Musings on Emotional Storms

abstract drawing of a labyrinthThose challenging, never-ending emotional storms…

I was recently reminded of my divorce. It took place in 1998. I remember the next four years; I was swimming in the dark waters of pain and suffering, replaying every conversation and scene endlessly. I could not stop or find my way out. In an effort to purge and heal, I told my story repeatedly to whomever would listen.

One friend joined me at lunch after months of listening to me talk the usual thought-emotion loop full of pain. She offered up a heavy sigh as I started in again. She was hoping to have a different and more interesting conversation with me, and she said so as she settled into being my good friend and allowing me to go through it all one more time.

Over the years, I have observed that it’s very hard to move out of the painful-story loop. I keep hoping that enough emotional mastery will result in the ability to move through the big stuff faster and more completely. My observations in my own life and the lives of my friends is that this isn’t the case.

I wish the heart-bombs would result in a trampoline-like experience; I jump into an experience and jump up and out when I figure out that a given situation is just not that healthy for me.

Emotional bodies don’t seem to work that way. I wish they did. I wish for a broom that will sweep away the wreckage of bad choices and poor behavior and leave my soul clean and whole.

BTW, I am not currently suffering. Rather, I am thinking about the nature of emotional resilience and wondering if the passage of time is the only healer. I find that when old, painful feelings resurface I am mostly tired of them and the story that emerges with those feelings. After all, I have spent whole years stuck in them. And yet, even with the passage of time, some of those emotional memories deliver a punch as if it happened yesterday.

Final thought; I strive to stand in a place of compassion for myself and others. The heart needs what it needs and no amount of urgency will make healing go any faster. For all the friends who have listened to my painful stories over the years, thank you for your grace and compassion. Thanks for being my friend when the going got tough.

Green Woman: And the winner is…

posted in: Oil Painting | 0


artist Robin M Powers with Art Supplies Ink award and Green Woman
Robin M Powers, award and Green Woman

Art Supplies, Ink announced the winner the other day. I have been over the moon about this small contest. There is something very validating about winning. And I admit, that such accolades are not the thing that gets me up in the morning and making art, but they they do make a wonderful celebratory moment! 

I love this sweet, small art store. I have loved it from the moment I met the delightful family that opened their doors a year or so ago. Thanks for being a great artistic family and for being  among the people I count as friends.

Oil Painting for the First Time…

posted in: Oil Painting | 1

So, I entered this contest sponsored by Art Supplies, Ink. Here is the task: two tubes of Daniel Smith water-soluble oils (one yellow and one blue), an 8″ x 10″ canvas panel, some drying medium and one month. That’s it. No black. No white. Any subject.

Yellow and green on canvas panel
Green leaves on a yellow canvas

Who knew what a wonderful protocol this would become for learning a new medium: get two colors, a medium and an appropriate surface for mark-making. 

What do I do with yellow and blue? Explore shades of green… Green means Green Man; a celtic holdover from a much more pagan England. Green Man becomes Green Woman. is an inspired tool for the artist.  Look up anything that is image-based. Collect images in a ‘board’ and you have a glorious set of reference photos. And the best part is I don’t need to cut them out and store them somewhere in the studio. Try searching on “green man” and see the rich collection of images. Very inspiring.

I found the most beautiful green leaves from a nearby tree at Cabrillo College. Arranging the leaves on the canvas, I traced the leaves, letting them overlap. I painted a bit of thinned out green to give them some definition. I knew that I would be painting a green woman at this point and that the opening in the center would have a face…

At some point along the way I let go of being strictly representational and instead I got lost in what the paint can do… I explored this new medium of oil on canvas. And without meaning to, in fact fighting every step of the way, I fell in love with oils.

Green woman face with nose
Green woman begins to emerge

Artists learn two important things along with whatever skills that come with learning a particular medium: we learn to solve problems and we learn to think outside of the box.

Green Woman with brushes and paint
Brushes, paint and canvas in progress

In my painting class the assignment was to “do a cubist painting.” I have had this exercise in the past. And I have failed spectacularly on repeated occasions. For whatever reason, my brain could not get to anything that resembled cubist. This time, it was different…

As I struggled to define the face and the nose I realized that I could solve this problem by eliminating it. I put a big leaf shape across the offending nose, allowing a cubist treatment of the face. NOTE TO SELF: If I can’t resolve the problem, think outside of the box and deal with it.

From there, it was one glorious slide into forms, value ranges and allowing the shapes to tell me what they wanted. I loved the marriage of the urban with the wildness of the natural world. When I showed my painting teacher she informed me that I had successfully done “Bio-morphic Cubism” ala Picasso in the 1920s.

Here is the result…

Bio-morphic Cubist Oil Painting
Green Woman, 201


The contest results are in on Tuesday, May 20th. In the meantime, I want to do it again!