Tuesday 21 July 2020

Becoming Blue XV: Iris - WISDOM

I have stopped dreaming. I am being slowly eroded. I can't do future tenses. While the rest of Europe slowly unfolds itself like the eyes on a startled snail, and tries to go back to the way it was before, I am still folding myself and making creases. I am becoming the most intricate origami bird known to mankind. A rubix cube of intricacy. Crumpled and clustered. My focus is no longer outward or far away. It's inside. My focus shifted and with it so has blue. The longing for faraway places and people has dissolved, along with the possibility. There are no dreams or desires. The unraveling of unbecoming has stopped and now the cogs are rotating centripetally. 

Iris, Oil on canvas, Jessica Shepherd
Work in Progress, oil on canvas, Iris.

It's July, and I am now working underground in true Cancer season style. This isn't something I did last year when I moved into the house. Last year I stayed above ground in the heat. This year, I changed track. I brought fairy lights down into the cave space and made a shrine above my bed with an old Beatles 'Strawberry Fields Forever LP' and a tambourine. In the other room I moved all the oil paintings and their materials. The rest of the house is a shell. I move through these spaces on occasion. Yesterday I walked through the old watercolor studio on my way to the terrace. I was briefly reminded of all the journeys I took there. Every painting is a journey. The space seemed to hold a different version of Jess, an outdated version and she was haunting that space. She hadn't left yet, almost as if she was waiting for the colder months to return so she could slip back into an old skin and resume the journeys she'd started.

Iris Watercolours
Work in progress. 1.5m x 1m. Double Act. Bearded Iris. Watercolour on paper. Waiting for my return.
Jessica Rosemary Shepherd

The other bedroom was just as haunted by old journeys and former versions myself. An unfinished Iris duet rested on the bed rather expectantly along with half-read books. A hopeful, more focused version of Jess had been taking online Art History lessons in that room. Her shadow is still in that space, but it's fading fast. I looked at the wardrobes of clothes used for business meetings or travel. Smart outfits for 'going out' in and pretty dresses. I hadn't worn any of them in months. I have been wearing two outfits since October. My dad's hand-me-down 1970s blue cords and a gifted knitted waistcoat in the cold winter months and an orange £5 New Look dress that doesn't even fit properly in the summer months. I wondered why on earth I had all these beautiful clothes if I can't wear them and if there'd ever be a time to wear them again and if that time ever comes, would I even fit in them or want to wear them? It felt strangely opulent and indulgent to have so many unworn clothes just hanging there. It was also notable how a form of self-expression had been stripped from me. The projected 'made up' outward appearance was not important anymore. It also seems to have dissolved along with my dreams and future tenses.

First in a series of self portraits. Oil on canvas.

So where does this leave me or indeed 'us' as I know I cannot be alone? I am not sure but I think the answer is in here:

The Fifth Cardinal Sin is Lust. This sin was called 'Luxuria' in the medieval Christian world, and it was related to voluptuousness: unbridled sensuality. In older texts, Lust was also called 'Inappropriate Longing', revealing another, subtler, yet extremely important dimension of Lust: desiring that which one has no right to desire. And if we can begin to understand what constitutes 'inappropriate longing' for each individual, Lust might turn out to be an immensely creative force; for what we cannot possess in the outer world, we can nourish in the inner, and discover in the process a profound experience of joy.

The longing of Blue has started to shift and I quite excited about this. Like a miner, I am now looking at horizons and treasures on the inside, underground. I have a concave lens. I am deep sea diving. A hidden mermaid in the blue.

Becoming Blue XIV: Bluebell - HUMILITY

Bluebell botanical art
Blue Bell, Sussex Downs, Watercolour on paper, Jessica Rosemary Shepherd