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  • Writer's pictureSandra Lee

Tears of Expression

this time was a bit grueling. and arduous. brutal. like a delivery of triplets. really? there’s another one? physically sore. like i climbed a mountain.

the details that needed taken care of ahead of time were complicated. where to get the canvases – hopefully they would be on sale. found out by accident that they were, and amazed the salesmen of the art store when i strapped 4 canvases to the top of the car. lady, that won’t work. i just looked at him, sweat pouring off of me as i wrestled them onto the roof of my car, and grinned big. watch me and learn, son.

then there was the van rental. and the special trips to the hardware store to figure out the hardware needed. which turned out to be a bust. big time. delivered the canvases ahead of time, with the enormous train van, from U-haul… and thank god i did. found that putting up canvases in a level fashion is just not my forte. again, sweat pouring off of me as i tried to measure and insert the special toggles that i went to 2 different stores for. this without my tape measure which i lost immediately upon arriving at the studio. tried 3 times- with a grimace made big holes in the walls (toggles went right thru to the inside of the wall, oops) and gritted my teeth and wished for my artist/shaman/house builder/ friend contractor extraordinaire Michael, who could do this with one hand tied behind his back with eyes closed and discussing the meaningless of life at the same time… god!!!

i. am. not. a. carpenter.

decided to let the whole thing go until Sunday when i came to paint. and decided to use good old fashioned nails. i had to get the train in the form of the U-haul van back to it’s cubby in Sonoma.

then there were the little details, new paints, tools, music, and an overnight stay which meant sleeping stuff and food and taking the dog to the kennel. then the emotional process, which was taking place during and in between the material process.

on the day of, Sunday, i arrive around 1230, however, there was a class going on, so i took a book and read and laid around by the water. still thought of nothing, and had no idea the size of the mountain ahead.

the class over, i came in and again attempted to attach canvases to the wall, in a reasonable level fashion. i was only hoping for a secure hold, not expecting perfection. i won't go into the boring details of how, however i will say that i devised a unconventional way, and yelled Brilliant! and RAH! they were on the wall. they were perfect. there is NOTHING that i can’t do. i felt all powerful. didn’t need no stinking man ha ha…..

slowly and unhurriedly laid out all my supplies and tools and the music list set to random.

laid down and rolled around a bit and felt a bit neutral. then i bowed down in front of the canvases. Angel by Massive Attack, came on at that moment- the epitome of pole dancing music, as it is the first song i associate with pole class that i started 8 years ago. i bowed down and stretched my heart out to the canvases, much in the way we have been directed by Deb, our teacher. saw that the bass from the song was vibrating the speaker just like a heartbeat. i was at Steel Heart Dance. here was where we pour our heart blood out onto the floor. that’s the first image i paint, between the 2 canvases. a heart.

as i painted, i sang passionately and with gusto every song, and move and shout and do the jesus pose and i am the greatest pose. find that tears sprang to my eyes as memories of different events come to mind, either mine or of my women dancer friends.

it got more and more difficult to know where the painting is going. i normally let the painting go where it wants, but with 3 in front of me, it just felt like an insurmountable task. as usual i bit off more than my mouth could chew. for a long while i thought i would not be able to finish. which was okay. the painting began to be boring and looked like Xmas. tho i normally have no contact with the outside world during a painting, i texted some friends. and pronounce the paintings hideous and boring. which is funny as i don’t judge my paintings according to beauty. only according to expression. but i felt i was expressing hideousness. ha!

took a break, and called my granddaughter and discussed the fact that she got 3 parts in the Nutcracker this year and would be actually asked to dance ballet. aside from me, she is the only other dancer in our family.

i looked at the half finished canvases benignly and tried to listen to what they had to say. wondered if i should maybe leave them unfinished, if that’s the way it was to go. after a half hour rest, i got up and said LETS DO IT and the cork was popped open...

i finished. i felt spent. done. cleaned up. posted the video. see that all of my cameras and phones and mac notebooks don’t accurately record what is on canvas. let go of trying to record the event with accuracy. i barely looked at the triplets again.

wake up the next morning and pack up. have music on and realize i want to dance. again, without picking it, the song Angel by Massive Attack comes on. of course. i turn off the lights and i dance privately and emotionally. felt release finally of the whole experience. the pressure to get everything ‘done’. felt the expression that has happened here at the dance studio, with women that come here to express all that is. felt the emotion that has been expressed here while they dance. felt the joy and pain and everything in between. the openness and the reserve. the anger and the failings. many women passed thru my mind and i give homage to their tears. tears of expression.

the grand daddy song of them all comes on. Lacrimosa by Mozart by way of Zbigniew Preisner. it keeps me on my knees on the dance floor and i weep and weep and realize i have named the triplets.


Tears of Expression

Oil on Canvas


40”x60” each


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