Jungle Speaks and Macaw Beaks

It was nearly a year ago when I passed my sketchbook to my husbands grandmother Mary H Clark, affectionately called Annie by the grandchildren and a notable artist whom I had grown to admire while quietly nibbling up the bits of inspiration she unknowingly gifted me.

With shaking hands, I began to second guess if she would accept my outlandish ideas and surreal concepts…”HOoly Buckets, the feline Shiva like empress with 24 full breast was in there! What is she going to think of me?!”

As she took in each page, with her “OH GEE AMANDA, WOW WOW WOW’s.”  I began to relax into the surprise and relief of steady acceptance. My mother in law, patted my lap and responded with, “ We have been trying to encourage Amanda to take some time off of painting houses and event production to focus more on her art.”

That’s when Annie leaned in and stared me dead in my eye with a piercing sharpness and said, “ Amanda I could only wish to have the talent and imagination that you have. Any Tom Dick or Harry can paint a house, you should leave it to them to do that while you share your gift with the world and do what you love. Do you hear me? This is not a gift had to waste!”

While returning back to the book, her words sank into me deep, I could feel delicate tendrils of baby roots beginning to make their way into my core. I will always mark that moment, as the beginning of this creative adventure. I’ve held a deep reverence for taking heed of the words of my elders seriously and to listen. I also had a flash of potential future karmic force knocking me off a lader while continuing to paint if I didn’t listen.

It was a pivotal calling that has always been a apart of my secret dreams.  Creating and exploring the vast corners of imagination and boundaries has always been my own, more private golden nugget. Since I could get my hands on any sort of tool that allowed me to translate my thoughts onto a physical space, It has been my oldest constant and bringer of peace internally. Something I can not help but to always return to.

It was while on my second trip out to Burning Man, that I made the final decision to not return to my job painting houses and to do what I had to do to live a fully creative life, and make a living doing what I love. I knew it would take self a great deal of self disciplin and hard work and above all trust in the unknown.

The beginning proved tricky as I learned to navigate through the natural presence of battles between sudo emotions like self doubt and fear of failure. Learning to reprogram these ongoing narratives in my head was an adventure in and of itself. I have to give my husband credit for his patience. I am sure he had his moments of second guessing his suggestion of me taking this time to paint. Hahaha, I shouldn't laugh, it was brutal at times, my friends.

While I adjusted to “working from home” and becoming disciplined in my solitude, I have to say I stand steadfast at encouraging others to trust in their abilities and take the leap into that which makes you come alive. The lessons which I may dive into in the future, were plentiful and continue to be ongoing.

It was while on my honeymoon in Costa Rica that the inspiration for my first series, Hypnopompic Salutations began to develop. Together my husband and I took various tours into the jungle where we had intimate encounter after encounter with the wildlife. The animals seemed more at rest to engage, their spirit seemed more aware that change was coming. Within our moments of direct eye contact and sharing in one another's company, it was almost as if there were no boundaries between our ability to see deeply into each other. It felt as though they somehow felt sorry for us because we wouldn't see the world through their eyes….

To witness them in their natural habitat was a gift, to behold their freedom and ancient strength in their presence made me want to come to know them better and find ways to honor their existence and preserve their future. They were magic to me, the seers and keepers of a world since forgotten. What they could hear, see, feel and experience made my soul long to return to the times when we more peacefully and mindfully cohabitate in the wild.

On our last day near Corcovado, I stood on the balcony and looked out over the thriving landscape. I took a deep breath and said aloud, “ Okay, I am ready. If this is what I am meant to do, please give me a sign.” I closed my eyes and no sooner did I hear the calls of multiple Macaws. I opened my eyes to see 4 pairs following one another in flight hardly a stones throw away.

That was my sign, if ever there was one in my book.

When I returned home, I worked around the clock. I had a newfound determination that filled me with an excitement and gratitude. I woke up far earlier than necessary to develop a solid routine. Monday’s I would research business models, social media and marketing techniques. Tuesday I would study painting techniques and from Wednesday to Monday I would paint.

Finding the balance between family and work was an absolute non negotiable. When my daughter’s returned from school I would break away to have our time together until they naturally drifted into their own projects and agenda. My daughter’s and husband and family were tremendously supportive.

Even though I had a spare bedroom upstairs, I found I worked better in my kitchen which kept me connected with my family and not stored up and away in a room. As a person, I already have a natural inclination to reside inside of my head in thought, to the point where my daughter’s have learned that if they call for “MOM” and I do not answer they instead call out, “AMANDA” which brings me back pretty quick-like. haha The last thing I needed was to be stuck away behind walls…I wanted to remain available to my loved ones.

Four months later I was invited to live paint and show my series in the Unifier Festival Gallery in Tolland MA. I was so busy prepping for the event as Unifier’s Workshop Coordinator, I failed to remember to create my labels and price sheet for my paintings. The work was displayed as a part of a Northern Altar in the gallery. It was my first showing since 2016 at ZAZA’s CUCINA gallery in Ithaca NY. I was beating feet all over the grounds as the event’s workshop coordinator and completely spaced on my lable’s. However, that very mistake turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It evidently inspired another artist, whom I had admired for quite some time, to pull me aside later to gently scold me about not having my labels. This gentle scolding turned out to be the beginnings of a dear friendship and the beginnings of me finally taking dedicated action in embracing that which I have always wanted to do, be a full time artist.

Flash forward to this current moment. I’m reflecting on something my mother in law said to me one evening as we watched the sunset together.  She said, “ Remember how I suggested for you to just take a few years and see what you could do with your art? It hasn’t even been a year yet and look already where you are.” I can sit here and say, I’m not really anywhere yet, I’m just making the moves to head into the direction I want to go. In all honesty I’m just practicing changing my attitude. Instead i’m changing the narritive by inviting fear after fear I come up against to look me in the face for a moment and tell me what it’s business is, where did it come from and telling it to take a loong hike.  

You can have a life going through the motions while your other self longs to be elsewhere doing something more interesting and inspiring. Or you can take all of those crying babies, like fear, self doubts, excuses, rejections, I can’ts becauses and truly see them for what they are. When they start howling, suspend those suckers in a moment of recognition and lay them fast asleep once and for all. YOU deserve to experience all that makes you come ALIVE in this lifetime. YOU deserve to feel joy and gratitude from a job well done, a goal achieved, from doing anything that is meaningful to YOU. You must believe first however, that you are worthy.

More on this soon, the canvas is calling ;)