Busyness. For a long time we seemed to pride ourselves on it, comparing schedules at dinner parties like trading war stories. Somewhere along the line we were brainwashed into thinking busyness = importance, worth, value.
But really the opposite is true. When we are whirring through life, we fail to notice the gleam of the sunlight through flower petals, the slow pace of the clouds, the need in the eyes of a stranger.
The paintings of Albuquerque artist Tracy Rocca arise “from a conscious effort to slow down“. In applying thin glazes of color, Rocca arrives at these luminous, pulsating paintings. Like blown out photographs after a camera shutter opened too long, they seem to take the world in but with a slower, more mindful glance. Our eyes search for their focus, gently, lazily.
Monochromatic. Neutral. Boring. Does it ever seem like life just flows from one ordinary and unremarkable day into the next? In a world dominated by screens and engines, we’ve created a universe that seems devoid of real life and color.
Barcelona artist Yago Hortal embraces the color many of us run from. In fact, his work seems to revel in all its brash boldness and audacity.
It seems like we try to curb the color in our lives, perhaps not literal but metaphorically. That friend, she’s way too “out there”, so we minimize the time we spend with her. We homogenize our relationships so that everyone we interact with looks like us, talks like us, thinks like us. So much sameness that it becomes jarring to encounter anyone who is different. But it is those differences that enrich us and teach us. Let’s embrace the color in our lives, no matter what hue it may be!
Philo said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” We all have our pain and struggles that we carry around with us. But some of us are better than others at hiding our battle scars.
These paintings by Brazilian artist Marta Penter called to my mind the thought of the lonely and hurting who walk among us. We can’t see the pain behind their smiles, the wounds beyond the laughter. Every one of us is one of them. Some days we might be carry our blues more prominently than others, but they are always there, just beneath the surface.
After spending too much time parked in front of the laptop this morning, I took a little break in our backyard. Just looking out the window, the landscape seems silent and still. But one step outside and the realization washes over me that every moment is teeming with sound and movement and life.
It’s happening just like that. We are so often caught up in our own microcosm that we forget there is a macro world happening all around us, in full sound, color, and light. As I type, the branches are softly swaying, acorn shells are dropping from a hungry squirrel’s mouth, clouds slowly pass, the neighbor’s chickens clucks are heard loudly through our little valley.
We’re so self-involved, it’s easy to let opportunities to see and relish the world around us pass by. Staring at our phones, working, going to the gym instead of going for a walk. These paintings by Australian artist Michael Muir drive home for me what a beautifully colorful world is awaiting. We just need to open our eyes to see it.
You have yours, I have mine. Sometimes they overlap, often times they don’t. Our worlds are made up of our circles– of friends, of family, of colleagues. Some people like to keep their circles separate, no mixing of worlds in their spheres.
With their concentric orbs, these paintings by Benjamin Cook remind us though they may be different in size, form, and shade, our circles reverberate through us and through each other.
Some of my circles are nearly polar opposites– from good ol’ Southern folks to delightfully hippy West Coasters. Each one has their influence on who I am and who I am continuing to become. I love my slight Southern drawl ( I love Mr. F’s even more! ) but my political leanings are very left-coaster. I’m at home in both those circles because I love those people for exactly who they are, even if I may not agree with all they believe. It’s important to spend time among each because although they may not mix often, I am their common denominator and experiencing all sides helps me to become who I truly am, not who I am told to be.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day and To-Do list. Weekends can be eaten up with errands and extra curricular work. One thing about our traveling is that in each new place, Mr. F and I make it a point to spend our free time exploring, which helps get us out of that work-work-work mentality.
These paintings by Ellen Levine Dodd, with their chaotic, colorful layers remind me of the way just a little bit of fun and adventure brightens up and enriches the day to day.
I love the mix of large swaths of color and quick, sketchy lines– those little pops of excitement make the ordinary so much more fun, don’t they?
That little piece of thread. You know the one. You want to pull it, you want to cut it, but you know that if you do, that seam will be broken and everything will unravel.
Many times over the last year I’ve had that feeling, that longing to pull the thread, to let things unravel. Sitting by my mom’s bedside, especially in those last two weeks, alone with her at night in the hospice room, listening so closely to every breath, I had to stop myself from pulling on that thread. She needed me. I couldn’t let myself unravel.
We all felt it– she was so weak, we all had to be her strength. Then when she was gone, we were able to allow ourselves to unravel, to feel and express those emotions we’d dammed up for so long. Our cloaks were undone but we didn’t leave them in a discarded pile on the floor. We picked up the threads and began to weave a new story. One that included her memory, her spirit, her strength. It won’t look the same as before, not even close, we’re rebuilding into a completely different kind of beautiful.
The sculptural work of El Paso artist Adrian Esparza uses threads from Mexican sarapes and reconstructs them into architectural-like wall sculptures. To see more of his work, please visit the website of his representing gallery, Taubert Contemporary.
Mr. F and I are purists when it comes to spending time in the outdoors. We like to keep things simple and spend as much time exploring outside of camp as possible. For us, it isn’t about hanging out around a campground, it is about abiding in the wild and quiet places. Yosemite National Park is an incredible example of a scenic sanctuary, but with nearly 4 million visitors a year, it can be anything but quiet.
Yosemite is comprised of nearly 1200 square miles of wilderness so it just takes a bit of effort to escape the crowds and find some peace. Our last full day in Yosemite, we awoke long before sunrise, packed up for the day and headed out from Glacier Point to hike ten miles to Nevada Falls. Beginning in the mist and fog, we had the trail to ourselves for much of the morning. It is in those moments of solitude that we can truly appreciate the beauty and splendor that surrounds us. These are our favorite memories of wild places.
In her Yosemite series, Seattle artist Susanna Bluhm creates paintings based on her own experiences of the park, first from the eyes of a child, then through the eyes of an adult and mother.
We see the marks of human hand in Bluhm’s landscapes, graffiti-like marks and geometrics reminding us that we are ever encroaching on these wild temples. There is a reason, though, that we continue to return. These pristine spaces call to us, call to the untamed spirit that dwells deep inside, the one buried beneath the worries and wires of modern life.
Last year in Eureka, summer practically passed us by. I think I wore shorts twice. Which is just the way Mr. F and I like it. But this year in Marin, we’ve seen our fair share of warm days. And while the warmth definitely wears on me, the knowledge that it is short lived helps me enjoy its stay just a little.
Now don’t get me wrong– I’ll complain about the heat! But I’ll take the blue skies and sparkles on the water in exchange for the extra warmth. It helps soothe my soul to know that this time is fleeting, that soon the blue skies will change back to gray, the color in the leaves will begin to shift, the air will again be crisp and cool. Summer, you may come and I’ll bask in your short-lived presence because it reminds me this season will depart soon enough.
The paintings featured are by artist Seth Smith. See more of Seth’s work on his website.
As we approach the blank surface, perhaps there is a preformed destination in mind. Or maybe we simply begin and follow where the paint takes us. For many artists, painting is as much about process as it is about finished product. Actually, it is likely more about process and hardly about product at all.
Last year, New York artist Eric LoPresti created a series of paintings repeating the same composition but shifting to various degrees stylistically.
Even the artist that begins with an idea of where they are going will often find the paint taking them in a different direction entirely. It is when we are open to those new directions that the magic really happens– the subconscious takes over and our heart wields the brush ahead of our mind. All it takes is the placement of a certain color or line and suddenly we are off into worlds as yet untraveled.