Archives for posts with tag: The Art of M. Elisabeth Howell

This weekend I’m taking time with me, doing something I love, and enjoying the sensation of time slowing down as I linger over what feels good in life. I’m in the studio this weekend, between other bits of this-n-that, laundry, time with family and friends, yoga… All of it quite pleasant and wonderfully positive and enjoyable; the outcome is in the art work. I had planned to hike this morning, and even looking forward to it at the very moment that first one, then the other, of my partners spoke up that they would each, and both, enjoy a morning with family, hanging out and being in shared space. I still smile thinking about that moment; I felt very wanted, included, and valued.

It didn’t hurt that of the paintings I did yesterday, 3 of 5 of them are already spoken for by enthused and delighted partners. I can’t describe how wonderful that feels, every time it comes up. It takes being appreciated to another level. 🙂

"Where There's Smoke" 8" x 10"  acrylic on canvas with India ink; it's hers. :-)

“Where There’s Smoke” 8″ x 10″ acrylic on canvas with India ink; it’s hers. 🙂

"You Always Have My Heart" 8" x 10" acrylic on canvas with glow; it's his. :-)

“You Always Have My Heart” 8″ x 10″ acrylic on canvas with glow; it’s his. 🙂

I’m not disappointed about not hiking; I’ll likely still go for a walk with my camera, or stroll over to the Farmer’s Market. It’s a lovely day for all those things.

"Summer Breeze" 8" x 10" acrylic on canvas with India Ink; it's his. :-)

“Summer Breeze” 8″ x 10″ acrylic on canvas with India Ink; it’s his. 🙂

The weekend has offered some moments of amazement, wonder, and great depth. In meditation, deeply involved, aware, and present in some moment I “walked the streets of The Nightmare City” by daylight, feeling safe and walking in wonder and observing all I could before twilight could over take me.  Imagination? Fantasy? Scripting? I don’t know those things. I recognize it is not the same order of ‘real’ as being awake, here-and-now, and able to touch what I see…only…it still matters, because thoughts matter, and what we fill our implicit memory with matters, and emotional content matters, too. Later today I’ll spend time writing a bit about my visit, as though it were something others could book a trip for, and get there, stay and visit for themselves.  I am hopeful that my own next visit to The Nightmare City is very different that my last, and even perhaps willing to allow the thought that it may truly have been my last visit to drift through my consciousness without clinging to it in despair and anxious yearning.

"Daytime in the Nightmare City" 8" x 10" acrylic on canvas with glow, glitter, and micaceous iron oxide. 2014

“Daytime in the Nightmare City” 8″ x 10″ acrylic on canvas with glow, glitter, and micaceous iron oxide. 2014

Today is a good day for love, for lovers, for sharing the morning and for enjoying a lazy Sunday. Today is a good day to move beyond words. Today is a good day to smile. Today is a good day to face my fears fearlessly; in most cases I invented them both, myself, and can as easily let them go. Today is a good day to contribute only love to the world’s conversations. Today is a good day to change the world.

How often have I heard it – how often have you – “you just…” or “you only…”, or “it’s super simple…” and subsequently found it a journey to new heights of frustration? It happens. Perspective matters. Experience counts. Aptitude gets to weigh in, whether we like it or not. What is obvious to one person, isn’t necessarily obvious to another. These are what make patience with each other, consideration, kindness, and compassion so incredibly valuable; we don’t all ‘get it’ with the same quickness, or in the same way, we don’t all learn at the same speed, and of course we are each having our own experience.

It’s been an interesting weekend to contemplate one particular very human duality, and finding balance between them. The first of these, and unavoidably so whether we recognize the truth of it or not; we are each having our own experience.  Recognizing that has been a big deal for me.  The other, and no less important generally; we’re all in this together. Yep. Interdependent, connected, social, and organized, one look at a global map of internet connections and it’s pretty obvious that we’re connected, by the communication of thoughts and emotions if not by flesh or ideology.

Each precious moment holds something worth cherishing now.

Each precious moment holds something worth cherishing now, something worth sharing.

This has been a good weekend to apply a number of things I’ve been learning over time. A good weekend to paint, to practice taking care of me, to invest in my continuing education as a human being, to invest in the qualities of mind that make me more who I want to be. The weekend went to ‘unscripted mode’ before I ever got home Friday night, though we’d had plans as a family that would have taken much of the weekend. I found myself undisturbed and content to let the weekend take me where it might, and I’ve been delighted with the outcome. Having space to paint set up and ready to go any time resulted in an easy and gentle switching of gears, yesterday morning, and it was as effortless as walking up a flight of stairs to be in another space, a different context, and enjoying my experience on my own terms. It was lovely.

"Summer Lamb's Ear" 8" x 10" acrylic on canvas w/glow.

“Summer Lamb’s Ear” 8″ x 10″ acrylic on canvas w/glow.

It was so productive, and comfortably so, that this morning I woke already thinking of painting, although my calendar clearly shows I’d intended to hike this morning. My arthritis chimed in early, having been my wake up call, alerting me that today would be characterized by more than usual pain, and less than ideal freedom of movement. Hiking would probably help. Painting could wait until afternoon. I dither over coffee. What do I want? 

"Carried Away by Opinion" 8" x 10" acrylic on canvas w/glow, glitter, and googly eyes.

“Carried Away by Opinion” 8″ x 10″ acrylic on canvas w/glow, glitter, and googly eyes.

Letting that go for the moment, I reconsider the somewhat peculiar weekend. I have been content, satisfied, serene… it’s been a lovely weekend so far, and I feel nurtured, comfortable, and secure. It’s peculiar because observation tells me that my partners may not be having the same quality of experience, themselves. Earlier plans falling through has seemed to find them discontent, and to my outside perspective, struggling with various levels of unhappiness moment to moment. That sucks. I see it. When I can, I attempt to appropriately support them both, and each, and nurture positive experiences, and treat them pleasantly, and compassionately. What I’m not doing this weekend is undermining my pleasant experience by adopting their discontent for myself. This is an area of life and relationship building where I find a lot of my challenges.  Ripping out programming that once drove me to make choices based on ‘well, if I really care, won’t I also be unhappy and share their feelings/experience with them?’ has been slow going; it feels somewhat disloyal to take care of me. That’s how programming works, though, it’s rooted in layers upon layers of internal dialogue, self-talk that uses key words and language to keep us in line, and it fights for survival as though it has an identity all its own.

Sometimes a change in perspective matters more than we can know before we get there. "Summer Lamb's Ear" photographed in darkness.

Sometimes a change in perspective matters more than we can know before we get there. “Summer Lamb’s Ear” photographed in darkness.

The weekend has been, for me, so far, quite wonderful. I have no idea where today will take me, and I have not invested in any expectations of it; spending the day on chores, painting, and study, and enjoying the companionship of my partners, would be satisfying and sufficient. I could enjoy investing time in keeping my image archive organized, or exploring my options for updating my webpage. A walk in the forest, camera in hand, would be lovely, too.

What do I want of my life, today? Whatever it may be, today is probably quite an excellent day for that.

I’m enjoying my morning espresso at twice the quantity my doctor currently recommends, sweetened with a taste of honey, and nicely fattened up with a splash of half-n-half. There is nothing routine about this morning; I’m painting this weekend. 🙂

Inspiration and readiness

Inspiration and readiness.

I don’t rush into it, this morning. There is still the matter of having my coffee, considering my notes taken over the past year, over recent days, and during the night and deciding which idea of many to start with. There are things about how I approach painting that could so easily have led me sooner to mindfulness, if I had understood that they could lead me anywhere. Lessons waiting to be learned. I’ve long accepted, for example, that although inspiration gets the process started, an idea of color, composition, subject, and meaning amount to framework, more than any assurance of capturing precisely that thing I had in mind, and I don’t get attached to a specific outcome with any one painting. My creative process is fluid, imprecise, and driven by inspiration; where it leads is as big a surprise for me, sometimes, as for anyone. Somehow I hadn’t managed to take those lessons, and that practical understanding of perspective, and healthy self-acceptance into other parts of my experience.

It seems so easy to completely overlook what life may be trying to teach us, in the everyday, in the extraordinary, in the obligations we feel we have, in the passions we pursue. I have missed so much that seems now to have been shouting in my ear, nagging me to take another look…it’s generally more obvious looking back. lol Mindfulness matters, here, too; bringing more depth to those everyday experiences, and more of my awareness to life’s lessons.

Today is a new day, a new experience, and I am approaching things with a beginner’s mind, and a level of awareness, mindfulness, and contentment that I have not previously had to call upon, when I painted. I wonder what will come of it, when paint hits canvas? I have so much to work from…so much recent inspiration fresh in my consciousness…

...paths, trails, and journeys...

…paths, trails, and journeys…

...moments of sublime contentment and peace wrenched from experiences of extraordinary chaos...

…moments of sublime contentment and peace wrenched from experiences of extraordinary chaos…

...all manner of metaphors...

…all manner of metaphors…

...indescribable qualities of light...

…indescribable qualities of light…

...amazing colors...

…amazing colors…

...moments of whimsy...

…moments of whimsy…

...moments that happened to fast to easily be captured on film...

…moments that happened too fast to easily be captured on film…

...changes in perspective...

…changes in perspective…

...and patterns that revealed something new, adding to my understanding of my experience.

…and patterns that revealed something new, adding to my understanding of my experience.

Today is a good day to let inspiration lead. Today is a good day for music, art, and smiles. Today is a good day to see where my journey is taking me, reflected in my art. Today is a good day to change the world.