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Blood Moon Epiphany | Lovejoy Gallery
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March of 2015, I went to Arcata, CA on a road trip to try and get my head clear. I was at the beginning of a divorce, and in deep uncertainty about everything around me. I went and stayed with my friend Katie.

It happened to be during a full moon eclipse. And one that created the effect of turning the moon red, what they call a “blood moon.” The eclipse was at it’s fullest as about 5:30 in the morning. It must have been pretty intense, because I woke up at the height of it. I went to the window and watched it for a while, until it looked like there was a bite of glowing white returning to it. I tried to go back to sleep, but couldn’t.

As I sat restlessly surfing images on my iphone, trying to make myself sleepy again, I came across a Shiva/Shakti image, the kind where the two are one, half male, half female. The God/Goddess is called Ardhanarishvara.

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As I meditated on the image, I started to think about the depictions of the chakras, and the conceptions of gender, and the experiences of my physical body that helped me to make sense of the concept of chakra. I was thinking about the kitchy way chakras are often depicted, taking the precision of the ancient patterns and turning them into predictable, unemotional circles. I wondered whether it was possible to dig deeper into the feeling of my yoga practice and find images there. I was staring at the root chakra on the painting, thinking about my root, and what the root chakra symbolizes.

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Thinking about yabyum, and Shiva/Shakti, and the energy that passes between lovers in tantric sharing.

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It was in that moment that I had an epiphany.

A vision of images downloaded into my head, and I was suddenly aware of an entire map of paintings that I needed to do. I saw a series of chakra paintings, but not the usual stylized mandalas, these were expressive, gestural images that expressed the emotional and energetic experience of the chakras.

And it didn’t stop at chakras. The vision included the ten sefirot and the chakras, both individually, in their specific configurations, but then also a final three panel series in which one giant 10 foot landscape was the chakras, one was the sefirot, and the third (middle one) was the two combined into a huge integrated piece.

The images came fast and furious. It wasn’t jsut about the chakras and sefirot, it was also about my painting process. These images would be a huge series of paintings, built from my latest style of pen and ink and water color, moving through the gestural oil stick paintings, and into larger more defined oil paintings. I would practice having a practice. I would map the imagery as it developed and create pieces that were rooted in the practice I developed.

I became so excited I took myself for a long walk and sat near the bay, on a bench in the wetlands, and began to map my thinking.

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Painting Journal

"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.”

Martha Graham
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