Category Archives: artwork

Country living, and art

People who know me also know I was affected in a devastating way by Levaquin, a fluoroquinolone antibiotic. The syndrome that results is called FQT or FQAD. It’s progressively disabling, unless identified and treated to minimize symptoms. And it’s very hard to identify. Many doctors are unaware of it, and at this time still blithely prescribe fluoroquinolones as a quick fix for any kind of infection, despite the FDA’s black box warning to the contrary.

FQT has some pretty severe effects on the mind. One has to do with fear of death.

The biggest psychological barrier for me, with FQT, is seeing that a long road ahead still exists for me. FQT has a wacky mix of floating, pop-up symptoms. They keep me guessing all the time, teaching me to take baby steps and hold my eyes close to a limited forward path.

Well, that works when it comes to learning how to hold back with movement therapy and getting enough rest in. And in fact, it is the only way to handle movement therapies, without incurring tendon and muscle damage that makes one more disabled.

But it’s a fearful, disheartening and counterproductive approach, when it comes to understanding oneself as a individual who has the right to life – and a joyful one, at that.

More than a year ago, I had a numinous dream, that included a turtle embedded in muddy, red earth outside a bluestone doorstep and path belonging to a cottage I was living in, in the dream. The turtle was pale – almost translucent – and green – with a look as if it was made of jade, or celadon-glazed porcelain.

I looked up the meaning of turtle in dream, yesterday. The online “Dream Dictionary” said this:

“A dream with a turtle symbolizes motherhood, fertility, wisdom, shelter, loyalty, spiritual development and longevity. … The dream may also imply that you are going through a slow period in your life, or you need to take things slow or be more patient and progress at a steady pace in some part of your waking life.”

I like the longevity part. I’m already doing the patient, slow part.

In the dream, it was my task to gently work the turtle out of the mud so it wouldn’t suffocate.

It was significant in the dream that the earth was muddy and red, and the turtle was pale green.

Here’s what Dream Dictionary says about mud:

“To dream that you are walking in mud suggests that you are feeling weighed down by a situation, problem, or relationship. You are feeling frustrated. To dream that mud has gotten on your clothing means that your reputation is being attacked and called into question.”

Here’s what Dream Dictionary says about red:

“Red is an indication of raw energy, force, vigor, intense passion, aggression, power, courage, impulsiveness and passion. The color red has deep emotional and spiritual connotations. Consider the phrase “seeing red” to denote anger. Alternatively, the color red in your dream indicates a lack of energy.”

Here is what Dream Dictionary says about green:

“Green can often mean “go”, such as power on button or a traffic light. Green can symbolize newness and freshness. It can also symbolize money, wealth, riches, and prosperity.”

These symbolic interpretations of the mud, turtle and two colors express what’s in conflict in my life, right now.

Also in the dream, across the road from the cottage was a huge warehouse filled with art supplies. It was all mine (spoken with a Gollum-like joyful, greedy cackle). It was red, too, as was the interior of the cottage. My sense in the dream was that I had more wealth (artistically) than I knew – I was surprised that the warehouse was there, that it was mine, and that it was fully stocked. I also had a sense that that wealth would always be available, that there was no strong urgency to cross the road and take things from the warehouse, as yet.

While this is all symbolic, it’s also playing out in my life, in profound ways, right now.

When I had the dream, I could barely interpret it.

Now it seems like the story of my future.

I have work to do – with, and on, myself – to take myself to a *new* place where I will be doing thing I’ve wanted to do all my life, but didn’t have a way to achieve.

So, now, I’m grimly hopeful that there’s a long road ahead for me, and that I can live, and be healthy enough to walk that journey, and get the turtle out of the mud, and cross the road and get the things I need to make art, and welcome people into a warm-interiored country cottage with a stone path and doorstep.

A year ago, I’d have said you were nuts, if you’d proposed I’d be seeing life like that now.

The case for the social share

A lot of creative people are reluctant to share their work, and thoughts, on social media, blogs and websites.

They (justifiably) worry about intellectual property theft, being unfairly trolled, and the shyness factor that’s the most common reaction when you show profound, personal work to strangers.

People may choose to avoid sharing. Or, they may share via a rigid, limited, or semi-private presentation framework, so they can control who sees what, as well as the formats and sizes of their work.

I’d like to make a case for open, casual sharing, including via Twitter and Pinterest:

When people read or view your work, even when no one gives you feedback, you’ll see your work through new eyes.

When you capture a moment in your creative life by openly sharing your work, if you’ve done it online, publicly, you’ve archived the moment. If, after some time, you go back to that moment, you’ll see your work through new eyes.

Open, casual sharing creates interactions that let you see others’ points of view, and use time itself, to create conceptual spaces that help you see your work in fresh ways.

The right kind of sharing brings oxygen into your creative process. It challenges your preconceptions. It lights up your imagination. Solutions develop on their own. Silly things become obvious. You edit yourself better. You develop more depth and complexity in content, and more simplicity and mercy in presentation.

Case in point: I’m writing this across the room from a TV, where Chromecast is playing a slide show. Some of the pics are generic photos, some are mine, and one of the latter is a photo of an oak tree.

Oak trees hold onto their leaves longer than other trees, in autumn. This tree has done that. It has a warm, dark brown trunk, and strangely-hung leaves like large, brittle catkins, which look striking, against an intense, yet placid, blue autumn sky veiled with thin clouds. The scene is backdropped by the tops of more-distant trees, some bare, some still with leaves.

I liked the scene enough to capture it a few years ago. But once captured, it made me feel uneasy. And I didn’t like sharing it. I didn’t understand what I liked about it, or didn’t like.

Now time, and an accidental and unexpectedly-large visual framework (the TV), are showing me a fresh view of the pic. Emotionally distant from it, I realize it’s just a good, strong composition. It has vibrant colors, forms and textures. What’s not to like? It’s not mine anymore. Except, it is. And time has taught me something about visual art, and myself, through this photo.

I posted it openly, casually, even though it made me uneasy, on my website, Google Photos, Pinterest, and Facebook.

The risk turned out to be negligible. The reward is joy.

A mystery solved (why did it make me uneasy? it was so strong, and I wasn’t, then). A discovery about art: I understand composition and framing better. Two learnings: where I was weak on behalf of my art, now I’m strong; where I was denying my softness, now I’m relaxed.

Oak at the Heather Garden, Fort Tryon Park, NYC (digital photo), by heather quinn

art, 2016

2016 is about rediscovering what art is, to me. That means lots of not doing work, to feel its absence.

imaginary lady (2016, soft vine charcoal and kneaded eraser on Stillman Birn gamma series sketchbook paper), by heather quinn
imaginary lady (2016, soft vine charcoal and kneaded eraser on Stillman Birn gamma series sketchbook paper), by heather quinn



art, 2015

2015 is about rediscovering why I want to make art, and relearning the skills I need to do it.

art, 2013-2014

art, 1999-2012