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Friday, November 12, 2010

Serendipity

Along with reading 'I Sit Listening to the Wind,' I began an oil painting. I wrote about it in my art blog but hadn't thought I'd write about it here-- except it so applies to what the book was about. When I began the painting, I wasn't thinking of that at all.

Often in my life things just develop and happen without my consciously directing them. I call it serendipity. My part in them is to recognize it when I see them unfold and make the most of the opportunity. The painting was one of those.

It began with a photograph Farm Boss had taken of my granddaughter and me when we spent some time together recently celebrating our daughter's birthday. When we got the photo home I saw an interesting composition with her cuddled against me, but the lighting had been too dark, the colors were off, and the photo was pixillated. The pose though, the concept seemed important; so I decided to do a digital painting from it.

The message in the digital painting was to be one of two women at opposite ends of a spectrum. Hormonally she is just beginning her womanhood and hormonally I am ending mine. This is not the beginning nor the end of her life nor mine. It's the end of a phase of it and the door opening to another. I was satisfied with how it turned out.

But it nagged at me that I could do an oil of it. Why do it? my conscious logical mind argued. It won't come out, my critic said. But my intuitive side said, what can you lose? There is more to this message than you have yet seen.

So I began the oil using the photo as my basis but changing aspects to suit ideas that were just beginning to gel. In the photo the girl and the old woman were looking at the camera. (by now, this had ceased being me or my granddaughter) I thought better for the painting would be to change their gazes. The old woman should be staring thoughtfully into the distance, reminiscent, while the girl is looking solidly toward the future.

As it developed, both looked satisfied with where and who they were. The girl showed more of a sense of purpose in her pose and her expression. This was not about a portrait but an archetype. I did try to keep them true to our ages, relationship, and place in the cycle of life.

My granddaughter had chosen how she would sit when the photo was taken and what a gift that was as the young woman is like a flower unfolding while behind her is the darkness and the grandmother with her hand around her but not holding or blocking her, just offering support and nurture.

When I wrote about it for the art blog, I saw it as about the girl, even have a poem there that depicts that side of it. But after I applied the book to it, I saw it is also about that old woman. Isn't she the ideal of what all old women want to be for those in their lives-- supporting, nurturing, but with their own memories, their own power.

It wasn't until after I had finished it that I realized the girl could instead be the old woman when she was young. That's the neat thing about paintings that are not portraits, they can express whatever comes along and it might expand the meanings as imagination adds to them.

To me, the painting is about the feminine archetype mentioned in the book, the one I am striving toward. It's not about just doing for others, nor is it about putting our own needs on hold; but it's about having something to share with others when we have the opportunity because we found it for ourselves.

12 comments:

Paul said...

Often I have a similar experience with my poetry. A word or couple of words will pop into my head and thus (sometimes at least) a poem is born...Nice painting by the way !!

Celia said...

What a wonderful expression of where you are in life. Good for you doing it. Sometimes we need to tell our inner critic to take a hike and what a great way to do it by proceeding with the story in your painting.

robin andrea said...

I love how the painting evolved and your sense of both women. I found it incredibly beautiful when you saw that the young woman could be the old woman when she was young. I find that it is not as easy as it once was to remember myself as a young woman, but but it was even harder when I was young to imagine myself older.

20th Century Woman said...

As I read this I could hardly wait to see the painting. I was not disappointed.

It is so important not to forget one's early life and personna. But I think it requires effort. Your painting is a wonderful way to recapture your earlier life.

mandt said...

You might enjoy the life story and poetry of Ona no Komachi. ( Google) Jane Hirshfield has also translated some of her work. peace, m

Kay Dennison said...

I've had experienced such moments and they are a treasure. And I love the painting as I think I already told you.

Ugich Konitari said...

Snug
as a fit
on life's
jigsaw picture puzzle
they sit,
the little one
leaning back
nuzzling against her
sharing colors
and comfort,
as she
looks out
over the
lapping waves.

Is that her,
ten thousand moons hence,
silvery in the night ?

And the older,
silvery one
trails her fingers
through
the young flaxen gold,
smiles
at the
setting sun
and
gets lost
as she relives
her girlhood again ....

Rain said...

Ugich, that was wonderful. Thank you for adding to the serendipity of this experience.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful pictures, Rain. Well done and inspirational!
Cop Car

Darlene said...

I love your painting. It speaks to me.

I was taken by the face of the child and I think it looks more like you than the adult's face.

Ashleigh Burroughs said...

Send your critic to a quiet corner,Rain. Your picture and your description are absolutely lovely. I love the notion of the girl choosing her position...in the lap , curled up like a kid but with a woman's mien.
a/b

Redondowriter said...

Very thoughtful post about you and your granddaughter and your art process. I love your end product! I'm catching up a little tonight so I'll keep reading to see what is going on with you and Farm Boss.