Brain Still Life

brain series; acrylic

So, let’s all breathe a sigh of relief now that we are at the end of the brain paintings… for now.  I saved the comic relief for last.  This painting calls to mind another visit to the Toledo Museum of Art.  I remarked to my friend that I was not fond of “still life” paintings.  In a word, I found them boring.  Nothing is happening.  No action.  They usually contain fruit.  I’m a writer.  I like a story.

I hope that you can imagine a story when you look at this painting.  I hope it at least arouses suspicion, a question or two.  Unless you are like me and didn’t study the painting much because as soon as you saw it was another still life, you yawned and moved on.

I guess I’m a hypocrite, too, because I’ve always been fond of drawing bottles.  I like working with shadows.  Now I’m also learning to work with light.

What if we served our mind up on a platter?  Like the piece of meat that it is.  Letting go of our thoughts like drifting clouds.  How would we feel?  Empty?  Free?  Think about that, then let it go.  Bon appetit!

Heart Mind

brain series; acrylic

I hope I can do this piece justice in my explanation.  I will first talk about how the idea came about.  I had seen an Egyptian exhibit at the Toledo Museum of Art.  I remember reading about how past civilizations believed the brain was just a useless mass, so they removed it and did not retain it in a sacred jar like other organs.  The heart was believed to be where mental function took place and was left intact.  I started thinking about how we now know the brain to be the center of thought and emotion, yet we still refer to our hearts in terms of love and feelings.  What does this mean?

I decided to research the heart further.  As it turns out, the heart has many nerves running through it, not just blood vessels.  This suggests that perhaps the brain and heart are connected on a deeper level.  Perhaps they are even mirrors of each other.  Twins working independently and simultaneously.  But in the end, which is which?  Do they influence each other?

I came across another term in my research: Bodhicitta.  This is part of Buddhism.  It is a term denoting an awakening of the mind that unites compassion and wisdom (the heart and the mind).  It basically refers to the idea of enlightenment whereby you see your connection to the universe and all beings and let go of the sense of self and ego.  I especially liked the idea that a person can still follow his or her vocation as long as he or she is motivated to help others in the process.

Some other interesting words to note: “Kokoro,” is a Japanese word referring to the heart AND mind.  The Chinese word would be “xin.”  Imagine if we all used our collective “heart mind,” which is essentially one in the same!

So getting back to the painting, I wanted to convey the idea of the heart and mind connection.  I wondered what would happen if I painted a heart where the brain (or head) would be and a brain where the heart would be.  I made the heart purple with gold light reflections because the crown chakra is represented by these colors.  I made the brain green with pink arteries because the heart chakra is represented by these colors.  I decided the heart should resemble the brain and vise versa.

How will you use your “heart mind” to help the world today?

The Fruit of Knowledge

brain series; acrylic

This piece is very special to me, partly because it took awhile to complete.  I had a struggle with it.  It is a reminder to the human spirit.  How we want to give up on something.  But to give up on it would be like giving up on ourselves, so we persist.  That is when the magic happens.

This piece has a lot of layers.  I’m always drawn to the story of Adam and Eve and particularly the garden.  The idea of knowledge.  The moment we received it.

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to who is holding the apple and who is receiving it.

If you look closely, you might see another image in the painting.  The eye of the serpent.

The ultimate question: Is this knowledge a gift or a burden?

Brain Flower

brain series; acrylic

I thought of the idea for this painting after I received a bouquet of flowers from my husband.  What would happen if one of the flowers looked like a brain?  This calls to mind the idea of blooming.  What makes a brain bloom?  Or perhaps every thought in the brain is a bloom.  Can you imagine a garden growing inside your head?  May your mind blossom today!

Brain Cloud

brain series; acrylic

Here is one of the first in a series of brain paintings.  The idea to make brain paintings came about interestingly enough through a co-worker during a discussion about “growing old” (whatever that means) and even death.  I thought perhaps a meditation on illness and the body/organs through art might bring out the humor of the situation.  We often expect art to be aesthetically pleasing.  As a culture, we have a certain idea of what is beautiful, namely youth and perfection.  But what makes art beautiful and people beautiful are the imperfections.

After making one brain painting, I was hooked!  Perhaps in the same way the mind gets hooked on ideas…obsessed even 😉  I recalled a conversation about the work of artist Jim Dine and how he painted hearts and bathrobes.  I found the bathrobes especially intriguing!  Suddenly, brains weren’t just a passing thought or an obsession, but as artists would say– I found my muse…

Turning inward, I figured what better way to meditate on my own mind and love for thinking.  The side effect is that I’m an insomniac by nature.  I find my mind both a blessing and a curse, so why not study it?

My first piece was a gift, so I am unable to share it here.  But it involves a tiny person walking out of the brain.  Follow me as we take a walk outside ourselves and try to see art, the world, and ourselves more mindfully.

As for this piece, I wanted it to be whimsical and reminiscent of cloud watching.  Think like the child using their imagination to see pictures in the clouds.  Read the children’s book, It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw, for inspiration.  What do you see when you look at the sky?  I see a brain, of course!

Lilies at Retreat

created on site with acrylic

I created this painting one afternoon during my 2 week stay at a retreat house in Michigan.  The house overlooked a beautiful lake.  I was very taken with a patch of lily pads that were frequented by 3 very territorial swans.  I was, of course, channeling Monet and the idea of Impressionist painting.  I wanted to capture the moment and the feeling in the moment including a sense of movement and the idea of the lilies as floating entities.  This painting has additional personal value to me as it marks a spiritual and artistic awakening.

Japanese Garden

based on photograph; acrylic

This painting represents a garden that my husband and I visited during our first trip to Japan in November of 2008.  I believe we were in Kyoto.  They are known for their gardens.  I’m very interested in shadows, which is why the photo was of interest.  This was a gift to my husband for our first anniversary.

Pyramid Point

self-portrait from photograph using acrylic

This painting is a self-portrait based on a photograph I took, or rather that my husband took of me, while we were vacationing Up North in Traverse City, MI.  We were at Pyramid Point.  We nicknamed it “Cougar Point” because of a sign warning us to watch out for cougars 😉  I would call this painting the inspiration for my artistic life.  It hangs in my living room.