10
Apr
14

The World Looks Different When Traveling Alone

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"The World Looks Different When I Traveling Alone" 30" x 48" oil on linen

“The World Looks Different When Traveling Alone”
30″ x 48″ oil on linen

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I’m now nine months into grieving the loss of my wife and in some ways, it’s gotten lighter. I’m generally hard on myself but I will give myself credit for working hard to try and grow from this experience. As I’ve said before, Leslie died without a second of self pity and that made it impossible for me to slip into that mud, even though it seemed likely, given my inclinations.

I’ve also written before about the courage Leslie showed in facing her death. She accepted it and walked toward it willingly and proudly, knowing she’d lived a wonderful life. She even joked on the way to death’s door. Although the experience was profound, it wasn’t heavy. We shared a lot of laughter during her last days. She showed no fear and, although we cried at our becoming separated, she approached it with dignity and grace. There was nothing sad about her death. It was magnificent and miraculous. It is her absence that causes me pain.

I’m often confused about my feelings and suffer very strong emotional waves. Sometimes it feels like I really can’t endure another wave but they keep  coming. I never know when or where they’ll hit. I’ve learned to strap on my seat belt and observe my thoughts as they surge through me. Sometimes the longing to feel loved and connected to someone overwhelms me and I reach out to some unsuspecting friend with a heartfelt outpouring of gratitude and love. I worry that I sometimes overwhelm people with my urgent need for connection. Then, of course, I suffer over that.

In recent weeks, Ive felt myself start to turn away from my reverie over death and try to find something in life that I can engage myself in. I’ve felt some moments of acceptance and even feel satisfied for brief moments. As I turn back toward life, I realize that I have an opportunity to remake my life in any way I want to. Currently I feel consumed with the idea of having my life be used for something worthwhile.  I’m aware that I’ve been through these periods before and they’re fragile and shatter easily. I’m doing my best to stay as grounded as I can while still believing in the possibility that I can be useful, maybe even inspiring.
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"Two Dogs attending in Hospice" ink and watercolor in sketchbook

“Two Dogs attending in Hospice”
ink and watercolor in sketchbook

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I want to share this poem by the great John O’Donahue, who my friend Eithna Joyce introduced me to.

For Grief ~ John O’Donahue
There are days when you wake up happy;
Again inside the fullness of life,
Until the moment breaks
And you are thrown back
Onto the black tide of loss.
Days when you have your heart back,
You are able to function well
Until in the middle of work or encounter,
Suddenly with no warning,
You are ambushed by grief.
It becomes hard to trust yourself.
All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.
More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to its last drop.
Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
With the invisible form of your departed;
And when the work of grief is done,
The wound of loss will heal
And you will have learned
To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air
And be able to enter the hearth
In your soul where your loved one
Has awaited your return
All the time.

03
Apr
14

“Tali” two versions

A friend and I were trading pictures of our dogs via text messaging and I had fun doing these small studies of her Australian Shepherd Tali.

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"Tali" 8" x 6" oil on panel

“Tali”
8″ x 6″ oil on panel

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"Tali" watercolor in sketchbook

“Tali”
watercolor in sketchbook

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17
Mar
14

Birthday Selfie

Although I completed my official birthday self portrait project last year, I will probably continue to do them every year. This year it’s just a sketch.

pencil and white conte in sketchbook

pencil and white conte in sketchbook

I’m not being as productive as I’d like to be and I’m working to change that.

18
Feb
14

Madonna and Child

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12" x 16" oil on archival paper

12″ x 16″ oil on archival paper

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4 1/2" x 6" watercolor and ink

4 1/2″ x 6″ watercolor and ink

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16
Feb
14

Sketch of a blue pitcher

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Blue Pitcher 7" x 10"  watercolor and ink

Blue Pitcher
7″ x 10″ watercolor and ink

A little sketchbook painting, while I try to figure out where to go next.

I’ve noticed that my interactions with people and the way I communicate, both in person and in writing, seem more deeply felt. I believe that, having lived through a time of urgent communication with Les, when I was frantic to leave nothing unsaid, has spoiled me for light banter.

Even though Les’ last days were so painful, I often find myself wanting to be there again. The air in the room was so full of urgency and intimacy. We often speak of the miracle of birth but death is a miracle as well. We tried our best to treat it like that. It seems so absurd, now, that we connected even more deeply just before parting forever.

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08
Feb
14

Psychotic reaction

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Psychotic Reaction 8" x 10"  oil on panel

Psychotic Reaction
8″ x 10″
oil on panel

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Wow, rough week! Just when you think you’ve entered calm waters, out of nowhere some kind of psychic wave crashes over you.

There have been three or four watershed events, in my life,  that have radically changed how the world occurs for me. The first was my first experience with LSD. The fact that everything appeared different to me, while under the effects of the drug, opened me to that there may be things beyond my perception. Leslie’s death has jarred me that way, although not as pleasantly.

I’ve made a lot of mental maneuvers to try and make sense out of what’s happened or, rather, to construct some kind of meaning. Holding that all together is more work than I realized and a seemingly insignificant event shattered it all in a second. The illusion of meaning I had so cleverly duct taped together crashed down on my head. leaving me feeling foolish and deluded.

Fortunately I have friends who impossibly manage to tolerate these manic episodes. They listen calmly and stand at a safe distance until they can get close enough to put their arms around me and say, “Deep breath.” “You’re OK.” “You’re held closely and dearly.” “I consider it a gift each time you choose to share your staggering”.

I’m OK, I’m OK. I think I’m OK.

Thank you J.E and E.R

 

 

 

 

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07
Feb
14

Update: Still LIfe, A Moment in Time opening postponed due to snow

The opening reception of Still Life A Moment in Time at the Columbia Art Gallery has been postponed  until

The Columbia Center For The Arts
215 Cascade Ave, Hood River, OR 97031
(541)387-8877
Opening reception: Thursday, Feb 13th 5PM til 7PM.
The show will be up until March 2.
"Turp Can" 11" x 12" oil on linen panel

“Turp Can”
11″ x 12″ oil on linen panel




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