artist blog

On Letting Go

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The concept of letting go has been in the forefront of my mind since this year began. Letting go is a process. It is likely to take place in stages rather than all at once. And it is up to us to allow or invite the process to work through us.

Doors to new experiences and discoveries can more easily open when we let go of expectations, ideas, or the replaying of our personal stories. We may find that our way of being in the world has been altered. Letting go is our way of releasing tightly held beliefs, goals, or even the hands of a loved one.

Years ago, I often visualized the letting go process based on my experiences sitting and meditating at the Esopus Creek, in Mt. Tremper, New York. I would envision myself laying in a narrow stream, holding onto a rock or log, trying to fight against the current. In doing so, all of the leaves, twigs, and debris being carried down the stream would build up against me. This added to my struggle as the increase in weight intensified my burden. But… By no longer fighting the current, I could float down the stream with ease, experiencing greater peace.

My Recent Experiences:
This year seems to be a year of letting go. On January 1st, I let go of my Dad, and the ability to ever hold his hand again. On January 8th, I watched my Mom slip away from life to join him. Throughout January, I let go of my goals and plans for the month to allow myself to begin the grieving process and be whatever I needed to be in each moment. In February, I let go of my creative expectations and embraced new ideas, changes in color palette, and a new approach to my paintings. In March, I had to let go of my parent’s belongings as I went through their home, packing their stuff to giveaway or donate. I shipped a small selection from New York to California and had to dig deep to let go when some of those things arrived damaged or destroyed.

All of this letting go, seems to be leading to new perspectives. And I must say, I am ready for these changes. I feel like I’m one of those spring blossoms about to burst open.

Now, in April, I have let go of the artwork I am accustomed to in order to create new artistic experiences. I plan to share much of this creative journey as it unfolds. In fact, since April 1st, I’ve been posting pieces of a new mini series on Instagram and on my Facebook artist page. I will also be sharing more, right here, in future blog-posts.

Managing Grief after Losing My Parents:
I am letting go of their physical presence in my life, but the rich memories, love, and growth that I experienced throughout the years remain very much alive within me. That’s what I will carry with me in each moment moving forward. I know that I am who I am because of their presence in my life.

Holding my Mom’s hand just hours before she died.

Holding my Mom’s hand just hours before she died.

So each day, I let go of holding onto them. I let go of any need to perpetuate the grief, instead allowing the ebb and flow of emotions as they arise. (They definitely arise!) And regardless of any grief I will experience over the coming weeks, months, and years, I want to let them be fully present in whatever realm their spirits now reside. In turn, I allow myself to move into a new world of experiences, with curiosity in how the empty spaces created by their vacancy will be filled. I openly invite the changes that continue to take place.

Small Bites

"Small Bites" 12" x 12" acrylic and cloth on canvas.

"Small Bites" 12" x 12" acrylic and cloth on canvas.

A dream became the inspiration for “Small Bites”… an original painting that is now part of my Canvas on Canvas series. First I prepared the piece of raw canvas by fraying the edges and cutting out holes in the cloth. I attached it to the stretched canvas and then it was time to take out the acrylics and brushes and choose some colors.

"Small Bites" in process. Choosing the color palette.

"Small Bites" in process. Choosing the color palette.

Choosing the color palette:

I only had a vague idea of the colors I would use. So, I began with one of my favorite starter color palettes: yellow oxide, titanium white, and Payne’s grey. (Oh, but since I have very little Payne's grey around, I'm using ivory black.) I love the way these colors mix together!

Now I had to choose the rest of the colors. I have a small collection of color cards that I’ve created and add to from time to time. I find it very helpful in choosing a color palette when I don't have one immediately in mind. I went back and forth on different color ideas for this one.

It took me a while to get comfortable with the reds I had chosen, but I really like the idea of stretching my “color comfort zone.” And by the time I was finished, I had grown much more comfortable with the reds in this color palette. (0f course, I did soften the intensity of the color, somewhat.)

Changes

Establishing a new website, blog, and newsletter can be very positive. It feels like everything has a fresh new look and feel which can be quite energizing. But, there's another side to this.

Last night I spent some time at my old blog. I have been posting articles and artwork there for almost ten years. Although my experience with Blogger has had it's frustrations recently, it has been home to the Shared Easel blog and newsletter.

Finding a new home through Squarespace means letting go of the past and moving on. Even when change is good, it still has it's moments of needing to embrace the new and release the tendency to hold onto the old. This is true whether we are talking about a website or a life experience.

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Life is a series of changes... changing times, changing relationships and experiences, changes in mood, beliefs, thoughts, and dreams. We are constantly faced with new opportunities, challenges, and obstacles. 

So, as I travel the path of my fresh start, I am reflecting fondly on the past and the steps of the journey to this point. I am very excited to be where I am now. 

What changes are you making in your life?