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To Light the Dark Path

To Light the Dark Path


mixed media

This piece started as an idea in 2017 after a reading of Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ book “Running With the Wolves.”  I could see it all so clearly in my mind. My daughter, Olivia, drove with me to one of our favorite places to take inspiration photographs. Explore Park. There was a field there, perfect for running. It was so cold that day but she was such a good sport.

That was the same year we drove to South Carolina for the totality during the solar eclipse.

But life got hectic soon after and painting was put to the side. Those were the survival mode years.

But truth be told, I’d already put my paints away. There’d been a comment during one of our local Art by Nights by a friend, a fellow artist, about how my work was too whimsical, not serious enough. Just on and on about it and all said loudly and in front of other friends and artists. I was mortified. He was drunk and the words slurry but I still took it all to heart.

The idea for a running with wolves piece stayed on the back burner throughout the years. I would do a bit of research occasionally and jot down ideas. Wolves are amazing creatures. The words courage, loyalty, teamwork, intelligence, and wildness come up when doing a quick search on wolf symbolism. Then during our move back to Virginia, I found some of my notes. One slip of paper had this quote written on it:

“Dreams are like the old stories where wolves are seekers always running, and women carry fire in their bare hands and light the dark paths before them.” - Tamara Rendell

I taped the note to my easel. Then, I saw a call for art that had the theme of “movement.” I immediately thought of th photographs of Olivia running and knew I had to try to finally create the image.

 As I painted it became less about running with the wolves and rediscovering our wild selves as  I had originally imagined but it developed into a story about carrying our creative sparks into the world. It was more about how we each have a responsibility to honor this light and our uniqueness, to lead the way, and what wonderful courageous (wolf) magic can happen when we join those lights together.

When I first started this painting I could feel the self doubt, the worry about what others would think of it, set in. I’d been making cyanotypes for years and not painting much at all. I was/am so out of practice. I heard my judgy friend’s voice at first but then finally he hushed and it was all about the excitement of the mark making and the narrative. The message I was getting about holding onto my own fire and being brave enough to share it warmed my heart and allowed me to tune out the other noise. I had so much fun! And now, I can’t wait to start on the next painting! Those idea journals from years ago are calling to me.

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