I’m pretty sure it started before I could even hold a crayon.

There is something about sunlight flickering between green leaves, as I blink my blue eyes. There is a memory of shadows dancing though the brilliant white light reflecting off the sidewalks of a suburb in New Jersey. There is my tired mother in a house of six screaming children.

Perhaps it began when my tiny finger dragged across wet sand making a mark.

It’s all a little out of focus…

More likely, it was long before that. While I swirled in the dark of my mother’s womb looking for a way out, and the earth turned it’s face to the summer season of 1972.

The earth continued to turn and turn. I ran barefoot with Angels and Gods through back yards and lost them both to plaid uniforms and knee socks. I passed through whole seasons of sketch books, cheap frustrating water colors, attempts at calligraphy and spinning clay that turned into a swan sitting on a window sill.

Siobhan Bedford Artist Studio

It was all days of dabbling with this and that.

Then, dark clouds gathered and the lives around me began to spin this way and that. In the confusion, I sealed myself up from the outside with a pretty smile and retreated to dark corners inside, taking my charcoal and colors with me.

Even in these dark corners, art making let the light leak in and led me through five years of art school. I tried to capture the light and turn it into a pastel illustration career.

But, that seemed only to make it fade.

Three years later, a great dark season came on me as the clouds, I had been pushing away with my smiles, turned into a storm. A storm, that rained down so hard inside me, it left me shivering in a dark room.

It’s all a little out of focus…

I can only tell you that I found myself longing for the deepest dark.

I discovered there is no way out of the dark. I walked through it, and looked up into a purple sky that turned into a path of healing and a therapist’s voice whispering  “painters paint”.

So, I painted…

I stood barefoot on a plastic covered bedroom floor and played with oil and turpentine. First came the winged figures. Then the earth turned and an abstract, light-filled, ethereal world revealed itself in cadmium and ultramarine.

Round and round the earth spun and I filled the room. Then I rented studios and filled them too.

With a brush in hand I reached out to make my mark beyond the sand.

As the decade passed, the light grew stronger and I found space again between me and the dark. The paintings grew in size and the colors flashed vibrant. Nervously, I shared my art in shows and studios. Selling just enough to get by.

Art was a light bringer, but it began to cast a long shadow of mounting debt.

Detail of "Womb of Creation"

To get over the bills, I sealed myself up again with my smile and took a seat under corporate florescent lights.

As, my bank account began to fill, my fingers and creative heart froze. But, there was calm after the debt storm.

I slept in an adorable new old house with an empty room filled with dry brushes and dust covered canvas. Day after day, I watched a clock tick away at my life and imagined some distant future when I would make my art again. For seven years, I stayed frozen under the florescent lights, doodling on post-its.

A painful thaw came in the spring season of 2014.

Unexpectedly but joyfully, a little seed of light began to grow deep in my womb. It was a miracle moment but it could not withstand the counting down of my creation clock. A few short weeks later, a river of crimson blood carried away my would be child. Again, I found myself shivering in a dark bedroom.

All summer, I bowed my head to the dark earth and watered it with tears.

In the Fall…

I looked through the florescent facade into a brilliant light that shines only after darkness.

I wrote a resignation letter. Walked out the door into winter. Dusted off the canvas. Picked up my brush.

And began to paint again.

Brush work on painting
Siobhan Bedford, Artist

It’s been a few years since I walked out that door.

Life continues it’s dance of light and dark. I’ve been sharing it on my blog.


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