Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sister Scarlet

24" x 30" Acrylic on stretched canvas. 2008

I awoke the morning of Wednesday January 16Th, 2008 feeling my Artist within calling me back to paint. I've heard her brushes tapping about a few times in the past five years, her whistling and humming tempting me back into the world where she dreams in color.....A world where she dreams in red...... This time I did not ignore her. A confident woman cloaked in fur adorned by a background of inviting reds. It's a love-hate relationship, Sister Scarlet and I. she is stubborn, strong willed and demanding to come through a blank canvas with every stroke. The first sketch started with an Indian Chief, a virtuous strong character with the best of intentions. However, when I painted him I felt resistance. Unlike Scarlet, Chief didn't want to be seen. He doesn't like sitting for portraits. He sees an imitator, a counterfeit of his true self. Words to him are more important then colors. He would rather I paint his soul, not his face. I painted over him with 2 coats of white primer and one coat of a gritty neutral base. I attempted to sketch his soul, but a woman's face would come through. I spoke to the canvas, "No, I don't want a woman's face...Your supposed to be a man. I erased the face and started over only to see it happen again. Frustrated I began the battle one last time. The Artist, "Sister Scarlet," won...... Now we dream together.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


My newest work completed 8/10/2008. Inspired by a New Your Times Bestselling book written by Princess: Jean Sasson: MAYADA Daughter Of Iraq. One woman's Survival Under Saddam Hussein.

The most captivating book I've read in 7 years. I grieved for three days upon completing its story. So moving, and painfully gripping with each word that I felt the humiliation, loss and suffering each of the seventeen women in cell #52 endured. Jean Sasson's writing is so breathtaking, so vivid it literally draws you in to Mayada's world. A world that few if any American woman could fathom. Her courage to survive when few would find the hope or faith to do so compelled me. This tragic miraculous story is one of triumph and fear. Mayada referred to the women she shared dark chamber with as "shadow women," cellmates that suffered more severe punishment then her own. Yet they nursed her when she was sick, cared for her, listened to her story, prayed for each other daily and even gave up their own small food ration to give another the strength to endure a morning torture.

I am haunted by each woman's story. Only one survived, Mayada daughter of Iraq. This painting deplicts my gratitude for her survival, and is also in memory of those woman who suffer daily in Baladiyat prison cells with no name, or face to save them.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

4 Red Beauties

I discretly watched his aged hands reach out for a package of ripened tomatoes. His sorrowful expression hesitated before touching the four red beauties, and then just stopped mid-air as though struck by some fearful voice. I stood only a couple of feet away sifting through soggy cucumbers, but could not resist watching the silent story unfold before me as the frail man slowly reached in his back right pocket with a shaken hand withdrawing a warn black leather wallet. He humbly fingered through his meager treasure, and then returned his gaze upon his hunger. His thoughts seemed to stumble back and forth before returning his meek wallet back to his eager pocket. He then opened the package and touched each plump tomato before choosing his treasure.

My thoughts were in a tither; do I offer to pay for the tomatoes? Do I politely give him money for groceries? I didn't want to offend him, I didn't want to embarrass him. He struck me as a man who had worked hard all of his life, a man of good character and virtues (Like my father). My thoughts went so far as to ponder if he had children? Did he loose his wife? But still I did nothing, I said nothing. I am left with a deep regret, and an ache in my heart for those who do not beg, who do not seek assistance but silently suffer in poverty.

Mother Teresa's spoke with tender wisdom when she said, "To smile at someone who is sad; to visit for even a little while, someone who is lonely; to give someone shelter from the rain with our umbrella; to read something for someone who is blind: These and others can be small things, but they are appropriate to give our love of God concrete expression to the poor."

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Last night my friend Fran brought me a handful of Cilantro seeds. Fran is from El Salvador and speaks very little English. I only know about two dozen words of Spanish, but we still manage to communicate quite well. (A quick game of charades often explains what our dialect can't) He was so proud of his gift of seeds, and manged to to tell me with his hands they were for planting. "Oh, you need a pot," I said with my arms held out in front of me in a giant circle. In Spanish Fran exclaimed he had one. He disappeared out my front door, and down twenty stairs calling from below for "Tia." Tia is his sister who also speaks very little English. In a matter of minutes Patty and Fran carried a huge tub of dirt up my stairs, and in to my kitchen. Fran grinned from ear-to-ear. His eyes twinkled as he told me he was giving me this valuable perfect dirt. "It is very good!" He said. I followed him as he drug it out onto my back deck, and watched him sift his fingers through the soil showing me hand fulls with such glee. While I made dinner, Fran planted Cilantro in my back yard. I laughed a lot, and told my husband that it was the sweetest gift anyone had ever given me. It brought back to memory the movie, "Pirates of the Caribbean," where Johnny Depp carried around his coveted jar of dirt. I hope I never have to move from my home, but if I do I will take a bowl of Fran's prized dirt with me.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Grandma Had Sass!

Grandma liked to tell me with a stern look in one eye (the other squinted) "Go to church." The drive was long through the Eastern Oregon mountains too Grandma's house. You know the old song.... Well it was always worth the trip. Unfortunately the time in between became shorter as I grew older. The first thing Grandma would want to do when I'd arrive is feed me. "Have you eaten?" She'd ask firmly. No matter if I'd eaten or not she was determined to stuff me. "Well, you look like you haven't eaten a thing!" I never could say no to her Crazy Cake (Sylvia's special spell) Once you've had a bite your troubles seem a little less heavy. Then the next question would come, and only after my plate was empty. "Chris have you been to church?" I stopped going for a long stretch of time in my late thirties - early forties and I dreaded Grandma's discerning eye. I remember the first time I told her I stopped going to church. The silence seemed to roll in from the back porch, through the kitchen and then just hover over the floral country couch where I usually sat. Grandma leaned back in her big blue chair, looked at me with a sad disapproving glance and said, "Ahaaa..." Doesn't sound like much to regular folk, but I knew what it meant. I could see a hundred soul instructing words in her right eye.

I've been thinking of Sylvia more lately. I stood in back of an old woman last week. I couldn't see her face, but I could smell her fragrance, the same perfume my grandma wore. My subconscious mind could hear Sylvia's voice hollering in my left ear, "Hello Chris! I'm still here, smell me..... Grandma had sass and lots of it!. Sometimes her stubborn ways made people mad, but her ways made me laugh. She didn't like conformity either. I think of her words, words she could only say in her own fashion. So many of them, they just pop in and out of my my mind so fast like an unsuspecting breeze. "Stick in the mud," that was one of her sayings. She told me once on one of my last visits with her, "I didn't weigh more then two cents. She never went a visit without calling me her little angel, and reminding me of the day I was born. She called me by a variety of names... "Stink Bug," just popped into my mind.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Mommy Book

My big mommy heart popped up late in life. I'm like a Mommy Pop-up Book, only the pages got stuck for a while. It's kind of like I read the Mommy Book without pictures. There weren't bright bold colors, big flowers, fluffy bears or bouncy squeaky toys...only black & white words with a lot of spaces. I was so frustrated with myself because I didn't feel like I was in the Mommy Book. I'd ask God why? I would pray for pop-ups to spring to life before my eyes. I followed the instructions, and made some mistakes. Little one's as far as the Mommy Book is concerned. Truly I can say "I'm a good Mom." However, perfect mommies will look at me with that fretful frown and shake their pointed polished nails my direction. I remember one of my son's teachers asking me at a school conference, "Did you tell your son things don't have to be perfect?" I answered without shame, "Yes!"

I'm a nonconformist, but I don't like to argue like one. Jake reflects my nonconformity, and though it may seem like a crack to some I see it as an attribute.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

In Search Of Purpose

This is the beginning of a much needed spiritual journey. A quest for the part.....the piece of my soul I have yet to meet. My creator has this mischievious sense of humour, and it's His laughter throughout my life that has prevailed. I want to travel to the part of Him where the light that is Him cracks. When I look at my skin in various forms of light I see cracks, wrinkles, pores, freckles, moles and scars. For half my life I have seen these as I accept them as attributes. If God makes us in His image then He must also have these similar traits. I want to find what lies deep in the cracks of God. I am driven to know him....I want to hear his breath.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Seeker

Chief Wolf Robe Rendition
Acrylic Painting

The canvas seems to be choosing its own characters and scenes.  In the beginning I would decide, and then slave over it.  Strangely, now that I have returned back to the artist within, the painting chooses me.  I have a new understanding of creating from my soul.  This is the beginning of something new.  a different doorway, and I'm enjoying how liberating it feels.  I'm being drawn to horses, and feel a strong pull towards Native American scenes.  Lately I've been experiencing Indians in my thoughts and visions...., I can't explain it.  there is something very symbolic about them.  At times I hear songs of tribes that come from my heart.  it is a connection that can only be spiritual.  I'm open to knowing, open to seeing beyond what I have before.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


I've a fond memory of watching movies with my Dad. He taught me the art of discernment. To always look ahead, and to perpetually be aware of what is coming next. He taught me to see the foreshadow in film. "Did you see it.?" He'd say, "did you see it?"

I'm a lover of words, and short stories. Eugene Fields & Mark Twain are my favorite story tellers. It is as if they enter the room when I read their words. Eugene tickles my feet, and Mr. Twain.... Well, I recognize the aroma of his freshly packed pipe.

I wrote a series of short stories seven years ago. The writer in me hit an iceberg and I've not written stories since. My characters have been nudging me to come out and play, so I believe I will return to them some peaceful day. I don't know exactly how or when. The moment I do know.... I fear they may leave me.