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Starting Fresh

Here it is, a new year full of new possibilities. Happy 2017 to everyone. Having just emerged from some much needed down time to fuel the creative well, I’m back to work in my quiet studio. As I procrastinated in getting I started, I realized what was going on.  I’ve pushed myself to work just a little bit outside my comfort zone, and here I am on the edge of discomfort.  Though somewhat anxiety producing , when I do this, the work ends up being more alive and better in the end. It’s very easy to continue doing something that has sold and worked well. Super tempting to  press repeat, but it gets stale after a while, and that shows up in the work too. Wanted to share the process with you here.

 

 

 

 

Shining My Light

My recent visit with astrology luminary Cathy Coleman, inspired this article. You’ll have to be an astrology nerd to actually read it all, but the essential point is to stay tuned. It seems my time has come to shine some light.

Embracing the Artist: Pivotal Moments in the Lives of Two Painters

By Cathy Coleman, Ph.D.

bbe8ab4c-38d2-4e54-b2a0-d7d69338dd31Pissaro was born on the Island of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, the tenth of eleven children. Sensitive and extraordinary, he was his mother’s favorite. Pissaro came from a family of merchants, but had no interest in that path. He drew and painted from an early age. At age twelve, PIssaro went to boarding school near Paris. He developed an appreciation of French artists as his own artistic production advanced. When Pissaro returned to St. Thomas at age seventeen, he began to draw his inspiration from nature.                                    This article will illuminate the astrological similarities of pivotal moments in the lives of two painters embracing their identities as artists. When one of my astrology clients was on the doorstep of her own identity evolution as an artist recently, I was also reading Alice Hoffman’s new historical novel, The Marriage of Opposites. Hoffman’s novel centers on French Impressionist Camille Pissaro (1830-1903).

In his early twenties, Pissaro moved to Venezuela, following a mentor he had met on St. Thomas, Danish artist Fritz Melbye. Pissaro lived in Venezuela for two years, painting village scenes and landscapes alongside Melbye. It would be several more years before Pissaro could embrace his art as a profession. He returned briefly to St. Thomas to try to fit into the family business, but Pissaro’s mother realized the futility of her son becoming a merchant. She bought him a ticket for a passage back to Paris in 1855, when he was twenty-five.

Pissaro was born July 10, 1830 in St Thomas, Virgin Islands. We do not have a birth time for Pissaro, so his horoscope is examined with a noon birth time. Pissaro’s natal artist shows up through the natal Moon in Pisces, symbolizing art, conjunct the South Node, along with Mars and Juno. His natal Sun in sensitive cardinal water sign Cancer is opposite Jupiter and Neptune, exactly opposite the midpoint of those two planets. Pallas Athena, goddess of the Arts, is conjunct Ceres, and trine Mercury in air signs. Pissaro was inspired to paint in the open air, known as plein air painting. He also painted many seascapes, starting at his home on St. Thomas. This is symbolized by his three planets and South Node in Picses.

Three pivotal times emerge as important in Pissaro’s life to affirm his gift as an artist. The first was at age twelve, when he was sent to boarding school and began studying art. His Sun progressed into Leo within the year after he arrived, so creativity and artistic expression blossomed. This was also the year of his first Jupiter return, highlighting the Jupiter/Neptune conjunction opposing his natal Sun. An expansive, visionary identity was the core of Pissaro’s being. Within a few months after his arrival in Paris, transiting Saturn also came to conjunct Jupiter/Neptune and oppose his natal Sun. This Saturn transit corresponded with the beginning of his serious study of drawing and painting. Also, Solar Arc Pluto was square Neptune.

The second pivotal event was Pissaro’s journey to Venezuela with Melbye at age twenty-one. Progressed Mercury was exactly conjunct his natal Sun, and opposite Jupiter and Neptune at their exact Midpoint. Mercury symbolizes travel, and Jupiter symbolizes long journeys; this was an adventure in pursuit of his dreams as an artist. Pissaro’s progressed Sun was opposite natal Uranus at that time, an indicator of a break for independence. During these two years, he drew and painted all that surrounded him in Venezuela. Melbye encouraged Pissaro to take on painting as a full-time profession during this period.

Finally, the third and most pivotal event in which Pissaro affirmed his life as an artist was his move to Paris at age twenty-five. Transiting Neptune was exactly conjunct his natal Moon in Pisces, symbolizing the embrace of his life as an artist. His progressed Sun and Mercury were at 12 degrees of Leo, making a yod, exactly inconjunct to his natal Jupiter and South Node, flanked by Juno and the Moon. The progressed Moon in Aquarius was opposite natal Saturn in Leo. Progressed Jupiter exactly squared natal Pluto, symbolizing transformation through a powerful journey. Natal Uranus was tied in as well, as natal Uranus and Pluto were exactly sextile. Transiting Uranus was trine the natal Jupiter/Neptune conjunction: This underlied Pissaro’s ongoing financial support from his family, which freed him to follow his dreams and fully engage. Transiting Saturn was exactly conjunct his natal Mercury, drawing him into the serious study of art.

Camille Pissaro lived on and developed as a painter and a teacher, becoming one of Paris’ fathers of Impressionism, along with Cezanne, Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas, and Mary Cassatt. They held their first Impressionist Exhibit in 1874. At that time Saturn and Uranus were in opposition, aspecting Pissaro’s natal Saturn-Uranus opposition. In 1874, transiting Uranus was approaching Pissaro’s Saturn, and opposite his natal Uranus. Transiting Saturn was conjunct his natal Uranus, and opposite his natal Saturn. The Uranus opposition is one of the most important transits of one’s life. This can be a climax of the direction of one’s life, as it was for Pissaro.

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As a comparative exploration, we’ll juxtapose the horoscope of a modern painter, Andrea Wedell (Birth Data August 28, 1962; 6:30 AM, Greenbrae, CA). My recent astrological consultation with Wedell revealed that now is the time to embrace her inner, essential artist. Wedell’s natal horoscope has a loaded 12th house, with the Moon conjunct Uranus, North Node, and also the asteroids Ceres, Vesta, and Juno. The asteroids, North Node, and the Moon are in Leo, the sign symbolizing creativity. The 12th house is the house of vision and inspiration. There is nothing that Wedell loves more than to paint from her inspiration. Wedell’s natal Venus is in Libra, another signature of the artist, with Venus strong in its own sign. Venus rules Wedell’s Midheaven, suggesting a career as an artist. Pallas Athena, goddess of the arts, is in her 10th house symbolizing career, in Gemini, suggesting more than one career path. Wedell is also a coach. Her semi-abstract paintings are soft and ethereal–though brightly colored–symbolizing the combined energy of the watery 12th house, and the bold, fixed fire sign Leo.

Wedell’s artist’s statement is:

My paintings are inspired by watching nature’s cyclical, fleeting and permanent rhythms. I work with luminous layers of paint, both transparent and heavily textured, to create a sense of atmospheric, semi recognizable form that offers the essence of remembered beauty…Inspired by nature, the places and spaces I paint are intentionally non-specific. They aim to capture the essence of fleeting moments in nature and offer the viewer the space to dream.

Wedell told me about several pivotal times that emerge as important in her life to affirm her gift as an artist. Like Pissaro, the first was her move to Paris at age 23. Wedell’s grandfather’s sculpture had just been acquired by the American Embassy in Paris, and she had gone for the inaugural event at the embassy. While sitting in front of the Pompidou Center in Paris, she had an epiphany to leave California and move to Paris. Wedell was exposed to great art and culture, and haunted museums and galleries in Paris for the next 28 years. At the time of the Paris move, Wedell’s progressed Sun was conjunct her natal Mercury, and her progressed Moon was conjunct natal Pallas Athena, patroness of the arts. Transiting Uranus trined her natal Moon, symbolizing independence and an unexpected move.

The second pivotal moment was when her grandfather, Alexander Stoller, a formally trained sculptor, died in 1994. Until his death, Wedell had been encouraged to express her artistry through performing arts. When her grandfather died she was liberated to pursue her path in the visual arts. Wedell felt that she had been passed the visual arts baton by her grandfather. Uranus was trine natal Mercury and square to natal Venus. Wedell’s view of herself as an artist suddenly changed. Transiting Saturn was opposite conjunct natal Chiron/Jupiter and opposite her natal Uranus/Sun/Pluto. She became serious about her art and started to work a lot more.

A third pivotal moment was when Wedell sold her first painting in Paris in 2002, followed by finding her teacher, Michelle Massiou, in Paris, marking the beginning of a serious eight-year study of beaux art. Transiting Pluto was trine her Moon, and Jupiter was sweeping over her Moon, Sun, and Ascendant. Jupiter and Pluto, the planetary combination symbolizing wealth, were in a benefic trine. In 2010 she held her first solo show at Galerie BE Espace in Paris of paintings of the 22 Major Arcana of the Tarot. The idea for Le Tarot Essentiel emerged when Wedell met astrologer Françoise Bitton. Bitton interpreted them and wrote a guide to the Tarot cards. The timing coincided with a Jupiter Return, and transiting Uranus was opposite her natal Mercury. However, the greatest significance was transiting Pluto in benefic trine to the Sun. The show was an empowering experience.

Now in December 2016 and January 2017 Jupiter will conjunct her natal Venus, and transiting Uranus will oppose natal Venus. That same Jupiter-Uranus opposition makes benefic aspects to her Moon, another signature encouraging her expansion and living into her true self. Since Venus rules the Midheaven, this timing will signal the release of the artist. Wedell already has several galleries following her. There could be a big boost of energy, and money to be made. Her progressed Moon at this writing is within 4 degrees of her natal Moon. In four months she opens up to a Progressed New Moon cycle. February 2017 will then be time for her to blossom as an artist. A year later her Progressed Moon will conjunct her natal Uranus, and then her Sun and Ascendant. She will then be in her element, shining her light in the world. Transiting Saturn is trine her natal Moon, giving her the discipline to paint, put her work out in the world, and earn money from her painting. Her Solar Arc Neptune is exactly trine her natal Sun, a big indicator that now is the time to embrace the artist that she is. Her Solar Arc Jupiter is exactly trine her natal Uranus. The day that she came for a reading the Sun was exactly conjunct her natal Neptune. The fact that the Sun’s light was on her planet of art and inspiration was an omen that showed the way; it showed what was being revealed in the consultation that day. We looked at her Astro*Carto*Graphy to see where she has good energy to place her art for sale. She has a Venus Midheaven line running through Stockholm and Budapest and several countries in Central Europe. Here she should do well, and she said that there was a gallery in Stockholm that had been following her on Instagram. (See Andrea’s art at her website at andreawedell.com

Paris—and nature– inspired both artists’ work. Pissaro painted realistic scenes. Wedell’s abstract work is inspired by nature, but allows the viewer to dream. Features in these horoscopes that indicate the life of an artist are personal planets in Pisces, symbolizing vision and inspiration (Pissaro), and personal planets in Leo, symbolizing creativity (Wedell). We do not know which houses are highlighted for Pissaro because we do not have a birth time. The twelfth house of vision and inspiration is highlighted for Wedell. Libra, the sign symbolizing art and beauty is the ruler of Wedell’s Midheaven. Jupiter and Neptune–planets symbolizing expansive visions–connect with the luminaries, Sun or Moon. Wedell’s Jupiter is opposite her Sun, and Neptune sextiles the Moon. A Jupiter/Neptune conjunction opposes Pissaro’s Sun. Pivotal moments in both their lives activated or are presently activating the enegies of all these planets.

 

Cathy Coleman has been a practicing astrologer for some 35 years, and is passionate about diverse systems of astrological thought. She has achieved NCGR-PAA Level IV Certification, ACVA Level I Certification, and is a certified Astro*Carto*Grapher. She serves as education director and president of the San Francisco Chapter of NCGR, and writes a free weekly astrological blog (www.cathycoleman.co). Living in Sonoma, California, with her husband, Ralph Metzner, Cathy can be contacted at ccoleman829@gmail.com.

 

Art-Full Tarot Series: Week Two; The Moon

Entering week 2 of my 22 week Art-Full Tarot series, I’d like to back track to last week’s card : 6 « The Lovers » or « Choice »

Le Choix, oil on canvas, Andrea Wedell

Le Choix, oil on canvas, Andrea Wedell

The first thing that struck me about number 6 last week, as the first card I pulled to launch this series, is suddenly realizing I happen to be in a year 6 this year, numerology wise. This entire year is about color and aesthetics, cherishing relationships with those I love, and choosing from the heart. I loved that little « coincidence » I hadn’t looked up my numerology year in several years, and suddenly I felt like checking it out. And there it was : a great big 6

I’m sure this is telling me that doing this Art-Full tarot reading series is, and will prove to be significant this year. I can’t wait to see and tell you about how that unfolds.

This is a perfect example of the type of synchronicity that happens when you start looking out at the world through the eyes of the tarot (or through any other wide angle lens for that matter). Magical signs begin to appear out of nowhere, linking things together in meaningful ways. I believe these signs are there as helpful hints to get us to trust our intuitions and gut feelings about things. That’s how I work with them anyway, and learning to follow those intuitions with more confidence is such a sweet relief. Intuition, I’ve come to understand, is that first gut response, the one that has no emotion attached to it yet. The information is just there : neutral and clear.

Following right along with that train of thought, the card I just pulled (at random) for this week is number 18 : The Moon, or Gestation and deeply linked to our intuitions.

Gestation, oil on canvas, Andrea Wedell

Gestation, oil on canvas, Andrea Wedell

The Positive Meaning :

Gestation, creative imagination, intuition, psychic intuition, creativity in all of it’s forms, femininity, inner journeys, the unconscious, spirituality, discerning when issues are about you and when there’s nothing to do with you, night-time, psychological brilliance, dreams that bring meaning and greater understanding.

The Darker Side :
Being too passive and the flip side of a clear mind : confusion, anxiety, superstition, depression, obsession

I loved painting this card. I spent a lot of time layering the whites on the moon to get it to Glow, to throw what I wanted as warm light into the dark, cool night.

This is the very same warm bright light we can shine down into ourselves, by looking into those aspects we can’t yet « see » through reading or with help, or else delving deeper into those areas that are starting to become clearer and learning to decode what we can.

This is such a great source of self-understanding, the first step in being able to understand others, and is also such a huge wealth of creative inspiration.

This will be an opportune week for me to use my receptive side and explore my next artistic adventure. I’ve been searching around for a project that has meaning, just as this tarot series did (and still does). As I wait for inspiration to emerge, I’ve tried to get comfortable being in a directionless state, and it’s been quite a while now. Just yesterday, the beginning of what’s actually an old idea, started taking shape : exploring the healing power of color. I haven’t any idea what that will be, but the more I think about it, the better I like it. I think this will be a good week to let that inspiration begin to unfold. I feel like taking a color and exploring it completely. Hmmm, pink ? green ? blue ?

I also know that my mind and body need some nurturing and rest or I will definitely flip into the darker side of 18…And who needs that on Easter weekend !

How about you ?

How does your intuition guide your life and creative inspiration ?

What’s Really Important to You About Making Art ?

Painting in Big Sur, California on my birthday

I’ve been pretty terrified by the idea of turning 50 for the past 2 years. I had anxiously contemplated everything I thought I’d be losing in this new decade and even imagined some things would come to an abrupt halt on August 28th 2012, D day. Maybe I’d wake up looking and thinking like an uncomfortably different, much older, person I worried.

I’d also been holding some very clear visions about exactly what I thought I should have accomplished artistically by that August 28 D date. As a coach, it’s just an ingrained habit for me to set and reach for clear, specific objectives.

I wasn’t a very kind coach to myself I can say in retrospect, my objectives were not appropriate for my creative process which doesn’t operate well in “specific timed goals mode”, and , amazingly, I gave no thought to the possible gains this new age might bring.

The pressure was on.

The pressure was pointlessly on, I can now say in retrospect.

As a coach I admire, Cheryl Richardson says ” If a kick in the ass worked, we’d all be thin, rich and happy.”

During the hot summer days of July this year, as I painted quietly and with ever increasing freedom in my studio, I felt an un-usually strong sense of tranquility creep up on me. Something was dropping out of my world and releasing a tremendous amount of tension with it.

One morning as I was outside swimming, the nature of the shift suddenly hit me: I no longer focus on or worry about what people think of my art ! I’m much more invested in what I think of it, and this is the perfect space to be in for creativity.

Nor do I have any desire to use my excess of self discipline to get myself into the studio, even when I don’t feel like it, just to keep going and producing. It’s so much nicer being kind to myself, gently coaxing myself if necessary, and having so much more fun.

I’ve used my coaching skills far more effectively and have asked myself the bigger questions : What’s really and truly important to me about making art ?

I realize it’s all about the joy and fun of being creative, of working alone and peacefully in the quiet of my studio and also being around other stimulating, creative people,

Being able to honestly ask and get to the real answer to that question has taken a long time. Having the maturity and wisdom to answer truthfully is a delightful relief.

I can definitely say now that I’ve enjoyed and am grateful for all of the artistic successes and experiences I’ve had thus far, and am also at peace with the knowledge that no matter what life throws my way going forward, I’ll stay focused on what’s important : giving myself space to make art and go at it with passion for the rest of my life.

I also know that I’m equally passionate about other people’s talents and creative impulses. I am excited to be able to lend my coaching skills towards helping them fulfill their most cherished, creative dreams.

So…with a little distance, 50 with the wisdom, greater serenity and larger life perspective is starting to look and feel just fine. Nothing has come to an abrupt halt, except maybe, that excess of self imposed pressure !

I would love to hear your comments and feedback if you’ve experienced shifts in your perspective,

and also to hear your answer to that that same question:

What’s really important to you about making art or about your current creative project ?

Sensing and Seeing, what I learned at an Art Retreat on Monhegan Island, Maine

Last week, I flew from France to the US, and headed to Monhegan Island, off the coast of Maine with 10 other women for a week long art retreat.

It was an exceptional week, in a unique environment, with 10 highly accomplished and fascinating women.

We painted out on the porches of our two houses overlooking the crashing surf, the tall brilliantly colored wild flowers, and vast expanses of green grass, with squawking sea gulls flying up above. We sat in our rocking chairs and observed spectacular sun sets out over the water, and went on walks down to the rocky shores.

The atmosphere there is raw and wild.

I learned during the week, how to sense an environment with all senses open, and use that to inform my abstract art work.

Marianne Mitchell who ran the retreat, started by having us do contour drawings. They’re quick timed one minute drawings of what you see in front of you without either looking up, or lifting the pencil off the paper. We drew what we saw, but we also drew the wind, and the colors we could see with just our pencil to record how these colors made us feel, we drew the sound of the surf pounding up against the rocks, we drew fog horns sounding in the distance. I was surprised when I looked down at my image to see how lively and sensitive the lines were.

I particularly love how this exercise doesn’t allow any inner judge into the discussion !

Another high point was experiencing the value and fun of working fast – I usually spend days at a time on a painting. Working with holbein oil pastels on paper was a completely different experience. I could do one after the other in a relatively quick succession.

Little House on Monhegan, oil pastel on paper, Andrea Wedell

Sunset on Monhegan, oil pastel on paper, Andrea Wedell

Rocky Shores of Monhegan, oil pastel on paper, Andrea Wedell

The most important learning experience was understanding how to dance with my intuition, with being recklessly abandonned, with having fun, and with my critical eye. A very subtle balance, not easily achieved.

My most successful painting turned out to be this one, I managed to miraculously get that dance just right.

Light on Monhegan Island, acrylic on gesso board, Andrea Wedell

This retreat, above all else, reinforced the value of a supportive art community. It really is great to spend time with like minded people, on a quest towards a similar search. The discussions are stimulating, the sensitivities alive, the warmth a tangiblle presence that will stay with me for a very long time.

Getting Inspired in Cassis, South of France

Once my heart has directed me to a place that I sense will inspire my creativity, I’ve made almost snap decisions about up and moving across countries and oceans, and wasted very little time acting on them.

This simultaneously fearful and fearless nature of mine surprises me still.

I was 23 when I moved to Paris. The deciding moment to uproot from California, is one I vividly remember. I sat in front of Beaubourg, the Pompidou Center, drinking an espresso, and said to myself : Move here now.

And that was it. Off my younger self went into the unknown. That café is still there and Beaubourg is still the dynamic Art Factory it’s always been. I love hanging out there.

A few years ago, I walked down some old stone steps and beheld the stunning green and turquoise waters of the mediterranean sea on a beach in Cassis, in the South of France. As I inhaled the salty, algae scented air, looked out at the colors made stunningly vivid from the unusually bright sunlight , there was that voice again: Andrea it said to my now older self: Move here Now. And so… I did.

I’m glad I listened to that voice and took that risk. My lush and sunny surroundings here in Cassis, remind me of my Californian roots. I needed that grounding, the light and contact with nature to slow down and allow my surroundings to help me listen more carefully to my intuition and creativity. All of the beauty of my world in the South of France translate into renewed vitality and a”joie de vivre” that I can’t help but want to try to express in my painting.

Spring in Cassis

Spring in Cassis, 19'x 19', acrylic, Andrea Wedell

I know we all draw our inspiration from different sources and in very different ways. I’d love to hear about what you do, what you need, or even what risks you take to get creatively inspired.

Vive Christmas in Provence

Last week, I spent a peaceful pre-Christmas December weekend doing a 3 day show in the heart of « Le Castellet », a charming medieval village perched on a hill, inland from where I live in Cassis. The sun was shining and contented looking people were bundled up and wandering up and down the narrow cobble stone streets. I saw a surprising number of dogs, creatures both big and small, also bundled up like their owners, sporting mini sweaters and coats – a truly funny sight to behold. Occasionally someone would venture into the cozy, white stone and beamed gallery, where I sat looking out, sketching and drinking tea.

Christmas music floated out of loud speakers set up around the town, church bells chimed, the air smelled of cinnamon and oranges, and sometimes I’d spot Santa making his way through the crowded street on his motorcycle. Tis the season!

It’s a nice village, and an equally nice season.

I arrived this time round for my exhibit with no expectations except to relax and enjoy whatever happened. On Saturday, a fat calico cat, looking a whole lot like my loved and long lost Zoe, slunk shyly into the gallery, came over to where I sat to be pet and purr, then jumped up on a ledge under a group of paintings, and with a rounded happy cat back, rubbed up against the only painting I’ve done of my cat Sapphire in his garden, under his tree.

Then the calico moved to my latest painting, a particularly colorful abstracted version of my most favorite country Italy (!), and posed in front of it, looking at me expectantly. It was suddenly so obvious that the cat was bringing in some positive energy. I just knew it.

A few hours later a man and his Italian wife came in and planted themselves in front of that same painting of Italy. Hesitating between buying it and my pink abstract “Green Lavender”, they chose the pink painting – one highly symbolic of my future, more abstract, creative direction.

Being there in that lovely space, relaxed and ready to appreciate whatever happened, made it a whole lot easier to spot and fully appreciate fortunate serendipitous coincidences! And it was a lot more fun too.

Vive Christmas in Provence !

 

Transitions


Hello there,

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my art in general these days. It takes me a long time to complete an oil for example, about a week or so, minimum. Usually I work with images I’ve taken, then I do an interpretation as an acrylic drawing and a heavily textured base, and then move on to a glazing technique I spent 7 years learning at l’Atelier Malutra in Paris. It’s been great and exciting color wise, but the spontaneous part of me wants and needs to work faster and with more daring and probably more abstractly. My sinuses would also be happy if I didn’t do so much work in oil…I hope to get at and translate an imaginary world that pops up as quick vibrant images in my head every so often.

As I give myself the gift of time for incubation on this, I’ve been doing some great reading on creativity : Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit, and I’m finally reading and working with “The Artist’s Way” – really great resources.

I also had the great fortune to meet with blogger, author, artist Cynthia Morris at one of my Paris haunts (the hôtel Lutécia tea room), and as we chatted away over tea about life and art, she pulled out a moleskin Japanese notebook and started drawing whatever she saw. Startled at first, then drawn into her wonderful creative world, I asked her about it. I learned from her about a project called Art Every Day in November run by Leah Piken Kolidas, and decided to join in the fun.

I went out and got a moleskin accordian notebook of my own, and draw in it (almost) every day. It’s quick, pressure free, totally fun and great way to make a transition ! Here are a few images of week one.