“The main thing is to be moved, to love, to hope, to tremble, to live.” ~Auguste Rodin

I had always wanted to paint, but completing my masters degree, birthing my children and establishing my career had taken central focus. When my children were in middle school, I enrolled in a painting class in Abita Springs. My instructor, Alexander, was a well-known Russian painter. He had an air of being accomplished, whatever that means. He believed that painting on other people’s paintings was a desirable, effective method of teaching. I, on the other hand, had a difference of opinion. I felt violated when he painted on my painting. Evidentially, this is a common dilemma in art school. When I complained, he told me people liked it.bottle 2

When you incarnate to work on a particular issue, your life becomes a microcosm that projects and amplifies this very issue, everywhere. It took until my third painting to realize that I could scrape his paint off my painting. I remember his surprise when he noticed I had done that. Obviously, people actually liked him painting on their work. In me, however, this elicited rage! Finding my own voice and not giving my power over to the authority had been a central challenge my whole life. When he noticed I had scraped his paint off, the words just simply came to me, “I know you can do it, I just don’t know that I can do it.” That was it. Handled. A lifelong issue can be handled in a moment when a critical mass has been reached and the student is ready. I thought I signed up for oil painting! Isn’t that the way?

black and whiteAfter that, he knew where I stood, I had marked my territory. My first oil painting in my life was of the cobalt bottle. I remember the awkwardness of painting the knife, be unending squares of tablecloth. I also remember when Alexander painted on my pear; I felt paralyzed. My feeble markings looked in adequate next to his. Isn’t this how giving one’s power away works? After all, this was my first painting ever. It would take two more paintings for me to find my voice.

Our next still life was a study in virtually black-and-white. What an interesting challenge. I had barely noticed the peach colored design on the background cloth, that is, until Alexander painted peach on my black-and-white. I had not even noticed the third color. That is, until I did.red

Alexander knew how to create a challenge. Our last painting had a red background. I thought it was loud and garish. Nevertheless, I was beginning to trust the wisdom in Alexander’s choices for the development of my newfound craft. The varying textures, the metal candlesticks and different fruits ended up being brilliant choices to go beyond my comfort zone. If you think my paintings are pretty good, everybody’s paintings in this class were as good or better than mine. I suspect that this class was a good fit.

red truck 2It was now time to embark on a solo journey, with the red Taos truck. I love trucks from the 50s and planned on painting a whole series on old trucks. Unfortunately, after the red truck, my father died and I began losing fine motor skills. There was no connection between these two events, because being with my father, holding his hand when he took his last breath, had been the high point of our relationship. This experience is covered in a previous blog titled “My Father’s Greatest Gift.”

I painted the doorway painting, but I was losing my patience along with my coordination. Nevertheless, letting go is not easy for me. I began my final painting, the blue truck, which remains unfinished today.doorway

So there you have it: my complete gallery. Contemplating end-of-life decisions, issues regarding my legacy and considering my loved ones, I have been going through all of my material items, weighing their importance, feeling much grief and letting it go to the best of my ability. I have decided to leave the red truck, my only completed painting, and to River, my grandson. Hope he will receive it with half the joy that went into it. The blue truck is to be for Luc. My daughter Casey has agreed to finish it for me. We have very different style, but she is a true artist. This became clear when she was only three years old, in her first art class, when she built a Madonna out of clay. Tika, her art teacher was amazed, but unfortunately, it exploded in the kiln while being fired.

blue truckIt is so difficult to hold onto the artwork we treasure throughout our lives. I have Casey’s self-portrait in plaster on the water feature and Jordan’s Buddha on the fireplace. There are numerous two and three-dimensional art pieces throughout my home. Jordan was so proud of his three little turtles that are on display in the bathroom. What will happen to all of this when I am no longer in this body? I can’t say that I won’t be here, because I believe that I will, just vibrating at a different frequency.

There will be no grave, no mausoleum. But my children know that they can speak to me anytime and they can always meet me by the river.