New beginnings are necessary. New beginnings are exciting, stimulating, and they’re hard.
We find ourselves having to rebuild our home from scratch. Again. The first time we did this was 2-years ago when we moved to the Big Island of Hawaii to build an off-grid home and garden.
What makes a house a home?
Things like tape, a ruler, a lemon squeezer, envelopes, stamps, and a bath mat. These are all things we’ve purchased before. These are all things we're having to purchase again.
In December, we moved into our own apartment with a stunning view of downtown. We’ve been living here a little over a month. Every day, our new apartment begins to feel more like home. Still, our mattress lives on the floor, and we certainly don’t have an ottoman.
My head spins when I stop and think about how much our lives have changed in the last 8 months. Here is but a small example: We went from being immersed in so much green. Green, green, everywhere green!
Now the green in our lives has been reduced to one small, contained plant in the corner of our living room. We are surrounded by a jungle made of concrete, of fast moving cars, of trains, of billboards along the highway, and a kaleidoscope of lights. It is grey here. It is cold and dry. This is winter in a desert after all.
So, what does an artist paint post-volcanic eruption?
Does she paint with bright, saturated colors, emotions rising to the surface like an erupting volcano? Or does she paint her pain, the loss she feels over losing her home? Does she paint wild? Erratically? Timidly? Or perhaps she does not find it in her to paint at all.
This is why art fascinates me: There is no right or wrong answer. Each artist’s interpretation of an experience, emotion or circumstance is valid, useful and correct.
My personal answer:
3 weeks after we arrived in Salt Lake City, I made a makeshift studio in my aunt’s living room. (Thank goodness her home was being renovated and could afford disruptions like the ones I created!) Tarp on the floor, several canvasses around me, and a fireplace to warm my freezing body, I painted.
I painted because I needed to feel a sense of normality in my life. For months I had been saying how I longed to feel “rooted” again. That I yearned to feel grounded: Feet safely planted on the ground, without the constant movement of earthquakes, travelling and moving.
In the end, I realized what I searched for in my paintings was a sense of home. I needed to be engaged in activities that gave me the feeling of safety and security. Something to make me feel like there is some meaning, and some order to the chaos and the disaster. For me, home is a sense of peace. A sense of calm, of hope and rising from the ashes into a brighter, softer future.
This blog was created to share my belief that the art-making process is a catalyst for transformation and personal empowerment. I am living proof.