My sister just called with the most beautiful news--my mother received the results of her PET SCAN and she is cancer-free! My Thanksgiving, despite being lovely in almost every other way, was darkened more than a bit by anxiety over Mother's not having her test results yet. I wondered why her oncologist had seen fit to put her through a process that is quite painful for her, given her severe arthritis, and during the holidays. Naturally, I was worried that he suspected her cancer had recurred.
Mother learned in mid-May that she had breast cancer. I flew out to be with her for a couple of weeks, to see her through surgery. Then I rushed back to Santa Fe the day before Oakley graduated from high school. I was torn between anxiety for Mother, elation for Oakley. This Thanksgiving I was torn between the joy of being with Oakley and Flannery again, the sadness of not being with my mother.
Life is something of a balancing act, isn't it? It's never perfect and there are always choices to be made. The older I get, the more I feel the need to heal the rift created by these conflicting inclinations. Painting helps me do this.
I'm posting three paintings which explore this theme; all of them reside in private collections. "Rift," the most minimal one, above and to the left, is the newest. I painted it during my last studio marathon a couple of weeks ago, hung it in the gallery for "Black Friday," and sold it on "Blacker Saturday." Today it's being picked up for shipment to Kirkland, Washington. You can't tell from the digital image, but it has many, many layers of color, so many I lost count. I felt rather peaceful on its completion. The two areas on either side of the "rift" are similar but different, just the way I feel about urgings in life. I may feel torn between two different people's needs, but they are really just varying hues of my most basic need--to honor the relationships that are important to me.
Bennie mentioned that he liked the way the "rift" gradually changes color, from teal to blue. I felt that it was a river flowing, changing color depending on the light hitting it at a given point. Yes, life changes the color of our personal outlook from time to time. But we have to keep flowing.
"Splitting Chairs," the collage to the right, was completed during a time Bennie and I were quarreling. Yes, after almost 22 years of marriage, we fight! Our longevity as a couple I attribute to the philosophy of Phyllis Diller: "Don't go to bed mad. Stay up and fight."
Or better yet, paint the bitterness out of your system! "Splitting Chairs" was purchased by the same couple who own "Night Textures." It hangs in Seattle.
"Tilt," the happy-colored painting to the left, was one of those pieces which sold the day it hung in the gallery. Correction. It hadn't been hung yet. It was propped against the wall, and a couple from Fort Worth saw its worth. I called it "Tilt" because, despite its carefree palette, I had a devil of a time painting it. It was one I obsessed over and no matter what I did, it would look off-kilter. I showed it to Bennie and Oakley at the end of one day. Oakley was straightforward: "I just don't get anything out of it." I went to bed, feeling the same way. I'd wasted an entire day, hadn't gotten a thing out of it.
Woke up the next morning with the thought: Turn it upside-down. I did, somehow it suddenly seemed to work, and I took it to the gallery. I just needed a new tilt on things. Don't we all, from time to time?