Up From the Ashes

I got to catch up with an artist friend of mine the other day. She had suffered an absolutely terrible year, with a divorce and the death of her mom. It was as if life for her had built to an enormous crescendo of pain. Then by spring it ended, like a wave of grief that washed over her, she told me. It swept past and she felt like a phoenix rising up from the ashes…as if newly born from it. Life had been so serious, but now she saw the world from a fresh perspective. She was giddy with the thought of new possibilities – and nervous all at once.

 

It reminded me of my own divorce and illness six years ago. I left my home and my marriage. When health returned months later, I felt so incredibly alive I wanted to experience everything I could. I climbed mountains, skied, camped and biked. I journeyed to new places. My life became filled with new friends, love and laughter.

 

I wanted my paintings to experience the same infusion of energy. Since it took the destruction of myself, in a way, to create this new and exciting life, I’ve used a similar “destructive” process to breathe life into my paintings. The process of destruction at each painting session takes courage, as there are always things I like about the state of the unfinished painting. But even making a mark on a painting destroys it – changes it – builds on it. I like to leave something of the previous sessions in the painting, like a memory or a scar – a reminder of the journey that becomes more interesting and more beautiful than before. The painting is finished when it has “experience” and I find a new vista of awe. My work now has new life and a new uncharted destination. The journey continues.