July 17, 2014

Shades of Grey: Paintings #11 and #12

A Soft Day in Lemmen's Inlet oil, 12X9"

Tofino Greys, oil, 10X8"

I have a personal story to share with you.  I have, within the last several months, moved in with my mother, who is in the final stage of Alzheimers disease.  It is such a bittersweet experience.  I, along with other family members, have made the decision to follow her wishes and facilitate her dying at home.

We just about lost her to pnuemonia a few weeks ago, but now she has rebounded and we are hopeful she will be with us long enough to enjoy the summer, her gardens, and the many flowers we have planted around the decks where she spends most of her time on a chaise lounge, napping and listening to the birds.

It is a bitter time as it is a difficult process to lose someone so dear in increments.  It is rather like pulling a tooth slowly.  By the time she leaves us physically, there will not be much trace of her personality or mental faculties left.  
It is sweet because I am able to be near her when she does make the odd appearance; every now and again she will call me by name, or make a joke.  And she has the most lovely laugh and wicked sense of humour.  I am blessed to be able to share those moments with her.

I now work in a corner of my mom's living room with my sister in law spelling me off so I can get some plein air days in.  We have become a good team, she and I.

My mom has stepped out of time, and judgement, just living in every moment.  Some moments bring her joy, others anger and fear as the disease progresses, be she is always ever in the moment.  I am learning a lot by just being with her.  She is, as always, my  greatest teacher.

I am still committed to my project - that of producing 91 plein air paintings before Septemeber 22nd, but it may have a bent as I cannot be in the field as often as I had planned.  Much will depend on how mom does over these next weeks. Up to this point, I am well over 1/3 of the way to my goal and have a lot of paintings and lessons I am learning with you.


There is an old Samoan saying:  "Never judge a day by the weather" .  In terms of painting, grey days have some real advantages.  The light source remains constant, it is easier to see your painting (no umbrella or sunscreen required) and the colors actually appear more saturated on a grey day as the bright sun is not washing out the lights or grouping the darks and also because your pupils are more relaxed when not flooded with bright light, so can see color a little more fully.

These soft grey paintings rather reflect my mood today.  I am on the deck, with a summer breeze blowing as I sit with my laptop and my mom listening to the wind chimes and the birds singing.  I am a little melancholy perhaps, but it is well with my soul.

I wish you all much success at the easel this week.


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