Kauai's Hindu Monastery and being Hindu-Curious



I'm not sure what it is that makes me love Kauai's Hindu Monastery so much. It's a million tiny little things combined with the obvious fact that it sits on one of the most glorious spots in Kauai. But, well, all of Kauai is gorgeous. So let's call that part moot.

Truthfully, it's one of my very favorites places to be in all of Hawaii.

I love the cleansing act of writing out my wishes, my concerns, my prayers on a piece of paper and then burning it in the fire pit right as you enter. I love the incense burning throughout. I love wandering around the grounds, looking at the amazing trees and flowers. I love the expressions on the monks' faces, something of pure peace and joy that I don't see in other people. I love when a monk stops to check his iPhone, one of the few worldly possessions they are given upon joining the monastery, in order to help them stay connected to the world outside in a way that benefits their community. I love the heartfelt way each monk greets you with a bow and a Namaste, and I love the feeling I have when returning it.


When I was about 11, I lived with a (converted) Hindu family for a time, and when I wasn't living there, I spent all my time there. Their home was a lovely oasis. The grounds were set in the middle of the baking, awful Sky Valley desert, somewhere between Desert Hot Springs and Joshua Tree, about a mile into the nothingness behind the commune-sort-of-place I lived on at the time. (We'll save that particular story for later.) I hate the desert with a passionate fury. But, this house, this family.... I felt nothing but joy and peace to be there. From the moment you walked in the front gate, it was shaded with gigantic, beautiful trees, blocking the sun out entirely. If you survived the boisterous welcome of their Akita dog, who stood on two legs to say hello, the front door/sunroom greeted you with the somewhat humid air from their indoor swamp cooler, heavily scented with a glorious incense that I still burn to this day. It was a big house, draped in fabric and beads and crystals, with glass bottles of water purifying on the windowsills and ferns hanging in all the corners. There was an aviary connected to one of the rooms, providing shade, food, and water to hundreds of doves that were passing through the area. The cooing of the doves was a serene background noise. There was a giant trampoline in the yard, which we slept on during certain nights and watched the stars and counted satellites that passed overhead. There was a large greenhouse in back, which I loved because of all the plants growing, and was educated on different ways to transplant basil and other fragrant herbs, which were then brought inside for cooking and medicinal purposes. One of my biggest dreams in life is having my own greenhouse.

They often spoke of their time in India, and of their guru, whose name and story I will never remember, but whose young face sticks with me. It was difficult for me to comprehend why her picture was throughout the house, and why they showed such appreciation for someone so young. They were vegetarian, and I became vegetarian (for the following decade) because of them. Occasionally the daughter, who was my age, would take time out of our day to meditate. I was never encouraged to participate, because meditation is a private, personal thing, and I never felt the slightest bit of pressure to involve myself in any of their daily practices, a significant difference from certain other belief systems I had also been influenced by. I found this difference refreshing, and it was impossible not to respect their methods.

I miss them and this place greatly, and I wish for an opportunity someday to inform them of the wonderful influence they had on me, and how much I treasure all the experiences I had there.



Because of this, in a way, I feel quite at home on the Kauai temple grounds. I fit in quite naturally. It revives a lot of happy memories for me, and allows me to explore my own continued path as it evolves over time. I always take away something profound from my visits, and just like my time with my Hindu friends as a child, there is no pressure to be anything I'm not. It's a place to just be.

That freedom allows for a much deeper spiritual connection within myself and my own beliefs than almost every other house of worship I have ever been in.

On our last trip to Kauai, we spent multiple mornings there, participating in the daily puja as observers, and meditating with everyone inside the inner temple as the monks chanted, collected the offerings of flowers left by visitors, and filled the room with an even more intense incense. It always feels like such an honor to be there, and I have nothing but reverence for everyone involved, monks and pilgrims alike. My own meditation in the temple is always blissful, and I spend a lot of time just sitting and looking at everything, absorbing the wonderful scents and feelings of peace as much as I can before the mosquito bites win out over my concentration. Sometimes I think the mosquitos are trained to kick you out if you've stayed too long, to give others a chance to have the same experience. That's fair. I am always free to return the next day.

At some point, I'd love to spend enough time in Kauai near the Hindu temple to make this experience regular and consistent. I'd also love to make friends with the monks in such a way that I'll be invited to share in whatever gloriously delicious food they're obviously cooking in the back. It's mouthwatering.

It just feels right to be there, at least occasionally. I feel centered within myself, and my own spiritual enlightenment is furthered by nothing more than my interest in learning and experiencing life outside of my daily world.


Namaste.

Slow Dusk . 36x24 . 2012

1. natural light
2. artificial/interior light

3. interior and uv (black) lighting combined

4. uv (black) light only

5. no light (glow in the dark)

Ingredients: acrylic, phosphorescent pigments, crushed glass, glass beads, varnish, water & light on canvas.

*Viewed from straight on, the full moon has a silvery quality. Viewed from the right or left, the color shifts from greenish to blue. The moon crescent sparkles dramatically.

Although this painting is not intended to be part of a set with my last painting, they are most definitely connected. I'm pretty sure I could trace a dialogue between each new piece I've made since I began painting. I'm curious to see how that unfolds further when my career spans decades. It will be interesting to glimpse the long term evolution of my inspiration and techniques.

At the moment, I'm exploring teal. Odd, you're thinking, since this painting doesn't scream teal at all. Actually, what I did here was focus on teal as an iridescent quality. Though the piece itself ranges from blue to purple, as you walk around it in real life, the moon gives off a green-blue color. It requires one to interact with it in order to fully experience the color and light.

In essence, that's a huge factor in what I'm doing with all my work. I want the viewer to observe the art in a deeper way than just standing in front of it. When people come to shows, I encourage them to look at each painting from different points all over the room. Look at it close up, look at it from the right, from the left. Stand on the other side of the room and see how it changes.

What I can never demonstrate online is how a painting looks over time. As the seasons change, the sun is at a different point in the sky and the light even seems to change in hue. I've heard from collectors months and years after a painting was first hung in their home that they noticed something new about it, or a different lightbulb in the room caused a totally different aspect of the painting to come out.

Sometimes it seems like the painting keeps working on itself after I'm done with it. Maybe it's alive?

I like to think so anyway.

You'll have an opportunity to view this piece in person at my show later this year. :)

If you're interested in owning this painting, please contact me. - SOLD :)

 

Tranquility . 36x24 inches . 2012

1. natural light

2. artificial/interior light

3. interior and uv (black) light combined
4. uv (black) light only

5. no light (glow in the dark)

[Made with acrylic, phosphorescent pigments, crushed glass, varnish, water & light on canvas.]

Tranquility. A beautiful, melodious, serene, wonderful word. I think it's my favorite word.

I've been saving it, holding onto it as a painting title for many years, waiting for the right opportunity. I didn't know that there would ever necessarily be one, and I wasn't sure I would recognize it when it came.

But it's here.

A few months ago when I was in the middle of working on this piece, I knew I felt the word pulling on me. I knew it because of the distinct sense of tranquility I felt while looking at it. It hits all the right notes for me. The color is everything I want to surround my world in. I want to dive from a cliff gracefully into a pool of this liquid, immersing myself fully in the soothing feelings that wash over me while looking at it.

At the moment, it's what I see when I meditate.

I debate whether I will be able to let this painting go from my life. But I also realize, and accept, that my artwork in physical form is not for me. It's for you. No matter where it goes, it will always remain within me, and I have more inside waiting to come out. It will have a much higher purpose if I let it wander its way throughout the universe away from me. I don't need it nearby to create the feeling I see in it. I am this painting.

My hope is for the tranquility of this piece to grow, casting a wider net than I ever could keeping it inside, hoarding the dream for myself. If even one other person feels as strongly about it as I do, the tranquility of it has spread further. It belongs to someone else, maybe a few people, maybe the whole world. Art is so powerful. I want the universe to take it and run.

And if that allows more of me to open up and find even greater peace and serenity in my art than I do now, how perfect my life will be.

If you are interested in owning this painting, please get in touch.

I let the melody shine, let it cleanse my mind, I feel free now.

(title: lyrics from Bittersweet Symphony. Obviously.)



I've definitely been in a mood lately. Solemn. Serious. Contemplative. Pensive.

"Pensive" was the word used to describe the mood Colin, myself, and two of our friends were in one night shortly before we officially broke up as friends. It was clear we'd passed the point of reconciliation, but none of us were yet admitting out loud that it was over and done with. A 5th friend had us over for dinner and had briefly left the room. We were left in silence, none of us willing to be the first to make noise. The oldest and wisest among us finally broke the silence with, "My, don't we all seem pensive this evening." It's the last thing I actually remember hearing him say. And that was five years ago now.

The word has stuck with me.

Taking a longer break than usual between collections has had an interesting (if not entirely positive) effect on me. I had an incredibly weird year last year, and I wanted time to process it. I think I miscalculated something. The lack of creating seems to have made it harder to process anything. And it should have been obvious. I am nothing if not one who processes life through art.

A few nights ago I had a not-so-great training session at Krav Maga. I've been going four nights a week. It's tiring. It's especially tiring after 2 hours on a Monday, especially when that two hours extends to nearly three. It was an advanced class, my arms were shaking from the first class, and mental exhaustion was overtaking me. I was having trouble grasping a technique. My partner seemed annoyed with me. Instructors began hovering around me with intent to help and from my perspective, they looked annoyed and frustrated too. I wasn't getting it. Just last week I had been asked to help demonstrate something to the rest of the class after performing it well in front of my teacher, and now I was watching all confidence he had in me drain from his eyes.

Or at least that's how I saw it. Nothing worked. No one was able to help me. I just sucked. And I began to panic. I had to seriously talk myself down. I was momentarily convinced I would either drop dead to the ground from exhaustion or burst into tears in front of ten giant men. All I had to do was survive until class was over, then I could get outside to die or cry, or both.

I survived, barely. Having left on such a low note, I only had a few choices available to remedy my situation. A) I would definitely show up to class the next day, and B) I was going to sign up for belt testing in June.

It was a very get-back-on-the-horse sort of situation. It was hard not to see this as a metaphor for life. There are people whose lives seem to vacillate between bad and worse, a reflection of their choices and outlook. People who fall and cry, and slowly climb back to the place they were right before falling, never higher, never daring to reach beyond misery.

I am not one of those people. I stubbornly refuse.

My life might have lows, but it will be filled with mostly highs, mostly great, wondrous, impossible highs and I am going to make sure of it.

So now my personal art season begins again. I will be unveiling the first new painting of my 2012 collection this Saturday. It's great, the perfect painting to start my "new" year, to show you who I am and who I've become over the last year.

For all my pensiveness, this collection is surprisingly positive. I would even say uplifting. Perhaps my way of dealing with myself was to reach inside and pull out every single bit of who I wanted to be. I don't often explore darkness, which isn't a sign that it doesn't exist within me. In fact, I think I make my art very intentionally positive as some sort of cure or medicine for things that I fear. I paint what I want the universe to look like, the way I know deep down that it is, that it must be.

I want to always create beauty. I want to always be surrounded by it. I do not believe that the world could ever have too much of it. There are plenty of other people who put darkness into the world, either with their art or with their lives. They can have it.

If my dharma, my purpose in life, is nothing more than creating instances of beauty whenever and wherever I can, I would feel truly honored indeed.



Colinbot

This is worth repeating, for those of you who've already seen this.

During the 90s, I had two major crushes: Ralph Fiennes and Goran Visnjic. Ralph was my true love, who held my heart from age 12 on. Goran came in much later when I was expanding my horizons a little.

Both were enough to last a teenage girl through a whole decade.

Then, in 2001, I met someone else.....................................

BUT WAIT! Holy snap, how did I do that?!


(Goralphin, Goran, Ralph, Colin)
(For the record, the only part of Colin used in that first picture is the goatee.)


I mean, seriously. That's just creepy.

But I'm certainly not complaining. ;)

The Easter Turtle

My Mom is funny and every year sets up an elaborate Easter Egg hunt in the backyard for Colin and I. She's crafty about it too-- Green and brown eggs hidden in plants, yellow eggs hanging on the lemon tree. Colin won this year, although in my defense, I did sacrifice a few minutes of the hunt to fish a jelly bean out of the mouth of my Mom's puppy. But I'm not complaining, I earned myself a good seven bucks and two bags of candy with that hunt.

The REAL Easter fun came when we were each presented with a special egg, and told to put it in water. Over the next week, this happened:





Honu! :oO Hooray!


:)


Quiet Time and The Rumblings of Something Great

(a glimpse at one of my new paintings)


I've been wrestling over what to write about lately. It's funny, the last thing I wrote on this blog was about how high on life and happy I was feeling, but shortly after, everything fell quiet again. Not that anything particularly bad was going on. I just felt... quiet.

Every now and then, I retreat into a cave within myself, perhaps to prepare for the rest of my life. It's mostly just a time to process where things stand and where I want them to go next. Sort of a moment in time that exists between the other times. In part I suppose I do become paralyzed. I don't want to make any one choice or be public with any of my ideas because I'm not sure I want to commit to them.

When I sense big changes coming, I get antsy. I handle change pretty well, but I hate waiting. It's a definite loss of control, which bothers me. Waiting is the worst part. Once the changes start flooding in, we're usually good to go. Then I have something to work with. So I think a lot, and wait.

On the flip side, I have been incredibly active too. I've been painting. I have 5 new paintings more than halfway done. One has been varnished. And I'm actually really excited about this whole collection. I know I say that about each new year's collection, but it's always true. I love what I'm doing right now. It's a very peaceful, meditative shift in my work.

Perhaps that's related to all the meditation I've been doing. In February I was inspired to take up a regular meditation practice. I set a goal to do 50 days in a row. I've completed that. Now I meditate almost every day, often twice a day. It's been incredibly beneficial, in ways that generally wouldn't make sense to the outside world. Meditation is, at its core, a very inward, personal experience.

The last time I was in a regular mediation practice, 8 years ago, I decided to pursue a career in Art.

The benefits of regular meditation can be potent. I would call it a spiritual experience, but it doesn't necessarily mean that to everyone. It can be gloriously practical too. At the very least, I'm sleeping better, and I feel much less anxious about absolutely everything.

I'm also going to Krav Maga class more than ever. I've increased my time there to 4 hours over three days each week. By summer I want to do 6 hours over four days. I am totally in love with it. I love the bruises I get, I love how sore I am (constantly), I even love the scar I'm developing on my right hand, a souvenir from punching incorrectly.

Between all the fighting and meditation, I feel a bit like I'm living the life of a badass monk.

All in all, it's been a weird couple of months. I've been very active, but very pensive. Just this week I've felt the tide turning. I think I'm feeling less strained and vulnerable because small changes are beginning to happen. For me, it's a relief.

Now I can get on with my life.


Bursting

(birdies say what??)


I don't really even want to talk about it at length, for fear of jinxing whatever Energy Spell I'm currently under, but holy crap I've been getting a lot done lately.

There's not really a direct reason for it, I still don't sleep very well, but after I shake myself out of exhaustion around 8am every day I am zoomin' around. Even on weekends.

And I don't even drink coffee!

It feels good, whatever it is, and I don't expect it to last, because these spells never do, but part of me holds onto the lofty notion that this is just who I am now. ♥

I reorganized my whole bloody studio last weekend. We added an additional art table to the mix, and devoted a larger portion of our home to art stuff, basically our entire downstairs. More room for art, more room to grow an art business.

I also cooked a bunch of veggies that we overbought for freezing, because hey! Savings! And I did our taxes! And I finished writing my column early! And I finished reading Lord of The Rings! :oO

I'm not even sure anymore that it's energy. I think I'm just in a really great mood.

Maybe all this exercising is finally catching up with me. For three months we went to Krav Maga class once a week, and for the last eight weeks we've been going twice a week, and now we're gonna jump it up to three. Three classes per week. I still don't have a six-pack yet, but I've been feeling really wonderful.

I've also started meditating every day, which I decided to do for 40 days. I'm on day 15 now. At this point, I have no intention of stopping. I love it.

Is it all connected? I have no idea. I know that this week is one I haven't been looking forward to all year. I am usually depressed on the anniversary of my grandfather's death (in 2001), and this year I get to add in the anniversary of Joey's death. In the same freaking week. Thanks, Universe.

But I'm strangely filled with Joy. Maybe Joey's incredible spirit is coming back around. Maybe that's what he has ultimately given me. I knew before he died that his sweet, energetic, every-day-is-the-best-day-of-my-life personality was the thing I wanted to hold onto most.

Maybe now it's within me. Maybe I'm that person. Is it possible that Joey has turned the week I've always loathed into something wonderful, something to be happy over? Is he protecting me from myself? He would do that. Crazy, wonderful, perfect dog.

Either way, I am straight up bursting with life right now and I'm just gonna ride this as long as I can.


Here, There and Everywhere . 30x90 inches . 2012

New painting. :)



1. natural light 
2. interior light
3. mixed uv and interior light 
4. uv (black) light 
5. no light (glow in the dark)

Ingredients: acrylic, candle wax, crushed glass, phosphorescent pigments, water & light on canvas.

So a friend that I've known since I was 5 moved into a beautiful big new house with beautiful empty walls and asked me to create original artwork for their living room.

::panic::

Not really.

Actually, I love doing commissions, especially when I know the person in question well (meaning their style) and I can see the house it will be hanging in frequently before starting the work. I remember once it was decided, I began looking at all the details around the house, trying to absorb absolutely everything about it. The windows, the ceiling, the accent colors, the floor, the rooms down the hallway, the kitchen, the backyard. It was all important.

I'm very intuitive in that way. It's one of my favorite things to do. I wanted to work with the space it would live in, as well as the family that would view it. Kristen & Greg have a lot of warm colors in their home, with certain rooms having red walls, certain rooms with buttery yellow walls, and all with beautiful hardwood floors. There were little accents of teal throughout the house, which stood out to me most. It seemed natural to work with that color to balance the rest, and to fill an otherwise empty pale yellow wall with a truly explosive color.

Most importantly, I wanted them to like it, and I wanted to feel proud of it since I would be seeing it fairly often. Although this did create an intense pressure to work under, I feel it brings out my best abilities. There's no way I would have given it to them if I didn't think I'd met all of my personally strict criteria in creating it.

I think it's one of the most unique pieces I've made in my entire career.

Oh. And here's what I wrote on the canvas beneath the paint: :)




I haven't even told them it's there yet. And no one will ever see it, but I just love knowing that little details like that exist. 


[new column] The Shower Scene - A Gallery Story


New column up at Art & Musings, in which I recall my very first, very awkward gallery experience.



"We left the night on as best a note as possible, and I was just happy that for the most part, and for appearances’ sake, it was a downright successful opening for me. The hard part was over, I debuted well, I sold work, and now my art would hang in a gallery for the next month for more people to see.

Or so I thought."

More at Art & Musings!

Remnant . 20x20 inches . 2012







1. natural light
2. interior/artificial light
3. interior and uv/blacklight combined
4. uv light only
5. no light

Ingredients: acrylic, phosphorescent pigments, crushed glass, crushed seashells, varnish, water & light on canvas.

I have used seashells in paintings before, but in this situation, I wanted to highlight them for their own beauty. So I sprinkled some on top, at the very last stage. They are not painted over. I wanted the seashells to show their own color and texture, and not compete with the rest of the painting.

These crushed pieces were taken from an abalone shell that I once collected from Moonstone Beach in Cambria, on the Central California coast. Cambria is a special place for me. My grandparents often took me there as a child, where my Grandpa and I spent hours combing the beach for interesting shells, rocks, and driftwood. He collected such things, and his collections remain largely untouched at my grandmother's house since his death in 2001.

Later, Colin proposed to me on the very same beach.

I have many different items I've collected from that beach over the course of my lifetime. Using some of it to be commemorated permanently in paintings is fitting. :)

This painting is $1000, and the last in a series of three 20x20 inches pieces I'm making this year. If you're interested in collecting it, feel free to email me or purchase it in my Etsy shop.

The Skirt


I've had this skirt in my possession for about 10 years now, and I've adored it without ceasing though it's certainly not in my wardrobe rotation. The fabric is... well, basically it's Light Reactive. The color changes from purple to teal and it looks like a mermaid would wear it if mermaids wore skirts.

I think I wore it one time to an Easter/Spring/Fertility type festival we did with Immersion one year, based on the movie Chocolat. There was chocolate and wine and rave lights and art tables and prayer stations. Basically the type of thing that would peeve a number of people (whom I have no interest in associating) and feel like a refreshing waterfall of awesome to others.

Immersion was rad like that.



Anyhoo, since Immersion is now a personal journey and I haven't been to a rave in 8 years, this skirt has lost any hope of use, and before I end up ditching it in a fit of spontaneous decluttering or chopping it into a scarf, Colin thought photographing the wonder of it in all its glory would be a mutually beneficial solution.

I truly hadn't intended the nakedness for nakedness' sake, but honestly, what do I own anymore that goes with this skirt? Nothing. So, we went with what works. And I think it's freaking awesome. And good for me, by the way. Go bold or go home. Or, at least, that's what I'm on a mission to learn.

But this isn't about me.

It's about THE SKIRT.


Serenity . 30x40 inches . 2012






1. natural light
2. interior light
3. mixed interior and uv/black light
4. uv light only
5. no light (glow in the dark)

Ingredients: acrylic, phosphorescent pigments, crushed glass, varnish, water & light on canvas. 

I've said it before, but it keeps becoming true in new ways. This is the biggest full moon I've ever done.  It's huge. It's like you're standing right in front of the MOON. 

It's funny how from a scientific standpoint, the moon is a cold, dusty, barren environment, but we take such warmth and comfort in its presence. The moon is romantic. It's peaceful. Serene. 

The glorious full moon is one of the most beautiful sights we humans will ever experience. I suppose only astronauts have the advantage on beautiful heavenly scenes. 

It only makes sense that this moon glows brightly and blue for the entire night. It will always be there to watch over the home in which it's hung, even literally guiding its owner by light in the blackness.

As someone who wakes up often throughout the night, I absolutely require this in my life nowadays. I keep a painting in the bedroom for this reason, and I'm known to walk downstairs to my studio in the darkness just to see everything I'm working on glowing in the dark. At this point in my life and career, my relationship to light within my work has become part of my soul. I can't imagine not having it around. Without it, I can only envision life to be a little bit darker and more depressing. 

Light is hopeful.

May it bring clarity and serenity to all who see it in its new home.

The following images show its iridescence:


Viewed standing on the right.


Viewed from the left.

New at Art & Musings: The Artist's Drug of Choice


Head over to Art & Musings to read my latest column: The Artist's Drug of Choice

"We can be addicted to all sorts of emotions, good and bad. Sometimes a simple bad habit (like laziness) can move so far down the rabbit hole that it becomes its own beast. We can’t see the obvious trajectory of chaos we’re in, even if we’re not enjoying it. We are addicted to the problem because we’ve been doing it for too long. We lose control."