Pamela Viviano

My Roxie

When we are pet owners we are stewards. How well we step into that role will determine how good a quality of life we give to them.

Today what I am now realizing is what my pet gave to me: an undying, unmatched loyalty separate from but not unlike her step-sister who came before her.

Whereas Raja was more of a baby, Roxie is more of my caretaker and protector. More of an equal– not so much of a baby as Raja. So it is with tremendous sadness that I think about my current loss right now because I lose a friend who really looked out for me, loved me, and even seemed to like me.

Her attention was wholly and undividedly on me. Where I went, she looked to and followed. Whether wanting food, water, a step outside or a rubdown with the wubba, she really did demand my attention. But what I see is that she gave. She gave me herself. And what she was was a loyal, dedicated, protective, safe, friendly, congenial go with you anywhere companion. When shall I have such a friend as that for a very long time?

Taking Direction

I’ve been asked to paint my feelings and different emotions and also thoughts about my significant other. I don’t usually use acrylic paint, but it is the most dramatic, direct, variable and manipulative of the materials I have available– and I think it provided the intensity with which I needed to work. I did about seven pieces, the first few not worth much of value. But these have depth and intensity and may say something. The question is what. I’m interested in knowing whether they evoke something in you. So please tell me and be specific about a particular piece or the work in general. Thank you!

TODAY!

This morning I had decided to organize my thoughts around my art career and my life and how the two would interconnect, but other work pushed it aside. I wish I had written SOMEthing down, because later that day I got news that, going forward, meant my life would change. Having had plans change means that I’ve got to get really clear on where I want to take my boat, as I have complete power.

I have no recollection of what I wanted to say to myself because the news was a shock. So right now I am taking a time out and planning for the next few days.

So many good things have happened to give me a step up, and it’s from this step that I will move. I am not afraid. I have been given tools and help all along the way; now it’s my duty to show that I can use them.

Being good at what you do

Talent in art is not everything, nor can all the best materials in the world make up for a lack of talent. The best artists can can make great art with the least of materials. But talented artists need to put the work in to harness their talent. A running horse still needs to be reined in if you want to ride him. And doesn’t dressage, the most disciplined of horseriding practices, that takes hours of practice for both rider and horse, produce the most entertaining show.  So, in the end, nothing gets you further than taking your talent and turning it into skills.

I will paraphrase a quote by Pablo Picasso: to become an artist you must sweat; you cannot ride on inspiration alone. Like dressage, the final product in art is made up of hours of practice that renders it possible.

So here are three examples of color studies and a recent linoleum block print series.

Regarding Art

It can be very simple to get the point across. That’s what great writers aspire to–just saying what they want to simply and directly, in plain English. And great modern artists like Matisse and Picasso moved to that in their later years, simplifying forms and flattening shapes. Lines can be suggestions, like with missing letters where the viewer’s brain fills in the remaining ones to see the word. Even if the artwork is just implied, one’s reaction to it is still the same, with a stronger demand for observation and participation in understanding it.

Someone who has known me for almost two years, a neuropsychologist and science fiction writer, has inspired some Of my recent work He has described my art this way: (Pam) highlights the essence of something and creates a new form with it that someone too grounded in their senses would not be able to see. He also said that I softened reality. These objective descriptions are far better than mine because to me when I try to write about myself I sound self-aggrandizing. It is easier to have someone else describe his reaction to my work than for me to describe how I approach it because I really don’t know how or what I’m going for. Maybe if I described my subject it might teach me. I think that’s a very smart solution with regards to an artist statement.

Maybe I do want to soften reality. I know I want to experience the world in a playful way, which is my whole approach to reality. That I create art to make me happy and not to recreate reality meants to me that reality has already been done (don’t we have to live in it every day?), which can be beautiful if we look around. Obviously I’m creating my reaction to it in my pictures. It is not an intellectual pursuit, for sure, but the impression it has on me. That also was his point–that I can highlight reality in certain ways that gets the point across without hitting someone over the head with it. In that way, I have never wanted to recreate reality in a realistic way, but I in no way have wanted to cover it up. Maybe I help bring out something else that is meaningful and important, more palatable and enjoyable, in this thing we call life.

Assisting artists with disabilities

The more people I’m matched with at the art studio, the more I’m learning. With different diseases come different weaknesses. Some may have memory problems and others may have movement problems, but to lesssen someone’s load if they’re struggling takes away their independence and opportunity to succeed. Just because they’re taking longer to get a task done does not give you the right to make it easier for them. A job will not be better because it was easier to do or watch. Truly, the process in art is what matters and that is the same for all of us artists, whether abled or disabled. It is a messy, stop and start, fits and bumps process.

Ending Relationships and Saying Goodbye

I believe that social media has corrupted the natural ending of relationships that used to be integral to our everyday life. Moving away used to mean that a person you liked was a fond memory if you didn’t keep in touch by mail or phone. Now you can’t get away from them even if you want to. In the past, being able to close the door on a relationship in your head gave you a certain closure and allowed you to put it out of your mind and allow for other things to come into it. Now everyone is a part of everyone’s lives and your circle appears bigger and bigger even if it really isn’t, and you hold on to relationships just by the nature of their ranking on a page. Letting go is natural and normal, yet not being able to say goodbye may disturb that part of us that needs to learn how.

A friend told me about needing to let go of a marriage that had become toxic to her in its way of dragging on for years and years without changing for the better. Something in her refused to bring the guillotine down on it, even when her husband brought it up and in his umspoken actions gave her ample opportunity. Neither of them ever took action, though. Not changing the relationship, they drifted, together, on the sea of life.

Finally, learning about an indiscretion, my friend came to me with the problem. For years she had ignored signs of distress in her husband, such as moving out for a year at a time.  Piecing together the similarities in his behavior during these times, she had finally decided that the proverbial writing was on the wall and that she must take action. But how to move forward?

First, she mourned. She looked through pictures of happy times so she could cry. Because these provoked good memories, whatever confusion or anger she was feeling at that moment were replaced by regret, sadness, and joy– quite a mixture. Even if her greatest feelings up until that moment were quite the opposite, looking at happier times allowed her to relive them, which consequently brought up feelings of compassion and love towards him which she didn’t try to push away.

Then, she took steps. Severing contact carefully and creating distance were among the first that gave her a sense of control over the situation. Once there, she was able to inch forward towards independence and freedom. No children allowed less complications. She had no illusions about the emotional difficulty that might lay ahead, but hope and a sense of undeniable rightness helped her to map out a plan that was not rash.

No relationship is easy to leave. Facts show that even women in abusive relationships stay far too long. We are social animals who thrive on companionship. People come together and stay together for myriad reasons. Ultimately it may come down to a time when we have to ask ourselves whether we can tolerate whatever weights the relationship carries with it. A relationship to anything has a turning point at which whatever good we get from it is measured against the irritant it carries. When that gets to be too much is the lightening rod that is the deciding factor in our decision to walk away.