I am your moon and your moonlight too
I am your flower garden and your water too
I have come all this way, eager for you
Without shoes or shawl
I want you to laugh
To kill all your worries
To love you
To nourish you
Goddess Alight explores the concept of the divine feminine and includes a number of symbols from various cultures, theologies, and eras, so I thought to provide some context through these classic interpretations. Here are a few clues to the symbols in the painting to get you started on the road to reflection. Just hover over the images to read about the meaning.
For further food for thought, here are a list of the colors used in the painting and their meanings:
Black- the color of power, mystery, hidden aspects of the life cycle. It relates to the secretive, the unknown, and times of waiting and preparedness.
Blue-the color of peace and spiritual power. It connects to the throat chakra and verbal expression.
Green-The color of growth, fertility and harmony. Connected with the heart chakra and the element of air, green is connected with love and nature, and believed to bring wholeness into our lives.
Gold- Represents wisdom, higher ideals, enlightenment
Orange/ Apricot- The color of creativity, sexuality, energy, balance and warmth. It is associated with the sacral chakra and the element of water.
Pink-the color of caring, compassion, love. Pink is aligned with Venus (love) and the moon (feminine power.) It has both fire and air elements.
White-the color of peace, innocence, birth, marriage. Pure and powerful, it symbolizes oneness with the universe.
Yellow- The color of hope, imagination, joy. It connects to the solar plexus chakra and the sense of sight.
Just in case you’re interested, here’s a super quick art history lesson:
(You can take the girl out the classroom, but.....)
Symbols, both figurative and geometric, have been integrated into works of art for a long, long time. In fact, signs and symbols can be found in nearly every Paleolithic site in Western Europe. You can read more about that here.
Moving on the twelfth century. Symbols were commonly embedded in Gothic, Byzantine and Renaissance art. As few people were literate during that time, paintings acted the storybooks of the day. Colors and symbols and the placement of both in a painting were part of a rich and consistent visual language. For example, Mary was always dressed in blue; St. Nicholas in red. To make doubly sure that St. Nick was properly identified, he held three golden orbs. As well, each type of flower and fruit in a painting held a particular meaning and message for its viewers. Placement was important, too: keys in a man’s hand represented St. Peter and the keys to the kingdom, but keys laying near a cup or a bowl of fruit represented corruption. People of the time were adept picture readers and easily translated the symbols of the day into their intended meanings. You can learn more about that here.
Fast forward to today, where the thought's the thing. Infographics, iconography, emoticons and other symbols mix with and replace traditional text to spread ideas quickly and across language barriers. You can read more about that here.
I’d like to be able to say that I don’t have to have a ton of bricks drop on my head in order to make me to sit up and pay attention. Regrettably, this is not always true.
The suggestion to visit Sedona, Arizona kept popping into my life—an online advertisement for a cooking class, an unsolicited Trip Advisor review, an email about a wellness retreat located in Sedona, an art class offered at the Sedona Art Center. With my characteristic brand of single mindedness, I managed to ignore them all. Then, in mid August, I had the world’s shortest dream. Three words: Go to Sedona. Having unsuccessfully tried the subtle approach, the universe got right to the point. And it worked. I booked the trip the very next day.
I made my very first trip to Sedona in November. When I told friends about my plans, those who had been before became both very enthusiastic and uncharacteristically inarticulate. “Oh. Sedona,” they would nod sagely. “It’s just..the red rock…so spiritual..you turn the corner and then..it’s... you’re going to love it.”
Well, I did love it. Having now been there, I understand that it does, to some degree, defy description. I can use words like majestic, magical, magnetic, ever changing, encompassing, enfolding, renewing and timeless, but what does that really tell you? Like many exceptional places and moments, Sedona is something that you simply have to experience for yourself.
One of the things that I learned from my time as a museum curator is that, sometimes, there simply is no substitute for the real thing. You can talk about it, sing about it, paint it, photograph it, write about it, pontificate, et al. Nonetheless, in order to really understand a place, to absorb it in your heart and in your bones, you have to experience it for yourself. I felt that way in the Sistine Chapel, atop the Arc de Triomphe, at the top of the world in the Atlas Mountains and in the coral canyons of Hawaii. And I experienced the same sensation in Sedona.
I’m still thinking about and processing my time in that golden place, and I expect I’ll continue to do so for a while. Is it showing up in my artwork? Definitely. While dwelling happily in the land of palm trees and dolphins, I find my paintbrush turning to Cathedral Rock and Oak Creek Canyon. Will I go back again? I can’t wait.
What places call to you and inspire you? And what have you learned there that you choose to carry with you and make a part of your life?
Everything I create has deep personal meaning for me, springing from real life experiences, relationships past and present, and my environment. And, sometimes, from my dreams.
I keep a dream journal, and I’ve been doing so for quite a few years now. I’ve been part of several dream circles, where we share and comment on each other’s dreams. I’ve read and re-read my dreams over the years, finding new insights and meanings as time unfolded. My husband, and best friend, Greg, is my ultimate dream reader—he always finds some ‘aha’, a thought-provoking question, or a fresh aspect to consider when I share my dream journal.
When you dive into ancient spiritual traditions, including the Judeo-Christian traditions, it doesn’t take long to realize that dreams were once taken very seriously. Dreams charted new and unexpected paths. They unrolled visions, possibilities, and hidden truths. Dreams beckoned you to climb heavenly ladders and urgently communicated the most expeditious route to Egypt. They warned you that the king was about to go completely off his rocker for the foreseeable future. People once paid attention to these celestial spoilers, and responded accordingly.
We’ve lost that connection over time, and I often wonder why. Perhaps it has something to do with the interest of the scientific/psychological world with dreams (think Freud and Jung) and the notion that the realms of science and religion are somehow parallel, and therefore, incompatible universes. I don’t know. But I do believe that dreams benefit us and are worth consideration.
I am an active and vivid dreamer. Occasionally, my dreams take me to very new places. There have been times when they merged my past and present. Sometimes, they reunite me with those who have gone before. And sometimes, they provide clarity to a girl who tends to live each day in fine focus.
I had such a dream not too long ago—that sort of “here’s the big picture” dream. I’m not entirely sure the significance of the dream, but it was characterized by beautiful light and an interesting array of symbols. Sure enough, I was up at 5 a.m., at work in my studio, in pajamas, that, I am ashamed to admit, were already paint splattered, trying to capture what I saw in my dream.
And that’s how As If with New Eyes came to be.
This was so different from my previous works that I tried the technique and the symbol set in a much more Piscean series, which ended up referencing both a rich tapestry and a Lilly Pulitzer dress I once loved. Hence, When Lilly’s Imagination Turns to Brocade.
Consider the possibility that dreams may be here to help you through your journey. Try remembering and recording your dreams, and using them to inspire your art, your writing, and your everyday life. See what happens!
For those interested, I transcribed notes from my dream below:
The best way to picture this dream is imagine a series of tall, well-spaced clotheslines stretching over an open, grassy meadow. Each “clothesline” was hung with a beautiful, diaphanous, tapestry-like hanging. Each hanging was different; each very intricate. The light was low, as in morning or afternoon, so that the light shone through the tapestries, and revealed new patterns as I saw through one tapestry to the next. A light breeze was blowing, causing the tapestries to move softly and constantly shift colors and patterns.
I was completely captivated by these tapestries—the shifting patterns, the way the light shone through them—and I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. I began to walk through the layers of tapestries. As I walked through, I realized that there were people and events unfolding on the ground between the tapestries. Some of them—a group of people engaged in deep conversation—seemed unaware of me. Another, a young woman sitting on the grass with a baby in her arms, looked up at me as if seeking my attention. But I did not engage with anyone. I was too mesmerized in the beauty and depth of these tapestries, and continued to walk slowly through them. They captured my complete attention.
Additional note: There were a variety of symbols in the tapestries, of which I made sketches in my dream journal. None of them are familiar to me, but I did notice that they were all symmetrical.
A lot of you know Greg-- my best friend and life partner of 40+ years.
Yes, that long.
By the time you get to this point in your life journey together, you can practically read each other’s minds. I don’t even text him to ask him to bring home a half gallon of milk anymore—mental telepathy is so much quicker 😉
So I wasn’t surprised when Greg suggested building a shelving system for my artwork. I'd been thinking about it for several weeks. Granted, my paintings were taking over the entire house—the dining room, the guest room, and the study, not to mention my increasingly claustrophobic art studio—but I’m still going to call it telepathy. Could be survival, but I’m sticking with the soul-mate thing.
Long story short, Greg designed and built a lovely and efficient storage system for me this weekend. And it’s beautiful! I’m so delighted with it. It allows me to see a sizable body of my work at once. I’m already seeing new groupings and connections that I just haven’t been able to see before.
Let me just gild the lily by adding that he worked on this yesterday while I went to the movies with my girlfriends to see the Downton Abbey movie. That’s love, people, pure and simple.
Anyway, here it is. Pretty wonderful, right?
Botanicals seem to be on my mind lately—at least, that’s what’s coming out of my studio. I’ve completed three selections: Come into the Garden, Botanica Marina, and My Love for You is Green and Growing. No, I haven’t been painting plein air in my garden like Monet! In fact, the inspiration for each piece springs from very diverse sources, none of which has anything to do with actual gardening.
Come into the Garden was inspired by the book The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I recently re-read it. As a former teacher and children’s librarian, I read and taught this book a number of times. It’s considered a children’s classic, but was originally serialized in a magazine for adults. Frances Hodgson Burnett was deeply interested in the connection between the mind and body. And, of course, that’s what the storyline portrays—the power of mindset as a garden, with the ability to replenish, regenerate, revive. It also has to do with the connection to spirit, and the inspiration and direction that comes from that connection. I am interested in those ideas, and I wanted to express them in painting.
The idea for Botanica Marina came from a memorable, though ill-fated scalloping trip (also inspiration for Search for the Elusive Scallop.) We were snorkeling about five miles off the Florida coast. Unfortunately, the scallops were about nine miles off the Florida coast. But there were plenty of sea urchins and starfish—beds of them, lying on the grassy floor of the Gulf. Like a beautiful, undersea garden. You can see where I am going with this. This captivating mental image stayed with me, but it didn’t come together until I heard The Beatles song Octopus’s Garden courtesy of Alexa. Scalloping trip + Octopus’s Garden= Botanica Marina. You’re starting to see how my mind works now, aren’t you?
Let’s see…a book, a boat….Oh, yes. A baby. Several weeks ago, Hurricane Dorian threatened to sweep right onto Florida’s Atlantic coast as a Category 4+ storm. That did not sound like something I wanted to stick around for. So, we took a little ‘hurricane holiday’ and headed west to Texas to visit family—especially a certain little Miss. Our little granddaughter lives deep in the heart of Texas. Of course, I am so in love with her, and she seems to like me, too. After our visit, I began to think about generations of family as layers of a garden. Each new layer brings forth a new, fresh love that multiples and grows through the years. But it also connects you to the past—in learning how to be a grandmother, I look back at the experiences and love that I received from my own wonderful grandmothers. And I’m grateful to those women, and connected to them, in a whole new way. And that notion was the foundation for My Love for You is Green and Growing. If you look carefully at each panel, you will see many details-- new things coming to light, experiencing new life, nurturing new life, in the process of transformation.
So, not so much as a trowel or a flower pot behind the inspiration for these three botanicals. But you may look at these paintings and find your own story within them. I hope so.
Today, I did quite a bit of cooking—preparing a meal to take to a sick friend, and fixing a hearty lunch for my husband and my dad. I know what you're thinking. Flowers as a metaphor for cornbread? Never. Artistic inspiration from soup? As if. I'll admit that that particular light bulb has not yet appeared over my head. But I’ll keep you posted.