Writings: "A poor thing, perhaps, but my own."~ William Shakespeare
It takes courage to live a life.
Without courage the flower would not allow itself to stand up and bloom.
We need courage to be attentive to life and to live by its truths.
To remain resolute in keeping the four corners of your life straight regardless of what others say about you.
Without courage the petals wouldn't open, and then it's great inner beauty would never be seen or manifest in the physical.
The high vibration of flowers with their radiant color and life, are there to remind us of our true essence,
and of our true potential as humans on earth.
Do you have the courage to live a life of unfoldment and
allow your petals to be seen for their glory, and to be glorious in your courage?
Of course you do, of course you can. By listening to the
personal flower within you. Your heart.
Painting From A Place Called Zero
One evening, last September, I found myself standing in a makeshift studio I had setup in my parents’ home in Montreal. Though I had lived in this house through most of my adolescence, returning in my late forties I found it felt both familiar and strangely foreign. Yes, everything was real enough and remembered, and yet these boyhood surroundings didn’t feel “true” to me.
This unnerving duality was very much on my mind as I began work on a series of landscapes that would serve as warm-ups for an upcoming exhibition. I noticed how the simple act of opening a tube of oil colors became a daunting task. Every color seemed embedded with a secret code that triggered memories and emotions––some happy, some sad––related to my past and future. And the onslaught of memories was beyond my control: certain smells, touches, ideas, concepts, time sequences and even entire conversations would return to me unbidden as I set to work painting.
In short, I realized that I was not alone nor in control in my studio: ghosts from the past and portents from the future were there with me, directing me and provoking me to react exactly as they wished. I could not escape the ways in which my mind had been hard wired. I was not free. I could not paint one more stroke at that moment.
I realized that the only way to get beyond the omnipotence of this ingrained programming, beyond the delusional loop of activity that only looked like true creation, I had to somehow discover my truth. To be free, to be true, I knew I had to find a way to rely on my present moments, a place where neither my past nor my future held any sway.
But how would I do that? How could I make myself be fresh, be new and push my boundaries as an artist? How could I challenge myself to go deeper into my painting? I started by asking myself a simple question: “What have I never tried in regards to the way I paint?” The answer that sprang from my unconscious mind was simple enough: “Paint using your left hand; give up oils and try acrylics!” The resounding fearful “NO!” which immediately sprung from my lips––my conscious self––confirmed that the answer provided by my unconscious was my truth. It was time to go somewhere I had never, ever been in my life, time to explore a place unconnected to my past experiences, a new place of the present moment.
I was aging and had never experienced this feeling, never demanded such a thing. What would it be like? Only action would tell me. My mind could not control or create from a territory what it didn’t already know. Therein was my freedom.
The following morning I bought a dozen large canvases, a rainbow of acrylic colors, brushes and tools. And then I proceeded to paint, furiously paint, with the vitality, abandon and innocence of a child, neither knowing or even wanting to know where I was going. There is no other care in this childlike place save that the soul be nourished in its need to play in a playground that is without judgment. The result was work that was spontaneous, fresh and free from any reflection of past or future.
By remaining in my present, I nurtured a part of me that had long been waiting to be shared: the artist––the self––as I had come to know him was unrecognizable and new, truer one revealed.
Upon my return home to Naples Florida, I entered my studio and immediately set to work creating larger and larger canvases to satisfy the exuberant urge that had arisen. I continued like a child, every day playing with color without a care about its scientific name: red was red, either that one or that other one. Gone were labels and definitions. Everything was quickly becoming one as I removed more and more associations and attachments.
Soon enough I realized that even the memory of the last, just-completed painting would want to attach itself as I began work on the next. How could I erase this resonance, this weight, this burden upon each new creation? My solution was to carefully make each stroke of my paintbrush a mantra of sorts––to paint without any attachment to a desired outcome.
Like taking a cleaning cloth to my emotions, I used every stroke of paint I laid down to wipe away my past. I wiped away my history as an art teacher, wiped away my lectures related to art, my color theory techniques, my critique––and on and on, even wiping away conversations, situations, emotions. Whatever arose from my memory, I would greet with a smile and gratefully release. In this way, with each painting, more memories were removed.
My sense of being became lighter. I started to see things differently––fresh, as if new, for what they truly we’re and without attachment to anyone or anything. More than simply paint differently, I began to live differently: I walked with my left foot forward instead of my right, drank from my left, took different routes when I walked or drove. The energetic resonance of my body began to change: weight was released and muscle tone restored. Silently I observed and witnessed this transformation. I was new, living from moment to moment and a truer person entered my body.
Intuition and instinct are now my navigators. I make choices only at the exact moment they need to be made. Long-term plans are not part of my life. I have found that living this way brings a wealth of peace.
I have released the weight of the past and stand still in my present, my truth. And this is the place from which I paint: I call it zero.
My recent flower series is inspired by the battle between memory and experience. Memories create the emotional triggers that inform the experience of the present moment. Looking deeply into my own life, I realized how powerful memories are in distorting the “now.”
Holding on to memories creates a weight of emotion and sentiment and with each flower I paint I am releasing a memory and inching closer into a powerful authentic moment. While creating this series, I found myself coming back to the same mantra: “I release the weight of the past to step into the lightness of the present.”
This series began as a way to let go of the ten years prior. I revisited and revised old work by repainting them again and again, slowly extracting my old story. Each painting represents a step towards freedom from the known and the cultivation of a new persona. I began painting with my left hand and transitioned from oil to acrylic, obliterating every connection with the past. With each brushstroke the past dissolved and revealed the present. My transformation was documented through the form of a flower and acknowledging the graceful dance of life.
The Action Of Painting
The act of painting is created with an awareness of the present moment. From that moment, a work birthed with a series of splotches and strokes. There are no errors as each movement is a part of an organic dance. Each series comes with its own specific space and timeline that is intuitive and fluid. The colors, paint strokes and forms all have meaning. These meanings create a visual language that is translated by the viewer, creating a dialogue with the artist.
I work within this resonance until I’ve exhausted it. Thus, the reason my execution changes from series to series. I honor what presents itself in each moment.
On The Relevance Of Painting
The purpose of art is to create an internal experience externally.
Painting – art – has evolved in parallel with the rise of social media.
As social media becomes more and more omnipresent in almost every demographic, the art world has largely changed to reflect this. There are two kinds of artist in this new age: those who paint from a place of introspective inspiration and those who paint for an audience. With ease, an artist can define his/her audience, make themselves available to them and control how they view and perceive our work. The paradox of this paradigm is the acceptance of diminished standards in exchange for increased visibility. The world of art has transitioned from “art” to the “art world” to the “art market.”
Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr provide instant gratification for those looking to view art, as well as those looking to exhibit art. Art has become an easily accessible commodity, but the cost of that is an absence of completion. In the haste to produce enough in order to be relevant on these social media platforms, quantity is valued over quality. The rapid pace of production makes it very difficult to assign a deeper meaning to one’s work. Important aspects of a work are thereby eliminated: space, texture, curation, etc. when viewing a painting becomes an online experience. Further, the use of Photoshop has homogenized much of what we consider art and created a one-dimensional expression of creativity, while simultaneously reducing the need to develop advanced skills. Sit in front of a large painting in a gallery and then look at the same painting on your iPhone.
This paradigm of art and technology is ephemeral, as each other paradigm has been. Just as it begins, so it ends. The relationship of art and society is that of strength and fragility: the strength of art, the fragility of social norms. The juxtaposition of strength and fragility is a theme that exists in everything.
About my Landscapes
My landscapes reflect the memories and experiences I’ve collected from the places I have lived, touched, smelled, heard and walked through. My landscapes are painted from a place of love and gratitude for my experiences of the world.
My landscapes are my playgrounds: my laughter, smiles and tears of reverence for beauty are present within them. They give my truth a voice and reflect my most intimate history.
Life and death live side by side in nature and articulate the ephemeral essence of existence.
The William Turner Overture
Landscape artist William Turner has inspired me in many ways and I have studied him extensively, especially as I created my most recent landscape series.
Turner’s greatest landscapes are the ones that he sketched and took into his studio to reproduce as larger statements. In fact, most of his watercolors were repurposed sketches from his travels across Britain. The watercolors interpreted what he felt when he was immersed in the landscapes vastness.
Turner would record every detail he observed through sight, smell, touch, taste and sound. As his paintings progressed, be started to imbue his oil works with the emotional energy of the landscape as experienced through his intuitive sense.
Being a painter necessitates connection with the subject, with the materials used to create the image and with the six senses of the human experience: sight, sound, smell, touch, hear and intuition. All of these elements are integrated on the canvas during execution.
The observer’s connection to the artists’ work is proportional to their ability and desire to be open and receiving of their own unconscious mind. The joining of the conscious and unconscious becomes the intersection where viewer and artist meet. The distance they travel together is dependent on this relationship…
Anecdotes on the “Single Flowers Series I”
A Love Song
After a lengthy devotion to painting groups of flowers, I migrated towards painting a solitary flower. The transition occurred when I shifted from a more universal perspective on the essence of life to the perspective that each individual is a microcosm of the universe. From there, a new series was born: images that went even deeper into the nature of the life that exists within us all. The single flower represents the complete circle of life: the fleeting experience of birth and life and the elegant and inevitable shift into stillness. My focus in this series is on the vibrancy of living: our splendor in the light.
The Eternal Mind
We carry within us our Truth. This Truth is communicated to us through our intuition, but recognition of one’s intuition is often complex and difficult. Trust and fearlessness allow the layers of complexity to peel away and brings us into the ecstatic experience of enlightenment.
This is a deeply personal, joyful piece that plays with the comfort and strength of Truth. From conception to completion, this painting sang to me of truths beyond intellect as it whispered in my ear the sweet laughter of serenity.
This dream-inspired painting depicts the depth and rebirth of consciousness. As new experiences provoke our experience of the universe, the choice of paralysis or evolution is set before us. This flower is the story of an evolution.
Tao Te Ching
The Tao exists to illuminate the wisdom of the ages. One needs only to refer to this guidebook be led to the essence of being.
Everything becomes illuminated as Truth emerges from suffering. This painting illustrates the rewards of letting go of that which no longer serves you: entrance into a consciousness of Purity.