How I wished I had equivalent skills to the Polynesian navigators who memorize important facts: the motion of specific stars, where they would rise and set on the horizon of the ocean; weather and the seasons of travel; wildlife species (which gather at particular positions); the direction, size and, speed of ocean waves; colors of the sea and sky, especially how clouds would cluster at the locations of some islands; and angles for approaching harbors. *
Was it premonitory that just before everything fell apart I had written on my Facebook page: “Robin is now entering the Realm of the Starry Night.”
I have been painting in an improvisational manner for many years. I do not have a concept in mind when I begin a piece. From the time I thrum the courage to put down the first mark on canvas the painting becomes an improvised dance. A pas de deux between my inner and outer selves. Between spontaneity and painterly knowledge, between logic and risk, dark and light, wrangling and grace.
And, now when everything was rawly unfamiliar, unpredictable, no home, no income, living with wrenching grief, I was forced to not just make art in the studio but to see my life as art, applying the same principles. the willingness to continually leap across abyss after abyss, to not know where I would be from week to week, day to day, hour to hour, sometimes even moment to moment. I had to hone the improvisational skills of knowing when to stay or when run, whether to boldly leap or take tentative steps. When to hang on tight or release. When to pull out my six-shooters or to quietly back away.
I believe that although I have been kicking and screaming most of the way, that my deeper self, my Soul Self, knew all along what I truly needed to come ‘Home’ and has been putting me through the proverbial wringer, to squeeze out whatever is not authentic. Whatever is delusional. The sand on which I built my life.
A friend told me she saw me as being chiseled, like a marble sculpture and with each sharp and painful blow, the whatever was not me was being cut away to eventually reveal my hidden beauty.
When I began painting again last winter it was like coming home. Art has always and continues to be my salvation, my medicine. It is my reflecting pool that mirrors what is true for me in the moment and it cannot be fooled.
So, now I am come full circle, lost myself to find my self, lost my art to find it has always been with me, as my life itself.
Words and Paintings by Robin Sierra