Saturday, October 30, 2010

CREATIVELY LINKING HEART and SCIENCE through ART: My Love of Australian Mammals

HALLELUJAH PILGRIMS! HALLELUJAH for ALL LIVING CREATURES, especially monotremes and marsupials! Marsupial moms are resourceful mammals, raising their young from embryos to young juveniles outside their wombs in pouches! Envision the comfort of being tucked inside a warm blanket of maternal flesh and fur with an ample supply of milk for sustenance! HALLELUJAH for the CREATIVITY of this DESIGN!

 HALLELUJAH encourages ALL of you PILGRIMS to enthusiastically participate in the ACT of CREATION by SEEING with your own unique vision. Look deep inside objective reality. Penetrate the “obvious” that your physical eyes see. Perhaps, there is a baby marsupial tucked inside! My ART results from SEEING with my own vision, my “inner” eyes acquired from a lifetime of experiences! Right now, I will turn my spirit seeking radar on marsupials and one monotreme to share with you how I creatively envision them.

Here in the United States, where I live, we have one modest marsupial, the opossum. Unfortunately, most of us become acquainted with this shy pinkish gray animal when we see one dead on the roadside. However, other world citizens are more fortunate. On the continents of South America and Australia, there is an abundance of marsupials ranging in size from a mouse to a kangaroo. My Chiboogamoo, who is sitting across the table from me, explains that the occurrence of marsupials on these two continents is a result of their origination on the super continent of Gondwana more than 100 million years ago! Thank you Chiboogamoo! Praise SCIENCE! Praise intelligent SCIENTISTS!

Chiboogamoo, my faithful guide and companion, stops to figure out where we should go next at one of the nature parks in Tasmania!

And Praise how CREATIVITY and SCIENCE (and artists and scientists) inform each other! Look at these endearing Australian marsupials—a BILBY, TASMANIAN DEVIL, QUOLL, and a monotreme—the PLATYPUS—I have depicted here. In reality, these animals have a “fetching” physical appearance. So it was easy to paint images of them that most viewers respond to favorably—often with murmurs of delight, I might add. They are thrilled to be “engaged” with a marsupial or a monotreme! In addition to experiencing curiosity about the natural history of these critters, viewers also express a connection to me! Why? Because of the way I have folded in my perception and feelings based on my experience, viewers get the opportunity to SEE me—HALLELUJAH—simultaneously with the animal! I AM in the ART!

And I believe that the “me” in the art along with my “subject” has POWER. I believe that it is possible that my VISIONARY ART can link world citizens to SCIENCE—in this instance—to the science of marsupials and monotremes and the precariousness of their longevity. We are powerful actors on this world stage when we merge our HEARTs and HEADs.

Here is what I want you to know about the TASMANIAN DEVIL: The Devil, a curious carnivore, lives on the breathtaking mountainous island of Tasmania, south of the Australian continent.  

During our week-long  trip in Tasmania during a cold April day (it is fall in Australia then) in 2006, my Chiboogamoo and I had the good fortune to observe Tasmanian Devils in close proximity at the East Coast Nature World 7 miles north of Bicheno.

Bone crunching and yowling, the TASMANIAN DEVIL is in terrible danger now from tumors mysteriously occurring on its face. These fatal cancerous facial tumors are demolishing huge populations of the Devil. Up until now, this cat-sized black and white beast has kept Tasmanian roads free of road kill, but now as its populations decline, road kill is left unattended or consumed by other animals like birds, which end up getting hit by oncoming traffic!

The BILBY, a grayish pink floppy-eared marsupial, is nocturnal and omnivorous. This “cute” marsupial has been chosen by Australian environmentalists to replace the iconic Easter Bunny for two reasons. First of all, by getting profiled for a holiday celebration, the BILBY, which like the TASMANIAN DEVIL has waning numbers, might become better known to the public.  A chocolate Bilby and wine--perfect for an Easter celebration in Victoria, Australia!

The PUBLIC has the power to take steps to preserve the BILBY. Second, the Bunny Rabbit represents an ecological hazard to the Australian continent. Rabbits brought by the British have thrived and multiplied, causing extensive damage to vegetation and displacing native animals. Has anyone seen the movie, “Rabbit Proof Fence”? Thousands of kilometers of fences crisscross the continent, attempting but failing to stop the rabbit’s invasion. Embrace the BILBY as the new icon for Easter celebrations! A marsupial is worthy symbol for fertility and the promise of new life!

The QUOLL is a very attractive nighttime carnivore. Yet, most of the QUOLLs that I have seen have been stuffed ones in museums of natural history!  Yes, this spotted marsupial is also endangered! 

Loving animals of all kinds, my Chiboogamoo found them alive and dead in museums and parks. Isn't the Quoll an amazing beast!

Although my Chiboogamoo tells me that animals’ disappearing from this earth is the natural order of things (Extinction has been going on for millions of years.), I take in a big breath and emit a sigh. How many more animals will become extinct in my lifetime? Which extinctions are “natural” and which ones are human made? Yet all is not gloom and doom about QUOLLS. I have seen a family of black and white spotted QUOLLS at a nature center in Tasmania! And they were amazing!

Finally, I will celebrate the PLATYPUS, which is only one of two monotremes living today (The echidna is the other existing monotreme.. A monotreme is an egg-bearing mammal). My Chiboogamoo and I were fortunate enough to see some of these furry duckbilled mammals frolicking in their natural environments in Tasmania. We also tracked a male PLATYPUS along a stream in the Healesville Sanctuary, a nature center, in Victoria, with Murrindindi, an Aboriginal tracker. Murrindindi entertained us with the romantic adventures of the particular PLATYPUS we tracked that day, and its image lingers in my imagination today. The PLATYPUS is threatened because of changes in its environment, but it is not endangered.

HALLELUJAH for these magical animals from Australia and for all living creatures! HALLELUJAH wishes that all of you PILGRIMS will travel your JOURNEYS delighting in both your HEART and HEAD! How beautiful is the MYSTICAL and how thrilling the KNOWN! My Chiboogamoo suggests I conclude this blog by reminding ALL of US of our ancient lineage. Whether we are monotremes, marsupials or placentals, we ALL descended from the same source! We are ALL connected!


Saturday, October 23, 2010


The Lure of the FEMININE—how I catch my breath when I see the beauty of her form and that form in movement. I have contemplated the mystery of the FEMININE for most of my life. Haven’t we all? What is it in FEMALENESS both her FORM and BEHAVIOR that is so utterly intriguing?

The FEMININE principle occurs everywhere and at all times. Yet depending on the PERCEIVER, the power of the FEMININE may shift and move. In one of Thomas Hardy’s novels, THE WELL-BELOVED (1897), this kernel of “abstact” femininity shifts constantly from one human woman to another to the chagrin of the main character, a man. Jocelyn Pierston, a sculptor, keeps glimpsing his FEMININE ideal as she appears and disappears in the real women he pursues for “artistic” reasons and through the succession of 3 generations of women he courts from the same family.

Imagine what happens to this Hardy character, this PILGRIM, on a journey to harness the FEMININE ideal! In a reverse Pygmalion fashion, the course of his life and character are carved out as he helplessly strives to capture “HER” not only in his sculptures but also in his domestic life. Decades are spent on his efforts to contain the EPHEMERAL of what is FEMININE. His life story does not end joyously, but like a faithful PILGRIM true to the yearnings of his heart—he pursues his IDEAL failure after failure. (Yes, I never finished my master’s thesis on this topic of “failed idealism” after completing my coursework for an MA in literature at Auburn University.)

In my own life, I too have sought the “obtainment” of the FEMININE ideal—though not as rigorously as Hardy’s sculptor. As a woman, I have fought at times to be a BEAUTY through my wardrobe and achievement of an admirable figure. As an artist, I have fallen absolutely in love with the FEMININE as SHE is expressed all around me in chatter and earnest expressions, flowing or clipped hair, hands holding pencils or dancing in the air, napes of necks, sloping noses and curves of breasts and hips, the selection of cowboy boots or platforms….The FEMININE expresses HERSELF in infinite and diverse imagery! For me, SHE exists in all sizes, shapes, ages, and ethnicities—and this diversity is mysterious and intriguing!

(These FEMININE images with the three breasts are experiments in discovering what form might best express a name of a beer called "Three Nipple Triple." )

Right now, I am teaming up with the Beer Brew Girls to capture a “contemporary” form of the FEMININE. Let me explain. The Beer Brew Girls, a creative duo, started brewing beer at their home and are currently developing this enterprise into something larger and collective—possibly, a future micro-brewery pub in the Decatur area, making beers with names such as “Fallen Angel,” “Bongo,” “Three Nipple Triple,” and “Pumpkin.” Beers with names like these surprised and delighted me last April (2009) when I was invited to a Beer Brew Girls beer tasting party and drank a “Fallen Angel” and other well made beers. I immediately began envisioning the FEMININE images for their beer labels! And told them so--even though I had just met them!

Since then, I have been inviting the BEER BREW GIRLS’ FEMININE forms to emerge from my passionate enthusiasm onto my drawing table. The ephemeral FEMININE is tricky and hesitant to be enticed into the permancy of simple black lines. The BEER BREW GIRLS drawings I show in this blog are works in progress. Let’s see what the future holds as I continue collaborating with the BEER BREW GIRLS and their creative team.

(Here I am, with the Beer Brew Girls. We are holding some of my Beer Brew Girl images. "Fallen Angel" is on my left. I'm holding an image I would like to see go on a stout or blonde ale with a high alcohol content. And the image on my right doesn't have a beer to go with it yet--any ideas? To find out more about the Beer Brew Girls read Scoutmob's article!)

Anyone wanting to taste the BEER BREW GIRLS beer or see my images of the FEMININE in person, there will be another beer tasting event on November 20th in Decatur. Artists will also be at the event, including me. Write Hallelujah for details!

Meanwhile, Hallelujah praises the FEMININE, the WELL-BELOVED and asks all of you PILGRIMS out there to HONOR HER right now with respect and love—a worthy pursuit! SHE resides right now in our mothers, sisters, friends, daughters, neighbors and colleagues! SHE is EVERYWHERE! Hallelujah!

(This image of "Lady Pants" is the first image I drew for the Beer Brew Girls. As you can see on the label, Kathe brewed the beer for a special occasion. Kimmie, a graphic designer, made the label.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


HALLELUJAH PILGRIMS! Welcome to my ADVENTUROUS ARTFUL JOURNEY! I soulblog with YOU in order to have companionship on my PILGRIMAGE and to learn about YOUR ARTFUL JOURNEY. In this blog, I invite you to the DARKNESS I have been experiencing recently. I have endured a breakdown in confidence and suffered from a writer’s block. DOUBTING oneself can be both FRIGHTENTING and FERTILE.

First, before expounding seriously about FRIGHT and FERTILITY confronted in the DARKNESS, I must proclaim that a pilgrim’s ADVENTURE is not all flashing daring-do in the light of brilliant action—this ADVENTURE also contains periods of stillness and reflection when most everything stops, and there is no apparent LIGHT.

What might a PILGRIM do in the DARK part of the adventurer’s path? Well, for starters, I stopped writing because I became uncertain that I had anything of WORTH to say to YOU, fellow pilgrims. For me, the DARKNESS consists of a lot of physical inaction while contemplating my “perceived” unworthiness. Yes, this uncompassionate examination of myself is maddening and verbally unproductive—a FRIGHT!

However, even though the written words that would comprise a “published blog” hid in these SHADOWY DOUBTS, I have continued to make art daily, a profusion of it—because that is what I have TRAINED myself to do—the daily practice of showing up to the drawing table and draining my heart and soul onto the page (I do not feature this work here today but will show it to you in a future blog.).

During this time, I have also allowed myself to FEEL incredibly flawed. I acknowledge my feelings and make observations. I reflect. By accepting my negative thoughts, I move through them. The stillness turns into action. In the DARKNESS, I am ready to HOWL out my FRIGHT! (My Chiboogamoo is patient and finds a certain musicality to my expressive howls!):

--I am alone (except for Chiboogamoo)!

--Nobody loves me (except for Chiboogamoo)!

--My art is no good!

--Everything I think is cliché!

--I have nothing to contribute!

A fellow pilgrim (Karen Phillips) suggests that I write my blog about this DARKNESS, about THESE howls that lead to the existential question: WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE? You more experienced PILGRIMS are nodding at this particular well-worn question, one you relinquished long ago. This question has no BIG answer—only individual responses.

It is my individual response that brings me FERTILITY from the depths of DARKNESS.What is the meaning of MY life? I live unabashedly to live and breathe SOULFULNESS expressed. I feed myself on AUTHENTICITY and HONESTY served to me in a written word, a vocal utterance, an image, a dance….

The ROBUSTNESS of MYSELF relies on the joy of being present to each and every day. I inhale with anticipation the excitement of what will emerge on the paper before me. I invite you to share your thoughts, drawings, and songs with ME, HALLELUJAH!

HALLELUJAH for TRUTH! Hallelujah for the JOURNEY! Write me, tell me about your journeys into DARKNESS! Blessings to YOU ALL!