It was a good photoshoot. We hid the torn denim shorts that I thought were cool. Francesca, like so many women, preferred to keep her thighs under wraps. I believe that I nailed her vanity, her insecurity and her strength. This friendship was uniquely ours. Not to be repeated or understood. We came from very different backgrounds. Me, the wild Aussie girl. She, the American lost in France. We painted our world with ambition. Shared artistic passion was our glue. It didn’t make sense when Francesca wrote from her hospital bed. It didn’t make sense when she died. I only knew her full of life.
There’s a summer happening here, in realtime. Greece can wait. The UV is burning and the capital is empty. Everyone has fled the work ethic and dived into coastal holiday mode. I’ve had my share of joyous outpourings and returned to pluck at my canvas. Ah the music is sweet! But first I dropped into a moment of intense solitude, meeting New Year’s Eve with a sober stare and a promise of hanging out another time. I needed to think. Then I dropped into depression. I needed to process. On the third day I rose from these dreamless depths with curiosity. The world still existed post Donald Trump. It was bright and somewhat magical. Politics excepted.
‘There is no going back. The collaboration between artist and muse began in a time when there was only the artist. She needed a muse and searched along the river. The water sang as it flowed over rocks. Create. She walked the mountain and talked to the trees. Create they whispered. She knew there was only one path. It began in the beginning of time and stretched to her bones.’
An appreciation for geokalpataru who creates beautiful word pictures and illustrations. Thanks geo, for your insights and inspiration. https://geokalpataru.wordpress.com/
The Divine Tree, oil on canvas 60×60 cm, copyright Jeni McMillan
Feedback appreciated on whether anyone can see both images. I have added the smaller image into the text as it seems that there is a problem with the one at the top of my page.
This morning seems like a distant memory. I have a fuzzy notion that somewhere between the birds calling me from my dreams and my naked feet touching the floor, I fell into that melancholy that announces winter is on the way. But something happened… tonight I am light and full of potential. After several weeks of ruminating, today I decided to stop spreading myself across so many projects and to concentrate on what I do best : create without boundaries. I just got side-tracked by the allure of being slightly more financially stable and began a little foray into jewellery-making. I’m not a jeweller and there are a several million out there already, so what was I thinking? I have a lot of interesting ceramic rings and necklaces but I was starting to lose the plot. I haven’t painted for weeks, my manuscript is withering on my hard-drive and my heart was racing in the morning, not in a moment of passion but because I was feeling anxious. Crap! Something had to change. So today I made a pact with myself. Be joyful and follow my heart.
‘Dans mon jardin’, oil on canvas 90x90cm copyright Jeni McMillan
Portals and passages says the woman on my screen.
I am listening to a talk on depression and spirituality… just because. I listen as I sit on my bed, knowing that the words are true but find it hard to budge myself from a dark internal process that has sucked up a few days of my life. It appears that depression causes atrophy in the cortex. Now that sounds pretty grim. Here I am ruminating in my own shit while simultaneously creating more of the fetid mess. I know I’m feeling crap but really, is it that bad? I hear the woman say that there is hope, even though the word has temporarily slipped from my vocabulary. I guess that means yes. But her talk is compelling so I lean toward the dulcet tones. Her next words resonate in my core. When spirituality is embraced, the cortex grows thick as tree. If depression is on one side of a door then spirituality is on the other.
Imagine the door as a metaphor for creativity. On one side of the creative process there is doubt, dislocation and damnation. But once the handle turns and the portal is open, there is another world… παράδεισος.
Photo: Jeni McMillan
There’s a rumbling in my core when I need to paint. If I ignore the call, I suffocate slowly and sink to an untimely death like an ant in thick treacle. This sounds melodramatic but ask my housemates or former lovers, I am hell to live with when I am fermenting sour unexpressed passion.
When this finally erupts I intently stalk my surrounds for canvas, brushes, linseed oil and a pile of rags to mop up spills, stained hands and footprints on the carpet. There is nothing like it. Putting my hands in clay is joyful, stalking through the bush barefoot to capture kangaroos on my SLR is fun and writing alternates between block and flow, both being rather obsessive but compulsive. However everything is pedestrian in comparison to the witching cauldron of the brush dipped in titanium, cadmium and cobalt.
i am posting a painting that erupted like hot magma when I was living in France. To illustrate my point, the heart was torn and then reconstructed in an act of faith, as was mine. Today new works are glistening wet in the alcove that separates my volcanic activity from the concentrated geophysics of El Eco’s academic endeavours and the peaceful landscape of New Housemate’s domain. Sometimes the noise is too much to bear. Sometimes the sun is too bright. But Passion Exists.
It’s time to paint again. The air nips cool at my cheeks and I can feel the mental preparation to new birth. Deep dark thoughts, introspective curling under blankets and a need for isolation even though my housemates are cooking a feast. The sweet smell of baked vegetables slinks up the stairway and penetrates my cocoon. Tempting. It would be so easy to make that step to human connection. Hot cups of rose petal tea and hugs await me if I want to exit my mood. But time has taught me that I need this time to germinate. While I grapple boldly with the Fish of Life, the moon traverses the inky sky, growing fuller in the belly. Paint says the moon. You are not alone. You are a part of the rich universe that connects all life. You are a tree. A breath of air. A wave that falls onto the rocky shore. Paint.