Category: Lyrical

Inspired by beauty: the dance of the natural and spiritual world

To Paint with Soul is an Act of Love

Art is love expressed in colours.

And to create is to love; that is how I see it. (Don’t ask me why) It’s just how a hard-core romantic must think. 

I was privileged to know 2 amazingly talented artists lately. Looking at their beautiful paintings, I could not but think (and conclude) that painting with soul is an act of love 🎨.

The Portraitists

Who are they? Firstly, painters with a burning passion for people; they specialise in portraits 👤. Secondly, art teachers and healers: Margaret Sloan of Mockingbirds at Midnight, and Natasha Nashadka of The Art Remedy both teach at their home studios, and seek to heal the world by adding meaning to people’s lives through art. Thirdly, they are (just like me) nature, animal lovers and fellow bloggers 😍 !! 

” … What fascinates me most, so much more than the rest of my craft, is the portrait, the modern portrait …”   – Vincent Van Gogh

Margaret SloanMargaret Sloan, inveterate story-teller & watercolour expert

Wild at heart with a compulsive obsession for stories, Margaret paints primarily in watercolour for its lucid translucent quality, to render lifelike portraits of faces. Painting a portrait, is to her, like a conversation she’s having with the person, the paint, and the paper. 

”  I love painting portraits and people more than anything else, because humans are inherently about story, but I’ll branch out to inanimate objects and landscapes if they have an interesting tale. “

Visit Margaret’s portfolio of watercolour portraits here 🎞 .

She is now working on a series of cloud paintings, because she feels that clouds tell the narrative of our blue planet. A series about humans and their relationships with other animals and the land is also in the works.

MargaretSloan_BeginnersReelElephants, just like the great wilderness, have always held a special place in Margaret’s heart since young. For the Love of Elephants (her blog post) showcases her soulful rendition of this complex and intelligent mammal. It’s no surprise that Margaret had offered a portion from the sales of her Etsy shop 🛍 elephant prints (very beautiful !) to support the elephants at Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).

It’s been 25 years since Margaret began to pursue her art seriously. Working tirelessly at her visual and writing skills every day, she reflects ” I find that my muse will only come knocking when I’m working hard. She only drops inspiration in my lap if I’m sitting at my desk; she only hands me an idea when I’m standing at my easel. “

She is equally enthusiastic about playing Irish tunes, or cooking madly ambitious dinners for friends when not at work 😋 . To get updates on what Margaret Sloan is up to, do visit and follow her Blog, Instagram or Facebook !

” To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts – such is the duty of the artist. ”    

   – Robert Schumann

Natasha Nashadka, guardian of memories & problem solver

Adept at artful solutions for life’s problems, Natasha (whose aptly named business is The Art Remedy) is on an all-out quest to reach out to anyone who needs some help. After all, for one whose personal motto is likely ” Art equals life “, help is just an imaginative spark away 😜 .

A self-appointed keeper of memories, Natasha is more than happy to immortalise your loved ones (whether two-legged or four-legged 🐕) by creating realistic portraits that capture and reveal their essence. Well, portraiture is one of her favourite subjects …

I really adored her portraits of those loyal dogs , the way she captured the texture of wavy fur, the expression of those melt-your-heart doggy eyes; also the wide-eyed guileless innocence of the children portraits, and not forgetting, her oh-so-pretty ballerinas ! And free colouring sheets !

“Maryssa” © 2016, 8×10, oil on canvas

Like many creative types, Natasha’s early creative adventures were sporadic and unfocused. Working infrequently, she tried her hand at many things. Woodworking, gardening, jewelry making, and scrapbooking to name just a few. Painting for her came about when she volunteered to paint a mural for the Salvation Army – of Jesus Feeding the Five Thousand. A huge undertaking but she was hooked !! So how did she finally specialise in portraits? The story according to Natasha is:

” Early on in my painting adventures, I painted whatever caught my eye. Then a man at an art show told me that he only bought landscapes that had people in them. A light switched on for me at that moment: we humans identify with humans (who knew?). Think about when you flip through family photos – the scenery is nice, but we are way more interested in and linger the longest on the ones with the people. Science confirms it. So this is what I paint: people. ” 

Next in line, Natasha aspires to become like the daily painters; not just for their dedication that is motivating but the mastery that evolves from so much exercise. Why not visit and follow her efforts on her Blog, Instagram or Facebook ?

Are you inspired to have a portrait for yourself? For the elder or little ones? or how about the furry ones? A song came to mind as I wrote this post. As you might guess, it is Don McLean’s ‘ Starry, Starry Night ‘. Vincent loved his art and subjects so much it tore him apart. (I am thankful, however, my painter friends here are soulful but not angsty.) Here is the (You-tube) video-slide of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings to the lyrics of this melancholic song.

Cheers to art, love and life 🍷🧀 !   Till next!

Saying Goodbye: Sylvester, the ‘Cow’ and other farewells

Sylvester, the 'Cow' and Other Farewells-2A family had moved away for 3 months now; along went their cats, Sylvester and the ‘Cow’. They were not particularly fond of me, like I was of them. Sylvester never allowed me to pat him though I stopped by daily to salute.

Molly (whom I called the ‘cow’) greeted me at times: strolling over to rub her head against my ankles 😊 or rolling over on her back when she spied me. Still, I learned not to pat her. For often her initial coyness changed to an eerie hiss!! a conduct I could not fathom .. was there something wrong with me?

Nevertheless I adored them. Their mere presence made my neighbourhood – just that much lovelier.

Around this time of my neighbour’s exit was another one: at my work place. A group of colleagues whom I had come to know – for almost a year, and genuinely like – were leaving the office, one after another; trickling out the company and from my life.  

Yes, life and work still goes on. The adult in me moves on, shakes the dust off and continues the daily march. (Or maybe, grind.) The child in me aches for the time – not so long ago, when work was almost play – filled with daily streams of laughter, mischief, and plain wackiness 😉😜 .

Heraclitus said ” the only thing that is constant is change “. How about farewells?

No one said anything about what to do with these half-sown relationships. The constant ebb and flow of people in our lives – like shifting sands over the Saharan desert. Is it easy to just say goodbye? 

If ” to say goodbye is to die a little “, how much of one is left when those whom we connected with are no longer found? Are not friends witnesses of our lives, whether in little or great moments? 

Being alone sometimes feels unreal. How can I be sure – if what I saw, or what I did – wasn’t just imagined, without a companion or witness? When I stood over the beautiful Seine river for the first time, 5 years ago, I had asked myself – is this real? Was I really here in Paris beholding this beauty?

No one was with me to share that blissful moment. So I took lots of pictures, as souvenirs and witness of my journey, many of which appear on pages in this blog. 

Looking back at the many chapters of my life, I found treasure in the motley collection of persons encountered through my shifting trades.

Saying Goodbye to the 'Cow"From my wild ‘hairy’ days at Toni & Guy, to days of song and dance backstage of musical theatre, to where I presently am in a corporate academy: this is a tribute for all the boys, girls, men, women, whichever race and sexual preference you are of; who have crossed my path. I am the sum of these memories of you. Like differing shades of a painting, you have coloured my world .. 

I dedicate to you a luminous performance of Cole Porter’s ‘ Every Time We Say Goodbye ‘ (YouTube link) by the multi-talented Lady GagaDid you know she sings jazz and classics really well?

I hope you enjoyed this post and the dedication. Leave me your comments .. 

 

Till next!

 

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Why exist if not to be free?

  Why Exist If Not To Be Free?  Expression defines what it means to live; life is devoid of meaning if it did not reveal itself – for what the Creator intended. Nature often expresses her temperament, gathering seemingly inanimate objects like clouds, the wind and highly charged particles – a lethal brew that enacts the keenest drama in the atmosphere. Often times these momentary flits of drama seem to reflect the inner life of living beings.

   Constantly shifting clouds – pliant and light, take on myriads of shapes as the air disposes them, lending layers of nuances to the aerial realm. Ominous and foreboding blocks of coal grey at an instant, obliterating any rays of sun; widely spaced cheerful cotton lumps, revealing clear blue sky at the next; yet other times, stark swaths over vast plains, casting dramatic shadows as they pass plane-like over the open life beneath.

    Expression breathes, and lives in the daily tale of life. From the rooster who crows its resplendent cry heralding the approach of dawn; tweeting birds flitting daintily, in their lightness and freedom of being; to wildebeests, zebras and gazelles mounting the great migration every winter, and lion cubs and wolf pups merrily playing rough-and-tumble in becoming skilled hunters: all of creation expresses joy – the joy of being created. The Creator’s joy of creation being manifest in the full expression of His creatures – an epic reflection of Himself in all their dizzying, glorious diversity of colours, shapes, sizes and kinds.

    Survival, the universal tune of life: the fight to live and prevail; also to procreate, in the face of dangers and uncertainties, express this joy of life. Surviving, mating and its rituals – so primordial, so perilous, form the ethereal strain of life. Spring, autumn and winter, come and go in nature’s ever ceaseless cycle, each occurring with their unique colours and landscapes; in so corresponding the cycle of life and death, seem to celebrate and remind us of the transience and delicate rhythm of life.

    Expression is also the fount of creativity. Humankind is especially blessed to have extraordinary powers of creation amongst all creatures. For mankind, expression and creation knows no bounds, innumerable are the forms of expression for us. Some express themselves athletically by running, jumping, swimming, cycling; while others express themselves artistically: sketching, painting, taking pictures, sculpting, sewing, cooking, singing, acting, dancing, composing and playing musical instruments; still others express themselves intellectually by writing, building, inventing and teaching amongst others. No particular form is more superior to another. The preference of one kind over another is highly influenced by one’s natural talents and circle of family and friends at large.

     Nevertheless, it is the word – written and spoken, that has reigned and always held sway. So built upon words is our world: without words, there would be no governments, no schools nor laws. There would be no Shakespeare, no poems, plays, no philosophy nor Aristotle. Pictures, said to be worth a thousand words, preceded the use of words to convey meaning. Cave paintings and ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and Chinese characters, both distinctly pictorial in nature, attest to this. Painting has been a primal means of expression, dating back to our cave-dwelling ancestors. What would civilization be without beautiful paintings and art? How much poorer would we be without knowing the classical beauty of Leonardo da Vinci, the passionate strokes of Vincent Van Gogh and the ethereal, whimsical figures of Marc Chagall?

   One of my favourite means of expression is writing, not surprisingly! I love poetry in particular, for its elegance and precision. I see poetry also in lines. Symmetrical lines seem to tell a story, like the railway tracks, bicycle, fences and electrical grids. I love photography and dancing for the same reason. Jazz, ballet and flamenco are some of the dance forms I highly appreciate. I watched a very unforgettable dance performance by the Ballet Nacional de Espana a few years ago, it was a marriage of poetry, music, ballet and flamenco. These were my thoughts on the performance ‘Sevilla/Madrid/Sevilla’ on the night I watched it.

 

A potent cocktail of passion, grace, drama, lyricism and folk romanticismexpression

That went straight to my head, will I get a hangover?

Nowhere have I ever seen such mesmerising parade of exuberance

The pride of life and art emoted in every single movement

The swinging of leg, of skirt, articulation of the fingers, outreached arms

The clapping, tapping and stomping – mere intoxication

Rich in imagery of Andalusian tradition,

The men were patriarchal in their grace

The women matronly in their bearing

 

    

     I penned some thoughts too on how I felt towards dance; how people should exercise their bodies: to liberate their bodies and minds, to feel freedom and enjoy the physicality and beauty of it all. 

 

Our bodies should be free to dance, run, jump; climb trees and fences, swim with the tide and dolphins

Measure its strength against the ruggedness of nature; proud of the life coursing through its veins

And the beauty it was made to be, just as the Creator intended

Ah! this freedom comes only with a simple life of hard work and discipline

    Expressing ourselves isn’t just for selfish reasons but for truly leaving our mark in this world, to give something back so the world is richer for your existence and mine. I wrote this for someone I loved a few years ago. I wrote it because I was trying hard to understand why I felt the way I did, the same sentiment really can be said for the best of friends. I hope you have a best friend you could say this to:

“I love you because I think I can fully express who I am with you …

Because you are the image of what I hope and dream of … ”

 

This essay was my first publication, it appeared as ‘Expression- an opinion’ on the uplifting Upbeat Downstream Magazine in their 6th Issue – Expression. I hope you enjoyed this piece, leave me a comment 🙂

 

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