|"Storm Coming In"|
I know that this is not the typical kind of painting you might be used to finding on this blog. But yes, I painted it...sort of. Let me explain. But first I need to backtrack a bit. And I will apologize in advance for the length of this post - the subject matter is a bit unusual and so is the length. Some of you might remember a post I did back in 2010 about a painting I was doing of my dad. In it I talked about how he was an artist who had painted for well over forty years. I know that I would never have picked up a paint brush if it were not for the incredible influence that he has had on my life.
Fast forward to last month. On Mothers Day we got the awful phone call telling us that my dad had died suddenly in a car accident. It was just such a shock to everyone. He was in his eighties, he had just fought , and seemingly won, a short battle with cancer last fall. An accident was just the last thing that anyone expected.
Things in life don't always fall into perfect timing, and for some reasons beyond my control I was not able to go to Colorado for my dad's memorial service (although a family reunion was already planned for this July, which at that time we are planning as a family, per his request, to spread his ashes over his beloved mountains.) Losing a parent, no matter what your age, is a difficult thing. It is a strange feeling knowing that they are no longer here. I was very sad not to be able to be at the memorial. It felt like an important part of the closure that is needed when someone dies was just not able to happen. I'm not one to really get my feathers ruffled and I had to at the time just accept the fact that it is what it is and you just deal with it. But it has taken me a month now to be able to really talk about it, and even now it is a really heart breaking thing to think about.
One thing that I am most thankful for is that deep abiding knowledge that I will see him again someday. My dad had always been a very moral person - your typical good guy. But on a visit about ten years ago we had had many long talks and he had told me that he had come to realize that his goodness would never be enough to get him into heaven. That he really saw himself as someone in need of the forgiveness that Jesus provided on the cross. It was a conclusion that he had come to at some point while living in Colorado, and it did bring about a lot of changes in his life. From that point forward he and I had, throughout his remaining years, many good conversations on the subject of God's grace and our countries need to return to our Christian roots. And even in my dad's paintings there was a change! I have always been a firm believer in the idea that what is put on an artist's canvas is a direct result of what is going on in an artist's heart. Where my dad had once painted in very dark, somber colors, and sometimes on some very dark subject matters - his paintings took on a new vibrancy with lively, vivid colors. To me, it was an amazing thing to see, and I truly credit it to a change that took place in his heart. Anyway, I say all that to say that "...we don't mourn like those who have no hope..." I look forward to seeing my dad again in Heaven.
Okay, back to the painting at hand... my siblings, when going through my dad's home found many things to bring back for me that truly are a treasure to me - his paint brushes (which I had always told him I wanted, not so I could use them, but just to have them), his easel (which we gave to my son, Zach), a painting "recipe" book (all of his notes on color combinations he uses for various subjects), and about six uncompleted paintings. They thought Zach and I would enjoy finishing them. Two of them were actually commission pieces that my siblings had spoken to the people who commissioned them, asking if they would mind if I tried to complete them for them. So I thought those should be the first that I should work on.
My dad was a western painter, so of course, one of the commissions was a horse and indian painting....
|Horse and Indian painting as my dad had left it|
The subject matter was overwhelming to me! Yikes! But, the color lover in me was excited to see some of the interesting color choices he had been going with in the grasses and weeds. I also liked the idea of what appeared to be storm clouds that he was beginning to form. So I went for it...
|Day two of my painting|
One thing that I have to note is that the canvas smelled like the sweet smell of his pipe that he always smoked. It is a smell that all of his children and grandchildren associate with him. It was wonderful to smell that the whole time I was painting this. It brought back so many memories - being five or six and sitting for hours in his art studio so he could work on my portrait (at the time, not my most favorite activity!), and as an adult sitting for hours having him teach me how to oil paint - that same pipe perched between his lips, listening to his sometimes abrupt (but always loving) instructions. It is funny how smells can effect us in such ways.
What was really amazing to me was how much I learned (in a weird way, from him) by really studying this painting - the brushstrokes, trying to see where he was going with each figure, how he was laying in the background. It was an intense yet fun experience.
I don't think I will ever become a western painter, and I know there is no way that I could do his beautiful style justice, but this experience has been a good one for me, and has really helped in dealing with some of the grief that I was experiencing. I started the other commission piece (a portrait) yesterday. I will keep you all posted as it progresses. I will be delivering this painting to it's new owner when I go to Colorado next month. I hope they enjoy it.