Origin

Origin
Watercolor, 5 x 7 inches
$150 —email me to purchase


Warm, steamy, rich and fertile; rising up from verdant valley.

This is the result of a watercolor experience I hope to enjoy more often. Effortlessness, in harmonic relationship with my favorite medium.

Some days, I can sit down to paint for hours with no satisfying result. Frustrating. Other days, a miracle appears almost immediately before my very eyes. Persistence. Faith. Persistence. Even when I don't feel like it. Practice pays off.

As I consider my watercolors a spiritual practice, and that life is the first art, I am practicing living my life with more effortlessness. It's not always easy to let go of the neuroses or to overcome the obstacles that make life seem difficult, that throw us out of harmony, out of balance. But I'm willing to more consciously make effortlessness and harmony part of my daily intention. Each time I get out of whack — and I've been out of whack this past week — I am standing myself up, dusting myself off and setting my intention all over again. Persistence. Faith. Persistence. Even when I don't feel like it, practice pays off.

I love making watercolor paintings. I love living life. How difficult can it really be? My preference? Effortlessness!

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Bless


Bless
Watercolor, 5 x 7 inches
$150 —email me to purchase


As I wondered what to call this, I piled my etymological references, thesauruses and dictionaries around me on the daybed. One thing led to another. I found my way to "bless".

Did you know (I didn't) that the word "bless" occurs only in the English language? C'est vrai!

Originally, it meant to mark (or consecrate) with blood (hence, my title), and probably goes back to a prehistoric Germanic formation which worked its way into Middle English and through to Modern English today.

I thought that to bless meant to remove sin or make pure. So, I also did not know that to bless means to "make happy, confer prosperity or happiness upon." I suppose it's the same thing, more or less...

May this painting make you happy and prosperous!

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The Fires of Spring


The Fires of Spring
Watercolor, 5 x 7 inches
Bid for this painting at The Help Japan Challenge
All proceeds aid emergency assistance and recovery for animal victims in Japan disaster

"There is a curious paradox that no one can explain:
who understands the secrets of the reaping of the grain?
Who understands why spring is born out of winter's laboring pain,
or why we all must die a bit before we grow again?"
                — El Gallo speaks
                    at the the end of The Fantasticks, by Tom Jones


Spring is here!


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after La Farge

after La Farge
Watercolor and pencil, 12 x 12 inches


One of my favorite Basic Watercolor Class exercises is making a copy of a John La Farge watercolor. I made this quick demo for today's class from Wild Roses in a Chinese Bowl. The quick pieces tossed off without time for much thought are often my favorites.

To move beyond thought... that's the idea, really.

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New Palette


A number of years ago, I wrote an extensive post on how I lay out my watercolor palette. After a deep clean and rearrangement the other day, I subtracted a few colors and added a few. Here's the new layout in my great big Thomas Lynch porcelain watercolor palette:


and what the colors look like on paper:


My colors are:

M. Graham: Azo Yellow, Gamboge, Cerulean Blue, Cobalt Blue, Anthraquinone Blue, Quinacridone Rose.

and Daniel Smith: Yellow Ochre, Goethite, Quinacridone Gold, Rich Green Gold, Green Gold, Serpentine Green, Cascade Green, Cobalt Teal, Manganese Blue, Imperial Purple, Rose of Ultramarine, Rhodonite Genuine, Perinone Orange, Deep Scarlet.

Now that the days are longer and the weather is warmer, I am ramping up for a whole new series of paintings. Mmmmm.... I love mixing color together and mixing color with water and flowing it onto fine paper. Just need a little time to pull my chops together. Stay tuned!

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The Lakes of Killarney

The Lakes of Killarney
watercolor and graphite, 5 x 7
$50 —100% to Japanese relief fund for animals via GreaterGood.org
*

The Lakes of Killarney

In salty air,
on sandy feet,
you pointed out across the waves.
"Somewhere out there Ireland lies
and one day I shall take you there.

"It is the place where we come from,
out of the marshy timeless mist,
with poems and magic we are kissed.
Our souls forever breathe her airs.

"Our thirst is legend,
for we are Irish.
In dreams we drink the rainbow dry."

And now I dream in gold,
and now I dream in green.

If your soul is in repose,
then all Killarney’s lakes must seem
as blue as your eyes,
as blue as heaven.


©1995 Suzanne McDermott/Drexel Road Music (ASCAP) All Rights Reserved

*Thanks to my friend, Mineke Reinders for reminding me to offer painting for donation towards Japanese relief.

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Healing Fundamentals


Awakening
Watercolor and pencil, 5 x 7 inches
$75

"It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness."
—Eleanor Roosevelt
I love the day we spring forward. Ah, more light! That's for me.

There are so many aspects to my current healing journey that I'm breaking the topic into several posts.

As a teacher, I am big into foundation. Maybe it's my architectural sensibility. Without a good foundation, a building will collapse. I teach basic drawing, basic watercolor, (and occasionally, basic guitar) because too many people leap into the fray of creative expression without a solid elemental foundation and then struggle with the frustration of baby step issues for years.

So it is with healing. The foundation of healing must be in place in order for any remedy or treatment to be effective.

The healing fundamentals I describe also form the foundation of well-being.  While these principals can apply to any problem in need of healing, for the sake of this post, I'll call the problem an injury.

Here are the underlying principals of healing.

Acceptance.
Yep, you have an injury. Regardless of how in our face matters may be, it's amazing how we can resort to denial. Don't deny it, deal with it.

Regardless of whether the injury is acute, chronic, temporary or terminal, accept that you have a new commitment. This new commitment is a relationship to your healing journey. As you are in relationship, it's not just you and your willpower at work. You are interacting with your particular injury and situation. Each aspect has an effect on the others.

Good Cheer.
Use your healing experience to your best advantage. Take pleasure in the benefits that your injury presents. For example, these benefits may be spiritual lessons, helpful people you encounter, knowledge and wisdom you gain as a result of your injury and healing, or simply slowing down.

For example, here are some benefits of my foot and ankle injury:  
  • My upper body strength has increased 10-fold and my upper arms are nicely toned
  • My right thigh can now handle an entire body squat
  • A neighbor installed a new guard rail along my studio loft
  • I've slowed down and become more mindful
  • I've learned new healing techniques
  • A student is trading weekly housecleaning for a drawing class
  • I am learning how to ask for help and (even better) how to allow people to help me
  • Being cheerful makes life fun
  • I've been inspired to get back to regular blogging
If it seems outrageous to suggest that you be cheerful about your injury, consider this: Your mental and emotional attitude and approach towards your own healing is critical. Emotions are thoughts and thoughts affect our physical experience from the cellular to environmental realm. Be your own Pollyanna. It has to start with you. Expect the best, visualize yourself fully healed and remember, thoughts become things.

Become aware of an inclination to complain and intend to not do so.
"for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
—William Shakespeare
Allowing.
The healing process takes time. So kick back and enjoy the ride. How many people do you know who have rushed the healing process only to make matters worse? Have you? (I have.)

I completely understand impatience. When I was eleven years old and sprained my ankle for the first time, my lower leg was placed in a heavy plaster cast. I couldn't stand it. Within a week, I hobbled down to the basement, found my father's hammer and chisel and broke the cast off. I don't think there were any dire consequences but I am relieved to see how much I've matured since and that I am  (at least a little) more patient.

If you run out to work with bronchitis, chances are that pneumonia might arise. Let yourself heal. What is the rush, really? There is nothing more important that your personal radiant health. Without physical health, everything else in your life is compromised.

Courage.
Feel the fear and do it anyway. Your fear can be lack of motivation, depression, crankiness, frustration, whatever. Feel that way and get up to take your next step anyway. Learn how to pat yourself on the back. Practice becoming your own biggest fan.

Responsibility.
You are responsible for your own health. Not your doctor or pharmacist or drugs. My foot and leg are healing because of my efforts. The doctors are here to help us with the finer points. Learn about how your body works. Become more aware of how you are feeling. Learn about ways to get better and stay better. Doctors, as we know them today, and pharmaceutical companies are recent phenomena. We've been healing ourselves for millennia.

Rest.
Really, take it easy. Your body is working extra hard on the cellular level. Sleep a little more. Lay around and enjoy just being. 

One final note about Good Cheer and Allowing. We're human. We have untamed minds. Allow yourself a few days to mope around. At some point near the end of your acute recovery phase and the beginning of your rehabilitation phase, your energy and momentum will have to switch gears. (And that won't be the only time you'll have to switch gears.) You'll feel blue. Give yourself permission to be a little cranky or a little depressed but do not let it go on too long. Feeling down is part of the healing process but not a place you want to get stuck!

and
Laugh.
As much as you can. It's good medicine!

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Radical Healing

Overgrown
Watercolor, 9 x 12 inches
$75

Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.
        —Hippocrates
The word Radical comes from the Latin radicalis —"of or pertaining to the root, having roots”. The origin of Radicalis is the Latin radix, meaning "root”.

Getting down to the bottom of it is what this particular healing journey is all about. Sure, it's my foot — the root of my physical structure. But because the foot fracture is particularly difficult to heal, I've had to take a get down to the bottom of it approach to recovery.

You may remember from a previous post that I was told by an orthopedic surgeon that there was nothing I could do to help heal my Jones Fracture. Nothing is impossible. I proceeded on a personal research project and assembled an internal and topical wholistic regime comprised of herbs and oils and massage and nutrition, rest and non-weight bearing exercise, energy work, a mental and emotional approach, and allowing...

In drawing, and in watercolor, I teach my students to look at the whole before focusing on any part; to perceive a subject in context and to approach their drawing or watercolor in the same manner. I have taken this same approach to healing my foot and ankle.

If 2010 was about transition, (and, for me, it was), 2011 is all about transformation.

The first month of this year I spent cleaning, clearing and renovating my space. Wow, I thought, I've de-cluttered, Feng Shui'd and upleveled my space. I'm ready for advancement!

And then, my traumatic fall. A crisis.

The Chinese symbol for Crisis is composed of two characters: Danger and Opportunity.


From the start, I have taken the opportunity of this injury to be grateful for my life, to be cheerful, to look at the bright side — at the positive lessons this crisis has provided me.

There are no accidents in life. For me, life is school for the soul. Experiences are lessons. Trauma, or crisis, provides a particular set of problems. How we approach those problems, how we approach, consider, and work with solutions to those problems, is how our soul, our spirit, finds an opportunity to develop, to evolve.

Definitions for the word root include
  • that which anchors the plant to the ground
  • beginning: the place where something begins, where it springs into being
  • take root and begin to grow
  • come into existence, originate
  • solution: the set of values that give a true statement when substituted into an equation
  • settle: become settled or established and stable in one's residence or life style; "He finally settled down"
Any time someone tries to sympathize with me in such a way that suggests my injury is a bad thing, I immediately respond that this injury is a blessing in so many more ways than it is a challenge... that this injury saved my life.

My therapeutic approach to healing this injury has provided me the opportunity to clear out a lot of energetic and lifestyle clutter. As with our living and working space, the first step to cleaning up our act is to clear the clutter. I did that in January.

Ever since, I've been working on my energetic and nutritional clutter to help heal my foot and ankle. It's working!

On a follow up visit to my doctor this morning, a new set of foot and ankle x-rays were taken. What the doctor first said was a 50-50 chance of healing at all (my Jones Fracture), is healing quickly and nicely. Before the x-rays, I mentioned that I thought I might also have a fracture of the medial tibia, so an ankle x-ray was added. Sure enough, the inside of my tibia is cracked from mid-calf to ankle. The doctor said that I'm already treating the ankle fracture as I'm treating the foot fracture.

I'm so pleased that the healing is coming along so well and that the injury is giving me the opportunity to work, in a radical way, with my health and life style.

More on my approach to healing in the next post.
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Reiki Healing



Since my fall, I've had flashing headaches almost constantly. As the MRI showed no signs of any damage (which is good, because I didn't hit my head (which is good!)), I figured it was a neck or spinal tweak that was fussing with some nerves.

A massage yesterday did not take care of the problem but I went to a Reiki healing circle last night and, when I got up off the table, voila! Headaches no more!!

So sit back, relax and enjoy this week's entry for Video Friday. More on my healing journey next week.

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