Showing posts from August, 2009

Creating Masks

Even the most unartistic among us
are makers of masks.

"Carnivale" copyright 2005 Meri Arnett-Kremian.

Because we want to hide ourselves from others
or because we don't recognize our own truth,
we create the impression that
we are stronger
or weaker
than we truly are.

We lead people to believe we are brave
when we are quaking in our boots.

We imply that we are helpless
despite our actual competence,
often to make others feel stronger
and more capable.

We disguise our acute intelligence
with shallow thinking,
with reckless behaviors
that belie our thoughtfulness.

We create masks with layers of misleading words,
inauthentic gestures,
veneers of half-truths overlaying our real selves,
worrying that we're not good enough as we are.

While these masks may be colorful,
they hide our light from the rest of the world,
keep all but those closest to us
(and sometimes even our intimates)
from encountering the gift of our deepest selves.

What would happen
if you faced the world
with your own shiny face
and sh…

Betrothed to the Unknown

Steven of The Golden Fish
recently talked about a meme
in which he decided to participate,
one in which the assignment was to choose a book,
turn to page 161,
find the fifth complete sentence
and cite it on your blog.

He'd been tagged by The Road Less Traveled
who referred back to someone named Susan
at Stony River Farm, who had tagged her,


you can see

it can get
complicated in this blog world

trying to figure out
where a good idea

(But it's fun to follow the trail,
visiting places you've never gone.)

Deciding to play along,
though I hadn't been tagged,
I chose a book of blessings
by the late John O'Donohue
called To Bless the Space Between Us.

Here's what I found.

So at the end of this day, we give thanks
For being betrothed to the unknown
And for the secret work
Through which the mind of the day
And wisdom of the soul become one.

"At the End of the Day" copyright 2009 Meri Arnett-Kremian

How many of us fight the uncertainty of not knowing,
rather than just a…

Don't You Wonder Sometimes?

Don't you wonder sometimes
about those people up your family tree?

This young woman, Wilhelmina Blomgren,
was my great-grandmother.

She was almost 81 when I was born
and died in her 90s when I was a teen.
She lived in the town where my mother grew up.
a place where we visited a few times a year.

But as for my great-grandmother,
I really have few memories of her.
Except that her hair was white and thin,
she wore old lady shoes,
she wrote phonetically spelled letters to my mother,
giving away the fact that she'd come to the U.S.
as a young woman and gave up speaking her native tongue
to become an American.
Oh -- and the place that she lived always smelled like coffee.

We went to her funeral.
I don't remember the funeral particularly
but I remember the wake that followed,
primarily because my grandmother's elbow got bumped
when she was carrying a lemon merengue pie.
I happened to be next to her
and wore the pie on my head.
I was the only person who didn't think it was funny.

But Wilhemina fas…

Favorites (Self-Portrait Wednesday)

When I looked at this picture,
taken in the "Venice room"
a/k/a my powder room,
called the Venice room because
of the carnival masks and
art on the walls

the words that leapt to mind were:

Procol Harum
A Whiter Shade of Pale.

No particular reason why.
I must have slipped the light fandango
whatever that means.

It was never my favorite.

Here are some of my favorite things:

St. John perfume, followed closely by Hanae Mori and Vera Wang -
having a camera in my hands - soft white cotton hankies with lace -
writing in flow - a delivery from Amazon - independent bookstores -
well-done chick flicks - live musical theater - popcorn with real butter -
Moody Blues tune: Go Now - that soft, silvery shade that
hovers between blue and green like the waters close to the shore
in the Caribbean - sweet peas - reading my blog friends' posts - watching
the neighborhood eagle fish - arranging flowers - Diet Coke with Lime-
Pacific Northwest summers - rocking babies - silver jewelry -
Leona Lewis - books whose…

A Sign from the Universe

I know a lot of you believe
that the Universe sends us little messages
through ordinary things.

And who knows, maybe that's true.

The other day, I stopped at a bistro
to grab a quick bowl of soup
because I was starving but wanted
to make a film that started in only half an hour
so anything else was out of the question..

The host, hearing my time crunch issue,
said to sit anywhere and he'd grab me a bowl
of the soup of the day personally.

So I headed to the back,
where they display local artists' work
and there's a great view of Commencement Bay.

And he brought me a bowl of delicious mushroom soup
and some strawberry lemonade.
As soon as I dipped my spoon, I noticed
"the sign. "

It was a perfect little heart, a mushroom heart.
All the other bits of mushrooms were ovals
or just bits and pieces.

So I thought, "Well, obviously, given my posts lately,
this has to be a sign from the universe."

The question is,
is the Universe telling me

"Take heart."


"Eat your he…

Moments Fixed in Time

Are there some images
fixed in your mind,
a photo-catalogue of the imagination,
of events that had significance
in your life?

Those split seconds
where you noticed something amazing,


in which everything was changed irrevocably?

The instant in which something
changed your life completely:

everything once whole was broken
or everything broken restored to wholeness

The moment a birth changed you
from just a person to "parent,"

the Moon Landing,

the days in which Space Shuttles exploded
either coming or going,
a horror that was replayed in video
over and over again until you were numb
but the images were indelibly impressed in your psyche?

the assassination of political leaders
(JFK, Bobby, MLK, Benazir Bhutto)

a first kiss

news about the death of someone close to you

a marriage proposal


catching site of the Eiffel Tower for the first time

that your prayers have been heard and answered
even if in ways you never anticipated

It seems like our lives are full of touchpoints ,

Wednesday Self Portrait (on Saturday)

So Wednesday
I was thinking deep thoughts
and didn't really have time
to post another Wednesday self-portrait.

On Thursday, I saw 500 Days of Summer,
a great little quirky romance-goes-down-in-flames
starring Joseph Gordon-Leavitt and Zooey Deschanel.
Bittersweet screenplay, aptly cast, great music.

On Friday, I visited the hair salon
and then joined the Ladies Who Lunch bunch.
Since I'm crazy enough to drive almost two hours
to see the same hairdresser I've had for 16 years,
that took all day. No time to post.

This afternoon, I saw Adam, a lovely film
starring Hugh Dancy (of The Jane Austen Book Club)
and Rose Byrne. It's a sweet and tender yarn about
an ill-fated romance between a man
with Asperger's syndrome and a woman without.
The performances are emotionally potent
and the music in the film is amazing, too.

But this evening,
I had a little time to play.

Here's my self-portrait.

Sorry Zooey. I know I'm not a gorgeous 20-something.
But you're out …

Speechless with Awe

There are moments when the absolute magnificence
of Nature renders me speechless.

The sun sinking toward the western waters,
the silhouetted thistles,
the amethyst hillock hiding in the lower right corner
of the viewfinder.

"No Words" copyright 2009 Meri Arnett-Kremian.

The kind of exquisite majesty
that causes your eyes to brim with tears
and you to whisper a thanks to Spirit.

And when someone sees you staring wordlessly
towards the sun that looks as if it's a persimmon
floating in a flaming sky,
when that someone watches you
reading the light and tinkering with shutter speed,
and then asks you with puzzlement, "Am I missing something?"

all you can do is gesture.

There are no words for something so spectacular,
something that unobservant someone
didn't even notice.

And quite likely
that person would never understand
your sense of awe.

But you can hope.


I read a blog post the other day from a woman who confessed she was having trouble owning herself as an artist. I totally get that. I think of myself as someone who engages in self-expression, rather than as an Artist. But somehow reading her story got me thinking about artistic endeavors in my life and the transformative power unleashed. Creative expression is enormously healing. So for Steven's meme today on Transformational Moments, I offer this account.

Back a few years ago, when I separated from my ex (he of yesterday's post), I floundered as you might expect. My life had focused on loving this man, mothering our children, trying to anticipate and meet my husband's and kids' every need. The "Me" I was intended to be had grown shadowy and vague, like the colors in photographs taken long ago. I had taken all responsibility for the success of our relationship and that meant I had to shoulder all the blame for his repeated misdeeds, at least in my mind which…

The Love of My Life

One of my dearest friends made an observation in a conversation not long ago that's bothered me a lot. She said, of my former husband, "He was the love of your life. You completely and totally adored him."

And yes, she's right. I did adore him. Utterly.

I loved his scent, the texture of his skin, the sound of his voice, how gifted he was at working with people. His soft green eyes melted my heart. My heart skipped a beat when he came through the door. He made the best Spaghetti Carbonara, Veal Scallopini, and Fettucini Alfredo I've eaten anywhere, including in Italy. His touch undid me, made me shiver with delight. He provided amply for our family and was generous with friends and family. There were times when he made me feel so loved, though now I wonder if that was just illusion created by a master manipulator because so much of his secret behavior was inconsistent with loving me and actively undermined our marriage. In any event, his good points as well as the …

A Plea for Words

I have a confession.

I collect words.

I hoard phrases
that catch my attention
as my eyes skim across a page.

I make hostages of word families
that stroll along the paths in my mind.

Like these:

* * * *
dissecting her own demented time
fractured and quivering hearts amplify
dragons at the gate
hope's hostage
soaring aloft on an updraft of love
to the fresh light of resurrection
emerging from the shadow of your darkness
* * * *

When I'm bursting with the urge to write,
I pull them out and let them
arrange themselves poetically.

Right now, I'm running a little low.
I haven't been catching words before they run away.

Do you have words lying around,
not being used, filling up a page or two
in a catch-all journal
that you might share with me?

Some of you pluck such beautiful words
right out of your imaginations
and paste them on the page,
like the Creator hanging stars on the sky.

Sweetest in the Gale,
Beth,Elk, Relyn,
Deb, Kat (Poetikat)
Michelle (Poefusion)
and Reya.

Let's trade words…

Being Still

Sometimes currents run deep within,
insisting they float to the surface
and leave ripples to mark their presence.

"Still Waters" copyright 2009 Meri Arnett-Kremian. All rights reserved.

Other times, I am brimming
with a sweet stillness
reflecting the wonder of the universe.

I float cloud-like
across the sky of dreams
and let it show me

I need
to know.

Into Every Life. . .

Ordinarily, I'd extend an invitation to you to

Yesterday afternoon was an exception.
We had a booming thunderstorm
and my garden was fit only for ducks.

There's a creek behind my house
that flows into a big pond on the golf course.

When there's a rain deluge,
the ducks delight in waddling upstream to the little footbridge
that crosses the stream to give access to the ladies' tee.

They jump in there and surf the current down to the pond.
They were probably having a grand time yesterday.
I couldn't tell.

I could barely see the pond,
the rain formed so thick a curtain.

Could it have been the dreary day
that made me feel so tired and out of sorts?
Gray isn't my best color.

"Into every life a little rain must fall."

I'm just thankful the rain I'm getting is of the wet variety.
Lots of people aren't so fortunate.

New Beginnings

Once upon a time,
the lazy days of August were a time
of sharp anticipation for new beginnings.

The opening of a new school year
was just around the corner
and preparations had to be made.

Of course you had to make sure to

and find the newest, hippest things to wear
that fit into your parents' budget for back-to-school fashion
(or that could be bought for what you'd managed to save
from your summer job).

A new school year held promise.

It was an opportunity to make a fresh start
academically, cultivate new friends,
and catch up with old friends who had been away for the summer.

It was a season of hope,
of getting just the teachers you wanted,
of finding a boyfriend or girlfriend,
of learning to find your way along
the path toward growing up.

Once you've made the transition to adulthood,
that feeling of anticipation,
the certainty of new beginnings just around the corner
is a little harder to come by.

How can you create a space for new blessings?

What new beginning would put some pizazz
in your life…

Did I Tell You?

Did I tell you that I LOVE
Julie & Julia?

It came out Friday last week.
My friend Jef said she wanted to see it as a girlfriends outing.
We saw it Tuesday.

I went to see it again with Adrienne Wednesday.

And for those of you who can't think of Julia Child
without flashing on Dan Ackroyd's Saturday Night Light piece,
you're in luck.

It makes a great girlfriend outing,
but I think men will like it too.


I woke this morning to a symphony of rain.
It was clattering down, vivace
with the resounding clack of snare drums.

Then it trailed away, pianissimo.
Right now, I think we're entre-act.

But the rain has formed
diamond drops at the points of the vine maple
outside my window
and washed away all the words
that I had saved to accompany my paintings.

So -- without excess words --
here are the paintings
in the order that they are meant to be hung
(left to right) in a show.

As I said yesterday,
I think the name of the series is "Personal Truths."
Well, actually, I said personal truth yesterday,
but today I'm adding an "s" to truth.
Because we all have more than one thing
that we know in our gut to be true.

Any suggestions for individual titles?

I'm lusting for titles
as rich and interesting as Mary Jane Rivers' series
that she called "The Elephant in the Room."

Working on a Series

If you've taken Peggy Zehrings's workshops more than once, after the half-day of drawing blindfolded, you're free to mastermind your own abstract series. You have to articulate and write down a purpose, like "exploring form to form relationships" or "investigating the emotional impact of color." Then you write down the steps in the process you're adopting. The only requirement is that you design a process having at least five steps.

One of the big challenges of painting abstracts is to create a coherent composition that works while at the same time replicating the authentic nature of the drawings. So I set as my goal just that: to do a series that captured the freshness and truth inherent in the blindfolded drawings.

But how can you achieve that authenticity?

I've tried to use a blindfold when painting, but it doesn't work very well. Even though you can feel around to make sure you're staying on the canvas,you can't tell when your bru…

Experimental Drawings

Before you get started on a painting assignment,
you always begin Peggy Zehrings's workshops with a half -day
of experimental drawings done with a product called
Charkole on butcher paper.

The drawings are done blindfolded while listening to music,
African tribal pieces or Australian aboriginal tunes or hot jazz.

This one happened to be done while listening to an African beat.

Some drawings are completed with your non-dominant hand
or with charcoal in both hands,
perhaps with your hands behind your back

like this one.

Some drawings rely on tools to stamp on the paper,
textured items to place under the paper,

graters to powder the charcoal, spritzes of water,
or thin strings of paper cement to create a resist.


If you're blindfolded or using your "other" hand,
you bypass the logical functions in your brain
and get a more visceral, authentic mark.

Those authentic marks tell a story of who you are
at a given point in your life.

The five drawings above are one-third of the total done tha…

Back from Painting Camp

I'm back from my painting blitz
with five completed paintings,
some soulful charcoal drawings,
starts on five textured paintings that are probably
best qualified as a "learning experience"
rather than a new direction, and
five new pristine canvases
for catching paint when I get inspired.

This is Peggy Zehring.

She's hamming it up next to one of
Kathy Kimball's gorgeous paintings.

I'll show you more of everyone's work
over the next few days, but you can see
more of Kathy's art by clicking on her name.

Peggy facilitates the painting workshop
and helps you figure out whether a painting is finished
or whether it needs a little more tweaking.

She also leads tai chi sessions
every morning for those who want to partake.

The class was small --
seven people altogether,
five of whom were on their second week.

People did amazing work.
Peggy has a knack for creating a safe place
to experiment with abstractions
that speak right from your soul.

Get Schooled

Sometimes when I'm out and about
I find the most intriguing messages
in the most unexpected places,
like in this advertising poster hanging
in the window of the University Bookstore.

When I saw it, my reaction was:

"Isn't that why we're here?"

Don't we all need to be schooled in the things that matter?
lovecompassionkindnesscoming to terms with loss & changemeaningWhat else goes on the list?1. Beth's addition: patience2. Delwyn's additions: slowing down, letting go,knowing that we will never know, understanding that
life is chaos but in chaos we can reach a certain level of security.

Beautiful Old

Why is it so much easier for us to appreciate
the patina of age
when we see it right before our eyes

than it is to fully celebrate the patina of age
when it's looking back at us
as our reflection in a mirror?

What's your plan for becoming beautiful old?
And how do you define it?

Quieter Than Usual

I may be quieter than usual
for the next few days
because I'm away from home,
partaking in a painting workshop.

"Edge of Passion" copyright 2009 Meri Arnett-Kremian.

On the other hand,
I might be able upload "process" photos
on my laptop and publish a few short posts
in the evenings

that is
if I'm not too exhausted
from making all those creative decisions.

I might just go back to the hotel and fall asleep
as soon as I wash off all the paint
and jump between the sheets.

We'll see.

Walking and Thinking

Thank goodness the weather's cooled off.
We're back to a layer of clouds in the morning
and sunny skies in the afternoon.

It's a much more agreeable temperature
for talking walks along the harbor

and admiring the great view of the mountain.

And walking's a perfect thing to do
while mulling over all the choices of classes
available at ArtFest 2010.

The schedule was posted around midnight.

I've already reserved my stay at my cousin Jenny's
guest cottage. It's way more cozy than the dorms.

Woo hoo!

What's got you excited today?

p.s. For what it's worth,
here are my movie recommendations for this weekend
if you can find them:

Every Little Step

I'm going to try to see
500 Days of Summer
Herb and Dorothy