Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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©Katherine Dunn.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Just let me paint it out

Dear readers, in a time of chaos and economic stress for many, I felt I needed to write this, for myself. While I always look at things positively, I also felt that it is wrong to not, on occasion, let you in a bit deeper. For while I often share my sadness with you, and joys, it is anger that is unrepresented sometimes on this blog. And I think there is a lot of anger out there.Hermann Hesse explained it best, that we artists and humans are not masters of our universe, we are the birds in a storm. "Everything in you is gold as well as mud", but sometimes we are masters at hiding the mud.

I painted this yesterday. Yes, it's a donkey, and a woman holding a pie. They sit together, in the dark, with remnants of sun from the past - or are they sun specks growing in the future. Life is what you make it. Glass half full, or half empty.

Martyn confessed he's quit listening to the car radio because the news infuriates him. I quit listening on a daily basis last year for the same reason. He said he found himself muttering and yelling at the radio. Now that he quit listening, he says he mutters more at the fences and shovels and bricks and ladders on his job sites [he's a landscaper].

Anger. It's everywhere. Where do you put it? In today's world, you can disguise your anger in cynicism and post it on Facebook, Twitter, or Blogger. One button push on iphone could blast your anger all over the universe. We're all just so connected....and now all that anger is part of the connection.

We talked last night about a simple reality. People get angry, and they can hold it in, or let it out in unproductive ways. Martyn said the suicide rate is way up. I think people are angry at their bosses, angry at Obama, angry at Cheney and Bush, angry at the ocean for wiping out Haiti, angry at mothers and fathers and neighbors. They're angry their fat and angry they're not rich enough or young enough, or old enough, or too old. They can't have an iphone NOW, and they get angry. They can't get to work fast enough, and they get angry. Angry people in tin cans full of gas....a lethal combination.

And I get angry too. I present things on this blog in tones of composure, because I choose too. I always feel grateful there was no internet/blogger when I was in my 20's-40's...I had less discipline for spilling my guts. I see so many people building entire careers and book deals on dreadful blogs and for me anyway, boring unmeaningful chatter. Um...I guess that can make me angry too. I bet there's a bunch of people that read my blog and for one reason or another, they get angry [like the woman that told me I was a scam artist for asking for cat food donations to help feed the then 25 ferels in our barn - she felt naming cats things like "Mister" Plum was manipulative.]

What do I get angry about? Junk cars in yards, the puppy won't come, I missed garbage day - again, my waistline is thickening and I have no control over it, my bank account is smaller than my to do list, total strangers asking if I'd lower the price on a $5 bundle of lavender that cost me and my back $25 to produce. Everyone wants a hand out, but I have my hand out too.

So yesterday, I admit, I was really depressed. I was down. I cried. I lost my temper with the puppy. That's pathetic. So I walked, and I talked to all the powerful sources I knew were right there in me and around me. And then I came back and said to myself, just paint what you want today, not what you 'should' to add to a portfolio that no one seems to have any use for in today's market.

And I painted this. It's just a little prayer for myself, all these paintings are. I'm no rock star illustrator, and probably never will be- but I put food on my table from my land. I do it without an iphone, or even an app. And I have a donkey, make that three donkeys. Yes, I have that. It's all mine. It makes me happy, not angry, and that's why I keep painting it over and over again.


Terre Busse said...

Thanks for sharing this post Kathryn. It gave me some comfort in knowing I am not alone in feeling all this "stuff".
I love your image of the anger seeping out of the woman.
So, I take a deep breath and try to hold on and trust that the light is there and it will shine bright again. Until then know there is compassion floating your way.

Thanks for your lovely blog

Diane Costanza Studio said...

I so relate to what you are saying. My husband and I watched the news this morning and got furious over a small town in PA that is falling apart because there is no piece of the so-called economic stimulus to help them out. The more I listened, the angrier I got...I won't get started on that. We all know how it goes.

But I do thank you for voicing that frustration here. It helps to know that we are not alone in all of this and that a bit of inner reflection and sharing will get us through.


Angela Meijer said...

Thank you for sharing this.... I've got no more words, but this painting and your post are stirring up a lot of emotions.

Mary Ann said...

I think you hit the nail on the head, the connection regarding anger and the societal anger so freely expressed amongst us, courteousy of modern technology. Its hard not to succumb to it, albeit if only momentarily. Sharing the process of recovery, as you did, is the part we often miss.

Love your art. Keep on creating!

kerin rose said...

oh Katherine, we paint when words will not do....and this painting...well, if only all anger would turn to flowers and float away....

Carla Sonheim said...

Thank you for this truthful word, Katherine. You are the best! xoxo

Cathy said...

Thanks for sharing this with us, Katherine. You're one of the reasons I stay quasi-sane and happy in these difficult times! Love you.

Anonymous said...

This moved me, because it's something I've thought about a lot. It's demoralizing, this heightened anger in our world. I too have taken the stance of avoiding it. Me - I still listen to radio but I've gone off politics and most political reporting. I remain aware of the issues and I vote, but I stopped paying attention to the angry politicians. I've done this for myself. Because their anger makes me angry.

Sometimes it feels good to have an angry rant. I can be pretty good at it. But in the end, it doesn't feel good. I don't want to add to the anger swirling in our culture. I'm trying to be the change I want to see.

Thanks for expressing so eloquently - in words, and in your wonderful art.

Paula In Pinetop said...

big hug to you, M and the critters....love you all

Katherine Dunn/Apifera Farm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alfia said...

Hi Katherine,

my name is Alfia and I live in Sweden (moved from Russia 12 years ago)
I've been following your website (and later your blog) from the times when you were living in the city, i have been just always very much inspired by your art and your lifestyle and the way you are :)
I hope one day I will end up on my own farm, growing - if not a lavender then potato or carrots:)
And it's also nice to have a donkey.
I stopped watching tv and listening to the radio and reading newspapers 4 years ago, i don't know if it alone helps one to deal with anger, but it cleans out a lot of junk and makes more space in life where one can go and think why one is so angry :)
Hope we all get on the other side of our anger by going through it. They say than on the other side is love and freedom. I'm not there yet :)


Barb Mowery said...

Katherine, thank you for venting what A LOT of us are feeling these days. *HUGS* to you and your donkeys! :)

Anonymous said...

I feel it too. Some of it's fear disguised as anger but it's there and I don't know what to do with it.

I find it overwhelming to listen to hate-filled voices on the TV and radio who claim to be only interested in good when they have forgotten the simple goodness in loving thy neighbor.

I watch unable to make a difference as people I love creep over to the dark side, lured by those who shout a bit louder and flash more cash.

I don't know what to say about others who are turning out crap and getting the big book deals along with fame and all the glory. I do know that the two pieces of your art that hang on my walls make me happy every time I walk past. They make me pause in my day, inviting me to be more reflective and more importantly, they can make me smile on days when a smile may be hard to come by. Thanks for that

I wrote about you in my bolg post today and provided a link...I hope that is okay, please let me know if it's not.

Elizabeth said...


Flassie's Fil'a said...

Have you ever read the Native American, Two Wolves story?
JoyceAnn at Feather Spirits posted on New Years.

It's about a grandfather telling
his grandson about a battle between two wolves that goes on inside of people. It is a really
neat story. I won't give away
the ending. You could look it up

Here's a little ditty for you I made up from looking at your painting. Sing it to the tune of Sit right down and write yourself a letter.

Sit right down and paint yourself a prayer, and know that someone out there really does care, let the pig tails fly, it's time to eat some pecan pie, and put your arm around pino and know that things will get better...

Have a Blessed Day!!!

God Bless You and Yours!!!

Ashley Seil Smith said...

I just found you from one of Penelope Dullaghan's online interviews, where she referred to you as one of her favorite blogs/artists. I don't comment often but I do have to say that in this post you articulated some of the things I think I've been feeling lately. Anyway, this post left me feeling less angry and more happy and content. Thank you for that.

Katherine Dunn/Apifera Farm said...

Well, I guess this was a timely post for many, justgin gby comments here, and the emails I received. Thank you to everyone that wrote of their experiences. It is a good thing, to have a network that can share in intelligent, calm manner like this. I appreciate each thought and opinion you all have written.

I'm also glad that many said it was kindly written, as I just cringe at online vents or rants, and that was not the place it came from. Keep sharing, folks, keep on rockin'...mud with the gold, mud with the gold.

Katherine Dunn/Apifera Farm said...

And I hope you aren't insulted I didn't respond to each message,they were all welcomed.

Amy Schimler-Safford said...

thaks for sharing Katherine, lots to be angry about these days.... I do find it helpful to get away from the media, all media including the internet... the truth gets very distorted out there in media land. I was just talking to my son that in a land of free speech, which we value, there is sometimes a lot of ridiculous chattering that comes with the luxury of freedom. Lovely post and lovely painting, love how well you can express your emotions with paint, love the antigravity blue braids...

Candace said...

I like this comment, it's very thought-provoking:

"We're all just so connected....and now all that anger is part of the connection."

I certainly believe in the collective consciousness and this is troubling.

(I'm angry right now that I am unable to post thru Wordpress on any Blogger accounts.)

artfoodsoul said...

i disagree with you -- in my world you are a rock star illustrator -- one of my favorites -- i fantasize about you offering sort of a working artist retreat opportunity at your farm -- i imagine camping in a teepee, helping with some farm chores and having some art playtime -- and that is something i would pay for (it would be right up there on my mondo beyondo list)...

p.s. it is frustrating how people who don't grow, make, whatever... truly are clueless as to value...

cassiejean said...

Of late, there has been more anger around me than I can tolerate. The company I work for has outsourced and I've seen about 200 people get laid off. When upset, I have so often gone to read your blog because it connects me to the natural world and to animals, life, fun, love and hope and the spiritual side as well. Many many times I watched Stella sing even at work and had great laughs! Thank you for that. Thank you also for this art and discussion which has turned some of today's anger toward healing. Soon, when my job ends, I will open an artisan farmstead creamery to make goat cheese. I never would have taken steps to fulfill this dream had my job continued. THanks again, LissaHowe, CHiva Risa Ranch, AZ

Katherine Dunn/Apifera Farm said...

Hey RFC/Amy- 'antigravity blue braids' - love that!!!

CAndace- man, sorry about that comment posting issue- I don't allow Anoynymous or it might have helped.

Michelle- well, thank you for the compliment. Believe today, I ain't feeling like one, but it's ok. And the idea of having an artist retreat has been mulled over before...lots oflogistics
like how to keep the donkeys out of the teepees.

Cassie Jean'Lisa it's so great you have the dream of a creamery!! Keep that dream alive. And to know Stella singing made you happy, is just really rewarding.

Tracie Lyn Huskamp said...

WOW.. Katherine.. this was POWERFUL... THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing these thoughts. I was so moved by your honest words.

i have been thinking and re-thinking the idea of balance.... I feel angry when I am living a life really out of balance. Admittedly some day are worse than others. But I am slowly learning to be kind to myself and acknowledge those feelings of being tired (mentally and physically), upset, disappointed, maybe even angry, and to forgive.

Missing you SO SO MUCH! Kiss everyone for me!

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Thank you for reading! The farm and my art/writing keep me hopping, so might not respond immediately. Thank you for understanding. ~Katherine & Apifera ~