Balanced

Balanced Everyone knows what art is. It has exactly 4 sides and 4 corners in a rectangular fashion with a recognizable object painted photogenically in an overly and painstakingly detailed style. The it usually consists of a piece of fruit or a delicate flower or even perhaps a perfect serene landscape that seems to have popped right out heaven itself. Our eyes skim over it, recognize it, find comfort in it, and move on, awed by the artist’s ability to render the likeness in exquisite detail. The End. However, move on to a modern art museum and we are sometimes visually assaulted by a conglomerate of colors and unrecognizable and even sometimes offensive images that resemble a sort of visual cacophony! It can often leave viewers, confused and irritated.

It appears at first that “art” has only 2 functions. To be unchallenged and unchanged or to be shocked into repulsion. Here at Central though, I intend to redefine the public view of art and make it more accessible to everyday people and life. Art based in spirituality is a balance between provoking thought without the assault. After spending some time walking the empty rooms after the rush and bubbling of Sunday service has past, I have discovered this balance is already present inside small pockets and corners of the church.The church itself is an imposing stone figure with its roof and bell tower stretching deep into the sky. The architectural engineering is an art form in itself design to evoke feelings of majesty and awe. It’s permanence on the ground gives weight to the imposing and permanence of Gods character that is reflected in the entire outside structure of the building. The line of stained glass windows promises your eyes a visual journey as well as a spiritual one. As you enter the Sanctuary your eyes are immediately drawn upwards to the cascading wooden beams that cross and bend creating a beautiful geometric pattern that is highlighted by the different colored sections of the walls. Pattern, geometry, and order dominate the artistic landscape revealing yet another character of God. Then, your eyes follow the symmetrical line of pews leading you up to the front of the sanctuary re-enforcing the rule of order until you behold the main stained glass window. There your eyes hold onto the recognizable form of the Christ figure. But upon further inspection up close you begin to see the order and geometry is balanced and countered with the subtleties of the abstract shapes, colors, and forms within the figure and surrounding landscape, giving away the sublime nature of the Spirit of God which has no form. It is in this balance between form and abstraction, order and disorder, intense color with neutral color that echos the character that we find in God that is present in nature and in the Bible as well as in the individual. If you’ve never done so, look deeply into the stained glass windows and find the pieces of realism coupled with pieces that are abstract. Let you eyes rest where they may and scrutinize what stands out to you and why. Do they resemble the notion of God that you know or does it challenge it?

Clearly architecture and stained glass windows are labeled artwork without argument but what of the nuances of the practical every day objects we overlook at the church. As I walk further into the sanctuary I ask myself how many times have I overlooked the beautifully craved pews or studied the carvings at the front of the church. How long and pain staking it must have been to create such intricate detailed sculptures. Even as I wandered from room to room the placement of the windows were designed to allow the soft cool light to stream through these long windows and illuminate each corner gently and peacefully. There are corners with pillows that invite one to sit and read and contemplate in solitude. Even the color of the wood trim and doors evoke a sense of welcome and warmth. Here, in this church rich in visual goodies brings an air of welcome, contemplation, growth, spiritual awakenings, and peace. Perfection is not required here, only an open mind and eyes to see.There is intentional and unintentional art in every corner of the church from an old worn piano to the beautiful stained glass windows, to the grey stones that form the church to the bright red door, to carefully thought out construction of the building, to the placement of the windows, to the cascading wooden beams overhead! Here at Central United Methodist Church is an artist’s playground with the possibilities of a blank canvas and the inspiration of a spiritual house!

I invite you to journey into this place and wander and take note of the art that speaks to you! You will not be disappointed.

Central United Methodist Church

17 Nanticoke Dr

Endicott NY

Artist – in – Residence

“It is the things you say no to that really show the commitment to your growth.” – Yung Pueblo

I opened a book by a poet I never heard of on a rainy afternoon while distracting myself from a decision I was avoiding to make. Saying no was never a problem for me as it is for some. It rolls off my tongue after many years of practice with my kids. Even before kids, though, it was not hard. Being an observer, I am used to the gripping feeling of hesitation, not wanting to commit myself to anything I’m not 150% about. Being in the background provided a sense of safety and ability to watch things unfold before I make a decision about it. It’s not a bad way to live but even I can see this is a limited lifestyle.

“But what if I said yes?” I said to myself wandering around the bookstore feeling slightly put off at the notion of agreeing to something with no sure footing or certainty to the future. Energy is in short supplies these days with running a house hold with two kids and trying to maintain an artistic life at the same time.

I eventually found myself standing in front of the poetry section which is not unusual for me, since it is closest to the art books. I enjoy the flow and ease of words that poets seem to orchestrate which contrasted with my internal whirlwind of thoughts so I skimmed the books briefly before pulling a unknown author and opened it. I stared at the words and they stared back me pointedly. Small as they were their accusation shot through me like a bullet. How can words have such an effect on us? One sentence with no more than 16 words snapped me back into my body much like a rubber band vibrating uncontrollably is snapped back into position.

It is the things you say no to that really shows your commitment to your growth”

There it is. Standing in front me, challenging my perceptions of my life. Challenging my notion that I, in my conceit, was committed to growth. That’s when it dawned on me that it was never about success or failure. It is not about what I am but what I am becoming. It is about being present in the moment and the moments are always changing, why….why would I want to stop this? Sure there could be painful moments but there are painful moments in a static unchanging life as well. Pain indicates change and change means growth and growth means depth and a richness that a static life could never bring me. And is that not what art is all about? Depth and richness?

So I will say yes as often as I can and when I say no it means I truly cannot commit to it due to another reason. With this in mind, I am please to announce that I have accepted to become the Artist-in-Residence at my home church Central United Methodist Church in Endicott. I say become because it is an action word and I intend to grow into something more than what I am now. In that state of becoming and the interconnections that we have on this journey, the growth will than spread out to others. Good art, bad art, it’s not the point. The point is that it changes us. Its salts us to gives us the community and companionship that we desperately need and crave.

What do you intend to say yes to?

My Wash is a Mountain…

Mt. Wash- ington means something entirely different in my house. A towering colossal of pants and shirts that seem a mile high stares down at me from the peaks of panties. I can feel a deep sigh materialize from the very pit of laziness as I begin to shovel a load of clothes into a reluctant washing machine. It is the never ending cycle of life and wash……….

What On EARTH does This Have to do with Art?

If there is only one lesson I learned from doing the wash it’s persistence. Seriously stop laughing…….with 2 remarkably dirty kids and husband the wash has life cycle all on its own. Making sure that everyone has the correct shirt, socks, and shorts on the precise day can be a full time job. There is an unusual amount of dedication that one needs in order to make this possible. Persistence is continuing firmly or obstinately in the course of action in spite of difficulties and opposition. If this doesn’t describe wash….well I don’t know what does than. But I digress, standing in front of my easel I erase over and over and over again until I draw correctly. Sitting at the piano I go through each note, line by line, tying together each measure until it sounds like music. Or I write lines and words, scratching and erasing paragraphs until it flows naturally.

3 different forms of expression all manifested through the same pattern of persistence. It was a concept that I believed was a God given talent. Much like last week’s post, I’ve learned that it is less about feelings and more about decisions. Will I push myself harder and further today than I did yesterday? Will I decide to erase that line on that paper that doesn’t look right or will I leave it and shrug my shoulders? Will I practice that song one more time or walk away? Will I knock on that door or shrink away from opportunity? Do I put myself out there exposed to the harshness of criticism and judgments one more time? Or is the definition of insanity, repeating the same actions expecting different results too similar to the definition of persistence?

That’s a question everyone asks themselves at some point in their lives but I take my advice from the strangest places sometimes. I revisited a clip of Robin Williams when he did stand up comedy. Taken in 1977, 3 years before I was born, I remember watching this as a kid and absorbing his message deeply. Grateful now that all of the adult humor soared way past my young head, his spark of madness is what imprinted itself in my psyche for years. “You’ve got to be crazy because what is reality? You’ve got to be crazy because madness is the only way to stay alive” – Robin Williams. It is definitely madness. It is certifiably crazy. It is “full tilt bozo” to hope. It is madness to believe things will change or be different. Is it madness or persistence to hope that the actions you take every single day will result in the outcome you want? But if you don’t have that spark of madness what do you have? “Nothing “- Robin Williams says. If there is no hope, than no actions will be made to make the outcome any different thus fulfilling its own prophecy.

So when I get up in the morning I have the same question I ask myself every day………have you decided to commit yourself to believe and hope that things will be different and work towards that belief? Though it is madness, though it is crazy, my answer is always a resounding and whispered yes.

What Are You Mad For?

Wash, art, music, relationships, jobs, politics, wishes and dreams…….I hope that you all stay mad!

Art: the Killer of Lonliness

Loneliness, I’ve read, is the source of growing mental and physical health problems across America. It is felt from the very young to the very old. As jobs hold more of our time than in the past we have less time to spend with those we care about the most. Coupled with social media,we are even more isolated than before. The aging population are greatly affected by this growing concern and resources are slim to accommodate the inflated need for companionship.

Once we have isolated ourselves from the rest of the world we begin to believe that we cannot relate to nor believe others can relate to, ourselves. Interactions can become difficult and awkward. The cycle of thoughts stemming from our awkward interactions validates our belief that we are, indeed, unworthy of companionship. Competitiveness and comparisons crowd our thoughts, and feelings of inadequacy reinforces that feeling of unworthiness. It is a difficult pattern to break.

This pattern can be broken though, through many different forms. Music, dance, journaling, meditation, prayer, spirituality are some that come to mind but the form that appeals to me most is the process of creation, namely of art. Not just because of the benefits proven time and time again by researchers, but because I have seen and experience this power before. I can list the researchers and the articles and the specific benefits that creativity can bring all day long but I am a personal creature by nature and I draw (no bun intended) on those personal experiences as proof. The many people who have come to my classes I have remained friends with to this day.

The creation of art brings people together by sharing the experience of creativity . Ideas, techniques, and frustrations as well as joys and success are all shared around the table. Jokes, laughter, concerns about topics that are much deeper than just how to apply paint on canvas come up. I’ve seen tears shed in laughter and in pain across the easels. I’ve seen children that never met before instantly become friends through their simple interest in painting unicorns and mermaids. Under the roof that is art, strangers from different backgrounds find their community. Art kills, for a time if not forever, this illusion of separation of the other. Art kills the illusion of us and them.

I know that the mass majority of us are not Rembrandt’s, including myself but why should that stop us from enjoying the elements that make up art? Do you ever stop yourself, dazzled by the intensity of a color or how the light dances across a face? Do you get lost in someone’s eyes, or become transfixed on a sunset. Before art can be made, beauty has to be appreciated and most of us have that innate ability. I urge you to find yourself a beginners class, a sip and paint, a drink and draw, and all the other clever titles that they might have to capture your attention, and take your brush boldly to a canvas among the many others who are seeking friendship to paint badly but without care for everyone can find comfort and much needed humor that lightens the soul. I promise you it is not like any other experience and most people walk away a little more connected. After all who could argue with all these smiling faces?

Blue is Her Soul

Her soul is blue

Though you’d never know it

She keeps it hidden in her secret place

Away from those who are undeserving.

She may paint it black or red with rage

For awhile and at times

It may appear yellow or green.

You may want it pink or purple

But souls don’t care want we want.

I saw it though, when she first was born

She opened her eyes and her soul is blue.

Blue like the autumns sky

Blue like my mothers eyes

Blue like a robins egg

Blue as the trees shadow in the snow.

Life Lessons I’ve Learned From Art: Beginnings Are Messy


“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will. “George Bernard Shaw

Lines scribbled acrossed pages, brush strokes slapped on a canvas, your first hints of color arranged and laid out like a mosaic, trying something here and there but wiping it away and putting it somewhere else again. The constant measuring and re measuring and the drawing and redrawing that begins to mimic a dance. There are many starts, over and over and over again.
With 2018 just around the corner I cannot ignore the beginning of a brand new year. Beginnings, however, are messy, clumsy and often wrong. Many days I stomp off in frustration promising never to return again but only after I add one more thing or fix just one line. After awhile I have learned that beginnings are messy and wrong but the first line or brushstroke is not made in stone (unless you’re sculpture but in any case I’m sure there must be away to fix that!) and that I enjoyed the rough possibility that we call a sketch. For in that mass of messy scramble of lines some form begins to emerge. Out of the abstract, values take shape, out of chaos, order is born. From possibilities to certainty.


There is much comfort in knowing that perfection is not necessary in the beginnings. There is comfort in knowing that perfection is not necessary at all to make something meaningful or beautiful. And it is because of these stages that I am convinced that the Law of Entrophy cannot be the final answer for how often does out lives resemble this process. Thankfully, laws of physics apply only to heat and energy and not to art or the complexities of human’s emotional lives! I have observed, though, my real life beginnings mimic my artistic beginnings. Messy, uncertain, chaotic, often wrong but not written in stone. Art has taught me to trust those messy starts and believe in the form that emerges and that the light will eventually break through. I have learned that with each new beginning and new start, my experiences will help me make the right decision and guide me with my initial marks. 

 In the couldron hidden deep inside my soul, an idea is churning. It is definitely a new beginning. It will definitely be messy, it will definitely be chaotic and I will definitely make mistakes but I will trust in the creative process for chaos is only creativity finding its way to truth. 

“First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.” Neapolitan Hill