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Without a Net

Daring Starts From Within

Tag / anger

All Frailties That Besiege

Monkey

Oil on board           2015          16″ x 20″

Sometimes life is so confusing that I assume I’m not seeing reality clearly. I’ve had times when I would label myself as crazy, and I’d feel the shame that accompanies such a classification.

I chose a chimpanzee for my painting because they act zany. I dressed him in a straightjacket because that’s where crazy people can end up. A straightjacket is also a metaphor for constraint. I used to feel incarcerated by the maze of thoughts and feelings that converged when situations and people were beyond what I thought I could handle.

I imagined the cast of a circus would sum up the whole idea of crazy with its outlandishly costumed characters and their variety of exaggerated body sizes. What a joy it was portray the clowns and weirdos! I kept the background a monochrome blue to relegate their presence to a dreamlike haze of sameness. They are presumably an influence on the monkey’s craziness, but he stands out on his own as being the main-event nut. (Excuse my use of these politically incorrect words for mental instability. I’m not meaning to be dismissive of real mental illness. I’m using offhand lingo to vaguely sum up a felt state.)

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But Here’s the Joy

DSC_0035

2016         16″ x 20″       Oil on Board

A few years back, with my recent status of Empty Nester, I had the strange and wonderful experience of having (what seemed like) unlimited time, energy, and space at my disposal. Like other newly free moms with whom I spoke, I decided the best word to describe it at the time was Weird. I didn’t hate it but I didn’t love it either. I knew intellectually that there would be an adjustment period, but my equilibrium took it more seriously. I felt shock, ecstasy, and confusion all at once, mixed with an inability to sit still and a constant feeling that there was something that needed to be done when there really wasn’t anything that needed to be done.

I didn’t want to fill the void with the first impulses to come along. I wanted to leave the time and space empty for a bit, hoping that a new direction would radiantly unfold. I had a sense that just about anything could be next for me, that a whole new world was up for grabs, and I wanted to be as open as possible about which new ideas and prospects would take hold in my life. This painting asked to come to life, a representation of all the possibilities at my feet.

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Her Tender Heir Might Bear Her Memory

mamabear

My kid was getting picked on in school, and it made me very angry. It surprised me how riled up I got. I painted this piece during that time, and choosing the animal to symbolize my reactions was easy. I have a history with bears.

In Colorado during the time I grew up, bears were almost completely hunted out. Even my outdoorsman dad went many years without running into one. Even so, I had an overblown fear of them. When I was elementary school age I read an article in the Reader’s Digest about a man in Alaska who was mauled by a bear and had to crawl for miles without legs to get help. (Or some equally disgusting story.) I had nightmares for months, and was very shy about how far I would go into the wilderness alone. Since the wilderness was literally right out our front door, it made for some limited enjoyment of the endless natural wonders around me. I never lost my apprehension about bears.

I was 13 when I had my first bear encounter. I was not far from our house, and I was rounding up my horse to put him in his corral. I turned to see the bear, and I ran and screamed. I’d been trained for years about what not to do when you see a bear, and that is, do not run and scream. The bear came after me, but I got to the house in plenty of time. This was the first of many bear encounters, which tend to happen most times I set foot in the woods. Hippies would say I’m attracting them with my weird bear energy, and in the South they say I’ve “called it up.”

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Thy Duty Strongly Knit

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16″ x 20″ 2011

I like to take care of people. I like it so much that I go overboard and get angry because I think people

  • Don’t appreciate it enough
  • Take me for granted
  • Don’t help enough
  • Don’t notice and see that I am angry (because I don’t say anything)
  • Expect me to keep on doing all the work

My Irish Catholic upbringing nourished this hard-working, guilt-trip laying, over-do-it part of my personality I’ll call the Workaholic Martyr. When I started this series knowing I’d be depicting my mind-states, this was my first choice for a painting. I can get caught up in this one very easily.

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In Profound Abysm I Throw All

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16″ x 20″ Oil on Board 2013

I can be a rebel. In various ways throughout my life, in different degrees, I’ve chosen to reject the status quo and invent my own way of going about things. I’m not always a sweetie-pie in the process. I have been quick to walk the other way when I see something unsuitable for me, and although many times this has proven a good decision, I’ve also done it at times with not-so-enlightened motives.

I’ve rebelled against the work-a-day world by insisting on a life of self-employment, no matter what the pit-falls. I am suspicious of a whole host of socially accepted institutions, and would come off as a little too controversial if I listed them here. I’m not a joiner, and start edging my way toward the door if I become aware of the frustratingly messy interactions that bubble up whenever more than a few humans get together to accomplish something. I am aghast at some of the much-loved TV shows and other popular pastimes people go on about. And, as is suggested in my coyote painting, I have had my share of getting wild.

I chose the coyote to stand in for the spirit of rebellion because, growing up in Colorado, we had many wild coyotes roaming around the area. We’d watch them run through the fields as we drove by on the school bus in the morning, and my impression then was that they were smart, untamed, and free. They didn’t need us and were unafraid of us. My dad taught us to respect them for these qualities.

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And That Fresh Blood

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16″ x 20″ Oil on Board 2012

Like everyone else, I get angry from time to time. It can be anything from a slight annoyance to a tizzy fit. There’s no way this series was going to be complete without addressing anger.

For my painting I chose an animal with which I’d had an encounter in childhood. I was junior high age, and my friends and siblings and I were hiking in the country with our dogs, a pack of 5 large purebred mutts. The dogs came upon a badger, and very quickly had him surrounded. We helplessly watched as the dogs barked and taunted the badger; our yells and commands for the dogs to back off were fruitless. Although the badger was almost as big as one of the smaller dogs and looked rather menacing with his bared teeth and arched back, we were convinced he would soon be torn to shreds. Well, not so. An initial attack from one dog left the big canine yelping away with his tail down, nursing a bloody foot. Another dog took a shot only to be turned away seconds later with a scratched face. It didn’t take but minutes before the whole pack was high-tailing it down the trail while the little badger waddled away into the bushes. I’d never seen such a ferocious animal.

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