“Oh, the lovely fickleness of an April day!” William Hamilton Gibson
Spring here in Atlanta has been unseasonably chilly. Last night the low temperature was 39 degrees. April has started out fickle with gray weather and rain. This weekend it is supposed to be sunny and warmer. Finally! The dogwoods and azaleas are just about to bloom, it’s going to be gorgeous around here. My daughter’s school spring break starts next week, she is heading to the beach with a friend, hopefully the weather will be lovely for them. I will have more time to paint. I’m starting a second jungle theme painting, this one will be a crocodile.
I painted Orange Fish with Raindrops around this time last year and I think it suits an April day well.
I’ve been thinking about my pear paintings lately. They take me back to a point in time when I realized that I wanted to paint. Here is that memory. I was meeting a friend for coffee at a cafe, she and I both had our three year old girls in preschool a few days a week. It was a challenging time for me as my dad was in hospice care. Up until that time, no one close to me had died. I had never experienced the grief of losing a loved one before. My friend had lost her first husband and she was very understanding and helpful. I noticed there were framed pear still life watercolors on the walls around us. I had been making papier mache bowls which were very laborious and not selling as well in Atlanta as they had in San Francisco. I thought to myself, I could paint pears and it was at that moment in time that I decided to become a painter. Eventually my daughter went over to middle school and free time opened up. With no more Girl Scout leader or PTA obligations, I began painting every day.
Some of my first paintings were of pears which are pictured above. I love painting pears with their lovely feminine forms and beautiful warm colors. I think beginning painters paint pears because of their easier simple forms and the universal theme of pear still lifes through art history with so many well known pear paintings. Matisse’s pears come to mind. With some of my pear paintings I feel I had beginners luck, perhaps my happiness at more time to pursue my passion showed through.
Sometimes in life when we have big decisions to make, it can be scary. Like the time in my twenties after a bad break up, I decided to move to NYC with only 500 dollars in my pocket.
These thoughts have come to mind as I have recently celebrated being married to my husband for 20 years now and am feeling happy about that. That 20th year anniversary marker got me thinking about the choices we make in life and how those choices carry us forward. It was scary for me to make that marriage commitment all those years ago. When I found out I was pregnant, even though we had decided to have a child it was frightening, I didn’t know how to be a mom.
Once those decisions were made I just had to let go and trust that my intuition would carry me forward. I loved living in New York, that experience led to meeting my husband. Marrying him led us to creating a life together and then to our daughter who we love dearly and who has added so much to our lives.
I wanted to do a painting that describes that feeling. I’ve titled it Free Falling. It’s a painting of a barn swallow diving through the air. If you have ever watched swallows swoop through the air catching mosquitoes, it is mesmerizing. They swoop down and then curve back through the sky with no effort at all. I have found that once a commitment is made if we let go and trust, we can follow the currents and they will lead us forward.
Last April we went to a family wedding in Hawaii. One of the highlights of our vacation was swimming with dolphins. While snorkeling at a coral reef I looked over to see a pair of dolphins swim by. We swam out to where there were more and watched them frolic. They were so playful and the beauty of the light through the clear blue water reflecting on their bodies was striking. Here is a photo that my niece took of them.
I have always loved dolphins. Throughout my childhood every year our family went to St. Simons Island off the coast of Georgia for a week in late August. We used to fish at the Point – a lovely spot where the beach met the marsh. I remember fishing on the rocks there and just waiting to see the dolphins that occasionally passed through. It was very exciting to spot them, they seemed so joyful and free.
Through the years I’ve dreamed about dolphins. As a kid I liked gymnastics but could never get past my fear of doing back handsprings. My dad said it was because I was so tall and had a big head; whatever the case, I never mastered it. I remember a powerful dream that I had in my twenties when I was going through a particularly tough time and feeling a lack of confidence. In the dream a group of dolphins swam around me and helped me do a back handspring. With their help it was so easy to do and I woke up feeling they had given me a gift.
Since getting back from Hawaii, I’ve been inspired to paint them, the painting below is my third one. Dolphins are a great example of just how joyful life can be. It is my hope that these paintings help convey that joy.