Posted: November 1, 2011 in painting adventures

Be silent, like a fish, and go into that pleasant sea. You are in deep waters now, of life’s blazing fire.- Rumi

She was a quiet woman, married to a gentle man. At the time, they were both in their 50’s. They lived in a most beautiful house of windows and landscaped views with two elderly Great Danes to fill the empty spaces of not having children.

I use to house sit the dogs when they went on vacation. She was an artist, retired at the time or just quit, I never found out; the information was never volunteered. At the time I was not even a fledgling artist, I was highly creative, but putting that ability to actual purpose was just a fantasy that rattled around in a file drawer within my mind.

Every time I walked into their house, one large wall covered with all her paintings overwhelmed my eyes. She was a realist but painted in a very loose fluid style. Some landscapes, mostly women, strange, real but surreal women, unlike anything I had ever seen before. The originality of her work to this day haunts me.

I did ask her if she still painted, she said only occasionally. I asked why, she said one day I would understand. I was confused by her words at the time, looking back; perhaps she was prophetic and saw what I could not.

One painting in particular stays in my mind. It was of a child/woman sitting in a chair holding a doll. Simple enough subject matter, but how it was rendered I cannot begin to describe. I always wanted to do something similar, tired again and again over the years without success; always and still do, have a great aversion to copying anything!

Then one day many years ago, I did a few drawings and  painted a small series of Kachinas. They never received any notice and still hang in a corner on my studio wall. One of them entitled “Fetish” was the child/woman sitting in a chair holding a doll. It was nothing like her work, it was pure me and I felt a great sense of accomplishment when it was completed.

I sometimes think that as we travel on our paths, so many people have come into our lives, touched our souls, shaped us, more than we can ever imagine.  Their essence sometimes haunts our memories and it is only later when awareness comes, we remember.

They moved one summer from Houston to St. Simon Island off the Georgia coast. They invited me to visit them once, I went, then life took hold of me and I never saw them again.  On that last visit she gave me a present, a caftan she made of silk in various shades of brown and rusty orange. It was the most beautiful thing I ever owned and I wore it every evening for so many many years it literally fell apart and I had to let it go.

Perhaps it was her and her work that set me on the path I choose. I will never really know.

But I smile at the memory.


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