Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ghost from Christmas Past

I am sitting at my desk writing this blog post while looking at a ghost from my past; a tattered old plastic poinsettia my Dad bought me the year before he committed suicide. I have been dragging this poinsettia out of storage at Christmas time for 37 years and it gets more tired looking every year. The mice have nibbled on its red petals, some of the glued on felt has worn away from the cheap plastic, the green leaves have fallen off and were long ago lost. I have to confess that Christmas makes me feel a bit like this tired old decoration looks, tired, tattered and sad. If I could figure out a way to sleep through the November- January holidays I would. Dragging my plastic poinsettia out every year also tends to make me sad but I can’t quite give up that tradition, it would feel as if I were no longer extending an invitation to the memory of my Father for the holidays as if I were betraying him somehow. After all there is so little of him left in my memory as it is.

For the last few days I have felt this tremendous creative stirring rising up from my traditional holiday depression, it is very powerful and a bit fighting for a type A control freak like me. I tend to try to have command over my art, I produce what sells and don’t do a lot of exploration with wild abandon. Such a shame really but that is what happened once I began to sell my work, I gave up soulful experimentation for the almighty buck!

The last few days a pathway of exploration has been appearing before me and it leads back to a painting I did 9 years ago when I first got sick with a tick borne illness that would later become a Neurological and Autoimmune disease . I did a Frida Kahlo style painting representing me with my totem Raven, the sacred heart of Christ and tubes running in and out of me. That painting launched the Lyme Awareness Art Project (LAAP) which is still going on to this day. The fact that LAAP was born out of that painting and that it has helped so many people is great but it is further proof that every time I get close to doing something very deep personally with my painting I find a way to distract myself and I get really busy with some new project making it impossible to excavate a really deep thread of paintings from my shadow places.
Over the last 9 years I have felt a very powerful need to revisit that self portrait experience as a way to further explore both my illness and my healing. Last night Don and I were watching a documentary about a mentally ill but brilliant artist and we started to talk about my struggles with inherited mental illness. I brought up again my desire to do some exploration with self portraits and Don said “Why don’t you just take some time off to do it! You have been talking about it for years!!” So today I am heading into my studio with an open heart and mind as well as a little trepidation to do some sketches and see where this path will take me.

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