Painting with Lisa Daria.

Last weekend I took a class with artist Lisa Daria. I found her blog after Googling "acrylic paint" one bleak day last January, craving color and thick paint. An admirer of her work and story, it was so incredible to have a chance not only to meet her, but paint under her guiding eye. Some of her stunning work:

 "1845 Water World" by Lisa Daria. ©Lisa Daria www.lisadariablogspot.com 

"1845 Water World" by Lisa Daria. ©Lisa Daria www.lisadariablogspot.com 

 "1837 Aft" by Lisa Daria. ©Lisa Daria www.lisadariablogspot.com

"1837 Aft" by Lisa Daria. ©Lisa Daria www.lisadariablogspot.com

Class was held on beautiful Cape Ann, at the charming Rockport Association. Registration was last minute (I found out just in time!) leaving one day to run around Boston for supplies, book a little B&B, gather some still-life, put food out for the cat. And we were off! 

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I hadn't painted from life in a long time. It felt good (and daunting) to be back at the easel, trading watercolor for lusciously chunky acrylic, making a mess. Lisa had devised many brilliant exercises all aimed at reminding us to FOCUS, SEE, OBSERVE. Mindfulness has been a life-line for me this year amidst challenges and changes in our personal lives. Like other mindfulness practices (yoga being a favorite) painting from life simply demands presence in the moment. And if we are lucky, we have a moment. And another one after that. Moment-living is a practice in itself, a dedication to the gift of being alive.

Lisa's story (and dedication):

"I mark each day with a painting. After 1700 days (including Christmas) I've no intention of stopping. Painting, for me, is a physical act of being able to leave proof that I was here. Having cancer as a young adult, I discovered living is not just surviving. I wanted a way to embrace each day, no matter how typical, so without excuse or hesitation, I begin each day by painting."

That's every morning at 5am, folks! Paint tubes by the coffee pot so she won't forget. Practice. 

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Still-life. There is, perhaps, nothing more alive than color in a moment! It vibrates before you. It demands your attention now. When you are mixing color, you are having a conversation with it. Adding tiny dabs of alizarin crimson, white, ultramarine until you match what you see. Matching life to life,  making it your job to celebrate and to notice. It's a challenge. I remember discovering this silent dialogue as an art student. Color is an intimate friend, reminding you to BE AWAKE.

So, thank you, Lisa, for reminding us to be awake, and to practice.

The night before we left, we went for dinner in Gloucester and strolled by The Bookstore (it was really called that). It was so inviting in the sunset, and so I went in and found:

How had I never seen this one before? I flipped out, bought it, hugged it the whole way home. Another reminder of the gift of Life. And Now.

"The stage is set, the time is now, and the place wherever you are."

Thanks to you too, Virginia Lee Burton.