Thursday, June 17, 2010

Turning To Art For A Bit Of Sanity

Sanity is a pretty precious commodity in my world, how about yours? I often wonder how much more challenging or weird life can get,  and then I turn the T.V. on, and a graphic dose of reality slams me in the gut, which quickly makes me know how 'normal' my life truly is, compared to most. But, as any creative person knows, normal is no state of mind that lends itself to being artistically productive, so finding that fine line between normal and funkatatively weird is my goal each morning. Often though, I fall a bit short, feeling like a sane life is simply a cruel oxymoron wrapped up in clothes stitched with 'normal' threads, and I am left wondering where the balance is. 

Art plays a huge role in my world in helping me find that balance. It seems lately that images of despair, hopelessness, anger, and death are all around us. Really???? Turn the boob toob on and think "oil", enough said about that. So in the interim, in those brief little moments that my psyche needs to stay 'sane', I turn to art, a God given gift which I am grateful for.  

Art surrounds me, at least that's how I perceive the world, through art lenses you could say. On days I get really down, or am having to deal with a pain crisis, I choose to watch the sunlight flicker through the colored glass bottles along the window seal, or grab my color crayons and add a page to my prayer journal. My prayer journal is a new thing for me. Not the prayer or the journal part, but the art part. I find that drawing through my prayers helps calm my mind, keeps me focused, and gives me a much more open channel than simply talking to God. In fact, I find that he talks to me a lot more through my art than in my head, and I am really cool with that. 

I have also spent quite a lot of time lately praying for the animals in our Gulf. The oily pictures shown on the media networks are hard to look at. I find myself sometimes being ambivalent or apathetic to be perfectly honest, but when my heart kicks in and lets a tiny bit of that reality hit home, I cringe at the horror of it all. So, I have started spending the moments that Bill and I spend glued to the evening news as art time. Using my watercolors and ink, I paint images of the unique animal life in our Gulf in 3" miniatures.  I kind of like to think it's my way of feeling sane and embracing all things lovely that are in harms way at least. 

The Green Room is another venue that I chose to participate in to help the Gulf through art. It's an  art show focusing on the beautiful flora and fauna of our Gulf region and all the  artwork is up for auction.  Part of the proceeds go the Mobile Baykeeper and The Mobile Arts Council. I donated my part to Mobile Baykeeper as well. My piece, "The Mermaid Angel Prayer", shares a prayer for the animals affected, in a whimsical sort of way. The least I could do is use my art, my gift, to give back to those innocent beings we share this planet with. You can visit the Mobile Arts Council up until the 25th to place a bid, and I encourage any and all to bid with their hearts and love for all things earthly and beautiful.

Sanity, or the perception of it, comes and goes around here. But one thing I know like I am breathing is this: No matter what craziness, tragedy, or heart break I face, God has given me art to use as a way to cope with it all, and that makes my life beautiful. If you are struggling with understanding all this craziness that surrounds you, I would encourage you to try and work through it with art. You don't need to be an artist, you simply need to grab a pencil, some crayons, or some paint, and work through your feelings on paper. It's much healthier than some other vices, and you just might be surprised with how much more 'sane' you feel afterwords, if only for a brief respite.

Here is the mermaid painting, along with two of the 3" miniatures of the Gulf animals. (Yes, pink dolphins do exist, they are actually very rare albino dolphins.)
May beauty surround you today, and my you have the eyes and heart to see it!  ((((((((((hugs))))))))))))))


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Fight the Oil Spill with Art

What a month this has been! The news about the oil spill was jaw dropping and day by day it seems to get worse. Some days, I didn't know if I could bear to watch the news or not, and others kept my eyes glued to the tube. It's hard for me to believe that the lack of oversight and actions by a few could cause such a catastrophe but they did. I shouldn't be surprised should I? Minute by minute my emotions change from anger, to deep sadness, to WTH and I am sure most of my friends and family feel the same way. 

Yesterday, oil made it's way to Dauphin Island and Gulf Shores. Those are two places I hold near and dear. As a child, my grandfather and uncles worked tirelessly to build a cabin off of Fort Morgan and our entire family spent the summers there. If I close my eyes I can recall walking in the blistering hot sand as we unpacked the car. No one could play until that car was unloaded. The dunes stood almost higher than our houses and we had tons of fun rolling down them. In the evening, the big guys would take a net out and pull it in and we were able to pick through the bounty the Gulf provided. Those were the days, some of my most precious moments as a child. 

Dauphin Island is also precious to me. When I first started dating Bill almost 14 years ago our second date was at Bright Waters. He had a beach house on the West End that faced the Gulf and I can remember like it was yesterday when I pulled up and saw Brandon picking oyster shells in the driveway and little Katie running around like a water fairy. Most of our weekends were spent there when it wasn't rented and it was a magical place, for family, for taking in the beauty of the island, and I miss it terribly. Sadly, Hurricane Ivan took the house, and before we could rebuild, Hurricane Katrina took the lot, so our time at Dauphin Island ended, which left a deep hole in our hearts. 

As we watched the oil spill, the enormous plumes gushing out of the pipe, and took in the new, "oil forecast", we quickly realized that life along the coast was going to change for a long time. Friends from up north seemed concerned, but until you have visited the Gulf I fear one just can't comprehend the beauty of it, and the loss of it. As an artist, it is difficult to sit by feeling helpless, in fact, I can't stand that. So, many artist are coming together to do what we do best, PAINT!

Several auctions will be hosted between here and Pensacola in the coming weeks. The first one I am participating in will be at the Mobile Arts Council here in Mobile. "The Green Room" is an auction celebrating the mission of The Mobile Baykeepers. That organization works so hard in keeping our coast, bay, and watershed clean and the animals protected. Proceeds will be split between them, Mobile Arts Council and the artist, but I just may donate my share as well. 

Here is the painting I am donating for it, "Mermaid Angel Prayer." I love mermaids, and I thought turning one into an angel for the animals would be swell. There is a poem around the edge, it goes like this:

Mermaid Angel sent from Heaven, 
listen to her prayer, 
a prayer for all the creatures, 
in the ocean, land, and air. 

Protect them from the harm
that is around them everywhere,
from human greed and actions
causing harm with needless care.

Protect them one, 
Protect them all, 
these creatures great and small. 

It's a simple poem but one that I feel has a powerful message between the lines. My heart is breaking. I am holding close to my faith during these times, praying for a miracle, but it seems that the actions of man are too damaging to reverse and I can only imagine God's heart is breaking as well. I will encourage all of you to find some way for your gifts to help the cause of protecting our coast. It sure is better than sitting by and waiting for the sky to fall, or shall I say, the black wave to roll in!