The Gift of a Dream

 Collaboration is a beautiful thing.

In January my 21 year old son, Josiah, and I went to NYC for Ping and Peter’s wedding.

I had taken everyone but Josiah to NYC so the wedding  and $160 round trip tickets made the timing perfect.   (Josiah was at Air Born Basic Training the last time we went.)

We stayed at Hotel 31 for $75/night and we could see the Empire State Building from our window!.

It was a glorious week and I reconnected with beloved artist friends.  When artists meet, ideas fly!  Each meeting filled my heart and mind with months of isnpiratoin.  Thank you  Judy Krueger, Darilyn and Tony Carnes, and Eva Flatscher.

Eva Flatscher shared what she saw in a dream featuring my art.   The dream was bigger than I would have allowed myself to dream, but seeing my work through Eva Flatscher’s eyes gave me a bigger vision of what is possible.

A bridge between reality and abstraction.

Eva saw the art OUT doors interacting with the environment that inspired the paintings.    

This week I applied for a grant to make the project a reality.   I have never applied for a grant before and I am not holding my breath, but I am hopeful.  I am hopeful that regardless of whether or not this proposal is accepted that I have taken the first steps towards making it a reality.

Maybe along the Trinity Trails.  Maybe woven through the horseback riding and hiking trails around Benbrook Lake.   Maybe pop-up shows in our beautiful Fort Worth Parks.

A painting and an empty frame.

The combination inviting the viewers to look through the frame and see the beauty around them in a new way.  An invitation to look closer.  An invitation to see abstraction in nature and to see nature in abstraction.  

Not to mention a super-duper selfie opportunity.

I am excited.  Hauling a 4 x 5 foot painting over the barbed wire fences and through the weeds was slightly challenging.

Preparing artwork to hold up to wind and weather will be more so.  But oh how fun the results will be.

Art in a museum can be intimidating.  Art on a trail, not so much.   Signage in English and Spanish will offer hints for enjoying abstraction.  All it takes is little bit of  encouragement and education and a visual world opens up to those who care to see.

Maybe an encounter under the blue Texas sky will embolden viewers to visit our tremendous Fort Worth museums.  Sundays are free at the Modern and the Amon Carter is ALWAYS FREE!

See you on the trails!
Gwen

 

Organizing Daze

DSC_0586 (1)I am keeping a new schedule.
Sorta.
Kinda.
Yeah.
Okay.
Strictly speaking, I HAVE a new schedule
and I am keeping to it ISH-ly.

It is helping.
I am getting more done.
I am more aware of what I am NOT getting done.

The have done more  since last Wednesday than in the last two weeks combined.  I have had a headache since August 2016.  A nagging, ever present, drippy faucet kind of headache.

The cumulative effect like the frog that jumped into the pot of water and the heat was turned up and he did not notice he was being cooked.

I was cooked.

DSC_0704 (1)Where you in the band?  I was.
Remember the drummers?  Tick.  Tick. Tick.  Boom.  Boom.  Boom.
They were never quiet.  They tap away like an ever dripping faucet until all the sudden it was too much to handle and the band director yelled or threw his baton.

I was ready to throw my baton!

When I could not ignore it any longer I would lay down and listen to my sinuses drain from one side of my head to the other.

My face hurt.  Did you know facial pain can be a symptom  associated to lack of sleep?

Three rounds of antibiotics.  Diet changes.  Changed allergy meds.  Nothing.  I was not functioning tired.

DSC_0542 (1)Primary care physician sent me for a sinus scan in one of those big tubes.  I fell asleep during the scan.  Ear, nose and throat doctor was next.  The ENT decided sinus disease was not worth treating and sent me for a sleep study.  Sleep study reported that I stop breathing 1.7 times an hour for an average of 20 seconds each time.  Doesn’t qualify as sleep apnea.  Scheduled an appointment with another sleep specialist but not until the end of April.  AUGH!

Completely exhausted to the point of being dizzy from minor outings.
My work suffered.  My work almost stopped!

My inner critic is calling me lazy.
I am not lazy.
I am a high energy person and I was living a zero energy life.
My inner critic is so loud I wonder if the people I pass can hear him.

Pot Luck is the third Sunday after the 11:30 hippie service.  This particular pot luck was a combination pot luck, pie social and baby shower!   Win! Win!  WIN!!!  Visiting with two friends talking about life we had an epiphany.

One friend suggests, “We should …” and I say, “No, I am a lump.”
Both reminded me, “You are NOT a lump.”
Embarrassed I reply, “YES.  I AM!” and I shared my ever increasingly state of  unproductivity.

DSC_0682 (1)Both friends, without judgmentsuggest something that
I knew but chose not to know.  “You might be depressed.”

Cushioned in love, the dreaded D word came not as devastation but as revelation.
The clouds parted and a ray of sunshine shone through the stained glass windows.
The angels began to harmonize.
I am depressed.

I did not realize I could be happy and depressed.  
As soon as the words were spoken I knew they were right.

As soon as I got home I left a message for my doctor.   We met Wednesday morning.  Ran blood work.  We discussed the possibility of depression.   I was on a very low dose so she was comfortable moving up to the next dosage.  Efficacy can diminish with time and with traumatic experiences.  (The prior 18 months had been emotionally traumatic.)  Wednesday night I took a higher dose.

DSC_0490 (1)I felt better Thursday morning.  By Friday I felt alive again!

It has been a week on the new dose of anti-depressant.  My face almost doesn’t hurt.  My head only hurts a little.

SLEEP IS MARVELOUS!
I highly recommend it.
Fight for it.
I feel alive again for the first time in a very long time.

I have a lot of catching up to do.

No, that is not a healthy outlook.
Yes, had this been discerned earlier I would be further along in my business.
But it was not.

I tried to figure this out on my own.
I could not.

DSC_0694 (1)Lent began one week after I made the change.
It feels significant to me.
My mind has cleared.
The fog has lifted.

The temptation is to run forward 90 miles an hour.
I did that this past weekend and I crashed yesterday.

I cannot make up for the time lost.

I can only start where I am.

I can fight that truth or embrace it.
I am learning to embrace now.
Remembering that I am dust and to dust I will return.
My prayer, my hope, is to “serve
with a quiet mind, with gladness and singleness of heart.”

For me service includes art making.
Thank you for sharing this artful journey with me.

DSC_0714PS
Drama entered my life in May 2015.  Erupted January 2016.  An eruption in July culminated in a nuclear meltdown the week after Thanksgiving 2016.   Shunning plays a heavily in the narrative.   The details don’t matter.  What matters is forward momentum.  I realize now that part I am experiencing is grief.  Because no one died I was not allowing myself to grieve.  Grieve for lost relationships.   Grieving for what was, what could have been and what will never be.  Naming the emotions, facing the emotions, is healing.
I am not free, but I am freer.

I Have Better Things To Do With My Heart

 

I Have Better Things To Do With My Heart by  gwen meharg 6 x 4 ' Acrylic on canvas
I Have Better Things To Do With My Heart by gwen meharg
6 x 4 ‘ Acrylic on canvas

I have better things to do with my heart.

Have you considered your heart recently?

How is it doing?

Free.  Torn.  Content.  Pre-occupied.
Open.  Guarded.  Hidden.  Seen.

How is your heart?

I am usually neck deep and sinking before I remember that I have better things to do with my heart.
Before I realize I have a choice in the matter.  I have some control in where I invest my heart.

Seeking the balance between an open heart and the mandate to guard one’s hearts is tricky.  201702140CA detail DSC_0590

Quite possibly, impossible.

As we enter a new season, Lent for some, Spring for all, it is my intention to be discerning about where I invest my heart.
To consider my heart.
I tend towards passionate as personalities go.  I tend towards rescuer/fixer.
I tend towards don’t just stand there, do something.  (Fools rush in and all that.)
I tend towards believing201702140CA detail DSC_0589 in and for everyone but myself.

It is a false modesty.   And I set myself up for disappointment.
Disappointment.  Being un-appointed?
Removing the appointment.   Appointment fail!

Inspired by newly forming buds forcing the last lingering dead leaves from the trees I completed a six by four foot painting the week of Valentines Day.   I titled It, “I Have Better Things to Do With My Heart.”  Titled out of hope and frustration. 201702140CA detail DSC_0586

Frustration with myself for allowing my heart to become caught up in unnecessary and invented drama.   While some thrive on adrenaline it is not my cup of tea.  And yet.  And yet I allowed another’s overly dramatic inclinations to infect my heart.

Looking on the finished painting, “I Have Better Things To Do With My Heart,” I realized it was not just a painting the confluence of the last vestiges of winter and the harbingers of spring.   I painted a self-portrait.  A portrait of letting go and making room for possibility.   It set me up for freedom that would be offered ever so gently at a pot luck luncheon the next day.

201702140CA detail DSC_0587Letting go.
Getting help.
Clarity.

Free of the fog of a seven month headache I can think again.
Things that I intended to do and hoped to do and needed to do did not happen.
I am rejecting (daily) the temptation to “catch up.”
I am committed to starting  where I am, today.
It is the only place I can start.
I endeavor to cease the practice of self-condemnation.
I am releasing where I might have been had I more wisely invested my heart.
(I am preaching to myself.)

I had to be ready.  I needed friends call me forward.201702140CA detail DSC_0595

I am not sure what forward will look like.  I am re-evaluating
the last 18 months and making changes.
Changes that I was incapable of making a year ago.
Changes to equip the artist entrepreneur in me.

My art and I have been in hiding.

Time to embrace Spring!

Notes from a Funeral

11351134_945639665488447_6411305144031910682_nOctober 14th, 2016, way out in the middle of almost nowhere and a little past Bucky’s, I attended a memorial celebration for one who lived and loved well.

The oldest of six brothers, Ricky was a big brother to more than his five younger siblings. He was a big brother to all who needed or wanted a big brother. He just could not help it. It was his position in his family and a call in life.

For that, I am eternally grateful.collected-works-seasons-7-1-friends-abstract-acrylic-painting

Darla and Ricky fell in love while they were in high school and that is how I came to know them. Through the trombone section of the San Marcos High School marching band and First Baptist Church youth group.

Two years older –JUNIORS!- when one is a freshman, seems significantly OLDER! When Ricky died two years older suddenly seem exceedingly too young.

Truth be told, both Darla and Ricky were wiser and kinder than their years.  

Ricky played the trombone. I played the trombone. He was a protective big brother for me. Darla is, and alwaycolor-11-4-blue-abstract-acrylic-paintings was, kind and generous. She folded me into her heart and her collective of friends at church and in the band. As a shy freshman I found eye contact difficult. The kindness and love of these two brought me out of myself and introduced me to the world. It was as if they could see the me that I did not know existed.

Ricky would have celebrated his 58th birthday this Friday, the 27th.

Today I found my notes from the wedding. Wow, I just typed wedding rather than memorial service. I am going to leave it because Ricky would find my mistake amusing and the service was truly a celebration. A coming together of family, friends, and strangers to support Darla, family, friends, and strangers.

Darla shared their key to their happiness.In The Image

We did not spend any time being angry with each other.
Every day – love.”

Can you even imagine not wasting time being angry?

Darla continued,

“Don’t waste Ricky’s legacy. Tell the ones you love that you love them.”

 

Family and friends testified to the witness of Ricky’s life at the memorial celebration. I took notes. The testimony of my funeral would be less. Unexpected death invites the living to wake up. Personally, I am making changes.

Here I share highlights and wisdom from a live well lived.

Never take yourself too seriously.

Be generous.

Judge not.

Condemn not.

Love the people you meet. ALL of them.

Make people’s lives better.

The past hurts. You can run from it or you can learn from it.

NOW. Live now.

Be present. Be passionate for life.

Being present. Be passionate for family.

Tuck, roll, and run.

Love deeply.

Welcome strangers.

Look beyond appearances.

Be magic.

Everyone who loves knows God. (1 John 4:7)

Do not waste time being angry.

Sky dive.

Grace is amazing.

If you want to be loved – love.

Buzzards do not make the best pets.

Meditate on goodness, mercy and grace.

Climb up on the roof and holler BOO! (Scare people, just a little)

Consider how you are treating others.

Carry on.

Help with chores that are not yours.

Live adventurously.

Living the gospel is better than preaching the gospel.

Be good news.

HAVE LOVE.

Fear not.

There are things more important than being a good cook.

Be kind to each other.

Care.

Take joy in those you love.

Do your best and that is enough.

Take initiative

Rejoice….Be anxious for nothing…pray…the peace of God

will guard your hearts and minds.

240-IMG_0298Darla and Ricky were instrumental in shaping my life.

They treated me as if I were important in their lives.

I was 14. Now I am 56.

I still want to be like Darla and Ricky when I grow up.

I hope it is not too late.

Happy birthday, Ricky.

I love you, Darla.

Thank you.

 

Wintery Mix of Snow & Politics

It is Friday January 6th at 4:26 in the afternoon.  15875807_394696244200079_918405505582366720_n
The snow has stopped falling.  
The temperature has dropped back to 23 from a high of 24.
The wind-chill is back to 10 down from a high of 12.
My dog has decided to give up peeing until it warms up.
Poor doggie.
Me, I am inviting the kids to walk the dog so I don’t have to go outside!
BRRRRRR.
Oh, wait, a snowflake floated past.  I think it might have been the last one.
The ground is 40% covered with a wintery mix of teeny tiny sleet balls and snowflakes.  The accumulation is fun and very dry.  Nothing is sticking together.  No grassy snowman for us.
My daughter, Jubilee, took LOTS of snow photos with my phone and she is quite proud of her work so I am sharing it here and on Instagram.  I am not supposed to share stuff unrelated to art on Instagram but I don’t care.  At least I don’t care today.

Today I want to also share with you some new things for 2017.   
SCREEEEEEECH!!!! HOLD THE PRESSES!!!!  NEVER MIND WHAT I HAD PLANNED!
I am so angry right now I could spit, being a verbal processor, welcome to tirade #1 of 2017.

I just received an indignant and angry note in the mail accusing me of supporting abortion.  Why?  Because during a phone call back before the election I called an associate out on a fake news story she was repeating as fact.

The “news” story she was repeating was from a viral face book post claiming that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both seek to establish an abortion “cutoff date” of 36 weeks, and both claim that late-stage fetuses feel no pain and have no rights.

At the time she repeated this story to me as fact I told her it was probably not true and she should verify it before repeating it. 15803065_1777148529277774_5003722309559648256_n

As a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ I mistakenly believed she was interested in truth.

I looked it up and I sent her what I found.  She was repeating lies and half-truths.  Isn’t that slander and gossip?  The Snopes.com analysis of her story was:  Mostly False.

My old fashioned sensibilities tell me that MOSTLY FALSE is NOT TRUE.

I sent her the product she asked for and the Snopes report with a warning to be careful about spreading half-truths as facts.

Two and a half months later she sends back the report upon which she has circled Mostly False, and scribbled in bright orange, with a star for emphasis, “NOT COMPLETELY FALSE.”

Apparently partially true is true enough for this minister of the gospel.

My recollecting is Not Completely False is still FALSE.

A convincing lie always carries an element of truth.
Consider the adage of the brownies.
Only a little dog doo was stirred into the mix.

Mostly NOT poo.  Have a brownie?15803756_235222833567479_8246606829186973696_n

She found, “it SHOCKING that you would support abortion at all.   You should believe in and live out the Word of God & I guarantee Jesus does not support abortion.”
“You should have checked out your candidate a little better before you voted.”

She is correct.
I SHOULD believe in and live out the Word of God.   Maybe I should not have left her in her delusion.  Maybe I should have known that if she wanted to know the truth she would have checked the facts herself.

And I did check out my candidate and I sent her what I found.

She is incorrect in believing that her candidate would have received Jesus’ vote for the singular reason that he claims to be anti-abortion.

I don’t know what Jesus feels about abortion.   Abortion probably makes him sad.
Surely Jesus takes abortion seriously and would prefer it be the exception rather than the rule.   I am pretty sure Jesus loves mommas and the babies and you and me in all our complexities, failures and successes.

I do know that Jesus doesn’t advocate fear or manipulation to set people free. 

15538334_245924129176400_3374382077335044096_nI do know that Jesus shared our humanity and understands how hard it is to live as skin and bone and heart and soul and spirit all bound together.

I wanted to tell this minister that voting for Hillary doesn’t make me an abortion supporter any more than voting for Trump makes her a racist.
(I did not say it.  I thought it really loud though.)

She works extensively, almost exclusively, with black churches and told me during our phone conversation, “I don’t see color.”

(Immediately I heard SNL Dana Carvey’s church lady saying, “Now isn’t that special?”)

Whether she was lying to me or herself, I do not know.

I have heard of face blindness and someday I will meet artist Chuck Close and ask him if the face blindness extends to skin color.  When he sees someone does he know, can he remember what color they are?

Race may be bad science, but we do come in a variety of colors, sizes and shapes.  The differentiation of body affects how we experience the world.  Doing the same thing a white man might have a different experience than a black man.  It is not fair, but it is true.   Remember that truth sets us free.  No truth.  No freedom.

Since my associate blames, I mean, CREDITS her actions to Jesus I am wondering how Jesus would react to her claim of colorblindness. 15877577_1220169571372109_8943393220591616_n

Yeah, I know what she meant, but I think her words revealed more than she intended.  Jesus would ask each of us to be aware of how we have been enculturated.  To see in each other our humanity and all that entails.  To embrace the image of God in ourselves and in others.   To even see God’s image in a colorblind ministers of the gospel who will vote for anyone claiming to be anti-abortion regardless of their character, morality, or ethics.  (Did I mention she questioned my character?)

God asks us to look upon the heart.  Looking upon the heart is not the same as ignoring the body.  When I see you I see your skin and your hair and I perceive their color.  I can usually identify your gender and height and whether you are thick or thin.  Trouble begins when we bring personal and cultural judgments to this information.  15876746_244070936029972_1046067447041359872_n

(Have you ever been on a country trail looking for wildflowers?  You spy one and run over to exclaim concerning its beauty and color and fortitude to come up through the hard dirt and rocks.  It isn’t graded against other wildflowers it is just appreciated in its uniqueness.)

To be blind to another’s physicality is to deny their personhood.
To be blind to another’s humanity is to deny power in the incarnation of Christ.

What would Jesus do?
Do justice.  Love kindness.  And walk humbly. 

And that is what I endeavor to do through my life and my art.
Three simple guidelines.
Simple not equate easy.

How does this rant measure up? 15876227_566721440188217_1345811539591954432_n

Justice?  Almost?  I thought through some things that I had not articulated before.  Maybe you thought through some things you had not thought through before.  Justice is long and slow and maybe processing will point me to a more active position the next time?
Kindness?  Absolutely!  I did NOT send this to her!  She is so busy with her single issue god she can’t see anything else.
OOPS!  Completely failed humility with that last sentence!

Now I hear 1970s Meatloaf singing in my head “Two out of three ain’t bad!”
2017 is gonna be a ride.  Hang on to your hat!  

 

Julia: The Burr Under My Saddle. The Bee in My Bonnet.

slide_5Perky Julia.
The burr under my saddle.
The bee in my bonnet.

Calls every day.
Multiple times a day.
Different phone number every time.
Words dripping of sweet talk and empty promises.
Robo-calling beard.
Shill.

I hate her.

God help the woman behind that perky voice.
May she never cross my path.

(I love this photo. My resting face is fierce.  I was not aware until I saw this photo.  Makes me look braver than I am.  I am 56 January 3rd.  My goal for the year is to be as fierce as my resting face!)

I don’t believe in unconditional love

379059_10150936478140035_1325803287_nI don’t believe in unconditional love.
I don’t think I ever did.

I grew up Southern Baptist where the term, unconditional love, was bandied about, but they never meant it.

Unconditional love, IF you meet our conditions.

Um?  That is the absolute definition of CONDITIONAL love.

Our motto was, “Jesus died, once, for all.”

BUT unless you meet our conditions all does not include you.

If all does not mean ALL, did Jesus die in vain?  I asked the preacher after church one Sunday morning.

Shortly after I began asking questions like this I was offered an opportunity to work in the church nursery DURING the Sunday morning service for $$$$!  YIPPEE!!!! dsc_0008

Decades later that I realized this golden opportunity kept me from asking the preacher questions about his sermon on Sunday mornings during the exit handshake.   (Someone was very clever.)

Do I believe in Jesus?  Oh, yes, I do.
Do I believe Jesus died in vain?  No, absolutely not.
Do I believe in “once for all?”  Yes, she answered hesitantly.
Do I believe all means all?   Yeah, I do.  And that makes me a bad Christian.  I was not very good even before I came to understand that all might actually mean ALL.

Does it piss me off a little bit, all?  Well, of course.  Some people are horrible and I would like to see them burn in hell for eternity.  WOW!  Say THAT out loud three times and it will make your toes curl.  When I say it out loud, I mean it a lot less.

Apparently what I believe, now, is that no one is too horrible for Jesus.  What I really believe is that Jesus can find the image of God in all of humanity.  Even the horrible ones.  Even, me.

Holding the paradigm of ALL takes more faith than the (un)conditional love I grew up with.dsc_0014

(For the record, I grew up in a decent enough church.  FBC San Marcos.  Some Sunday School teachers were lacking.  Some of our pastors were better than others.  There was definitely a “good old boys club” and cliques abounded.  (HA!  I misspelled clique and it spell check auto-corrected to cliché.  There were definitely clichés!)  I don’t remember ANTI anyone sermons.  Talk about us versus “the other” slated for eternal damnation.  Of course, I did spend the last several years of high school working in the church nursery so if things went astray I could have missed it.)

What in the world does this have to do with art?!?

I was getting around to it.

I paint hope.  Recently I came to the end of hope for an individual who I attempted I love unconditionally.   Those attempts were to the detriment of my emotional, spiritual and physical health.  Releasing the illusion of unconditional love was crushing.  Immobilizing.  I did not paint for five days.

I.  Failed.  Love.
A love failure.
Surely if I loved enough, loved the right way, just loved unconditionally
everything would be sunshine and roses. dsc_0015

It is not as hard as one might think to blow smoke up one’s own skirt. 

My mental wellbeing required that I set down the burden of unconditional love.  Sometimes loving from a distance is the best you can do.  Sometimes loving from a distance is more than you can do.  Sometimes, sometimes, you don’t have to do anything.  Not even love.  Sometimes being who you are is enough.   Sometimes it is all.

We are human.  We have victories and failures.  If we are fortunate we get back up.  Not everyone makes it back to standing.  I am back on my feet.

The last several days were difficult.  They were also exceedingly enlightening.  I know myself better.  I am learning to trust myself again.  (I sought help quickly.)   Clarity is a good thing.  Even when what is cleared up is ugly.   Truth is tied to freedom in the bible.  Truth identifies the enemy within and without.

dsc_0013As I air out my smoky skirt (metaphorical skirt as my only “skirt” is really a pair of billowy pants),and put on my big girl boots and I am getting back to work.

There road is never straight.  Detours abound.  I was on a detour.  I am back onto my path.

For now.

May your detours be short and may you find beauty along the way.   Thank you and Much love (whatever that looks like)  Gwen

Intangible Gift Giving 101

Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la laaaa la la la lah! 

dsc_0009So many feelings about the holiday season and, yes, commercialization can definitely run amuck, but oh, the gifts!

The journey to discovering that little something gift that says, “I see you.”  Or maybe just that something that says, “I remembered you.”  Gifts don’t have to be expensive.  The cost can come from the heart as well as the pocketbook.

Gifts, tangible and intangible.

A few weeks ago I was dreaming (literally dreaming) about Melissa’s Mexican wedding cookies.  In my dream I was devising ways to trick my dear friend into making me these particularly magical cookies.

I woke up quite ashamed and disappointed in myself.  Partly because I had been so devious in my dream and partly because I failed to come up with a plan to get me some cookies!

This time there was a happy ending.  Jubilee stayed the night at Melissa’s house enjoying her good buddy, Rivers, and when she came home she had a container filled with Mexican Wedding Cookies!

Melissa’s gift made my dream come true!

There is joy in receiving (and don’t anyone let you tell you otherwise.)  But- oh! – the joy of giving warms the cockles of the coldest heart.

(Wait! that did not come out quite right.  Melissa baked cookies out of the goodness of her heart.  It was my cold cockled heart devising fiendish plans to gain cookies.)

Giving acknowledges our shared humanity and allows us to take pleasure in the blessing of others.  Giving is transcendental.


Some gifts are difficult to wrap.

Intangibles are hard to wrap and often they are even hard to identify.  They just do not fit inside the box covered in shiny paper.  (Boxes are over rated.)  Intangibles reach beyond the physical and touch our hearts.   Some gifts carry more intangibles than others.  Sometimes the intangible is the gift.


Art carries with it a myriad of intangibles.  dsc_0010

Consider why a diamond in a ring is more valuable than a beautifully colored citrine of the same cut?  Yes, a diamond is harder and makes for a powerfully sharp cutting surface, but that is not why we pay more for the diamond.  In a setting of silver or gold the diamond leaves the world of utilitarian value and dances into the world of intangibles.

What is a painting worth?  What is a story worth?  The cost of the canvas, pigment and brushes?  The cost of the ink and paper?   Of course not.  A novel reaches beyond the physical and takes the reader into another realm, and all from the comfort of her sofa.  A painting surpasses the aesthetics of matching the sofa upon which the novel reader is sitting.

It is the intangibles that pluck our heart strings that give creative endeavors value. 

2010, in preparation for an International Arts Movement (IAM) gathering, I read Lewis Hyde’s book, The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World.

It was not an easy read for me and, truth be told, I left the portion on poetry unread.  The 4/5 of the book I did read was worth contemplating.  I gave it to my hair stylist who provides tangible and innumerable intangibles services.  She has a gift.  She IS a gift.
Basically, Hyde contends that art operates outside of our commodity/market driven economy.  This presents a dilemma for the artist attempting to earn a living selling intangibles.  What she is really selling is not a 3×4 foot space holder but her gift.  While I (mostly) understand what Hyde was saying, and relate to the dilemma, I did not find it particularly helpful beyond the intangible of being understood.

A more contemporary take of The Gift of art can be found in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. (Excerpt of Gilbert speaking about her book on release day:  http://www.cbsnews.com/news/best-selling-author-elizabeth-gilbert-back-with-big-magic-creative-living-beyond-fear/) I have not yet read Big Magic but I have read a lot about the book. 

I ordered the Big Magic audio book this summer for a road trip.  It arrived in GERMAN!  The devil is in the fine print and I missed that my unabridged CD was not English!  (Great price, though.)   I set it aside and forgot about it until this week when a friend recommended and blogged about it.  (I ordered it in paperback and downloaded it in Audible today.)

Like Hyde, Gilbert reminds us that art moves beyond commodity.  Art is a capital G Gift.  Gilbert is easier to read than Hyde and she, like Hyde, asserts that art is not–GASP!!!!- utilitarian. dsc_0012

We do not need art.  (Some of us do, but we could actually survive without art.) 

Gilbert asks society to be brave enough to embrace non-utilitarian gifts.  She challenges artists to be brave enough to understand, and to own the nature of The Gift of art.

Here she speaks of the meaning of art.

“It means I am not exclusively chained to the grind of mere survival.
It means we still have enough space left in our civilization
for the luxuries of imagination
and beauty
and emotion
– and even total frivolousness.
Pure creativity is something better than a necessity;
it’s a gift.”

The holiday season is upon us.  Surely most of us will give and receive frivolous gifts.  As you choose and as you receive, seek out the intangibles behind and within the gift.

Is the gift perfect?  Wonderful.  What intangible does it express?dsc_0011

Is the gift just not right?  Does it disappoint?  Look harder and deeper.  Maybe the act of remembering or being remembered is an intangible worth cherishing.

Is the gift cruel?  I have seen cruel gifts.  Sometimes the intangible has to come from within yourself.  A cruel gift is about the giver not the receiver, it is about the giver’s deficit. Pity?  Forgiveness?

This holiday season I endeavor to share more of my gift, my art, and with it a plethora of beautiful intangibles.

May you celebrate the spying of a brilliantly colored leaf.
May you wonder at the delicate geometry of a spider web.  (Not the horror of walking into a web and getting it caught in your hair!
May you look up and see just the right color of blue in the sky.
May your path crisscross with unexpected beauty!
And may you be present in the moment to pause and receive the gift.

I am exploring ways to share more of my art, my gift of creativity, more freely.  My photography team (Thank you Alexis and Peter) is helping me get cleaner, crisper images and details!  One hundred paintings photographed last week.  Now to get the images to the website.  (Technical skills minimal.  Encouragement welcome!)

More ideas bubbling on the stove.  As my family will attest, things often boil over when I am cooking.

Here is to the intangibles!

379059_10150936478140035_1325803287_nPS.
Every time I hear, type or see the word intangibles an image pops into my head of a family very much like The Incredibles. The Intangibles race forward making the world a more beautiful place.   A super hero family living inside of my head!

 

 

 

Hey Artist, Cowgirl Up!

283099_560840199728_2448688_nCowgirl up!
Put on your big girl boots and ride.

What does that even mean?

It means:  DO what needs to be Done!

Monday night I cowgirled upped.

Three weeks ago Blue Skies, my beautiful paint horse, decided to go bat guano crazy.
Well, not that crazy, but crazy enough.  He decided that he no longer wanted to be ridden.

How do I know this?
Every time I rode we would get half way around the arena and BOOM!
Ears flatten.  Body tenses.
He bucks.
I get off!

59806_10150272015870035_3546829_nFor two weeks I got off and lunged him into a lather.
(To lunge a horse means to run them in circles hoping he would realize that cooperation was a better choice than running in circles.  He did not get the memo.)

Lunge.
Ride.
Half way around -BOOM- he kicks out and I get off.
Shampoo.
Rinse.
Repeat.

Monday night, week 3, I called in an expert.
With great trepidation and my instructor present I saddle up to ride.

Same pattern.
Half way around ears flatten (his not mine), body tenses, and he bucks until I come to a stop.
BUT THIS TIME IT WAS DIFFERENT.
I did NOT get off.
I stayed on.
Mark, my instructor, was there to talk me through it.
59806_10150272015885035_177277_n
Keep your hands down.
Kick him.  Don’t let him stop.

Keep.
Moving.
Forward.

I wanted desperately to get off.
And I preferred getting off on my own terms rather than flying through the air.

I had to choose between two voices.

The voice of experience, my instructor,
or the familiar voice of fear screaming inside my head, “Sell the SOB!”205077_10150482557445035_5421350_n

One hand on the reins and the other gripping the back of by saddle,
I rode Blue Skies through his pissy bucking fit.
Again.
And again.
And again.
And again four times in quick succession.

AND I STAYED ON.

The next time through the pattern Blue Skies minded his manners.
Sort of.
Ears went back but his body did not tense and he did not buck.

It was not nearly as frightening when I was not alone.

It was a contest of wills between me and my horse.
With Mark’s trained eye and encouragement, I won.
That round.
There will be more battles before the war is won.
But I have tasted victory and I like it.25940_10152447229795035_32548799_n

Was it scary?
No, it was terrifying!

Did I want to stop?
Hell, yes!

Were those tears of fear or tears of victory running down my face?
Both!

What does this have to do with art making and the business of art?

EVERYTHING!  Ramalamadingdong! I STAYED ON!
I rode my horse.
I got off my horse WHEN and WHERE I wanted to get off.
I did not go flying through the air.  I RODE THROUGH IT!59806_10150272015855035_3502596_n
And, looking back, it was not so bad.   (It was significantly bad during.)

I could not have safely navigated the ride without an experienced coach.

And that is the tie-in.  For several years now I have navigated my art career alone.  It was not safe.   When the ride got scary I got off and ran around in circles!

Zip.  Zero.  Nada.  NO FORWARD MOTION!

Earlier this month I hired a coaching team.
We will be working online several times a month setting and achieving goals. 14582307_1066260956833143_4375205101929758720_n

It is dangerous to ride alone.
From the top of a bucking horse it is difficult to evaluate how precarious the ride truly is.
An experienced trainer on the ground instructing can take in the entirety of the situation and offer advice as to when to hang on and when to bail.

It is still my ride.  I am still the one sitting in the saddle, but I have a new perspective.

When I am paralyzed with fear I now have a team to talk me through the fear.

Steady on the reins.
Set back.
Keep moving forward.

Could I do this on my own?163049_1810757309142_2566981_n
Apparently not or else I would have already done it.

If you are an encouraging voice and would like to ride along with me the newsletter is just right for you.

When you hear of someone who might be in the market for art that will reflect their hearts and look great with their sofa, tell them about the website https://gwenmeharg.com/.

Family.  Friends.  You never know who might know someone whose life could use a dose of beauty and hope.  I am a “more, the merrier!” kind of gal.

6076_4593921486507_927793655_nHappy Trails!
Gwen