Daddy's Christmas Angel

Monday, January 21, 2019

Persistent Thoughts, Deja Vu, and More -- Reincarnation

"Airport Clouds" ©Mary Montague Sikes
When I was a young child--four or five years old, I would lie in the grass and study the sky. Clouds were strange and amazing, I thought. They were beautiful and whimsical, and I wondered from where they came. What did they hide? What lay behind them in the far reaches of space?

I was an inquisitive and imaginative child and, strange as it might seem, I believed I once lived as the famous artist, Mary Cassatt. Where or why I developed such a belief, I do not know. After all, my mother was horrified by the mention of reincarnation. For her, it went against her Christian faith and background.

As a child, I don't recall anyone I knew who believed as I did. I don't even know where I first heard the word, "reincarnation".

Growing up, I put all those thoughts behind me. Then, the summer before my senior year in college, I traveled to Europe for a Methodist work camp project. While there, the group went from our Linz, Austria base to spend several days in Vienna. From the moment we reached those ancient city streets, I felt at home. It was as if I had strolled those avenues before and had entered the beautiful old buildings at another time. Years later, when I returned to Vienna, I experienced the same deja vu feelings.

Although it horrified several family members, I have always been fascinated by reincarnation and have wanted to hear every story that I can that relates to the subject. "It is not more surprising to be born twice than once," French writer and philosopher Voltaire said long ago.

Henry David Thoreau, an author I have admired from the first moment I read his words, said, "As far back as I can remember I have unconsciously referred to the experiences of a previous state of existence."

He, too, heard the sounds of "a different drummer". I have forever loved the drummer quote.

So many great writers and personalities of the past are quoted with thoughts of reincarnation. Henry Ford is another. "Genius is experience," he said. "Some seem to think that it is a gift or talent, but it is the fruit of long experience in many lives."

I suppose my interest in reincarnation had to come out somewhere in my writing. In the 1980s and 90s, we traveled many times to Jamaica. On several occasions, we toured Rose Hall Plantation and the Rose Hall area. The story of the "white witch" intrigued me and inspired the writing of my reincarnation novel, Hearts Across Forever. This is the book of my heart, and it will be re-released soon.

Persistent thoughts, deja vu, and more. I'll be writing new reflections on this subject and my books in the next several weeks. I hope you will follow my thoughts.

"Airport Clouds, Jan. 2019" ©Mary Montague Sikes

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Expanding Art Interests for 2019 - A New Year's Resolution

"Following the Star" ©Mary Montague Sikes
I don't much believe in making New Year's resolutions. They inspire us at first, then life gets in the way. For 2019, I decided, "No resolutions this year."

Then I thought about it some more, and I realized I had big plans for my art this year. After all, I have four different media that have caught and held my attention over the past several years. Three of them relate, but they each use different materials.

"Following the Star" (11" x 8") is oil and encaustic (hot wax) and was created using a toxic process that makes painting inside less safe. However, I love the method and the results.

In my studio, I have more than two dozen small encaustic pieces on art board, some of which I plan to use like working drawings for larger paintings. I love this style of work and the ideas it creates inside my head.

The cold wax with oil is the method most related to encaustics. Building history, then creating
"On the Crowded Street" ©Mary Montague Sikes
mystery from it is exciting and rewarding. I already have many starts using this process, and I am finding extraordinary excitement experimenting with it. I like spraying medium from a bottle to make changes in the surface. Using that process gives me more control than placing a heat gun above the surface of a painting to move the wax around. With both encaustics and cold wax, I have the opportunity to create texture on the surfaces of my paintings. "On the Crowded Street" (10" x 10") is cold wax on cradled board.

Using acrylic paints and a variety of gel mediums and painting with credit cards and palette knives is the third related working style. I love creating texture using this media. I can imagine myself with encaustic paintings as my guide, building all kinds of new work on canvas. This is truly a fun process that I have used for many years.

"Rendezvous on Xanadu" ©Mary Montague Sikes
The fourth procedure I plan to develop further is that of using the intense Robert Doak paints on Yupo to design new and magical work. "Rendezvous on Xanadu" (40"x32" matted) is part of my on-going Xanadu series. In these paintings, I use all sorts of found objects to develop texture. I love spraying the paint while blocking various spaces.

Every method I use offers opportunity to experiment and develop my work further. While I enjoy traditional art work and the use of carefully honed skills, the exotic experimental progression forever beckons me back. Large canvases of all sizes, hoarded for years in my studio, call to me to fill their vacant spaces with color and warmth. Some urge me to add Yupo to their surfaces and to continue my search for Xanadu.

I cannot ignore the call as I expand the horizons of all that exists inside my studio. An exciting new year summons me on.