Summer: Darkness a Safe Retreat

Jan 6, 2022

Inward

Summer i

At this point in the year, I begin to become wistful for warmer weather. For shorts and sandals and sunhats. For long days and freckles. For ice tea and popsicles and ripe tomatoes off the vine. For reading by the pool and days at the beach. My winter here in Southern California is very mild but there is still a seasonal shift.

Rather than winter’s frost that lingers long into spring, it’s the summer’s sunshine that tends to creep into our spring and autumns. This is lovely in some ways but the extended heat can sometimes feel stifling and harsh. So in winter, I try my best to remember that on those hot long days I often wish for the cozy nights and chilly mornings of this season. Last summer this was especially true, as the warmer season felt like a stark contrast to my personal season of grief. I felt very much like I was wintering on the inside.

Context

At the start of summer, my life was returning to a more normal pace. Many of my executor duties and estate tasks had become less urgent and more manageable. The two months since my dad’s passing had been a whirlwind, and I was finally coming up for air and find space to actually grieve. For me, this looked like processing through my artwork itself. In a sense, grief was something I’d been experiencing to a lesser degree ever since my dad got sick the year before. The metaphor that helped me make sense of it was that grief comes in waves. So when I was almost drowning in it and had to do something with all those feelings, I started to create and let that concept guide me.

Challenges

I knew I wanted to create artwork that highlighted this concept. I also knew I wanted it to be abstract and feature circles. But I had no idea how I would achieve this, nor if the pieces would turn out good or if I would even offer them to my collectors. I just needed to create.

And the work simply flowed out of me. It was all very intuitive. And my darkroom became a safe retreat for me to process and just be. The process for creating these pieces is very extensive and I would spend hours shut away in the darkroom. I relished it this time. The darkroom was quiet and safe. The process of creating healing. And to my genuine astonishment, the pieces turned out beautifully. In a way that I could have never dreamed.

The main challenge with creating this body of work is that I had to essentially invent a new cyanotype process. There are two main cyanotype processes, wet and dry. In all my other work I use the dry process. But the wet is lovely too, and I thought I would use it to create these abstract pieces. However, I just could not achieve the aesthetic I was wanting for this work with the wet process.

So I ended up creating what I call the layered process. Each phase – coating, exposing, washing, drying – needed to be reimagined. And I reimagined them. There were endless challenges and things to figure out but it was never frustrating. I think my time really understanding cyanotype in 2020 set me up well to find solutions to these issues and adapt the medium to my own needs.

Reflection

I learned so much during this season about grief, caring for others, and cyanotype. I am so grateful for this season and how it helped me process and heal. But as I reflect back now, the biggest thing that stands out to me is how glad I am that I took the risk and followed my intuition. It was the first collection I created from what I consider a true place of creativity. I didn’t create it because I thought it would sell well. Or because it was trendy. I created because I had to. I shut out everything else and I made something that was entirely my own.

I am deeply humbled by this. And hope I can continue to create art from this sort of place. This experience taught me that I should continue to shut out the noise and follow my intuition. That my inclinations might not always be right but that they are worthy of my trust and confidence.

What is something you had to grieve in 2022? How did you process it? How can you continue to process it?

What is something you deeply resonated with this past year? How has that continued to be a part of your life? 

What is one area you learned to trust yourself more? 

Collect the artwork

The Current Collection was my largest one yet and a little over half of the pieces have been collected. I’ve linked the available pieces below.

“Endless Flow of Liquid” 8×8 Cyanotype Original

“Sustains a Different Kind of Life” 8×8 Original

 

“Tethered by Acquiescence” 8×8 Original

“Until the Moment Breaks” 8×8 Original

“Regardless of Attention” 12×12 Original

“Relinquish and Rest” 12×12 Original

“Just as Tenderly” 7.5 x 9.5 Original

“No Matter the Pull” 8.5 x 11. 5 Original

“Before Winter Comes” 11×17 Original

“Made Nature Different” 22×22 Original

“Quiet as the Dew” 22×22 Original

There is just so much to say about this season that it was hard to know where to start or what to say but I am glad for the time spent reflecting on it. I’m taking a break from these posts over the weekend, but starting back on Monday, I’ll be sharing more on the collection itself and lessons I learned from the process. As usual, there will be a few questions to help you dive inward along with me. Below is a quick reference guide to all the posts in this series.

Winter: A Dream in Bloom

Winter: A Desire for a Creative Life

Spring: Beauty Keeps Hope Alive

Spring: Failure is a Gift

Summer: Darkness a Safe Retreat

Summer: Art as Connection

Autumn: The Burden of Expectations

Autumn: Unity in romance & logistics

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