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The Shape of Things

I rambled through the private roads of Pocono Heights Lake Community searching for a long driveway and a house shaped like the one I remember from my youth.  I found one that was similar in form but with a much shorter driveway. Perhaps it just seemed so much longer when I was a kid.  It was the boundary line of course, and it took my little legs a bit to reach it.  The tether ball and home made zip line were long gone, but the garage that held the gremlin they never drove was in the right place.  The shape of the place seemed the same, everything else had changed.  Smiling, I thought of Shmo, the fat cat –  Brown Cow ice cream – thier coin bowl – her colored jar of rocks, and her favorite painting mantra – “don’t be shy with the paint”.

Headed down the mountain and over the creek, I pointed west to the farmlands of Lancaster, PA.  Letting my eyes soak in the rolling hills and the whispers of spring aching to shout out their beauty, a calm filled me and I sang along as the tires rolled on.

Harvest Host is a platform that lists farms, wineries, and breweries where you can park an RV for the night. I’m seeking out the farms this time around, as avoiding the beer and wine is part of my own personal Mojo rejuvenation program.  Tannery Run farm hosted me for two days. They grow corn, sunflowers, and wheat.  I woke up and walked the fields of last years sunflower crop. The crops of corn and sunflowers are rotated and the beautiful flowers, in their demise, nourish the soil for the following crop of corn.  So many parallels here…

The owners mentioned swings that hang from a tree in the old grove down the creek.  My early morning stroll through the sunflower fields landed me there.  The sound of the birds seemed hypnotic, as if I had slipped into a time long past, a guest in a secret scene.  Their songs grew into a vibrant cacophony as if they were all singing to a different song, and then they abruptly stopped.  Perhaps they were putting on a show. Perhaps they were warning of my intrusion. I let the swing sway me, closed my eyes and listened as they slowly resumed.

My paints were in my bag but I wanted to eliminate any expectation of creating something great.  The shapes created by light coming through the trees and warming the spring ground were so beautiful. I decided to keep it simple and just play with the shape of things.

The exercise was peaceful, and without any harsh judgement.  I simply set out to please my own eye. That’s all.  Free to erase.  Free to copy nature, and free to shift the shape of it if that’s what felt good to me.  This balance of dark and light is the skeleton of any great painting, and I’ll move on to that eventually.  Technically, it’s called the NOTAN of a painting – it’s like the poetry of it in its most basic form.  For now, that’s enough for me.  I’ll find my own poetry as I play in the simplicity of shifting shapes in what ever way pleases me.

Part of this journey was to understand how I could teach a painting class for beginners in an online environment.  How could I translate the desire to see and create more beauty, and teach the technical steps to help minimize roadblocks – over the internet?  Generally, I can throw out that vibe in a wonderfully contagious way that inspires students to grow more joy by using the arts.  The added challenge of my own mojo feeling flat made this prospect seem daunting, and I questioned my ability to do it.  But I’ve shifted the shape of things and my vision is clearing up.  My mojo is surely growing.

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