When people see my paintings, they ask, "how do you find the time?"
My answer, "I don't do dishes."
Or, "I leave the dusting."
Or, "My respite worker, Elmo, takes over for a bit." (I'm a bad mom, aren't I?).
The truth is, I often have to snatch small moments. Five minutes for a tree trunk here. Three minutes to browse the books there. One minute to add some highlights.
You get the picture.
It's like the time I was trying to write a novel, and I took my notebook everywhere with me and jotted down little bits whenever I could. (Did you see the lady at the gym that day scribbling in her book, but not exercising much? That was me.) There's almost always a sense of "I've got a small window of opportunity and I must make the most of it."
I recently finished this painting, which I'd been wanting to do for some time:
For me painting becomes an act of meditation - or reflection. It's not like I sit down and think, "today I am going to consider __________ ." It doesn't work like that. I paint, and I let my mind wander off in any direction it chooses. Sometimes I'm surprised by where my mind takes me....but most often it is a memory from my childhood that I ponder while I paint.
When I painted the Lemonade Stand for Superheroes I was remembering something my high school art teacher used to say to me.
"Stop being so cute."
"But drawing cute things makes me happy."
"Yes, but these things are cliches - you could do better."
Oh, well. I knew I wasn't going to be Robert Bateman painting each fine hair on a bear, or feather on a blue heron. Fine detail made my head spin. I had a deep respect for my classmates who could concentrate over fine lines, and careful shading - but that wasn't me.
Today I paint what makes me happy. Little characters I think are cute - or seaside views like a rustic lighthouse - or my grandmother's cottage.
When I was home this Spring, I took a drive over to Wiarton and knocked at the door of this old brick house. I told the young woman who answered that my Grandparents used to live there, and would she mind very much if I took a picture?
This house has haunted my dreams for over twenty years. My grandmother's house, and the place where much of my childhood roamings took place.
On the side porch were two things that held my young attention. First, the piano: an old upright Gerard Heintzman. I would sit and lose myself in made-up melodies (really bad ones, I should add - I didn't know how to play). I never knew anyone who played it during my time except my sister and me, but I recently learned that before my grandfather passed away, my Aunt Margery would play Christmas songs, and my Grandpa would sing. Apparently he had a great singing voice.
The other thing that captivated me for hours of childhood was a white cupboard that held my Grandpa's medical equipment. Gosh, I just imagined opening the cupboard and the old smell (not an unpleasant one) just came back to me. Memories are incredibly powerful, aren't they?
The cupboard held the most interesting things - glass needles, sutures, cotton swabs, forceps, a glass eye-wash thingy, tongue depressors, and a multitude of other medical stuff. Funny that his stethoscope wasn't in the cupboard - instead it was in the toy box in the big old kitchen. I wish I had a photograph of that cupboard, but I never knew then that it wouldn't be there forever. . . such is the life of a child - we don't understand what old poets already know, that nothing gold can stay.
In this room we spent hours making up dances as we watched The Irish Rovers. Another thing I don't have a photograph of - so this one of Bev (my big sister) and my Dad will have to do.