Canvas 1 of 3

Earth and Heaven . acrylic . 36 x 24



I've painted more in the past two weeks than I have since I began painting. I am preparing for my third, and biggest show in July. Three canvases shown in progress are near completion and I've toned down the crazy orange color on wood (see April 16 post). The bright orange with transparent lighter yellow color does glow and has an interesting sense of light.

Farther ahead than I had even hoped at this point, I feel as though I am racing nature. Spring is finally here and so much is blooming around me. I am motivated to get out of this theme of deciduous trees in their dormant stage.

We all experience times in our lives when we don't feel we are actively growing, or maybe it appears as nothing is happening. I've made reference before about trees symbolizing the human spirit [Rooted in the earth and reaching to the Divine Source]. The realization of the symbolism of sometimes being dormant has been recent.

The timing of this body of work has been ironic. The sights, smells, and warmth of spring are begging me to paint new life. At the same time, I am actively producing - no longer dormant.


A Thousand Words

I've painted mostly in silence the past two days. While I paint, my head is full of conversation. I'd like to quiet my thoughts, but it is as if I am describing what it all means to someone else and at the same time I become more conscious of where my abstract thoughts come from, why I have them, and why I need to manifest them into something to be shared.

I need to start writing these thoughts out often, as they will be incorporated into my artist statement. The most recent thoughts that come to mind are the words "dormant" and "deciduous." Even though I know the meanings of words, looking up the formal definition always gives me more insight. Deciduous is defined as "falling off at maturity." Dormant is defined as "alive but not actively growing."

I am learning to trust my intuition. I have many ideas for paintings that I do not understand. It is not until after I paint that I realize the spiritual context of my own work.


Self Published.

The following is a little essay I wrote a couple of years ago regarding National TV Free Week. I submitted it in 2006 and 2007 to the newspaper at which I work. They may have not been interested for the following reasons: I did not follow proper protocol for submitting my work? It is not well written? It is of no interest to anyone? This is why blogging is nice. I'll publish my own thoughts. If it is not well written or of no interest to anyone.... then so be it.

Why would anyone turn of their TV?

I've gotten used to the looks I get when I tell people that I don't have cable TV. It feels a little like I've just told them I am from another planet. But last year when I suggested to a few people that they turn off their TV for one week, they looked at me like I had just asked them to cut off their right hand.

My personal crusade started in 2003, when my four year old daughter came home from playing at the neighbor's house and told me it was "TV Turnoff Week". She informed me we needed to make a sign with and red circle and a line through it, put it on our TV and we couldn't watch TV for a whole week. My husband and I thought it was a great idea, especially since it was suggested by a four year old.

It was an eye-opening experience. Shortly before that, I had started working part-time to spend quality time with my two young daughters. I realized during that week that I needed to question the quality of time spent. Sure, we only watch PBS educational kids shows, but why was the TV on all the time?

The first few days were rough. Emotions ran high. I realized how often I used the TV to shut down emotional outbursts when I could not rationalize with a four year old or a one-and-a-half year old. I also used it to calm them down when they got a little too rambunxious. So the fact is, I was constantly using the TV to distract and sometime mildly sedate them. That is a sad fact. But, still in the first few days of "TV Turnoff Week" during those rough parenting moments I wanted very badly to give up and give in to the easy answer... "Hey look! It's Barney!"

It was a lot of work. I spent much more time dragging out toys, putting them away, cleaning up finger paints and other project supplies.

But, by the end of the week a lot had changed. I noticed a difference in my daughters' attention spans and imaginations. They began to play more independently and for longer periods of time. A new quietness had settled into the house. Everyone was more attentive. We didn't have to compete with the TV for the kids attention or talk over the extra noise. It was so fabulous I keep asking myself, "Why don't we do this more often?"

The truth is, we may have cut back a bit since then, but TV is sometimes more than a bad habit, it is addictive and a tough addiction to overcome.

The following year (2004) we missed TV Turnoff Week because I was not informed of the dates. The year after that (2005) I decided to look it up on the internet, to inform people and to invite them to participate. The next year, (2006) I hardly mentioned it at all because I feel my efforts are futile.

I had remembered seeing an article in the newspaper when I was in my mid-twenties about school kids who were challenged to not watch TV for a short period of time (maybe it was a week). The article was about a few kids who enjoyed it so much they kept going for months! I admired those kids, because at the time I was quite the couch potato. I thought perhaps those 10-12 year olds had more interesting and fulfilled lives than I had.

I do not want to imply that TV is horrible. I am not going to quote statistics that state TV makes people violent, obese or stupid. (All though in excess, I believe all those things are possible.)

I would like to invite everyone to experience the difference that I have experienced. And, I am not just addressing families with small children.

How many of us adults use the TV to distract ourselves from our emotions or shut our minds off from our anxieties? If turning off your TV could improve your attention span and imagintation, would you do it?

I cannot suggest that turning off your TV will be easy or make your life instantly more wonderful. But, sometimes the more difficult task is the most worthwhile and rewarding.

National TV Turnoff Week
April 21-27, 2008

P.S. I looked really hard for a pig or a hedgehog in my abstract painting. I couldn't find either, but the mouse I saw may be the same thing others are seeing. And, the lettering in the upper left hand corner says "ARCHES" (the embossed name brand of watercolor paper). I like to let it show sometimes.


Power Down. Dream Big.

National TV TurnOff Week 2008
April 21-27

I've visited the National TV Turnoff website a few times lately to get the dates for this year. They sure do need a little help with web design. If I knew how, I would volunteer my services. Yes, I feel very strongly about this issue.

The website is looking a lot better since last year, but the info posted is not very well organized and lots of dead end click-throughs with no info. A few weeks ago it looked as though the theme this year was "Power Down. Dream Big." I thought that was cool, but now I don't see that posted on the site.

My point being - don't expect the website to inspire you to turn off your TV for a week. Just do it! It's not easy, but it really is a great experience. Next week I will post stories and hopefully inspiration. I've tried to convince people to get on this bandwagon, but so far maybe only 'becca has done it. Right now I am thinking 'becca might not even have a TV. That would be even better than not turning it on for a week.

I'm really not campaigning against TV altogether, but if the idea of not watching TV for a whole week sounds absolutely preposterous to you, than maybe you should seriously consider why it is you can't stop?

Eliminating Distractions

The first painting on wood is almost done. I've transfered 3 drawings on wood and 3 on canvas. Filling in the negative space with flat color is as meditative as painting mandalas. I did not capture the color of a sunset as well as I had hoped. This photo seems to be a bit more interesting than the painting itself.

I was well focused today. I began painting soon after the girls walked out the door this morning. I was determined to complete this piece from start to finish today. When Ellie came home we had lunch and I was right back to work. Finally a gorgeous day in the Chicagoland area (70˚). I coaxed the girls outside and I took my painting to the patio.

Proud to be focused, but I'm feeling a bit like I've neglected my children. I tried to ignore their complaints of boredom and bickering. They found a kite and soon after they left with it, Ellie came back in tears. She wasn't get enough kite time, or as she said "Maya will never give me a turn!"

I couldn't stop painting. I had barely mixed enough of this crazy orange color. The sun and wind was drying out the paint. Cleaning my brush once or setting it in water would deplete my supply. 

Maya returned with the kite. Ellie had gone in the house, crying. I kept painting. I asked Maya to take Ellie out with the kite. It was tangled. I  couldn't help. I kept painting. Ellie had changed her mind repeatedly about flying the kite, then decided to stay in the house. They both complained about being hungry. I didn't feed them. They are capable of finding food. I told them so and reminded them it had to be healthy. Ellie pinched her finger in the door. She had to get her own band-aid. I realized she had cried for at least 4 different reasons. I kept painting. It bothers me that this seems to be the only way I could get anything done. The other option, which is my usual routine, I pace around the house or sit idly waiting for the next interruption or distraction.


Cherish Each Moment

Five or six weeks ago, when our piano lesson was canceled, I felt a bit relieved. In five years of lessons, I have never heard Maya or Ellie complain once about going. I felt lucky when Darrin offered to take the girls as I could have that time to myself. As the mom, I could never express “but I don’t wanna.”

Life with kids is hectic, even though we limit our extra-curriculars. The cancellation was like a gift of extra time when there aren’t enough hours in the day.

Last fall I created the “car picnic” as Wednesday was the only day of the week we could squeeze in both Girl Scouts and piano. Fast food is unavoidable at times, but I was not going to make Happy Meals a weekly habit for dinner. Before Girl Scout meetings, in addition to gathering craft supplies and handbooks, I made sandwiches and gathered fruit, drinks, and other healthy sides to pack in a cooler. We had to cancel piano a few times when Girl Scout outings left us too far a distance to travel back in time for a lesson. This past Wednesday, Ellie had her first T-ball practice during our usual piano lesson time slot. We would have had to cancel yet again.

Five or six weeks ago was the first time Mr. Romba called in sick in our 5 years of being his students. I imagine it was his first time calling in sick in 44 years. Working til the age of 87, he wasn’t showing up to work because he had to. It was obvious that teaching music filled Mr. Romba with great joy. We could see that in his smile every Wednesday afternoon.

He was like a grandpa to us. He was kind like a grandpa. He was patient like a grandpa. He was always so happy to see us. Every time we walked through the door he threw up his arms and smiled as if we had just shown up for a surprise visit. We could always make him proud even when we didn’t practice or start working on our new songs.

When I got the call last week that Mr. Romba had passed away I was not surprised or sad. I knew five years ago when we began lessons that this day would come. I did not feel sad for the loss, I felt blessed for having known him. I felt peace knowing that he had not suffered long, and continued to teach until the end of his life.

I told Darrin and together we broke the news gently to the girls. Darrin expressed how honored we are to have been his students. Ellie sat on my lap and she and I both let a few tears drip down our faces. Maya showed little emotion. I’m still not sure if she is holding in it or just accepting it as a fact of life.

Saturday morning we attended the funeral. It did not feel like an obligation, but our only chance to say good-bye. Ellie was willing to say a prayer near Mr. Romba as Maya stayed seated near the back of the room. We looked at many pictures of him with his wife, children and grandchildren. We realized we had never seen Mr. Romba dressed in anything but a suit or tuxedo. I still felt more peace than a sense of loss.

We got in the car, and the drive home, for me, was silent weeping. I could not hold back the tears. As the girls chatted just behind me they had no idea that I was crying. I couldn't stop thinking about how much I wish I could see Mr. Romba’s smile just one more time and tell him good-bye in person. I couldn't stop thinking about how badly I want to go to piano lessons.



Best Wishes . 36 x 36 . acrylic

I was mistaken, but now I am certain. I am back to my usual rambling self. I declared "Circle Everything" to be solely an art blog. That was short lived. I didn't even post any art since then. I am happy to give the people what they want. And let me say again - I really appreciate all the feedback. Now I can blog with more confidence. As I rambled about what I believed was unrelated nonsense, I have been assured by many people that they like reading my words. It's better to be a flip-flopper than to never be willing to reconsider your decision or admit you made a mistake.


Painting on Wood

Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.
– Pablo Picasso