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Tonglen Painting Series

In September 2023, I came back from a relaxing vacation in Norway, Maine. Yes, there's a town called Norway. There's also Poland, Denmark, Paris, Mexico, Belfast, Naples, Sweden, Peru, China, and more. If you like random info as much as I do (which incidentally helps you win trivia games), here's a cool article if you want to know Why Are So Many Maine Towns Named After Foreign Countries and Cities?

 

Maine is my home away from home. I grew up vacationing and visiting family there (my mom is from Maine) since I was a child. Its rugged, gorgeous coastlines, deep piney forests, the HUGE mix of lakes, ponds, and ocean, and the emotional/memorable experiences I've had in Maine often influence my artwork.

 

This trip was a wonderful vacation mixed with the emotional release of spreading my dad's ashes at his favorite fishing lake. My dad and I had a complicated relationship. It wasn't easy. And my resulting grief has been complicated. To work through it, I was inspired to start a new series of paintings exploring the relationship between grief, memories, compassion, and forgiveness.

 


One More Chance

The new series is called Tonglen. Meaning “sending and taking,” tonglen is an ancient Buddhist practice meant to awaken compassion. As we inhale, we breathe in suffering, our own and that of all those experiencing the same; as we exhale, we breathe out relief.


This practice calls us to invite in life exactly as it is, the suffering and the joy and the everything-in-between; to connect our personal experiences with those of all beings; to cultivate presence and radical acceptance, a place from which our wakeful work can begin; and to send healing energy out into the world.


In relating our suffering, we can begin to see clearly that nothing is separate; we are radically interconnected and interdependent. Grief and love, too, are not separate; joy and sorrow are one and the same. As Kahlil Gibran writes in The Prophet: “When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has given you delight.”It is in this spirit that these new paintings are being created.


There are 9 paintings in the series, all 18" x 18", mixed media on cradled wood panels. To view them to purchase, visit the Tonglen Series in my store.




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