mixed media artist

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.)

Twas Brillig

“Twas Brillig” 24” x 30” Acrylic, canvas cloth, and paper on canvas.

“Twas Brillig” 24” x 30” Acrylic, canvas cloth, and paper on canvas.

Detail image of “Twas Brillig”

Detail image of “Twas Brillig”

Painting brings me joy. I love my time in the studio and the relationship I develop with each of my creations… but once and awhile I create something that significantly increases the joy. “Twas Brillig” did just that. It turned up the “Joy Meter” and I was in no rush to complete it. I found myself savoring every moment I spent playing with this canvas.

For years I have wanted to create a painting with a focus on Lewis Carroll’s, Jabberwocky. I have loved it since high school. In fact, in one of my art classes back then, we had to illustrate a children’s book for a painting and drawing class. I chose to illustrate The Jabberwocky. (Thank you, Mr. Foo)

Closeup of the attached book on “Twas Brillig”

Closeup of the attached book on “Twas Brillig”

I so enjoyed playing with the text of the poem as I incorporated Carroll’s unique and wonderful words into the constructed cloth book. I took my time developing the background of the stretched canvas that became the setting for the “book.” This one gave me an opportunity to explore with color and structure.

Detail image of “Twas Brillig”

Detail image of “Twas Brillig”

My original goal was to, in some way, allow the words of Lewis Carroll to spill from the book, as if the boundaries of the books could not contain it. I would love to do more canvases like this one. Playing with text as it pours from the painting surface. These are the types of images that keep coming up in my mind, calling to be created.

I enjoyed every moment I spent on this painting. And I can’t help but wonder if this one may be something of a bridge between the work that has come before and the artwork I will be creating, moving forward. I definitely approached the painting process differently than I might have in the past… and that had been my goal.

Here are the words of the first and last stanzas of the poem for those of you unfamiliar with Jabberwocky, by Lewis Carroll and for those who would enjoy a reread:

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.”

This painting is available for purchase. It has not yet been added to the online galleries but will be added very soon, along with several other recently completed works. For now, email me with any inquiries.

Crayon Challenge

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Last month I had an opportunity to participate in an Instagram crayon challenge. I joined for the last ten days of a 30 day challenge. For the first 20 days, I watched as other artists were having fun with these sticks of color. I wanted in! I was going to be away from home and crayons were the ideal media to take on the road. Not only was I going to see what I would create with crayons, I decided to use this challenge to explore asemic writing as well.

While away, I awoke early each morning to play with my collection of colors and each night I drew until I finally turned off the lights. It was a joy to return to my roots as an artist, to the first art medium I used as a child.

I knew I was getting more comfortable with the crayons and making it my own when I added the book element to the drawing.

I knew I was getting more comfortable with the crayons and making it my own when I added the book element to the drawing.

It’s been about a month since I completed my last posted crayon drawing. The experience has definitely left its mark on me and the crayons have found a place in my heart.

I have tried to return to the studio and continue working as before, but I know the crayon challenge has changed me. I feel as if I am just setting off on a rerouted track and about to travel the path of a new adventure.

Meanwhile, the crayons keep calling to me. I think I will have to make a commitment to continue playing with them as a gift to my inner kid as she becomes one with my playful adult.

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Asemic Writing

I loved creating this work on paper! When I produced this piece a couple of months ago, I felt like I had stumbled onto a wonderfully exciting creative adventure. I guess I was finally giving myself permission to explore an idea I’ve been wanting to play with for quite awhile. The idea was to include non-specific text in my artwork… to write without words. I’ve wanted to create the illusion of text without any specific meaning and then I learned it had a name: asemic writing.

According to Wikipedia and referenced on a number of other sites, asemic means "having no specific semantic content", or "without the smallest unit of meaning."

The use of asemic writing seems to be a natural progression for me after incorporating ancient languages into my paintings over the past few years. This is my first creative experience with asemic writing but definitively not my last. I am looking forward to exploring this further.

“We are all Connected”  6” x 9” mixed media on paper

“We are all Connected” 6” x 9” mixed media on paper

New Website

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I am thrilled to welcome you to my new Website!!

After weeks of trial and error, editing and tweaking, it is finally ready to go live. I view this site as a work in progress, with lots more to add and change in the coming weeks and months. But, today I have an updated WendyMegSiegel.com to share and it comes with a newly revitalized Shared Easel Blog, incorporated right here on my site. 

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With the help of the Squarespace platform, I will easily be able to add my latest artwork, update images and information, and add new pages and elements. I am very excited about the greater flexibility I will now have to alter and change anything on this site.

Although quite a bit of the old site has been left behind, I've added a few new elements: an area to feature Recent Works, an individual page for every painting with description and related artworks, and a section with images of the creative Process.

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One thing I was unable to do was import the many years of posts from the Shared Easel blog at Blogspot. So I will find ways to add the link here wherever I can. (It's now a sidebar link.)

In future posts, I will be writing about some of the many changes I am making to refresh just about everything (including the Shared Easel Newsletter). It feels like a new beginning for me, my artwork, and what I have to share. So stay tuned.