Painting Miracles

Miracle Dancer” is an oil painting that tells the story of when I was 15 and recovering from a white water rafting accident. About two hours after I was out of the water I had an odd type of seizure. I didn’t lose consciousness and the convulsions were only from the waist down (just my legs). But the effect of this left me so weak that it was difficult not only to walk, but I had slurred speech and my arms were weak as well. The seizures got worse, daily, and lasted longer. I was hospitalized for weeks, then released with no improvement. Months later (I was then 16) I overheard a doctor say, “One day she won’t get out of that (wheel)chair again.” I refused to believe that. Long story, but I worked hard and danced in my next recital- and earned a trophy too! Life’s stories of hardship and triumph are told through the language of art when words alone can’t express what we feel.

Color expresses the duality of hardship and miracles, as the contrast between somber darks and ghostly lights tells the story. Blue is a color of the natural world, but looks haunting in this painting- as if an unhappy outcome exists in an alternate reality. The dancer’s pink shoes ring out as cheerful in this otherwise gloomy scene. The dancer is moving toward the light, which could mean many things. Some may see her as leaving the pain of this world (eternally), but my intention was to show a return to living an active full life (as if escaping a deadened spirit in which I never dance again). The swirling motion of the paint strokes create action, representing both the movement of the dancer and the change in life circumstance.

Miracle of Life“, has a similar brush stroke pattern of swirling shapes (like “Miracle Dancer” above), as if a mighty wind or supernatural force is interacting with the elements of the painting. But here, there is the addition of earth tones (green, brown, flesh) and very few darks. The duality isn’t between pain and joy, but between the organic, spiritual aspect, and the scientific, logical. Painting rounded shapes and subtle shades represents the spiritual and organic, while rigid lines and stark contrast depicts the scientific and logical.

In this last example, the concepts of “Miracle”, duality, spiritually, life, and death are depicted by heavenly yellows, golden tones, and warmer shades. “The Miracle Dulcimer” exists only as a book for now, but I plan to one day develop this as a painting, probably with the full instrument and a more involved landscape. The current landscape shown on the book cover is cropped from a photograph I took on the hobby farm where I once lived. This sky is what I saw when Mom was still alive, and when my husband made this gorgeous musical instrument for her. That story is one that I’d like to tell in paint one day, but probably not for a couple of years. I’ve painted a lot of that type of work (relating to grief and hardship). I’m now in a resting space of letting go, moving on, and settling in to my new life. When I’m ready to revisit those memories, I’ll create the painting that is in me; it’s just waiting for the right time.

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