Opposites Attract

My first finished painting in over a year has turned out wildly different than I expected, and I couldn’t be happier with the result.

The series of six paintings–which includes elephants, sea otters, and butterflies, among other fauna–began as an art licensing idea for Valentine’s Day cards, and they were supposed to be sweet! As I stumbled away from ever worsening divorce complications and limped through the swift demise of a confusing rebound, however, my cute little animals became tragic instead.

Too much work had gone into them to quit. Pen and ink, watercolor, pastel, gouache, oil, acrylic–I had really poured my heart into it, probably as a way to stay sane through trauma. I was lost with them, though, because they certainly weren’t commercially appealing any longer. But I had no idea how such lingering sentimentality would fit into my fine art practice.

Then I realized that these paintings had stayed true to their original purpose after all, wherever they fit, and all my frustration vanished. They capture the raw emotion I felt for months and months, and they are quite comforting to me. Much like a greeting card and much better than well meaning divorce chit chat. I imagine it’s a similar feeling when a loved one dies and you’re forced to sit through clumsy condolences. Most of what people say makes you feel worse.

In particular, the monkey and the chicken are so obviously not a great couple! I’ve discovered people to be invested in the survival of others’ relationships beyond reason.

“No! You guys are perfect together!”

“But you looked so happy on Facebook, what happened??”

And the worst:

“What about your KID?! How could you DO this to him?” (Well, by golly you’re right. I have never considered my kid in all of this. Silly me.)

Of course, I’ve done the same thing to divorcing couples, and I think it’s a reflection of my own anxiety in the knowledge that all worldly attachments eventually bring pain. And, if your relationship doesn’t last, that means mine might not either. That’s darn right personally offensive.

But, I mean, come on. What were a monkey and a chicken ever going to offer each other from the beginning? I think if we admitted that many romantic partnerships are like this, maybe we wouldn’t need so much self-medication.

This was Mean Greeting Card #1. To see the others in this series, go HERE.

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Some Things Can’t Be Left Alone

This is my first post in over a year, because I’ve been busy with an endless, vomitous, soul-crushing divorce.

It was unavoidable. Most people we knew were so sorry to hear about it, because they always saw us as a well-matched couple, and they loved us both. Then, my friends and family deserted him, and his friends and family deserted me. We tried a “conscious uncoupling.” That was a catastrophe. We attempted “co-parenting” because that was a pleasant sounding fiction, but we were always at each others throats behind the scenes. I finally admitted that was bullshit, too.

We used to be best friends. And lovers. Co-creators. Now, most conversations with him produce hives.

Yet, this is not an angry post!

I feel inspired and hopeful today, because my best friend Sally sent me the perfect laugh this morning with this horse meme. She’s a therapist and she makes these privately to blow off steam. They remind me of Jack Handy quotes on Saturday Night Live–hilarious in the uncomfortable truth at their core. They’re actually comforting to me (and probably a lot of people), because it reminds me that we all dwell in darkness sometimes. Laughter through the tears.

You see, the divorce was a symptom of a larger change that Sally and I have been experiencing, along with so many other friends it’s astounding. The Aquarian Age, finally arrived? The dreaded midlife crisis? Global awakening in the Information Age?

Like most who find their way here, I stumbled onto a spiritual path not by choice, but because there was nowhere else to go. All all other roads led to more misery, worse addiction, and crippling stagnancy. And once you start walking, it’s impossible to step off the path, no matter how many dark nights of the soul you suffer through.

Mornings are just as often bright and fair.

I’ve spent some quality time painting in my cave through all this. I feel like I’m on the cusp of completion of an important cycle. It’s freeing and cleansing to get everything down on paper. I have a feeling that I’ll look back on these paintings in ten years and understand even more about what I’m doing in hindsight, but for now I’m just letting my heart flow out through my fingertips.

They’re large and on very sturdy paper, so I can work on them layer after layer, while surprising details build up.

I’ve been making patterns out of written words for a long time, but in the last year they’ve started working as mandalas for me. Often it was the only way that I could sit down to work on anything, when I felt like I was at rock bottom. At first I felt guilty about “wasting” so much time, doodling away with no real aim in mind, no monetary goal. Now I realize that the act of making these mandalas gets things flowing and connects me to source energy.

Confusion fades and clarity peaks. Ideas coalesce, and problems that I’ve struggled with for months suddenly find their own solution. Doubts and anger evaporate, and compassion soars.

The thing I love most about the mandalas is that I have no idea where they will end up, because each mark determines the next. It’s my favorite work that I’ve ever made. I have a ton, and I’ll post as they develop.

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