Ten Years After

Aug 24, 2022

I have always loved birthdays. They are a reason to have a party, eat cake and be surrounded by your besties. What’s not to love? Which is why ten years ago I threw myself a big old birthday party. Lots of people, lots of food, lots of fun. Of course, presents didn’t loom as large at age 60 as age six, but that’s okay. Besides, the next day I found my favorite present on the back porch: a gathering up of maybe 30 little vases filled with all sorts of red flowers. That vision led to a ten-year exploration of the floral form.

At the time I was in a dream job that had begun to get stale. I wasn’t that far from retirement and as I painted away in a little studio off my garage I wondered if I’d like to paint instead of commute. After completing the first two of those paintings, and consulting my spreadsheets, there was a clear answer. A bit risky but life is short, right?

It’s not unusual for retirees to pick up a brush or a chisel. I meet them all the time at gallery receptions. Even art teachers often can’t devote the time necessary to focus on their craft. But for me, now ten years after that initial inspiration, and the completion of 38 floral paintings (along with a bunch of other things) I’m still not satisfied that I’ve done what I set out to do.

That’s not to say that sometimes I don’t wonder if I’ve seen enough tulips or nasturtiums or whatever. Variety is the spice of life, so they say. So, in this spirit I went on a little detour with my latest painting, that in some ways is a little bit of a U-turn. A turn back ten years. A gathering of flowers in vases collected together on a ledge.

I’m going to admit here that I’m a bit ambivalent about this painting. I like it, I think it’s good. I wouldn’t post or share it with you if I didn’t think so. I’m not sure what it is about it that makes me stop and wonder. I just don’t know. This has happened before. Desperate for something to enter in a show I liked I’d entered something I felt “meh” about. Lo and behold it won first prize. So what do know? I’m only the painter.

What I do know for sure is that my U-turn doesn’t mean that I will stop taking deep dives into the floral form (as a matter of fact I’ve just started another one). The past ten years went by in a flash and I feel a sense of urgency to keep creating. An urge even stronger than the one that led me to make a somewhat risky pivot to an early retirement in order to pursue my craft. Time is of the essence and, as I said before, life is short.

Painting: Ten Years After © Lissa Banks 2022