The inspiration for this series came from a recent time when I was challenged to confront old emotional patterns.
I found myself in the grip of a palpable fear; almost unable to face the situation that was scaring me. There was a degree of self-assurance and personal power that I needed but didn't have immediately at hand. I was astonished to realize that the situation called for courage in ways I had never contemplated before.
It required a lot of deep breathing and hours of looking within to overcome old responses. It seemed hard to grasp cause and effect. There were times when the way forward was very unclear, and I doubted that I could move past my difficulties. I would get glimpses of understanding, and then they would seem to disappear.
Ultimately, I was able to come away feeling stronger. But the process caused me to observe myself as never before, which took me into a new area of art development. How could I translate what I had been through into a format I could share? I began to wonder about Courage as a progression of concepts, and if I could translate the components into images.
What emotional tools were necessary for personal bravery? How was I able to use what I discovered about my past to help myself in the current moment? I pondered how Courage could help me grow and the root instances where it is nurtured and developed.
I started with the idea of emotional support. What was necessary to bring myself to a place where I felt strong? Where did my center feel most solid? What brought me solace and a strong sense of self? I had some ideas about what I wanted to say, but how could I convey them with images alone? This is always where my talisman work takes me, to queries about how to represent our inner journeys with visual symbols.
I worked on conceptual drawings for several months, allowing myself different ways to express what I was feeling. As I did so, the ideas became stronger, more developed and refined. A pattern of imagery was emerging, and I let myself run with the ideas.
Eventually, I came up with more than two dozen variations on the theme of Courage, and these will form the basis for work to come in 2020.
As always though, my intent and the reality of time doesn't always match up. This winter season of 2019, I was able to complete six pieces in the first part of the series. I hope they resonate with you.
The imagery on this piece is inspired by the landscape I travel to reach my home. Ponderosa Pines thrive in eastern Washington, and these trees create tall forests dense with old growth. As a counterpoint to these wooded areas, the rolling hills of the Palouse define its open spaces. Whether tilled into fields of wheat or left to lie fallow in patchy ground cover, these distinctive land forms bring ease and beauty to the wide, dry spaces of this unique part of the country.
In the Palouse, you can see for miles, except where the path may dip behind a hill. Under the big sky, it is easy to see it reappear in along the next rise, progressing out toward the horizon. The sun extends its brilliance into all but the deepest hollows, and the way before you is easy to follow.
In the pine forests, the height of the trees and their abundant growth may make the path feel crowded. The dense branches and close quarters may seem to obscure the way forward. Although the trees themselves are comforting, they can shadow the sky, and closing off long-range vision.
Even if forward progress may seem obscure, the Path pulls you onward, and when the spaces between the trees open up, the vista glimpsed past their thick trunks provides a reminder that they are, in fact, creating shelter. You may not be able to see exactly where you are going, but you are safe while traveling.
No matter your location, the contrast between a clear journey and one less obvious is a universal experience. Remember you have the skills to move forward in any circumstance and that you have the wisdom to proceed thoughtfully.