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Twelve years ago my marriage of 16 years ended. At the beginning of the separation and divorce process, I took up oil painting. It makes sense that I reached for painting as a way to work through the endings and transitions that took over my life then. My father had painted in oils after he and mom divorced. He created moody landscapes, turbulently complex and layered abstracts, mixed media works of melted wax and rich pigment on giant canvases. He gave most of his paintings away to friends. There are likely dozens I never saw. I cherish the few he gave me, each with a story about its meaning to him. Though I saw many of his finished paintings, and I even dropped in while he was varnishing a dozen pieces at once, painting was my father’s secret life, a home of his own — I never saw him paint. I came to respect this as I began to make my own art in the midst of my own private world of pain and groundlessness.
My father died in 2003. I inherited his paints and brushes and extra canvas. I kept them in the garage for two years, until one day, I woke up filled with the need to paint. Until that day, I don’t recall ever experiencing a yearning to apply paint to canvas. Growing up I’d felt entirely inadequate compared to the excellent fine art talent that both my parents possessed. My medium had always been writing. I’d never painted. But none of that mattered as I drove to Barnes & Noble that morning and purchased a wonderful book on painting by Cristina Acosta called Paint Happy! I brought it home and just got started.
Initially I found working to emulate another artist’s painting really helpful. This piece was inspired by the amazing landscape impressionist Annabel Gault.
But I quickly began to work on my own inner visions. This piece was inspired by Rabindranath Tagore’s poetry.
MY FANCIES are fireflies,
Specks of living light
twinkling in the dark.
Between 2005 and 2007, I painted over a dozen pieces experimenting with different styles and subjects.
At the time, abstracts were the most cathartic for me. I could focus on the physicality of moving the paint around the canvas. The coarse gestures of pallet knife and the surprises of texture and blended color expressed the forcefulness of that incredibly magical and unrestrained period in my life. I used uncertainty as my medium, method and visual metaphor.
Then at the end of 2007 my painting abruptly stopped. I didn’t paint again until 2012. I painted for about a year before I accepted a job that required constant travel and field work.
Now that I’m spending more time in front of my computer than in my car, I’m feeling the desire to paint again…