August 2013 Newsletter

August 2013 Newsletter the collection of our days

My muse this month is music. (And mortality...but more on that later).

Music has always fueled my painting – and life for that matter. This has proven especially true the past month as I collaborated with a local band from Bend, Wilderness. Jared, Nora, Brad and Nick have put together a fantastic collection of songs that comprise their debut album, Homeward From The Battle and I was honored to be a small part of their creative process. I hope this is the first of many musician collaborations!

Wilderness by Sheila Dunn

In the past month I also stumbled upon the Portland-based group Typhoon on NPR’s First Listen. Every once in a while an album comes along that stops me in my tracks, causing me re-examine everything I know – or think I know – about life.  And Typhoon’s latest album White Lighter is one of those rare gems. Initially the instrumentation is what caught my attention – they are a BIG band with a big sound – but as it turns out the words behind the music are the most stunning part. The album is an astoundingly powerful reflection on mortality and therefore ultimately, a beautiful reflection on the preciousness and fragility of this life.

The 13 tracks of White Lighter have served as a mirror to me the past few weeks – forcing me to look at my own life and mortality.

It’s a pretty wild part of the human experience – this fact that each and every one of us has an undetermined amount of days on this earth.

And while it’s not healthy or productive to dwell on this too much, it is an important thing to ponder from time to time in order to ensure our collections of days are well spent.

Charles Bukowski once wrote, “We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.”

What a circus indeed. And as much as I hate to admit it, many days I find myself flattened by trivialities. I think about the wrinkles that are beginning to form around my eyes. I think about my college (and let’s be honest - my credit card) debt. I think about the DMV (I’ve been in Oregon four years and still have my Colorado license…whoopsy). I think about how many "hits" my website gets and how many “likes” I receive on my Facebook page.

And so as I approach the big 3-0 (how/when did THAT happen?!) I want to make sure more of my days are filled with the sound of my nephew’s laughter and unbridled shrieks of joy. I want to spend more evenings sleeping under the moon and fewer evenings worrying about how my life might turn out. I want to find ways of creating art that not only inspires, but heals. I want – like the hippy-dippy bumper sticker advises - to “practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty” daily.  

But mostly, when the wild circus performance of my life comes to a close I want to take my final bow knowing that the main act of the show – like some daring trapeze swinger soaring high above all the trivialities and nothingness below – was always, always love.

Recent Commission

Pappy by Sheila Dunn

Newest commission from Eric Plantenberg of his grandfather Edwin J Burkard (1915 - 2007).

In Eric's words: "My grandfather farmed the land of eastern South Dakota for 65 years. Years after is passing, it is an amazing gift to our entire family to have his spirit so alive in Sheila's work. The first time i saw the painting it was as if Pappy walked through the door again. Thank you for such a precious gift!"

Honoring the memory of those who have passed on - but whose spirits still remain alive - is one of my very favorite parts about commission work.