This painting began with a photograph taken in the kitchen of my parent’s rustic lake house in August 2001. We were on “vacation.” Quotes because as a mother of four with several friends of the kids staying for the week in what was an antique 1920’s hunting cabin with no modern conveniences—well, such circumstances do not exactly fit the definition of "vacation."
My daughter was 6, her friend was 7 and they were impatiently hovering around me waiting to go down to the beach. But first, I had to finish loading bags with towels, sunscreen, goggles, water, snacks, etc. It was a long way down the hill to reach the waterfront—three sets of rickety wooden stairs to be exact. As I wasn’t about to leave them down there alone, leaving something behind meant going all the way back up with two loudly protesting little girls in tow.
Struck by the contrast of the earth-tones of the old 80s linoleum with the bright blue flower-bedecked flip-flops on my daughter, along with the shiny painted toes on us all, I grabbed my camera and snapped the shot.
Every time I look at this painting, the pervading sense of exhaustion of that day envelopes me. We had just finished with the toe painting activity, throughout which all I could think about was how I would much rather be painting canvases. Such were those days when Time with a capital “T” was never my own.
Little did we know what was about to happen was just around the corner. In the days following the tragedy of the Twin Towers, I remembered the photo taken only a month or so before. Suddenly the image took on a whole new context and I was compelled to get it on canvas.
What was to be the future of our sweet, innocent children? In my painted version, we all get to wear flip-flops with flowers on them. The flower petals on the floor are wishes made and the towel suggests a trip postponed or abandoned.
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In the wake of "Cancel Culture," over a year ago, I was been fortunate to find an amazing group of people on a most enlightened platform, ”Our Neighborhood,” hosted by Regina Meredith and Zeus Yiamouyiannis Ph.D.. Here, conversations abound on all sorts of topics with participants from all over the country and all walks of life. We meet there on common ground for even-keeled thoughtful discussions without censorship.
Many artists also display their work. One woman, in particular, has been posting on the progress of her paintings. In fact, she even goes as far as to display her unfinished work. I find this especially inspiring as I have a closet full of similar items! And I am reminded to excavate them out of there and get them done!
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My fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Sullivan (how is it possible I just remembered that?) once described me as “tenacious” on a report card. As a 9-year-old, I was not entirely clear on the definition of this word. My first instinct was that she was merely groping for something nice to say but my parents seemed quite pleased—so go figure. They thought it was good, so I was OK with it.
I mention this because, although Flower Feet was begun in 2001, I didn’t finish it until 2011, a full decade later. My girl, Lil was in college by then! The story of my life in a nutshell. Tenacity is certainly what got this piece of artwork done, so I guess Mrs. Sullivan was right.
My astrologer friend, Marianne says my sign of Cancer has a lot to do with how long it sometimes takes for me to get my own work done as the importance of "Home" is an overriding factor in my life. There's truth to this observation but there's also the part about being a small business owner, which pretty much means never turning away jobs so as to make a living.
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Since January, I have been intent on finishing up all projects other than my own. This has been a difficult, almost impossible feat but I am just about there. Of course, it took longer than I had hoped but tenacity abounds!
This year, my stated intention is to take the risk of focusing on my own work and making a real go of it. The following quote has become my motto, mantra, and New Year’s Resolution for 2022: