Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Autumn Does The Trick

Fall brings with it license to bake and eat candy and dress up in silly clothes, that must be why it's my favorite time of year. My household is in a full Halloween/Dia de los Muertos mood. This year as never before I'm indulging in relatively guilt-free sweet consumption and general silliness.

I had a strange, empowering experience when I was in California a week and a half ago, rehearsing for an upcoming gig in Guadalajara, Mexico. I was awake very early in my hotel room. As I was lying in bed playing with my iphone, realizing I couldn't call anyone, I noticed a full length mirror a few steps away. I had forgotten to pack pajamas so I impulsively got up and stood in front of the mirror in my panties, examining my nearly naked body. Something weird happened. Always in the past I would see nothing but flaws, a paunchy tummy and fat thighs reflected at me but this time as I looked at myself, I was filled with a sense of gratitude. I thought of how my body had seen me through so much, when others' bodies (like Brendan's) had let them down. I hugged myself right there, in front of that mirror and made peace with my body and as corny as it sounds, I whispered: "Thank you for taking care of me." At that moment I could see all the same things that I knew were there - body quirks that I'd seen a hundred times before - but it all looked different now, oddly beautiful.

You're probably wondering how making peace with my body ties in with baking, and to tell the truth I don't know that it does. All I know is that I've just baked a carrot cake which I'm planning to enjoy this afternoon and guilt is not invited to the party.

I was telling my friend Angie about my nearly naked exploits, describing the scars on my body and she told me that she thought scars were like war medals, a sign that your body had triumphed over an ailment or injury. I had never thought of my scars that way before. I think she's right.

Last week Angie came out to Arizona to visit me. She is a crafting dynamo who had me posing for calavera pictures as well as taking turns being a photographer. We sewed little gift projects and I taught her the basics of painting with oil. Thank you Angie, for getting me to pick up a paint brush again.

I was introduced to oil painting through a 6 week class at the local community college last year. Aleksandra Buha was the patient, talented teacher who got me all fired up. She made me feel like an artist and I was sure I'd continue to paint, but when the class was over, I only completed one more painting, a Christmas present for my husband that I'd hoped would hang in his apartment in Houston and remind him of us.

The painting never made it off the easel. I gave it to my husband for Christmas but I declared it unfinished and wouldn't let him take it. Perfectionism reared its ugly head and immobilized me. Everytime I saw the painting I saw things that needed improving but there were so many things I wanted to do to it and I was so unsure of my ability to do them that I just procrastinated and let the painting get comfortable on my easel, making it impossible for me to start another one.
Making a few quick, low-pressure portraits with Angie pulled me out of that funk and my enthusiasm for painting is renewed. Thanks Ange.

Alice Dia de los Muertos portrait by Alice. Angie Dia de los Muertos portrait by Angie.

Most people think of Spring as a time for renewal but for me, Autumn does the trick.


angieskull said...

Thank you Alice for giving me courage to try painting, it was very fun. For anyone in L.A. on the 1st, please come to the show, there will be great art, snacks and music by some women close to my heart.heehee

Chris Wass said...

You are an excellent painter. I look forward to seeing more of your work!

LouisJacinto said...

It's the age ... when I turned 50, on that morning, everything finally made sense; everything fianlly fell into place. I too am grateful that my body has taken care of me ...