A Heart Painting Wants Me

Am working toward a painting that flashed into my mind's eye as I drove to Atlanta about two and a half weeks ago. I've been working toward it ever since, and think it might evolve into a series.

I say working “toward” because although I can see the finished painting, I don't yet know how it was made. I'm doing some thumbnail sketches in soft pencil, and some color studies on canvas and on Arches Oil Paper. (That's my current paper of choice for both acrylic and oil pastel, and if I ever paint in oil. I love it!)

Clearly this is a painting that was shopping for a maker. I learned about this process from the sculptor Ann Truitt. In one of her memoirs, perhaps Turn, she tells about a dream in which she saw a finished sculpture. It was very clear and definite. She considered making it, but decided not to. About a year later, she saw a photo of the exact same sculpture that had been made by someone else – after she had her dream. Clearly the sculpture had appeared to one artist after another until someone came through and got it made.

I read that story many years ago. It helped shape the way I worked on the openwork iron bowls I made back in the nineties. I thought of the bowls as already existing on some other plane of existence, just wanting me to manifest them here on earth. It gave a different feel to the working process, and I sometimes used the Progoff Journal “dialogue with the work” process to illuminate my relationship with the bowls. 

I know some things about the painting that appeared to me. It's done in acrylic -- lucky as that's how I've set up the cabin for painting. I'm ready. It's square, larger than I've done before – at least 30 inches square, maybe larger. And I know the colors. (I don't want to say too much, because I've learned from experience that it can slow or even stop the actual work.)

Am I excited? Yes. Afraid? Yes. The painting might give up on me if I don't work steadily and fast enough. It may take quite a few tries before I can do it. Zowee, it's exciting though.

Art and the Five Universal Shapes

Art and the Five Universal Shapes

Earlier as an artist-blacksmith, then as a mixed-media vessel sculptor and now as a heart painter, I’ve found inspiration from Angeles Arrien’s research on the five “universal shapes.” Recently I became curious about how other artists are using them. I came across both interesting artwork and useful art activities for personal growth.  

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Remembering Angeles Arrien, 1940 - 2014

I didn't realize till a few days ago that on April 24, 2014 anthropologist and great teacher Angeles Arrien died unexpectedly. I felt shocked and bereft. How could this be?

She has left us books, audio and video from which we can continue to learn. Somehow she has left much more than this, even to those of us (like me) who never knew her in person. There's something much less tangible -- yet no less potent and nourishing that she has given us. I can't explain it but I'm sure that it's so.

Everything we learn from her can still radiate out into the world to amplify the available love, compassion and wisdom. As her website now says, "May all the seeds that she planted within us be nourished and may we all also contribute to the greater good in the world. With love and gratitude during this sacred and holy time of Angeles’ transition...."

The Angeles Arrien website also tells us that her family wishes complete privacy, and that the business office will gradually close down. Angeles Arrien herself asked that those who wish to remember her light a candle and say a prayer on her honor on the 24th of each month for this coming year. We are all welcomed, too, to write something on the Angeles Arrien Facebook page.

I'm grateful for all that I've learned so far from her, especially from "The Four-Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer, and Visionary." If you read this blog you already know that I use her illuminations of the Five Universal Shapes in many of my paintings of life stories.

Angeles Arrien on TEDx

Just last February, Angeles Arrien gave a TEDx talk that you may want to see and hear. It's titled "Cornerstones of wisdom: the four-fold way."

A toast to you, wonderful teacher

This evening I'll drink a glass of wine with a toast to you, Angeles Arrien, wonderful teacher and unforgettable presence on earth. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for inspiring and illuminating my creative life all these years. And now that you are in non-physical being, I won't be surprised to receive guidance from you in the future as well.