Dear Everybody Waiting for Paintings

If you’ve read one of my earlier posts, you’ll know that things have been pretty chirascuro this year.

My father died. It was unexpected because saying the opposite implies preparation and readiness. There are some things you simply cannot prepare for, like that feeling of profound loneliness when both your parents are gone. It’s like being strapped to the hull of an abandoned ship drifting on a northern sea.

I am still not “okay.” It was a busy summer with moving and work and the grief and the significance came later, in the dark and quiet moments. That’s where grief lives.

My style of painting is very much expressive. It’s often playful and full of inadvertent pareidolia and I have to watch that my emotions don’t get into my work without purpose.

For example, here’s a painting I started in 2013 and finished about two years after I started. I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t like it. It sat on my easel for about a year until one night I figured it out:

There were demons in the painting! Tiny little demons everywhere. Demons in the bridge trusses. Demons in the detail. Evil little maleficent faces buried in the brush strokes. The Pan Pacific Sails looked like devil’s horns. No one wants a painting with so much evil in it!

Well, not usually.

I figured the reason for this was because my mom was slowly succumbing to cancer when I started it. That was a hard, frustrating time. Cancer is an unstoppable malignancy and perhaps I was unconsciously expressing its pervasiveness.

I fixed the painting. I took out the scary faces, made the Pan Pacific sails look more like kitten ears, and changed the bridge faces into something more happy than demonic even though the whole bridge still has a bit of a tragic sag. That’s okay, though. Things aren’t always happy and it’s only by contrast that we know when they are. That’s how chiaroscuro works.

The point of this post was simply to say that I’m getting back into it again. I’ll keep the demons to a minimum.

Now, what shall I paint next?