Painting My Tatas. Beyond Breast Cancer.

Stitched and Stretched Beyond Breast Cancer mixed media by Bernadette Rose Smith Stitched and stretched. That’s what I’ve titled this piece because that’s what breast cancer ushered in with every decision I had to make. Cut it. Stitch it. Now, stretch it beyond anything recognizable as you. Life flew apart like confetti without a party. Not unlike my private-moment, mixed media attempts at depicting this most bizarre journey. (And so shortly after losing Ray to cancer.) Countless bits and pieces, created with the best of intentions, were tossed in the trashcan next to me because they did not fit the picture as I had imagined. The writer-me has freely spoken about her journey with breast cancer. The artist-me had not taken her shot at it. Quite frankly, she couldn’t get the writer to shut up long enough for the artist to quietly seat herself in the studio and ask, “How do you heal through this with art – not words?” Stitched and Stretched Bare Beginnings Beyond Breast Cancer mixed Media by Bernadette Rose Smith Each piece of paper, every bit of texture and slap of paint speaks to what this journey feels like through my artist-heart. And – more so – the desperately quiet pieces that landed in the trash with only my tears to witness. But, you know, there is something tremendously freeing in all of this.
I am stretched and sTReTcHiNg to live poetically. Not apologetically.
Stitched and Stretched Beyond Breast Cancer Mixed Media by Bernadette Rose Smith There is a hope-filled whimsy that rises in this piece. Breasts flowering into a garden, butterflies seeking a new life expression and a bouquet of thoughts say...
Go for it, honey. Whatever time you have left, sow your wildflower seeds. You don’t have to plant yourself in rows any more.
Stitched and Stretched Beyond Breast Cancer Mixed Media by Bernadette Rose Smith Time spent creating this piece is just what the doctor ordered. And I hope it will brighten the path for other women walking though breast cancer – as well as those walking with them. I plan on thriving for a long time but if I don’t, everyone who loves me knows my legacy celebrates our God-given creative spirit. So claim my freedom as yours. Don’t plant in rows unless you want to. My next decision is just around the corner. To nipple. Or not to nipple? God says to do what delights me. The artist-me says no more cutting or stitching or knotting of the flesh. I am thinking “tattoo!” Yep. This gal is going to invite another artist to paint my tata with an image that will remind me of love and this new, unapologetic life unfolding. Hmmm. But what shall that image be? Stay tuned, Loves! Stitched and Stretched Beyond Breast Cancer Mixed Media by Bernadette Rose Smith PSST: Are you local? You'll find “Stitched and Stretched” at the Southern Heartland Art Gallery for their Artful Harvest Show (going on now) and in their Wearable Arts Gala on October 13 and 14 where hand-embellished, 11 x 14 fine art giclee prints will be available for $45. If you'd like to order a print (contiguous USA only) contact me for info. dOUbLe PSST: If you enjoyed this post, you might like Kiss My Breast Good-bye or Two Cents Worth from My Tatas to Yours. As always, I love to hear your thoughts, DEar HEaRTs. You matter to me! XO Bernadette Subscribe to this blog or follow me on Facebook. And if you like this then LIKE this! Remember, SHaRiNG is CaRiNG. If you found something here that inspired, you may know someone else who will feel the same.

Art as Life: Tear a Page. Turn a Corner.

Inspiritus at Lourdes Mixed Media Art by Bernadette Rose Smith Ever find yourself heading in a particular direction only to hit so many speed bumps, detours, or cul-de-sacs along the way that you start to question whether you should proceed? Maybe you can recall more than one “where is that road again” trip. Perhaps you are in the middle of one right now. Or, maybe there is one right around the corner waiting for you. (You do know you are not reading this by chance, right?) Well, get comfy. While you ponder that, I will tell you a short story about Inspiritus. Why? Because, whatever your journey, it is a story that points to a moment we share – that moment when we hear the whispers and feel the breath of the Divine moving through us. Inspiritus Mixed Media Art by Bernadette Rose Smith Inspiritus Breath Mixed Media Art by Bernadette Rose Smith I was not in the neighborhood for inspiritus. I was aiming for a project that I hoped would address a livelihood concern. Inspiritus – the altered book pictured throughout this post – was a spirited calling on the carpet. It started with a phrase that kept popping up in my journal and my thoughts. Like a song verse you can’t shake. “The words are the leaves. The deeds are the fruits.” A polite way for the Divine to say, “Talk is cheap. Show me.” Inspiritus Altered Book Cover by Bernadette Rose Smith It was generously reinforced with one dead end after another in my livelihood venture. I have acquired enough wisdom to know when to stop and listen. (You know, that point where you start seeing stars from hitting that brick wall one too many times?) That’s when this poetic collaboration hopped onto a page in my journal one morning, starting with the verse:
So much happens before a leaf is born and from your pages a word is torn...
Inspiritus Altered Book Love by Bernadette Rose Smith “What a delightful thump on the head,” I thought. And with that invitation came the rest.
root upon root. ring upon ring. matters hidden until, in spring, from root to trunk to limb to branch a leaf is born, adorned to dance in sun and breeze and cloud and storm until its partner bud is born. coaxed to blossom. blossom to fruit. how will you harvest what came to root?
Inspiritus Altered Book by Bernadette Rose Smith My life flashed before my eyes. Okay, maybe not that dramatic but pretty dang close. Lets just say, in the following weeks, the writer-me burned through a lot of pages on the topic of compromises, adaptations, justifications, rescues, distractions, and all manner of negotiation devices used to make peace with myself when confronted with the needs and concerns of others always coming first. Whether for lack of courage or just plain fatigue, my frail manipulative attempts to wrestle a corner of time to follow my passions and use the divine seeds given me met with delay upon delay, year after year. From brunette to my now “platinum blond.” Inspiritus Altered Book Contemplation by Bernadette Rose Smith Somewhere in all that writing reverie, the artist-me stepped up. She’d had it. “Enough already! I got this. Let me show you without all the words. The big annual art show is coming up in 7 weeks. You love altered books so make one. Give this poem a home and then send it on its journey. All of your adult life you have set me aside for more concerns than I can count. I am tired of living in the shadows cast by others and your livelihood-concerned, placating-all-others self. There is no one looking over your shoulder but you now. So what’s your excuse? When will there ever be the perfect time? How will I ever trust you? Talk is cheap. Show me you love me. Lets plant some seeds.” Inspiritus Altered Book Seeds by Bernadette Rose Smith Inspiritus Altered Book Mixed Media Seed Spread by Bernadette Rose Smith Well just ouch me! Enough of my story. Now I am going to ask you to think about yours and invite you to answer some questions. Inspiritus Altered Book Mixed Media Matchbook Drawers by Bernadette Rose Smith Leaves eventually give way to harvest a new experience. What seeds are you planting in their compost? Are they ones you came in with? Or ones others have handed to you along the way? The thing about the seeds accepted from others is that, at first, they seem easy because they come with instructions. But look carefully. Those seeds are often attached to strings and expectations that lead to resentments and guilt if not planted to the satisfaction of the original seed bearer. They can land you in tending a field that will not sustain you or the seed bearer. (Funny about that, eh?) Inspiritus Altered Book Mixed Media Ladder Spread by Bernadette Rose Smith The thing about the seeds we come in with is that they don’t often come with instructions. We have to do a little investigating to find the proper climate, soil, nutrients, as well as healthy partner crops with which to plant them. We have to be aware. Watch the weather patterns. Be attentive to pests and weeds. But the seeds we came in with will sustain us and place us in fields that will also sustain others. Inspiritus Altered Book Mixed Media Harvest Spread by Bernadette Rose Smith What’s in your seed pouch? Do you know? Have you checked lately? Now is the time to dig deep. When your seed-planting time on this earth is done and you are standing in front of the Master Farmer, will your pouch be empty? Or still full? Inspiritus Mixed Media Altered Book Hidden Matters by Bernadette Rose Smith The blogger-me says, “Thanks for the visit and share any seed thoughts you wish to cast for others to harvest!" The writer-me says, “Let my words be the leaves that your deeds may bear fruit.” The artist-me says, “Look at the pictures. They will nourish your soul.” Musings from the Messy Room Subscribe Photo If you like this post, then please LIKE and SHARE because together we PLANT a better world! And be sure to SUBSCRIBE to my Messy Room for more musings and inspirations to come!  

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Tunnel book mock-up for Cloth Paper Scissors challenge

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This Cloth Paper Scissors challenge to create a tunnel book became #4 in my "121 Ways to Tear Up that Book" series. What you are seeing above is the mock-up I did – before proceeding to make my mess – to test my idea and troubleshoot construction challenges, Azithromycin (Zithromax) canada, mexico, india. Azithromycin (Zithromax) pictures, All in all, it went together pretty smoothly.

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Visual Storytelling

• Broken “Forgive” between pages 1 and 2 represents the process.
• Tangled metallic thread on pages 1 and 2 represents the maze one confronts when trying to forgive.
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• Orange represents second chakra issues related to sex and secrets.
• Blue represents fifth chakra issues related to finding and giving voice to the unsaid.
• Additional symbolism comes from the text on substrate pages.

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This piece of messy art in the making put to music ...

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Surrender Your Stories: charcoal by bernadette rose smith

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