Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How do you cope with life's challenges?

People often ask me how I paint, what my process is, where do I get my inspiration. Essentially the answers to these questions can be summed up by telling you that I paint what I feel. All my life I have felt things very deeply. I keep a journal. I write poems, I sketch, I doodle. Empathy comes easily to me (sometimes, too easily). And I'm a big weeper. So many things in life just . . . move me.

Last week was frenetic. Running to the grocery store, stopping for gas, priming a canvas, picking up flowers, varnishing a painting, mailing the bills, running back to the grocery store, walking the dog, blowing leaves. Then, with one phone call everything . . . receded. Our neighbor lost his 2 year battle with brain cancer. He surpassed what the doctors predicted for survival. His will to live - his life force - strong and determined. The funeral was Saturday. A crisp, cool, sunny day. Breezy, leaves flying. Totally surreal. Small and subdued, a slide show flashing moments of his life on the wall. Smiles, nods, tissue. More tissue. It was hard to believe he was only 52. But in a letter from one of his sons written to his father, he explained that his Dad lived more life in one day than most do in a lifetime. That's what I'll remember most about him. He was alive and on fire for living. Every single day.

I spent time in the studio painting in silence after I heard the news. A blurry green-gray beginning to a drippy milky landscape. Not much else happened. I decided to wash my brushes and took a long walk.

About a week has passed since I started the painting. Today I put the first glaze of a color onto the canvas (other than a shade of gray). It felt good.

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