Painter of the mystical, otherworldly, sensual, and whimsical.

I'm a painter living and working in the beautiful finger-lakes region of Western New York State. I am also an avid gardener and nature lover, so the lush green rolling hills, gentle streams, and majestic lakes that surround my home in this world often appear in the fantasy worlds of my paintings.

Many of the pieces draw inspiration from folk tales, myths and legends. These "teaching tales" were what drew us together around our hearth-fires for centuries, and I believe those stories still carry power.

I enjoy looking at these ancient tales, through my eyes, and painting what I see, no matter if it's beautiful or disturbing. But what's more fun is when others can see those same paintings and find something within of value that speaks to their soul directly. I do not plan for this, but am honored when it happens, and, oh, yes, do love hearing about it every time that it happens. It reminds me that maybe we are not so different after all.

Glad to meet you, and please enjoy the paintings!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Your damage is not my damage, but your damage is OK

"Because... reasons."
Over the course of your life,
have you met at least one true asshole?

No, not somebody with a different opinion, who is otherwise acceptable.  I'm talking about full, 
Category-5 douchebaggery.

My dad would call these jokers, "clinical assholes."

Dad worked as a psychologist since before I was born, retiring from a job with the State of New York's Department of  Mental Health.   He specialized in the dual-diagnoses of mental illness with retardation.  As a state employee, it wasn't surprising that New York's "worst of the worst" were also his clients: the criminals, the violent cases.

One beautiful and uniqe snowflake went so above and beyond that Dad felt the usual diagnoses just didn't explain it well enough.  He wrote the diagnosis as: "Asshole." 

The higher-ups took issue with that."Asshole" was not a diagnosis anywhere in the DSM-III (the manual that mental health, in the 1980's, used to diagnose people.)  It was not included in the revisions, either. (...although I think it should have been.)
Dad was told it was not appropriate to diagnose a patient as a "Clinical Asshole."
"Spend 15 minutes in a room with the guy," Dad offered. "You'll see exactly what I mean."
The lead psychiatrist took his challenge, and, after 15 minutes, walked out of the room.  Dad's diagnosis stood.
Yes, friends, this means that, somewhere, in the dark, dusty record-keeping of NYS, there is one recorded case of a patient with the disorder: Asshole.

If you're laughing at this story, it's probably because you've met your share of  Clinical Assholes.*
I know I have.
There's a deeper truth to bring away from this:  Clinical Assholes happen, but they're also rare.
Yet, I am probably not alone in feeling terrified of sounding like that asshole, of being that asshole.
I over-analyze the hell out of everything I do.
Re-read, edit, revise, "sleep on it," re-visit it to make sure it still sonds good the next morning...
I claw myself up with self-criticism.

Your inner critic works overtime to make sure your conscious mind is hyper-aware of everything that could go wrong.  Please remember this.  This is my gift to you: the chances are better than good that you're not a Clinical Asshole.

Usually, when I have been criticized, the real meat of the criticism comes down to, "I have is a different viewpoint than you do."   The most often, what I see is, "Your opinion differs from mine." but, sometimes, it's closer to "You have your own damage, and your damage is not my damage."
If there's one gift the writers of the internet have given us, it's the chance at a much wider perspective. There are so many voices, all coing from different backgrounds, each with very different point of view. Often, their point of view feels like the Grand Canyon. meaning I can see the other side but I just can't get there from here.  Even at that, we're still not into Clinical Asshole territory.

A quick test:  If  you're worried about being the asshole in the room, it's a good sign that you're not being the asshole in the room.  In my experience, the people who are the most concerned with being percieved as assholes are the least likely to be the assholes. (Clinical assholes, by definition, do not care about this... it's one of their defning features.) Concen over how others react to us and our actions is the guard-rail that keeps us from falling into that canyon and being killed during the fall.

Trust yourself, come closer and share the view.
You're doing fine.

*If you've been deeply offended by this story, it's probably time to step away from the internet for today.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Kite is a Victim

A kite is a victim you are sure of.
You love it because it pulls
gentle enough to call you master,
strong enough to call you fool;

because it lives
like a desperate trained falcon
in the high sweet air,
and you can always haul it down
to tame it in your drawer.

A kite is a fish you have already caught
in a pool where no fish come,
so you play him carefully and long,
and hope he won't give up,
or the wind die down.

A kite is the last poem you've written
so you give it to the wind,
but you don't let it go
until someone finds you
something else to do.

A kite is a contract of glory
that must be made with the sun,
so you make friends with the field
the river and the wind,
then you pray the whole cold night before,
under the travelling cordless moon,
to make you worthy and lyric and pure.

― Leonard CohenThe Spice Box of Earth

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

They can keep their cliché and coincidence...

“Those around you can have their novellas, sweet, their short stories of cliché and coincidence, occasionally spiced up with tricks of the quirky, the achingly mundane, the grotesque. A few will even cook up Greek tragedy, those born into misery, destined to die in misery. But you, my bride of quietness, you will craft nothing less than epic with your life. Out of all of them, your story will be the one to last.” 

― Marisha PesslSpecial Topics in Calamity Physics

In the language of dreams...

“The best fantasy is written in the language of dreams. It is alive as dreams are alive, more real than real ... for a moment at least ... that long magic moment before we wake.

Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plywood and plastic, done up in mud brown and olive drab. Fantasy tastes of habaneros and honey, cinnamon and cloves, rare red meat and wines as sweet as summer. Reality is beans and tofu, and ashes at the end. Reality is the strip malls of Burbank, the smokestacks of Cleveland, a parking garage in Newark. Fantasy is the towers of Minas Tirith, the ancient stones of Gormenghast, the halls of Camelot. Fantasy flies on the wings of Icarus, reality on Southwest Airlines. Why do our dreams become so much smaller when they finally come true?

We read fantasy to find the colors again, I think. To taste strong spices and hear the songs the sirens sang. There is something old and true in fantasy that speaks to something deep within us, to the child who dreamt that one day he would hunt the forests of the night, and feast beneath the hollow hills, and find a love to last forever somewhere south of Oz and north of Shangri-La.

They can keep their heaven. When I die, I'd sooner go to middle Earth.” 
― George R.R. Martin

Monday, June 2, 2014

What Fauna has in common with Leonard Nemoy

Above: from "the Full Body Project."
Photographer: Leonard Nemoy

Art-modeling is one of the greatest, and least-expected, ego-boosts I could imagine.  I say this as a woman who had not been in front of a lens before the age of 35, for any reason other than the usual snapshots at family gatherings, and had no experience in glamour or fashion modeling at all. I look nothing like a fashion model, and never have.  However, I understand that this is one of the reasons why +Fauna Reeves of Lady Fauna Photography asks me to get in front of her lens.  I've played several different "roles" in the collaborative "theater-of-the-mind" that becomes Fox and Jackal.

I love the fresh... no, pure. Untarnished. ...perspective young photographers bring to the table, so waited until after the shoot to send a message and ask if she had seen the hardcover book "The Full Body Project: Photographs by Leonard Nimoy"

Yes, it's *that* Leonard Nemoy, of "Spock" fame. He went on to have an amazing career as a talented photographer, with two different photo-books (that I know of) so far.  (The other one is "Shekinah," and it's just as powerful.)

Both collections are on display in the Michelson Gallery, Northampton, Massachusetts, just outside of the city where he "first experienced the magic of making photographic images as a teen-ager in the early 1940s. His darkroom was the family bathroom in their small Boston apartment. His subjects were family and friends." ~biography

The Michelson courteously offers a view a lot of the images themselves, plus many of the photographer's insights, from both collections.

I share them here for those of you who, like Lady Fauna and Mr. Nemoy, do not believe beauty is confined to a size range that falls between a size 0-6, or an age between 15 and 25.


The Full Body Project

Personally, I came to today's shoot as a model, so my job is taking direction from the photographer while the camera is clicking.   Outside of a shoot, I'm still my own artist. Many different body-types have appeared in my drawings and paintings.

I find runway models beautiful like gazelles or greyhounds or sculptures of cats made of spun class. but that doesn't infringe in any way on the beauty of the women who radiate power like wind and Holy Fire.  Neither of these change my love for those who have abundant bodies like landscapes and Earth Goddesses.  All, to me, can hold beauty, so long as a good photographer is willing to show it to me.

My attitude about women and men, as well as my taste in them, is very similar to Robert Heinlein's.  It's fortunate that my husband agrees with me.

I'm enjoying Fauna's bravery in tackling the unconventional, uncomfortable aspects of human sexuality that lie somewhere along the fringe of  "acceptable," and I'm proud of her for her courage.  Today was one piece of a much longer series, but playing a part in today's shenanigans resulted in hilarity on a level that is clearly, clearly! unacceptable (!) for respectable and civilized people.  Raise your glass, dear, and let's have a toast!  "God Bless and Keep the virtuous far away from me!"

Monday, April 28, 2014

Four Ways in Which Showing Up Is More Important Than Having Talent

This is sheer, insightful brilliance.  Counter-intuitive, maybe, and unromantic, certainly, but true and real as sunshine or cold water.  I wish that I could tell you differently, and pass along the magic spell for overnight success or or glowing, white-hot  inspiration.  Even inspiration requires work or it won't ever become anything more than a doodle or a pile of notes.  You've got to take it to the wall yourself.

Four Ways in Which Showing Up Is More Important Than Having Talent