No literally, it is, I mean, without it I would probably be stuck in bed with the covers over my head daily!
The whole process of painting relaxes my mind. No matter what challenges or fears face me, I can fully lay them aside and find a place of peace that calms any anxiety I may have, no matter how big.
And this was big.
It’s been almost two years since my Dad passed away. He was elderly, but that did not take away the intense grief still that came when I realised he was not there anymore to give me advice, to encourage me and cheer me on when things were hard.
Dad was my rock, my anchor. Watching his creativity as I grew up; his woodworking, innovative ‘fix anything’ approach, his music and passion taught me how important creative expression is to survive.
I wanted him to be there forever, I wasn’t ready for him to leave me, but his time had come and I had to accept that he was passing the baton to us kids now, he had done what he needed to and it was our time to step forward on our own.
In each of the valleys in my life, I have used painting to find a place of peace. A dwelling where my mind can settle and remind me that life is not all that bad after all!
When Dad passed, I had been working on a large oil on linen canvas; I had been travelling from Melbourne to Northern Victoria regularly to see him, and each time I arrived home I would make a beeline for the easel.
I desperately needed a place where things were always the same.
The canvas, the paints, the lighting – they were all the same; predictable, and I could be in control of the outcome. Unlike what had been happening around me.
Painting was a healing balm to my soul
The canvas I was painting at that time was a beautiful rocky riverbed from a photo I had taken of a river by an opening to the sea. The image was soothing and calm; the colours had a blend of warm and coolness about them, like the water could be cold, but warm too. In the warm, dry sun, the rocks were grey, but as soon as the water washed over them, they came to life in a riot of colours.
Colour is something I love taking time to perfect. I spent many hours mixing the colours on my pallet, feeling a personal connection to each hue; when to bring in that stunning titanium white and just the right shade of magenta and turquoise to bring the light to life.
On the last day of Dads life, we had to move him to a new room where we knew he would spend his last hours. I was only in that room for a few short hours, but it felt like days.
The afternoon sunlight slanting in through the garden window, the warm colours of the walls. I particularly loved the beautiful striped shirt the nurses put on him, disgarding the sterile hospital shirt to give him dignity in his last hours. He looked so handsome – always such a good looking fella!
I recall sitting there, holding his hand as I listened to his last breath and felt like time had stood still for days. As if I had touched through time to eternity. It felt like Dad had passed there and I was experiencing the time between times.
A truly surreal moment and I sat in the room for quite some time before I could leave, knowing that this was it.
My connection to that painting of the rocks was intrinsically connected to these last moments and I knew the painting was to be called ETERNITY.
Eternity because when I looked at the water and the rocks it was just like that moment; the moment when I saw Dads last breath.
Like I could reach into the water and touch something on the other side. The water was clear and beautiful- just like his life. This painting would always remind me of that moment and how incredibly precious he was to me.
So now that the painting was finished the next question was what to do with it?
At one point I did wonder about selling it and put a price on it in my gallery in the Dandenong Ranges. But it didn’t feel right – I couldn’t sell it to a stranger who didn’t know this precious story behind it and could never have the deep, emotional connection to it in the way I did.
My son and his wife had recently gone through a deep season of their own grief and it occurred to me give the painting to them as it might help through their pain, the way it had helped me. A perfect decision, knowing the story could now live on and the painting can now be handed down through my generational line.
But somehow the wrestle remained inside me, I was still torn with the hard decision to let it go.
I knew Creffield did all sorts of fine art printing, that they printed on canvas and offered a range of framing options, so it didn’t take me long to decide it was a perfect solution to reproduce the painting as close as I could to the original so I could also have a copy of it in my home.
So, I gave them a call and we discussed reproducing the original.
Because of my strong connection to the painting and the specific hues, tones and contrasts represented there, it’s been a challenge trying to get the colours right and I’m pretty fussy with how the finished print should look!
I have learnt to add just that touch more colour and contrast when editing in photoshop, so that the finished result still has life.
This has been a valuable process and I know Creffield will help me settle with an outcome that will satisfy and bring the memory of my Dad back in full colour. Miss you Dad 💔
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