conversationFor over a decade now, I have been drawing characters of a tribe of squiggly people in conversations. It is an abstract way to capture the energetics of different interactions – sometimes humorous, sometimes serious and sometimes unintelligible. Most of the time, I wonder about their world and imagine the stories they might be sharing with each other. Below are a two of them, one with a (true?) observation and the other with a snippet of the conversation possibly overheard while eavesdropping. Enjoy…

future together

falling down copy

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An artist is….

Artist Definition_RGP

I have been thinking for a long while how to define an artist and creativity. Especially since I often hear from different people that they feel that they are not creative. I firmly hold that being an artist and the creative ability is not exclusive to a few but rather that it is what we are all born of and into…the only difference is the unique way it manifests in each of us. I have come to the related definitions: An artist embraces uncertainty and the unknown and is in conversation with the world. Creativity is the conversation that navigates the unknown into beautiful being.

I read in The Atlantic (January/February 2015) a very interesting article (The Death of the Artist – and the Birth of the Creative Entrepreneur) that describes the evolution of the idea of artist in our society. And the important thing for me was that artist and creativity is evolving and is defined by each of us. And can be re-defined for us individually.

“Yet the notion of the artist as a solitary genius—so potent a cultural force, so determinative, still, of the way we think of creativity in general—is decades out of date. So out of date, in fact, that the model that replaced it is itself already out of date. A new paradigm is emerging, and has been since about the turn of the millennium, one that’s in the process of reshaping what artists are: how they work, train, trade, collaborate, think of themselves and are thought of—even what art is—just as the solitary-genius model did two centuries ago.”


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failure / success: which way do you go after some damage?

(updated post from 2011, as we ponder our new year and past)

From artist Teresita Fernández’ 2013 commencement speech at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts, “On Amnesia, Broken Pottery, and the Inside of a Form”: 

“In Japan there is a kind of reverence for the art of mending. In the context of the tea ceremony there is no such thing as failure or success in the way we are accustomed to using those words. A broken bowl would be valued precisely because of the exquisite nature of how it was repaired, a distinctly Japanese tradition of kintsugi, meaning to “to patch with gold”. Often, we try to repair broken things in such a way as to conceal the repair and make it “good as new.” But the tea masters understood that by repairing the broken bowl with the distinct beauty of radiant gold, they could create an alternative to “good as new” and instead employ a “better than new” aesthetic. They understood that a conspicuous, artful repair actually adds value. Because after mending, the bowl’s unique fault lines were transformed into little rivers of gold that post repair were even more special because the bowl could then resemble nothing but itself. Here lies that radical physical transformation from useless to priceless, from failure to success. All of the fumbling and awkward moments you will go through, all of the failed attempts, all of the near misses, all of the spontaneous curiosity will eventually start to steer you in exactly the right direction.”

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Rita Patel. Untitled response to the Anna Akhmatova print.


I wrote this poem in response to the print of Anna Akhmatova I received in the mail from Pea River Journal. Seeing an image of someone’s face and looking for traces of the person and realizing that the traces – the markings of one’s living – are everywhere.

Originally posted on pea river journal:

Your face
a luminous clay vessel

drawn into
another realm

expressing edges
from your cosmos

of what has been
of what was seen
of what was experienced
of what is felt
of what only you can know
…and not know
…and lost?

and I must wonder
should I, as you
maybe at this moment
“In full forgetfulness, seek for my former trace.”

—last line from To the Artist (1924) translated by Yevgeny Bonver


View original

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Do you see the rabbit_6 Do you see the rabbit_21Do you see the rabbit? (book)

“Do you see the rabbit?” is a series of collages inspired by the rabbit in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll as well as the general fantastical and dreamlike mood of the whole story.

The white rabbit enters in the beginning of the story and is muttering “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!” The rabbit seems oddly placed in this story as he is rushing around. His behavior brings to my mind our relationship to clocktime. I often wonder about the idea of time and how the way we think about it influences how we are and who we become.

For a while, I was only skimming the surface of time and then one day, I stopped and began creating these collages. I found the ground, landed deep into a moment, and new possibilities unfolded. The rabbit also paused and became part of the art. This collection of my art, collages and poetry is an invitation. My wish is that you enjoy the time you spend here. Perhaps you may also experience this time differently than when rushing around to get things done. And, you may even see more than one rabbit…


Do you see the Rabbit?

Time is now,

later, then,

yesterday, before,


and nowhere, not now

In every moment.

To be aware

but not focused




of these times

is being with

the eternal

both endless

and momentary

deeply uncapturable

all the past, present, future


all the universes of

all our lives

before, now, after

at the same time


By being

in this moment.

—-Rita Patel

Do you see the rabbit_9

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lovely flowers

“Flowers speak to us when we know how to listen.” – The Mother

Flowers at Meadow Store New York

I, like so many, love flowers and the magnificent beauty and variety. Here are some photos of ones around me this past summer that I hope you enjoy…Flowers

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I don’t have time.

“I don’t have time to…”

What does that mean?

I hear that often  – in almost every conversation. And I find I say/think it often as well. I’ve been thinking about this statement  – “I don’t have time.” – more lately because it is the one thing that comes up in every health assessment that I do with others. Maybe it is because we are stuck in the linear measurement of time. The measurement of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years – because that is how we mark our days. Yesterday, I felt I did not have time to do what I wanted to do – I was focused on the number of hours I had and the dates when things were due.  The anxiety and stress I began feeling ensured that I did not get to do much of anything. I experienced time differently because of what I was feeling. It made me think that when we say “I do not have time to…” that maybe we are referring to our experience of time – how we feel and not the actual 24 hour cycle…because if we think about it not all hours are the same to us in a 24 hour cycle. We feel different at different times because of different things.

The gods confound the man who first found out

How to distinguish hours – confound him, too,

Who in this place setup a sun-dial,

To cut and hack my days so wretchedly

Into small pieces —-Plautus

Speed and flow. When the speed – the tempo – increases we feel stress and when the flow is interrupted we feel stress. When we feel stress we increase the speed of how we experience time and interrupt the flow more often. I think we are all looking for uninterrupted flow that matches our own speed. This past summer, I decided to figure out what my speed really was because I thought maybe the “right” way and time to do things was not really right for me.  I did this because the rhythm of each day did not feel good  – I felt I was trying to catch up or was off the groove.  How could I experience my life more fully in the present and not feel stressed and anxious? I know how we live and experience our lives has a direct impact on our sense of wellbeing. So what is beyond productivity and efficiency? How do I experience more joy, beauty…and fun? So like most things in life – it has been a process and I am learning something all the time about time and our approach and why it is the way it is. One thing I realized while paying attention to my own rhythm  was that there was more than speed and flow to my experience of time. There was also the energy I brought to my work, play, relationships, etc. Those were categories where I either I operated from fear or stress OR from passion, joy and love. So I realized that my rhythm plus how I felt about something affected my experience. For example, if I saw something as work – there was no way I could feel anything fun or positive about it and that time. Even if I actually liked what I was doing for work. Categorizing it that way changed me and what I brought to it. So I began looking at my attitude and seeing what I could shift…and for the things that I could not reminded myself that it was not permanent. It is not easy and is a constant process but it has helped me see.

…..”In such a world, experience was always lit by spirit; the mind was not a closed compartment ‘processing’ its own private impressions, the mind always had at least one window facing the eternal. Through this window wonder and beauty could shine in on a life and illuminate the quiet corners where mystery might be glimpsed. A person’s nature was revealed in experience; it was also the place where gifts arrived from the divine. Naturally, experience was one’s own and not the experiences of someone else. However, it was understood as much more than the private product and property of an individual. Expressed in another way, there was a sense that the individual life was deeply woven in the the lives of others and the life of nature. The individual was not an isolated labourer desperately striving to garner a quota of significance from the world.” – John O’Donohue, Beauty

And ultimately that is what it is all about – our connections, our relationships with everyone (including ourselves) and everything is what ultimately affects our health and wellbeing more than anything else. By looking at my speed, flow, energy – even if  I cannot change anything I have started seeing more about my life and time. (“Your time is your life”-Marie Forleo) and when the speed, flow and energy were more my own, more natural I felt connected…and I felt better. Not just my mood but also physically – things inside my body worked better.

“There is such a constant whirr of movement that you never know where you are. You have no time to give yourself the present experience. When you accumulate experiences at such a tempo, everything becomes thin. Consequently, you become ever more absent from your life and this fosters emptiness that haunts the heart.” John O’Donohue, Beauty

gerber daisy petals falling from the sky in a sunlit stream

gerber daisy petals falling from the sky in a sunlit stream

I paint and it is about movement and change. When I engage with my own painting – looking into it the flow of the colors moving I experience going deeper and slower as opposed feeling like I am skimming…skipping past – as happens to me with moving digital images. I can’t catch up. But I try to. And that is when I lose my own rhythm. So when I say “I don’t have time to…” it is now a cue for me to see whether or not I am off my speed.

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