Sunday, July 3, 2016


Wrapped for shipping

This is the story of a painting. It's a little like a puzzle, more like an itch. I've been lugging the piece around for ten years, from one studio and four homes, adding and subtracting, covering and uncovering parts. First just eyes painted on a thin piece of orange silk, which I later mounted to canvas and stretched across a frame, then more images added over time.

I call it Grace, and it seems to hold some key to who I am, though I'm not sure, and just writing that feels too highfalutin. She's big, heavy and a pain to carry. 6'6" tall x 4'3" wide, a nice wrap for a tall woman like me. (I tend to anthropomorphize art and trees. That's annoying to some friends, viewers and readers, but I can't help it). 

I've cut off the strapping tape and packing paper that protected it on my last two journeys to and from the West Coast. I'm staring at her now in my Vermont bedroom. She survived well.

I'm somewhat embarrassed by what I see, but I can't help that either. 

My left logical brain says the grid of blank, staring eyes is overdone. 

And that glistening teardrop from the central eye is just plain cheesy, but I cannot remove it. I've planned to, but my hand refuses to make the mark to cover it up. My heart says this story speaks the truth. So what truth? 

At the risk of narrowing your experience of the painting, I will translate.
I am the little eye both sad and full of life, surrounded by ancestors I think, or protectors, connected by pale, thorny rose branches. They are the source of the tiny cascading roses descending in a flow of syrupy grace. For me, I, the little Eye, am resting against a background of living flesh, 
still part of the world of regeneration. The others are from the past, washed out but still influential. My touch of sadness is just the knowledge of death. 

So there it is. My parable of myself, like an open wound for all to see. But good too–a wellspring. I like the way I painted it–the bright, complex colors, the layers and depths. 

Of course I will still pick at her with a few painterly clarifications to the story, but the end is near as it has been for years. The roses need brightening up. They are joyful gifts of Grace after all. The big eyes could use a bit more arch to some of the blankest lids. I was going to try a thin coat of translucent paint or ground to mute their insistency. I might experiment carefully with that. Or maybe just stop and let it be.

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