Musings of the Day
The Alchemy of Life
hear this read aloud below
I was sharing my new digital images with my husband yesterday explaining where each one came from, when I realized that I no longer knew the origin of most of them. Referring to them as the “great great great grandchildren of my paintings” I saw his face light up in understanding. This brought with it a further realization that my new images, like myself, are the result of all of the experiences, thoughts, dreams, and input of my entire life. They are, more than anything else I have created up until now, the perfect symbols of every little detail that has been combined to make up who I am now.
As my facility with creating them increases, I find myself pulling in literal pieces of images, photos of memories, old sketches that never went further than my sketchbook, paintings that never made it to my website and slices of previous digital images which are compilations of even more previous work. There are so many elements in each new painting I create that it is impossible to distinguish where their origin lies. Perhaps this is the perfect reflection of where I now stand in my own life.
I look in the mirror sometimes and do not recognize myself. I’ve aged and changed. Illness and injuries reveal themselves in those changes, each one leaving their mark in some way. I look more like some parts of my family and less like those who I used to resemble. The more “me” I become, the less I look like the person I have always identified in the mirror. I am, like my new creations, the sum total of all of my experiences blended together so that none stands out on its own. Scars from surgeries and accidents are identifiable. Certain changes can be attributed to an event. But all in all I no longer look like the person I used to know as “me.”
My family is a blend of many different ethnicities, backgrounds, beliefs, and cultures. My dogs are a mixture of different breeds. None of us is pure. We are a bit of this and a bit of that all mixed up in some special way that makes us - us. And as we mature, we absorb elements of our experiences so that they become part of our tapestry, our physical body as well as our mental and emotional makeup. Some things stick and some slide off like teflon, but the ones that stick become part of us, changing us forever.
In painting my new life, creating my new images, they are showing me how this shows up in the physical reality of my life. They are the symbols of that evolution, that “sticking” of particular elements and how this alters everything about my life. More than that though, they are touchstones of how magical this actually is. It is the alchemy of life that is showing up in my work now and I am entranced by seeing lead turn to gold before my eyes. I have been called a wizard before, a sorceress, a seer, and much more. My paintings show me now that this is not only true, but the essence of who I have always been and what I need to embody further to fully come alive.