You know why I like this picture? Because my sister is in it and she’s got a little bit of white fuzz on her head. This means she’s still alive, the cancer didn’t kill her and her hair is coming back. Also, I love that her partner Jonathan is right there with her, that they’re leaning into each other, supporting each other.
It was fun to paint, too, at first. And then it sucked. And then it was fun again towards the end. And then it went wrong and I decided to quit before it all blew up.
I never know what I’m going to get when I start one of these. And when the subject is important to me, it makes it tougher. It doesn’t matter how many times I tell myself that nothing is precious, that a painting is just a painting, that if I drew it once I can draw it again. It still feels as if each one is the only one I’m ever going to do. I still find myself angry and frustrated when it’s not going well.
When that happens, I go for a walk, or I read something inspiring, or I write and try to figure out why I’m so upset. You’d think it would be obvious. I mean, I’m me, who better to know what’s bugging me, right? But sometimes I’m the last to know.
No. 80-81, 100 Portraits in 100 Days, Mary and Jonathan, 8×10″ pastel on sanded paper by Marie Marfia
These latest Wave Portrait paintings are becoming more about myself than they are about the ocean or Lake Michigan. This is fine with me. They’re therapeutic. It occurs to me that I could’ve picked anything to draw to represent memories. It might have been a leaf or a tree or a teapot. Anything would’ve worked. It’s not important what the image is of, it’s more about what it represents, if that makes sense. Bear with me, I’m figuring this out as I go here.
What I’ve been doing is getting into the studio right after my first cup of coffee and just following my hand’s lead. I put a line down, or maybe several, and then I pick out a color and start to work with it. While I’m painting, I keep track of what I’m thinking. It might be a dream I had the night before, or a childhood memory or, in this case, my visits to the different nursing homes where my dad spent his last days.
A pastel painting of a wave in the colors of a nursing home visit to my father. 5×7″ pastel on UArt 400 sanded paper with NuPastels.
After I am done painting, I sit down with another cup of coffee and write about it. Here’s an excerpt from today’s painting journal:
“This painting uses colors that I remember from the nursing home; the dark green of the tall pines that enclosed the property; the brown crap that had to be cleaned from my father’s butt; the pink of the walls; the bright yellow of old pee smell that permeated everything; the lilac beet stains that polka-dotted the floor in the dining room. My father didn’t like beets and would fling them everywhere, sling-shotting them one by one from his fork and laughing.”
Here’s the progression of today’s painting:
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