Sometimes I step away from the 21st Century blues into a half-remembered reverie of the past. The past was not always better, even if we remember it that way because we were children with Santa Clause coming, or teens in first love, or just young and agile like mountain goats leaping over every obstace in our ways.
But, because I can pick and choose what I wish to dwell on from it, I choose what is healing and which enlivens the sensibilities so that all that surrounds me now is experienced with an enhanced aura of richness. Maybe it is a fine madness to hold off the madness of these times. If it is, that’s okay too. I want to be quite drunk with a love for life in all its lights and shadows. I cordially invite others to have that drink of life with me.
I’ve used the past it in my novels and now I am doing it in my paintings. They do not have the vacant “happy face” pasted on them. That would be cheap, commercial, false and more depressing that elevating. These paintings, instead, will sometime be bitter-sweet. Sometimes they will be playful or passionate or poignant.
I have long had the vision and the eagerness to pursue this series of paintings. Right now, however, I am methodically assembling the props and backgrounds I will use to bring them to life in every authentic detail. I plan to call this series of paintings “Remembrance of Things Past”. I borrow that title from the great French author, Marcelle Proust.
An old phone, or automobile, or radio or tractor or vase of flowers is thrown into the mix here and there – as a teenage girl looks out the window wistfully in the spring of 1943, thinking of her boyfriend overseas in World War II – or with the children of summer in a meadow of wildflowers in a golden sunset about 1930 (unaware of the Great Depression) – or children romping with their dogs in a flurry of autumn leaves after school about 1950 (when I was a child in school) – or riding their bikes, trikes and scooters along a country lane in the dappled sunlight of massive tree limbs swaying above them (at any time in the past before children traded those frisky, happy, healthy romps for computers.
A little boy leans against a tree in the green cathedral of the forest sketching or playing with his dog. Coons and possums and a myriad of other animals wander among craggy outcrops of stumps and stone, sheltered by the canopy of tree branches overhead and nestled against oneanother, carressed by the delicated tracery of shrubs that mingle with their fur.
Young lovers recline among the reeds of a mossy river bank with their row boat floating on the water a few feet away. The have come here with a wicker picnic basket. They are dreaming of their future marriage, not knowing that this one exquisite moment may be the moment they will remember for an age to come.
It is a world full of living things, saturated in a magical light – of sunset with great clouds billowing up in the blue, blue sky behind it – or an orange sunset peering out from behind the fingers of purple and salmon that streak the horizon – or morning dew – or evening mist – or a harvest moon shining on haystacks and cows and barns and old cars and tractors left silent and still for the night.
By the grace of God, each painting will be a poignant and specific moment in time, yet timeless.