encompassing black at nautilus teachings


I live in
a suffocating fear.
The kind of fear
that makes me sweat.
that if I come up the steps
I will be pushed
back down.
that if I am left alone,
no one will rescue me.
Picture my fear. Think abandonment, isolation. For me it is the black and white Ansel Adams photograph that hangs in my lavender bedroom. It is on my dads side of the dresser, hanging on the wall, crooked, off balance, bleak, lonely.
My dad
this photograph
he says
it gives him peace
2010-Studio-In my paintings I place the black around the colors to protect them from loneliness, fear and abandonment. I know, I know, colors don’t feel. Yet my colors are pieces of me, they spill from my heart, my mind and my memories onto canvas. They drip out slowly like healing medicine in an IV.
and smooth
all the way
the body alerting
it is time to stop
to pull back
to retreat
I found corners
corners in dark bedrooms
between dressers and beds
corners in closets
where I could put my arms
in the garment
and pretend
to not be there
all the while shaking
and eventually found
because I would always
pee my pants.
The extra large 4’ x 3’ canvas looms before me. I have splashed cobalt, sea blue and kiwi in bold, thick swipes across the canvas. I drew in some cadmium and sunshine yellows. It was now ready for my story, my page in my life when as a small child.
Tears begin to form. I work quickly on the tiny monochromatic fish which are swimming from the bottom up and towards the protecting light.
My journey
Into the vast
Ocean blues
My black
For from
The depths
Of my
I am
With luminous

of light
.bandages of light

bandages of light

My corner which floats upon this canvas so large brings me to my knees again in thankful

wonderment at my ability to release continually that which has held me captive for so long.

1970’s-I love being under the grape vines on the hill by our home. This is one of my favorite places because It’s my outside corner. The hill is big and the green grass is soft. There are tons of big oak trees that have little green acorns hanging on them in the spring and brown ones which tumble to the ground in the fall. The grape vines have green grapes in the spring and big, juicy soft purple ones in the fall. It is a great hiding place because you can mix yourself up in the vines and suck on the grapes one at a time.
If purple had a flavor
this is what it would be
the sweet
seedy mix
of a fresh
fall grape
ripe from the vine.
The best way to get under the vines is to start at the top of the hill and lie down in the grass. You need to stretch your arms out and clasp your hands together above your head. Then, roll as fast as you can, your body mixing with all the colors of the surroundings, till you run into the vine. It always is a guaranteed smile getter from me and a great place to hide.
I would hide amongst the many oak trees in the park-another outside corner. I loved the big, gnarly oak trunks. They are so fat a person will have to be humongous to not be able to hide behind them. Bishops Park across the street from my house is mostly oak.
The acorns become my own village of little people. I cram my pockets with them and take them home and have acorn marriages under the lily of the valley. If you look hard you can even find baby acorns, so tiny they can pass for newborns after the weddings.
In the fall I will collect them for my mom. She will send me with a brown bag and tell me to fill it up. I will bring her oodles of acorns so she can make her acorn wreaths for the holiday.
My favorite part is when their “hats” pop off. My mom let me paint these any color I want and make my own wreath out of them. I always keep a few aside for the weddings to be held in the spring.
I also love the leaves on the oaks. Big and green in spring, all different oranges, yellows, rusts, and greens in the fall and piles and piles of burnt orange and sunflower yellows for me to rake up, jump in, hide in, roll in-just be happy in. I do not need much and I am always happiest when I am alone and in my own world.
If it was quiet
and I could not
be found
it was then
my home.
Isolation became my friend. It became my white flag of surrender, the stitches on my bleeding soul, the blanket on my coldest nights and God’s hands to hold me and assure me every thing will be all right.

the right keys
the right keys

Put me

In a cardboard box
and seal it tight
so while I am here
I can imagine
the deep blue sea
with the playful
green gradient sea grasses
that bloom with bright purple
Yellow and pink flowers
Allow me to draw
all the different kinds
of fish
for I wish to be
the beautiful mermaid
that is their friend
Throw me in the closet
and lock the door
That way I can
Decorate myself
in the colors
of my mother
The soft burberry plaids
of her skirts
and the soft cotton
of her terrycloth jumpers
for working in the yard
while she tends
her fragrant flowers
with the petals
I can pull off and say,
“he loves me, he loves me not…”
2008-Studio-My father would always say to me, “Sheri, I need to wrap you in cotton and place you in a glass box like Snow White so you can never be hurt again.” If he truly knew where my cuts and scratches came from, then why did he not stop them? I am wrapped in softness now, in the healing power of paint, canvas, memory, time and God’s love.