How many Angels can dance on the head of a pin?

Oh Angel! That I never thought I’d paint. I’m not really an angels sort of person– or painter. Talk about stretching my abilities and sensibilities to their full strain.

I saw a piece by Jylian Gustily –and another piece on Instagram that I loved –and had to attempt my own combination. So much fun. Its hard for me to play down bony hands and translucent skin, but I managed.

Here it is in stages. Does anyone love seeing the phases of someone’s painting as much as I do? As I’ve said before, I’m addicted to looking at anything that has a before and after photo.

I’ve included excerpts from a favorite poet–billy collins–to humorously ponder.

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Questions About Angels
BY BILLY COLLINS

“Of all the questions you might want to ask
about angels, the only one you ever hear
is how many can dance on the head of a pin.

What about their sleeping habits, the fabric of their robes,
their diet of unfiltered divine light?
What goes on inside their luminous heads? Is there a wall
these tall presences can look over and see hell?

The question is designed to make us think in millions,
billions, to make us run out of numbers and collapse
into infinity, but perhaps the answer is simply one:
one female angel dancing alone in her stocking feet,
a small jazz combo working in the background.

She sways like a branch in the wind, her beautiful
eyes closed, and the tall thin bassist leans over
to glance at his watch because she has been dancing
forever, and now it is very late, even for musicians.”

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“Idea Sex”- Mastering the Intersection

I’ve said before how I love James Altucher‘s thought process–even if it is off-grid, cryptic, or unsavory to listen to (his personal stories and insights are painfully hard-earned). He is an Idea Machine. Here’s one that is so super fun I had to write it out:

Making your ideas have sex. “Idea Sex.” Here’s Altucher:

“Stan Weston had an idea that would change the lives of little boys forever. He knew that girls liked to play with dolls. But boys had no dolls to play with. Boys liked guns and action. Dolls + Action == ??He made a doll based on a soldier, gave it a plastic gun, and called it an “action figure”. He named it GI Joe. Stan Weston didn’t come up with the newest newest new thing. All he did was combine the simplest concepts and made something that millions of kids loved. ‘The best way to make a living with your imagination is to develop innovative applications, not imagine completely new concepts.’”

That’s it. Make two lists of what people love. Combine them. Have fun. The best ideas always come from mating. Think of Hollywood. When they pitch an idea its never just “I have this idea”. Its always “It’s “Tarzan” meets “My Dinner With Andre” ”When you says “its like X +Y” then people all lean back and their own elegant imaginations begin to dance with your ideas.

Mating two unlikely bedfellows, for fresh possibilities. Like

Peeping Tom + social platform = Facebook.

Peeping Tom meets Photo Camera App = Snapchat.

 

Here’s some things I’m wanting to innovate new forms or processes for:

acrylic painting

poetry

beatniks

therapy

attachment

writing

portraits

organic building structures

meditation

zumba

teenagers

ageing

playing fiddle

playing mandolin

playing piano

mindfulness

photo books

vacations

homestay students

senior photos

systems for creating

systems for planning

socializing

remodeling

diet

photos

reducing Iphone addiction

gut health

artistic lifestyle

goal setting

getting in the woods

Feel free to apply x+y to these for me, and leave innovations in the comments. I’d love that!

Example: I need someone to shop for a car for me. I have to let this old Beetle go. But you’d have to really know me and care that I got something that makes me happy. In return, I would paint them a picture. Or something else personal. Where is the online business for that? Online friending crossed with meaningful services. 

Here we have a bit of idea sex: how to paint something others like + how to use your photos. This is how I see Ivy Newport’s online class “figurescapes.” She takes printed pictures, makes copies, uses gel medium to adhere, embellishes with drawing, and then paints the pictures. A little unlike “paint by numbers” which was another version of idea sex from the 60’s: maps + paint + numbers= possible okay painting.

Here’s a couple of my paintings. I love seeing process, and so always try to show my own.

 

 

 

 

 

Love as nonviolent activism

“Nonviolent resistance … avoids not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. The nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent but he also refuses to hate him. At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love. The nonviolent resister would contend that in the struggle for human dignity, the oppressed people of the world must not succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter or indulging in hate campaigns. To retaliate in kind would do nothing but intensify the existence of hate in the universe. Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can only be done by projecting the ethic of love to the center of our lives.” MLK

All together now…

Love this piece from Jenny Doh’s website Crescendoh!

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Jenny Doh

Counseling people for the last couple of tumultuous weeks, taking in the turmoil people are feeling, post-election. In particular, jews, people of color, and my gay/lesbian clients. What do we do with all of the anxiety that has been stirred up? Get close to people, listen for ideas, read, write, help…..paint. Your unique voice, your unique angle, your view, from whatever vantage point–each voice carries the unique creative potential to to help this all move forward. Its going to take all of us coming together with those voices , creating real solutions, in solidarity. Let your voice be heard.

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Pensive. 16 x 20 acrylics & charcoal

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.”  -Martha Graham

From my office window~get up stand up
From my office window~get up stand up

Seth Godin~ be an artist

Artists express. Art can illuminate. I feel like there is a lot to express and understand right now. Lend your voice. Be an artist. Or, if you apsolutely cannot attempt that, then appreciate artists.

Here’s a favorite quote from Seth Godin. I love how he stretches the definition of artistry…

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“Art isn’t only a painting. Art is anything that’s creative, passionate, and personal. And great art resonates with the viewer, not only with the creator.

What makes someone an artist? I don’t think is has anything to do with a paintbrush. There are painters who follow the numbers, or paint billboards, or work in a small village in China, painting reproductions. These folks, while swell people, aren’t artists.

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On the other hand, Charlie Chaplin was an artist, beyond a doubt. So is Jonathan Ive, who designed the iPod. You can be an artists who works with oil paints or marble, sure. But there are artists who work with numbers, business models, and customer conversations. Art is about intent and communication, not substances.

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An artists is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo. And an artists takes it personally.

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That’s why Bob Dylan is an artist, but an anonymous corporate hack who dreams up Pop 40 hits on the other side of the glass is merely a marketer. That’s why Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos, is an artists, while a boiler room of telemarketers is simply a scam.
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Tom Peters, corporate gadfly and writer, is an artists, even though his readers are businesspeople. He’s an artists because he takes a stand, he takes the work personally, and he doesn’t care if someone disagrees. His art is part of him, and he feels compelled to share it with you because it’s important, not because he expects you to pay him for it.

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Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient. The medium doesn’t matter. The intent does.

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Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that creates change in another.”~SG

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Being Kinder

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-by Copper Wimmin

I’ve decided to be happy. I’ve decided to be glad

I’ve decided to be grateful for all I ever had

I’ve decided to let go of all this pain tonight

I’ve decided t let go of all these demons inside

 

I know…I am blessed

I know…all I ever wanted was this

I know…I don’t need more

I’ve got…what I came for

 

I’ve decided to be open for that little voice inside

Telling me I’m beautiful, it’s okay to be alive

I’ve decided to be kinder to myself when I am sad

I’ve decided to be grateful for all I ever had

Here is the Youtube musical version of this ABSOLUTELY gorgeous song. I’ll tell you how I learned about this song. I am a therapist and was counseling someone who had just recently been bedside, with 8 other women, while a longtime girlfriend layer on the bed dying from cancer. This is the song they sang to their dear, nearly departed friend. I ache thinking of it.

Italy Itinerary

Florence.

“This was Florence, the flattering and suspect beauty this city, half fairy tale half tourist trap, in whose insalubrious air the arts once rankly and voluptuously blossomed, where composers have been inspired to lulling tones of somniferous eroticism.” ~Thomas Mann

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My son is a rock climber. His hands are indiscernible from The David’s. Well, I think so anyway.

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Soaking it up
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From Florence, we travelled to San Gimnano for the day, but ended our travel at Frallarenza, our agritourismo farm. We stayed here in Orvieto for a perfect week.

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“In Italy, they add work and life onto food and wine.”~ R. Leach.  From our tourismo garden, served on pottery made by our host, Selena.

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The stunning Orvieto Cathedral

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The damp, dark, and extremely cool underground well. We walked all the way down for the dank views.

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Make a wish

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Our lovely, perfectly Italian cooking lessons with Selena and Francesco. Tiramisu with heavy cream first, so it can chill while we make several other pastas, sauces, and vegetables.

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Rolling and shaping the Gnocchi, together

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We had Gnocchi with a red sauce and also a pesto sauce. Mashed potatoes and flour (gf). Delightful, rubbery noodle balls.

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Stopping for a shadow photo, late in the day, along cobblestone alleys. This is my first experience in Europe, in Italy. I’ll never forget that every hillside town consists of 800 year old streets and buildings of stone. Quite profound, when you think of the kids growing up in this sort of heritage.

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Rome for a day. I’m overwhelmed by crowded cities. We planned a single night stay here. In 97 degree weather, we agreed to see the Colleseum, The Trevi Fountain (at night) and the Vatican. Inside the Vatican museum is this stellar spiral walkway. Better than the ancient art, as I grown tired of the endless Madonna and Child theme.

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Our final week in the Amalfi Coast. A bright Jesus at a small cathedral in Praiano.

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Truly remarkable stone houses built into the stoney mountains. Many, many stairs throughout Amalfi, laddering up and down from house to house.

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We hired a small boat to ferry us from Praiano over to the town of Amalfi. Home to Lemoncello, fine paper, tiny roads and breathtaking charm. 52, made a dream come true.

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Forget College: invent yourself

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Has anyone else noticed how much pressure and scrutiny is coming down on our teens? To design a profound life by age 18?  By senior year, you better have a great, big, status-oriented career goal to tell everyone about. And trust me, people are going to coming out of the woodwork asking.  Teens are no longer inheriting their family business or farm—they’re expected to invent their lives starting at about 17.  So much pressure.  Just 30 years ago, most senior high students weren’t asked, so where are you going to college? What are you going to do with your career? The obvious response these days, from about 90% of boys my son’s age is: “I don’t know. I sure like playing video games though.”

We were at the beach, ironically to get senior photos taken, and some guy in his 50’s wanders by and says “So where are you going?” Me, the photographer and my son stood in silence, surprised at this short-hand.  I found it annoying. His presumptuous, middle class, college-bound, flippancy. Its classism.

I liked my son’s steady response: “oh, I’m sticking around here.”

But the pressure. I’m stung by it every day. You see, my son is not going to college. He’s doing a gap year, or maybe many gap years. As far as any of us can tell, he doesn’t know what to do except go get a joe-job and start earning money. He wants a car and an apartment with friends. This is about as far as he can see. Okay, he has applied to several fire stations in the area, hoping to get sponsored for fire fighting training. But. He may not get chosen.

We decided as a family a ways back, that a degree for a degree’s sake isn’t worth the debt. Wait until you know what you want to study or specialize in and then commit –heart and bank. But, holy cow, the river floweth with parents and eager seniors all around us–heading off to college! And we’re standing on a rock in the river feeling the undertow, the pressure, the fear of NOT sending him off to college.

Meanwhile, in Italy, where we just visited for a couples weeks, Georgio is graduating with honors from his high school, and guess what? There’s NO college for him. There’s NO pressure for college. There’s NO jobs beyond labor jobs in Italy. Interesting huh? The country has no money, no strong economy, no big trade supplies. This was shocking to learn, and for about an hour I wished we were Italian and that the only expectation on my son was to head out to prune the olive grove.

Life is long, and our paths are non-linear, and we change and grow and suddenly know and act from that knowing. This idea calms me down, and helps me trust my son has his own process, his own life path, his own perfect unfolding, in perfect timing. Here’s a great quote by Anais Nin:

“We do not grow absolutely chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations”

Here’s a painting that starts as a self portrait and ends up wildly different than I originally planned. That’s my life in a nutshell too. There’s not one element of my life today that I imagined for myself when I was 18, 25, or 29. Only at age 30, did did I begin making a choices that show up in my life today at 52.

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“One of the most widespread superstitions is that every human has their own special, definite qualities: That a person is kind, cruel, wise, stupid, energetic, apathetic, etc. People are not like that… we are like rivers… every river narrows here, is more rapid there, here slower, there broader, now clear, now cold, now dull, now warm. It is the same with people. Every one of us carries the germs of every human quality, and sometimes one manifests itself, sometimes another, and the person often becomes unlike themselves, while still remaining the same person.”

~Leo Tolstoy

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In the end, I’m not sure who I was painting. It started out as a self portrait. But, I had to make changes, I had to respond to something inside of me while I was painting, that would help make the next dab of paint make sense. It was all in the moment. In the end, I can look back and scan for meaning. But, like life, I was just doing what was in front of me at the time.

“Do I contradict myself? I contain multitudes.”  ~Walt Whitman

 

Surgery, Miracles, Paintings, Poems

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may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it’s sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there’s never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile

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My mother had 2 surgeries on her spine this week. One on Tuesday for 8 hours. Rest day. One on Thursday for 8 hours. A complex spine surgery to reconstruct her curve from scoliosis so bad she couldn’t walk anymore. They put in rods. She gained back 3 inches in height. She’s 73. She was under anesthesia for almost 16 hours total. I haven’t felt just how much, how badly I loved someone for a long time. I was teary and torn open for about 3 days. Very unusual anymore. Its good to know I’m in here.

On the same day my mom went in for surgery, my dear colleague and friend told me he had a brain tumor and was going in for surgery on Friday. Nothing can prepare us for these sorts of moments in life. I noticed I was taking really big breaths and sort of floating and staring….I walked around the house that day not really able to engage. Kept checking my phone for updates. Time passed. Modern medicine miracles: 2 days after spine surgery (complete with a frankenstein staple zipper scar ) my mom is up with a giant brace, walking down the hospital corridor with a body guard on either side. My friend got his skull cap opened up, a tumor removed, 2 days of sleep, and went home today.

Enjoy your healthy body everyone!  Here’s a blue piece, and the process in photos~

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