Late for the Sky

late

journal page – 10/18/08
 


October is the month of small migrations, when the air moves with restless, nervous energy.  The wind picks up, sending down a tumbling shower of ochre, carnelian, and diarylide yellow that collects on the ground like a richly-woven Persian carpet.  The sky, now broader through the thinning canopy, changes face hourly; misty in the morning, baby blue with streaks of clouds by midday, searing acid blue in the afternoon, pink-tinged charcoal near evening. Even on still days, some leaves (they know it’s time) let go and drift earthward on gentle currents.

 

Grackles in great noisy flocks populate the land beneath the trees, conversing loudly with one another as they pick berries and seeds from among the leaves.  Suddenly spooked by a movement,  they rise in a flapping cacophony of screeches into the trees and wait warily as I pass along the path, silhouetted against the sky like black-cloaked beadles.  Geese move overhead in v-formations and sparrow flocks dance through the air in brown waves before landing in a line along a wire.  Clinging and falling, noise and silence, movement and waiting, formation and breaking rank…  

 

The ancient maple behind the house creaks in the breeze as if to say… you want to stay, but it’s time to go.

 

I see my own soul in Nature, every day, every season.


How long have I been sleeping

How long have I been drifting alone through the night

How long have I been running for that morning flight

Through the whispered promises and the changing light

Of the bed where we both lie

Late for the sky

 

Jackson Browne

 

The 8″ x 10″ journal page above – which is part of a special Autumn book I’ve been working on – was done with oil paint-sticks and acrylics. The background contains some collage elements and the nature printing technique I recently learned in a workshop with my friend Lenna Andrews.

Static

static01

It rained hard this morning, and I awoke with the thought that it would be a good indoor kind of day.  A day to work in my studio… a day to create something that would make me feel joyful from beginning to end.  But some days neither the process nor the product seem to please me, and today was like that.  I think I just have too much static in my head, and as I mixed paints and made shapes on the wood panel, the static kept getting louder and louder and the process became so frustrating, I just had to stop.

This kind of confused energy often surrounds me when I have been away from my art for a while. I return to my studio with so much pent up desire, and I approach the act of creating with so much anticipation and expectation that I lose that sense of ease and flow that’s essential to the experience.  I know that I need to step away when I become aware of such negative shifts… try to break that energy and get myself into a different space.  It’s hard work though;  almost a battle, because these little pockets of creative time are so rare and precious, and I find myself feeling disappointed, as if I’ve let myself down.

 

static02

 

But I am forever a work in progress, and days like today appear to teach me something, if I am willing to listen.  So I have been listening all day… trying to decipher the messages that come through the static…  let go of expectations…  approach  art with a beginner’s mind…  be with the process…  stay the moment…

And while I’m listening to the wise voices of the Universe, here is the poem that inspired the painting that still sits on my easel… waiting for me to finish her.

Questions In The Mind Of A Poet While She Washes Her Floors  

Will obedience leave me unknown to myself, stranded?

Is it enough for me to know where I’m from?

If I do more truth-telling will I be happier with what I say?

If I had three days to live would I still be sensible?

Is the break between my feelings and my memory 

the reason I’m unable to sustain rage?

Am I a peninsula slowly turning into an island?

If I grew up gazing at the ocean would I think

life came in waves?

If I were a nomad would I measure time

by the length of a footstep?

If I can see a cup drop to the floor and shatter

why can’t I see it gather itself back together?

If a surgeon cut out my mistakes

would the scar be under my heart?

How much time will I spend protecting myself

from what the people I love call love?

Would my desires feel different if I lived forever?

Will my desires destroy my politics?

Is taboo sex the ultimate aphrodisiac?

If I fall in love with the wrong person

How do I learn to un-in love myself?

Can I make my intuition into a divining rod?

Is music the closest I can get to God?

How many of these questions will remain

when I kneel to wash my floors again?

Elena Georgiou

O my soul…

soul

unfinished & untitled
– 12″ x 12″ x 1″ – acrylic on wood panel

A noiseless patien
t spider

A noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul

Walt Whitman (1819 – 1892)

Time to let go…

Detach from…
outcomes,
expectations,
fears,
misunderstandings,
preconceived notions,
stale practices,
negative energy,
the inner critic…

Time to fly.

Lurking Muse

lurking

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost (1874 – 1963)

Do you ever find your head so full of stuff… so full that you can’t see the forest for the trees? Or…  you see the forest and the trees, but there are so many wonderful paths through the woods from which to choose?  You may decide on one path, keeping the other for another day, all the while wondering if you will ever be able to return and try another direction. Yet whatever path you choose, it will make all the difference…

The past couple of months, I have been following a path that has taken me (temporarily) away from art and blogging.  I am like the person who sometimes can’t see the forest for the trees – I need to focus on one thing at a time or I feel like I’m wandering around in circles, getting nowhere.  So while I’ve been putting my energy towards building my coaching business, I just haven’t been able to commune with my muse.  My paints and art supplies, neatly stacked on shelves and stowed in bins, have been patiently awaiting my return.

This morning, as I was taking my walk with Heidi, I started to feel the familiar presence of inspiration around me.  In the trees.  In the bird-calls.  In the neon orange mushrooms sprouting from the sodden  earth.  In the cool breeze that comes before the sun’s fully up.  In the rustling of the chipmunks and squirrels in the undergrowth.  In my mind’s eye, I saw colors and textures, faces and gestures.  My mind moved  through the process of laying out a palette, choosing colors.  I saw layer upon layer of background.  I imagined trying a different approach to creating a figure, something looser and more expressionistic.  My muse, who has been lurking behind the trees, has begun to show herself.

I think it’s time to go back to the other path I left behind.

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