In preparation for the upcoming Full Moon in Cancer on December 31st I'm featuring Cancerian artist and poet Trudy from Troy, Michigan. Her story is incredibly moving and inspirational and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
I am a Moon child. I am a crab that wears her shell as armor to protect herself from the emotions and turmoil of the world.
When my identical twin sister Jude died of a brain tumor in November, 2005 my heart stopped beating too. As I held her in my arms I talked her into seeking the light, totally oblivious to family around me who were sobbing as Jude took her last breath. I did not shed a tear. The oxygen left the room and I retreated to my protective shell for three years. I used my crab claws to fend off life and to hold onto my intense pain as I imploded into myself.
Before her death Jude whispered to me, "Dying is easy Trudy, I'm going to Heaven. You will have to stay behind. I couldn't do that."
I retreated deeper and deeper into the abyss of my room with the drapes drawn, isolating myself from friends and family. I would wake up with my pillow drenched from tears shed while sobbing through my restless slumber, screaming out her name. Yes, I am a Cancer; overly sensitive and fiercely loyal to my twin.
I sensed Jude strongly the first month of her passing - I felt her hands pushing down on my shoulders to give me strength as I sobbed uncontrollably. Her touch did not give me comfort, it only intensified my agony and I stopped feeling her presence - she had left me. It was just to painful to watch me suffer. She had also retreated into her shell, her cocoon.
And then The Awakening: Jude came to me in a dream on the third anniversary of her death. She screamed, "Enough...three years is enough! Get out of bed and do something with your life! I cannot watch you in pain anymore!" and then she left.
I woke up in the moonlight with the weight of my grief lifted from my shoulders. My world had become so gray that I was blinded by the vibrant colors that engulfed me. I looked at my green couch and saw a large magic marker-type outline around it. The moonlight cast beautiful shades of color around the room and I saw the outline of objects everywhere. I attempted to explain these lines, colors, shades and designs to my husband who had begun to wonder if I had truly lost my grip on reality. I was dancing and laughing; such an unfamiliar sound coming from my throat. I had not shown any signs of joy since Jude's death.
I woke up as an artist, not that I wanted to paint, or thought, 'gee that would be a fun hobby to learn'. No, I was an artist, I HAD to paint. Not only could I draw and paint, but I knew techniques that it had taken fine artists years to perfect. Art awakened me from the pain of losing my twin for she had given me the gift of expressing my feeling through my art.
I never had the desire, talent or inclination to draw or paint before this. My creative outlet had always been poetry. I grew up in a small town and art was not offered in our school - those with innate artistic abilities flourished on their own. I drew the same stick figures in the second grade that I did at the age of fifty-eight.
Paradise Island -This is the place in my mind for solitude.
My painting is the passion that Cancer's crave. Now, instead of retreating deeper into my shell of despair I retreat deep into my paintings. I create at night, in the moonlight. The Moon is the ruling planet of the Moon child. When all the world is tucked away I have the solace of my palette and my canvas to sustain me. Cancer's are nurturers - I nurture each work of art as a mother who has given birth to a child only to be saddened when my paintings leave and go to other homes.
The element of water plays a major part in my paintings. I often draw and create bodies of water signifying the many moods of my Sun sign; a peaceful brook for when I'm feeling at peace or a raging waterfall when I am feeling a bit crabby - I express it all. My protective shell has now become my art studio and I feel safe and loved in the space in which I create. Jude is always with me. Always. She has not left my side since my "Awakening!" My Moon child continues to be loyal, sensitive and passionate even in death.
My next project is to create an abstract series titled, "Awakening." I will paint with the colors that I continue to use, the colors that were shown to me by Jude. Colors that are alive: vibrant oranges, and the brightest of the blues with the blush of a peach for compliment. My collection will consist of titles such as "Sunrise", "Genesis" "Dawn" "Birth". . . titles that signify my emergence through pain.
As a Cancer I will continue to balance my contrasting sides: the hard and determined side is balanced with the soft and vulnerable side that I am hesitant to show at times. Both sides are always present within my art.
I used to think that I am living proof that one can live with half a heart. As a woman whose Sun sign symbolizes emotion and whose element is water, I run deep. I can say now that I live with a full heart - I not only have myself, but I have my art and Jude to complete me. I do not have sad years anymore, instead I have sad days, sad moments. It is during this sadness that I create my ultimate masterpieces. My art inspires me. My heart is beating now and oxygen has returned to my soul.
The sunflower was my first canvas painted in February of 2009. This flower came from Jude's bouquet. Originally I painted a pinkish yellow background and then I drew and painted the sunflower. I was not happy with the way it turned out so I started over. I boldly painted another flower and started to paint the background blue. Well then I started to scrape the blue off and I stepped away from it for awhile because it just wasn't what I had pictured in my mind. Later I came back to it to finish it and wow, I got chills - it was finished just as it was.
The original flower that represents Jude is still faintly there. The second vibrant sunflower represented me, our petals are touching and that symbolizes that we are still connected. The beautiful blue scraped background depicts that although my sky is blue it has been a rough journey to get here. The second leaf signifies Jude's departure and the top leaf is me growing forward with my life.
Sunflowers symbolize loyalty because they blindly follow the Sun. They provide energy in the form of nourishment which makes it a perfect flower for Cancers. Sunflowers are the third anniversary flower and Jude came to me on the third anniversary of her death.
Jude wrote her eulogy during her illness and I had the honor of reading her beautiful words. She chose the song, "I Hope You Dance" by Lee Ann Womack as her message to me.
In her memory I created "Dancing in the Rain". I found this absolutely wonderful anonymous quotation on the internet and painted around the meaning. The dark rain cloud in placed beside the room I spent my agonizing time engulfed in grief. I am represented by displaying to the world that my life now is surrounded by beautiful vibrant colors and coping with my significant loss. I am dancing for Me. I am dancing for Jude.
This is the second painting that I created.
Jude wanted me to know what Heaven looked like. She kept saying that there were structures everywhere. I had no idea what she was talking about and she would get so frustrated with me (like we always did when she was alive). She described structures that appeared as Angels walked the path of light toward God. I had a difficult time with the word structure since it was not in my vocabulary whereas 'building', I could have understood readily, but she continued to use this word structure and I worked for months trying to get it just right for her. I worked on other projects and kept coming back to this. When I finally completed Calling All Angels I was at peace and thank God so was she!
One night I was painting and she wanted it to be green and then she wanted it blue...well we went round and round about this. I painted it green and while I waited for it to dry I left my table for a minute. I came back and an entire diet coke was spilled over the entire painting so I said, "Okay, okay you win...and of course I painted it blue!
Trudy's Bio: No fancy art schools will be found on my resume. I took my teaching degree on the road and worked in the Social Services arena for thirty years. Of course being a Cancer I had to nurture and embrace those in society who needed a hand up: the mentally ill, homeless, pregnant and parenting teen, the alcoholic and the drug addicted became my clientele. Working as a job coach with the MR/DD population was the whipped cream on top of the beautiful sundae that I created in my employment history.
To read more Full Moon Artist features please go here.