A friend asked if she could buy a painting from me, asked me to paint her a picture – an image from nature, abstracted, but representational. A sort of abstract representationalism has long been my default style (since my education is in music and the sciences, I have no idea if that’s an actual style or if I made it up). I was excited to give this a go. It had been a long time since I painted….much of anything. I did a lovely watercolor of R2D2 for my oldest son’s 6th birthday, and even that was 4 years past. I painted a beloved companion for a cousin’s then fiancé, now husband. I goofed off a bit to try to make a decent cover for my novella (I am not a book cover artist), and tried to do something with my old work. As much as these things brought me joy, they didn’t bring me the ecstatic centering peace of “painting” that I rediscovered when I started this wide open commission.
The paintings I’ve since completed were inspired by Walter B. Jacobs Memorial Nature Park in Caddo Parish, Louisiana and Moundville Archeological Park in Moundville, Alabama. These were places I visited with my husband and sons this summer, amazing places, on our-annual cross-country trek to see my Mom and (extended)family. Colorado is breath-taking, but like many people, I find places unlike the beauty right in front of me are more likely to trigger inspiration. So, I painted two paintings, one each, inspired by these lovely and fascinating places. They were meant to be companion pieces. Images of pathways, in nature and in life. But they are not companions. They refused. Louisiana was exuberant and wild. Even an ancient archeological site in Alabama was well-groomed and stately. These paintings are stretching to even be friends.
The image my mind made when I talked to my friend is still in there – pushing to get out. This is a wonderful feeling, one I’ve not felt in years. I will paint that image. First I have to find the right place in the real world to work from. It might be in my backyard. But it might not. And so, I am not just compelled to paint but to walk through the trees. What wonderful feelings.
I am not sure what I think of the paintings I’ve completed, but I am happy to have completed them. I don’t know if my friend will want these, but I am happy to find out. I don’t know how I am going to squeeze this back into my life, but I know I will. I am also interested in how this will play out stylistically and in what I paint. I always best enjoyed painting people and could not “feel” landscapes. Now that I am older, I can feel the landscapes…and I think I will “feel” the people more deeply. How exciting to find out.
Sadly, there’s not a decent camera in my house, excepting a manual Pentax made in 1983, so these photos are not true to colors or texture…but if I’m going to share my thoughts, I ought to share images too. What places or ideas inspire you? If you have stopped doing something you love because “life” got in the way, what would it take for you to find your way back home?