daily painting | blood tangerines

I’m a little nervous about this, but I think I’ll just jump in the deep end and hope I float. It feels important to post this today and let me add here that I worked on these darling little “blood tangerines” today and enjoyed the process very much.

I’ve been looking up symptoms of PTSD online, wondering if I can better understand my psyche these days. Then I heard a snippet of an interview on NPR with an author who wrote an essay about what is ahead for us as we emerge from the pandemic. She spoke of the deep trauma and grief we have experienced these past 12 months even if we haven’t seen a loved one die from Covid or lost our jobs, and that pain and upset are appropriate and common and normal. We are all bloodied and roughed up. That radio conversation helped me give myself permission to admit, mostly to myself, that these upsetting manifestations of loss and suffering are OK — for the first time in over 30 years, I have been experiencing what feels like PTSD. Those decades ago my frequent nightmares, inability to stop crying, panic attacks, lack of focus and general failure at normal functioning pushed me to seek professional help, and in those moments I began my journey of emotional and psychic healing from childhood abuse. It’s been a long and winding path but very fruitful and surprising — I have discovered that there are no limits to my ability to mend. So these past few days have been worrisome, when I have watched the same symptoms re-emerge for the first time since I was in my 30s. Until I turned on the radio.

I don’t think the term “psychic assault” is overly dramatic. I will get more help and will slowly reassemble my body parts; this has been a brutal time in the world, in my family, in my heart; even my body is expressing strange and mysterious reactions. Perhaps my writing of my experiences will be helpful to someone else worried that their sanity is wobbly. We’ll get there. And I know I will find the help I need to recover. You will too.

10″ x 10″ watercolor, pen on paper = $90

 

 

 

daily painting | outburst

My lush, blooming amaryllis bulb has four giganto blossoms atop its stalk like those tall poles with siren loudspeakers you see outside sometimes. Four! Each the size of a big salad plate, with another stalk reaching up, hoping to outdo its sibling. I decided to do a rendition of this lushness in my studio using larger paper, ink with sticks, watercolor and pastel.

In elementary school I remember science projects, simple experiments of planting seeds and watching them sprout and grow. I was quietly and secretly amazed that little small hard things could contain a miracle like that — how could a tiny seed hold so much information, and need so little to burst open with life? I carefully — unconsciously — held back my curiosity and thirst for knowing these things, as that meant vulnerability and vulnerability meant exposure and exposure meant danger, either from my father’s rage and derision or my mother’s mocking, sharp tongue. I learned to stay deep inside myself and thus survive. Once I arrived in my twenties, struggling with crippling PTSD from childhood trauma, I sought — and found — professional help. My first therapist gave me words for my roiling feelings, helped me find support groups, counseled me and guided me into hope and love and wholeness.

These spectacular blooms grew out of a lumpy, humble, ugly duckling of a bulb. How is that not a divine marvel? As I painted these flowers, I got completely lost in the creative process and felt a joy in making art I hadn’t felt in many months. I was a whirling dervish of splashy bright paint and powdery pastel chalk and drippy India ink and I hardly knew my name, what day it was, the time. It was a Disney Fantasia dream reminding me that life happens, whether from seeds or bulbs or paintbrushes or pens and inks. No stopping its amazingness!

22″ x 19″ watercolor, sticks and ink, chalk pastel, pencil on paper = $550