hard work and a clear vision of what can be achieved. That's how we build rich and vital lives.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Thought for The Day - Stuffed

Elastic 18 x 24 pastels

That means there's a lot inside; maybe too much...

I've had quite a few falls in the last year or so. Enough to have cause for concern. An old back injury has reared it's ugly head again. Typically, it's like a gentle reminder where I get a little twinge of pain in my lower back and I go to my tried and true "Superman" stretch. But not this time; this time the pain is gigantic and is stretched over a number of days. When it's this bad, pain meds don't quite do it. The pain is a constant reminder how severe this can be.

There doesn't seem to be enough time in the day, week, month or year to get the creative projects completed. My head is full of ideas, but "normal life" will not be denied it's time as well. So laundry, grocery shopping, repairs and 9-5 rule the day. I squeeze in an hour every now and then, on a weekend, between running errands and cleaning.

In a given day, miniature 'epiphanies' come to me. I've been in a habit of writing the thoughts down because I know I have a poor memory and anything beyond a few minutes and that "important" impression is gone. I have the equivalent of disconnected, scattered thoughts and ideas all over the place. Hastily written while at work, stored on a flash drive, in the cloud and the occasional typed and printed notes that find their way into my travel bag.

Then there is the demands of the 9 to 5

And the thoughts about the future I desire

And the growing debt crisis - student loans that make my mortgage look like a credit card bill



Yeah, pretty much full

Is there a solution? How will this be resolved? I don't know, I just try to keep up as best I can.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Thought for The Day - Voice

The culmination of years of hopeful prayers, that few would hear or have a clue about; I am there. There was a time when I wanted to spend my days in front of the television. My mom still finds it surprising that I don't know certain actors and actresses or don't watch "this or that" show. I think television and other media are great sources for information, but I found a better one: the space between my ears.

I find writing and painting to be what I thought entertainment was. When you watch the news, a drama or comedy, you see your life in the characters or tragedies. Well years ago when I begin to journal on a daily basis, while I struggled, I found that I could get my thoughts out and it was one of the most freeing activities I practiced. Admittedly, I knew the process of pouring out my soul would not be complete without images.

Images; my way of making the eyes and hand work together and display what's in my heart. Impressions, the sense of the vibrant life that surrounds us, seen and unseen. The combination of images and words allows me to express my impressions and hopes for this world.

Perhaps you find yourself frustrated with the course of life. Maybe you've longed to express yourself, and more importantly, to be heard. Don't we all want to fit in without becoming part of the background? We all search for significance in this world...try writing, try sketching, acting, comedy, anything that allows you to express what's in you. Don't allow another day to go by without sharing who you are.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Thought for The Day - Where He Leads...

"The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirt." John 3:8 (NIV)

I've known most of my life there was something I should be doing and that it was "God directed." Very early in life, I had a fascination with the stories from the bible and one song "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," really set my mind free to see God as an Awesome Being. I would hear Mahalia Jackson singing that song and was struck by the notion that He's got the whole world in one verse and He holds a little baby, in his hands. I had no problem imagining him holding the world, a child and "you and me brother," in his hands. It simply made sense; I saw God as much more than a bigger version of a man. I saw him as infinite God.

Perhaps my acceptance of that idea opened me to the conflicts that exist within me. Truly that sense of openness has presented me with many challenges as well. Called to ministry, certain the only way for a 'minister' to serve was in the full-time capacity, I longed for years, to be a pastor. Searched, made myself available for the opportunity - never happened. Served in ministry capacity 24 years and that 'door' has not opened yet. I don't rule it out, I simply state what is. But there was this "art" thing; this has been in my bones since I was four and watched my mother doodling flowers, cubes and a lady with long hair, on sheets of paper while she talked on the phone. I knew early on I wanted to be an artist, but it wasn't until my adult years, when the "call" seem to lead me in the direction of ministry, that the two roles seemed to contradict. From a human perspective, I couldn't reconcile the two roles.

Years ago, considering getting back into art, I shared it with a men's prayer group at a church where I served. One of the other ministers excitedly interrupted: "I love Christian art! Oh man I would love to see you working on some Christian art!!!" Somehow that wasn't the encouragement I sought. As a matter of fact, it discouraged me from starting, given the judgmental attitude of that congregation. You see, when I picture me working in a studio, a nude model, posing, comes to mind. Not the typical "Christian-themed" images most consider. That minister had in mind images of hands coming down from heaven or Jesus holding some lost soul on the verge of collapse. My idea of images are abstract, and if given the opportunity, there will be nude models painted as well.

Here I am some years later, back to painting. There are no nudes yet, but I'm not rendering "Christian art" as well. But understand, when I'm painting or drawing, the spirit of God speaks and directs my hand. Not as if I were a puppet on a string but as a coach directs his quarterback from the sidelines. "This is the play, run it this way." But it is completely in my control regarding movement, tones and colors. The lesson I've learned - forever a student of - is take direction from God and allow man's notions to fall to the side. Heed the voice of God and his direction. I won't say you experience failure or hardship, but I can say, you will know joy unspeakable as you walk on this journey.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Thought for The Day - Measured in Steps

Linen with a swirl 24 x 30 Oils

Sometimes, you can't see how far you've come from seeing where you want to go!

Pure grit and determination...that's how you see your energy and exertion. And yet, for all you doing, the trail behind you, the rearview mirror glance, reveals your progress is small. And the road ahead? That view remains unchanged! But that desire, the destination is a mirage in your head and seeing with your eyes, well that will have to wait. You only have today. There is only NOW.

Fix your gaze, not on what is immediately in view, but upon what lies beneath. The vision that caught your attention so long ago. Each step and each time you fall, moves you forward. And each step, each bruise, cut and scar is evidence that you are making a solid path to your goal.

Go, if only a few steps today, tomorrow will find you further than you were one, two or a thousand days ago!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Thought for The Day - Doing what must be done

Clear Channel 24 x 36 Oils

Sometimes a person's "strange behavior" is really bravery exercised.

The routine: hit the snooze of my sleep app a few times and finally get up. I might doze off for a few minutes, but getting up at 3:00 am permits me extra time to prepare for my day. I'm up, filling a 32 ounce cup with water, grabbing a piece of fruit and making my way to the "studio." My corner in the basement, mostly cold, but well lit, my art surrounds me. My laptop is waiting, journaling to be done before writing an entry for the world.

This morning, I'm up, as I normally would be, but my back says I should be lying down. One small move in the gym yesterday, reminded me that some injuries you never quite get over. An injury from so many years ago, stiffens my back and makes standing, walking and sitting painful. But I'm up anyway; the routine somehow ingrained in my psyche. Waking up early has become as much a habit as breathing and I give in to the need to write and express.

I talked with my mom last night and she told me my father went to the basement to check on the water heater. You have to understand, it normally takes him a minute or so to walk from his seat in the living room to the hall between rooms. To walk down stairs had to take him 15 minutes or more. More importantly, a number of ailments should make him stay away as far as possible, from stairs, unassisted. But dad has in his mind, that he can do everything he always has. His smile and quiet nature masks a stubborn, tough guy, waiting for an opportunity to do what must be done. Guess I get the determination from him.

Be blessed folks, I'm crawling back in bed and hopefully I can sleep off this latest challenge. If not, I'll be back tomorrow, still working.