Added shadows and highlights. And polka dots!
“So, have you painted anything weird lately?” my Grandma asks during one of our recent phone conversations. It put a massive smile on my face that I’m sure she could hear and I told her that I haven’t painted anything weird, but I’ve certainly drawn some odd things. She laughed and carried on with the conversation.
My grandmother loves Norman Rockwell and, while I was growing up and my artistic sensibilities revealed themselves (much to everyone’s horror), she would often let me know how nice his work was and how I should be doing that instead of “that weird stuff”. I appreciated her enjoyment of his work and other people’s work that was similar, but I have to say I always felt a tinge of rejection when comparisons were made and what I “should” do wasn’t in line with what I felt.
Fast forward a couple decades and here we are, her asking me what weird things I’m up to. Progress.
Story time: Many, many years ago, my very talented Uncle Ray painted Norman Rockwell’s “Puppy Love” on the wall of a local diner. After his untimely death, the owners of the diner cut the painting out of the wall, framed it, and gave it to my Grandma. The painting sat at the very top of a hutch that held her bell collection, overlooking her living room. A couple years ago, Christmas Eve, her house caught fire. It was early morning, around 2 a.m., she lost nearly everything including that painting. Because she has a habit of being everyone’s favorite person (she’s quite lovely), the town and family pulled together, raised money for her, donated their time, skills, money, rebuilt the inside of her house, gave her furniture, and about a year later she was able to move back in. My Aunt has done an incredible job with the interior design, giving her a new look — still, there are things Grandma misses.
Since I found out the painting was destroyed, I’ve been thinking about trying to paint as closely as a I can another one for her, but put it off for well over a year because, frankly, I have zero confidence. I finally decided to just suck it up and at least try. It hasn’t been pretty. I won’t be able to make it as good as my Uncle’s was. Certainly won’t come close to Rockwell. But I’m trying and I’m not doing anything weird to it! That’s the most important thing, I suppose. And I’m perfectly fine with that.
So, wish me luck! I need it!
Happy New Year!
I’ve been active with social media, but have failed miserably with updating here! I post update photos on Instagram and connect that to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc…but not WordPress. My lack of updating is due to it being inconvenient. Another way to say it: I’m lazy, yo!
So, an update: I’ve been working on a 50 gallon rain barrel for a nonprofit called Wags4Tags here in Raleigh. They provide artists with rain barrels, the rain barrels are painted, then given back, and auctioned off at a fundraiser. Their mission is to rescue dogs from kill shelters (sadly North Carolina is chock full of them — we have the highest number in the States), train them to become service animals which are given to Veterans with emotional injuries, such as PTSD. For more info, go here: http://www.wags4tags.org/#!about-us/cjg9
For my barrel, I’m painting my typical landscape deal, nighttime on one side, daytime on the other. I’m hoping to make it fancy enough to be useful as inside decor, but I’m cool if it lives outside, too. As long as it raises the cash-money for charity!
People’s hands are something I’ve always been drawn to. I study their shape and condition. I watch how they move while someone speaks, how they’re used during the most mundane tasks, and how they appear at rest. To me, hands speak a different language than eyes, but can say just as much.
I find my mother’s hands particularly fascinating; they’re the set that created this fixation of mine. I’m one of those people who holds an entire world in my head, revealing feelings and thoughts only when I run out of room to keep them. I get this from her. She can be reserved and silent. Her hands, though, are loud. They shout and howl, but are most imposing when still.
The skin that covers them is heavy, like a quilt. Draped across the back and tucked in around her fingers. There are lines of varying depths etched into the surface and a few cracks that are tender and weak. Rough, calloused palms, often facing outward to ask for distance. Rarely do we get a glimpse of her open hand, palm up. It’s a vulnerable position to be in, only shown when she’s willing to give a part of herself and never shown to request something for herself. She always struggles to receive a kindness, not sure we mean it, not sure she can believe it.
These hardened features on my mother’s hands speak of strength gained through involuntary reactions, not sought out for cultivation. Built by, not for. Still, her strength is magnificent in its efficiency, but saddening that it won’t always allow her to exist unguarded.
Her hands are small and very delicate. Though the skin appears like stone, they float when they move, gliding from one thing to the next. Her handwriting is tiny, each curve created with perfection and so light it’s as if she doesn’t want to hurt the paper or maybe feels her words lack importance.
With this resilience of my mother, always functioning in the safest way, I want there to be an aspect of her that evolves. I want her to learn how to open her hand, reveal her palm, exist for a moment in vulnerability, and accept the kindnesses given to her. I want her to understand how incredibly worthy she is and that love for her is unconditional. I want her to know that this beautiful machine she is and lives in can still run well if she loosens her white-knuckle grip on the controls. I want her to know she’ll be okay.
These are my mother’s hands and these are a few of the things they say about her.
Every year (or multiple times per year) I decide it’s a great idea to revamp my life. By that I mean my work and all that’s related. Perhaps it’s not the wisest decision, but refreshers are good, especially for a mind becoming stagnant.
Four pieces were completed at the beginning of January for a play. As soon as they were done and shipped out, I paused to look around my studio and realized that it had become horribly chaotic. Paint tubes scattered, tiny shreds of paper, dirty brushes, not one surface was bare, including the floor. I did what I could, which was to walk away from it for a bit over a week. It was not a relaxing time because all I could think about was getting that area in order so I could get back to work. I had been so focused on those four pieces that when they were done, I felt lost.
I finally forced myself to clean (pics to come). I’ve found that even with this clear space, my brain isn’t working the way it needs to. The empty space is in my head, not in my studio. I’m uninspired!
While I continue to draw and paint, I figured I would update this blog and post a pic of one of the paintings. If you have thoughts, inspiration, motivation, anything, tell me. Share your brains.