Sunday, November 25, 2012

In time of war...

     This isn't a political blog or a very personal one; but it is blog on women, motherhood and creativity- so I feel it’s important to discuss how we deal with being (or not being!) creative during times of stress. Sometimes during stressful situations there are no kids around and we have the time to create…this is our time. Only our thoughts are so consumed with stressful thoughts that it pushes creativity aside and paralyzes us. What if you can't find the muse to create!?
     When I was going through my divorce, for some reason I couldn't paint. I can’t explain it except to say that maybe I connect oil painting to a very emotional place in me and I didn't want to deal with that place, so I pushed it aside. But I found other ways to create. I created a lot of mosaics during that time. Something in the process of breaking things up, physically, and putting them together in a new beautiful way, spoke to me. The creative process helped me, healed me, calmed me and I found peace there.
     It took me along time to pick up my brush again. I worked with soft pastels, oil pastels and pencils and only recently got back into my oil painting again. And I love it again!
     But this past week I had an emotional blockage. I couldn't write my blog and I couldn't paint all week! I was too preoccupied with the war going on in my country. My mind was so consumed with thoughts, there was no room left for anything else.
If you aren't from Israel then you may not know there was a war going on here. Officially, it wasn't called a war. But believe me when I say that for the people in Israel it definitely felt like a war! The last time I heard sirens in Jerusalem and had to run to a safe room I was a teenager. I was living at home, a senior in high school, and my parents were there to protect me. I remember feeling that. It was a very family oriented time. We spent a lot of time at home just waiting for the sirens. We played a lot of backgammon and spent most of our time together glued to the TV to see what was going on in the country. Who was hit? How many injured? It was very scary, but I felt safe with my family.
      Last Friday night a siren went off in Jerusalem, I was home with two of my three kids. We grabbed the dog and ran into the safe room. I didn't know where my 16 year old was. I was very scared. We heard a boom -and I realized – I am the parent here. My kids are looking to me to feel safe. I didn't feel safe. My insides were screaming. Where is my son? Where did it hit? Where is my son? I hope no one got hurt! WHERE IS MY SON!!! But outside, I was calm. For my kids who were also nervous. I had to be calm and keep them calm. Hug them and reassure them that it will be okay. We just need to stay in the room 10 minutes to be sure and safe and then we will go out and see that all is okay….but inside…inside, I was scared too. And when my son came home, very shaken from the experience, I couldn't stop hugging him.
     When the next siren that went off in Jerusalem, I was teaching. I wasn't with my kids! I didn't know where they were, and that scared me. I didn't think anything had happened to them, but they weren't with me. Who is helping them feel safe?
And then a bus was blown up in Tel Aviv, and I couldn't breathe until my kids got home that day. They all take buses back and forth from school everyday…
     It has taken all my strength and emotions to keep it together for my kids. Our country was at war for a week. They saw the news. Even when Jerusalem wasn't affected we are all affected because this is a country where we are all one family. We all care for each other and want to protect each other like a family. We are all responsible for one another and want to feel safe.
     So, I couldn't write and I couldn't paint.  My thoughts were too consumed with worry and concern for my family.
     Now the painting will come again. Now I will express it all in my work. I need that distance from emotional events in my life to be able to create on them. Time to reflect, and then create. I dealt with my divorce in the end, as I dealt with my mother’s illness. I painted through it eventually. And it healed me. 
So let us all go back to creating, to living. And I wish my WHOLE family a safe, warm and peaceful week.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Mandalas- A creative journey for our soul

Mandalas- A creative journey for our soul

As you know (if you don’t, then check out my gallery page!), I use spirals in my art. I love the feeling I get painting in a spiral. It takes me back to my school days when my notebooks were filled with more doodles than notes!
I guess you can say I was happier taking notes on what was going on in my head and soul then what the teacher was saying!  Today I understand this strong connection between what is going through my head and what I am feeling to what I paint or even doodle that day.

This past week I was doing a lot of meditative art; small drawings with pencil, pen and ink. I had a lot on my mind and I find this very comforting, calming and even soul searching.

One form of art that deals with this emotional connection are Mandalas.
Mandalas are used in many religions and cultures. It is a spiritual, creative meditation that connects our inner and outer self. The psychoanalyst Carl Jung saw the Mandala as " a psychological expression of the totality of the self" Jung maintained that the mandala describes our soul, our center point, symbolizing the self. Children draw mandalas instinctively; they are in nature in a variety of forms. The essence of the mandala is a circle, spiral- like, in  nature. Spirals are everywhere from galaxies, trees, shells, flowers or even how a drop of water hits 
water it makes a spiral.

The circle symbolizes perfection, endless space surrounding us and our thoughts. It describes our physical and spiritual circle.

In different religions, it is used as a way to connect and meditate on our connection with ourselves and G-d; a type of prayer through art.
A mandala is an intuitive form of drawing/painting. The center parallel to our own center. We connect through line, form and color with ourselves and create a feeling of balance and calm.

This is a mandala I drew this week. Only after I finished it did I realize I had been thinking of my son that was in the army for the week.
The green I subconsciously picked is the same as his uniform, but also the green of nature. He is growing up and away from me, my center. He is part of something bigger. His spiral 
intertwined with this country he will be defending.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

If Mary Cassatt had a blog…

If Mary Cassatt had a blog…

…or any of the other amazing female artists from a time without Internet and blogging - what would they have blogged about?
     Today, so many artists have blogs or are connected to other artists through online networking. We get support beyond our  immediate environment and interact with people all over the world without traveling. This has opened a number of doors for artists.  You can interact and learn art online, or even find where to get the best quality and priced materials. You can see art online and learn and be inspired by what you see without going to a museum (although it is NOT the same!!!!); or view the work of an artist who may not be exhibiting at museums and galleries but has an online portfolio. There are ways to show your art today that weren't available before.
     Would Mary have written a blog and shared her frustrations with society’s outlook on woman artists in those days? Would she have shared her ambitions to paint professionally against these prejudices?  Maybe she would tell tales of her school days and how she didn't think she was learning anything so she moved to Paris and copied the masters at the Louvre. We could have heard of the people she met there. The frustrations of submitting work to the Salon and not being shown. The fact that her father disapproved of her way of life and wouldn't give her money for art supplies. How she almost gave up in despair.She went to America and wrote in a letter in July 1871- "I have given up my studio & torn up my father's portrait, & have not touched a brush for six weeks nor ever will again until I see some prospect of getting back to Europe. I am very anxious to go out west next fall & get some employment, but I have not yet decided where."  
     Thankfully she didn't give up! Eventually she went back to Europe and had success. She was very verbal and blunt about her ideas on politics in the art world, and I am sure I would have loved to read a blog of hers. At one point she debated and tried to paint in a more fashionable manner to be more marketable and make money doing commissions for the American socialites. This is a topic many of us are well aware of today. Do we paint more marketable paintings thinking of what people would want to buy, or are we true to ourselves and paint from our souls?
     We could have read about her interaction with impressionists; her friendship with Berthe Morisot and Degas and how Degas influenced her. On seeing Degas’s work she said, "It changed my life. I saw art then as I wanted to see it.”
     Mary decided early in life that marriage would not fit in with her career choice. Is this not still a big challenge for women artists today? How to balance our creativity with marriage and children? So many woman struggle with being an artist as a career choice and only go "back" to art later in life, when they have time. Women are still battling with society’s idea of women’s roles and how we can manage a career and family. If Mary had Internet, and could interact with other woman going through similar struggles as her own, would she have still chosen this road?
Later in life Mary created her most famous series of paintings and prints. She painted mothers and children in the most soft, tender and honest way.  I love these paintings.
 Here are a few for you to enjoy…The first one I saw at the Brooklyn museum this summer and it is just amazing up close.

You can see why I would LOVE these paintings!!!
     Mary went on to be a role model for many young artists and advised art collectors on buying Impressionist art.
     Imagine what influence she would have had today.

     I would like to give blog space once a month to celebrate female artists from around the world. We can all learn from them. Their struggles and issues are our struggles and issues. I would like to try and see the world through the eyes of these amazing women, learn from them and discuss issues that were important to them and may still be relevant today.