Apr 10, 2019

As I finished up this painting I was taken back to high school English (my tattered, 1,398 page textbook still takes up real estate on my bookshelf). Thinking about what I might want to express about this painting Wordsworth's poem came to mind; Intimations of Immortality, and the famous lines:

What though the radiance which was once so bright

Be now for ever taken from my sight,

Though nothing can bring back the hour

Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;

We will grieve not, rather find

Strength in what remains behind

Indeed, what does remain? I'd say quite a lot.

I often think about those days. We wore uniforms: plaid jumpers, saddle shoes, peter pan collars. Any individuality was tucked underneath in the form of ruffled bloomers, leopard print bras and snazzy underpants. We were offered an excellent education if we were willing to pick it up. I think we did, for the most part. We graduated, scattered. Some of us married, some are now grandmothers, too many are gone.

But back then we were rebels under those plaid jumpers. We chaffed under the constraints of the school's rules, of the world's rules. The year we graduated students marched in the street to protest the war and one was shot and killed by a National Guard soldier in Ohio. We expressed our shock by wearing black armbands over those white short-sleeved blouses. We lost our innocence; we found our voices. Despite evidence of the world on fire all around us we believed the world was changing, slowly, for the better.

Wordsworth laments the losses of childhood but comes to recognize the richness of the world that he knows now as an adult. It's a powerful image and one reason I think I'm so drawn to paint these beautiful flowers. It takes me back to my childhood home and the tulips my father refrigerated all winter so they'd bloom in our California spring. It takes me back to my "flower child" adolescence and the idealism we held so dear.

Yes, time passes. We lose some things and people we love, but we gain some things also. And we have all those memories that we can gather up like a bouquet of our life. And we have tulips.

Painting: Glory © Lissa Banks 2019