Tuesday, July 4, 2017

About the Odds

What are the odds that a 50’s Texas female would manage to create an art-life of 40 years, one that included the conventional markers, teaching, marriage, suburbia, children, illness, divorce, and some not so usual, a yearning to be an artist, a hopeful confidence-boosting beginning, a move to and continual pursuit of beauty in a beautiful state, daily decisions directed to following the art-path, with a like-wise, fully committed artist/partner.  He’s moved on now, but with July bringing a significant birthday marker this year, 75, it’s time to look at those odds from another perspective. 
Offerings to the Gods: Gratitude   36x48 Acrylic on Canvas
Many of you reading this met me in the last 12 years in downtown Santa Fe at an outdoor art show, or here in my home on an art tour.  When I showed with galleries, this happened rarely. We  began a conversation because you liked some aspect of what I was doing either with sculpture, or with painting. I learned enough about you to discover some of our commonality, and to maintain a positive view that we’ll emerge successfully from the challenging events of the present. My current commitment to presenting my work in these  more personal settings I attribute to you!  

In just the  past few weeks, I have had wonderful exchanges, one, with a Christian author who has written extensively about education, right vocation, moral behavior and most recently published Healing the Heart of Democracy, about what we can do as individuals, currently.  

 Last Saturday, I met two beautiful young African women, a Nigerian, and a South Sudanese, in Albuquerque for two weeks for a leadership conference, working back home in programs developing financial self-reliance with hands-on training and micro-financing, for the women of their countries . They themselves were part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders started in 2014 by the Obama administration.   

Two more favorites are two water engineers working in waste-water management who have created and are marketing an iPad application enabling a more efficient and cost-effective communication structure for building and improving  such facilities, for cities.  

I won’t go on and on, because there are many, but finally, a very creative woman my age, who has become a dear friend, and who is herself a fine example of how to live in the world as a successful business woman/clear thinker/contributor.  She gives back both financially, and personally, particularly to foundations that have impact specifically, non-governmentally, in other countries.  Her pet is an organization that sorts and repackages medical supplies, shipping them to clinics and hospitals in third world countries. She spends a day each week in a warehouse in her city, sorting and packaging. 

I would bet that many of you do similar things that I just didn’t have the good fortune or time to learn about when we briefly met. 

The thread I am seeing here is individual effort that impacts others both one-to-one, and one-to-many, in a meaningful way for the short time we have here on the planet. My part is that somehow, something I do in my work touches in a way that creates a dialogue. What are the odds of that? 
Offerings to the Gods:Now is the Time 16x16 Ac/Board

I sent an e-mail newsletter to many of these people just this week about the odds of my success in the brave new on-line world, and how I intend to approach it, which you can find here.  I am grateful to be here, in this place, at this time, as me, with you, on this particular 4th of July. As I said to the amazing young African women in my booth on Saturday, I think of it often and am most grateful to be a woman born in this country, at this time, despite the current climate.  In a future post, I’ll share my sense of Parker Palmer's Healing the Heart of Democracy, which I’m downloading today.  Thank you, Amazon (and isn’t that process amazing!) 

I’m meaning to replace my over-used “amazing” with “superlative”, sound good? 

In gratitude,

Friday, May 12, 2017

Life After Life: About a Book

                                                                                       A book appeared in my living room
abstract acrylic painting about rebirth and inspiration, and the book, "The Tools"
In To Time, 24x24 c Mhornbuckle 2017
last winter, before the new year, when I was ready to call it quits after a challenging year.  Its title piqued my curiosity, and I picked up “The Tools”.  In any stuck place in the past, I had always wondered about the nature of “flow", how it works,  and how to get back into it. Why it comes and goes is not obvious to me, and I had always wanted to know how to make it come again! Was it a conscious act of will, was there some ritual I could perform, what? I was running out of time to just wait, I thought!

The subtitle, Five Tools to Help You Find Courage, Creativity, and Willpower, and Inspire You to Live Life in Forward Motion, compelled me to start reading. A few days later, at a 1st birthday for a friend’s wife (born in Thailand, she had no idea of her age, date of birth, no birth certificate, thus her “first birthday”), I saw a small work on paper (see 2011 works on paper on my website) I had given them as a wedding present the year before, admired its quiet beauty, and thought to myself, there’s a direction I’ve not explored.  Forward motion from my stuck place became possible.

a painting expressing the buddhist contempt of impermanence
Annica (Impermanence). 24x24 c MHornbuckle2017
The author, Phil Stutz, calls his work spiritual psychology. As a psychotherapist, he developed the approach to help his clients not just to understand the obstacles to their moving forward, but to enable them to overcome them and move forward. The “tools" required work, putting them in to practice. And now I could see the path back to “Flow”, and began to work, on the “Tools”, and on painting.

 Knowing already to just start somewhere, anywhere, and allow the concepts to formulate themselves in process, I sanded off a painting from 2011 and began.  Three or four paintings later, so grateful to be unstuck, the process invited the series name “Offerings to the Gods”.  The painting titles in sequence pretty much describe a path from last year’s work to now, as I painted almost daily for the next three months.  I am indebted to the little 2013 NYTimes bestseller that presented itself to me just when I needed it, the kind of cosmic intervention that has informed some of the best things about this life I’ve led as an artist.

Nebulae  24x24 c Hornbuckle 2017
The Santa Fe show season has begun, and I’ve been there (except for the one with 8” snow) three times, joyfully passing along my gifts from “The Tools", the paintings resulting from reconnecting with the Universal Spirit. If you were here, I’d pass the book along to you! but I hope I am doing that now...

As for the mystery, I'll be exploring that for the rest of my last chapter I hope!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

In the Flow 2

Early this morning on this late April day, our mayor domo stopped by, closed my gate,  and I officially got the water!!  A marker day each spring, I spent an hour clearing the lateral ditch all the way back to the old orchard of apple, apricot and pear trees, planted who knows when (our acequia madre, Acequia del Barranca de Jacona, is a “young” ditch, dating to 1846). The old orchard now really just a sanctuary for birds, fruit grown there by the  early landholders was shipped out through the fifties at least, though not every year, as late frost intervened sometimes. The acequias (irrigation ditches) endemic to Northern New Mexico, the system gradually expanded as the early Spanish settlers who had come here in the 1600s spread, farming land that could be flooded by the system, which tapped into the established flows of spring snowmelt and summer monsoons from the Sangre de Christo and other mountains nearby.
the lateral ditch to the back orchard

Digging and raking being an opportunity for metaphorizing, I began to connect this grounding and liberating yearly activity with recent paintings in the series “Offerings…”, in particular “In the Flow”, and “Surrender”.  Painting for me is an in-the-moment response, requiring shifting attention to to what’s happening (no real plan), and away from the plan one had. Water moves debris along the little ditches, debris to be caught and removed, just as life moves us along our path, shifting, running over in areas until the little dams are unblocked, carrying us on our way to an unknown destination. Simple tools are needed, to be adjusted according to our capacity. My old gas-powered Husqvarna had been downgraded by breakage, theft and respect for my own capabilities to a rechargeable Sawsall, all I need to clear the impediments to the flow along the little ditch - I just need to pay attention, and respond in the moment with appropriate tools.
In the Flow. 16x16 ac/board c MHornbuckle 2017
“In the Flow"earned its title late in its process, the submersion of the orb and the angle of the flowing paint suggesting moment of water downhill. Third or fourth in the series, it perfectly reflected what I was feeling about the shift in attitude that propelled me out of the doldrums of negativity in late December,  and back into the final chapter of my art-life. Enlarge the piece and you'll see the linear verticals from the original painting in the underpainting.The greens and pinks are so joyful and spring-like, renewal at its best!

“Surrender”, painted over a painting from 2008 called “Spring Meditation” (surprise!), I started by reserving via taping an interesting area as the orb to be the focal point. Only in removing the tape later in the process did I realize the area I had reserved resembled a face, a soft, but yet rigid ego-like form.  In my life-view, I see the ego as impediment to love, growth and understanding, a big dam in the river, and so work to diminish its power. Thankfully I don’t need that chainsaw as I once thought I did! “Surrender” is a wonderful reminder that I am not in charge!

abstract acrylic painting in blues, yellows, varied colors, by MHornbuckle, 2017
Surrender, 24x24" ac/board c MHornbuckle 2017
Happy Spring!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Life after Life:In Gratitude

Surrender  24x24 Acrylic on Board 

"Artists live on magical thinking and cosmic intervention”, a phrase I coined several summers ago, is a fit expression of the way things have expressed themselves in my life. Though always considering myself and artist, this security-seeking young woman of 50’s suburban culture chose a conventional life after college, as if the script would automatically have a positive result - that was her model after all. Ten+ years later, with family responsibility and a difficult marriage, a serious stress-induced illness forced her out of her uneasy complacency and into serious contemplation about her life-purpose, beyond home-making, mothering, and attempted husband-pleasing. With deep unhappiness the fuel, the fear-evoking unknown path to this present lay ahead, so she summoned her courage and jumped into her tributary of the river of life.

Source   24x36 Acrylic on Board
Magical thinking implies it’s easy. but doesn’t mean there isn’t hard work involved - it’s probably better described as having faith that it’ll all turn out OK if I follow my dream, aka Joseph Campbell, and I’m going to have to take real personal responsibility and get seriously creative. Public response to my early semi-abstract watercolors had been very positive, and the art-sales climate in Texas was good. With the encouragement of my art-business related friends, I jumped into the void of joblessness, and launched my professional artist’s career, though I didn’t call my self an “artist” for another fifteen years. The great good fortune of early success made me believe I could make a living doing what I loved - it took many more years to manage the anxiety of the choice. Determination, patience and mantra repetition, and the simple joy of the art-path, helped with that.

Each painting of the “Offerings to the Gods” series uses a work of 8-10 years ago as a base (most created five or more years after I began to paint abstractly). Now I know how to finish them! In life, we build on everything that came before - our thoughts, emotions, experiences are a big pile we stand on, culling meaning (true or not) as we can - thus the approach I’ve taken with the titles pointing to my meaning for each piece.  Bill often said, “ The meaning comes after the work.”  I have been told my work, and the example of my”art-life” is inspirational.  I see many people around me giving back in meaningful and caring ways - this is my way.  Assigning meaning to everything, the bits of wisdom I have gained, the mysterious meditative beauty of the work I am creating, and authentic sharing with all who cross my path, are my gift to the cosmos for all the Source has given me in this life. 

An abstract painting by Marianne Hornbuckle - 13th in the Offerings to the Gods Series.
Universal Spirit (According to Me) - 30x40" Ac/Canvas
Having arrived now at the far end of the path, I think about the magical events, and cosmic intervention that supported my journey. I am grateful for a wonderful artist husband who never said no, don’t do that, and for being guided to the study of Eastern philosophies and religion, and for the major shift in my life view. Without the support of all my like-minded friends and my children, and my own willingness to tackle learning new skills for this new world, I couldn’t have done it.  The Source has nourished me incredibly - the paintings I am doing now are an artist’s attempt to share that inspiration and  beauty with others. I am grateful for the rewards of choosing a path less travelled. Thank you for sharing my journey.      

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


blue abstract painting by Santa Fe artist, Marianne Hornbuckle
Last of the Blues   30x40" Ac/Canvas

Sometimes in this life I have felt connected to things larger than myself.  When I committed to an action, the universe aligned and inexplicable events conspired to support that inward commitment to moving forward. This seems to be one of those times.

In early winter, beginning to consider myself “done” and on the “downside" of my life as an artist, I felt much despair -old, washed up, passed over. The last year had been a difficult one for many artists, and I was no exception. What was the point of making yet more work?

Return of the Light 16x16"
abstract acrylic painting by Santa Fe artist, Marianne Hornbuckle
Hope Springs  16x16
I am in decent health and need to continue my inconvenient financial life choice (no pension here!). Knowing it to be untenable to sit with all that negativity, I have to choose to move forward. So I have temporarily abandoned my efforts to market my deceased husband’s wonderful sumi-e and returned to my own personal efforts.  With a good ten or more (realistically) years left, I can choose to see myself as an inspiring courageous female warrior, marching forward. It may be the last chapter, but the story isn’t finished yet!

Chi   16x16
This year’s work I am calling “Offerings to the Gods”. As I created each painting(10 so far, since after Christmas), the title would come to me during or after the work, reflecting this expression of my last journey as an artist.  Each piece painted over an earlier work of 8-10 years ago, the new work reflects my shift, and the  mystery and power of the “source”.  I have remembered my purpose here on the planet in this life in this place at this time - to express the beautiful mystery of it all, so perhaps others may pause, and seeing my offering, experience their own mystery, and gain hope. 

Surrender.  24x24" Ac/board

The God in me salutes the God in you.

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