New Painting: No One Understands

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No One Understands, 16×24″, acrylic and ink, Joy Murray

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Thanks for reading my post.  If you like it share it.  If you find a typo, please let me know and I’ll send you a thank-you postcard.  

You can now follow me on facebook here, and  Instagram@joymurrayart.

If you’d like to support my art and writing, please consider becoming a donor on Patreon.  If I get enough supporters, I can make this blog ad-free!  Here’s a link to my Patreon page:

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=8001665

If you prefer to make a one time donation, you can do so at paypal.com  Please email me at joyzmailbox@gmail.com if you’d like details.

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An Homage to Frankd Robinson

I’ve loved Frankd Robinson’s art for probably 2 decades now.  He is a Memphis artist who uses paint, collage, found objects and his own unique style to create vibrant art.  His work honors the reality of urban life, the struggles of Black people and Black women in particular.   He has a way of taking mundane items and the things we discard and turning them into works of art.

I remember when I first saw his work thinking it’s like he’s taken all the trash I see at the bus stop and turned into something dynamic and glorious.  His work made me see how you can create with whatever is at hand, how to integrate words into vivid color.

Here’s a video of him from about 9 years ago, talking about his art:

 

Lately, Robinson has had to deal with diabetes and difficult health transitions.  Although I don’t know him that well, I follow him on Facebook and Instagram.  He posts pictures of his everyday life, of his dialysis, of his physical therapy after amputations, of his friends and family, his barber, his fraternity brothers.   Still telling a story, still knowing his life has value.

He’s made these cool, dramatic necklaces/amulets:

 

 

When I saw this photo:

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I was so taken by the tree tattoo, that I decided I had to do a sort of portrait based on him.

I looked at a lot of pictures of him, a lot of his art.  I read his encouragements to everyone, the way he posts positive things about life, while remaining very real about our struggles.

I worked on it for a over a month, and finished a few days ago.  I call it “How Does Your Garden Grow?”

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How Does Your Garden Grow? for Frankd Robinson by Joy Murray

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Despair accompanies illness and disability, but so does learning and resilience.  And love.  You learn to love yourself enough to survive.  You learn who really loves you, who helps you when you are thrown a curve and your whole life changes; who loves you when they know you’ll never be the same physically.  You learn your limits, but also your strengths.

When I am low, I remember it’s my job to love my damned self.  And when I do that, all these other bits of beauty bloom in my life.

I’m so fortunate to have art in my life, and to have found the art of Frankd Robinson.

~~~

Thanks for reading my post.  If you like it share it.  If you find a typo, please let me know and I’ll send you a thank-you postcard.  

You can now follow me on facebook here, and  Instagram@joymurrayart.

If you’d like to support my art and writing, please consider becoming a donor on Patreon.  If I get enough supporters, I can make this blog ad-free!  Here’s a link to my Patreon page:

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=8001665

If you prefer to make a one time donation, you can do so at paypal.com  Please email me at joyzmailbox@gmail.com if you’d like details.

Everyday Enchantment

We’ve had several days where the temperatures have eased into 80 degrees.  All the trees have grown out their spring leaves, flowers are budding everywhere.  I sit on my porch more often.  My friend helps me plant flowers in the yard and in pots on the porch.

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I’ve had a bout of fatigue for the past month, but it seems to have abated (as much as chronic fatigue ever abates), and I feel myself unfurling like the plants around me.

I don’t know if everyone with a chronic, degenerative disorder does this, but I often make plans for myself that I could only do if I was in a former body, the one that could walk, that could get up if she fell.  I see myself kneeling in the garden, pulling weeds, planting seeds.  I see myself sitting on the porch steps and transplanting a root-bound flower from one pot to another, then standing up, brushing the dirt from my clothes, going inside to wash my hands.

I see myself  hanging pictures in the apartment, standing on a stool, getting things just right.

I see myself going out on these warmer summery nights, dancing maybe, with someone who catches my eye and returns a smile.

But I can’t do any of these things.

My roots are bound.

And most likely I’ll only get transplanted to smaller and smaller pots.

It’s a kind of dissociation, I think, seeing myself doing things I can no longer do .  And it’s not a new or unexpected way of thinking, since I live in my head so much anyway — making things up — stories, images and ways of being.

Yesterday, I went to the Carpenter Art Garden, where, once a week, I help kids draw.  We get a lot of kids from the neighborhood after school, and they are frisky and so glad to be out of school.  Some are barely able to sit still.  Some urgently need to go over all the problems they’ve faced during the day.  Some need to settle arguments or tease each other.

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There are always several projects at the Art Garden they can participate in.  One of the projects yesterday was a May Pole — the kids made ribbons, staff attached them to a pole in the middle of the garden.  When all the ribbons were up, they put on some music from Lil Nas X, and the kids all wrapped the Maypole.  It was a blend of old traditions and new ideas, young people and older people, all creating a moment of community in a world where we all seem to be jaded and discouraged and root bound.

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When I go to the Art Garden, I use my power wheelchair and take the bus.

I pass through several neighborhoods, some rough and in the process of decay, some wealthy, most somewhere in the middle.  I see trees spreading their arms over all kinds of houses and abandoned buildings.

I see, and usually stop by, the Central Library, full of history and the future.  (And a great accessible bathroom, by the way)  There are usually a few homeless people resting in the shade of the building.   Inside, there are people using computers, looking through books, kids doing homework.  Parents with young children are reading together.

I roll on through several blocks of Binghampton to get to the Art Garden.  I see acres of a former housing development with abandoned boarded up buildings.   Over the past month, I’ve watched a wisteria vine bud and bloom.  Now it’s covered with emerald leaves.  It’s leaning against an old building and will one day knock the whole thing over.

I see small businesses in old buildings, and apartment communities with kids running around behind gates.

Being in my wheelchair, being a pedestrian, I see these things, the little changes in the landscapes.  I don’t speed through the seasons, I watch it all in it’s own time.  In my own time.

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Yesterday, when I left the Art Garden, I walked with two of the kids who draw with me sometimes.  They were astonished I didn’t have a car.  Even more so that I was going to be able to get on a bus.

“You’re getting on a bus in that?”

Yes.  On a bus, in my house, to the gardens, to the park, to the store, to the library, to so many places.

But not everywhere, because it’s not a hover chair, and I can’t get up curbs or stairs.  So I have other tools.

I can still use my walker if I have someone to help me.  I probably won’t be able to get up stairs much longer, no matter how much help I have.

But I go so many places.  When I turn a corner, because I am slow and life is uncertain, I find a garden, and I can stop and smell the roses.  I can stop and hear the laughter of children.  I don’t come saddled with expectations, I just let the delight wash over me.

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If I continue to pay attention and I keep my expectations simple, remember all the gifts in my life, enchantment happens.  It dances to music I am unfamiliar with, and it blooms from children who will create a future I’ll never see or understand.

And what a gift it is to me to be able to encourage them to think about, draw, and make up stories about their lives.  Maybe they too will find enchantment in the everyday details of their precious lives.

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Little details, little enchantments everywhere.  Don’t miss out on them.

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~~~

Thanks for reading my post.  If you like it share it.  If you find a typo, please let me know and I’ll send you a thank-you postcard.  

You can now follow me on facebook here, and  Instagram@joymurrayart.

You can get prints and cards of some of my work on Redbubble.  They also print my work on lots of other items, including phone skins, tote bags, shirts and journals:

https://www.redbubble.com/people/JoyMurray?asc=u

If you’d like to support my art and writing, please consider becoming a donor on Patreon.  If I get enough supporters, I can make this blog ad-free!  Here’s a link to my Patreon page:

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=8001665

If you prefer to make a one time donation, you can do so at paypal.com  Please email me at joyzmailbox@gmail.com if you’d like details.

Afterwards Nothing Was the Same – New Painting

I’ve spent some time painting with my son, Timothy Allen, who’s work is much more intuitive and free flowing than mine, and at times more precise and geometric:

Dark Forest Lights
Dark Forest Lights by Timothy Allen
echoes and the sound of growth by Timothy Allen
Echoes and the Sound of Growth by Timothy Allen
The Day My Cages Turned to Smoke
The Day my Cages Turned to Smoke by Timothy Allen

Watching his techniques gave me some ideas of my own.  I did a bit of paint pouring and worked without really thinking about how the finished painting would turn out.

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Re-purposed canvas on the table

I sleep in my studio, so I just left the canvas alone for a few weeks, let myself look at the shapes and colors and flow of it.  I turned it different ways.  I thought it might be something I would paint over.

Then I found a figure wandering in the chaos.

So I painted her in and added layers and textures.  As I painted, I thought about how much about life we don’t understand.  I thought about disability, trauma, and how little sense life seems to make sometimes.

I thought about the grace of being given a path that allows you to think in ways that others can’t fathom.  But life does that to everyone, not just those who have veered into long-term illness.  We all feel a startling sense of aloneness at times.  And sometimes, we can’t fathom our own thoughts or our fate.

Any way, I finished the painting and then it told me what the title should be.

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Afterwards Nothing was the Same, 12×36″ by Joy Murray, acrylic on canvas
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Afterwards Nothing was the same, detail
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Afterwards Nothing was the Same, detail

What do you think?

I’m planning an open studio and art sale at the end of May here in Memphis.  I’ll keep you posted on dates and time.

~~~

Thanks for reading my post.  If you like it share it.  If you find a typo, please let me know and I’ll send you a thank-you postcard.  

You can now follow me on facebook here, and  Instagram@joymurrayart.

You can get prints and cards of some of my work on Redbubble.  They also print my work on lots of other items, including phone skins, tote bags, shirts and journals:

https://www.redbubble.com/people/JoyMurray?asc=u

If you’d like to support my art and writing, please consider becoming a donor on Patreon.  If I get enough supporters, I can make this blog ad-free!  Here’s a link to my Patreon page:

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=8001665

If you prefer to make a one time donation, you can do so at paypal.com  Please email me at joyzmailbox@gmail.com if you’d like details.