Outrageousness at Midlife and Beyond: Creative Dissonance and Your Inner Hag

February 26th, 2021

By Robin Rainbow Gate

Guest Writer for Wake Up World

My parents were both artists. I loved my dad’s bronze, emotive sculptures. My mom’s artwork, however I didn’t appreciate.

Oh, I appreciated that my mom was a passionate, creative woman who welded, sculpted, designed one of a kind jewelry and painted into the wee hours.

I loved having a studio in the house with access to all sorts of materials, learning and creative expression.

What I didn’t appreciate was my mom’s outrageous concepts, compositions and color combinations.

My mom and I shared art – both as writers and as visual artists. It was where we met most most joyously and easily.

I didn’t tell her, but I think she gathered – that I didn’t care for or appreciate her art. It was so….unpretty, out-of-the-box and  disturbing.

I remember when she proudly hung her latest painting next to the piano where I practiced daily. It was a large square painting with black spray paint covering the outer third of the canvas, petering out with cloudlike edges, revealing a grayish white background in the central portion. Then, in precise hard lines was painted a scarlet red set of lips – mouth or vagina – I’m not sure. And coming out through these labia, a torn white lace hankie.

Between songs, I studied this anomaly on the wall next my piano bench. I didn’t get it. And I didn’t like it. The painting wasn’t pretty. It was strange.

My mom’s latest work of art didn’t make sense to me. I thought it was silly. Funny, even.  So I decided to play with it, to interact.

Next time I had a dried, wrinkled used piece of Kleenex, I tore part of it, elongating the stiff white tissue. I then carefully threaded one end of the Kleenex through the hole in the torn hankie, chuckling gleefully. I didn’t mean to be cruel, I was responding honestly to what the piece was to me: ridiculous.

My mom was upset and surely felt disrespected, because I got a talking to that drilled into me the absolute requirement to treat other’s art with respect.


In the last years of my mother’s life we were sitting together discussing art, or maybe the way I dressed, and she told me I was a colorist.

I had never heard the term before, but I took it as a compliment and inherently understood the term to describe me appropriately.

Growing up amid my mom’s large car parts sculptures and paintings, I inwardly grimaced at her color combinations.

I described my mom’s use of color as dissonant. She juxtaposed sharp-colored forms with oddly contrasting strong tones. Every time I looked at my mom’s paintings I grimaced inwardly. Why so unpleasant? Did she realize what she was doing? And why was she using such colors that created in me a sensation of unrest?

Now I Understand

Then, tonight, I was weaving a Huichol “Ojo de Dios” (eye of God). The basket filled with pretty balls of yarn on my lap, I stared, aware that I had color decisions to make.

In winding the yarn around the crossed wooden sticks in a spiral fashion, every so often I’d feel the urge to switch to a new color.

Normally, my way has been to juxtapose colors as I would ingredients in cooking, especially when I’m preparing authentic Indian cuisine: what will create a harmonious, pleasing affect? What will bring upliftment and depth to the spirit?

Tonight though, as I gazed inside the basket waiting for the tone and theme of this Ojo de Dios to reveal itself to me as inspiration, I made a new type of color decision:

I decided to wind whichever color I felt like, regardless of how it would look, next to the previous color. So what if convention or my normal sensibilities would not be soothed or touched warmly. In fact, GOOD if that does happen! I don’t need to please anyone or make anything pretty or conventionally pleasing. I don’t have to be smart. I can be without control. Wild and without order; the only order being my acceptance, admission and proclamation of the non-sensical, seemingly random, misfitting, unpretty, displeasing aspect of life.

Fuck, life is like this and so I can be too. There is no one to please, no one to impress. I’m winding yarn around sticks in the form of a cross and it’s okay not to be the best or even to be “right” in terms of my divine colorist knowing.? This time, I’m letting it go. I’m choosing dissonance, like my mom. Because at this point – coming to terms with and even compassion for my hag-like qualities – I’m allowing a different and other sensibility to enter the creative process: this is how it is. It’s like this. And if you don’t like it, fine. And if you don’t get it, I don’t need you to. But maybe someday, sometime in your advanced years, you will get it too. And we will meet in our outrageousness. Like the Garuda, we will fly by one another on our endless flights, soaring in well-deserved and time-earned freedom.

Originally published at Take Good Care of You Wellness and reproduced here with permission.

Also by Robin Rainbow Gate:

About the author:

Robin Rainbow Gate was born in Chicago to a family of artists. Along the way, she lived in England, India and Kentucky. Since 2006 Robin has lived in an indigenous mountain village in Mexico where she learned from elder teachers and traditional healers. She teaches authentic Indian cuisine, is author of Calling Myself Home: Living Simply, Following Your Heart and

What Happens When You Jump, is an intentional living guide and teacher who writes and coaches to midlife women seeking to experience a soulful, connected life of self-care, listening, honoring and respect – with focus on simple living, nature, and care of the earth.

Website and social media

Website: https://www.takegoodcareofyouwellness.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/takegoodcareofyouwellness/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/RobinRainbowGate

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/robinrainbowgate

If you've ever found value in our articles, we'd greatly appreciate your support by purchasing Mindful Meditation Techniques for Kids - A Practical Guide for Adults to Empower Kids with the Gift of Inner Peace and Resilience for Life.

In the spirit of mindfulness, we encourage you to choose the paperback version. Delve into its pages away from screen glare and notifications, allowing yourself to fully immerse in the transformative practices within. The physical book enriches the learning process and serves as a tangible commitment to mindfulness, easily shared among family and friends.

Over the past few years, Wake Up World has faced significant online censorship, impacting our financial ability to stay online. Instead of soliciting donations, we're exploring win-win solutions with our readers to remain financially viable. Moving into book publishing, we hope to secure ongoing funds to continue our mission. With over 8,500 articles published in the past 13 years, we are committed to keeping our content free and accessible to everyone, without resorting to a paywall.