Fools Belong

Ephemeral Vessels, 2019

Ephemeral Vessels, 2019

One of my mentors and teachers, the late Angeles Arrien, cultural anthropologist, educator of indigenous cultures and spirit weaver, had the gift of gently nudging her students from places of fear to the embodiment of being visionaries. I fondly remember her rubbing her delicate hands together, and in an ever so coy manner, shrugging her shoulders up and down; and, as if she were magically becoming an elf, would say in a sing-song voice, “Don’t move the way fear wants you to, instead begin a foolish project. Noah did.”
She was referring, of course, to the story of Noah and the Ark, in which a flood is on the horizon, and Noah receives a vision to build a vessel.
Angeles’s statement is one of the most visual and auditory memories I have of her. Over the years, I have referred to it in cheering myself and others on with creative endeavors. But, what does being a fool really mean?

A fool can be one lacking in common powers of reason and understanding, but can also be fearless in revealing emotion and helping people laugh at absurdity and hypocrisy.
For me, I have felt the most foolish in life when experiencing the sensation of being a misfit and not belonging. This is usually the feel of a deep divide of not belonging to the self. And when I am separated from self, I am thrown into fear. Feeling a deep inner sense of belonging is a lifelong practice for me.

Noah was a visionary. He saw the future forward. He belonged to himself enough to move beyond fear: fear of overwhelm of outer stimuli of an approaching flood. Noah's ark can be viewed as a metaphor for the collection of humanity where difference is embraced. as well as a vessel holding and brewing our creative ideas into focus.

In the tarot deck, the fool represents new beginnings, stepping off the edge, and having faith in the unknown, belonging to the entire universe—the ultimate risk taker. What might actually appear foolish could be just what we need to step into the abyss and unknown.

I am currently completing a body of work in the studio for an upcoming solo exhibit opening March 8, 2019.

"Anchoring the Light " at Friesen Gallery in Ketchum, Idaho, and imagining the connective links of what is done and what can be carried forward as I dream and vision my next foolish project I can nurture into being in 2019.

What is going to be your foolish project as you move your vision forward this year?

Calendar of Events

Abstract Expressionist Painting
February 2 - 3 Mantecón Studio, Santa Fe, NM (Full - Waiting list)

"Anchoring the Light " at Friesen Gallery, Ketchum, Idaho
Solo show, opening March 8, 2019

Paint Big and More- Anything Goes May 2 - 5 Mantecón Studio, Santa Fe, NM

Why Color is Important May 18 Mantecón Studio, Santa Fe, NM - one day workshop

Painting Your Inner Wisdom: A Shamanic Journey June 6 - 7 Mantecón Studio, Santa FE, NM
with Lauren Mantecón & Robin Cunningham

Big/Small/Big: Abstract Painting June 24 - 28  Cullowhee, North Carolina

The Space Between Painting and Intuition September 26 - 28 Mantecón Studio, Santa Fe, NM with Lauren Mantecón & Stacy Phillips

The Alchemy of Mixed Media October 12 - 13 Weehawken Art Center in Ridgeway, Colorado

Advanced Studio Art Practices November 7 - 9 Mantecón Studio, Santa Fe plus three half-hour checkin Skype sessions over six months.

Ongoing Wednesday Open Studio Mantecón Studio, Santa Fe, NM 1:30- 4:30 pm

Virtual Studio Mentorships Buy a series of personalized sessions catered to your own individuals goals. This could be setting up accountability schedule, critique of work, writing statements, researching ways to get your work out into the world.

The Natural Order of Things and Being

The Wave, oil mediums on panels, 35x94, 2018

The Wave, oil mediums on panels, 35x94, 2018

In my upstairs bedroom, I have a large south-facing window that looks unto a majestic honey locust tree. She looms over my balcony with delicate quivering leaves. In the summer, a deep sap green; in the fall, golden yellow. As of now, her leaves have begun their departure as the post-fall winds will leave her bare.

I want to be more like her, anchored and organized in her rhythm of time. But, I am not like her. I am messy, and more than I care to admit, ungrounded and often an enemy of time.

Over the years, I have come to realize that this beingness of mine is where the primary thrust of my creativity comes from. Even at eight and nine years old, I remember ferociously scribbling on paper in what resembled abstracted tangled knots in the shape of ovals. I then set myself the task of filling in the gaps with multi-colored ink pens, searching out the order in my chaos.

We all have dominant ways of being in this world. And in being human, crave to know the “other.” It’s the magnetic force of opposites attracting in relationships. I have witnessed that search for the “other” in my teaching practice. I somehow give permission for the mess, as participants search to expand their boundaries of known expression.

Recently, I have come across three styles of being that make sense in not only the context of relationship, but in the way we can describe the order of creating, especially in the context of viewing the organizational sense of a painting or composition.

In a book entitled, “Wired For Love,” psychologist Stan Catkin describes three poignant visual metaphors for distinctive ways of being in the world: Anchors. Islands. Waves.

Three nouns that not only provide us access into a deeper understanding of feeling, but also three symbols that work in the visual narration of describing the principals of design.

In a painting, we look for an anchor that might hold our attention in space. A wave moves our eye along so we are not stuck on one aspect in a composition, moving our direction and flow, and islands create the content, the main event.

It’s a generalization, but in the sphere of human interaction, anchors search out ways to loosen their grip and move into bolder expression, islands explore different terrain, i.e., materials and content to work, and waves work to hone in their emotion and focus.

I am a messy, emotional wave. I search out anchors to bring me back to intention and islands so I might have something to crash into. In an ideal world, it’s like my honey locust tree, longing to sway with grace when change comes, yet remain fully present and grounded while recognizing the importance of our form and content and as a gift to the world. A steady pace with the natural order of things, our environments, and each other.

Upcoming Workshop:
Soul Work in Action: Exploring Women's Spiritual Hunger with Paint November 2nd and 3rd, 2018

Swallowing Beauty

Swallowing Beauty

My friend, Jens, has no filter when speaking his brilliant mind. It’s a quality I admire, especially when discussing creative edges that push our limits and call out for personal growth.

Recently, Jens and I were in my Santa Fe studio. Large disheveled under-paintings I had just begun were leaning against the wall. Over-worked paper pieces were scattered on the floor—in progress or abandoned? (It could go either way.) They felt vulnerable, raw, and not too sure of themselves.

Jens was animated as he discussed his latest project of turning mud into functionality and grace. He had just bulldozed and excavated a cave on land he recently purchased on the outer borders of New Mexico into Arizona. He was making livable space. Art.

I talked of mind clutter and the impatience/anxiety of feeling discomfort in visible vulnerability hovering around me. I mumbled something about re-creating what I had done in my last series. Exploring the tension points between the visible and unseen. Smokey, clouded layers covering the ambivalence of life.

Jens leaned in close, “So are you now making fake paintings?” I knew what he meant. I was at that edge believing painting existed in a realm that could be birthed like a machine.

I quickly responded, “Almost, but not yet.” That was the truth: Take the plunge of investigating the heart’s longing in the now, or be an imitated version of myself set on automatic go.

Zombie Formalism is what comes to mind. A term coined by artist and art critic Walter Robinson in 2014. My definition: production of abstract painting that is devoid of passion and more concerned with how it is made. Image, shape, color, singing together in a doable composition that is pleasing to the eye. Sometimes when hitting that uncomfortable edge, it’s tempting to go there. Production.

The how to, neglecting the deep inner crevices inside ourselves that ask of us “the why.” It takes time and care to birth a project. When we are not tending to the delicate needs, creativity requires of us bridging mind to heart, a radical distrust can set in.

For me, I usually need some space to become a bit untethered from daily left brain life. I guess my growing pains are asking of me to raise my frequency of light from the inside out. I still crave to paint just that.

And when I am still enough to wait out the unlpleasantries of my mind, I sometimes glimpse the realization that my vulnerabilities are my courage moved from the outside in, waiting to swallow beauty whole.

Personalized Private Classes and Studio Mentorship 

Open Studio Wednesday

Why Color is Important- One Day Workshop- Saturday October

Large Scale Painting Workshop October 25th-26th

Women's Spiritual Hunger's November 2nd-3rd

Video Tutorials

View the full list of upcoming workshops for the year.