“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

9.23.2010

just sit there and look pretty: the painting

It started with 6 words and a challenge and the promise of an unseen painting to be given away. Show me your vision, I asked, and you have; tell me how these words make you feel, I suggested, and you did. I have been overwhelmed and flabbergasted and extremely humbled by the participation and enthusiasm shown by those joining me in this little venture - they/you are listed in the sidebar to the right of this post ~ please pay a visit or 2 or 4 or 10. You won't regret it. And I? I cannot say thank you enough.

I began this painting in anger and indignation, at least the idea began in anger, but by the time the first brushstroke touched the canvas, I had softened. I'd thought about this phrase a lot, I had conversations about it with people - mostly women - who were not a part of the giveaway group; I knew a bird would be there, I knew there would be an empty chair. I'd thought about a woman tied to the chair, breaking free, high heels crashing through, she was woman, hear her roar, but I dismissed that, dismissed it because it was just too silly, and dismissed it because we haven't been tied to any chairs, at least not by visible ropes - any sitting pretty and keeping silent we've done has been done with our consent. At least my generation and the generations younger. That wasn't true for my grandmother who put up with abuse and poverty and married my grandfather only to appease her family, a family who didn't want an old maid around. But I am not her - I am not here to tell her story, not really, although her story leads to me.

I paint the way I write - with only the first sentence in mind - and though I've known this, I've only, with this painting, truly accepted it, allowed it, let it open me and fill me and yes, I said, let us see what happens here. And so. No bird. No chair. I sat with the idea and sat with the idea, and somewhere in the sitting with it, I realized I was sitting with it. I sat with thoughts of suttee gates and stonings of women and my grandmother tethered to an unhappy life and felt my anger move away from me, felt myself blessed.

And so this painting. A self portrait. Me sitting pretty, monkey mind thoughts overhead. The first painting in 15 months. I see every flaw, see the mistakes of months of not drawing. But I painted with joy despite the unpracticed mechanics - painted with no agonizing, painted with a new color. Painted with softness. It is not perfect, and perhaps it is a good thing it was promised to someone else by a certain day - I may have fallen into my old habits and painted it over, beginning again and again and again. But it is complete, it is finished, and tomorrow a name will be drawn from a hat and it will belong to someone on that list I mentioned above.

38 comments:

  1. I love the painting. I love that we all came together. I love that it all begins with one idea and one sentence and ends up somewhere else completely. I love the journey of our hearts and creative minds and I love that we do it all together.
    Much love, thank you so much for hosting this for us ... I for one, loved doing my piece.

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  2. Kath - thank you. I notice the color seems different on each computer. Picture it a tad rosier - but just a tad.

    It has been amazing to watch the posts come up, see the different interpretations, read the different words. I cannot say thank you back enough - I truly can't.

    xoxo
    Debi

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  3. a truly beautiful painting indeed... I love the where this painting takes my imagination. Knowing the theme and seeing your feet, it just opens the door for my mind to wander and reflect. I view that as an art success :)

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  4. It is a beautiful painting. I love knowing how this all came to be. Knowing how you struggled with it. I don't see the flaws, that is something only the artist would know, I see beauty. I see community that is worldwide. Connected. And I love how all the stories are so wonderfully different!

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  5. oh my. i love it, everything about it, i think it is perfect, i see no flaws.
    and the feet are almost a butterfly, and i love that, too.
    thank you so much, for this challenge which made a lot of us think about a lot of things, and for the gift someone will have of this beautiful art.
    you are sitting pretty.

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  6. I'm sitting here looking at your painting and reading your words with tears gliding gently down my face...and the only thing I can think of is...I love this woman...and we've never even met. You're truly gifted and I'm proud that we are friends and will meet soon. Blessings, Connie

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  7. Your painting is beautiful. And peaceful. Despite the struggles you went through to reach this paint. It reminds me of yoga practice. And serenity. I see no flaws. And I have the perfect place to hang it!

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  8. As usual, your work is fabulous! I love this and am so glad that you didn't destroy it! Love you!

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  9. it's beautiful, so beautiful.
    the feet the bare feet... yes. and then then there is the bead like strand, i love that it is loose and free like.

    love
    love

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  10. It's a beauty, Debi, and I love your description of your process. Thanks for this challenge. I love the journey it brought me on, the place it brought me to, and I love seeing where everyone else has arrived, too. xoxo

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  11. Letting go is such a beautiful thing.

    The painting is lovely :D

    ~WW

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  12. Lovely painting. At first I was taken by the composition and color, but then the feet drew me in to see your thoughts.

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  13. PS, I know my name was on your list, but it must have gotten lost.

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  14. It's a gorgeous painting. and beautiful words. and a beautiful you!

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  15. Marilyn - I am adding the names as today's posts show up. You're there now. :)

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  16. Oh my! it is absolutely beautiful. I see the joy, the let go, the softness, gorgeous!
    xoxo

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  17. Debi, the painting is beautiful!! Beautiful! And the feeling I receive from the feet touching is so known, but it has been a while, so thank you! I also love the process...starting with the thing we "know" it will be, but going with that river that it tells us it is!
    Someone is so lucky tomorrow!!!
    Namaste.

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  18. I love the painting too. I have always hated my feet ~ and yet, this Summer, I accepted them and let them go bare - in the grass, on the deck, in the house. I even adorned them with sandals. That's what this painting whispers to me ~ the beauty in Acceptance ... and the billowy whooshes of love and light that become noticeable when you do.

    My own process to finished creation was similar to yours. I felt grateful not to feel anger at the phrase - not knowing where it actually fit in my life, that was such a blessing really.

    I'm now gifting myself time to visit the wonder expressed on others' pages. Much love and light to painting's recipient ~ and thank you so much for sitting long enough for me to find you on my path.

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  19. i love the idea of wabi-sabi... the japanese idea of beauty in imperfection, incompletion... because it is true. if it is "perfect" (as defined by who?) then it would look like everyone else's...
    your painting is beautiful!
    thank-you for the opportunity to explore and express my ideas about beauty and the power in that expression. let us render it powerless.

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  20. i am so happy that it is finished .. and i truly relish the textures that permeate it .. fifteen months is a long time ..i hope you will not wit that long again.. thank you for including me on this special day!!

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  21. Oh Debi, it is gorgeous! I *love* the textures and colors, and the feet! I have a thing about feet! And I love that the painting took you somewhere beyond where you started--my fiction is like that, and it is a wonderful thing. And very cathartic and healing, I think. My heart is smiling for you. ♥

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  22. Oh my gosh Debi.
    This is so beautiful! So soft and feminine and rich with texture and beautiful colour.
    As soon as I opened your blog, I gasped...and then I sighed....and my eyes keep reverting back to it as I type this message.
    I am so glad you are painting again. You have a gift. I am reminded again, of how much emotion, how much soul you put into your work.

    Wonderful project.....exquisite artwork.
    I love and admire you. xo

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  23. and did you see my eyes? LOL! I feel I must point out 1. that my closed eyes are in the painting (the ever-wonderful Michael says he didn't even notice them, and he's seen the real thing) and 2. only after painting them did i realize they mimicked my blog banner. :)

    xoxo to all!

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  24. I'm almost speachless with awe at the beauty you've created in this painting Debi. Oh my...it says so much and yet is almost beyond words.

    I'm so glad you picked up your brushes to create again. And thanks for suggesting and hosting this challenge which brought us all together to think about our own truths!

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  25. Debi, your painting strikes a chord... one that your writing plays out like a melody. One that touches deeply buried emotions... and, finally. some peace, some acceptance, some love... Painting and poetry... pefect. They are perfect.

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  26. The painting is the cake, the story is the frosting:) This is my contribution on my blog: http://sacredcuriosities.wordpress.com/2010/09/23/set-them-free/
    I would have posted on FB to let you know but FB's not there right now, same error for everyone else, too?

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  27. Lola - !! I know - crazy! I've linked you and left a comment on your blog. VERY moving! xoxo

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  28. i bow to the quality of your soul.

    and i covet that painting.

    thank you for all of this.

    much love,
    graciel

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  29. seriously...you almost walked away from this in frustration ?
    OMG....it's amazing !
    you have so much talent in that body of yours it's blowing me away at the moment...

    and did anyone else see a butterfly where the feet are joining each other ?

    it's okay if i'm alone in this...i was just curious~

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  30. Thank you for the opportunity you've given me, and for many others, in participating. And your beautiful comment on my post.

    Cristina

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  31. This is the best contest ever. I wish I could post a comment on each and every entry, but time will not permit. I have read, viewed and admired them all and they each taught me something, caused me to think, or made me smile. Truly this is a contest where even those that don't enter are winners if they only observe. Thanks for this, Deb. (Now draw my name out of that hat, 'cause I love beautiful bare feet.)

    Peace, Love and Hippy Beads,
    Rhonda

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  32. I see your eyes! I see them!

    (only cause you pointed it out though)

    ;)

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  33. Just amazing! I see the feet, I see the butterfly, the beads, the flowers ... but I can't find the eyes!

    As for tomorrow ... pick me, pick me!!!
    In harmony all ways,
    Debbie :)

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  34. dear friend... it would seem you and i both have an art group on thursdays :) i love this. and i love your site and i want to somehow participate in your group... maybe at some point we should think of collaborating together; is this something that would interest you? check out my imperfect prose on thursdays and let me know. i won't be insulted if you say no. what i basically do is share a diff. painting each week, and encourage broken prose. anyway, if you like this idea, or have another one, could you email me? peace to you, artist-friend. e.

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  35. ps. it's wierenga.emily@gmail.com. xo

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  36. I happened onto your site this morning via a click here and there and blog wandering. I love your painting and I love that you are reminding me of something that has been neglected in my own life this last year. Art and passion.

    I'm going to check out your links for this project which has me inspired this early morning.

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  37. It is lovely.
    and tender.
    and full of heart.

    so you.

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