29 June 2009

Morsel Monday: Issue 2

A Smidge of Fate?

Years ago, while at the flea market with Keith,
I stumbled upon an old stack of vintage Cigar advertisements.

So we were told.
I see no tobacco or cigar emblems anywhere.
(But part of the charm of flea-marketing is the tale-telling and yarn-spinning of the vendors.)

Instead, each card was a collage of exotic birds,
labeled by species, saturated in color
and printed on a heavily textured,
somewhat stained, somewhat wrinkled paper.

"These are from the early 1900's," the vendor said.

I had to have them all,
my intention being to frame each one and
create a larger collage on my studio wall.

As I said, it's been years and I still haven't done the framing and hanging.
But I keep these close by because I'm so drawn to them.
The color, the texture.
Each bird created in the act of being itself.
Oblivious to its own beauty,
oblivious to the beauty of the others,
just being.
And fully happy at that.

this past weekend while in Virginia,
my grandmother pulled out of a closet an old canvas, wrapped in a sheet.

Inside was a painting of two marine birds,
maybe herons?
maybe fictional.
Painted in deeply saturated colors,
on a heavily textured,
somewhat stained,
somewhat wrinkled canvas.

"This is from the early 1900's," she said.
"My mother painted it."

Grace Warren, Clara Dale's mother, painted this in 1912.
Years before Clara Dale was born.
Years before she died of Tuberculosis.

It was a minor miracle, finally finding someone else in the family
who had been an "artist."
We have amazing cooks, musicians, gardeners,
and an army of working class heroes from which I came.
I'm proud to be one of us.

But the painting . . .

I felt an instant connection with the great-grandmother I've never met.
I wonder what she was thinking as she painted.
I wonder if she identified with the birds she created.
I wonder if she hummed.
If she daydreamed.
And I wonder . . .
if she wondered whether or not her great-grandchildren would ever see it.

Or if she just did it, being herself.
Content in the act of making.
Oblivious to the beauty of the canvas,
Oblivious to her own beauty,
just being.
And fully happy at that.

* * * * *

I want to create a series of pieces based on these birds,
the largest and most elaborate piece being inspired by Grace Warren's marine painting.
I don't know yet whether they will be rings, necklaces, or what.
And it will take a long time to do.
But it's worth doing.

I would like to order some numerical metal stamps so that I can number and date
each in the series.
And as for the painting, my mother and I are taking it today to be preserved.
And framed.
And it will be hung, along with the other birds, above the mantel.

My little inspiring collection has found its central meaning.
I am finding focus.
I am excited to begin!


  1. Your Great-grandma's painting fascinates since it's the only one with TWO birds, one with BOTH FEET FULLY GROUNDED, and the only portrait in which the setting is as important as the subject of the portrait -- the water lilies, leaves and rainbow sky are given as much attention, detail and prominence as the birds, so foreground and background, while evident, are equally significant, like your jewelry which, like this painting fascinates in that details and focus receive equal attention from the artist (you) which creates true excellence and makes your pieces true objets d'amour in addition to objet d'arts.

  2. What a story, a fascinating painting, and a coincidence that would delight any heart! Yes, there is something special about birds, maybe the fact that they can fly and see from above...
    I am glad I am nowhere near flea markets, the new passion of my life is to get rid of things but obviously these birds were there for YOU...


  3. i: really nice feedback; i appreciate the insight!

    MLJ: i need some of your passion; I'm drowning in flea market finds!

    susie: thank you for stopping by; it means a lot that you've been around from the beginning of my "starting over."

  4. i also find great beauty in birds (and flea market finds!). can't wait to see how this and other influences of your heart surfaces in your incredible talent. hopefully i'll catch one in the store :)

  5. What a treasure to find talent and passion and skill running like a warm vein through the years and generations from her to you. May you draw upon that rich well and be both grounded and lifted by it. Thank you for sharing this with us! I am full of anticipation for these new creations, that will surely be magnificent, and full of heart and soul as your work is!!

  6. What a lovely story and beautiful painting. Mason is so lucky to have such artistic parents and rich family history. A kiss to "my" baby. Sandy

  7. Sandy, you found me! Your baby is doing wonderfully, full of toddlerhood and trouble!! We are loving every second of it and hope we get to see you soon . . . lots of love your way. xoxoxo

  8. Oh what a great find! Love the story about the painting and like your new idea. Keep it coming!

  9. Lovely story!! What are the chances of that?! Very cool!