Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rediscovering an Artist's "Way"

It's a windy day in the mountains of Puerto Rico, a good day to have fresh thoughts about new beginnings. I've been thinking about art. When I first realized that I could make something pleasing to my eye that spoke about what I saw, I was about six years old. The strong desire to experience life through art has never left me since that early time. It delighted me that I could share my creation with the world. My discovery of art was facilitated by my French grandmother, Alice; she was the first artistic person I knew. She would let me skip my nap and sit at her table gluing glitter, painting and drawing. I felt special to sit at her usually off-limits (!)table.

One day, she disappeared and we never heard from her for seventeen years. Her own childhood was marred by absence and abandonment. She spent a number of years in a Boston state home because her mother was hospitalized for a mental condition. After Grandma left, I didn't know if she was still alive. I was a child. I didn't know that sometimes adults have arguments that they don't resolve. Her absence was like an empty windy space. I seemed to looked for her, though not consciously, as I walked in the fields. She was in my thoughts as I collected seed pods and branches. I'd bring my finds into my upstairs bedroom and paint them red, orange, and yellow; finishing off with a liberal sprinkle of glitter. What would Grandma Alice think of this?

When Grandma Alice returned, I was living another life in another state. The Grandma of my childhood never returned.

* * * * * *

Consider ...


As I continued to draw whatever came into my field of vision, it became ever clearer that seeing/drawing was indeed a Way, in the Oriental sense of the word. The tea ceremony, Noh dance, aikido, judo (do in Japanese means "Way," while in Chinese the word for Way is Tao) are all such Ways: lifelong disciplines that lead you to where you really live, that liberate you form the programmed prejudices of your time and the pretensions of the little Me, to reveal the truth that is your own Truth.

Seeing/ is my Way of meditation.

Zen Seeing, Zen Drawing ; Meditation in Action

by Frederick Franck

And this...

*Art Validates Life*

I have said before that creativity is a spiritual issue. Any progress is made by leaps of faith, some small and some large. At first, we may want faith to take the first dance class, the first step toward learning a new medium. Later, we may want the faith and the funds for further classes, seminars, a larger work space, a year's sabbatical. Later still, we may conceive an idea for a book, an artist' collective gallery space. As each idea comes to us, we must in good faith clear away our inner barriers to acting on it and then, on an outer level, take the concrete steps necessary to trigger our synchronous good.
What dream are you discounting as impossible given your resources? What payoff are you getting for remaining stuck at this point in your expansion?

The Artist Way by Julia Cameron

* * * * * *

*Discovering the Artist in Women*

I thank you all...

While blogging, I have had the good fortune to meet and experience many incredible artists who not only display their art in progress, new and old, but also have shared their hearts through their own struggles and successes with the creative process. I want to honor Dianne at Intuitive Painting, Kim at Creating Space, Mary Ann at Blue Sky Dreaming. And the designer/painter creators, Lala Ema at My Castle in Spain and Susan at 29 Black Street; the writer, painter, photographer, Sarah Laurence at her blog of the same name and the painter creator Sukipoet. And though I don't know if Julie at tangobaby is a painter, I do know that she creates with every breath of her being so she must be on this list. All of these women are inspirational because they embrace their creative nature. No, not just embrace, but celebrate creativity in every aspect of their lives. I thank you, creative women, for your inspirational example of how to fully live life. You have reminded me to engage life with passion; I love you all for this gift.

If you would like to nominate any of these blogs for the blog of the day award; simply, click on the icon, which is located on the sidebar, and make your recommendation. (You will need the blog's URL.)

Painting: Windswept John William Waterhouse


  1. thank you for sharing about your grandmother.
    Lisa x

  2. Thank you, Cynthia. (once again!)

    I have visited only two people today and both had the same sort of message.
    Ah! synchronicity! What a wonderful thing.
    I am hearing you loud and clear. :)

    Wonderful post (as usual)loved hearing about your Grandma. Sorry for the circumstances and how they have affected you, even still.

    Hugs, Natalie and co.xx

  3. Hi Lisa,
    Thank you for reading! <3

    Dear Natalie,
    Everyone has stories...isn't is wonderful to allow others to share them? Thank you for your visit! I can't wait to see the next thing you create! <3 Xs and Os

  4. Again I hit your blog to read something. I am glad to know that you are such an amazing artist. I must say I can learn many things from you through this wonderful blog.

  5. Thank you for you visit and comments, Deepak! I don't think you could say that I'm an amazing artist...more like amazing art appreciator! Cute <3

  6. How sad that Alice went out of your life for so long. To a child seventeen years is like a lifetime. Was she your maternal grandmother?

    I do admire people who can paint and draw because I can do neither very well.

  7. Thank you so much for mentioning me among all these wonderful creative women. I think our relationships with our grams are special. Lovely that she encouraged your creativity. So sad she just disappeared. How hard it must have been for a child to make sense of that. so sad no one told you a bit about why she left and where she might be, just to reassure you somehow as a child. Blessings, suki

  8. Cynthia! I am so honored to be included in such an elite list of bloggers! Thank you!

    What a beautiful story about your grandmother. I know the loss you must feel as my own "creative" grandmother (the only other truly creative type in my family) also introduced me to this world and then went away (she died when I was 7). I miss her terribly to this very day. Thank you for sharing this.

    Also thank you for your very kind honor!

  9. Dear Cynthia,
    Thank you so much for listing me amoungst your creative women, I feel so blessed to have such a lovely blogger friend. You always write from the heart with such wisdom. You allow us in to share snippets of the life that created the person you are today, I love this!
    I was so moved by your story of your French Grandma, for her to have just disappeared must have been incomprehensible to you.
    You continue to inspire me!

  10. PS, thanks for finding the Women in Art video, a real gem!

  11. Thank you for such a beautiful post Cynthia. I am sorry also for the loss of your Grandma, sometimes things are just so unfair. I know am so fortunate to have had a Grandma that made such an influence on me and my life. I owe so much of who I am to her, and that I try to always be aware of the little people in my life who are watching and learning...and remembering...
    I am excited to be introduced to the people you have mentioned here today, I can't wait to check them out!
    and oh! I am so honored to be added to your blog roll.Thank you.
    xx lori

  12. As children it seems magical, perhaps bad magic, that so many people come and then disappear from our lives. Moving as a child means that many people disappear. It is like being moved from one enchantment to another without ever figuring out the magic words or curses. It creates a huge gulf of confusion, a sudden disappearance of sense and meaning, and perhaps leads to the creation of a fantasy world that is more consistent, more maleable than the real world. It makes us all creators, artists.
    I don't know what makes a person want to paint or write or dance, other than to entertain others (a risky business and hard to do)or to create a world that is understood. A few find a comfortable life through art, but most don't. As a hobby, we never completely master the skills needed.
    The process, sometimes struggle, pays off with meaning or with the state where what one is doing seems to call upon another magic, almost out of time. I am using writing as an example. A distant cousin of mine whom I love very much (Lars Ly) always has five or six paintings in his studio. He moves between them, perhaps waiting for one of them to capture him. And when a painting is done is instinctual in the sense that there is no definition.
    I also have a friend who complains about all she has given up to be a writer and threatens occasionally to stop. She just published a CD of her reading essays about what it was like to be a Cuban refugee dumped into the upper Midwest. Her name is Marisella Veiga and the CD is called Square Watermelons. This is a plug. I listened to it and it is amusing, relaxing (the soft voice) and profound.
    I myself have had the fear, probably irrational, that at the point where I have a great book of poetry or an appreciative editor for a novel, that those genres will no longer be read. I will be obsolete. Blogs give me that feeling. And I guess I miss the fence between myself and the world that a book provides. It has an audience, but that audience is only fictionalized in the mind of the author and becomes a bit more real when he or she meets a reader. But the book is not me, it is something I made. Blogs seem to insist that this is me.
    Of course everything we do creates identity. The work of blogging is creating identity. This is who I am and your reactions tell me who you think I am. Since identity is social, both processes are necessary. I still am a bit leary of the blog. And disappointed with everything about the writing life, except writing itself.

  13. Cynthia! My goodness, thank you for including me in such distinguished company and with such loving praise.

    I am truly touched. Thank you. When I read your blog and other kindred spirits, it reminds me of how small the world can actually be, in that there are so many wonderful people I can relate to, and then how large it can be, too, because you are so far away from me.


  14. Thank you for this. Ive had a lovely time time with the links. This blog is fast becoming a favourite of mine :)

  15. Cynthia, Thank you for including me with the others as your inspiration. This whole creative "way" is about sharing. I loved rereading the Julia Cameron piece...true words, all of them. I'm always so glad when you visit...your remarks are always heartfelt!

  16. Thank you Cynthia for the mention and I can see I'm in wonderful company. I just went back to the beginning of your blog and Oh my such tragedy in your life. I am so sorry. It may take me awhile but I plan to continue catching up from the beginning. What a bastard that Brooks was. Many thanks for stopping ny Black Street. Love for les Gang

  17. Cynthia, thank you so much for your ever so kind words. I’ve very much enjoyed getting to know you through your blog too. After all the hardships you have faced in life, you still embrace living with energy, warmth and enthusiasm. That is quite an accomplishment!

  18. Dear Cynthia,
    i love reading about your French grandmother! it's a bit sad she wasn't always near you but at least she gave you a love for the arts which is such a beautiful gift.
    Cynthia, thank you so much for your kind words. It brought a big smile on my face i can tell you ! I'm not really present on my blog at the moment and neglect my blogging friends (no, no...i know), as i have a bit too much on my plate at the moment, between work, the situation in Madagascar (thank you very much for your comment btw)- last news is, seemingly a coup is happening. I love my country of origin but i feel totally helpless.

    Tell me, where can one find this journal of Caribbean literature ? just noticed it and your articles too...Congrats !!

    i never read Naipaul...really it's a shame..

    Hasta luego, amiga

  19. French Fancy, thanks for coming over today. Maybe you have some talent that you haven't discovered yet! I think most people do...maybe yours is related to music? Maybe you have some fiction to write? hum... take care dear clever blogger friend. <3

    Sukipoet, I think that no one really knew what happened to her. My parents didn't want to comfort us about it because maybe she was dead? Really, whenever the subject came up new discussions would start. My parents were extreemly busy with full time jobs and a full time farm. I think they just wanted to get on with life. You have gone through so much yourself lately, and still your concern overflows. <3

  20. Hi Cynthia,
    I've missed you! Thanks for your visits and kind thoughts. What did you do to your arm? Hope it's much better.
    I so loved and was so inspired by my grandparents...I cannot imagine the loss you must have felt. The searching and wondering with no answers to come. I'm glad you shared your story...all your stories!
    I'm happy to be back visiting with you.
    Lots of love to you on this mushy weekend -

  21. Kim, thank you for your inspiration. So sorry to hear that you also experienced the loss of your 'creative grandmother' at an early age. May her spirit continue to infuse your art. <3

    Your focused reading of my stories is an honor to me. I also enjoy the details you share in your blog about life in South Africa, and how you came to be where you are, and the decisions you continually make about which direction your life should head. I enjoy knowing about how life influences art and yoor process. Also, I hope your husband is well now. <3

  22. Dear Catherine (Thousands of Clapping Hands), thank you for reading my endless stories! My arm is fine now, I just must have twisted it while reaching some ackward way. I'm still a little careful with it; but my sun salutes are back on track. I was able to lead my little yoga group yesterday with no problem. I didn't do the shoulder stand-just in case. Really I was surprised that I could get seemed like nothing and then I I had pain for three days and completely lost range of motion. All is well now! Much love back to you, dear Catherine. <3

  23. Lori Ann, thank you for your visit. I know that you read a lot of blogs. I always read your comments. Don't you think that is a wonderful way of learning about a person? Your attentive approach to the people in your life just shows how you've learned to value your life-gifts and how to make each moment matter...the people and love that surrounds you fills others with light.

  24. Susan, thank you for taking the time to read some of my earily postings. I'm always astounded and complimented that people are interested enough to go back and read from the beginning. I guess in blogland we read from the back page -always- imagine if we read the last page of one of our favorite book first. Maybe we write with the idea that many people will only read this post, like a newspaper article? I don't think so though. When I read your post, I often follow the links you provide to get the background on your story. And you are such a careful writer, both tender, sad and funny. Sometimes, I lose control because of emotions and the time pressure. Isn't it remarkable how our lives reflect inside of even our writing style? I remember reading that women write a lot of short pieces because we have to grab a bit of time between the multi-tasking our lives involve.
    I enjoy reading about how you work through to find your inspiration when you get a contract especially because the artistic need starts outside of you. And you have to find your way through to inspiration. Thank you again for your visit, dear Susan. <3

  25. Sarah Laurence, welcome! You are quite the comprehensive artist-writing, painting and photography. I have so enjoyed your photography of winter life. I think capturing winter is difficult because of the white on white...but you find places of shadow and contrast that brings the images to life. Thank you for your visit here at Oasis where it is never really cold and the pack of canine crusaders get spring fever almost every morning! They are a wild bunch! <3

  26. Lala Ema, I so appreciate that you took time to come over here to Oasis while you are on your much needed break. I hope the situation in Matagasgar resolves itself soon and that your family remains safe-especially if there is a coup.

    Change is difficult and you have a new home; sometimes that can be a comfort but how can you enjoy it if your family is at risk? I hope you have time to continue letting Castle in Spain readers know how things are going. You explain the complicated political situation with such personal clarity...which is how I best understand situations...upclose and how the events influence people's lives. I wonder how your design work is influenced by the upheaval? It is so light hearted and 'pure joy'...and now Lala Ema is a bit sad.

    I'm not sure how much you would enjoy Naipaul. His take on the colonial and post colonial situation is not fair to those who live under and within those conditions. I wrote about "Miguel Street" , his first autobiographically based novel; I was looking for exceptions rather than his norm. His portrayal of Trinidad is not fair but he is still honored there because he 'made it' on the literary scene. I saw bookshops there filled with his books.

    My articles are available from university library services or if you click on the underlined words there is more information.
    I would be happy to send you a copy of the Miguel Street/Naipaul article, if you want to suffer through that type of writing!

    Thank you for your interest. I know your personal engagement with a post-colonial situation makes you realize and look for countries that are in a similiar political/social dynamic. The Caribbean post-colonial struggle shares much in common with your own country of orgin.

    Take life with ease dear blogger friend, Lala Ema. <3

  27. Tangobaby, your name must be on the list because of your daily inspirational blogging. Your life is vividly captured within the streets of San Francisco. You have such an artist eye! And your strong opinions are balanced by an open engaged (and engaging)heart. Beautiful combination.! <3

  28. Mark, lovely comment about the way life and loss influences us...your final comments about blogging make me think about poetry and it's impact here. Actually, I have read many bits of poetry here on these blog pages...maybe you could re-think your hesitancy and join in...think of it as a haircut...just a new style...get your writer's blog cut...I wonder if you could request that at a salon? Thank you for your deeply reflective comment. <3

  29. Michelle, you are always welcome here. I'm learning more about your art and stlye which is soft and reflective. Love to you <3

  30. *I remember reading that women write a lot of short pieces because we have to grab a bit of time between the multi-tasking our lives involve.*

    I recall that being mentioned during my OU course last year. We did a month about dear old Virgina W and 'a room of one's own' and the lack of time for women writers came into it.

  31. Yes, FF, thanks for helping me to remember Virginia Wolff. She thought that women writers were unable to compete with men because of the quality of their lives...domestic responsibilities and such.

    Also that there were few educational opportunities for women. Imagine her struggle, with her step brother, and her step father...and striving to learn while the boys went off to university. I've read much of her autobiographical writing looking for clues to her suicide and resolving this 'conclusion' with her profound insights to life.

    Have you read "At a Lighthouse?" It's supposed to be based on her actual life. I'm thinking of her mother (in the book) who seemed to be a remarkable woman in many ways. Still, I think V wanted to be more like her father. (step)
    Thanks, FF, for your thought provoking comments. <3

  32. A moving story about your grandmother Cynthia and it is always such a pleasure to read your wise words. xv

  33. Vicki, thanks for the visit to our quiet corner of the world. I appreciate your comments and your dynamic elegant blog. <3

  34. Your story about your grandmother is wonderful. I wish I was such a grandmother.. There are a lot of creative people on blogspot! Thanks for your visit and comments. Have a great weekend and Valentine's Day.

  35. Thank you, Reader Wil, for your visit. I'm sure you are the kind of grandmother that is utterly unforgetable! <3

  36. Such a very rich post.
    So sad about Grandma Alice. How difficult it is for children to understand these strange abandonments.
    And all the bloggers you mention indeed to contribute to the richness of creativity.
    As you do too -- very much so.
    Must write to Lala. Hope her family is OK

  37. Thank you, Elizabeth, for your visit. May we all expand our creative outpouring everday! You certainly are prolific. Lots of lovely photographic post! <3

  38. I had to stop by again to wish one of my favorite bloggers a Very Happy Valentine's Day! You're the best!!!
    con mucho carino,

  39. Catherine (A Thousand Clapping Hands) are a charmer! Your blogger buddy at Oasis sends you a thousand beaming lights of love. <3

  40. I have enjoyed reading your blog, cynthia , and will go visit these wonderful artists you have mentioned! a bittersweet story of your beloved grandmother....yet she planted the seeds the still grow today~something she would have loved....


  41. Linda, welcome to Oasis. I have been enjoying your blog as well...your work is lovely, tranquil and intense. Yes, I carry the seeds of Grandma in my heart. Thanks for the thoughts. <3

  42. Happy Birthday to Mr. P.!
    Happy Valentines Day to you both. :D

    Enjoy this special day together,kick up your heels and have some fun.


  43. Thank you, Natalie; we had a fun time reconnecting with his school friends, singing karoke and having an outdoor dinner. I appreciate your return visit to Oasis just to give us both your good wishes. Your abundant affection is appreciated! xx <3

  44. thanks for visitng my blog..feels great...prsetnly i am experiencing technical trouble in postings..hope 2 stay in touch..take regds dear friend..

  45. R.Ramesh, I hope your technical troubles are soon resolved. Thank you for coming over to visit Oasis. <3

  46. I've always adored this artsy morphing video! Congrats to featured bloggies!

  47. Cynthia,

    I listened to the video as I read your post, about your grandmother, she pulled at my heartstrings, she broke the rules, she LIVED!
    She gave life to the women in Art in the video.

    Thank you for sharing her love with us.

    Mama Shujaa.


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