Wednesday, December 29, 2021

100 Collages in 100 Days, #1 - #12, December, 2021

#1 December 20, 2021

Each year I try to do a 100-day creative project. It’s a commitment I make to learning small, focusing keenly and seeing what emerges.  It is a time for me to spend a few months practicing. This year from Solstice, 2021 to Equinox, 2022–-I will create 100 quickly made collages and see what I learn about design, palette, mixed media, and opaque and transparency.  The 100DAYProject can be found here #thecreativepractice 

So far I’m learning that as I am thinking (a)long, I am working fast, limiting my palette, and mostly playing.  What gets made, gets made.  I am borrowing heavily from what I learned with Karen Stamper in the course I just finished of hers, Free Up Your Sketchbook and Grow." 

I mostly have used hand-painted tissue paper, commercial tissue paper, found papers, black, white, and sepia ink; limited acrylic paints, black and white markers, pencil, gesso, oil pastels, and matte medium. The substrate for each has been watercolor paper. 

#2 December 21, 2021

#3, December 23, 2021

#4, December 24, 2021

#5, December 25, 2021

#6 December 26, 2021
#7 December 27, 2021

#8 December 28, 2021

#9 December 29, 2021
#10 December 30, 2021

#11 December 31, 2021

Monday, December 20, 2021

Iceland Images

Downtown Reykjavik (November 2021)

A few images made in Iceland, November and December, 2021. 

Icelandic  Horse (November 2021)

Sunrise (November 2021)

Lutheran Church at Black Sand Beach  (December 2021)


Falls at Rangarping etstra  (December 2021)

Black Sand Beach (December 2021)

At Black Sand Beach (December 2021)

Furious Waves (December 2021)

At the Blue Lagoon (December 2021)

The Bar at the Blue Lagoon (December 2021)

Ambiguous Loss: 6 Years Later

A page from a working art journal (12/21)

I had not understood the implications of the quick loss of love—how the suddenness and permanence of such loss make life unsteady.  It took the last 6 years to understand the implications of the fear that arose when Rob got sick so quickly and died so young.  If such tragedy could strike at will, what shoreline could I count on to anchor me? During the first year after his death, I felt untethered to the earth. I could not see a future. My very definition of self that was formed and entwined with Rob felt shattered, missing. I knew I remained a parent, but even that was altered as I was now a single parent. Even though I could think about what Rob might say when a situation arose, I knew in the bones, he was gone. 
In a recent NY Times Magazine article,  “What if There’s No Such Thing as Closure? writer, Meg Bernhard, writes about Pauline Boss and her theory of ambiguous loss. I first began reading about ambiguous loss in 2016, after listening to Krista Tippet’s interview with Boss. Bernhard contrasts the traditional Elizabeth Kubler-Ross model of loss with Boss’s theory.  She writes, 
“…Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross’s linear “five stages of grief” model — which implies that if we work hard enough and follow certain steps, we’ll be able to get over our losses within a reasonable timeline — remains a popular mode of thinking. But Boss argues that many losses do not follow such models, and our reliance on them does not equip us to cope. 
By contrast, ambiguous loss gives us a term with which to acknowledge the amorphous nature of its emotional wounding. People are able to identify with this type of loss when they have language for it. Rejecting linear models, Boss offers six nonsequential guidelines meant to help people bear their grief: making meaning out of loss; relinquishing one’s desire to control an uncontrollable situation; recreating identity after loss; becoming accustomed to ambivalent feelings; redefining one’s relationship with whatever or whomever they’ve lost; and finding new hope…”

I have experienced all six nonsequential facets of grief these last few years, moving among, between and dwelling within the different facets. These six guidelines have informed my life:
  • making meaning out of loss; 
  • relinquishing one’s desire to control an uncontrollable situation; 
  • recreating identity after loss; 
  • becoming accustomed to ambivalent feelings; 
  • redefining one’s relationship with whatever or whomever they’ve lost; and 
  • finding new hope.
What arises now is how my understanding of each guideline has deepened, changed, been forgotten and remembered.  Hope is no longer an end moment to get to, but rather a placeholder of possibilities that winds like a cat between the others. It is not separate from becoming use to ambivalence and uncertainty, nor of forming definitions of self, or relinquishing control, or finding tentative meaning. What is new to me is the redefinition of my relationship with my husband.  The passing of time shows me how I have continued to lived—to thrive, not merely survive. This knowledge allows me to see the distance between my life with Rob and my life now.  I have continued to evolve. 
The imperative to live, or as Rob told me after learning his life was ending, live brilliantly, is more constant than not these days.I am far more independent than I was previously as well. 

Saturday, November 27, 2021

13 Ways of Looking at Flowers: A Paint Experiment

Vase Study #1

As part of the course I am in, we were to paint flowers in a vase. This is my interpretation of that assignment. I am posting here earlier paintings and revised paintings.  Weeks again, I used a wide brush to apply ink, and using that ink as an inspiration, then used a narrow brush, crumpled up paper towels, acrylic paints, charcoal, and a bit more ink. 

Branches in Bloom

Vase Study #2

Vase Study #3



Flowers in Snow

Vase Study #4


Aunt Margaret’s Flowers

Early Painting


Fall Flowers

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Recent Art


During the last 6-weeks, I have been painting, drawing, collaging, mark making, scraping, scratching, circling, and writing in a concertina journal. This has been prompted by a fabulous course I took with Karen Stamper from the UK.  Here are some found images from my journal. 

Media I used in the journal included: masking tape, ink, gesso, posca marker, pencil, stabilo pencil, acrylic paint, torn magazine pages altered with CitraSolv, newspaper, painted tissue paper, acrylic paint, artgraf, oil pastels, matte medium, charcoal. 

Dreaming of Iceland

Thinking it Over


Late Night In the Kitchen

The End of Fall


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

PoetryBreak: Goldfish


The goldfish in my bowl
turns into a carp each night.
Swimming in circles in the day,
regal, admired by emperors,
but each night, while I sleep,
it turns into silver, a dagger
cold and sharp, couched at one spot,
enough to frighten cats.
The rest of the furniture
squats in the cold and dark,
complains of being a lone man’s
furnishings, and plots a revolt.
I can hear myself snore, but not
their infidelity. Sometimes I wake
with a start; silently they move back
into their places.
I have been unpopular with myself,
pacing in my small, square room.
But my uncle said, “Even in a palace,
you can but sleep in one room.”
With this I become humble as a simple
preacher, saying, “I have no powers;
they emanate from God.”
With this I sleep soundly,
Fish or no fish, dagger or no dagger.
When I wake, my fish is gold,
it pleases me with a trail of bubbles.
My furniture has been loyal all night,
waiting to provide me comfort.
There was no conspiracy against a poor man.
With this I consider myself king.

Goldfish (M.A. Reilly, acrylic, ink, charcoal, collage papers, pencil, gesso, matte medium)

Saturday, November 20, 2021

8 Panels from Concertina Journal

A valuable learning I am hoping to hold on to is the idea of trusting the patience/time needed to see work emerge that can be followed. It has required layering on top of the familiar—the bit of design I first wanted to preserve and being responsive to what is emerging even when what is happening looks like a holy mess. 

Work. Stop. Walk away. Return and add a bit here, a bit on another page, work out of the journal, cover, scrape off and so on.  New panels are posted below.