Monthly Archives: October 2009

Westport Police Bulletin and Vision Angels

 

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I always hear about “divine timing” but sometimes The Divine works through our eyes. Today was my son’s class Halloween party. I wasn’t going to go, but then at the last minute decided I would go. So I drove to the school and spent time in my son’s class and we had a great time and the party was fun. When the bell rang, my son and I took our time leaving school. On the drive home, in the fresh autumn air and waning afternoon sunshine, I noticed a woman walking along the sidewalk near our house. I was driving, but I took a mental picture of her as I drove by. Visually, for me, time sort of stopped. The sun was on her, and shadows from leafless trees were dancing on her back. I noticed she wore denim and had white hair. I especially noticed the light on her hair. She limped a little. She was walking at a quick pace but with some effort. And that was that, a mental picture for me that would get stored away in my artist brain, I guess. I take mental pictures all the time, so I thought nothing of it, although there was a quality to it I cannot describe this time. We were home less than a few minutes later and the phone rang. It was a local police bulletin announcing that an older woman with dementia had last been seen at 10:00 a.m. up on the Post Road. She was wearing denim. I thought of the woman I had just seen and taken a mental picture of, and from where the missing woman was last seen, it was a very, very long way away. Since it sounded like the police were describing the woman I had just taken a mental picture of while driving, I thought “If the person I saw is this missing person, no wonder she was limping, she’s walked several miles to be all the way over here”. I immediately called the police and asked if this woman they were looking for had white hair and they said yes. I told them where I had just seen her. Within ten minutes I was called again by the police and they told me fantastic news!  The woman I had seen and reported seeing was the missing person they had been looking for! I was gushingly thrilled and started whooping and hollering. I felt like I had just won the lottery! Something great had happened, and I didn’t have to do anything but notice a person while driving home. I am very visual, being a figurative artist, but if you had asked me to describe all the walkers, bikers, joggers I had passed on the road on the way home, I might not be able to tell you too much. For some reason, I knew exactly what this woman looked like (from behind at least) and the timing was not only divine in this case, it was a visual blessing. Something more extraordinary had happened, because while I took visual note of a person walking, I felt compelled to really register her for some reason, all very quickly as we drove by her. I am pretty sure the policeman on the phone thought I was the oddest lady he’d talked to in a while, the way I was celebrating with shouts of glee. But all I could think was how the system worked, the woman was found safely well before nightfall, and what a great gift it was! I would be distraught had it been my own mother. So, I say thanks to the Westport Police, and thanks to whatever angel came through to us today, Vision Angels who work through the sunlight and shadows on a busy street.

Groom, Texas Astral Travels

GroomTXSiloThis painting I did has as the central feature the grain elevator in my home town of Groom, Texas. Wherever you looked it seemed, you saw only these silos, enormously protruding like the cigarette commercials of my 1960’s childhood (you know the cigarettes pushing up out of the carton in an inviting way?). Otherwise, there was the hum of cars motoring along on Route 66, right by the grain elevators. People were getting their kicks. Sometimes someone in town would declare, “A naked man is driving a truck through town!” or some other report of danger. There were all kinds of travelers looking for something to steal, something to do. Even the Hell’s Angels came through town. For being an isolated place in the Texas Panhandle, it was pretty full of drama. Besides that, it could be very quiet. There were flat fields, and there was wind. Sky was prominent, clouds and tumbleweeds alike, mysteriously roaming along. The dreams I had back then were stark and terrible sometimes. In my adult life I asked my Cherokee mentor Karen Four Stars if she could explain why at such a young age I would have such horrific dreams. She told me I was astral projecting, roaming the area and seeing many things. I guess I was a cloud or a tumbleweed myself. And that explained it. I saw and was aware of quite a lot. Route 66 offered up a tide of dark secrets and strange encounters. On some level I knew all about it. My perception of myself is that as a young child I was often sort of removed and quiet, seeing things and knowing things from dreams gave me a peculiar disposition. But then I’d wander around outside and feel the wind and collect myself.

Tony from the North End, and Raymond

smallitaly2When I was young, in our little town in Texas, I loved looking at a 1950’s set of Childcraft books we had on the shelves. In one, there were illustrated stories for the holidays. I remember a story about an Italian American boy named Tony, who offered historical tours on the streets for money in the North End of Boston, where he lived. The illustration showed an earnest and sweet boy, humbly standing on the corner. In this story, a Boston Brahmin boy happens to meet Tony, and appreciates him so much, he asks his mother if Tony can come to their Beacon Hill home on Christmas (or Christmas Eve, I can’t remember). The Brahmin boy’s elegant and severe mother, as I recall, condescended to allow Tony to enter the lovely Beacon Hill home when the Brahmin boy secretly invited him to the Christmas gathering. Tony delighted in being so honored and ate cookies from the elaborately decorated Christmas table. It seemed to me he was just as quickly scooted out the door, too. I remember feeling so sorry about the way the Brahmin boy’s mother treated Tony, and even as a child, understanding that the Brahmin boy saw what his mother did not; that humans are connected by heart and not truly separate because of class or wealth. The Brahmin boy acted on this heartfelt appreciation for Tony of the North End, Tony who was beautiful and had talent and courage, who did not live on Beacon Hill in a beautiful brick home as he did, but who possessed a generous heart. I promised myself that one day, I’d go find Tony and be his real friend, like that Brahmin boy. I decided I’d not act like the Brahmin boy’s mother, even if I was grown up by the time I got to Boston.  True to my promise to myself, the first thing I did when I moved to Boston as a young adult, was march straight to the North End. I didn’t meet Tony, but I met Mario and Raymond. They were young and fun, and had grown up there on Hanover Street. On Sundays a bunch of us would play volley ball in the indoor gym of St. Leonard Church on Hanover Street, which was their church from childhood and was integrated into their daily lives as adults as well. After volley ball, Mario and Raymond would cook all of us dinner at their “apahtment”. Raymond made meat sauce that was so good, I begged him for the recipe. It was his mother’s recipe and he was neveh, eveh gonna tell me what it was or even slightly how to make it. It was a secret family recipe! During that time, Raymond helped me get an art commission refurbishing the Stations of the Cross in the chapel of St. Leonard. This job helped me pay my way to Italy on a summer trip. A year or so later I moved to NYC, but I tried to stay in touch with Raymond and Mario and the North End friends. Just last week, on Friday, after probably about 10 years since I’d talked to Mario or Raymond, I felt compelled to find Mario on Facebook. I did find him and asked him how he and Raymond were doing. I didn’t hear from Mario until Sunday, when he told me that on Friday Raymond died of pancreatic cancer. I was stricken hard by that news. I realized after tearing up that Raymond must have urged me to find Mario through Facebook, because the timing could not be a coincidence. So I feel comforted by the notion that Raymond found a way to let me know and to say goodbye. In honor of Raymond, I am posting this sketch I made in my sketchbook from 1992, when I drew people and scenes on my trip to Italy. Buono Fortuna, Raymond.

P.S.Mario now lives in Texas! I never would have predicted that!

Boy Spirits

ghostboyriderI was shown in a dream , a place at night , with a guide beside me. He was male, and I don’t recall what he looked like but I heard his voice and felt his presence. The place where we stood and watched reminded me of a gas station or some kind of mechanic’s place. There was a lot of space, like a garage in an urban setting, and a driveway on a hill outside leading down to the large concrete surface in front of this mechanic’s shop. There were ghosts there. I do not refer to them as ghosts, though because they were young, they were children. They were boys. I prefer to call them spirits who are wandering, rather than ghosts, simply because ghosts to me are adults who are stuck due to the choices they make (and we adults are responsible to a great degree for every choice we make, whereas children are learning and should not be held accountable in the same way as adults). Yet, gazing upon these boy spirits, I did worry and thought to myself, “Oh no, they are stuck like they’re ghosts”, meaning, I was very uncomfortable that they were in-between the spirit world and the earthly world. They were still playing with the earthly world and I wondered if that was okay. They looked like most all spirits and ghosts I’ve seen. They resembled holograms of people, they were clearly delineated by color and line, yet they were not solid as living people, rather they were made of light. As they moved around, you sensed they were like beings of electricity, though calming and soothing to see, not in anyway flashing or crude–but colorfully and pleasantly illuminated.  They were doing all sorts of stuff boys might do in a garage setting. I realized they came to this setting because it was a favorite type of place for them. They were jumping on things, riding on carts and making wheels spin, having a great time. I saw one boy coming down the hill, a fast cart with a handle flying along under him. I saw that he felt elated and was using the cart the way a living-on-earth boy might, yet because he was on “the other side” and not subject to the laws of gravity we have on earth, he was actually hovering over this cart and not even having to hold on to it.  I wanted to say to him, “You know, you could zoom and fly now on your own, without having to use that cart thing!” And with that, I commented to the guide beside me, “Oh, it’s so sad. He doesn’t realize he no longer needs that cart and he can move on into the light now and leave this place.” And the answer I got surprised me. In a stern voice the guide said that I should not judge what the boy spirits were doing. “They are gathering their energy, learning to gather their energy here. This helps them understand who they are. They’ll do this as long as they want to or need to.” And I felt admonished. I decided when I woke up that I often probably look at people or situations and think, “those poor people” but in fact, maybe that is not always correct on my part. Maybe I need to see that we are all in one way or another, learning to “gather our energy” and this is why we have situations we’re in , why we choose certain recreational activities and other ways of using our energy. Perhaps our lessons of life and experiences while we’re alive are showing us how to gather ourselves. Possibly every single thing we experience is to teach us better how to not be scattered in our thoughts and feelings. Maybe collecting ourselves, our energy and our emotions, our thoughts and our wishes, our ideas and our wisdom, is what brings us closer to the divine which is what truly makes up who we are anyway. Just as these boys played with what they loved, we also could choose what we love in order to enjoy ourselves and our energy while living and learning. It is possible that,like those boys, God lets us do as we will until we’re tired of it and choose something different to do with our collected energy. I keep thinking that we are never “not glowing” truly, as the divine is a part of us and makes us beings of light. We are delineated with light as the boy spirits were, yet we choose what we choose and hopefully, when we get tired of what we’re doing, we move on. If we chose what we love to do, we’d be gathering our energy as these boy spirits were, feeling the thrill of realized dreams through our activities.

Six Haunted Hairdos

sixhaunted2_0001Halloween is only about a week away! I thought it would be fun to post this jacket cover I did years ago for Gregory Maguire’s SIX HAUNTED HAIRDOS. This is the second book in his series The Hamlet Chronicles which in all add up to seven.  I was delighted to illustrate these books. The characters were so much fun, especially the adult characters (the teacher and her boyfriend, the local news lady, the country rock star, etc. etc.). If you don’t have this book or the others in this series, it is a great one to get for kids about ten and under. The paper backs have a different cover which I did not illustrate, but the interior art is mine in the paperbacks. I doubt you can even get the hardbacks now which is too bad because I think they make a good looking collection. I had so much fun illustrating this book, and making the jacket image wrap around to the back of the book. It used to bother me that if you put a book down the back side up, you saw nothing interesting, as all the imagery that mattered was on the front. I wanted a book to pull you in no matter how you placed it.

Find Food! The Black Walnut

blackwalnutsI have a game I like to play. I’m not very good at it yet, even though I made it up myself. It’s the “Find Food” game. I walk around where I live and try to find food growing wild in nature. By that I mean, I try to see if I can identify any food source in the weeds, the grass, the trees. I realized years ago I’m completely ignorant about plants and have no idea what is poison and what is edible or medicinal. I want to learn. Gradually, I’ve been becoming more knowledgeable but I am still quite uninformed. When we first arrived in this house I noticed large green “tennis ball” things dropping from tall trees lining the stone walls. You had to be careful not to get knocked on the head by one as they fell. We’ve all laughed when almost being smacked on the head by one as we’ve stood in the driveway. They make quite a noise as they fall (and you should hear what they sound like when they’re being run over by a car).

My mom’s grandfather had fruit and nut orchards and I’ve always wanted my own orchard, so I was eager to see if these trees which stand on what once was an onion farm, might be dropping nuts of some kind. I called mom and asked her about the weird green things. She told me they were Black Walnuts and we talked about how to harvest them. I told my neighbor, Susan Thomsen (chickenspaghetti.typepad.com–see links on Illuminara) about this wonderful new “Find Food” discovery and we set out to gather and harvest the walnuts. The green husks which make the walnuts look like tennis balls are thick and must be broken off of the nut shell. There is a unique quality of these husks: they make your hands turn greenish brownish blackish. These stains last for days. I learned this the hard way when I was so eager to explore how to crack one open, and couldn’t wait to get gloves. But Susan came armed with those see-through deli gloves and we smashed the husks off with a rock and tore them away from the nut shell. This was not easy. There are many other methods for doing this, such as one method I read about on line where you place the big green tennis ball looking black walnuts in a big pitcher of water with gravel, and shake. The shaking causes the gravel to tear up the green husks. Sounds fun, but we just burst them open with rocks. Then we sorted them and each took half. I think we both had about 40 to take home and clean. I spent a long time scrubbing and washing and scrubbing and washing to get the stain-causing pulp away from the nut shells. This was tedious. I kept thinking, “I bet regular walnuts aren’t this hard.” I was thinking of the walnuts I’ve easily cracked open since I was a child, the walnuts you buy in the grocery store. The walnuts you didn’t have to work much for to enjoy. I was scrubbing and thinking this is good to know, how to harvest these black walnuts, but what a lot of work goes into getting a small amount of food! I dried mine out when I was finished washing them, by putting them on a tray in the oven on low for a while. They’re now out and ready to crack open. I hope they’re good!  I’m glad I’ve added one more identified local and natural food source to my list (so I’m a little better at my Find Food game!).  OH, one other thing. I realized instead of being annoyed at the greenish stain you get from the black walnut, I could be painting cool tattoos on everyone with it!

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Painting of a Boy

JonahWhen my son was very ill a few years ago, I sat with him until he felt like getting up and around. On about the third day of his illness (pneumonia), he sat while I painted him. He was pale and wan. I worked quickly, and felt I was creating one of the last images of his life as a young kid. He was about to step into real tween life. And we were on the verge of a change, a major life move. I remember bonding with him while working on this, and really understanding what it felt like to choose my son over other things. By that I mean that he in his life up to this point had taught me so much, and I had learned by experience that nothing mattered as much as the children and their welfare. You think you raise children so you may teach them about the world, and what you find is they seem to come through to tolerate our need to learn.  This painting of him is one of the best moments I had with him in terms of really honoring his humanness in a formal way. Even though he wasn’t feeling well, and even though I should have given him a popsicle instead!

Compo Beach Colors/Sketching the Sea

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We live near the beach and my favorite thing to say to the kids is, “What color is the sea today?” as we drive by the vista of the Long Island Sound. Sometimes it’s bluer than even my idea of the color blue. But more often than not, it is almost colorless, it mystifies with a flat but willful pale nothing-color. Other times it has a very faint root beer or brown milk chocolate tint. It can be lake green and it can be golden, too, “like buttah” heating up under the sun. My favorite color of Compo Beach is in summer when it literally shimmers a glow of pale pearliness and the very air is luminescent pink. It is a truly magical thing to experience, it’s like the entire beach and the sky above it is in a prism, and you’re surrounded by a warm, enchanted aura. Today, a very cold and metallic day at sea, the tide is high because we’re expecting a real nor’easter and I think the grey tone of the tide is changing every few minutes.

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Commission: Charms of Light (gemstone healing)

Charms2This is a painting I did for Caryl Haxworth, of CHARMS OF LIGHT (www.charmsoflight.com). She commissioned me to do this work for her website, which was a privilege. I met Caryl years ago when our children were in nursery school together in Chappaqua, NY. They were completely besotted with each other and declared that they were cousins (I believe they/we must be!). Caryl became an instant favorite person of mine because we resonated and cared about the same things in life. She is a beautiful person and is a wonderful healer. She studied Reiki which influenced me to want to study also, and she became an expert and healer through gemstones. She has developed a unique and very special way of guiding people to choose gemstones to enhance their lives and to feel well, to make dreams come true and to be balanced. The process of working on this piece was unique because while I will always pray for guidance to make the best artwork I can for anyone who commissions me, and get myself into a “bliss state” while working on the art, I almost never state this aloud to the client. I don’t need to talk about my personal process (and others don’t need to hear it, they just need to receive my best effort). In this case, though,  Caryl and I are both sisters in the healing arts, and we talked together about being guided spiritually to create this art. It was interesting because when creating using your third eye, you allow surprises to emerge (it is really exciting) and you feel somehow that a kind of magic is running through you while working. I felt I needed to be aware consciously of allowing her kind of magic in, or her angels in to help (and not just my own) and so while it should have felt like a studio party, it was sort of like doing a trust fall. I had to trust it would work out! I felt I wanted to give Caryl exactly what she longed for, and I also needed to allow my own voice to interpret what that meant visually. We made a connection spiritually and then had to nurture and take care of that connection for the painting to evolve. It was a very important experience for me.