Giant snowflakes drift past my window. Thoughts wander back to other winters, other circumstances of welcoming in a New Year, of bidding adieu to all the yesterdays of other years. I no longer make resolutions to make a New Year drastically different from the old. Instead I resolve to embrace each day with open eyes and open heart. I resolve to acknowledge the lessons taught by family, friends and strangers, valuable lessons regarding life, love, art and nature. I resolve to do the best I can, every day, to learn something new, to transform what I’ve learned from others into an expression of my response to the world I live in, the universe I am a part of.
Ten years ago tonight, my mother passed. Around her bed sat my two daughters, my two sisters and I. The month prior to her death we spent sharing stories, songs, memories of trips together, nights staring at the stars. I still see the sun shining through the damp sheets as my mother pinned them carefully to the clothesline. I remember asking my mother “What is God”. She responded after a short pause. “Look around you, Chrissy. See these trees? See these bushes and weeds? See the water as it trips over the rocks in the stream? God is Nature.” I was six years old. I never saw nature in the same way again. Winters were never colorless or dreary. Dry, crinkled leaves were as unique as snowflakes. I became obsessed with the beauty of bones, the structure and color, the geometry of skeletons. The word “ugly” all but vanished from my vocabulary.
As we shared memories I realized how my mother had supported and encouraged my life as an artist. I realized I had not been as true to that path as I could be. I had traded pen and brush for a flatbed scanner and a printer, capturing fabulous shapes, colors and textures of “things” gathered from my house or from my long, morning walks. Too much time was spent out of the sun keeping my technology in running order and producing my own note cards and giclee prints. Before my mother passed I was able to tell her that I was returning to the easel, to pen and brush, to the sunshine, the stars, to traveling adventures and to splashing through puddles. I was able to tell her that the answer she had given me when I questioned her about God was the answer I returned to when I lost sight of the most important aspects of life.
There have been ups and downs over the past ten years, long periods of time when I wasn’t able to be a full-time artist. Regardless, each day I opened my eyes and saw something new. I drew, I painted, even if for only five minutes. Each day I took at least one step forward, sideways or back, no matter how large or small. In 2012 I returned to full time painting. 2013 brought me closer to nature, closer to the stars, closer to the geometry of nature that underlies my artistic endeavors. I smile, knowing that the lessons taught by my family, friends and strangers have not been ignored nor kept secret from others. I willingly share what I know with those who are curious and ask. If my teachers, my mentors, those who are no longer among the living, could see how I have used the lessons they taught me, they would smile. I miss them. I treasure the memories of them. I welcome 2014 as I welcome every morning of every year….. with open eyes and open heart. Image: Turkey Neck Bone – drawn first in ink with fountain pen, followed by watercolor on Rives BFK paper in handmade sketchbook.