I’ve lost track of how many oil paintings I’ve done, but “over 200” is possibly right. My lifetime goal is over 1,000 finished oil paintings, so I’m about 1/5 of the way there. When I get closer to the goal (and after I’ve counted to be more accurate) I’ll add a progress bar to this site. Until then, I’ll just keep adding more paintings to the pile. And for that to happen I need to get back to work! The move has set me back, but I plan to start painting in my new space next week. I have to finish setting it up first.
Every time I’ve moved to a new place my life has changed. Sometimes the shift in my art is dramatic, sometimes subtle, but whether conscious of it or not, I begin a new art journey when I change my life. I’m thinking back to when I painted this angels painting and how it reflected what I was going through at that time.
Mom started developing health problems in her 50s but ignored them. By the time she reached her 60th birthday, she was struggling. I became her caregiver which was emotionally complicated beyond anything I can explain here. She passed away after a dramatic event in the hospital at age 62 that I was present for and traumatized by.
Dad died of cancer 25 years almost to the day, when he was 37. When Mom died it was like losing Dad all over again. My grief journey was as complicated as my caregiving journey, and all of this impacted my art journey.
I painted these angels about a year after Mom died, after we had to sell our house and move due to my husband losing his job when the company he worked for moved operations out of the country. I’ve told parts of this story on this blog several times, because it’s how I became an oil painter. Prior to selling our house, I had a home teaching studio, so I lost my job too when we had to sell it and move.
I’d been teaching dance, theater and art for many years and now everything I’d built up had abruptly ended. I no longer had a classroom and my own kids were outgrowing and losing interest in participating in the business. Why not just do it (art and shows) myself? My college age kids join in occasionally- only as they wish to do so. Most of the time I’m flying solo, no longer a backup singer to my kids or my students, no longer teaching art but painting it, no longer directing shows but performing them. For the past five+ years I’ve been an entrepreneur rather than a teacher and small business owner.
It was a big change, but it feels exactly right. Honestly, my students never had the passion, energy and intense work ethic that I do. I’d have stressed them out if I’d pushed them as hard as I push myself. I managed to teach some valuable things but the program was kept light and fun and tailored to meet each student where they are, whether child, adult, someone with disabilities, or someone with a spark of talent. Our shows were never going to amount to much more than something their families and community enjoyed. And that was enough for me. But it wasn’t enough for my life’s purpose and destiny.
My world was too small, and like it or not (and I did NOT at first! I didn’t want to give up the life I had and I felt very insecure about being in front of the camera rather than behind it) I was meant to move on even though moving (physically, financially, emotionally, and spiritually) is hard. You can probably relate to this. When we are pushed to let go of a life we’ve lost, it’s easy to feel that the old days were better. But the past is only a foundation. The future is where hope lies, and it’s in the present where joy lives.
Even when we’re in a season of grief, there’s a quiet joy that exists deep down, and is reinforced when synchronicity and God connections align. Which brings us back around to the angels. The angels painting was inspired by an unexpected visit by someone I knew a long time ago. The fateful encounter gave me hope. The depth of my sadness during that time is reflected in my art.
I can see that for myself now, although I wasn’t aware of it at the time. I’m offering this particular angels painting as a clear example of what I’m trying to say. My paintings reflect my life and change when I do.
I wonder who I am now as an artist. How is my life changing? How will my art journey change? We’ll find out together. Are you with me?
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