Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Rift/Split/Tilt


My sister just called with the most beautiful news--my mother received the results of her PET SCAN and she is cancer-free! My Thanksgiving, despite being lovely in almost every other way, was darkened more than a bit by anxiety over Mother's not having her test results yet. I wondered why her oncologist had seen fit to put her through a process that is quite painful for her, given her severe arthritis, and during the holidays. Naturally, I was worried that he suspected her cancer had recurred.

Mother learned in mid-May that she had breast cancer. I flew out to be with her for a couple of weeks, to see her through surgery. Then I rushed back to Santa Fe the day before Oakley graduated from high school. I was torn between anxiety for Mother, elation for Oakley. This Thanksgiving I was torn between the joy of being with Oakley and Flannery again, the sadness of not being with my mother.

Life is something of a balancing act, isn't it? It's never perfect and there are always choices to be made. The older I get, the more I feel the need to heal the rift created by these conflicting inclinations. Painting helps me do this.

I'm posting three paintings which explore this theme; all of them reside in private collections. "Rift," the most minimal one, above and to the left, is the newest. I painted it during my last studio marathon a couple of weeks ago, hung it in the gallery for "Black Friday," and sold it on "Blacker Saturday." Today it's being picked up for shipment to Kirkland, Washington. You can't tell from the digital image, but it has many, many layers of color, so many I lost count. I felt rather peaceful on its completion. The two areas on either side of the "rift" are similar but different, just the way I feel about urgings in life. I may feel torn between two different people's needs, but they are really just varying hues of my most basic need--to honor the relationships that are important to me.

Bennie mentioned that he liked the way the "rift" gradually changes color, from teal to blue. I felt that it was a river flowing, changing color depending on the light hitting it at a given point. Yes, life changes the color of our personal outlook from time to time. But we have to keep flowing.


"Splitting Chairs," the collage to the right, was completed during a time Bennie and I were quarreling. Yes, after almost 22 years of marriage, we fight! Our longevity as a couple I attribute to the philosophy of Phyllis Diller: "Don't go to bed mad. Stay up and fight."

Or better yet, paint the bitterness out of your system! "Splitting Chairs" was purchased by the same couple who own "Night Textures." It hangs in Seattle.






"Tilt," the happy-colored painting to the left, was one of those pieces which sold the day it hung in the gallery. Correction. It hadn't been hung yet. It was propped against the wall, and a couple from Fort Worth saw its worth. I called it "Tilt" because, despite its carefree palette, I had a devil of a time painting it. It was one I obsessed over and no matter what I did, it would look off-kilter. I showed it to Bennie and Oakley at the end of one day. Oakley was straightforward: "I just don't get anything out of it." I went to bed, feeling the same way. I'd wasted an entire day, hadn't gotten a thing out of it.

Woke up the next morning with the thought: Turn it upside-down. I did, somehow it suddenly seemed to work, and I took it to the gallery. I just needed a new tilt on things. Don't we all, from time to time?

33 comments:

david mcmahon said...

San, you're so right about life being a balancing act. It's also about coping, isn't it? And sometimes, no matter how strong we are, we still can't take on everyone's scars.

My thoughts are very specially with your family ....

San said...

Very nicely said, David. Thank you very much for those thoughts.

Mushy said...

Thank you for the visit...I hope you come often.

What beautiful paintings you post here and what wonderful news you got just before the Christmas Holiday. It will be even more special for you this year.

Make the most of the all.

San said...

Thank you, Mushy, for your compliments and for your kind wishes.

Yes, my sister said, "That's our Christmas present."

Lee said...

San, that was a beautiful post. In some ways it echoes what I'm feeling about my Mom, who is moving into her final years, and I've no idea how long she has.

True to my optimistic nature, I like Tilt a lot. It looks like a painting done with light behind it. Yes, Split has that flow of light within the river of division but the light in Tilt is the light of life. It glows from behind the two sections and seeps out of the scratch marks that passage through life often leaves us with. Thank you for posting them.

Hope for a Happy Holiday! & Joy for your Mom's good news.

San said...

Lee, I love your description of "Tilt," the way you talk about "the scratch marks that passage through life often leaves us with."

Thanks, as always, for the hope and joy--back at ya!

Flannery said...

Man, that is GREAT news about Ma.

San said...

Yes, FlanaBanana, it is indeed. xoxoxo

self taught artist said...

rift is my favorite of the three, it has the most strength and makes a firm statement. very nice. congrats on all the sales!

San said...

Thanks, Paula. I'm glad you like "Rift." I feel like I broke some new ground in that one, although it's hard to see the complexity in the image. I wish I could do a better job with the digitals.

Lisa said...

Hurray on your mothers news.

I really like rift also. It definitely speaks to me in terms of dealing with family illnesses and the imbalance it can cause.

HMBT said...

Hi San,
These works are all wonder-FULL.
I find that balence isn't something I seek out anymore...instead I find that harmony is better for me. Balance in my mind equals stasis, nothing. Harmony allows me to be in a better mental space to handle life on the day to day.I am super glad to hear your Mom is not with the big C! Thank you so much for your comments yesterday, it really changed my whole day and that my friend is such a good, good thing.
Now...how do I get muyself to the place that you are in with art sales? How, how how? It's been a dry year for me and I love knowing that great art is being seen and bought, you give me so much HOPE!

QUASAR9 said...

Pretty awesome paintings
The "splitting chairs" collage is paricularly striking

QUASAR9 said...

PS -
hope all is well with your mother

but ultimately death visits us all, the best we can wish for is a full 'life' free from pain or too much suffering. Sometimes it is best not to know too much, easier to focus our mind on the best of living (rather than the worst and dying). Alas 'mortals' we are.

jsd said...

I'm again mesmorized with the color and the emotion that comes through in your work. I'm glad your mother's results where good!

San said...

Lisa,

I know you've been through quite a lot in the family balancing act. Glad that "Rift" speaks to you.

San said...

Heather, now you've made my day! Your comments on balance vs harmony make a lot of sense. As to the sales, I wish I had a formula all figured out. If so, I would apply it daily. I would post about it too, to spread the word.

Keep up that hope factor. I do believe that's important, but you already knew that.

San said...

Quasar, I'm glad you like "Splitting Chairs." That one was a lot of fun to do.

Your words regarding life and death are VERY wise. Sometimes the medical system in the U.S. seems to be crazed with running tests, as if scrutinizing quantities of this and that gives ultimate answers. You're right--the answers that matter the most lie within a person's life.

I'm glad you said what you did, Quasar. Thank you.

San said...

J.S., thank you! For the good words about the paintings and for the well-wishing regarding Mother.

Daphne said...

What a relief that you can now exhale. It's too bad we hold it all in via blogging until we have good news.

I love the second painting (the collage). It resonates with me. I would buy it...

Celebration of Life said...

San,
Not only did your paintings catch my heartstrings today but so did your title. Rift/Split/Tilt seems to be my motto as of late! Thank you for an inspiring site!
Jolene

San said...

Daphne, my mother has so many issues with her health, I always have this undercurrent of worry about her and her suffering. But this last news was indeed a load off.

You would buy "Splitting Chairs"? That's a great compliment. Thank you!

San said...

Jolene, what you said means so much to me. Thank you!

And best of luck with the rifting/splitting/tilting...especially the tilting...

murat11 said...

First things first: there is no accounting for taste: the artist's or the observer's, comono? We is what we is.

If I recall, driving up from Santa Fe to Taos, the highway runs right along the Rio Grande for a while, then past Pilar, it rises up out of the gorge. At some point, in the final stretch to Taos, you come up over a rise and see this gorgeous jagged scar: the same gorge you've just come out of, off to the west. If you click on "Rift" and magnify it, then stare into its middle scar, the scar deepens into a powerful three-dimensional image, a watershed for all the lovely texture of the rest of the painting. Needless to say, I likes it.

As I do "Splitting Chairs," lovely play on words, resonance with the totemic chairs at the top of Blog de SanMerideth, wonderful shapings and textures and those two insistent-looking Elizabethan gremlins, all full of themselves and their sense of prerogative, their insistence that they WILL be a part of this nonrepresentatonal painting/collage, dammit!

"Tilt" seems an off-twin of "Rift": same diagonal scar, but the view is from much higher up (satellite view): this world we know fades with all its ectoplasts: the etheric sinews come unstrung.

Peace to you and yours and your mother.

San said...

Paschal, you're making me want to make that drive from Santa Fe to Taos again. It's been a while, but that high road route always dazzles. Of course I love the fact that you relate that vista to the painting. The geography around here has settled into my soul and therefore my art. No doubt about that.

The "Elizabethan grimlins"--what a great turn of phrase. I did like the way they looked a little lost in the context, kind of dwindling into the black surround, despite their being full of themselves. Was a commentary on my state of mind too.

"...but the view is from much higher up (satellite view): this world we know fades with all its ectoplasts: the etheric sinews come unstrung." Now, Paschal, that says it. That says it all.

Peace back at ya.

b2 said...

So very glad to hear of your mom's test results. Pass on a big hug, please, for all of you.
I love these paintings, especially Rift. I know it would blow me away in person, which puts you, dear friend, right up there with Emily Carr's big trees for me. The depth and intensity of spirit of your painting seems to be growing every more powerful. Thank you for sharing your journey.

San said...

b2, HUGE HUG. I wish we were seeing you over the holidays like last year.

Wow, I am groovin' over your Emily Carr statement. Talk about being blown away.

Thank you for being part of the journey, babe.

b2 said...

Just wrote a note today on your snail mail Xmas letter seconding that emotion!

San said...

b2, now I've got my eyes peeled on the mailbox.

b2 said...

Geez, San, don't peel them on the mailbox! What will the neighbors think?

San said...

Yeah, b2, point taken. It's probably against the covenants and restrictions.

kate said...

It must be a huge relief to know that your mum is cancer-free! Life truly is a balancing act ... I love splitting chairs. It is beautiful.

San said...

Thank you, Kate, for stopping by again. I need to put you on my blogroll so I'll remember to see what you're up to.

So glad you like "Splitting Chairs." And I appreciate your well-wishing for my mother.

Peace.