A dear friend lost her daughter in a tragic and heartbreaking way. As she revealed her grief to me, we began to discuss the fable of the cardinal in which the cardinal represents a message from a deceased loved one
Her story began with a meeting for coffee in a lovely restaurant with a close friend shortly after her daughter's death. As she spoke of missing her daughter and wishing for just one more visit, a cardinal sat on the ledge right outside her window just a few inches away on the other side of the glass. The cardinal proceeded to cock its head and seemingly give her a wink and then suddenly ruffled his feathers. Simultaneously each friend remarked, "It's a visit!" My sweet friend felt washed with confidence that her daughter in fact knew of her mom's grief and was trying to bring joy into her life at that very moment with a little joke to ruffle her feathers.
Her daughter, she explained, was a lovely young lady who in life had a very vibrant personality and unique sense of humor. She would often tease her mother with mischievous humor. When her Mother would react with surprise, the daughter would respond, "Oh, Mama, I was just ruffling your feathers!" The visit from a cardinal while having coffee that morning became an encouragement. A reminder of her daughter's personality and humor. The cardinal brought joy to her heart at each remembrance.
This was the story she told me as she asked me to paint a cardinal for her. Not just any cardinal but one that would cock its head and with a glint in his eye ruffle his feathers.
It was truly a joy to remember this story as I painted the cardinal. And as often happens with this kind of request, I found the subject to almost mysteriously appear on the canvas. He seemed to speak to me in the same way with a glint in his eye.
It was an extreme pleasure to paint "THE VISIT" for my friend! I hope the joy of confident remembrance washes over her each time she looks into the face of this cardinal.
It's been a while since I have posted any news or any new paintings to this site. I have been working on a series of paintings for an art show in Greensboro, NC. The show was organized by my sister, Anne Conover, an accomplished artist and a Pastor at Rehoboth Methodist Church. The goal was to create art work as a response to the seven last phrases Jesus spoke from the cross.
These last few weeks as I have focused on these words have been rewarding and difficult at the same time. I chose to use watercolor mainly because of having only a short time for completion and drying. Watercolor satisfied the logistical problems but I found it to be deficient when expressing the drama and emotion of the subject matter.
As the series developed, I realized the need for certain symbols to unify the series of paintings. When I needed to communicate separation, the color black seemed obvious. I used yellow for the the Holy Spirit, Jesus and God the Father. You can see this beginning to develop in the second painting, "Today you will be with me in paradise," It then becomes even more apparent in the fourth painting, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me." Here I used a simple color field painting showing the separation that now existed between Jesus and His Father. Then again in, "I thirst." the separation between Jesus and the "living water." I used a little ribbon of green and red to indicate the liquid or wine the centurion offered to quench Jesus thirst. In, "It is Finished," there are several symbols you will recognize again. And then, "Into your hands I commend my spirit," The Son returning to the Father leaving the earth and his crown of thorns.
I hope you enjoy seeing these little paintings and sharing a small part of my Lenten journey.
So... on this Good Friday evening, I pray you will have a Blessed Easter!
This weekend as I planned for a family birthday celebration I thought a lot about balance.
"I really like symmetry and formality. Formal or symmetrical balance is nice! It's simple! But it can also be a little boring and stiff." Those were the thoughts going through my mind as I rearranged furniture, cooked, and cleaned my house. I was arranging things in new and more interesting ways. The food, the decor, seating arrangements all needed to be comfortable for everyone.
These activities caused me to question the balance in my life. It felt a little wrong, out of balance somehow. Was I too focused on the arrangement of furniture? How was the balance in my life today?
I decided as I worked in the kitchen to accomplish the cooking chores that the next time I set up a still life I would think outside the box a little more to create balance that is more real. Life is just not symmetrical. It's messy and uneven and can feel out of balance. Thankfully it's not all about one day! We can work to put more emphasis on the neglected things the next day. This way we create a more interesting life. Just as with a painting when the balance is a little more subtle we can keep the viewer engaged longer. But not off balance!
Until next time... Let's keep creating a beautiful life!