Books For Boots

watercolor by N Wait 2015

watercolor by N Wait 2015

These are the boots I bought ten years ago with the money I made from selling my books at the Strand bookstore. Books, which had always been able to warm my heart and soul and send my imagination soaring, could not keep my feet warm and dry in the winter unless I was reading by the fire. True, I didn’t have a fireplace, but I had radiators. I also had a pair of old boots that no longer kept the water out. I was tired of putting my feet into plastic bags before putting on my boots for slushy city streets.

I had always been proud of my book collection, and luckily my apartment had the kind of long wide hallway where it was possible to place my narrow bookcases against the entire length of one wall. This had the added advantage of being able to stack new books on top, higher and higher against the wall. This arrangement worked well for many years. And then one day it didn’t.

Three things had occurred. 1) The hallway had begun to feel claustrophobic. What I had jokingly referred to as the “Hall of Learning” no longer seemed apt. 2) My son was growing up and wanted to collect his own books. I had been saving much of my collection for him, but now there didn’t seem a point to it as even if he wanted to read something I already had, he preferred to buy his own, new copy. 3) Office work, my old standby, was no longer feasible after I went deaf in one ear, and I was strapped for cash. There was enough for essentials, but not for new winter boots (for me).

I wore out my little black suitcase on wheels carting load after load of weighty tomes up and down the subway steps from Brooklyn to Union Square in Manhattan, but every journey was worth the exchange for cold hard cash. There was always a line of people waiting to see if their books would sell, though most had backpacks instead of a suitcase. When it was my turn I held my breath as I unloaded my treasures onto the counter and waited to hear a yea or a nay. Once, when the checker was thumbing through one of my books and found I had underlined several passages, he shoved it back to me across the counter and yelled, “What are you bringing this to me for? You’ve marked it up!”

Nevertheless, the bookcases in the hallway began to empty out to the extent that I could even get rid of  a couple of shelving units themselves. Meanwhile, on my way from Union Square and Fourteenth Street to the Strand at Fourth Avenue and Twelfth, I happened to pass a shoe store and noticed they were having a sale on winter boots. Uggs, no less. From Australia. With book money in hand, I was able to buy the warmest, tallest Ugg boots in soft gray suede. I wore them outside. I wore them inside. When I went to visit a friend on a snowy day I persuaded her to let me keep my boots on indoors (after carefully brushing the snow off).

The years passed. Ten of them by now. The boots eventually ceased to be waterproof though I sprayed them with the special Ugg spray, at least in the beginning. The boots got dirty too, but I kind of liked the stains. I just did a search for Ugg boots, and mine are obviously a discontinued style. Which makes them all the more precious.

new boots (Last winter, due to a part-time care-giver job, I was able to buy another pair of winter boots to keep the slush from seeping in.

hallwayThis is a picture of how the hallway looks today. It looks reasonable. And there is more space to hang paintings. I still have plenty of books… Why is the front door painted red? Well, I stopped painting the town red years ago, and I never had a barn to paint red… but I did have a door.

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Street Scenes or Inner Life?

watercolor by N Wait 1983

watercolor by N Wait 1983

Once upon a time I fled the Upper East Side of Manhattan for what was then the wilds of Crown Heights, Brooklyn. My motive was a (very) cheap rent for lots of space in unfamiliar surroundings where I might recreate myself (again). My intention was to paint my inner life. Then, hankering for some outer life during my second year, I took to the streets to see what was there. I recorded my findings in an 11×14 inch sketchbook.

I found a woman selling Bibles, hats and tambourines outside the church on Eastern Parkway.

watercolor by N Wait 1983

watercolor by N Wait 1983

I found shoppers examining fruit at the produce stand on Utica Avenue while the crowd surged by.

watercolor by N Wait 1983

watercolor by N Wait 1983

A man trimming vegetables on the sidewalk of Utica Avenue.

watercolor by N Wait 1983

watercolor by N Wait 1983

And then I found a woman going inside the pizza shop while another woman waited outside with her children.

Then, just as suddenly as they had begun, my appetite for street scenes came to a halt. I went back to my inner life.

The very next drawings in the sketchbook were about the shadow-self and the dream-self.

watercolor by N Wait 1983

watercolor by N Wait 1983

watercolor by N Wait 1983

watercolor by N Wait 1983

8th St just off 7th Av by N Wait 2015

8th St just off 7th Av by N Wait 2015

And now, all these years later, I’ve gone back to drawing street scenes. This time of Park Slope, where I live now. My inspiration was the Sketchbook Project.

Because I see now I’m not happy unless I’m serving both, outer and Inner…

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That Soothing Art

A soothing art for broken hearts… That was Van Gogh’s take on painting, and he was a hundred percent correct. If you are painting from life, then an activity like painting and drawing takes you outside of yourself, into the world of form. You feel the form instead of your own misery. It can hurt to feel too much. But I’d rather the hurt be one of feeling too much beauty in the world.

I cannot say exactly when this transition occurred. It happened over time. I would transcend, then fall back. Transmute, then fall back again.

Sad Nancy, early 20s

Sad Nancy, early 20s

IMG_2742

Self-portrait watercolor 1985

I experienced my share of sorrow in my early life. As a child I drew pictures I wouldn’t fully grasp until I was much older. Acting was my art form of choice in those days. Feeling other characters. Getting out of myself by getting into someone else. Their clothes and makeup, their dialogue and relationships. I got out of myself, but there was no healing, and in my late twenties I went back to drawing and painting.

Sad Nancy early 30s

Sad Nancy early 30s

For the first three years I learned how to paint the world around me. Then I went within and began to paint the sadness.

Fish In A Bowl and Me Outside; oil on canvas, early 80s by N Wait

Fish In A Bowl and Me Outside; oil on canvas, early 80s by N Wait

Only when I got to the bottom of my sadness was I able to rise above it. I called the series Journey To The Deep, and chronicled that perilous passage in my second memoir which I hope to soon publish.

Meanwhile, I am ready to talk about the ‘T’ at the end of the word ‘pain.’ I call it the T for Transition. (I wrote about this T in a blog last month, and how I turned the T into a bridge.) brushesBut today I’m seeing the T as two crossed paintbrushes. They look as big as broomsticks. Brooms to sweep away unconsciousness. Sweep away the cobwebs. Painting itself is a transitioning process. It’s about seeing and feeling, and recording what you see and feel. It’s a transformative process. As you transform a blank canvas or blank sheet of paper into a viable picture (whatever that may be), you also transform your way of being in the world. This T is a cross. The horizontal plane of the physical world of form crossed with the vertical plane of higher consciousness.

I painted out my sadness through the 80s and 90s. And then I was able to write about it. Because the act of putting my feelings on a surface outside of myself gave me the necessary distance of objectivity I needed as a writer.

NancyThis was me in 2008. After my heart opened up again. Writing my story has brought me wholeness and healing. But first I had to paint the feelings, because I had no words for it then. I haven’t decided on a title yet for Volume 2. The first book was called The Nancy Who Drew… so I’m thinking of calling the second one, The Nancy Who Drew Herself Home… because actually, that is what happened…

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Love On Ice

The Skaters

Drawings by Nancy Wait 2015 for The Sketchbook Project

I am doing The Sketchbook Project theme of Winter, and since now is not the time to be drawing outdoors, I took photos around my neighborhood, then went searching for more variety on Google and came across the ice-skating couples. Two couples embracing on the ice. That is what one sees first. Two couples in love. The one on the left is colored pencils with pen and ink; the one on the right is a watercolor. It was only after I started grappling with the drawing of these subjects themselves that I began to notice other things.

At the beginning of each drawing my focus was only on getting the positions right. The relationship of each form, and then the two forms together. I saw them in broad terms, two couples on ice-skates embracing. It was only after I finished the sketches that I started reading between the lines, wondering what each drawing was saying about the couples themselves. And then I realized that reading my drawing was really no different from reading the physical world in general. But because I’d had to study these couples in order to draw them, it wasn’t a big jump to catch sight of a deeper reality than what first caught my eye.

Lovers (1)Look at the couple on the left, how he has swept her into his arms, unbalancing her. She capitulates. It’s a dance between them. We see how comfortable they are with one another. Neither seems like a novice on the ice. Her skates are white and I assume her own, as rental skates are normally a dark color.

The couple on the right have certainly rented their skates. Lovers (2)They are not expert skaters, and perhaps have never even skated before. They might be holding onto each other for balance so they don’t fall down.

At first I only saw the obvious: two couples embracing on the ice. But drawing, coloring, painting—these contributed to personalizing the figures, causing me to ponder their relationship to each other. I did this through following the lines of movement between them, following the lines of energy, then noticing the feeling of the lines.

This to me is the beauty of drawing; feeling how the world outside of me feels. It isn’t enough for me to know how I feel. I want to know what the world feels like. When I draw the outer world—whatever the subject—I am taking that bit of it inside of me. It’s an intuitive process. I don’t think about it, it happens automatically. Whatever comes from my hand is an expression of my own energy, my own feeling. The outer world of form passes through my brain, and if I take the trouble to draw that world, I see my reaction to it in the drawing. My perception of what it feels like.

Drawing makes me constantly aware of how little I see, how little I notice at first. How often I get things wrong. Placement wrong, size wrong, position wrong. So I work and rework a drawing to get it right. Maybe what is right for the drawing isn’t an exact copy of a photo—but it’s right for the drawing. My preference is not to distort in any way, only to see what I am seeing. And then to know its energy body through my own energy body.

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Free Today and Tomorrow

The Nancy Who DrewThe ebook of my memoir, The Nancy Who Drew, The Memoir That Solved A Mystery, is free on amazon today and tomorrow. LINK

It’s the story of growing up in the 50s and 60s with leftist parents; a shy, dreamy girl deals with slings and arrows through the glorious outlet of acting…until outrageous fortune sends her fleeing to London – where her dream really might come true…

I published it in 2011, and since then I have been working on Volume Two. This second book is almost complete, and it’s about how and why I became an artist. And how painting led me to discover a past life. It was through this discovery that I was able to make peace with this life. And to discover finally, that betrayal is sacred when the heart can encompass the whole…

Self-Portrait 1980 Oil on Canvas by Nancy Wait

Self-Portrait 1980
Oil on Canvas
by Nancy Wait

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Feeling Through Drawing

clock 1The numbers on the clock… how many times have I looked at that clock only to see the time.

hand on clockIt wasn’t until I copied the numbers in a drawing that they came to life. That I saw each had a personality all its own, and gave off a particular energy. Had a particular message, personal to itself. A way of being on the clock face that was unique, belonging to that number alone.

I bought the clock years ago for the alarm. This was before smart phones and apps for setting an alarm. I noticed the square shape because my other clock faces were round, but as for the shapes of the numbers, they simply represented the hour of day or night and the amount of time that was left or still to go…

Numbers. We learn them when we are small and that’s pretty much the end of it, other than what they stand for, be it minutes and hours or amounts of things. Numbers rule our lives, but how often do we notice the numbers themselves, without attaching other meanings to them. How much time we have or do not have, how much money, how much space, and so on. We notice whether we’re looking at Roman numerals like V for five, or X for ten, or whether we’re looking at Arabic numerals, when five is 5, and ten is 10. But we don’t usually have an emotional reaction to the shape of the number. If an emotion does crop up, it is more likely to be related to the value the number represents, not the digit itself.

Or perhaps like me, you took an interest in the fascinating science of Numerology, and studied the esoteric properties of numbers. Or what they meant symbolically in terms of your Destiny or your relationships. But again, this interest did not extend to what the numbers themselves actually looked like, only what they represented in terms of something else.

I began to feel the shape of numbers some years ago when I took note of the way I was addressing envelopes, especially my own return address. This did not come out of the blue. A friend I hadn’t seen in many years was sending notes and things in the mail, and to get a better handle on his personality I studied how he wrote my name and address. His handwriting was large and clear and often accompanied with flourishes. Then I looked at the way I wrote my own address. How proud and boastful my fives were! How shy the three! But it wasn’t until the other day when I drew the clock face of my old black alarm clock that the personality of the other numbers, machine-printed at that, jumped out at me. Here then is what I perceived.

clock  The 1 by itself is a good soldier standing at attention. But put it next to the 2 for 12 and it takes on some of the flourish of the 2. The 2 is shy and graceful, and sallies forth with an air of humility. The 3 is self-involved and fearful. I see her gritting her teeth. The 4 is strong and sturdy—albeit a bit stubborn. The 5 cracks me up. He puffs out his chest in the most boastful way, but you can tell he has a sense of humor. The 6 is sheepish and uncertain, quite different from the confident 7. The 8 is bullish, the 9 is a hoarder and proud of it. (I can just hear the 9 saying, heh-heh.) The 0 of the 10 gives her an open look. The two 1s of the 11 are now two good little soldiers. And let us not forget the minute and hour hands like the wings of a plane… okay, maybe only the propellers.

Of course it is all in the perception, and you may see something entirely different. Meanwhile, I didn’t see much of anything until I drew the numbers by hand. With my own hand. Sensing the energy of the lines as I copied them, making them come alive in a whole new way. Drawing from life, the light traveling from eye to brain, down through the heart where it picks up the feeling, then out through the hand… I remember being thrilled when I read Stuart Wilde saying,  Everything emits a feeling, and thinking, he knows!

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T is for Transition

T

…is for Transition

T is represented by the number two in Numerology.Two

The Roman numeral II is two vertical lines running parallel to one another.

ladderWe might see it as a ladder to climb, noticing the alteration in perspective, and how it helps to rise above a situation and see the bigger picture.

Or we might lay it down flat, see it as a new track to follow.

bridgeOr flip it up again and elongate the middle, see it from a different angle. See it as a bridge.

I have always liked the idea of bridges, of making crossings, of going to other side of something. But whatever we do, when we are in the place of transition, we have the opportunity to transform. Maybe by walking across the bridge. We can choose to be conscious about it—or unconscious. If we’re unconscious we’re being run by feelings from the past. But if we’re conscious, we can choose how we feel. We can look and see where we are now. And decide what it feels like now.

This is how we play. It’s all about getting into alignment with the energy of transition. Transitions are inevitable. We’re always in movement. Our energy is never static. But it is our choice how we move through space. Our choice what we feel, how we take things in stride, play with them—or offer resistance to the change that is inevitable.

I like seeing the front of the bridge in my drawing as the T for Transition, and the far end as the T for Transform. For that is the next step, once we see the bridge. Once we acknowledge the transition, transformation becomes possible.

Recently, when I wrote the story of my own transition, I saw there was no one to forgive but myself. In order to see it clearly I had to write it down, make it real. I was able to cross the bridge where transformation was possible when I saw there was no longer anything to forgive. Everything I had chosen had been of my own free will.

What propelled me through the transition was witnessing the transition of someone else. It changed my perception. And when I changed my perception, I changed my reality. hidden heartAnd that was when I realized I wanted to create a workshop for others, using the tools of writing and drawing to access deeper feelings. Access the hidden heart.

For more information about the workshop, please see  News and Events

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