May 22, 2021

My studio was unusually quiet yesterday morning. Power was out here and throughout the surrounding neighborhood. No mowers, no blowers, only the sound of my brush drawn across the canvas. The rhythmic sweep was punctuated only by short visits to the palette and some occasional swishing of water. Birdsong replaced device chirping. I almost wished it would never end.

For Mothers’ Day my son and I were joined by my four-year-old granddaughter for a trip to Lowe’s. I was pleased that he’d asked me for my advice on a building project, a perfect holiday for this inveterate do-it-yourselfer. Of course, the garden section with all its benches and recesses was fertile ground for my granddaughter’s imagination. The lumberyard became a forest full of unicorns, stacks of fence posts became forts. Knowing the long list we had to accomplish I rushed her along. My son held back, then reminded me of something very important, that she’d only be four once. I saw our delays with new eyes. Like yesterday morning, I was reminded to seize those moments.

I haven’t produced very many paintings this year, at least not yet. Only two so far. I’ve chosen instead to focus on larger projects, like my recent Wicked Farm Tulips, a complex 30” x 40” painting. That’s large for me. And just now I’ve begun a project to paint three canvases at the same time, presumably, to see if it will result in a quicker result since, as I’ve often said, I am such a painfully slow painter*. But I think there’s something more to it.

A friend one asked me why I painted. It sort of caught me off guard. It seems so self-evident to me. I’ve always needed to paint. Now, sometimes that need was met by kitchens, dens, nurseries, baths, bedrooms, ceilings, even some floors. And there has always been a pile of t-shirts somewhere I save with paint on them to use on my next project. They catalog my home decorating selections.

But now it’s a little different. Now I want to stretch out my time. I want to know what I’m capable of. To mark some accomplishment tick on a list in my mind. And maybe to leave a legacy.

My work isn’t on trend. It’s all florid color and fawning love of nature. It’s not graphic. It’s not modern. It’s not political and certainly won’t solve the world’s problems. It is expressive in the way that I am, not like Pollock or Kandinski or even my beloved Frankenthaler.

My paintings express the love I have for the inexplicable beauty that nature allows us to enjoy but are so clearly not worthy of! I’m greedy. I want to keep them on the canvas just as I hope to capture my grandchildren’s faces before they grow up and are too busy for their elders. Their youth is testament to my aging.

This morning I gathered all the buttercups that have bloomed in my nearly knee-high lawn. It’s nearing the end of May so it will be tamed again soon. I put the little yellow beauties in a vase and sat them in my kitchen window. They’ll stay with me for a bit and then they’ll be gone, like the fairies and unicorns in my granddaughter’s imagination. 

*You can see a short video launching this new project here.