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I intended to create a 2018 holiday piece with Lutto as the centerpiece. But as I was warming up with pencil doodles of the character, something felt different. Rather than attempt to force my original idea onto the paper, I just let the figures take shape. Once outlined, I decided that rather than illustrate the images with charcoal, as I would normally have done since I was working on paper, I chose to use acrylic paint instead (I have a habit of mismatching materials, but the risk usually works out).

I'm sure you can imagine I have more than a few versions of black, white, and grey tubes of paint in my paint box (I can’t pass an art supply store without investigating and inevitably coming home with some treasure or other). As I sorted through the tubes I found one such treasure – a unique grey manufactured by Golden called Micaceous Iron Oxide that contains “Specular Hematite Ore”. In my terms, an effervescence of sparkle – not something I would ordinarily use, but there it was, evidence of another treasure I had to have at some point in the past. I am pleased to say that this treasure added that something special that I enjoy discovering in my own pieces. In combination with the subject matter, a very special something because it is only suggested and the light must hit the piece just right to reveal the hidden surprise and complete the underlying story of new beginnings with mysteries yet to be revealed.

This abandoned boat drew me into an imagined history

From the instant I see or experience something that enthralls me, I’m completely focused on my response and how in some way to translate that response later in my studio; it never occurs to me put myself in the photo; they are meant to memorialize the moment for future use. If I inject myself into the photo, it will no longer be about the piece and the memories created. In fact, the photos are intended to take me back to that moment as the observer to help restore the smells, sounds, and emotions at that very moment.

I read somewhere that adults have a decreasing attention span, mostly because we have so many choices. We change the television channel when a commercial comes on because it’s an opportunity to see what else is airing. We jump to one website while another is loading on our laptops or smart phones. We can’t even walk down the street without checking our phone to see what we might have missed. It’s just very hard to stay focused in today’s world. So I use my travels to focus my mind on staying open to my surroundings and opportunity for discovery – you never know what is just around the corner.

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Winter has always intrigued me. So much darkness at the start and end of each day and even more so, the low sun and typical cloudy days can be depressing to some people. But as you know, I’m an optimist. So I look for the moments of gray and silver that come through the clouds or reflect off buildings and streets. Whilst other people might be facing a drab day, I’m excited by the overall somberness that this weather gives us.

Just this morning, a friend commented, “What a blah day it is outside. All clouds. Totally depressing. Bring back the sun!” That got me thinking and I was determined to be overly cognizant of my surroundings and how people were acting. And my friend was right – my work colleagues kept commenting on this ‘depressing and drab day’. To which I responded, “Oh, but look at all the gradations of gray in that swath of clouds”, and “Can you imagine trying to paint that?”.

Which brings me to my January Featured Piece, Estasi, which is inspired by the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa by Bernini at the Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome.

I’m so proud of this piece as it was one of my very first works of art, which I made as a teenager. Much like an overcast day, this sculpture can be seen simply as an extraordinary work of art. But it struck me as only a teenager can be jolted – exuding such strength and emotions. And all from a piece of stone! Historians have written about Saint Teresa spiritual visions and Bernini’s interpretation for years, examining the size of the angel, Saint Teresa’s nearly sexual explanations being ‘filled with G-d, his Counter-Reformation commentary, and this extraordinary representation of spiritual awakening.

As such, I chose to focus only on a small part of Saint Teresa’s face, to do what I could to capture her religious ecstasy as the cherub’s arrow is either just about to plunge into her or has just been pulled out.

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