Even though I wrote recently about being an artist/parent, I have never considered myself an artist. Writer, sure, but the craft of writing is different than the craft of creating something from colors, textures, materials. Outside of decorating the house and painting an occasional room wall, I do not have that aspect of creativity.
I have done several wine/painting evenings before, mostly for fun. Get together with friends, enjoy the wine, and laugh about how un-artistic we all are. My three previous attempts have all ended up in the garbage. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the evening, the result was nothing to be proud of. Last night was another such event. I approached it with no particular inclination that the canvas would yield anything special. The prescribed picture of the evening was a sunset, with a silhouette of a branch with two birds.
As I added the silhouette of the gently rolling hills and trees to the bottom of my painting, I thought of where I grew up, in the coulee. There is a beautiful lookout spot on my aunt and uncle’s land where I could see the entire expanse of the road and the dotted houses of the people who lived there. As I extended the branch onto my painting, I thought of the tree where Nelle’s ashes are scattered, and where we will soon take Iris’s ashes.
So I made a shift. Instead of painting the silhouette of two birds, I painted two small hearts. Black, with a slight tint of white to make them more gray, and a slight hint of red. The instructor did not walk by my canvas for the rest of the class, and I wondered if he was displeased with my deviation. I wanted someone to ask me about the hearts; I wanted to say something about why I made that choice, but no one did. As I completed my painting, I thought not only of my two girls, but my two boys. Two children, side by side, both living and not.
When Theo examined the painting he said “But there are hearts on the tree – that’s not right.” I said that the hearts were for my two kids, for him and Quentin, because they are my heart. He broke into a grin and said “Awwww… that’s so nice.” Whichever angle I take, whether my two boys or my two girls, they sit side by side. One slightly bigger, older than the other.
I hung the painting on the wall in my house.