The Real Me

The Real Me

Friday, August 15, 2014

A lovely night

It started with a canvas, given to me by a friend a couple of months ago.  The canvas originated with his artistic, autistic daughter.  Was passed on to his mother.  Neither of whom chose to paint on it.  It landed in the backseat of my car one night after dinner.  "Here, you might be able to use this."  Well, sure, thank you, I thought, I'm always happy to have new canvas.

I used it to paint a portrait, a commission piece that was rejected by the client, in exchange for a new attempt.  Rather than stare at a portrait that made me sad, I painted over it with fresh white paint, ready to take on a new project, another day.

That day was last night.

Before I came into the studio, I went to the beach for an early evening swim.  And the sky was spectacular.  Like this...

Then I came into the gallery for the evening, and decided to paint what I had just seen.  Grabbed the painted over canvas, put it on the easel and got to work.  A family came in - mother, father, son and daughter, while the painting was at its earliest stage.  Just some streaks of blue across the sky.  I invited them to come back in after they'd eaten dinner, to see the progress.

They did.  The painting was about 75% complete at that point.  I invited the daughter, age 11, to take the brush and put a few strokes into the sky.  She did, timidly.  Then I invited her brother, 13, autistic, to do the same.  He grabbed the brush boldly, and made one long, determined vertical stroke right in the middle of all of the horizontal clouds.  And a grin spread, a wide one, across his face.

The family stayed a while, we chatted, it was a lovely visit.  

After they left, I was faced with the decision of what to do with the painting.  Should I "correct" that one bold vertical stroke, or simply leave it as is.

I opted for the latter.  So that the painting might stand as a reminder to me of what is important.  Because when they left, my thought was "THAT is the juice of life."  It's not about how much I sell and it's not about being perfect in execution of the colors and strokes that make up a sunset.  The creative process is about JOY.  It is about sharing.  It is about people, and beauty.

The blog I originally intended to write this week was going to be about life, and how we are reminded how precious it is only when we lose someone dear to us.  So many of us mourned the suicide of Robin Williams... a man who most of us knew only as a comic genius on the tv, or in a movie.  And we wondered how a man so loved, so funny, so brilliant and quick of wit, "successful" in the eyes of the world - how could he feel so unloved, so desperate, as to find the only way through life to be to find a way out of it.

I ran into a former co-worker in a store this week, and in a hurry, didn't bother to say more than a quick hello, and move on.  I didn't take the time to stop, to ask how she was.  And was horrified a few days later when I read the newspaper to discover that just a few days before I saw her, her thirty two year old son had died, tragically, unexpectedly.  And I felt absolutely awful, in hindsight, for not having taken that extra minute to care.  To connect.

Life offers us reminders of the impact of one small act of kindness.  Sometimes on a grand scale, sometimes in the seemingly smallest of ways, but all important.

The painting stands.  I find it a pretty cool "full circle" thing that the canvas originally bought for one with autism ended up being a source of delight to another of the same.  Coincidence?  I think not.  God at work in the lives of all involved?  Absolutely.

The next time I rush past someone I know, I pray that I will be more mindful, to take the time to connect.  I pray I do not allow my own hurriedness to prevent an opportunity to show compassion, one that I missed, badly, this week.

I'm searching for a lofty last sentence and not finding one.  I simply felt compelled to share, to inquire more deeply into my own feelings and reactions.  If you read this, please comment.  I've love to hear what you have to say.

Oh - and here is the painting.    As is.   With love and gratitude to you for reading this.  


Saturday, June 14, 2014

From There to Here

Saturday evening in the gallery.  May I muse on a bit with you?  And here's a soundtrack to accompany this blog (click to YouTube)

It's been an interesting string of weather... not quite summer yet (and the calendar gives us another week anyway), but the trees are thick and lush, certainly not early Spring either.  "We're getting there" seems to be a common phrase.  Which begs the question of where is "there?"

Obviously in the case of weather discussion it is summer.  Idyllic time of flip flops, longer days, open windowed sleeping at night, and here on Cape Cod, boating, swimming, and all varieties of beach time.

I muse on the "getting there" question.  I've been a church musician for the past ten years, and about once a month after church, there is a retired organist who says to me, about my organ playing, "you're getting there" which I think is her way of offering a compliment, though I always find myself walking away, shaking my head, and wondering where the "there" is to which she refers.  And how will I know when I have arrived?

We do that with so many things in life, don't we?  We seek the perfect relationship, the perfect home, the perfectly organized sock drawer (ok, just making sure you're paying attention!).  But what if "there" is an elusive goal to which we can never quite arrive?  And the real "there" is more honestly "here?"  What if in our quest for perfection, we miss the beauty and joy in the here and now?

I learned that lesson when I watched my mother decline for several years in a nursing home.  We hoped she would improve, focused on finding ways to help her in the process, and yet she continued to decline.  And with our emphasis on improvement, we missed the quality that she maintained at the time.  And it continued to disappear.  And we continued to miss it, until the very end, when we finally accepted that it was as good as it was going to be.  And then she was gone.

How many perfectly exquisite "here" moments do we miss in our question for "getting there?"  I far prefer, at the ripe age of 54, to focus on what is in front of me, right now.  To allow myself to be spontaneous, rather than plan every moment of my days.  Sure, I still have goals. It is important to continue to grow.  Yet not, in my humble opinion, at the expense of losing the joy in where I am right now.  What relationships do I have that I value?  To whom might I show a little extra love and concern, whether they ask for it or not?  What word of joy might I offer, or maybe even a simple smile, that could brighten someone's day?

A couple of weeks ago, in the gallery one afternoon, I looked out and saw a woman I know getting into her car.  Not someone with whom I was close.  I wasn't even sure that she would remember my name.  I hadn't seen her in several months. So I didn't take the time to go out to say hi.  Then less than a week later I heard the news of her involvement in a life-threatening car accident.  And I kicked myself for not having taken the time to share a friendly word or two with her, when I could, because I could.

So what's your point, Mimi?  My point is that maybe in our desire to get there, we miss here.  Right now.  This moment.  The light outside my window.  The gentle music on the stereo.  The beauty around me.  The kind words offered to me earlier in the day by a virtual stranger who passed through the gallery.

Stop, please, for just a moment.  Take a deep breath.  Maybe another two or three.  And look around you.  Feel the grass underfoot.  Pet the dog.  Snuggle with a loved one.  Be.  Right here.

Are we there yet?  Oh yes.  Right now.  In every moment.

Peace and blessings to all.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A new day...

It's done.  Finished.

The novel.

Yes, I know.  I've said it before.  October 15, 2013, to be exact.  I was in query process for an agent.

But it didn't work, then.  So I asked a few trusted wise women to read it, and discuss it with me.  Went back to the proverbial drawing board, or in this case the writer's desk. Added characters. Allowed new plot twists. It grew from 69,000 words to 87,000 words. I read it again. Revised. Read again. Revised. Read again. And changed the title.

It's done.  Again.  And I spent the past week writing the next batch of query letters, to seek an agent, the perfect agent.  The one who "gets it" and wants to help me share the story with the world.

Now it's time to let it rest.  See what comes back.  I must be patient.

The good news?  During my last full read through, on April 1 (April Fools' Day - gotta love that!), I found myself laughing out loud, cursing at the antagonist, cheering on my beloved protagonist.  Yes, after reading variations on the same novel, over and over and over and OVER again, for the past six months, I still love it.  So whatever happens, whether it ever reaches the New York Time Bestseller list, I have written what I felt compelled to write, and I feel good about it. No, correct that.  I feel in awe of it.  Comparable to the training I did to complete my marathon back in 2005.  A disciplined process, showing up at the page every morning. Did the work on my own, but with the love and support and encouragement of a whole team of friends who cheered me on in the face of what looked like a ridiculous waste of time.  I did it!

The bad news?  You still have to wait to learn more.  Sorry about that.

Meanwhile - I have this lovely new gallery/studio to enjoy.  Time to get back to the paints.  Please do stop by to say hello.  I'm at 410 West Falmouth Highway, right next to the Chapoquoit Grill restaurant. I'm experimenting with what hours I'll be open, so just give a call or text before you come by and I'll be sure to be there. 508-548-3278

Now, step away from your computer, go out into the sunshine and breathe in some gorgeous spring air!  And thank you, as always, for reading my blog.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A fifth chance...

Often, life offers us a second chance.  Less often, we are offered a third, fourth, or even fifth chance.

Three years ago today, I took the sign down for Mimi's Art Gallery and Studio on 95 Palmer Avenue in Falmouth.
March 12, 2011
95 Palmer Avenue
the sign comes down!

Today, exactly three years later, I am blessed to rehang the very same sign at 410 West Falmouth Highway, West Falmouth (next to the Chapoquoit Grill on 28A)

My first thought when I came home the night I got the okay on renting the space was "Wow, God, you're giving me a second chance!  This is amazing!"
March 12, 2014
410 West Falmouth Highway
the sign finds a new home!

After further thought, I realized this is actually the 5th incarnation for the gallery.  First there was a tiny breezeway gallery in my home in West Falmouth back in 1997.  Followed by a larger studio and gallery space in my home in North Falmouth in 2001.  Followed by the commercial retail space at 95 Palmer Avenue in 2009.  Then a small studio space at the Cataumet Arts Center in 2011 for just a few months.  Then a period of only a home studio and website.

Each one of these locations served its own unique purpose at its time in my life. I consider not a single one to have been a failure.  I believe (and hope, oh so very much hope) that I have learned something from each of those other experiences that will enable me to make a better go of things this time around.   This time, the fifth time, there is a new, vibrant energy.

It is located immediately adjacent to the Chapoquoit Grill restaurant, so I intend to be open most evenings, to coincide with the restaurant's open hours, as well as Saturday mornings. Significantly smaller than the gallery many of you knew at 95 Palmer Avenue, the focus will be mainly as working studio, with ample wall space for gallery display. Other details? Stay tuned!  They will evolve over the weeks ahead.

When asked during the past several years "what do you miss most about your gallery?" my answer was an easy one.  Hands down, it was the opportunity to meet new people every day, and share my work with them - to hear their reactions, their questions, their stories about how art influences their lives.  For there is no greater reward, in this artist's humble opinion, than to see someone's eyes light up, and a grin spread on their face, when they view one of my creations.

Today, a new chapter begins.  Each painting tells a story, and I am learning to more boldly tell mine.  And yes, the novel is still in process, but more on that in another blog entry.

With deepest gratitude to each and every one of you who share this journey with me,