The blog of Maureen Claffy, fine art painter based in Chicago. Explore her insights, inspirations and motivations as she gets raw and shares how she releases her resistance to love piece by piece, in order to paint in the flow of pure creativity and passion.

The Season of the Emptying Nest

In 1990 when my eldest daughter had just learned to walk, she then quickly learned to run.

We lived on the second floor of a Chicago "Shotgun" style three flat apartment building in Lincoln Park. These buildings were designed around a very long central hallway where it was a single, straight shot or line from the front room and the street to the kitchen and the alley.

Continually, Mary-Margaret would run her perfect little body with beautiful bald head the entire length of the apartment.

Tiny bare feet. Laughing. She would always close her eyes when she was perilously close to the dining room table. And then she would do something marvelous. She would accelerate. 

Eyes closed, accelerating through danger. Wow. Did she learn that in Heaven? What did I pass on genetically to this child as accelerating through danger and change had always been my way.

And yet in this season of the emptying nest where Mary’s youngest sibling is on his own way I have decided that it is time to rethink my need for speed.

I do not slow easily.

I visited my friend Sophie this Spring. We met in Paris for her fiftieth birthday. Our birthdays are six days and two years apart and in 1985 when I was studying in her hometown of Aix-en-Provence in the South of France her parents hosted a birthday party for both of us.

While invitations normally read "Please Come and Celebrate" I remember insisting (so cheeky of me, Sophie was annoyed!) that the invitation read "Venez-Vous Eclater".

A literal translation would be "Come and burst yourself open with Joy".

Sophie and I still laugh about it. I made us look like dorks in front of her fancy friends and I enjoyed it.

Bursting with joy is an excellent option for me now.  Bursting with Joy requires  that I slow down enough to pay attention as this nest that I so carefully and lovingly wove morphs into so many things that I can no longer control.

I am weaving a new word into my emptying nest as well. April 2016 Sophie taught me that the French verb "emervieller" means "to release wonder" and it can be borrowed into the reflexive where it means "I release wonder about myself". I so deeply love this concept.

So this is my plan in this season of the emptying nest. I am bursting with joy and releasing wonder with my eyes wide open, doing my best to slow down and to miss the dining room table. 

And hey, it is still my nest and it's not even empty because I am in it! And who knows who or what will fly by. I don't want to miss the marvelous and the joyful.

It is all in the art now too which is a huge relief. Hopefully that will never change. I had no idea what I would paint for the opening of my new studio. Now I do. You are all so very welcome there on June 17th at 7pm at The Bridgeport Art Center 1200 West 35th Street, Chicago, Studio 3R3210.

Wishing you Love and Joy, Maureen xx


"Hurl the former things into oblivion.

do not make your dwelling,

your home in the past.

Look, see, I am doing a new thing.

Do you not perceive it as it springs up before you?

I am making a Way in the desert

and rivers in the wasteland." 

Isaiah 43:18-20


"I am going to let it happen to me. Shake it off."

Florence Welch