Of African origin, the word MOJO refers to a magical charm or spell. I believe the arts are the best mojo out there.
My mojo went missing this past year. Thankfully, I have managed to find it again. For the most part, I’ve always been a happy lady, grateful for the life I’ve lived and open to what comes next, but Covid and personal loss left my tank unprecedentedly low. There were no magic cables to jumpstart my enthusiasm. The charge would build slowly, with some active attention. My eyes searched for anything beautiful, especially in unexpected places.
There were a few daily habits that weren’t helping, and I swapped them out for more yoga, better food, and lots of water. It’s all connected of course. My sprinter van pointed West and I let it take me. It was loaded with art books, my paint gear, and my devices. After a full day of driving I parked and started to scribble on my iPad with no active concept in mind, just me and my pen, ‘dancing’ to the music. I found it delightful, unexpectedly so. It was a magic cable of sorts… extremely relaxing, fun on my eyes, and a very simple way to get my flow going. It was a good start. Click on the image and watch the flow go…
I reached out to an artist who I studied with long ago, and who’s paintings I really admire – Quang Ho. I asked if I could see his work in person. Graciously, he invited me to his studio. I stood in front of his work and studied the flow and color and texture. He also seemed to dance around his canvas, throwing his own soul out there in a way that almost seemed random, but with an underlying value structure that was so calculated. His compositions would lead my eye in wide swaths and then direct it with a few crisp strokes that said LOOK HERE, and then lead me somewhere else, and on and on, until I was the one dancing around his canvas. I left his studio feeling grateful for the opportunity to be in it, and inspired to add some of that freedom and pointed energy into my own work.
I called another artist who I studied with years ago, and who I’ve called a friend ever since, Simon Kogan. We talked about life and art, and the passing of time. We laughed about a lesson on value he tried to teach me two decades ago that I was too impetuous and impatient to learn. Simon wished me well on my travels and sent me a tube of medium that he cooks up in batches and shares sparingly. It’s packaged in an unmarked white tube that has “shake well, don’t squeeze” hand written in Sharpie across the face of it. I think the unmarked gel must have made the post office nervous. It arrived over a week late in Lambertville and my husband sent it along to meet me in Florida. It arrived four days late in Florida and friends sent it along to meet me in Idaho. It caught up with it here.
Teton Valley, Idaho is a vast valley that sits beneath the Grand Teton Mountain Range. We lived here for almost a decade when our babies Aidan and Liam were young. They have both grown up and relocated back to this beautiful place, feeling most at home when the Teton mountain range is in sight. Seeing their sweet grown up faces again, and being able to hug them was priceless. My husband Tom flew out to meet us for a week. We spent our nights around boisterous family dinners and campfires, and our days working to help them with whatever they needed. This included some mechanical work for Tom. For me it meant FingerSmearing my first vehicle. Aidan’s uncle loaned her a camper-van for indefinite use under two conditions – get it running, and paint something cool on the outside of it. We did both. Videos on that coming soon.
Tom flew home and took the warm weather with him. The rain started and lead its way to snow and hail, interrupted by bursts of clear skies and sunshine, followed by more rain – as is the Teton Valley springtime. I called another friend and great painter who lives in the valley, Scott Christensen. He knew the weather was not going to cooperate with my plein air painting plans and he invited me to work in his studio for a few days. Scott is also working to launch a virtual workshop. We talked about the learning curve, and the opportunities this digital world affords us to teach from anywhere. I looked at the field guides he creates to farm ideas – they are filled with images, pencil sketches, simple lines, value thumbnails, and complex but oh so subtle color pallets. He’s taught me a lot over the years about dedication to practice, and he lives it everyday. Scott worked with his editing team, and offered me his easel. I ‘danced’ along my canvas feeling grateful for the warm dry place to paint, Scotts easel, Simons medium, Quang Ho’s flow, and the many masters I’ve had the good fortune to study with, and call friends.
My energy at the easel is back and my desire to turn ideas into art bubbles up higher each day. My minds chatter of indecision is quieted by the journey of making art and the practice of allowing the exploration. An infused sense of peace and curiosity has returned to my days, and my mojo is flowing. It allows me to sing out loud at the risk of looking silly. It gives me the strength to feel calm in a hectic world. It offers a love of life in the emergence of grief. It’s an affair with myself, a dance with the universe, and a deep appreciation for sight, sound, taste, and touch. My creative mojo is a witness to the grace of humanity, in spite of our innumerable flaws, and I am happy to be here, making art, and dancing on canvas.