Faded and soft, like a memory.
A commissioned portrait from a faded black and white snapshot. A sunny day at the beach sometime in the early 1950’s.
I translated a black and white photo into a color portrait – bringing the soft colors of the bathing suit and towel back to life and adding the blush to her skin, flushed from the warmth of the summer sun.
As I painted, I wondered if she ever realized how beautiful she was. We rarely see ourselves as we are, as beautiful as we appear to the ones who love us.
The person who snapped this photo must have loved her very much.
Someone once said, “Do what you love and it’ll all fall into place.” So, after being laid off from my 9-5, (and being relieved of all the stress from an employer that seemed to gain tremendous enjoyment in dicking me around,) I’m in the studio full time, for the time being.
Putting all my energy into my work... my work…my paintings. It feels good and if I keep painting, maybe I can distract myself from the existential dread, the rising Covid-19 numbers, and the fear of uncertainty regarding how I’m going to pay the mortgage on my awesome little house that I love so much.
But it’s all going to be ok. It’ll all fall into place. I’ll figure things out. And in the meantime, I’ll paint. ….and do the dishes sometimes.
And, by the way, don’t ya just love how tomatoes look on a windowsill?
Me (calmly and friendly but firmly) to Random Man: Can I speak to you for a minute? I overheard your conversation with my friend and I want to let you know that you made her feel uncomfortable when you told her she was pretty and that you bet she had a pretty smile and you asked her to take off her mask and show you.
Random Man: Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to make anyone feel uncomfortable! I didn’t mean anything by it.
Me: I’m sure you didn’t mean it the way it was taken. I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know how saying things like that make women feel…
RM: I’m so embarrassed! I didn’t mean anything by it…I’m married. I’ve been married for years. I’m a Christian, I believe in monogamy. And some people are just more sensitive! I would never proposition someone, even a child, which what she is…
Me: Yes, I know but it’s important that you know how talk like this makes us feel and we are usually too afraid to let people know…This happened to me (gives personal example) and I was too afraid to say anything. So thank you for this opportunity to express this to you.
RM: Thank you for letting me know and for taking the time to speak to me…
Random Man drives away, tail between his legs, pride hurt.
Me feeling brave, triumphant, happy that I took this opportunity. Then wondering if I was just going for low hanging fruit because he seemed harmless enough, thinking I’m really not that brave. Then second-guessing myself. Then dismissing those thoughts and deciding to feel triumphant again, but mostly really glad that I became all Mama-Bear on this guy and hopefully he’ll think about the impact his sexist words and gestures make on women and that hopefully I’ve helped a brilliant and beautiful young woman find her own voice, become brave enough to confront/correct men who treat her like a child who they can say whatever they want to, and never again wish that she wasn’t pretty so she didn’t have to be susceptible to this crap again!
I hope he went home and told his wife and that she agreed with me. I hope he has a daughter who he can then think about being in the same position and see it from her side and think before he ever does this again.
And I hope you do too.
“Realism, n. The art of depicting nature as it is seen by toads. The charm suffusing in a landscape painted by a mole, or a story written by a measuring-worm.” –Ambrose Bierce The Devil’s Dictionary (1911)
I was painting small things, toys left out, or caught out exploring. From the eye level of something or someone small…
The fear and anxiety of this pandemic is activating that basic irrational human instinct of Fight or Flight. Instinctually we want to live and we want to feel safe and comfortable while we do it. For many people, when they feel intimidated they go into fight mode. See Karen refusing to wear a mask and having a tantrum in the grocery store.
For me it’s always Flight! Run! Get away and go hide someplace where I feel safe! Go to my happy place – go to Poppyland…
For the past couple of days I’ve been hiding in my studio, back to painting my friends, the sock monkeys. Now they are enjoying a huge buttery bowl of popcorn and watching a moving on their vintage Movector Super 16 projector.
#pandemic #fightorflight #inthestudio #workinprocess #wip #oiloncanvas #sockmonkeys #vintage #stilllife #popcorn
I’m ready to paint some fun stuff now! Recently started this one of smooching sock monkeys…
Time. Light. Shadow. Things left behind. To tell a story…
This is Warranty. It’s oil on canvas and half price for the month of August at $300. Purchase this still life/story or commission me to create your own, with your items infused with your history.
And of course, your’s can look happier than this one.
Why am I such a misfit?
Too timid for the cool kids; too weird for the mainstream. Wondering where my work truely fits in.
Perhaps I don’t let myself say what is fighting to come out, programmed to censor myself, preoccupied with what others will think and say, struggling against some expected confines of what a woman my age should be (whatever the fuck that is) that I absorbed along the way. Worried about embarrassing my sons with my subject matter (But they’ve told me they don’t care if I paint dolls with vaginas!)
Scarred and scared from the manipulation and betrayal of a most recent relationship (But I kicked his ass out! I was triumphant! But the damage remains.) Semi-paralyzed with anxiety, doubt, insecurity… Fuck that! I’ve got “bells” too! I’m gonna put on my happy clown face and paint them!
This painting, Miss Kitty and the Not So Cheerful Cherub, is currently in an exhibit in the gallery at Friends Homes Guilford, here in Greensboro, NC called “Our Brush With Tales – An Interactive Exhibit with Five Artists and Two Storytellers.” At the opening the storytellers preformed the stories they created inspired by, or in response to, the displayed paintings.
When I submitted this painting for the show I wondered what the storytellers would see. It was interesting to hear the stories that were told around my painting. But it was almost as if the act of storytelling, the performance, was more important than the story or the actual narrative of the artwork itself.
(You can come up with your own story, if you like, before you read on!)
One story was told from the point of view of the objects: about a bad kitty who harassed all of the objects or characters. The clown, troll, stuffed toy, and cherub were all carefully described along with the hideous acts that were perpetrated on them by the mean kitty. The books on the shelf were described in detail, including a recited poem from the pages of The Cheerful Cherub, as if the storyteller actually opened the book and read it.
The other story was about a reminiscing mother who comes home after dropping her son off at college. She walks into the son’s bedroom and sees the shelf, just as it was left by her son as a child, and describes these sweet, cliché memories of his childhood. And I thought, really? Does that really look like a shelf that would be in a child’s room?
I wondered what the storytellers really got from my painting – if their initial impressions differed from their presented stories, if their stories were censored in any way, or if they were so puzzled by my painting that they had to invent just semi-related stories.
The exhibit includes printed versions of the stories that were told along with the artists’ own statements about their particular painting.
Here’s what my painting is about…
I survived Jeff’s death. We were planning to be married. The morning I found him hanging peacefully, finally free of pain, my whole world was shattered. But I understood. I accepted. That didn’t make it hurt any less. I grieved. And I painted.
I fell in love with Jeff’s things the day I met him, his belongings an extension of who he was. We both had an affinity for old, sometimes obsolete items. He taught me to appreciate things as we found them – usually worn and covered with dust, loved and left behind.
After Jeff’s death, I continued to cherish his things. I looked to them for answers, for comfort. I continued to collect things in his absence. I combined these things to tell our story – various still life scenarios in oil paint like this one: an abandoned stuffed toy sits on a shelf next to his books, daisies wilt in a sunny yellow vase, little troll and clown smile as if remembering a happy time, a silly cherub plays with a noose on his ankle, and a moth hovers briefly, visiting.
On Saturday mornings together we would go scouting to rescue vintage and antique treasures from yard sales and estate sales. These things surrounded us in our studio and in our home. Many would find their way into Jeff’s artwork. Now they find their way into mine.
One day Jeff said, “This is gonna change your life!” and he placed in my palm a small packet of golden watch hands.
He saw me struggle with time, how time taunted me, or rather, how I allowed it to taunt me. He helped me see how to disregard it, to just let things be. I was working on reconstructing time according to my own inclinations toward it, not how it’s typically imposed on us.
I realized that I’d been collecting old clocks. I’m drawn to them – the beauty of the design, the mystery of time that they hold. I wonder what was happening when the hands stopped moving on that particular timepiece.
These concepts of reality and time, you can construct them, stretch them, mold them, into what suits you. And when someone mentions “the real world” or thinks you’re not in it, they have no clue…