Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Erin, Choices"

"We must make the choices that enable us to fulfill the deepest capacities of our real selves."
~Thomas Merton

I have completed only two paintings away from my regular studio in Burlington, Ontario, Canada....ever. You gets attached to places of creation. The familiar routine, temperature, rituals and ability to fall into a groove of focus tend to be pretty constant in one's regular studio. That is why I came prepared to Omaha, Nebraska. A prolonged working vacation with three canvases in tow to finish while here. "Erin, Choices, oil on canvas, 24"x48" is the first of the three.

I have spoken before about people I paint. They range from new friends to old friends...but an alignment of time and place must work together for a successful photoshoot and painting to take place. Erin, a good friend and yoga instructor, is an old soul. She is one of those friends who possesses the gift of articulation, and that, combined with wisdom, makes for very good conversation. I was thrilled when she agreed to let me paint her and where else to paint her but where she loves to be: a yoga studio.

I have been taking classes at Moksha Yoga Burlington for a year and a half.  The first time I tried hot yoga I loved it. I knew as long as I could get out of bed every morning I would take classes as much as time and budget would allow. Erin teaches there, and Thommy, the owner of Moksha Burlington, let us do a little photoshoot in one of the studios.

I knew from the outset that mirrors and reflection were needed. I love the challenge that a reflected image places upon you, and the metaphorical significance is always enticing. I liked the idea that the mirror might not be instantly noticeable, that you might have to wonder momentarily if she had a twin. Or is it a different version of herself? Why is she looking away from herself and not towards herself? What is she thinking? The idea of a fork in a road, of a set of choices upon choices was the inspiration behind this piece.

I packed the canvas of Erin into my Subaru and headed to Omaha two weeks ago. The drive took me two days, with a brief stopover to visit my friend Joe in Chicago. What an amazing city. I'm more of a country mouse but I have always wanted to experience The Windy City. Though only a pit stop en route to the Midwest, I was impressed.

                                                          A first glimpse at Chicago...

Evening sun setting on West Fulton Market

A brief mention about the drive. The border officials at the Sarnia crossing into Michigan were super nice. I knew I'd have to go to Secondary Inspection given my high threat vocation of being a painter ;) but I duly pulled into a spot while a pair of guards with black latex gloves went through the car and queried me as to the specifics of my voyage. I complied (of course) and we were joking around together after a few minutes. Then I was on my way. Despite tonnes of road kill and highway tolls in Michigan, I was thrilled to be on another adventure. Adventure keeps you young, sharp and fully engaged with the world around you. I highly recommend it.

Joe on the rooftop of his warehouse loft. 

A great end to a great evening in the Windy City.

I will post another blog soon about my continued adventures towards Omaha, and paintings I am working on here. As a painter you need to keep moving, just as you move through your adventures that take you from place to place. But the point is, like a stone that skips across water, to keep grounding yourself with your work, or your passion, or your play. Ground yourself to things that define who you are and you will never become lost.

"Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by, 
and that has made all the difference."~Robert Frost


jamenta said...

"Ground yourself to things that define who you are and you will never become lost."

Lovely line and excellent BLOG post Heather. I am reading a book by Robert Johnson right now called "Inner Work" in which the author writes about Jungian "Individuation" i.e. the concept that our unconcious is constantly moving us toward becoming who we are meant to be, a whole unique, one-of-a-kind individual. That individuation takes place when the concious self partners with the unconscious and one is not at odds with the other. Robert goes on to say:

"In the same way the universal psychological energies and capacities in the human race are combined differently in each of us. Each person has a distinct psychological structure. It is only by living that inherent structure that one discovers what it means to be an individual."

... Then goes on to write:

"A great sense of security develops from this process of individuation. One begins to understand that it isn't necessary to struggle to be like someone else, for by being one's own self one stands on the surest ground. We realize that to know ourselves completely and to develop all the strengths that are built into us is a lifetime task. We don't need to make an imitation of someone else's life. There is no further need for pretensions, for what is already ours is riches enough, and far more than we ever expected."

Rachel said...

Just wanted to stop by and say that I really enjoy your artwork. Keep up the good work!

shared exchange hosting said...

Beautiful images!

Anonymous said...

The dichotomy of reflection has never been better displayed,,is the subject contemplating the sanctuary and comfort of thought as portrayed by withdrawing into the mirror? or facing the reality that in itself has always proven to be an illusion? perhaps an Automorphism best left to a mathematicion,,,another one that raises the bar,,very well done