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The Dark Tree

Posted by on Oct 12, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

The Dark Tree

Life changes. One second, all is well; and then the next second brings Change, usually with a Capital C., and often in a dose too big to easily swallow.

Ruby had tried. She’d tried to force it all down, until one day she finally choked on change; and then, fueled by panic, was propelled into headlong flight. She rushed blindly about, here, there, and everywhere, searching for salvation and finding only half whispered promises that failed to deliver. She ran on and on until she stumbled out of the swirling fog of heartache and desperation to find herself teetering on the edge of a world gone gray.

She instinctively recognized this bleak landscape in which she stood, and knew that it had finally claimed her. It was an echoingly lonely place which would eventually force a person to their knees in order to better gaze upon the wavering reflection of their own ash covered shadows. She’d avoided it as long as she was able, knowing this locality could do nothing but lure her into consideration of the dark and lonesome spots that lurk in the corners of most human hearts. She didn’t expect to survive her stay here.

Ruby’s wide green eyes, usually clear and bright, were stunned and dull. All she had known had ended and she was unable to offer up acceptance in return. She was barely able to cope with all the empty space between each painfully shallow breath. Her once beautiful body, much weakened from its former glory, had struggled to carry her this far, and could go no further.

Staring blankly at that haunting space of eternity that beckoned from just a footstep away, her whole self ached for stillness. She wished for a pause, a space in time to try to absorb the enormity of it all. But she also knew that it was bigger than she was and would probably destroy her in the process. She just longed for it all to stop. There had to be a way to escape, to make it all go away, to no longer feel pain, to become numb. Her tenacity was no longer sufficient to maintain her forward momentum, for tenacity is fueled by Hope and Ruby’s hope had shriveled over the past months, much like the flesh on her frame. Her hope had been reduced to dry bone and gristle and was virtually unrecognizable.

Too frozen in fear to move forward alone, too heart-sore to continue looking back; blinded by her own tears until she was unable to see anything clearly; Ruby saw no escape from her private prison and was, at long last, utterly unable to continue.

At that moment, the very last remnant of hope was wrung from her heart, and burst from the corner of her left eye in one single, fat, burning teardrop. It was the only one she had left.

Her last tear fell in weighted, slow motion; the death throes of Ruby’s optimism. Bulging with broken confidence and unfulfilled dreams, it shattered on impact into rainbow droplets upon the thick carpet of grass at her feet. Her blurred thoughts could hardly comprehend the speed with which a small tree burst from the soil and shot upward in a dark confused rush of tangled branches. It rapidly became a tall, gnarled tree that loomed far above Ruby’s head. The Dark Tree stood, a pillar of strength and the very last stop at the absolute bitter edge of endings.

Deeply rooted, and well-versed in Time’s Ravages; the Dark Tree grows only from the shattered last hope and had answered her soul’s cry for help. It silently offered itself as the last resort and spoke gently to her of comfort and shelter. It whispered warm welcomes to a haven that would act as safe harbor in the midst of her too perfect storm.

The possibility of refuge was all Ruby’s weary mind could grasp. Cowering close to the tree’s solid protection, she marveled at the courage of her heart in continuing to beat, as her legs were no longer capable of supporting her. Overwhelmed with terror, laced through with indecision, she clutched a thick branch to help steady her quivering limbs. She leaned into the weathered trunk and tasted faint relief at no longer being completely adrift at the brink. She’d found an anchor to help her weather the rough seas. Ruby had no earthly idea how the tree had suddenly come to be, but was too empty to dredge up the necessary words to question its existence.

The solace she found in the Tree’s nurturing embrace lent her the necessary will to concentrate on slowly drawing a full, uninterrupted breath. This simple act of survival allowed fragments of clarity to resurface, and the internal tug toward the threatening abyss lessened. Tensely knotted muscles calmed, and the fossilized nest of fear in her middle began to soften and melt. Still clinging tightly to the only comfort she could reach, Ruby’s bleary eyes suddenly closed, and her severely rumpled and heart-sick spirit tumbled head-first into escape and the death-like sleep of the excruciatingly exhausted.

She dreamed of the Tree. She saw they had known each other long ago in a far-away place. Their friendship was easy and familiar with the practice of many years of life together; so she remained unafraid as she felt her spirit self begin to drift and then meld with that of the tree. Her mind’s eye showed her visions of her wine-red gown slowly fading to the dusty, deep brown shades of ancient tree bark. Her ivory skin tanned and weathered, whorled with knot holes and left behind impressions from birds and bugs. She watched as her long hair spiraled into vine-like tendrils; it twisted and twined into crooked branches, soon lost among the upper reaches of the tree. Ruby couldn’t even hold on to her astonishment, but sank down through the thick ooze of exhaustion deep into the very marrow of the tall tree.

Here was safety. Here her soft self, so vulnerable to injury under skin too thin, was protected inside thick hardwood and craggy bark. Here she was cradled in loving care and merciful oblivion. In this velvet darkness, far beyond the grasping fingers of daily life, and the ache of loving obligation, she was finally able to give up, give in, let go and rest. Everything slowed to an almost pause….the world, her breathing, her tears, her heart, her life.

Time passed, as time does, even when one is frozen in shock. The Dark Tree gave poor Ruby much-needed shelter, and stood sentinel over the private space she needed to begin to learn how to finally heal. Through its many deep tap roots, the kindly guardian shared with her elements of itself and the earth surrounding them. With this help, the tear-stained soul held in the tree’s center began to renew and transform. Sealed away from death, fear and harm, germination, regeneration, and metamorphosis gradually took place in the still and the hidden.

With the influence of the tree’s life blood, her shocked, crystallized mind began to melt into trickling blue streamlets of neglected, too painful thoughts. Unwilling to allow the thaw as there were no answers to these hurtful facts, Ruby turned away from coherence and chose instead hibernation while the old skin of her self peeled away and was shed. Like Sleeping Beauty, she slept on as the old, hot, inner agonies were precisely scooped away and replaced with a cooling snow-like mist. At long last, her semi-transparent spirit, no longer raw and abraded, began to grow a pearly light protective shell patterned with the delicate texture of aged bark. She would never be so vulnerable again.

Much later, Ruby swam up through murky layers of clouded consciousness to find herself feeling calm, reasonable, pain-free and rested. Her body tentatively holding a sense of something so long absent as to be almost foreign. She examined this feeling and found it to be a small serving of vitality and feeling of correctness that now occupied the place in her belly where vipers had recently nested.

Her green eyes lowered in silent wonder as she gave thanks for the much-needed reprieve. It was the miracle she had longed for through hard-filled years. The respite gave Ruby the strength needed to embrace the silent moments in which she must ponder a strange future and contemplate uncertainty. She was much surprised to find that her own often-maligned courage no longer failed her. In the past, she had been unable to see around the peaked mountains of weakness, fear and despair; but now….now she was seeing everything differently, as if through completely fresh eyes that offered a different vantage point.

Her restored vision allowed her to at last discern her own unique brand of bravery and impressive strength of will. She could finally measure how very far she had traveled, even with her misguided wanderings into vales of tears. Ruby had discovered that determination can live on in secret, in spite of avoidance, denial, and bone-crunching fatigue of spirit. She’d begun to glean the knowledge of the world’s deeper mysteries. She was unraveling the workings of true power, what it consists of, and where it really resides.

As she was able to unlock and understood this secret of self, her stubborn little heart, still tender – for it had almost broken – jumped, and then resumed the rhythm of the living, sending instant warmth flowing through her veins. The sudden heat refocused her dormant strength and sparked a light in the deep inner darkness. The shadows ebbed and dispersed as if they had never been. Her physical senses hesitantly returned and Ruby grew conscious of the absence of sunlight falling on her face. She was aware of vibrant birdsong filling ears that were no longer firmly closed to sounds of joy.

Life and the will to once again experience it eased back into her body and she became vaguely uncomfortable in her stagnant position. Her skin itched and felt much too tight, as if it no longer could completely cover her. The rasping tree bark that encased her ceased to be shelter and rapidly became irritating. The comfort she’d desperately needed began to feel confining, and she discovered that which had supported her no longer fit her corners or supplied her wants. This place had been outgrown and Ruby could feel that it would only grow more uncomfortable. She realized that her time here must soon come to a close, or she would be in danger of suffocation. Her cocoon, so necessary for survival, had now outlasted its true purpose. If she didn’t leave it behind and learn to let it go, it would eventually become her prison. Her own strength would have to be enough.

At the exact moment of her sudden epiphany, a shining sword appeared in Ruby’s hand and the inner realms of the tree parted beneath the sharp blade as if by magic. The urge to move outward and into the realm of forgotten freedom feverishly mounted in her chest. Each inhaled breath revealed more of her true self emerging from within the tree. The velvety red color of her dress slowly returned, along with the pale fairness to her no longer care-worn cheeks and smooth, soft arms. Life once again bloomed in her eyes and slowly spread across her face, ending in a small smile of recognition.

For Ruby had recognized the gift of her own healed strength, and her new eyes showed her how the blessed symmetry of each faltering step had allowed her to unknowingly move forward. She could now spring forth from her dark hiding place. She would finally face that which had driven her across the plains of her own trepidation, and all this long, lonely way down to the very precipice of everything.

She was no longer hunted; no longer shaken to the core. Her heart had mended and though she still wore scars, she now stood her ground firmly, no longer needing the Tree’s gentle support. She had grown wise in her experience, was again determined in mind and strong in body and spirit. She knew deep in her bones, with astounding clarity, that she was truly capable of all that needed doing. Ruby had grown into Certainty. Her time in the tree had taught her how to be resolute and she knew she would never again forget.

Ruby also understood that she now wore the magic of the Dark Tree. She’d absorbed it along with the Absolute Knowing that was left behind after the long dreams. She remembered nothing from her time hidden in chrysalis deep inside the tree’s trunk, but the incredibly vivid dreams. She knew that she would forever carry this magical layer of dream echoes and deepest realizations. They settled over her new skin as an armor, protecting her from misconceptions, wrong turnings, and self-delusion.

The Certain Knowledge pushed her onward, upward, and far away from the brutal edge she’d been drawn to. With a grateful nod to the powerful Tree for keeping her safe when she wasn’t able to help herself, Ruby turned her back on her private history and resolved that her past was not going to write the remainder of her story. She set her sights on a still unknown, but no longer uncertain horizon. The swirling fog was gone; her green eyes no longer clouded with tears and, Ruby could clearly see the way to her future lay before her.

The Tree’s Gifts, though freely given, were not without cost. The time she had lost to the outside world while she was sheltered inside the tree would never be regained. And she had missed much. Ruby’s newly acquired pearly shell of protection was heavy. Her new knowledge was at times, quite heavy. But she was strong now; her slender shoulders held straight under the weight of these recently acknowledged burdens. She was proud in the knowing that not all could easily bear them. She’d somehow learned to carry the immense dignity, strength and power of the tree softly, as if she was born to it. And she was. She had finally discovered that these particular fine qualities merely walked in tandem next to her own.

 © Theresa Stahl June 6, 2017

To take a closer look at “The Dark Tree” painting click here: http://www.owlsflight.com/?p=2122

 

Curios ~ On Being A Collector of Amazements

Posted by on Sep 26, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Curios ~ On Being A Collector of Amazements

I fancy myself a collector of amazements. I am forever unearthing interesting objects to take home, or, at least photographing my non-portable finds. As you might expect, after several decades of adulthood, I’ve acquired an abundance of things! I have collections. Many different collections because I have diverse interests. There was a childhood giraffe phase that lingered well into adulthood. Mermaids, owls, polar bears, colored glass, feathers, carved walking sticks, shells and masks are timelessly fascinating. And rocks. We have lots and lots of rocks and pretty stones as our entire family enjoys them. I have rocks that I found on vacation when I was 11 years old, and I have passed the rock-hound DNA down to our kids. My husband likes to joke that I’d rather look for cool stones than shop for clothes. He knows me very well.

And just to enhance and intensify that avid collector streak…..

For several years, our family owned a gift boutique called “Beyond”. Our theme was “Intriguing objects beyond the ordinary” and we catered heavily to those with large imaginations. We were the kind of store where people could bring their kids, sit on the floor and try the beautiful wooden games or play with sand art. Dragon kites adorned the walls along with murals and a gallery of fantasy paintings. We sold a bit of anything and everything, but only those items that would compel you to stop and say, “Cool!”.

As head buyer for this shop, (aka: Super Happy Shopper), I was in my glory buying oodles of beautiful things. My hunting skills were honed and I grew quite selective (we won’t call it picky). This is where the title “Collector of Amazements” originated. I was bringing in lovely items from around the world and spent my days arranging treasures of every shape and size. What richness!

I didn’t expect it; but, as so often happens when you get what you think you want, I simply tired of all the stuff. It was fun for several years, but I grew a bit jaded. It became more difficult to find things that I hadn’t seen before or that really excited me. I grew tired of dusting everything! I will always cherish my personal pretties, but have lost the urge to acquire more…at least for now. We eventually moved on from the shop, and the family is now into different ventures. I do continue to honor the tradition of my collector ways, though, but in a different environment than the trade shows, craft fairs and antique malls of a few years ago.

Our current home is temporary while we build our new nest, so these days many of my collections and keepsakes are resting quietly in storage. It is a space issue. I simply had to downsize to only my most favorite things when we moved. (Because my most precious keepsakes still live with me, small house or not, I need to have my things scattered about to feel at home).

We live in a very little log cabin in the middle of acres and acres of pine forest. I’ve always had a fascination with “the woods” and tend to explore and wander about. I have reclaimed my childhood ways of loving my time out in nature, (we won’t call it being a hermit or introvert!), making friends with squirrels and trees, chatting with whispering streams and finding baby birds in their nests by ear. (and yes, sometimes I sing to the dogs. They seem to like it.)

.As you might have guessed, I also tend to bring home special things that just happened to call my name. Almost daily, Mother Nature gifts me with something that catches my eye and makes me whisper to myself, “Cool”! I bring these finds home to join my other bits and pieces that hold places of honor. Most of it has been found over the years, or gifted by those who love me most. Baskets, window sills, and antique glass dishes hold my current favorite collections.

Small discarded feathers. each perfect and beautiful in its own style. Interestingly shaped bits of wood, reminiscent of wizard wands. Tiny, perfectly formed spirals of snail-shell absent their previous owners.

Dried blossoms and seed pods from my little sister’s wedding bouquet. Framed photos of wild life encounters that will never be replicated. Stems of lavender picked from the forgotten plant I found by the old well and eventually nursed back to health. The absolute biggest pine cone I have ever seen. Smooth as egg river rocks and stones with holes through them, which we all know are windows to the land of fairy.

The memories tied to each of these objects are what make them precious. All are amazing in their perfect simplicity, but the unique quality of that particular feather is not its iridescent color, but the memory of the afternoon hike a few years ago when my husband found it on our trail and gifted it to me. The beautiful rocks and stones hold echoes of my children’s laughter from a perfect camping trip years ago. All I have to do is hold them, feeling them warm in my hand while long ago giggles from little children now grown reverberate through my heart and mind. The feeling never fades….it is always there. Anytime I wish I can live those days again in memory. (and anyone who knows me at all will tell you I am very sentimental!)

We all experience so much. The happenings that we sit around today and reminisce about with our family are simply amazing to me. Each one wonderful, rough, strange, hilarious or quirky. As busy as we are, when we look back we’ve packed an extraordinary amount of living into our lives. Reunions, once in a lifetime trips, disastrous vacations, comical near misses, concerts and circuses, medical scares, unplanned litters of puppies, and lovesick teenagers over to spend the night that just never go home…we’ve had all sorts of family adventures. (And they do say that adventures are often just misfortune viewed in hindsight!)

Each treasure I save is a poignant reminder of how much life I am living. I cherish the object to honor the experience. These objects of mine, not only are beautiful, but are daily symbols of how lucky I am to be here. Living this life…with this family…..in this place. I am so often overwhelmed with gratitude when tidying my house…dusting and arranging each gossamer thread of memory. What richness!

Some of my collections seem to be unintentional compilations of significant events. Several of my most memorable adventures can not be tied to a single object that I can keep on my windowsill. These experiences are given life by my brush and immortalized in color. My ‘collection gene’ often shows up in my artwork as my way of preserving small slices of time. Mental freeze frames that are incredibly filled with meaning rendered and distilled down into a simple image. They’re fun to paint and I love to brainstorm with several ideas and see how they all fit together. It is always interesting to see which ones make the cut!

I’ve now done a few Collection paintings. (I call them “Curios”, as in the old-fashioned Cabinet of Curiosities.) The first still hangs in my home and is an homage to our North Dakota childhood under blue prairie skies. My husband and I selected several scenes that were meaningful to us, and I then combined them with scenes from our grown up love affair with the Idaho mountains It took me months and is made up of 18 different images. It is a record of our marriage and all we have done in our lifetime together. I’ll never sell it. My heart is in it.

The second Collection painting was a commission from a hometown classmate (and long-lost cousin) to commemorate his North Dakota roots. I really fell in love with the Curio concept during this project. Planning and putting it all together was like creating the perfect soup….a dash of nostalgic family windmill, a pinch of hard-working farm boy, a large dose of sunset mixed with endless fields ….all his requested images had to meld perfectly to give the flavor that I remembered as “North Dakota”. It was incredibly entertaining and I am very proud of how it turned out. (and he loved it!) I couldn’t wait to try it again on scenes of my own choosing.

Over the last few years, I’ve again been playing alchemist with sentiment and life’s incredible happenings. This current painting, which I’ve titled “Sensory Perception” is the latest curio collection of my personal amazements. Some may see the special and amazing linked only to large and important things. But I’ve learned to see the astonishing everywhere, and especially like to watch for the tiny and overlooked.

Small miracles are happening around us every day. We’re usually too caught up in the sticky webs of our own making to pay attention. But the miracles are there, whether you notice them or not. Every minute of every day, something miraculous happens somewhere. The moment we remember to stop and look up from life’s tiny details , we are awed by the overflowing sights, sounds, and experiences that are offered to us on a silver platter. This life is continually a feast for both the senses and the emotions. We humans do like to taste it all. And the world just keeps loading the buffet line.

Our perception of what constitutes a miracle is a source of our individuality. Some of the biggest things in my world may be quite invisible in yours. It is up to each one of us how we want to view things…miracle, serendipity or happenstance? We are all such different snowflakes. What we feel and how we feel it make us even more individual.

Yet, we all basically go through the same life, experiencing the difficult, the beautiful and the strange. These occurrences then birth a myriad of very unique emotions that we sift through, process or repress and bury…depending on the circumstances, time frame, and personal inclination. No matter how you deal with them, these feelings will forever be tied to particular images, and triggered by certain sights, smells or sounds.

This painting is a collage of some of mine. The feelings I experienced are now forever linked to this color representation of the last few years. All are firmly embedded in the paint. There is a lot…if you look closely. All those messy human emotions and life events that we wade through…. Intense Joy, Deepest Sorrow, The expectation of New Life, The Dread of being Stuck, New Growth, Loss of Time and Direction, Brilliant Creatures of the Depths, Fluttering Wings in the Air, Timeless Love, Enduring Skies, Bright Blossoms, Heart heavy Tears, (or maybe Life Giving Rain?)

The images chosen combine to form a mental snapshot that evokes voices and moments from my life. A visual journal that instantly brings back so much…..Another collection of Amazements.

And I’m still grateful to be living this life…with this family…in this place.

Theresa Stahl

June 7, 2017

to take a closer look at “Sensory Perception” (the latest curio painting): http://www.owlsflight.com/?p=2067

The Tale of Tansy (part 2)

Posted by on Mar 4, 2017 in Blog | 3 comments

The Tale of Tansy (part 2)

Flash forward about six years. The fairy craze died down. My creative nature had moved onward to other subjects, but I would still paint a fairy or two a year, just for fun. (Most often in the spring when the new flowers and sunshine would inspire me to venture Into the Woods.)

My all grown up, (still bull-headed – but very successful) daughter had flown home from her far away life for a visit. She enjoys a good scavenger hunt as much as her mother, and we have a very long history of taking an afternoon off to “shop for nothing”. We always share our special finds with each other if we are unable to shop together, delighting in each other’s “Scores”. She spent one whole lazy afternoon combing the local antique shops and thrift stores and, as always, came home with treasures to show me. She had one particular item she wanted to bring out, but was slightly worried it might upset me. Curious, I promised not to get upset; and watched while she unwrapped a small oval canvas, and then turned it over to reveal…. Tansy.

Should I have been upset to see one of my little paintings that I had expected to never see again? Life has an odd way of making sure things happen at the ultimate, perfect moment. What are the odds that my daughter, home for the first time in 18 months, would go into that exact shop, on the same day and time that Tansy was unpacked, priced, and set out on a shelf? Synchronicity at it’s finest! I was honestly… thrilled. It was like getting an unexpected visit from an old, dear friend. Tansy was just as bright and clear-eyed as when I had packed her up those years ago. Still smiling her charming little smile and flashing her colorful, glittering wings… she was good as new. She still looked as though she could be a bundle of mischief. She still looked at the world through a gaze that saw everything, childish innocence mixed with fierce intelligence beyond her years.

I imagined that the little girl she had belonged to had grown up and changed her bedroom decor right along with her teen-age tastes. Tansy had surely been outgrown, re-gifted and passed around. She had somehow ended up in the very store my daughter frequented that day in her ambling search “for nothing”. Nobody knew what her adventures had been or why she’d arrived in this place, but Tansy had come home.

I can understand why some people thought I could possibly be offended to find one of my creations put aside to end up in a second-hand store. But honestly, I really wasn’t. Our tastes in art and wall decor are so very personal and individual. Our inclinations change over time and we go through many phases and stages of what appeals to us at that moment. Art often gets replaced, handed on, sold, or given as gifts. Sometimes these gifts are appreciated and sometimes they are not! I have an artist friend who attended an auction and saw one of his older paintings come up on the block. (Of course, he bought it, took it home and probably sold it again.)

I firmly believe events like this happen for a reason. So, I thanked my daughter and took Tansy home where I enjoyed her company over the next year. Eventually I placed her back on the gallery wall to see if she wanted to find herself a new home. I felt that she might need a young girl’s spirit to live with. Evidently she did not agree. Over the following weeks, Tansy gathered fans and praise, and even had one little girl in particular who liked to come in weekly to pay her favorite fairy a special visit. But Tansy continued to live on the gallery wall for many months, stubbornly resisting all options of going elsewhere. I knew she was just waiting for that special somebody to come along, and would dust the iridescent glitter of her wings so that she remained shiny bright.

Later that year my mom introduced me to her new friend. A wonderfully interesting woman named Deborah who had recently moved to our small town. Deborah has quite a zest for life and she shares all that fun and energy with her adult daughter, Katie, whom she lives with and cares for.

Katie is one of those miracles-in-the-flesh that you read about, but don’t expect to meet on a random week day. I learned of Deborah’s devotion to her daughter and how they had come through some extremely rough times; a life-changing accident, and long, hard years of recovery. I looked forward to meeting Katie someday soon.

Knowing the bare bones of Katie’s story could easily make a person feel sad, but any trace of that feeling was wiped away when I finally met her. Gorgeous inside and out, she has a smile that lights up the room, and an infectious laugh that tickles like champagne bubbles. A bit shy, but very pleased to make a new friend, she and I spent some time talking and looking at her old photographs. Katie is not the same as she was before her accident and I know she has difficulties daily. She struggles and has hard days, just like the rest of us, but in that conversation I found her cheerfulness, quick-silver smile, and honest, open talk very special. In fact, I found her incredibly inspiring. The word ‘delightful’ comes to mind when I think of Katie.

Prompted by her images in her photo album, fairies came up in our conversation. When I asked if she liked them; Katie said no, she LOVED fairies! I clearly felt Tansy give me the mental nudge that meant “She is what I have been waiting for!”

I couldn’t ignore the urge. I had to go get her. I made my excuses to Deborah, got in the car, and drove downtown to the local gallery where Tansy was hanging. I wrapped her up, drove back to Katie’s house, and told her I had someone special for her to meet.

Watching Katie’s face as she unwrapped Tansy was something I will never forget. Clearly enchanted by the unexpected gift, Katie was enthralled with the image of Tansy on that small blue canvas. She touched the glittering wings, looked up at me, and gave me Such a Smile! They were obviously a match made in heaven. Sheer will and tenacity (and Deborah) had gotten Katie to the point she was at today. Against the odds, here she was!

Something like luck and tenacity had brought Tansy home and kept her hanging on that gallery wall until she could meet someone like Katie. Against the odds, here she was! I believe it was mutual love at first sight. Katie suggested that Tansy was not just a fairy, but also an angel…probably a guardian angel. I didn’t doubt it. Since I’d been told that Katie had angelic experiences while in the hospital, I figured she would be the one to know.

Tansy now lives on Katie’s bedroom wall and has become the Guardian Fairy of the house. She takes her role as Katie’s comforter very seriously. Deborah tells me Katie talks to Tansy on difficult days. They share secrets and I’m sure Tansy has many reassuring words for Katie. They balance each other.

The return of Tansy did not hurt my pride as an artist. Their adventure is a tale that delights my writer’s heart, and creates much enjoyable speculation in my artist’s mind. I know that I cannot control my creation’s fates when they leave my home, but wish each and every one of them love and luck…and then think of the adventures that may lie in wait for each painting as I ship it off into the world! (What interesting places or people might become part of their lives?) I’ve never been after fame and fortune with my art…though I’m certainly not opposed to it. I simply paint what makes me happy and then stand back and see if other people like it. My pride swells when I know an image I brought to life occupies a special place in someone’s world. My pride and my heart swell when I think of Tansy….being a Guardian Faerie is about as special as it gets.Katie and Tansy

The Tale of Tansy (part 1)

Posted by on Mar 4, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

The Tale of Tansy (part 1)

I have forever been an ardent fan of the Faerie Realm. My first crush was on Disney’s Tinkerbell, which quickly morphed into a full-blown love affair with the ethereal world, and its mythical creatures. Little girl ballerina-dreams would usually involve some form of wings, that disappointingly only stayed put with elastic bands, but the trampoline gave a satisfying reality to my fantasies. As a young teenager, fairies were awesome to design, draw and embellish. What could be more distracting than a new pack of scented magic markers and a bit of “art practice” on colorful butterfly wings, vaguely human anatomy, and gorgeous costumes? This diversion was always a winner over biology or algebra homework!

During my twenties and thirties I turned firmly towards fantasy art and was hugely inspired by the work of Brian Froud, Boris, David Delamare, and Josephine Wall. I’m basically self-taught, so studying all of the expertly painted, fantastical nuances of these and other artists helped my own artwork evolve into different areas. I drifted away from my early art style and painted a myriad of portraits and scenes, but they generally involved the feminine spirit or otherworldly subjects….like phantoms, centaurs, and mermaids.

And then new, young artists like Amy Brown and Nene Thomas came on the art scene and the fairy craze exploded. I paid attention. I like to sell art. I painted a few more fairies and they sold. A new “phase” of my art career began.

There was a definite theme going on. I had several commission requests for fairy paintings in various sizes and colors. And then one day I discovered glitter paint! The best, iridescent, shimmering fairy wings ever could now be achieved. People went nuts over the fairies. I even did a few fairy murals. My favorite was very much Amy Brown inspired, a fairy in striped stockings sitting on top of a closet doorway, forever blowing bubbles across the pastoral scene I’d already painted on the bedroom wall. I think that is how rock stars must feel, the way I felt that day painting that fairy with an adoring 10-year-old girl awe-struck at my elbow. She had chosen the fairy, her colors, the position, the clothing, everything , and my job was to execute it. Every brush stroke brought big blue eyes close in admiration. She watched me all day and together we made a magical bedroom!

Ebay was in its art sales heyday, and my unique fantasy paintings sold almost as fast as I finished them. I was having fun being in demand, and loved letting my creativity run wild with these lovely creatures.Their personalities seemed to come through onto my canvas, and each one inspired fanciful costumes and ever more elaborate gossamer wings. So this fairy phase was a satisfying, and lucrative period as an artist.

I was, however, very cautious about trying to avoid the cookie-cutter fairy thing. I didn’t want to be the same as every other “fairy artist” and worked at developing my own unique style. Most of my winged women were beautiful, saucy, sexy little vixens . Some may have a slightly dangerous air, but they were always very alluring. A few of them wore little more than feathers, if even that, so they were definitely Adult fairies. I was creating each of them for a purpose …to tell a story, to bring enjoyment to me as the artist, and pleasure to the viewer, and of course, as nobody wants to be a starving artist….to make money. I painted what was selling.

One day, just because, I painted one that was different. I had a small oval canvas that cried out for something out of the ordinary. This one was a small child, a little fairy Youngling just out of toddler-hood. (I imagine fairies would still toddle, even with the help of their wings! ) She has dimpled knees supporting her sturdy little body, and chubby cheeks under a pair of fascinating eyes. The expression on her pixie face makes it clear… You would not leave this one alone and unsupervised!

She is impishness personified, wrapped in a veneer of endearing innocence. Mischief and sheer stubbornness cling to her body like a fragrance. She is adorable, and no doubt inspired partly by my memories of my own childhood strength of will. This quality was inherited, and then honed to perfection by my Taurus-born, bull-headed little girl. (Bull-headedness seems to run in our family. You should see my mother and sisters!) I painted those strong tendencies into the character of this small fairy in honor of my daughter and all the family’s women, whose sheer stubbornness in refusing to ever give up, helped them go places.

Staying power and the will to fight for what is right and important; the ability to stand firm on your own piece of ground… these are qualities that are sometimes very necessary. Especially when you are a woman, a mother, or a wife in this day and age, trying to work and still keep up with everything else you feel you must do. (or if you are dealing with bull-headed men. There are a few of those in the family too!)

I admired the spirit of this fairy child. She was so very young, but knew things….you could just tell. Wisdom much older than her body looked out through her eyes. After thinking on it awhile, I titled the painting “Tansy”. She was named after the hardy, little yellow flower (or weed, in most people’s eyes), that is the symbol of tenacity. It seems to grow beautifully, even in the unlikeliest of places. When I chose that name for her, I did not realize I had just given a title to her saga and described her legacy.

After being photographed for posterity and introduced to the world on my Owl’s Flight website, Tansy went to the local art gallery to be admired by classes of school children and tourists from far away places. She eventually chose to go home with a doting grandmother and was destined to be a Christmas gift for a much adored granddaughter. I smiled at Tansy’s determined little face as I wrapped her in tissue paper and bubble wrap for her winter journey. I wished her well and sent her on her way. I still wasn’t sure why exactly I had painted this little wisp of a girl. Maybe just because she was fun, and different from the usual. I was proud that she had found a new home. Another of my creative progeny sent out into the wide world! (My paintings are like beloved puppies and kittens, and I like to be sure they are safe and warm.)

(For the rest of the story, check out part 2 of “The Tale of Tansy”)

 

Tansy

 

The Grieving Tree

Posted by on Apr 29, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

The Grieving Tree

I once longed for…

A  refuge for the heart sore.   A reclusive, private retreat from the ache of keeping your chin up when life is hard.

I imagined…

A mythical tree, one worthy of legend and half-remembered tales, all but forgotten now, except by just a few.

Those few can tell you of the Grieving Tree.  It is the place you must visit when you cannot move forward.  It is said to heal heart-break and all manners of human anguish.

The gnarled tree has stood sentinel for generations, deep in the outer reaches of the Forest of Sorrows. It lives, never growing green, yet never dying  or rotting away, next to a chill, bottomless, crystal pool of water salted by tears.

This special tree offers us a place to let loose of our long-bottled emotions. It is a place to uncork those loud, wild cries, and thwarted keenings-into-night-winds that most of us have been trained to do without.   We are taught to hide; to lick our wounds in privacy until our hot, silent tears no longer betray our true state. We fear what others think. We have far too much pride. We are often stubbornly mute captives of misplaced strength. We’ve lost our ability to howl our pain. We can rarely even find, or recognize, our true voice.

The rawest sorrow, the deepest despair, the most bitter regrets. These are the deep pains that we rarely bring to the surface in everyday words. Grief lives well in silence. 

There are still a few who believe the only way through sorrow is to vent and vocalize ~ to pay homage to the sadnesses, big and small,  that have shaped us.  Few of us know how to do that on our own. Those words are often difficult.

As in all old tales, the journey to the Grieving Tree is known to be long and hard; through murky, shadowed depths, and treacherous twists and turns. There are wells of lost hope, and pitfalls filled with anger and crushing disappointment. You will almost certainly find the tree by the pool, just when you have finally given up.

None alive today are quite certain how the tree came to be, or how the magic happens. But, be assured, happen it does.  The Grieving Tree can somehow transmute grief, confusion, and fear into acceptance, clarity, and certainty. Then the healing process begins.

It is told that you must kneel by the pool, and slowly trail your fingers through the water while whispering aloud of your private pain. The tree hears you and the air around you begins to waver and shimmer.

The magic lies within the whisper. The words of solitary grief, whispered in this special place, somehow become emotions rendered solid. The world seems to shiver as Crystalline Ornaments of great beauty appear on the tree branches, each representing your heart’s scars, your deepest and most tender emotions. You recognize them immediately, knowing the distinct flavor and shape of each one.

Before you can even begin to absorb the poignancy of your feelings made flesh; these crystallized emotions will fall, split, crack, fragment, and begin to bleed. The fragile, oozing hearts are the physical representation of what you must choose to leave behind; what you must let go in order to learn to forge ahead. Each brilliant drip of heart’s blood gives sound to the silence of grief. The minute droplets give heartbreak a voice.

The brilliant, jewel spatters of wrung-out emotion, each chiming a clear note in the enchanted surroundings, cause the Grieving Tree to stir. The weathered old bark begins to ripple and shape shift, reflecting your ripped-from-the-soul whispered words. It listens.  It absorbs your hurts and echoes your pain, as it gives  your invisible woundings shape,  substance, and sound. Your sorrows are now mirrored in the ancient skin of the twisted tree.  Your scars are immortalized here. You will never forget, but you can now honor the memory and the experience, leaving the agony behind.

Your crystalline heart fragments will continue to drip, slowly, until every last trace of pain has dispersed. Left behind will be only a pearlescent,  gossamer skin of unbelievable fragility.  The first puff of air, your exhalation of wonder at its ethereal beauty, will scatter it in a silvery swirl of gleaming dust-motes.

It is gone, along with the ache.

But you will never forget …

 

Ⓒ Theresa Stahl

view the painting of The Grieving Tree here: http://www.owlsflight.com/?p=1987

 

 

 

 

The Return to the Virtual

Posted by on Mar 31, 2016 in Blog | 1 comment

The Return to the Virtual

Hello! It’s been a awhile…

After a hiatus of a few years, I’ve returned to dust off this blog and share some more scattered thoughts, special memories, and random insights into life and art.

I’ve continued to write and paint often during my absence, but have been too side-tracked by the happenings in the “real” world to take the time to record details here in my virtual realm… meaning I have a back-log of images and words to catch you up on.

I’m looking forward to putting the results of my creativity out there to be seen and (hopefully) appreciated. I find that the ‘artist’ part of me savors the feedback and comments from all of you. It’s always a treat to hear how my work sparks memories or emotions.

And thanks to those who let me know they missed the Blog. (I appreciate your patience!) 🙂

More to come soon………

Happy Spring!!

Theresa

bench

 

 

The Little Blue Room

Posted by on Jun 21, 2013 in Blog | 3 comments

The Little Blue Room

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
― Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

Most mothers, in the midst of raising young children, can’t possibly fathom what the house will be like when the kids are older. What would life be like without having to cuss (softly, so you don’t wake the kids!) when you step bare-footed on a lego in the dark?

The clutter of children has a way of taking over your life. Even their chosen decor takes center stage. Your bathroom, instead of being elegantly appointed for guests, now rocks a shower curtain with super heroes, or sea creatures with polka-dots. Kids know what they like, and we love our kids, so their tastes and opinions tend to take center stage for several years.

When our daughter, Olivia, was 4, I painted her tiny little bedroom to suit her little-girl fancies. She requested pink walls and a soft blue ceiling with puffy white clouds interspersed with glow in the dark stars. The main focus was the mural on one entire wall which I managed to complete and unveil at her 4th birthday party. (Hey, it’s cool when Mom is an artist…You can just pick out any picture in your Disney books and she’ll recreate it on your wall!!) Her bedroom wall danced with dolphins, unicorns, Dalmatian puppies, fairies, Ariel and Flounder, and Mother Willow (from her favorite movie at the time, “Pocahontas”). All of her little friends were jealous and she was perfectly satisfied.

Flash forward 6 or 7 years. Olivia was now a camouflage-wearing pre-teen who could hold her own with all the neighborhood boys. She was a horse nut and could not abide pink walls for one more second! She chose two shades of “hurt your eyes” brilliant blue and repainted her bedroom walls and trim herself. (Dad & Mom were allowed to help with the hard bits, like taping the windows!)

Except for the mural…we were all a little sentimental about it and it escaped the redecoration frenzy; though she hinted repeatedly that it would be awesome if I could redo the parts that were no longer cool (like Ariel and the Dalmatians). Olivia sewed her own curtains (covered with horses), recovered her chair with the same horsey fabric and even repainted her desk in matching, vibrant blue. She adored every bit of it and was very content.

(For those of you thinking we were crazy…We were a home-school family and encouraged all sorts of crafty, self-expression. Sewing and painting were great skills to learn, and after all, it was her domain and if she wanted to live in a room that looked like the cast of the Smurfs had exploded …so be it!)

Flash forward again a few years. Our son was headed off to college halfway across the country and was vacating his MUCH bigger room. It adjoined the old play-room and suddenly all this lovely space was available to our newly teen-age girl. Her furniture and prize possessions were transported in the blink of an eye; almost before her big brother was out the door. The little blue room was abandoned without a backward glance.

I had my nostalgic Mommy moments looking around her vacated bedroom. The reality of one child leaving the nest and the other growing up so quickly hit me between the eyes. Everyone assumed I would repaint and make a cute little guest room; but buried somewhere under those years of stepping on Legos and relegating my easel to the corner of the dining room, was an artist on a quest for a space of her own. I claimed that tiny blue room as MINE!

I didn’t bother to repaint…somehow the blue fit my spirit and mood of the moment. And honestly, I didn’t want to waste any time painting walls when I could be really painting!

I took down the horse curtains and enjoyed a sunlit view of our yard. It didn’t seem to matter that the windows had stained glass peace-sign decals on them! I moved my easel, drafting table and art paraphernalia upstairs. I tacked up my current sketches and inspirations, plugged in my boombox and I was in business. Color me happy!

The light wasn’t fantastic; the space was small and it was REALLY blue…but it was mine, and best of all, it had a door. I could escape the busy-ness of daily life and a home business during those little odd, in-between moments and get completely lost. I wasn’t in the midst of family traffic. I was able to shut the door and actually find privacy. I didn’t have to put everything away so that we could use the dining room table in order to eat supper. I could leave incomplete projects out and work on them whenever the mood hit or time allowed. It was heavenly! (and Blue!)

I reveled in that little Art Room for over 3 years. I produced a number of paintings there that I’m very proud of, and spent countless happy hours lost in color. There was just enough room for our dogs to lie at my feet, and for a bean-bag in the corner for Olivia to come in and visit. I loved it there. Just writing about it makes me smile…

Family circumstances changed. Health concerns cut into my art time. The blue room stayed hidden behind a closed-door and projects gathered dust. Eventually all my supplies were packed up and unfinished paintings were consigned to the closet. The tiny room became a guest room for a short time, and then I moved away.

The house stayed in the family, so I can visit the blue room every now and then. Believe it or not, it is still blue and still adorned with that mural from long-ago. Nobody has the heart to paint over it just yet, though it will probably happen soon.

It is still used as a sewing room and occasional guest room, so I can go up and sit on the bed and remember all the life that happened inside those brilliantly colored walls. Our daughter dreamed her childhood there. I can close my eyes and feel the countless stories read, songs sung, and games played. I can hear her little girl laughter and feel her good-night hugs.I myself dreamed many things there. The dreams of a mother, wife, hopeful artist…the very walls are saturated with hope, contentment and vivid plans. It is a room to get lost in.

I haven’t had the luxury of an entire room dedicated to dreams and creativity since I moved; but I have discovered the joys of setting up a seasonal art studio on the front porch of our little cabin in the woods. You couldn’t ask for a more serene view, and I am kept company by jays, squirrels, deer and our two dogs. Even when it is raining, the front porch is a fabulous place to be lulled by the creative muse of nature.

Someday I’ll have another art studio. I’m often planning and building in my head and my next studio will have more space, better lighting, and probably won’t be blue! Hopefully it will quickly be filled with all the inspiration and contentment of our cherished little room with the brilliant colored walls.

I’ve come to realize that “the little blue room” is not just a place. It is really code in the secret language of my heart for a state of mind. And I’m finding that state of mind in so many unexpected places…even just sitting on the front porch with my dogs.

 

artistshot

Nothing is Constant but Change

Posted by on Jun 10, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Nothing is Constant but Change

“The Secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm.”
~Aldous Huxley

I’m a woman in my 40’s going through major life changes. (I know, very cliché. This is the age where life changes are supposed to happen. I guess that is why clichés become cliché! For some odd reason, I always thought I would be different from every other woman this age.)

Back to my major life changes…

Our beautiful and talented children are all grown up. They have flung themselves out of the nest and are proving to be quite capable of nicely managing their own lives. When you are in the midst of wiping noses and sticky fingers, helping with shoes and jackets, and insisting on holding hands while crossing the street-you can never really imagine that your little ones will someday become adults who can keep themselves fed and alive!! But, one day you blink and all your kids are over 20. (How in the world did that happen?)

Our family, like everyone else we know, is becoming adept at dealing with “interesting” financial occurrences. We’ve spent the past few years trudging through upheaval in house & home. (Moving under stress is not for the faint of heart!) We’ve had to give up a treasured four-legged fur-kid, and have recently gained a wonderful new one. We’ve blundered our way through the frightening quicksand of major illness and are slowly winding our way up the road of recovery. Our world, both global and personal, has changed almost out of recognition. It all feels very surreal in the moments I actually pause to consider…How did I get here?

I really am not sure what the heck happened. I know this isn’t how I’d planned my life, and I freely admit, I am a planner and have been accused of being a bit of a control freak. One day it finally dawned on me that maybe I didn’t have to try to manage everything…in fact, COULDNT steer and manipulate all of life’s crazy twists and turns to my own satisfaction. I sat back and realized that, though totally unforeseen, some of these bizarre changes were…dare I even say it? Will I tempt the gods or fate by speaking it out loud?…some of these changes were GOOD!

Looking at it all differently, after removing the stress of what I thought I wanted (and not getting it), the most important ingredients were still present in my life. My husband and I were still very much together. We had been hand-in-hand through the underworld together and still liked each other! The kids were (and are) amazing, healthy, and annoyingly happy without too much parental intervention. Ok…those key items were accounted for and somehow I started breathing easier just realizing those two simple facts.

I revamped my perspective a bit further and instead of viewing my ongoing changes as a crazy roller coaster ride on which I was white-knuckling my way through the upside down turns; I made the conscious choice to view my life events as a metamorphosis…a time of transformation. I chose to reclaim my excitement and do away with my panic. It has been, and promises to continue to be, one hell of a ride…but flash back 20 years or so…I used to LOVE roller-coasters! I wondered why life had changed that girl who loved the thrill.

This change in perspective makes me think ~ maybe “handling things like an adult”, (planning, plotting, trying to avoid all potential dangers, always capable, always serious with our minds on the end result) ~ maybe this isn’t always the best or only way to navigate life’s hairpin curves. Of course, at times that mind-set is needed, but perhaps a good, healthy dose of so-called childlike wonder would be a welcome change. Instead of, “Oh no….NOW what are we going to do?”, we could experience, “Wow! This is totally unexpected, and really kind of cool and exciting!”

We as adults, lost in all our responsibilities and details of our grand life plans, often lose our sense of adventure and slide down to rest comfortably under the delusion that we are the ones in charge. (Reality check time!)

Someone up there obviously has a plan for me…much different than the one I was blindly putting together for myself. Who am I to say that my way was going to be so much better? I can be upset, scared, sad, freaked out, and downright P.O-ed at seeing all my carefully thought out plans disintegrate into flaming mounds of chaos. (and believe me, I have been all of the above!)
But there are times now when I honestly savor the keen edge of excitement in the simple not knowing. It truly is a childlike wonder I remember from decades ago. My parents did the worrying…not me. I was free to muse over the thrill of “What next?” Because in a kid’s world…anything is possible. Anything can happen, and most usually does!

The years 2011 and 2012 were hands down zingers, and I am proud that I survived them. I may not have gotten through them as gracefully or calmly as I would have liked, but hey, I’m still here and that’s really all that needs to be said. (I wear the label “Chronic Bad-Ass” proudly!)
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Chronic Badass n. /kraw-nik bad-ass/
1. An individual with a health challenge, whom challenges it right back. One who is not defeated by the physical difficulty that getting out of bed each morning presents.

2. A person who faces an abnormal amount of physical challenge, obstacles and hindrances, but is not hindered in spirit or strength.

3. Someone who remains kick-ass while their health kicks their ass.
4. A chronically courageous, painfully resilient, infectious optimist.

* definition and more info can be found on nfectiousoptimism.blogspot.com/2011/05/definition-of-chronic-badass_13.html
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2013 has been an interesting year so far, not scary and horrible…interesting. I’m interested in what is going to happen next. I’m intrigued by the many bends and curves in my personal path that I can’t see beyond. I really have no idea what is coming next!

Every once in a while I do slip back into old habits and the need to control kicks in…but I am determined to make childlike wonder and curiosity a part of this new life. I give myself a mental shake and rethink my perspective.

I find that all sorts of new things are shining through in my art as well. A new twist is being revealed in my paintings. (As long as I don’t freak out and fight it, and don’t try to confine my talents to the “old Theresa’s” way of doing things.) I try to remember to let the new me flow through my brush …then it somehow all seems to work out in a colorful and complex new way.

Looking forward to sharing some fantastical new pieces with you soon!

photo and quote courtesy of: Sun Gazing
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=200928140062023&set=a.136345136520324.30543.136336876521150&type=1&theater

Everyday Dust

Posted by on Jan 31, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Everyday Dust

“Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
~ Pablo Picasso

The end of January.
In our family this is the time that the holiday celebrations are now truly over. Hard on the heels of the New Year, we celebrate both my husband’s and my son’s birthdays, so January is a month of continued family feasts, gifts, board games and laughter filled evenings. I savor these times and record constant mental snapshots of these moments of togetherness.

Much as I love these events, the end of January is a time for me to catch my breath and look anew at the projects I’ve put aside in order to keep up with the many details of the holiday season. It is also the time when the winter doldrums or “cabin fever” tend to set in. Ask my kids and husband; early February is always the time of year when I’m feeling the lack of sunshine and need to move around the furniture, reorganize my closets and “unclutter” my living space. They all hate it and tend to scatter like chickens when faced with the prospect of moving the couch to the other side of the room just to “see how it feels”.

Since we are actually living in a cabin out in the woods this winter, with no room to move around furniture, “cabin fever” could be dangerous! I am not one who can sit around doing nothing, and there are only so many movies I can watch, books I can read, or scarves and wraps I can crochet. Diversion is necessary for my peace of mind, and many years experience have proven that not just any diversion will suffice! The most loved diversion involves tubes of vivid color and large expanses of blank canvas.

As I am taking down the last of the birthday streamers, I find that my eyes keep drifting to my easel, which has been folded up in the corner since we needed to make room for the Christmas tree. I believe it’s time to dust it off and cart out the unfinished paintings that were bundled off to the loft before the holidays. I know I could probably be doing all sorts of other “more necessary” things…but my creative streak has been restrained to a low simmer for weeks now and it is time to let it boil over.

I have so many images that I’m feeling the urge to spatter on canvas, that I can’t decide which to do first. My husband knows the signs and has heeded the warning…soon the cabin will be cluttered with my art paraphernalia, and he will be eating his meals on the couch as there will be no room on the table for plates. (I am a lucky woman…he never complains, but is just happy that I am happy!)

My painting is as necessary to me as love, laughter and air. I can no more stifle my creative spirit than I can change the color of my eyes. It truly makes all the difference.

Pieces of Me

Posted by on Jan 28, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Pieces of Me

“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.”
Henri Matisse

I once had a fellow artist, after studying my newest additions to my wall in the local gallery, remark, “It must be all rainbow colors and shimmer in your head. What is it like to live like that?”

Of course, I laughed and disagreed. My life is no different from anyone else’s. We all struggle with good times and bad, finances, relationships, worries, and the silly or worrisome issues that come up when you are a parent and own pets. The crazy, time-consuming details that make up the stories you tell to friends later on. The fabric of your life.

It isn’t always rainbows and shimmers in my mind, but I am aware that I see the world from a different perspective than the average person. (As my son likes to remind me, I am not average and ordinary ~ I am an ARTIST!! Sometimes he makes this statement sound like I should be in a padded room somewhere, but it is said with love.)

The way I see the world goes beyond loving color, fantasy, dragons, fairy tales, and entities I concoct out of thin air. My husband long ago quit asking me if I remembered the directions to a certain location; how to get from point A to point B. He has realized that I would be hopelessly lost without his navigation skills. I am too busy noticing all the different shades of green in the willow tree we are passing, and wondering how it would be painted as a young girl dancing. (Maybe this is why he does all the driving?)

It’s just a different way of viewing the things that we have looked at so often that we no longer see them. I somehow seem to see things in a way that I feel rather than just acknowledge. My eyes don’t glaze over familiar places, but see things in a “Theresa Way”. The creative muse that lives in the back corners of my mind never shuts up. She is always asking, “What if…”.

I need to connect with an emotion, or a story behind an image before I consider painting it. Even if I just imagine the story, which is most often the case. A back story is necessary before the potential subject becomes a model. All of my subjects have names, personalities and emotions living behind their eyes. (At least to me!). I get lost in the warp and woof of their inner weavings, and spend countless minutes living in their shoes while I bring them to life. The outside world fades and disappears. I form lasting friendships with these creatures that are taking their first breaths inside my brush strokes.

When I finish a piece and stand back; I am often unsure exactly how this painting came to be. Those beings on my canvas are always different from first visualized. They always have more character than what I first sketched. My paintbrush is guided by their preference, of how they want to be portrayed to the world. If I am insistent about my own choices, the work becomes a struggle and the painting usually turns out badly. I have learned to let the creative spirit, the spirit of the creature or person I am painting, dictate the palette, the look, the truth and texture of the piece.

My sisters and I call our life journey “The Beautiful Madness” ~ an apt description, and probably the title for some future painting! I hope that at some point I’ll achieve more understanding, and get the answers to all my “why’s”. I look forward to being an old woman, still painting, looking back on hundreds of completed pieces, able to see the thread of growth and change running like a timeline through my lifetime body of work.

My paintings are fragments of my nature. My portfolio makes up the mosaic of my spirit. These images are a melody of emotions and happenings rendered in acrylic on canvas. I can look at each piece and be catapulted back to the exact time, place and circumstance of its origin, often remembering the music I was listening to and what I was wearing. Each painting is a journal entry of this crazy, safari-like adventure I have been living. Some are heavy, the meat of my struggles. Some are the meringue, light and fluffy and fun. Each and every one is a piece of me.