I’ve been working on painting some flags this week. USA Flags. I can’t say for certain that the brouhaha in the NFL got it going for me or if it was watching the stunning series on Vietnam and then walking through the Vietnam War memorials to soldiers killed or missing ~ soldiers from our county. During that same visit to our Veteran’s Museum, I happened to find myself standing beside a painted Flag done on old newspaper and with lovely strokes and color. A really nice piece. I just know I wanted to paint some and started a couple and then a third ~ in different sizes.
It’s harder than I thought to paint a USA Flag. This isn’t my first time, either. I just didn’t give it much thought before. ~ many years ago I drew and colored one for my classroom so my middle school students could say the Pledge and look at something appropriate. Sometimes it takes a while for supplying a new classroom to catch up with state law. Anyway, I just did it... I didn’t have anything riding on it except teasing from my kids so it took about ten minutes and done. Well, I’ve been trying to paint these Flags for over a week now. OVER.A.WEEK. It’s red, it’s blue, a rectangle, some stripes and stars. Should be simple. But, the proportions are tricky and getting the exact right blue mixed is a bit of a challenge and those stripes need to be even, but not “stiff” so they’ve have a little movement to them and keeping the white... well, white ~ because it doesn’t take more than a smidgen of blue or red to mess that all up. And the stars. I don’t even want to get myself going on how hard it is to get all those stars in that space evenly and have them not look like blobs. Well, it is for me anyway.
So, these flags I’m working on are sitting here with the wrong blue and some really sketchy stars (which I’ve painted over four or five times now) ~ not good. I’m not giving up (because generally, I don’t do that); but, I had to do something else for a little while.
I did finish one painting that I believe is completely finished and I like it. I painted it because I haven’t been able to finish a similar one I’m doing for my son.
I keep thinking I'll finish with the Tree of Life paintings (never the suns!) but I just keep painting and painting them. I feel a post about this coming...
So, here’s why I paint on the back of the canvas: when I get “stuck”, I turn it over and paint the back.
And I can put these paintings in plate holders and change them around often. I can put art on the porch. Or I can lean one on a table, a window sill, or the mantel. And when it’s picked up and turned over, there’s more art on the back ~ the art that I did to try out colors or play or get my head unstuck.
These are tiny paintings ~ another reason I LOVE canvas board (I paint tiny stretched canvas too, but I like canvas board so much better for the little ones). I'm not done with Arizona mountains and sunsets yet either, apparently.
Some of these will go to the shop and a few of them are sold already. Some will go in the “Lily & GranKat Gallery”. And some will sit in a pile until I break through to a place I can finish them. But they will all be “finished” on the back.
Some paintings are so special they must have a lovely handmade frame and mat. This one, by Lily is one of four paintings I've framed. All of them hers.
Yes. You are.
A great thing about this tune for me is that it is easy to sing. The verses, if you pay attention, are sad ~ contrasting rather sharply with the beloved chorus; which, I feel sure, is the core of the song’s wide popularity ~ the title finding it’s way to all manner of jewelry pieces, clothing, accessories, and home décor pieces.
My father left this world to the sound of his Hummingbird guitar, played my sister, and the voices of his children, grandchildren, sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces, and nephews singing this song.
The house was full of people. The day before, I had been terrified I would not make it there in time. I had rushed out of school leaving stacks of final exams and sketchy instructions, calling several times and making my sister put the phone to his ear on the way. I made it to his house in time ~ so comforted to be with my family. Then, a hard night for everyone.
But, that day was beautiful in many ways. And the moment he left ~ well, there aren’t words for the beauty and the way the light expanded and the universe shifted in that moment.
My sister and I had gone into the kitchen and were sitting at the table ~ just taking a break. My niece, perfectly named SUNNY, came in and asked why we weren’t in there with Dad. Her pain so raw and visible. My sister asked Sunny if she wanted to go in there and sing “You Are My Sunshine” for him. She did. We sat on the bed with him and she began to play, then, with her angel voice, began to sing. Gradually, everyone in the room was singing. The harmony, beautiful. At first, tentatively ~ but the sound grew and filled the room and then the house because after a moment, both doors to my dad’s bedroom were crowded with cousins.
And then, what I cannot describe. What I did not believe, but I did. What I asked my aunts if it really happened. The light in the room changed and the energy shifted. But that’s not it because like I said, I can’t describe it, but I know my dad’s spirit filled that whole room (and maybe the whole house and the whole world for all I know and understand) and touched every person in there and everyone who was there said they felt it and I’ve never heard anyone say differently since.
One of my aunts, a talented floral artist, did a perfect arrangement for his service with a guitar and sheet music of You Are My Sunshine. And though always a family favorite, for me, the song took on a mystical, magical quality in my life.
Since that day, I’ve heard so many lovely, touching stories about mommas and babies and grandparents and birthdays and hospital stays and on and on that include this song. So many. And I think about those stories and the day my dad died and I paint. And I think about the night my parents and two sisters (all of us adults) went to Ft. Worth for dinner and sang tons of songs on the way. And I think about my dad teaching me to play this song on the piano ~ patiently ~ the first song I learned to play “with both hands” as I said back then. And I paint and paint and paint. Because that’s what I do now to bring light into the world if I can.
This song is not why I draw and paint so many suns. That’s a story about kindergarten and my young mom and a cedar chest. A story for another day.
So. You are my sunshine.
Be the light.
Thursday, April 14, 2016
Wife, mom, GranKat, sister, aunt, friend, cousin, niece, dog-lover, artist, writer, cook, mentor, advocate, spiritually minded, media specialist, photographer,... speaker, graphic designer, amateur musician, budding film maker, hobby-dabbler, geek, traveler, movie-watcher, theater-goer, memory-maker, seeker, skirt-wearer.