In February of 2016 I began a year long self-portrait class through the Get Messy Art Journal group. Our guide was the multi-talented Vanessa Oliver-Lloyd who you can find at dansmoncrane on Instagram. Here is the gallery and the descriptions of my weekly portraits as I posted them on Instagram, #megs52portraits. Click on the first shot and you can right arrow through them in order.
Here is my first of 52 portraits… 2016 the year I turn 60… the year I embrace my priestess power… embarking on personal recovery through art journaling, self portraits, spiritual studies, emotional accountability, creative messiness, self love and being open to the unknown. Meghan aka Firebonnet aka Starfire delving into her deep magic…. this portrait is me sans makeup, sans photographic editing, sans artifice… showing my shadow side and seeing the light and dark as one face. I am also seeing myself “through the looking glass”… perhaps there is a reason that the book Alice in Wonderland terrified me as a child… perhaps I can allow my world to be topsy-turvy this year. This year in the #52portraitsclass I am not committing to a certain camera, or a certain day of the week to post, but I AM committing to follow each prompt each week… I am also allowing myself to change my mind anytime I want.
#52portraitsclass week 2. My super power is truth seeker. In this photo I’m looking to the light and holding the truth in my heart. I am also carrying a bow… I’m a Sagittarius and the bow is for that… The fact that it is a toy gives some humor to the whole thing. Universes is nothing if not paradoxical! I had to ask my bff @rebeccastcroix to help me figure out my super power. She said awesome stuff “You have the personality powers of calmness and deeply listening. You have the Sag ability to see the truth and express it soundly and clearly (and kindly) especially when someone (like me) is having a meltdown. You truly are the seeker of truth and even when you think you have found the truth you still question it in detail and find the truth of the truth…..until you see another truth. You have an eye for beauty too. You not only see the trees but you see their energy and “sound”.”
3/52 portraits. I mourn the ability to #dance with freedom and grace as I once could. Years of arthritis, a hip replacement and now a wanky back hobble me to the ground when I used to be able to fly.
I have lived many lives, and had many loves. I have flown dragons over the skies of Pern, helped a Dalesman birth a cow and discovered the key to a secret garden. Tonight the magic of Louise Penny’s words brings me into the winter world of Three Pines to help Inspector Gamache solve mysteries of the flesh and of the heart. I live not only through the brilliant characters but revel in their relationships. Do you think my stalwart companions take those journeys with me? Or do they know that soon my eyes will grow heavy and I’ll take up the adventure again tomorrow.
#52portraitsclass week 5. My son and I had been estranged for a few years when he and my daughter-in-law gave birth to this darling girl. My mother and I visited them this past weekend and bonds were reestablished as generations came together. The beauty of this new soul has great healing power.
#52portraitsclass week 6. Coffee for me please! I’ll have an iced mocha… Low acid coffee with stevia chocolate syrup and a splash of rice milk. Here I am perusing my extensive Coffee coffee coffee Pinterest board remembering when I could drink all those steaming hot designer coffee drinks without hurting my tummy. At least I’ve found a coffee hack that works! Tea just doesn’t do it for me.
#52portraitsclass week 7. The love of my life? My goofy motorcycle riding engineer. my Prince charming in overalls. My kind generous irreverent husband Tim.
Your Gang is the theme of the 8th of my 52 weekly portraits. My gang consists of me and my BFF, Rebecca. I’m a solitary soul, but one day about fifteen years ago I met a vibrant, incredible woman. I was filling a position in my department and I hired her. Within a week we knew we were soul sisters. Rebecca and I worked together at Cal State Bakersfield for 10 years even when one or the other of us changed offices we gravitated back to the same office pretty quickly! (we started in the Deans Office of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and ended up in the Deans Office of Arts and Humanities) We were known for our laughter echoing through the halls. I retired and left town four years ago. This winter since I’m back in Bakersfield, we’ve been able to see each other and not just keep in touch through texts. On Friday afternoon last week, we met at Applebees, one of our old haunts. In this photo-booth series we took the first, middle and last photos then. The 2nd photo was about 13 years ago (?) at Applebees. The 4th photo was taken four years ago right before I retired.
Week 9 is here in the #52portraitsclass. The subject? Hide/Reveal… I decided not to go with the introvert/extrovert idea that this prompt first suggested to me. Instead I explored the expression of my right and left brains on my face. I took a photo of myself as front facing as possible. I then cropped it down the middle and matched the two right sides of my face and then the two left sides (as best I could). In the collage the original image is in the middle. So when you look at all three pictures, the one on the left is the side of the face controlled by the left, logical and linear brain. The one on the right is controlled by the expressive, creative, non-verbal right side of the brain. It’s a fascinating experiment. Conclusions? I’m thinking the person on the left looks less interesting than the other two. And the one on the right pretty happy! What do you think?
10/52 portraits. My areas of interest? I am now retired so am able to make art every day… Visual creativity was relegated to an “interest” when I had my administrative analyst job, supporting my family. Now I am #artjournaling to explore where my artistic drive and abilities will take me. I thought it would be fun to art journal my face for this #portrait.
This week was perfect timing for this 11th in the #52portraitsclass with @dansmoncrane. Roots… do I like to roam the world? or am I happy on my patch of land on it. Hubby and I just returned to our ranch in McCall, Idaho after five months living in our motor home in Bakersfield, California. Although I had a wonderfully creative five months in Southern California, I am deliciously happy to be HOME! I am not comfortable as a nomad. I am at home in my forest, rooted in good company with our grand trees. Our motor home is parked near our ranch house and I’m using it as an art studio/office now. Because they are so close to each other I was able to capture this shot of myself between the mobile home and the ‘rooted’ home. I am giving a STOP hand to the RV and a thumbs up to the home, with a forest backdrop.
#52portraitsclass 12/52. Your vibe attracts your tribe. The creative adventure vibe I put out at the beginning of 2016 attracted @dansmoncrane (and the whole Get Messy tribe) into my life. This week in one of my Get Messy Lists, I stole one of her lists and then took photos of myself expressing each line. I thought it went along with the vibe/tribe portrait prompt. Vanessa and I have never met, so I include her picture in this fun photo booth collage.
13/52 portraits My nature is such that I tend to focus really hard on one thing at a time (blogging, art, spiritual exploration, work) and let everything else go by the wayside. My bipolar condition also trips me up on occasion self-care goes down the drain and unstructured time can be difficult for me when I get depressed or anxious. I have spent years learning how to balance my life. Here hubby and I are balanced on a #getmessyartjournal while bringing much needed freedom and joy into our lives.
14/52 #52portraitsclass… Parenthood. My husband has 3 sons and I have 2… but since they are all out of the house, my parenthood portrait includes our fur family instead! This week is a great time to post about this as we just bought a new, king sized mattress… because… … hubby had no place to sleep on our queen sized bed! ;D. Here I am (on the queen) with Cooper the Cattledog at my back, Tuxedo Jack in the curve of my legs and Buffy the haiku writing kitty in the curve of my waist. Yes, that is me tucked under all those blankets… Photo credit goes to Tim my wonderful mate.
This week I did the #52portraitsclass prompt: Stories We Love. It dovetailed with a #getmessyartjournal prompt: Currently Watching… I couldn’t help using my photo editing project for both. I am an avid fan of the BBC America series, Orphan Black. I’ve watched all the seasons multiple times and can’t get enough of it! Essentially it’s a story about clones who find each other and band together to survive. For the Get Messy prompt and then this portrait, I decided to superimpose my face on publicity shots of the clone characters. (Some turned out better than others, but all are fun! I used the Enlight app on iPhone 6s.) My portrait illustrates how successful the Orphan Black story is… not only do I imagine myself as the lead character of the series, I imagine myself as all five!
16/52 #52portraitsclass This week I did the 52 Portraits Class prompt: Claws Out which I have interpreted as Sassy and Powerful. The idea is what do we do to make ourselves feel more confident when we don’t necessarily feel it inside. For me, I spruce up what I’m wearing… I wear a color that makes me feel sassy. In 1979 I had my ‘colors done’ and then in the 80s became a color analyst myself. I worked at a women’s clothing store and studio, helping women realize their unique power through their own personal colors and styles. Long past are the days when I dressed for success, as we think of in the corporate world, but I almost always still wear my colors. For this portrait, I put on one of my power colors… a deep turquoise blue. This is an offshoot of my eye color and so brings out the intensity of my eyes (not sure that comes thru in this particular shot). I also put on a beautiful stone necklace that is not only a fine piece of hand crafted jewelry, but the soft tones of my skin color.
17/52 #52portraitsclass. Self care… For the past 20 days I’ve been listening to inspiring, transformational interviews on the Hay House World Summit. They ranged from Louise Hay to Robert Holden to Joe dispenza to Esther hicks to people I’d never heard of who are #lightworkers extraordinaire. I’d listen to at least one a day and usually 3. Sometimes when I was doing dishes and most times like this… On the couch in the rv with Cooper the cattledog at my feet and tuxedo jack purring on my chest. I’ve soaked up so many positive vibes I’m sure I’ll wake up tomorrow with wings to fly. I plan to schedule listening to HayHouse radio a couple of times each week to continue this great learning high.
18/52 #52portraitsclass. Strong | Unstrong. Most of my life I’ve had ups and downs in my energy level (being bipolar contributes). However since the osteoarthritis in my left hip in 2011 and hip replacement in 2013, and now piriformis in my right hip area, my world has shrunk. Chronic pain is draining and I never know how much energy I’ll have for any given physical activity. Here I am helping hubby finish the foundation for my art studio. I have the paint brush and the linseed oil and he is constructing. Hubby is amazing, he has such energy… My very own energizer bunny.I was proud of myself for finishing the project although needed pain meds that night… Sometimes I feel like a shadow of my former self physically . I’m only 59 and too young for this so I’m on a mission to improve my energy levels and strengthen my body. I’ll keep you posted!
19/52 portraits at #52portraitsclass. My chosen city? McCall, Idaho… Exactly where I am. Here I am on our 22 acre ranch, on the porch of my new art studio which faces the forest. I’m making an M in sign language for McCall, a small mountain resort town, just my size! This ranch in this town is my heart home.
I’m responding to @dansmoncrane s new prompt this week in #52portraitsclass… Where I stand… I took this prompt literally. Here I am, ok not standing, working on my computer for the first time in my new art studio! It happens to be 43 and rainy here in the mts of Idaho but do you think I care? Heck no! I have a little heater and a light and am blissfully happy to be in my own space… unfinished as it may be. I’m listening to the soft rain on the metal roof, the hummingbirds as the buzz to the feeder on the porch, and the glorious birdsong. Not to mention my faithful dog, Cooper is at my feet.
21/52 #52portraitsclass. Affirmation: I am an artist. Here I am chillaxing in my new studio coloring inside and outside the lines… As a child it was important to learn fine motor control and to emulate grownups’ art as examples. So we learned to color inside the lines… It was an important step! Then as adolescents we (certainly me) felt terribly self conscious if we didn’t create art like everyone else and became super critical of our work… And some of us stopped creating. Or shackled ourselves to mediocrity. Guess what? I love to play with paints and color, rip up paper and glue it down, make order out of visual chaos or vice versa, and I love seeing what my mind, emotions and hands will create when I have an idea… I love doing it to free my soul and too fly my imagination, and I love doing it often. Do I make mistakes? Sure! Am I unhappy with some of my work? Of course! Does that stop me? Heck no!!! I AM AN ARTIST, I bet you are too.
22/52 self portraits. My archetype is the Fairy Queen. My love of nature, belief in magic, energetic perception and expression of joy and light make this a strong archetype for me. And, did you know that redheads are thought to be incarnated fairies? I’m Firebonnet, named by the forest fairies after all.
“She’s got that look”. 23/52 #52portraitsclass. Bibs, patterned socks and a hat is my outfit of choice. It’s lovely to live on a ranch where this is totally appropriate. I don’t even need to wear an apron when I’m painting in my studio!. I thought the classic black and white pic worked well with the shot. Oh and I don’t go anywhere without my furry accessory Cooper the cattle dog.
24/52 “One of many”. I did a photo montage for this prompt because my tribe is scattered around the globe. These ladies are my go to goddesses right now. They inspire me, guide me, hear my woes, giggle with me and totally get me. Top left is my mom and granddaughter, upper right is @dansmoncrane my art inspiration, lower left is Sherry, my spiritual mentor and the middle is my bff @rebeccastcroix. Thank you ladies for being such powerful, gutsy, silly and sassy women. And thank you world wide web for making this possible.
25/52 portraits. Road Trip! Woohoo, we went on a motorcycle ride yesterday to Riggins for dinner. It was so awesome to be out on the road again flying thru the mountain valleys and hugging the canyon curves. I love letting everything go on the bike.
26/52 #52portraitsclass… Make a Wish… Ok friends this is a scary wish but I’m making it public anyway. My first creative love was acting. I acted from age 10 through about age 26 (including some professional work). My university training was in theatre first time around (second time around was art). Alas, my acting career was cut short by my undiagnosed bipolar disorder and anxiety. My wish now that I’m balanced? To have a very popular YouTube channel combining my love of creating, desire to inspire, and my performing ability. Big sigh. This shot is a still from my recent video, Firebonnet Friday, and works great for my wish! I enjoyed that whole process. What can I say? I’m a ham. Ok, here I go pressing the publish button…
27/52 8.2.16 “That nagging issue” is My weight.. My body image… Overeating… Eating disorder… Over indulgence… Lots of names, with lots of negative feelings and self punishment that has haunted me for over 4 decades. At the moment hubby took this shot of me a few days ago, I was feeling incredibly fat and ugly and super cranky because of it. It’s been awhile since I’ve been this heavy and I hate it when no clothes fit except my overalls and big dresses. Yuck!!! Yet, I have learned over the past few years to be gentle with myself and am learning to love my body no matter the size or shape. Very complicated and a constant companion this eating and body perception thing, but my life is so absolutely wonderful in so many ways I guess there has to be something that needs polishing. I’m a work in progress.
28/52 #52portraitsclass. Crossroads… Do I want to continue my body breakdown? Do I want to slip into old age limping and creaking more every day? Hell no! I was dancing around my art hut yesterday and having a blast when I started sobbing. There was a time when I could dance with my whole body, twirling, kicking, leaping… I had a brief sense of what that felt like yesterday, and then the grief welled up and the loss of that overwhelmed me. Sure I can metaphorically dance in other ways, but I plan to dance with my body again. I am movement, and it’s time to allow it back into my reality. I am using this image I put together with @canva this morning as a vow to myself.
29/52 My imagined life is that of a “sacred clown-ish” shaman. My #firebonnetfriday vlog is up on my blog. I take you on a photo shoot for this photo.
30/52 #52portraitsclass. Time(less) markers. My mom’s here on vacation this week, and we put on our matching hats from a vacation many years ago for this portrait. Our marvelous conversations this week have touched on memories from my early childhood, thru the death of my first husband and hers (my dad), thru siblings and children and grandchildren, and new loves and marriages. We are juicy old broads and always celebrate every moment we spend together. #lovemymom #wildgoddesswomen with Sigrid Farwell.
31/52 That nagging issue part 2. My body. I’ve decided that I want to love my body to health and wellness. And I want to incorporate all of me! My intention: “I enjoy radiant health. My body, mind and spirit are completely aligned and at peak performance. I have boundless energy, vitality and mobility.” It’s fun that I mistakenly got my hair cut this short because it’s like I’m someone new! I’m going with the refresh! I resurrected my old Instagram fitness account @firebonnet_gets_fit (i started it after my #hipreplacement in 2013) and will be posting my journey there. I invite you to follow and if you would like some self love use the hashtag #treasuremyselftowholeness. I’m tired of being at war with my body and treating it as less than my mind and spirit. I am in a physical existence, it’s time to unify and live physically to the fullest.
32/52 #52portraitsclass. Closed… While I’m diving into my wellness program I find myself going inward… I’m taking a break from blogging and vlogging as a result. I’m feeling private so only plan on posting on IG and Facebook for awhile. All is good. I’m just focused inward right now.
33/52 weekly self portraits. #52portraitsclass… elemental… Contrary to my nickname Firebonnet, fire does not call to me. Rather I am a forest fairy… My favorite characters in The Lord of the Rings are the Ents. Fall is coming to our forests in the mts of McCall, ID. I’m bundled up a bit as I flit thru the turning trees of our forest.
34/52 #52portraitsclass. I had been putting off a “physical labor” task that needed doing so I put on my very best “ranch hand” clothes and got to it. I cut and then installed wall insulation for #megsarthut. The chore became fun as I used it for the subject of this week’s #selfportrait. I’m rocking that #plaid.
35/52 9.30.16 Mental blocks. I’m being led to go deeper into my art… To learn more and produce more in structured studio time. Part of me is rebelling. Sometimes it’s not fun learning new things when you come up against your own limitations. But I need to bust thru and just do it. I know how exciting and fulfilling it is when I’m out on the other side. Well, my ego mind really loves Facebook, groups in particular, so many distractions, so many “shiny objects”, so many bread crumbs to follow. Then all of a sudden it’s lunchtime! Where did the morning go? It was apropos that I drew this card from #crazysexylovenotes this morning. I took the Facebook app off my phone day before yesterday and I’m going to limit my time online in general. Phew, I feel better already… Dang it’s lunchtime already!
36/52 “You did what?” Is the prompt I chose this week. The idea is to illustrate something I might do to my appearance if I had the money/time/courage… I used some photo editing to stick my face on the body I’d like… If I had the money? I’d get liposuction on my thighs and I wouldn’t rule out a tummy tuck, lol. How about you? Long hair? Tattoos? Noise pierce (been there done that)? Eye lift? Do tell.
37/52portraits. Meet my second grandchild, Eliza Mae. She and I have a special bond. We were both born in the year of the Red Fire Monkey. I will meet her at the beginning of 2017 in person, but we have met already in dreamspace and on FaceTime! It was strange for me when I became a grandmother two years ago with her sister Emma… Now I am feeling much more empowered and starting to dig the role! Oh little Lizzy, the adventures we will have!
38/52portraits. What is a constant in my workday right now? Chaos! Hubby is putting bigger windows in my art studio. Then I can put in the insulation and he can finish the walls, so I’ll be able to stay warm for the Idaho winter weather. It is a much anticipated positive step forward indeed. I just wish I dealt a little better with this kind of disorder, I feel helpless and totally discombobulated… And exhausted! Ah well, this too shall pass and I’ll have a gorgeous, bright, warm creative space in just a few weeks.
39/52 #52portraitsclass I’m traveling solo…. All the way into town to my wonderful acupuncturist who loves my art journals. It is a lovely mini adventure to travel by myself for joyful self-care.
40/52 self portraits for #52portraitsclass. Who am I? I took this shot yesterday. I felt in limbo; in between my eccentric rancher artist mystic self and my parental unit self, on the 16 hour drive to visit my second son. The one I raised myself for six years. Apropos that I’m wearing his cast aside University of Colorado sweatshirt I bought him when we visited Boulder in his teens. And the NY hat was from a marvelous trip we took with his uncle to that city a few years later. I feel a redefinition approaching.
41/52portraits. 11.8.16 Prompt: Children… I have two, born 12 years apart to the day. This past weekend I spent visiting with my youngest (twenty something) in Calif. One of our fave things to do together is watch movies and tv, usually sci fi and fantasy. Friday we went to Dr Strange and I got all caught up on the Marvel universe. On Saturday I got to see my son use his own super power, acting. He was absolutely marvelous as Stacey Jaxx in the musical Rock of Ages. It was a powerful visit for me as I recognized how adult my baby really is.
42/52portraits. I am riding the deep waves of the super moon and touching mythic places. I am joining the totems class taught by @dansmoncrane. Already I am feeling shifts coming in my art and I’ve only just begun.
43/52portraits. Milestones… Today I celebrated 60 juicy years on this planet. It’s been a delicious day.
44/52. #52portraitsclass in the portrait, I am Ceremonially space clearing my house on the new moon in Sagittarius. I found this bell at my local thrift store. The sound is so pure and clear it is transcendent. Although I did the cabin clearing on the new moon, I superimposed that portrait on the photo of our winter woodlands in the crisp afternoon… This is the yin season, winter, see how cool the afternoon sun is.
45/52. 12.8.16 This is my work space. My husband built me a freestanding studio and I spend most of the day here. It houses my computer, art supplies, sewing stuff, files, books, scrapbooks… Right now we are working to finish insulating it since winter is definitely here! I am all bundled up in about 4 layers of clothing. Sidenote, how many of you like to stand up when you do your art?
46/90 #52portraitsclass. This is the first year I’ve spent the winter at the ranch. It’s also my first winter in snow for 20 yrs give or take. And I can’t get enough of it. It’s simply magical. I grew up in the White Mts of NH and the CO Rockies.. Living in So Cal I missed the winter! We’ll see how long it lasts, this childish glee, but it’s perfect for right here and now and the holiday season!
47/52. I am in wondrous love with Mother Winter. I take more care dressing for my walks through the winter woods than I do for dates with my sweetheart. But my honey doesn’t mind! In fact he gave me snowshoes, gloves and now this marvelous hat so I could safely go out to meet my new love every day. (Besides being warm, The hat is bright orange, in case I fall over and can’t get up they’ll at least be able to find my head in the snow drifts lol) I truly have a white Christmas.
48/52portraits”That nagging issue 3″. Nagging issue 1 was portrait 27 on Aug 2. My body… How I’ve struggled with an eating disorder and body image issues all my life. Nagging issue 2 was Sept 1, the 31st portrait… I was tired of this struggle and ready to do something about it. So here I am 16 weeks later. I have lost about 15 pounds, a pant size and now snowshoe around our property every day. I chose a plant based eating program and have had about six weeks of chiropractic to help my wanky hip get back into shape. I don’t drink alcohol anymore and caffeine rarely, stay away from dairy, sugar and processed food and make sure I eat three meals a day plus a few snacks. I juice and make whole food smoothies daily and feel even more connected to our wonderful, fertile Mother Earth as a result. Here I am reflected in the mirror on our porch after a romp in the snow in my size 10 jeans (stated goal at beginning of September). Life is good when I keep up the self care! What I didn’t keep up is the #treasuremyselftowholeness updates. But I’m ok with that.
49/52 The word I chose for 2017 is Root. Last year was Blossom. I’m sticking with the plant analogy… Root and bloom where I am planted, finding the nourishment in the here and now, yet with connection to all that has come before. Here is my personal triple goddess portrait: maiden (age 17), mother (age 38), crone (today). Time to own all my strengths, come to terms with my weaknesses and love all of me.
50/52 #52portraitsclass question: Am I an optimist or a pessimist? This is my puzzle-solver face. I’m a studious, analytical problem solver by nature. Although it may not seem it from the photo, I’m a down-deep optimist and this face proves it. It’s my “every challenge has a solution” face. What’s more optimistic than that?
51/52 …Art… What do I know about art and me? That I need to create art with my hands often, to ground myself in this time-space continuum. I can take loads of photos, and create beauty in a virtual way with digital art but if I don’t connect with my hands I’m adrift. #playwithyourart has helped me to know this.
52/52portraits. Today I’m in Portland visiting my oldest son and his new daughter Eliza. At the last minute my youngest came from So Cal with some friends. We all met at the children’s museum for a madcap reunion. It’s wonderful to complete this year long photographic portrait project with a shot of my boys and me and the newest member of the family, Eliza. Thank you @dansmoncrane for #52portraitsclass. It was a great artistic and personal project I will look back on with joy and fondness.