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  • Susan

Beauty is Not a Thing

"Beauty is not a thing it is an experience. Wide experience of beauty is necessary for empathy." -Piero Ferrucci

I am back! Last year I was in a self-declared retreat. It started after my trip to Encinitas, CA visiting my sweet friends, Diego & Christine and family. Christine is my Dharma Sister, Shakti Mamma, a friend who knows what I am thinking before I do - we finish each others sentences and have far out adventures together!

While visiting them, Christine and I spent a couple of days at Yogananda's ashram and while there it just became clear that I needed to be on retreat in my studio for a year: painting, reading, meditating and dreaming. That year just ended, and it was a trippy time, and the energy that consumed me, directed me and sustained me sometimes felt "out of this world!"

It is amazing what happens (besides being broke) when you retreat completely from working any kind of "real" job, when you retreat from visiting friends, when you retreat from parties and art openings, when you retreat basically from anything other than being in the studio. During this retreat year, Christine, a Buddhist, taught me a powerful mantra "a secret dream mantra" that became my daily practice. It makes dreaming conscious, and awakeness like a dream - so that the hard line between physical, subtle and causal dissolves, awareness becomes fluid and a dynamic conversation can begin holding multiple perspectives at once.

I wrote all about the experience of painting these paintings last year, which is a manuscript that is now in a publishers hands. The book is called "Painting Niagara Falls: Ideas, Inspiration and Intimacy for the Muse." I made large 4x6 foot oil paintings and some smaller 12x24 inch paintings. Transcendent, my book is part memoir, part artist's process, part love story. I was conceived at Niagara Falls, and have spent lots of family time there ... so when I had a "vision overlay" of a photograph that Brainard Carey posted on FB of the Falls, I had to share my experience with him, and Brainard, an author, artist and amazing person said the story needed to be told and that I should write a book as well as make the paintings!

And I did. Stay tuned . . .

Top photo: "Niagara Falls Series" #9, oil on masonite, 12x24 inches

Bottom photo: The cover draft

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