Nov 15, ‘12
I had a good day, today. Not only with the work I did on this painting but in my life as a person.
Many years ago, as part of a course I was taking, I wrote an essay on what a perfect day would be like, for me. Today was as close as it gets.
I woke early, had my coffee, breakfast and an hour reading news on the Internet, then turned on my Dalai Lama chant cd and set off for work – as far as my living room. After 20 minutes of writing in my journal, memorizing the words for a poem I like and a friendly chat with a friend on the phone, I was ready to paint.
I worked on this painting which may look like a Cemetery-scape but is actually a picture of where I’d like my ashes to be scattered, preferably during a gentle rain that washes the dust of me into the earth.
Many years ago I lived in a small apartment close to this cemetery. When I moved into that apartment it was during a time of Loss. My first winter in that apartment was hard. Toward the end of the winter I came down with what I thought was a cold but turned out to be the Flu. Getting over that seemed to take forever. I’d been fortunate enough that during the worst of it I didn’t lose too much work but after 4 or 5 days of being sick, I felt well enough to go to work even though I always felt lousy after working an entire day. One day, the weather broke and a pattern of spring emerged. After 3 or 4 days of gradually warming weather, there was a very warm and sunny day. On the way home from work that day, I felt that a change would do me some good so I stopped by the cemetery and walked to the top of the knoll. The ground was warm and dry and the sun was strong enough to feel benign, healing. I sat down in grass that was dry and brown. The tiredness in my body and the stuffed-up head felt as if it were lifting and left me feeling entirely eased. After a bit, I lay down on my back, lay spread-eagled in the brown grass, closed my eyes and meditated there for 15 or 20 minutes. I experienced warmth on my backside and warmth on my front and another warmth I can only describe as Inner. I felt a sense of well-being and comfort. And as if my flu was leaving my body and some kind of other illness was leaving my mind. When I came out of the meditation, I felt renewed. Which was when I decided that was where I wanted my ashes spread.
I don’t remember when I started this painting but it was quite awhile after the event of feeling healed by the moments in the sun on the top of that knoll. I’ve painted in this cemetery countless times and have many paintings of various spots throughout. The day I started this painting was late-spring/early-summer. I was sitting at the bottom of the hill in the shade of a large pine tree, eating my lunch while working at my easel. Except for bird-song, the quiet was so intense I felt I could almost hear the clouds passing over. It was a warm day and I could smell the earth turning green. A blue bird flew across my line of vision and perched on the high white stone in the middle foreground on the right. I have a way to go on this painting but with this one, as well as a few others, I can feel it closing in on Finished.
The rest of my morning was spent making lunch for a friend who was due to arrive at noon, and doing a little quick housecleaning while I bustled about getting things ready. Lunch-time with my friend was pleasant and fun and the simple meal, quite tasty and nourishing. We had such a good time and nowhere else to go, nothing else to do, so we sat and talked until 3:30. Pure peace & much gratitude.
I’ve talked on the phone to a few friends and then put in a few hours on this painting.
This painting is even older than the painting above. It was started in an ancient cemetery in my home town during the time I lived there as an adult, probably 1990. I think that it’s more appropriate to call this cemetery a graveyard or burial ground. It’s in the heart of town and is very quiet. There’s a high stone wall around this cemetery which cuts out the sounds of traffic on Main St. I enjoy painting in cemeteries and spent quite a lot of time working in this one as it was close to my home and was a fast getaway from chaos to peace. I’ve done a lot of work on this painting to get the surface, the tone and the composition to a place where. to me, it feels ‘right.’ I think it’s not nearly close to Finished, but I also think there’s hope for it and maybe with some more work and attention, it’ll get there.
Now, it’s leftovers from lunch for supper, some reading and off to bed.