Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Night, the beloved. Night, when words fade and things come alive. When the destructive analysis of day is done, and all that is truly important becomes whole and sound again. When man reassembles his fragmentary and grows with the calm of a tree. --Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Posted by Cori Lynn Berg at 8:48 PM
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
When I was in first grade, I attended a small Lutheran school in the mountains of Utah. The school was a second home to me, as my father was the pastor and my mother was the kindergarten teacher. At that time, the church was using every available space to house the classrooms. The second through sixth grades held classes in a converted barn on the property. The kindergarten class was in a small room toward the back of the church. The first grade classroom was in the fellowship hall with temporary walls that could be opened up on Sunday mornings for coffee hour.
Each year our religious curriculum, like most parochial schools, began with the story of creation and then moved in Adam and Eve's fall into sin. I remember that my teacher, Mrs. Stuart, gave our class a project that we would display in the classroom for cofee hour. Each of the fifteen or so children was to take a portion of the story to illustrate. One child drew a picture of the sun, moon, and stars. Another children drew a picture of the plants God created. Another child drew a picture of Adam naming the animals.
We all finished our drawings and went to the teacher's desk to hand them in. But when I turned mine in, I noticed the warm-hearted eyes of my beloved teacher change to concern and dismay. You see, I had been given the part of the story where Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. And I was the only child who had drawn Adam and Eve anatomically correct. Unaware of what caused the change in my teacher when I turned my picture in, I went back to my little desk and began my reading lesson.
At home later that evening, my mother asked me to come into the living room for a talk. That was always the sign of something serious. Mrs. Stuart had shown her the drawing and asked her to speak to me about it. In my first grad vocabulary, I told my mother how Adam and Eve had no clothes. They didn't wear leaves like the other kids drew until after they ate the forbidden fruit! I was just drawing the real story. My mother chuckled and said I was right but the question came up about whether the minister's daughter's drawing could be hup up for the entire congregation to see. And this, unfortunately, is where my memory fades for I have no recollection of whether my drawing was hung up with those of my classmates. My only memory is of the tears I cried over not understanding what was wrong.
When I reflect on thies event in my young life, I am struck with how my own experience of the Bible story mimics the story itself. I had no shame about the drawing, had no understanding of what might make it "bad" until someone told me about it. And the moment I was made aware, I felt deeply humiliated. I wanted to cover up and hide away. I was embarassed, just like Adam and Eve were at discovering their own nakedness when their eyes were opened.
Children experience "eye-opening" discoveries regarding their behavior daily. Egocentric toddlers have no comprehension that toys in the classroom belong to everyone, not just them. When another child takes their toy, they might react aggressively by pushing or even biting because they don't have verbal skills to handle the situation. And because it works! The other child drops the toy and suddenly they have it back. It is not until an adult comes that they feel confused and shameful about their behavior. They didn't intend to hurt someone. They only want their toy. Yet despite their intention, a wrong was committed.
Appropriate actions and wise decisions can taught. Although we must continue to work with children on explaining and bringing light to their choices, we are given an additional message to share with children --- that through grace, we all are forgiven and made new. We don't need to sit in a global belief that we are bad. We can try to do better next time.
There are more drawings to draw...
Posted by Cori Lynn Berg at 1:52 PM
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
When I was five or six, my mother took my sister and I to the indoor community pool to learn how to swim. Through the course of the summer, my class was in the shallow end, but, in order to pass to the next level, we each had to eventually jump off the diving board in the deep end. Not the diving board hovering a few feet above the water, but the skyscraper board that made people look so small when they stood on it. I was petrified, and froze standing up so high above the abyss. The teacher paddling below who was to catch me seemed unperturbed by the deep waters. After holding up the class for several minutes, another teacher on the board lightly pushed me off, without consent. As I crashed into the water, I felt the punishing slap against my whole body, gasped, and took a torrent into my lungs. When I was five or six, I thought I would die.
Sometimes life gives us a nudge from which we can learn and grow. Other times we're given a push. And sometimes you're downright kicked. All you can do is cough it out, sputter, and try to pick up the pieces. I never jumped off a high dive again. And that's just fine with me.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Man must feel the earth to know himself and recognize his values...God made life simple. It is man who complicates it." --Charles Lindbergh
I close my eyes and remember moments when I am at one with the world -- laying on my back in my childhood treehouse while sunlight dances through tree branches onto my face, eating a fresh strawberry from our homegrown patch, digging my hands in dirt to rid the soil of rocks and pebbles (soon it will be my flower bed!). The moments are so few and far between now living in a plastic world. I miss the time I spent outdoors as a child, doing nothing but frolicking around. Making mudpies or strange medicines out of leaves and tiny flowers in the yard. Swinging with my head way back so my hair touches the ground as it passes. Inspecting the ladybug that lands on my shoulder. Oh, and catching fireflies, delightful fireflies! Thank you, lovely Earth, for all you bring to me!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
If your life were a board game, which would it be? Trivial Pursuit, Pay Day, Sorry? I think mine would be Othello, flipping tokens back and forth. Sometimes it seems you have everything and in a moment it can be taken away. At others you have nothing and end up with everything. Today I've been thinking I'm at the beginning, at start, afraid to take a step. I don't want to play some of these games -- I'm certainly too old for Chutes and Ladders and don't really want Clue. And I don't want to play Operation with its harsh disciplinary buzzing. I want to play Candy Land -- just gathering cards and everybody wins but that just isn't reality. Maybe I'll make up my own game...
Posted by Cori Lynn Berg at 9:59 PM
I've been struggling with putting this painting on a larger canvas. As I wrote in my "Empty to Whole" post, this is for a friend of mine who is recovering from an alcohol addiction. I have questioned the strict boundary between the "empty space" and the "whole, alive" space. The visual does not seem to show them as the same person, the connection. As I began to think about this image this morning, I had a growing sense that the pit of our emptiness is what becomes the boundaries for our new life. And yes, at first, those boundaries do appear to be walls. That is natural when one has been hurt, rejected, scorned. But eventually one can unwrap the arms of protection and transform the walls into filters. Perhaps a series is in the making...
Monday, April 20, 2009
Finding one's voice after it's remained hidden for so long takes courage and manpower. Having gone so many years distracted by other people's realities and priorities, I've become desensitized to the still, small voice inside. Hunting for words and images in my mind is a laborious chore that can only be cracked by the scales and arpeggios of daily practice. Does everyone at times feel like an imposter to their own creativity?
Sunday, April 19, 2009
I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God sending a love letter to the world. -- Mother Teresa
What a wonderful sentiment! What love have I written today? Smiling at someone, acting out of patience, believing the best in someone's actions rather than the worst. What can I do to step outside my own desires and wants and into the good for someone else? It is getting harder and harder to maintain this core of service. Maintenance of the soul rarely is defined by serving fellow sisters and brothers. In order to take care of ourselves we are told to put ourselves first. How can we learn to do both?
Posted by Cori Lynn Berg at 3:05 PM
The inspiration for the painting came from a design element that popped out yesterday on my blog site as well as a T-shirt I have of a butterfly with a floral drawing overlay. It's a tedious little piece and I'm glad it's done! I enjoyed playing with the warm colors.
Posted by Cori Lynn Berg at 8:41 AM
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one. -- Stella Adler
It certainly has been an interesting journey the last few months with a job change, health issues, and more. I am so blessed to have an outlet -- not just a refuge -- but a place to transform negative thoughts and feelings into something positive and healthy. One of the major coping mechanisms I have been creating for myself is the use of the senses to handle stress and strong emotions. Taking time to smell my coffee, feel lotion on my fingers, and seeing the beauty of color! It is wonderful.
Posted by Cori Lynn Berg at 8:24 AM
Friday, April 17, 2009
a little egg lay on a leaf. My "Very Hungry Caterpillar" painting is complete in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the book's publishing. Thank you, Eric Carle, for giving children such wonderful pictures and words! This painting will go in the May Nibblefest contest on Ebay with a starting bid of only 99 cents. Details to come. A great little painting for a children's room.
See http://www.eric-carle.com/home.html for more about this wonderful artist!
Posted by Cori Lynn Berg at 7:53 PM
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Here is a painting I am doing for the Nibblefest contest on Ebay. It happens every month for a few weeks. Artists are given a theme and must post their pieces with a starting bid of 99 cents. Whoever gets the most interesting bids wins. This month the theme is "Favorite Children's Story." In honor of the 40th anniversary of Eric Carle's "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," I'm working on this piece. Hope you enjoy seeing the work in progress!
Posted by Cori Lynn Berg at 7:36 AM
Monday, April 13, 2009
This is what I decided to make out of the coasters I bought at the thrift store in Austin. I thought they would look cool in a shadow box with them mounted off the surface of the back. Hope you enjoy them. They made for a fun day of painting on a day off from work!
Sunday, April 12, 2009
I worked on this early this morning as a study for a larger painting I want to do for my friend who just reached his 90 day anniversary in Alcoholics Anonymous. In recovery, whether from alcoholism, perfectionsim, overeating, overspending, it seems that "wholeness" is so elusive. One must begin with emptiness and keep working at emptying out the negativity. The journey towards wholeness is so gradual that the two states seem dichotomous (thus the point of view of the painting with it's strict boundaries.) We don't see that we are growing and evolving and rely on others to help us remember where we came from and where we are going. It is only after time that we wake up in surprise with a new breath and say "Yes, I AM different now."
Saturday, April 11, 2009
While driving up in the hills of Austin, we came across this peacock on the side of the road. He was absolutely breathtaking, if not noisy! You just don't realize how delicate the top headress is and how powerful the back tail feathers are until you go up close. I was lucky to get about a foot away while it was sitting on a ledge at my eyelevel. Glorious!
Today we spent the day browsing around the artsy shops on Congress St. in Austin. I found great vintage items -- an small blue suitcase with an inner tray that would be great as an artist's tool box, a black box for holding records possibly, and a cigar box sized metal jewelry box. I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do with them. Also stopped by a huge thrift store and bought a pack of coasters, the lid to a steamer basket that could make a great cubist piece, and a new wooden canvas box. Great inspiration! Can't wait to get home and get working! Ironic to go on a trip just to buy an empty suitcase...
The quiet of night eludes me. Sounds of snoring, hotel cleaning personnel, and my throbbing big toe keep company with my anxious thoughts. How to put my mind to sleep? Only by working deeply and wearing it down will it finally tap out. Perhaps this is the best time to be productive as my spirit plays the bribe game with my mind. If I finish these three tasks, then will you allow me to lay down for the night?