The theme “Bloom” is so vast that at first I couldn’t focus on what I was going to do. Blooming in recovery means so many things, it’s like peeling those layer of an onion back. As you look deeper into yourself, you see more and more that is uncovered and realize the work has only just begun.
I have been challenging myself to draw with a pen vs. a pencil to quiet that inner editor, and as I thought about my partner, this beautiful woman emerged who floated above the ground – she has 34 yrs. of sobriety, and I imagined that she must feel so free, and I started doodling flowers on her dress. The flowers reminded me a bit of butterflies, and I drew some flying off of her dress to show the freedom of sobriety. I started out with the idea of having 34 flowers, one for each year of sobriety, but I love Zentangle, and doing this pattern of flowers was a meditation, and as I drew, I was thinking about what bloom means to me. And so more flowers grew.
I debated whether or not to keep it black and white as I love the simplicity of it, but those flowers were begging to be painted. So I used watercolors to paint those in. I used heavier paint for the skin color.
I recently watched “My Octopus Teacher” and was so inspired by how they have a short life span, but they live every minute of their short lives. The way they dance, and bloom, their arms strong and graceful. The way they live inspired me to live with purpose, peace and grace. I agree with the narrator’s thinking that an animal can change us, and make us see clearer, see those little things that matter.
I care for two turtles that I recued/adopted and watching their movement is fascinating, and they have taught me so much about self care. What I nourish them with, how I replenish their water, how I turn their soil. It made me think more about what I put inside my body, and how I treat it, and I have learned to love parts of myself that I didn’t before. I took a class called “The Body Project” that entailed taking a naked photo of myself for 60 days in a row with a polaroid camera and the act of doing that shone a light on how beautiful our bodies are.
As part of the class, one of our assignments was to write a poem to someone in the class that you got paired up with. I got paired with Shelbi Schroeder, the founder of The Body Project movement. Here is the poem I wrote for her.
To: Shelbi YOU ARE Your body is bulbous, a word you taught me means beautiful, good and present. You show up in the world in the spotlight, shadows won't do for you. Shedding your skin like a snake. Wild and free. Shedding trauma for self-love that radiates and vibrates outward teaching others to do the same. You live loud in the world, and your body holds you up. You are heard. You are loved. You are understood. You are badass and your body is a Harley. Your body is the ripples of the ocean, the tide ebbing in, softly kissing the sand and then back again. Ever moving, always changing – a constant dance, embracing what feels good. Never stagnant. Alive beyond measure. Your body is art, your skin the canvas Grooves, lines and curves formed your whole life into the perfect shape, vessel. It's all about what comes up, you say. It’s a release. and by showing your body you hold up a mirror to those around you and you say see? You are enough You are worthy You are badass You are beautiful. Now, release. - Kathy Kubik
As I wrote this, these lines reminded me of something higher than a human, something other, something that knows it’s value, it’s beauty, without having to be told. I thought about the octopus.
“Your body is the ripples of the ocean, the tide ebbing in, softly kissing the sand and then back again. Ever moving, always changing – a constant dance, embracing what feels good. Never stagnant. Alive beyond measure.“
The octopus is always moving, a constant dance.
I knew this was what I wanted to capture for Bloom.
I started with a blank canvas and used a roller to put on some blue and orange paint, not wanting it to be perfect or care where it went.
After that dried, I loosely painted the outline of an Octopus, using white and shades of grey that I mixed.
Then I added yellow and orange shading where I felt the sun would hit.
Then I drew circles for the tentacles.
Once those were dry, I colored them in various colors of acrylic paint.
To add detail I used Posca paint pens.
Once it was finished, I sprayed it with an acrylic sealant. And I noticed that I liked it better upside down, with the blue on top, although my intention was to have the orange indicate the sun. I will leave it up to its new owner to decide which way it goes, but I sort of like the idea of it being tumbly, imperfect, and, like the octopus, swirling around in the unknown.
I had a lot of fun creating this. I spent a whole day creating art while taking dance breaks to my 90’s dance party mix. I felt so blessed and grateful and privileged that I had the luxury of taking a Saturday off and spending it indoors, doing something I love. One can bloom from inside, as well as outside. I am reminded of a poem by Emily Dickinson:
There is a solitude of space A solitude of sea A solitude of death, but these Society shall be Compared with that profounder site That polar privacy A soul admitted to itself -- Finite infinity. - Emily Dickinson
I wish for all of us that we bloom like an octopus. That we truly take up space, and live the lives we imagined. That we dance and hold our arms out wide, and take in all that we can of this beautiful, wonderful, world.
May you bloom like an octopus.