Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Rose

It wasn't a vacation, but it was fun. Reese, Hilary, Joy, and I just returned from an extra long week in Guadalajara Mexico. Mornings were spent mixing concrete, painting, cleaning, and destroying in order to rebuild a school in the Santa Ana district of Guadalajara. More than the job and the accomplishment of an amazing amount of work, we, along with other members of our church's high school youth group, hope that our time working alongside the Mexicans was as much an encouragement to them as it was to all of us.

The photo on the left was taken at a spot just down the street from the school. We were there during the Fiesta de Santa Ana, a week long festival to honor the patron saint of the area. Every day at noon, fireworks would explode in anticipation of the parade at week's end. The noon time explosion signaled something completely different for our group. Noon meant that there was only one more hour before quitting the day's hard labor. We eagerly anticipated the firework "clock."

Sumptuous Mexican lunches were lovingly home prepared for us by Lulu, one of the members of the church congregation in Moctezuma. Lulu starts from scratch with all of her ingredients. All from scratch, all the time. EVERYTHING WAS DELICIOUS. Now, I have the inside scoop on how to acquire her locally famous recipes. Woohoo!

After lunch, in Moctezuma, our group helped host a Vacation Bible School for children in the neighborhood. In spite of a potential language barrier, everyone found a friend from another country by the end of the week. We played games, sang songs (in Spanish,) did some crafts, and talked about faith in El SeƱor.

The most amazing thing to me about the whole trip however, was how well everyone gelled -- within our group, and with the Mexicans. The potential for high stress was huge, but it never seemed to be an issue. Every night we had a sort of debriefing to give everyone a chance to discuss their day. We used the analogy of a rose bush for our talking points. A rose was some one's favorite thing of the day. A thorn was the least favorite thing of the day. And a bud was something for which someone was hopeful for the coming day. It was great. Some experiences overlapped, good and bad, but all in all the longer than a week week was extremely positive, like a sweet smelling rose.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sweet Bygone Days

This painting might or might not be finished. For three years, three years, I've been working on it. Sister Friends lives on a wall in the studio. Every now and then I'll add a little brush stroke, or re-work and entire section. During my recent 21 days days of painting quest, many of the little painting projects that have been indefinitely postponed were re-worked, this being one of them. It is interesting to note that after writing the Pocketful of Posies blog entry (most recently published,) I realized that I had started a painting three years ago of my young daughters bringing Mommy a bouquet of flowers one Easter morning.

These two sister friends, now grown, are driving here for an action packed quick visit this weekend. Happiness abounds.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Pocketful of Posies

Back in the day, our young daughters would, out of the overflow of their hearts, gift me with a handful of clovers or dandelions from the back yard. They would rush in, fresh faced, excited, thrust the bouquet forward and breathlessly say, "here Mommy, these are for you." These bouquets would go in all kinds and shapes of vases, glasses, jars, even plastic cups. One of my favorite things is to have fresh flowers in the house, but more than that, I cherished that our sweet daughters looked for ways to show mommy undiluted love and devotion.

When I was at the farmer's market a few weeks ago, one of the vendors had bunches of fresh cut flowers stuck mish mash in a big plastic pot. The randomness of the posies reminded me of the impetuous bundles our daughters brought in long ago. So, I grabbed a handful, brought them home, put them into this vase and had a delightful time painting them.

What kind of flowers are these? Never having seen this kind of flower before, I would dub them sweet bygone days.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Georgia On My Mind

One advantage of being stuck in bed is having undiluted time to relish the luxury to read at leisure. Reese has kept a steady supply of various art books at the ready. As he was selecting a book to bring upstairs yesterday, he noticed that I have several books on Cezanne, several books on Monet, several books on Mary Cassatt...

When one likes a musician, for example, it's not uncommon to have in one's personal collection several albums (cd's) of the same artist. People who swoon over Elvis generally have more than one Elvis album in their collection. Same with The Beatles; a true Beatles fan has more than one album by the fab four. It's the same kind of thing with people who like certain artists...lots of books about one particular artist. Reese noticed this, and instead of bringing me a book of an artist I know and love well, he chose
Georgia O'Keeffe An Eternal Spirit by Susan Wright. I don't remember ever having read this book. Turning the page to the introduction, it said,
Early in 1915, when she was 28 and teaching art in South Carolina, Georgia O'Keeffe decided to take stock of her career. According to her friend Anita Pollitzer, the artist hung all of her paintings around her room and proceeded to go through a monumental self evaluation of her work. O'Keeffe by then had studied at several schools around the country under notable teachers of the time. She concluded that each one of her paintings was derivative of these influences and so destroyed every piece.

Destroyed every piece! I can relate. When I first started painting, I took 12 classes from a local art instructor. While I'm eternally grateful for someone showing me how to get started, in that short amount of time I was becoming someone else. I was painting the way the art instructor painted. I didn't want to be the next (insert teacher's name here.) I want to be the next Sarah Hazel, just like Georgia O'Keeffe wanted to be Georgia O'Keeffe, not a derivation of each art instructor.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Row Row Row

Day five of my imprisonment wasn't as bad as it could have been. Still on bed rest for a few more days, impatience is barely disguised. Being still for days on end might be fun for some, but is slow, exasperating torture for me. The desire to get well overrides otherwise impetuousness to get out of bed before wisdom dictates. A lot of words to say that I want to get well as much as I want to get out of therefore, I'm resting, so that my back heals as quickly as possible.

It's also been one week since the completion of the 21 days of painting quest. I finished what I set out to do, painted every day for 21 days in a row. The two main things it taught me were that it's not really all that difficult to commit oneself to the habit of painting; and, there are so many other things that matter in life besides painting.

In the week since the 21 days has been over I haven't painted once. OK, so I'm not allowed out of bed, but that's beside the point. Would I have painted if I had been able?

Yes, but not out of duty, which is sometimes how the self imposed 21 day test felt. I would have painted because I was compelled to paint. Something -- love, desire, an unseen force -- drives the spirit within me to paint. As a naturally goal orientated person, to keep pursuing painting without a specific goal in mind is almost silly. When I was a runner, I trained for specific races. But now, I don't have any specific shows for which I'm "training." There are no big art events on the horizon. The motivation to paint is derived purely for the love of it.