New Painting & Poem

I intend to link my two loves – fine art and poetry by creating a new poem to accompany each new painting.

This latest one is called “I Smile Back”

 

I Smile Back

 

Sunshine, loved

One sleeping,

Unexpected smooch,

Child’s bubble bursting

On heavy-lidded nose,

Spring day grass mowed,

Noticing,

Noticing

Old woman’s smile,

Horoscope matching

Perfectly.

Being noticed,

Hugged and hugging.

Tidal ocean love,

Like smelling salts

Scary thanksgiving,

I pay attention,

Mind blinks clear,

So grateful. Grateful.

Life smiles at me,

I smile back,

Today

I smile back.

16″x12″. Acrylic on canvas. “I Smile Back”

My Halloween “Artist Date”

Happy belated Halloween!

What a wonderful day! Coincidentally, today was the perfect day for an artist date. If you’ve ever read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, then you know what I’m talking about. An artist’s date is when you go out, by yourself, and engage in some activity that stimulates your creativity.

Today I found a branch of one of the few remaining bookstores, Barnes and Noble, and spent the morning looking around. Of course, I found myself in the art section. What surprised me, though, was how excited I was becoming. As I said last week, I intend to go in a new artistic direction, using abstract and mixed-media.

by Pichi & Avo, Spanish artists

by Pichi & Avo, Spanish artists

While browsing, I found a wonderful book, called Graffiti School: A Student Guide and Teacher Manual,  which really put me in a creative mood. (Yes, I realize that buying a book on graffiti is a tad nerdy, even for me. However, I do not plan on becoming a graffiti artist – just making cool stuff like one!).

by a Toronto graffiti artist

I also saw another book that had me bursting at the seams: Alternative Art Surfaces. This book has several instructions on how to use various media and surfaces for mixed media techniques. It wasn’t so much the projects themselves that inspired me (Though they looked awesome, I’m not sure if I will actually try all of them). But, the book got my own wheels turning – which is the whole point of an artist’s date.

by Noe Two, a Parisian artist

by Noe Two, a Parisian artist

A third source of information was Acrylic Artist, a magazine I had never heard of before. I bought it on the spot and can’t wait to dive in!

So, if you’re an artist who has yet to implement artist’s dates – or if you’re like me and you haven’t done one in a while – dive back in! It really makes a difference.

Here’s to a happy, productive, and creative week!

–Raven

Mental Illness and Spirituality

I did a short paper this past semester on Sylvia Plath and her presumed mental illness. People usually focus on her suicide and some of her more depressing poems when they speak about her work. However, I focused on some of her other great poems, such as Face Lift, which discusses the aging process and its emotional effects on women, and Strumpet Song which is a deeply empathic poem about a prostitute. In my paper I focused on her skill as a poet which, in my opinion, stemmed from her deep ability to empathize with the human condition. Was this deep level of compassion related to both her mental illness and her writing skills? Or was it gender-based, since, statistically, more women than men suffer from clinical depression – and because women’s health issues were routinely ignored or patronized in those days?

Because less was known about mental illness in Plath’s day, it isn’t clear what exactly she suffered from – whether it was depression or bipolar disorder. But, it got me to thinking about how we respond to mental illness as a society – and, specifically, how the spiritual community responds to mental illness.

In the old days, people assumed that the mentally ill were possessed with demons. Sadly, there are still many people who believe this and try to “pray away” mental health issues. There is still much we don’t know about the brain – which is a physical structure that interacts with but is separate from our souls and spirits. So, in light of my own ignorance but strong desire to be compassionate, I have come up with the following rules for myself when dealing with people I suspect are suffering from some sort of undiagnosed mental illness:

1) Know and believe that the person is made in the image and likeness of the Divine, regardless of whatever electronic misfiring might be going on in the brain’s circuitry.

2) Understand that my definition of “normal” is subject to my own interpretation and the influence of the cultural norms in which I was raised. (That which we call madness could make perfect sense in a different dimension of reality).

3) Realize that what might seem like mental illness could be the Ego’s dysfunctional reaction to pain – run amuck. People often make much more sense if and when we fully understand what they’ve been through.

4) Pray and hold the space for them to receive the help they need while practicing self-care. Compassion and kindness do not require us to be doormats. Place the oxygen mask on yourself first…

Anyway, this is a deep issue that requires much more contemplation. All I do know is that Love is the starting point for solving any and all societal problems!

In Peace and Love,

Raven

Staying Creative

Greetings, Light Beings! While my creative efforts have been focused more on writing lately, I have really really missed my art.  I took advantage of the week-long break in my grad school schedule to finish a couple of paintings. I see the mood in both of them as more fantasy-like, less strictly realistic. I’d like to continue that trend and see where it takes me.

The next semester starts tomorrow. I hope I don’t have to wait another 10 weeks to do a painting, but we’ll see!

Thanks for reading and following. You are part of my blessings!

Love and joy,

Raven

Beltane Inspiration

With Beltane fast approaching, I’ve been spending the last few hours preparing my painting in honor of the holiday.

Beltane is a major Wiccan Sabbat and its name means ‘the fires of Bel’, the Celtic sun-god. Beltane marks the return of summer and the sun’s dominance over the earth. It is a time to celebrate the fertility of the earth and the magic bond between man and woman.

In my next painting, I will be looking to incorporate a feeling of sexually charged expectation, the beauty and magic of fire, and the playfulness of youth.  I’ll be working in acrylic on canvas, which I haven’t done for years.

In the meantime, I’ve been practicing my drawing, and working on my writing.

14-04-25_side_light14-04-25_modeling_factors

Until next time, peace and blessings on the path towards your most authentic self.

Love and Light,

Raven

Writers Must Read

This week I have been implementing the changes I mentioned last week. For one, I have re-instituted Morning Pages into my life.  Morning Pages, also known as stream-of-consciousness writing, or freewriting, (or brain-dump) is the process of writing off the top of your head for a pre-determined span of time, usually 20 minutes or so.  It is enormously helpful as a warm-up to writing, but also as a way to process the mumbo-jumbo in your head so you can focus better throughout the day.

I have also rediscovered the joy of reading.  While I was in school I rarely had time to read for pleasure and I relied on the likes of  YouTube and Hulu instead. But a few days ago I read the novel Kill Your Darlings by Max Allan Collins in two days, and checked out the following:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Toxicology by Jessica Hagedorn, A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, and Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy.

Just as looking at art is wonderful inspiration for painting, reading wonderful works of fiction (high brown and low brow) definitely inspires me to write.  Check out my other blog in the upcoming weeks for pieces of flash fiction (short stories of about 300 words): Raven Burnes.

I look forward to a week of creating.  Speaking of which, I finally finished my painting for Eostara.

Eostara

Eostara

 

Until next time, peace and blessings on the path towards your most authentic self.

Love and Light,

Raven

Celebrate Imbolc, Celebrate The Arts!

“THE ARTS ARE NOT JUST A NICE THING TO HAVE OR TO DO IF THERE IS FREE TIME OR IF ONE CAN AFFORD IT.  RATHER, PAINTINGS AND POETRY, MUSIC AND FASHION, DESIGN AND DIALOGUE, THEY ALL DEFINE WHO WE ARE AS A PEOPLE AND PROVIDE AN ACCOUNT OF OUR HISTORY FOR THE NEXT GENERATION.”

Michelle Obama

I came across the above quote the other day and was surprised that I had not seen it before.  Despite all the heat our President and his First Lady take, they are remarkably poised and evolved people.

It is rare to hear anyone speak of the arts with such deep respect.  In the midst of our current economic “crisis”, many people have shut down.  You hear things like “majoring in humanities and the arts is irresponsible” or you hear reports that schools are slashing even more funding for the arts, in favor of more “useful” subjects.  I have never heard anyone explain how, if everyone majors in math and science, there could possibly be enough jobs for all those people.  I have also never heard a good explanation for what people are supposed to do if they are not good at math and science.

In any case, Ms. Obama has eloquently stated why the arts are not only important, but essential to any civilization.  They reflect and define who we are.  They remind us that we are immortal beings, not just animals scratching around for food, sex, and money.  The arts – whether we are doing them or appreciating them – call to something deep within us, something that connects us to our Higher Selves.

Today is the Pagan holiday Imbolc (EE-molc).

Almost finished - painting for Imbolc, oil on canvas

Imbolc, oil on canvas

It marks the passing of winter and the birth of spring.  It is Brigid’s day, she being the goddess of poetry, healing, midwifery, and the arts.  The day celebrates the Goddess’ recovery from giving birth to the God in Pagan mythology.  It is a time for beginnings, as the days lengthen and we prepare for the rebirth of Spring.

Art and spirituality are intimately bound. If you can appreciate one, you can appreciate the other.  Enjoy the beauty of this day and, if you have the opportunity, celebrate Brigid by getting out and enjoying (or performing) the arts – music, theater, visual art, dance – whatever moves your spirit!

Until next time, peace and richest blessings on your path towards your most authentic self.

Love and Light,

Raven

Photo at the Paris casino in Las Vegas, Nevada

Photo at the Paris casino in Las Vegas, Nevada