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Without a Net

Daring Starts From Within

Tag / despair

All Frailties That Besiege


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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I Saw Anne Lamott

Last night I went to see the writer, Anne Lamott, speak. She was just like I imagined. Along with being funny, irreverent, and exuberant about letting us know how imperfect we are (and how great that is) she read us a Facebook post she’d just written. It was about, among other things, how damaged we […]

Liquid Prisoner


16″ x 20″ 2011

One afternoon, after a torrential Alabama rainstorm had just passed, I walked outside to check on my garden. I had a large planter that I had yet to fill with dirt, and in the storm, water had filled to the top. On the surface of the clear rainwater a little chipmunk was drowning, with barely enough energy to keep his head above water. I quickly tipped over the planter and watched the poor chipmunk ride the wave onto the nearby ground. He lay panting, unable to move.

I ran in the house for a towel and came back to wrap the chipmunk and gently rub him. I did this until he showed signs of wiggling, and then I set him down. He hobbled off into the bushes so crookedly I wasn’t sure if he would survive, but I told myself he would and left it at that.

I wondered. If I did a painting about this experience, what part of me would it represent? Had I ever felt like a drowning chipmunk? Of course. We’ve all felt like we were drowning or sinking at some time or other.

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