Read this if you ever ask God WHY? because maybe this will help you.
Me and God have been duking it out.
Because hey, I'm all about LOVE and LIGHT and HAPPINESS but on the other hand, sometimes we need acknowledge the reality of life sucking.
I've been carrying a lot of guilt over not being well by now and over having gotten sick in the first place. I blame myself for every misstep I take. I've been feeling like it's my fault for not figuring it out and fixing it!
But two nights ago I realized that I know a drug addict who does everything wrong, and has nearly died of an overdose, but is in better shape than me in some respects.
And I said, "Hey God, I wasn't so bad! No worse than anyone else I know! Why is this happening to me?
"I WAS A BEAUTIFUL BUTTERFLY, God, so why did you pull my wings off???"
And I realized that bad people who do bad things are doing them because they have incomplete information or poor resources.
I felt forgiveness for every human, including me. Including the worst. Because who am I to judge them? Who knows what kind of crap life has thrown at them?
As Jesus said on the cross, "Forgive them. They don't understand what they are doing."
That led to more thoughts:
Then I started crying and my dog and my husband tried to cheer me up.
And I understood a little better. Everyone is suffering, and we all have a choice:
Either suffer alone, or support one another and ease each others' sufferings. And maybe be happy together sometimes for awhile.
Is there a good and omnipotent God? I like to think so. I'm holding out hope! Because when I read the Bible, I see one message over and over again: help one another.
Not out of guilt...
not out of shame...
but because out of all possible choices, kindness is the best choice for a good life.
If you have never seen the movie "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," please go do so immediately! ;-) Then you will understand the source of the title of this painting. Or you could watch this clip. (The famous bicycle scene!!)
Paul Newman, you are almost as handsome as my husband. You'd do in a pinch.
ANYWAY... where was I? Oh yes, art.
In high school, when I was first learning to draw, I was fascinated with mud puddles. (Ha! I almost typed "muddle puddles" there, which is a good phrase. Could it be a band name?) I loved the ripples they made when I stepped in them, and the little ripples which raindrops make. I drew several mud puddle pictures back then, so this painting is a bit nostalgic for me.
But I didn't start out with the idea of mud puddles. I started out with the idea of using a hexagonal metal bolt (which I swiped from my handyman husband) as a sort of stencil. But when I lifted away the bolt, it left a circle instead. So I went with it.
I love the way the rose stayed so pure and bright against the soft denim blue of the background.
Speaking of denim, this painting goes with everything, just like a good pair of jeans. I love it!
This is my first post that's going out as a newsletter, and I know I should be talking about art, but here's something beautiful for you instead!
This was happening in my front yard, all over the place! Butterflies everywhere. (Yes, I took this picture. I feel like a National Geographic photographer. Where is the "smug" emoji when I need it??)
Every year I wish I had a great big flower garden and then I mope around about my fatigue getting in the way.
But then August comes and the wildflowers take over and the butterflies come out to play and it's like God said, "VOILA! Wish granted!"
I filmed it, too. I love the part in the middle where the bee is bumbling around in the jewelweed. Here's a direct link in case the video above doesn't work: Butterflies and Bees.
So that is all... no art for now... but I hope this bit of Nature has brightened your day. It certainly inspires me to paint!
This is my first piece in the new "Shibori Amori" series, and I'm already loving it.
As I've explained before, shibori is a traditional Japanese method of dyeing fabric, usually with blue dye on white fabric.
A striped effect like this one would be achieved by folding the fabric and clamping it between wood blocks, like this:
Only the edges that stick out would be dyed, although the effect is sometimes softened by the watery nature of the dyebath.
But since this is a watercolor painting, that's not how I did it! I painted the stripes onto paper, naturally. And first I laid down some calligraphy, which seemed appropriate since this piece is inspired by Japanese art. Here's a work-in-progress shot, with a bonus sneak preview of my next piece:
In fact, the calligraphy in that rose is what gave the piece its name. I like the relaxed curves.
I'm really liking this blue, too. I love me some bright colors, but this blue is so restful. The stripes remind me of a duvet I had once. It makes me want to chill out and maybe take a quiet nap. (Possibly because I had insomnia last night, but that's another story!)
Could you use some rest in your life? If so, take another look at this one. It might be just right for your bedside table.
Sometimes I ask God the "hard question:"
Hey God, if You're so great, why do You allow suffering?
(I've been asking that one a lot, groaning aloud at 5:00 in the morning after long sleepless nights.)
My interpretation of the Bible suggests that the answer is that we humans can't hear the complete answer to that question, because we're too limited to understand it. If we could answer that question, we could answer every question. It is the essential question.
But we get a few partial answers, like these beautiful passages from 1 Peter 5:
13 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you:
So the answer is to trust. Trust that God knows what He is doing. Lay yourself in His hands.
When I finally did that, I fell asleep, surrounded by a feeling of love.
My last series, "Agate Agape," led right into this new series. When I was looking at the Agate Agape paintings as a whole, one jumped right out at me because of its wonderful color. Take a look and see if you can guess:
I have lots of favorites in this series, but see that blue one in the upper left? That one is called "The Tide of Love," and it was inspired by blue-and-white porcelain. Here's a better view of it:
Thinking about the color blue naturally led me to think about other blue-and-white things, especially shibori. Shibori is the traditional Japanese method of dying cloth using "resist" methods. You can think of it as tie-dye. Although it's a bit more than tie-dye, it was the inspiration for the trippy hippie fabric that became popular in the Sixties.
Here's a few examples of classical Shibori fabric, from "Katie" on Flickr, via Wikipedia:
There are lots of ways to make a shibori pattern. The "tie dye" way is to tie the fabric tightly in bunches with thread or rubber bands, so that the dye doesn't go where the rubber band is. Another method is to pleat the fabric and clamp it between two pieces of wood. Only the part that sticks out of the clamp gets dyed. And there are many other methods.
In Japan, shibori is traditionally done in blue-and-white, although I have done it myself in red and yellow. Although this skirt looks like hippie tie-dye, I actually sewed the fabric closed with a needle and thread, which is what created the honeycomb effect in the middle of the sunflower.
Although it is often used to make a casual pattern, shibori can also be very formal. Here's a fragment of a 17th-century kimono:
Wowsa! Having tried this myself, let me tell you that this took a lot of skill!
So that's the "Shibori" part of this series. I decided to give it a catchy title, and "Amori" is the Italian word for "loves," so it seemed like the perfect combination.
(And according to a casual internet search, it's also the Esperanto word for "lovemaking." Now you know! Tell all of your friends. They will be impressed by your mastery of a dead language which hasn't really lived in the first place.)
And meanwhile, stick around. There's lots more fun to come!
Some people say my art is too sentimental. I can't imagine why...
Oh wait LOL yes I can. This is one of my favorites, and it's definitely sentimental. (In a good way, I think.) But to my critics I say, there's a good reason for all this love and roses.
Let's talk about pain and suffering and despair.
That's right, I'm going there. Look at me. Don't I look happy, and young and healthy? Doesn't it look like I'm living the sweet life? Are you jealous yet??
Sometimes this picture is true. Sometimes I am really happy, and I feel good. I have a great dog, a great husband, a nice house, enough to eat, clothes to wear... a lot to be grateful for.
But other days it's more like this:
Yeah, that's a cute picture, but what it doesn't show is that I didn't sleep last night. I finally fell asleep at 6 AM and snatched a few hours of snoozing this morning. And for weeks I haven't slept well. My joints hurt and I'm tired. I'm probably writing this blog post on adrenaline, which is more or less how I live my life, and I JUST WANT ENOUGH ENERGY TO DO THE DISHES. I miss household chores, for crying out loud! I want a normal life, and I have a chronic disease, so I don't have a normal life.
I have bad days. And bad nights! I wonder why God is doing this to me. I wonder if this is ever going to end. I wonder what I've done to deserve this. I wonder how my husband can go on being so nice to me when I feel so mean. I wonder if I'm going to die young and childless. I wonder if I'm ever going to get my strength back, if I can ever go out dancing again, if I can ever paint large pictures again, if I can ever go hiking in Nature again.
And when I have bad days, and I can barely move, and I ache all over, and I look young but I feel really old... all I want in my life is beautiful things, and love.
Beauty is healing, and I need it.
Do you need it, too? Do you have bad days? Days when your tire goes flat in the pouring rain? Days when someone you love is gone and you're lonely? Days when you wonder why you're here? Stressed-out days? Tired days? Broke days? Worried days? Sick days?
Do you need beauty in your life? Do you need LOVE? If so, then my art is for you.
There, I said it. I feel much better now. Thanks for listening.
And the great thing about this painting is that (for once!!) it just all came together exactly like I planned it.
I love it when a plan comes together.
This picture really straddles the line between funky and romantic, which means that it looks good just about anywhere that needs a punch of color.