Monday, December 31, 2012

365 paintings in 365 days

1/365 Summer Rain 

And now let us welcome the New Year, full of things that have never been ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Do you still suffer from the wounds of childhood? It happened to me with painting and though I still dabbled creatively I would never call myself a painter. I'd actually do anything but paint because I did not believe I could, and if I didn't have a go I couldn't fail, now could I? But I longed to paint. (This reminds me of when I started to write fiction. Same story, just a different script.)

Then two generous artists entered my life -  Kate Forman Ortiz (who is illustrating a story I wrote) and Lucie Walker. Both speak the same language as me. I instantly connected with their bright, joyful paintings of people mostly. They celebrate humanity and all its colours. Lucie told me that I could paint. That in fact anyone can if they have the desire to do so.

And so I started. One painting at a time. The very first one was a riot of bright colours. It was one of those glorious moments when I was lost inside myself and time stood still. It was a meditation. It was a prayer. Now I paint my way to joy. I even painted my way to peace during our move to the city.  I paint and I paint and I don't care if no one else likes it. I don't care that I am self taught. And YES I am a painter. I tell people you are a writer if you write. I am a painter because I paint.

Today is New Year's day and I have started several challenges (because they motivate me), but this is the first one that I will share with you. I am going to try to paint a painting everyday - or at least 365 paintings in the 365 days we have this year. This is my first. It has been so hot here, and I realised as I painted this (like a stream of consciousness) that I was expressing my gratitude for water. As St Francis wrote in his canticle of the creatures: 'All praise be yours my Lord through Sister Water, so useful, humble, precious and pure.'

I will be posting a new painting everyday to keep me accountable. I hope to make it past this week, but for now I am taking one day (one post) at a time. Through colour may I give back to the world a little of its lost heart. - Asta x

' a time lacking in truth and certainty and filled with anguish and despair, no woman should be shamefaced in attempting to give back to the world, through her work, a portion of its lost heart.' - Louise Bogan. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A trick of the light.

Best friends and their families sharing an early Christmas dinner.

It was a joyous and peaceful 'no present' Christmas. Like many I am mindful that it was not the case for all, and I also know that I am not immune to family or financial issues, to grief and loss. This Christmas was good to me and for that I am grateful.

We had an early Christmas dinner with my best friend a couple of nights before Christmas, then a lovely labyrinth walk and 11pm service at our church on Christmas Eve, and a casual bring and share lunch in our home on Christmas day - with my side of the family, and a friend who was going to be alone.

When I said a blessing over our food I reflected on Jesus being born into a family and how significant that is because people need to be in relationship with others, and how it is said that God sets the lonely in families. And we prayed for those alone that day - when being alone feels lonelier somehow than on regular days. And we thanked him for our family.

That lovely Christmas day I often found my mind wondering to the sadness in this world, and oddly my train of thought led me to a happy place where the Spirit of Christmas lives - it is always there, in some small way. At Christmas time we are often-times more tolerant and compassionate. We may look for opportunities to bring peace into the world by our thoughts, as well as our actions. We may be kinder than we need to be. And everything looks prettier.

Christmas has this strange affect on us. It is like a trick of the light... we think we see something but we aren't sure... we can see a goodness, a light that shines back at us through a foggy mirror. Sometimes we think it is because the shop windows are decorated, the excitement of a young child, a Christmas concert, a carol, a movie, or a gift we've received or been given (and of course in some ways it may be.) Sometimes it is only a faint niggling because we haven't allowed ourselves time to reflect - or those dazzling Christmas tree lights are blinding us.

But what if ( how I love 'what ifs'), what if it is Christ's humble light we are seeing? And what if it quietly begs a response that goes beyond the season? What would the world look like if we stripped away the commercialism and everyday was Christmas? It is time to look forward to a new year. I think a philosophy of 'everyday Christmas' is worth pondering.

Peace and all good dear friends and new friends to be,

Asta x

PS I have a new support group for simple livers at Facebook. Here is the link:

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Give a little love this Christmas. It is the only present we need.

The song is sung by Noah and The Whale and the video is by Graham Kervin. Thank you guys. Good job!!!

I just have to share this video. I think it is perfect for Christmas and leads us well into the new year. I dislike the commercial aspect of Christmas - the tinny music, the advertising, the fact that some will get into debt to buy presents that will, more often than not, end up in landfill. Some perhaps made by slave labour. (So once again our family is doing a 'no present' Christmas.) 

For me Christmas is about the outpouring of  the love of God who stooped down and became a humble man, who epitomised what we are capable of - kind, selfless, sweet Eucharistic love - poured out for the other.

Let's open our eyes, see the other, and offer kindness. There are a lot of hurting people out there at this time of year. 'They' may even be us. If we give love we will get love, not because 'the universe' owes us anything, but because of the ripple affect. It is just bound to happen. I can imagine a huge wave of kindness washing over the world this Christmas, and I sooo want to be a part of that. How about you? 

Peace, love and kindness my friends, 

Asta x

NB: A thank you to Karen Fowler (my old roomy and bridesmaid) who put me onto this lovely, lovely song and video. She is exactly like this video.