Sunday, December 14, 2014

If You Want

Our Lady (Stacy Wills, 2014)
alcohol ink on tile + sacred altering

If You Want

If you want, the Virgin will come walking down the road
pregnant with the holy, and say,
"I need shelter for the night, please take me inside
your heart, my time is so close."

Then, under the roof of your soul, 
you will witness the sublime intimacy, 
the divine, the Christ taking birth, forever,
as she grasps your hand for help, 
for each of us is the midwife of God,
each of us.

Yes there, under the dome of your being
does creation come into existence eternally,
through your womb, dear pilgrim - the sacred womb
of your soul, as God grasps our arms for help:
for each of us is his beloved servant, never far.

If you want, the Virgin will come walking down the street 
pregnant with Light and sing.

-St. John of the Cross
(translation by Daniel Ladinsky)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Monks and Mystics and Archetypes - Oh My!

 Coming Up for Air (Stacy Wills, 2014)
collage on mat board

Cowabunga! (Stacy Wills, 2014)
collage on mat board

I am currently enrolled in an online Advent retreat (Birthing the Holy:  Advent & Christmas Retreat with Monks, Mystics and Archetypes)  through Abbey of the Arts.  In our work with archetypes, one of the creative exercises offered is the making of  SoulCollage cards.  Here are the two I've made thus far.  "Coming Up for Air" correlates with St. Hildegard of Bingen and the Visionary archetype, while "Cowabunga" is inspired by Brendan the Navigator and the Pilgrim archetype. Each card holds a powerful message for me, particularly at this point in my life.  SoulCollage is a very intuitive process, and you just never know what or who might show up!  

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Refugee Mother and Child, a poem by Chinua Achebe

Mother and Child (Stacy Wills, 2014)
alcohol ink on yupo + sacred altering

Refugee Mother and Child

No Madonna and Child could touch
that picture of a mother's tenderness
for a son she soon will have to forget.

The air was heavy with odors 
of diarrhea of unwashed children 
with washed-out ribs and  dried up 
bottoms struggling in labored 
steps behind blown empty bellies.

Most mothers there had long ceased
to care but not this one; she held
a ghost smile between her teeth
and in her eyes the ghost of a mother's
pride as she combed the rust-colored
hair left on his skull and then -
singing in her eyes - began carefully
to part it... In another life 
this would have been a little daily 
act of no consequence before his
 breakfast and school; now she 
did it like putting flowers
on a tiny grave.

-Chinua Achebe (1930 - 2013)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Creation Song

Womb of Creation (Stacy Wills, 2014)
alcohol inks on yupo + sacred altering

Creation Song

What did
 you know 
of me
before you 
formed me
 in the womb?

What dreams
 did you dream
 for me?

What plans
 did you make
 for me?

What song
 were you singing
while knitting
 my bones?

-Stacy Wills (12/17/10)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Dove that ventured outside…a poem by Rilke

The Dove that Ventured Outside (Stacy Wills, 2014)
alcohol ink on yupo  4" x 6"

Dove that ventured outside, 
flying far from the dovecote:
housed and protected again,
one with the day, the night,
knows what serenity is,
for she has felt her wings
pass through all distance and fear
in the course of her wanderings.

The doves that remained at home,
never exposed to loss,
innocent and secure, 
cannot know tenderness;
only the won-back heart 
can ever be satisfied:  free,
through all it has given up,
to rejoice in its mastery.

Being arches itself
over the vast abyss.
Ah the ball that we dared,
that we hurled into infinite space,
doesn't it fill our hands
differently with its return:
heavier by the weight 
of where it has been.

-Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 - 1926)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Scraps of Moon - A Poem by Denise Levertov

Moon River (Stacy Wills, 2014)
alcohol inks on yupo + sacred altering

Scraps of Moon

Scraps of moon
bobbing discarded 
on broken water
but sky-moon
complete, transcending
all violation
Here she seems to be
 talking to herself about
the shape of a life:
Only Once

All which, because it was
flame and song 
and granted us joy,
we thought we'd do, be, revisit,
turns out to have been what it was
that once, only;
every invitation did not begin
a series, a build-up:
the marvelous did not happen
in our lives, our stories
are not drab with its absence:
but don't expect to return
for more.  Whatever more
there will be will be
unique as those were unique. 
Try to acknowledge the next song
 in its body-halo of flames
 as utterly present,
as now or never.

-from The Great Unknowing:  Last Poems
by Denise Levertov (1923 - 1997)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Evolution of a Touch Drawing

I have recently been exploring an intuitive painting process developed by Deborah Koff-Chapin called "Touch Drawing" - which you can learn about here.  As I'm learning it, I am also finding my own approach to the process...and that is, I like to add color to my drawings.  Color has always been a prevalent and important element in my artwork, so I'm not surprised that I feel pulled in that direction.

The initial drawings are done in rapid succession and laid aside for further review and contemplation.  After choosing one drawing to work with,  I begin to add color, all the while   listening to what the picture is telling me.  It's  a bit like dream work, in that one image...or even part of an image has multiple layers of meaning.  Today I wanted to try and  document  my process from the initial touch drawing to the completed piece. 

 My touch drawing is done on tracing paper which I then mounted onto foam core.   
I used alcohol inks to color in the face.

 Slowly adding more color...

 Details becoming more defined...until my drawing feels complete.

 Touch Drawing #2 (Stacy Wills, 2014)
mixed media on tracing paper

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Saints Preserve Us!

So I made some new Citra Solv pages to play with this week.  As I looked through the transformed papers there were several photographs that  caught my eye which  had been featured in an article about Europe's "Wild Men."  According to the  article's author,  Rachel Hartigan Shea, "Men...don costumes that hide their faces and conceal their true forms.  Then they take to the streets, where their disguises allow them to cross the line between human and animal, real and spiritual, civilization and wilderness, death and rebirth.  A man assumes a dual personality...He becomes something mysterious."  

For me, working with Citra Solv pages is all about mystery and seeing...seeing what is left on the page once the Citra Solv works its magic...seeing shapes and blobs and colors...faint images that hint at what could be...what can be developed...or transformed...into something new.  It occurred to me that these "Wild Men" (well, what was left of them!) looked like saints; so now I'm in the process of creating a series  called "Saints Preserve Us!"   I'm having fun with it...taking a lot of liberty...and basically making them up as I go.  I'm still  waiting for these saints to tell me their names, but as you can see, they already have their own distinct personalities...much like the "Wild Men" from whence they came. 

"Saints Preserve Us!" #1 (Stacy Wills, 2014)
Citra Solv, alcohol inks on National Geographic page
+sacred altering

"Saints Preserve Us!" #2 (Stacy Wills, 2014)
Citra Solv, alcohol inks on National Geographic page
+sacred altering

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Tree's Prayer - a poem by George MacDonald

  "Tree of the Field" (Stacy Wills, 2014)
alcohol ink on ceramic tile, 6" x 6"

The Tree's Prayer

Alas! 'tis cold and dark;
The wind all night has sung a wintry tune;
Hail from black clouds that swallowed up the moon
Has beat against my bark.

Oh! when will it be spring?
The sap moves not within my withered veins;
Through all my frozen roots creep numbing pains,
That they can hardly cling.

The sun shone out last morn;
I felt the warmth through every fibre float;
I thought I heard a thrush's piping note,
Of hope and sadness born.

Then came the sea-cloud driven;
The tempest hissed through all my outstretched boughs,
Hither and thither tossed me in its snows,
Beneath the joyless heaven.

O for the sunny leaves!
Almost I have forgot the breath of June!
Forgot the feathery light-flakes from the moon!
The praying summer-eves!

O for the joyous birds,
Which are the tongues of us, mute, longing trees!
O for the billowy odours, and the bees
Abroad in scattered herds!

The blessing of cool showers!
The gratefulness that thrills through every shoot!
The children playing round my deep-sunk root,
Shadowed in hot noon hours!

Alas! the cold clear dawn
Through the bare lattice-work of twigs around!
Another weary day of moaning sound
On the thin-shadowed lawn!

Yet winter's noon is past:
I'll stretch my arms all night into the wind,
Endure all day the chill air and unkind;
My leaves will come at last.

- George MacDonald (1824-1905)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Boy in the Window

It's the eyes that draw me.  Indeed they are windows to the soul.  

My inspiration for portrait #2 came  from a photograph taken by Japoi Cequina which I found here at National Geographic's "Faces of the World" collection.

As with the Girl with Green Eyes, my painting does not do this precious child justice.  But his face...those could I resist?  I wish I knew more about both the photographer and his subject. However, I did find another photograph attributed to him, here, which shows his obvious talent.

Here's  the rough sketch...

The Boy in the Window (Stacy Wills, 2014)
pencil and watercolor on paper

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Girl with Green Eyes

For the last few months my daily practice has consisted mainly of drawing small mandalas in my art journal.  Yesterday, however, I had the urge to do something else.  While out surfing the net, as I am want to do, I came across a series of photographs of the faces of people from all around the globe.  One in particular really drew me in…it was the face of a beautiful young girl from Bangladesh with the most penetrating and arresting green eyes. 

Here is the rough sketch I did in my art journal.

Girl with Green Eyes (Stacy Wills, 2014)
pencil and watercolor on paper

 I couldn't remember what website I was on when I found her, but in going back to search just now, I discovered the photograph was taken by travel photographer, David Lazar.   His work is amazing - do check him out.  

My painting does  not do her justice…not even close…but I was so captivated by her, I had to try.  I tend to go through phases in my art…I feel a strong portrait phase coming on. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

My Personal Land of Counterpane

My Personal Counterpane (Stacy Wills, 2014)
watercolor on paper

The flu has been kicking my butt for two weeks.  It's been a long time since I've been this sick and housebound.  Today is the first time I've felt like sitting at my computer for more than a few minutes.  I've been to the doctor twice and have been taking my prescribed medicines.  I am getting better, but my batteries are not fully recharged just yet.  Serendipitously,  during this time of confinement, I have been taking an online class through Abbey of the Arts  called  Coming Home to the Body:  A Women's Journey toward Contemplative Embodiment.   "Aha" moments abound even though my head has been fuzzy from all the meds.   I have been particularly blessed during this retreat  by the artwork of Mary Southard, CSJ that  has been part of our weekly lessons.  Mary's work is beautiful, ethereal and mesmerizing.  I have been completely enthralled.  Her work confirms my belief that art heals.

As a child, when I was sick, my mother would often read to me while I lay in bed.  The poems of Robert Louis Stevenson were among my favorites, particularly The Land of Counterpane.   With apologies to Stevenson, my own personal "land of counterpane" has looked more  like this:

As I've been sick and lain in bed,
With so many pillows 'round my head,
Paints and brushes beside me lay,
To keep me happy all the day... 

I've not had the energy to do much else, but this illness has afforded me the opportunity to spend time rekindling my daily mandala practice, and also time to dabble and doodle to my heart's content in the small leather-bound art journal I bought myself before Christmas.  Its pages are filling up fast.

Friday, January 3, 2014

God Speaks to Each of Us (a poem from Rilke)

Incarnation (Stacy Wills, 2013)
acrylic on canvas + sacred altering

God Speaks to Each of Us

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you:  beauty and terror.
Just keep going.  No feeling is final.
Don't let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

-Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)

(Translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)