Excitement kept me awake for two straight weeks before this day. Storming with ideas, they fluttered around my head, continuously keeping the sandman at bay.
You see, Grace agreed to bring my thoughts to life, to model for me, and I was eager to make the most of this special gift. She bravely ventured out into the snow with me, unbeknownst to what I had in store. Never mind that each step dropped us down a foot and a half through ice making it difficult to traverse the terrain or even the parking lot! (Snow shoes work wonders, I hear.) Thankfully, the weather took on a warming trend and after weeks of the teens and twenties, 40 degrees felt like a heat wave. (Yes, I said it. 40 degrees felt warm.)
In Greek Mythology, Persephone is often viewed, most notably for being the Queen of the Underworld (and we’re not talking of the Kate Beckinsale variety), but I like to think of her more along the lines of her other title, the Goddess of Spring. Having been whisked away by Hades and partaken the seed of the pomegranate, she was forced to reside underground for six months out of the year. Her mother, Demeter, upon learning that Zeus had conspired alongside Hades for Persephone’s abduction, cursed the land by refusing to let it bear fruit until her daughter was returned to her.
And so we have the winter season. I suppose I should offer up a sarcastic thank you to Zeus for that one!
Luckily, when the sun begins to warm the air, the snow starts to melt and the robins return, we know that Persephone is knocking on the door.
I eagerly await her arrival.
The Birth of the Search
It’s no secret that I wave my Texas Flag loud and proud. There must be something in the water that naturally endears each of us to the State at birth. Like a cult-like, massive dose of school spirit. (Although, I never really had school spirit.) With the exception of four years in the North Texas, I spent most of my life in the South, which means we almost never saw this magical fluffy white stuff. I do recall the snow storm of 1985. It dropped about a foot on the unsuspecting land. My sister and I decorated our first snow man and the neighbor ingeniously tied a rope to a laundry basket and pulled all of us kids around in a home-made sled. My next major memory was on my honeymoon with Capt. Awesome. November, in Santa Fe. We walked into Maria’s (side note: they have an amazing assortment of delicious margaritas) as the wind kicked up white flurries all around. I squealed like a little school girl while Awesome laughed at me.
Fast forward to last week. It’s been a crazy winter, my first in New England. February decided to launch a full on attack as this week brings another drop in temperatures to the teens. Oh God! So, with the frequent snow days, I decided to experience it fully…and in ALL it’s glory, marching out with camera and tripod in hand.
It truly was like another world. I had magically stepped through the wardrobe and transported myself into Narnia. Is Mr. Tumnus around the corner awaiting my arrival?
The snow covered everything in sight, including myself. Alas, I finally know what it feels like to have snow flakes on my nose and eye lashes! Oh, and a minor case of frost bite. Small sacrifices for art. For the winter experience.
Wild Beasts, or Fauves, were born early out of the twentieth century as a break away response from the Impressionism Movement. Their style, expressed in bold, bright colors, often times using paint straight from the tube, displays prominent brush strokes littering across the canvas creating massive color blocks. They sometimes rejected three dimensional space altogether. Matisse was at the forefront of this movement known as Fauvism, which predominantly flourished in France.
So it’s clear, I have France on the brain. I’ve been scouring the likes of Etsy, Vintage online stores and my local Goodwill Outlets for the perfect wardrobe and accessories for use in future photography projects in France. One trip to Glastonbury produced this amazing $3 find…one bright, cadmium red angora, wide brimmed hat. Instantly, I was walking through the rooms of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, approaching my favorite painting, The Corn Poppy, by Kees van Dongen. The colors, so vivid, call out to me, still fresh after all the years. I would sit for a long time just staring at this painting. What was she thinking? Who was she looking for?
Since I’ve been in a self portrait kick as of late, it only seemed natural to paint myself up, put on waaay too much black eye shadow, throw on the hat and go to town. I have to say, this was the most fun I’ve had playing in Photoshop to date. If only I could’ve painted this well back in college. With that being said, I never quite mastered painting (this is probably why my work has gone more mixed media, photographic and digital manipulation over the years) but I did love pastel drawings. Chalk. So this is my rendition of van Dongen’s masterpiece, a digital chalk drawing of my favorite painting.
Stepping outside this morning, my foot sank into the snow up past my boot, sprinkling powder down to my toes. You could hear the rustling of trees as the precipitation, now turned to ice, rained down on the already white covered terrain creating a bit of an off-key winter symphony. Shelby, my marvelous mutt, wasn’t even interested in doing her business this morning, eager to return to the warm confines of our home to nap the day away.
Hibernation mode is at it’s ultimate peak, having foregone the gym on more than one occasion(give or take a month or so), and working every attempt to throw an extra layer or two on for the ultimate in winter coat protection. Despite the beauty of the outside winter wonderland, I long for the warmth of the sun. And for my poor little car to not have to ‘skate’ from stop sign to stop sign. When the snow starts to fall, I feel prisoner to slippery conditions. Land locked to places only my two feet can take me.
Yes, I have adapted. Surprisingly enough, when you’ve lived in day after day of 20 degree weather, or god forbid is sinks into single digits, 30 degrees starts to feel warm. But what I wouldn’t give to feel hot! To forgo socks for a day! Oh what a great day that would be! So in the meantime, I am left to my own devices; limited only by my imagination. Living my own private wonderland. (And episodes of Lost on Netflix. God love, Netflix!)
They say that hindsight is 20/20.
When I first came up with this image I was surrounded by fellow workshop attendees at this beautiful old mansion, off the beaten path in NJ, for a Brooke Shaden Workshop. Her work is surreal, beautiful, dark and mysterious and given the location, you always get a sense that you’ve walked through a portal into another time. Perhaps of the 18th century. So naturally, everyone’s visions tend toward the dark side. It almost can’t be helped. (To be clear, by dark, I mean thoughts of hardships, internal struggles, emotional strife and the ever so handy life vs death archetype. Not so much in the way of the evil that erupts from the depths of Mordor or the demonic terror of The Exorcist!)
Ideas quickly develop as visual images swarm my head, almost as if I’m in the darkroom watching the magic happen once the paper hits the developer. I wish I could always say that the why or concept of the image always precedes the actual image itself, (I’m getting there) but we only had about 4 minutes to the save the world so panic set in on a low level. Visions of floating girls immediately drifted to thoughts of the land of the dead speaking to the land of the living. Say WHAT?!?! Yeah so, I don’t normally think like that let alone feel the desire to create an image with that intent – not that there’s anything wrong with that! But let’s face it, Capt. Awesome admitted that he often bribes me into watching scary movies by succumbing to the occasional chick flick!
So instead I delved a little deeper. Most of my art, even back from the days of college circled around memories. A certain thought will spark a memory and suddenly I’m back 5, 15, 25 years ago recalling a specific point in time. They cover the full range of emotional scale from pure elation to utter devastation. But there are times, looking back, knowing what I know now, that I wish I could visit my younger self, pat myself on the back, and provide some reassurance. “You know, what you’re feeling is real, but it’s a lesson to be learned before you can realize and move on to greater things,” I’d tell myself. “And that jerk that broke your heart isn’t even half the man that will win you over one day.”
A friend told me the other day that he wishes he had the foresight to see what would come, what was now unfolding, from the life-changing decision he made a few moons ago. Sigh. If only foresight was 20/20 too.