My Painting, My Salvation

After the loss of a beloved home, she calls upon her artistic skill and begins to paint her way to happiness.

by • More.com Member { View Profile }

I was always the adventurer in my family. It only made sense that as a young person I would be the one to travel far from the nest to sunny California. I always knew that I would move there "when I grew up." So when a friend of mine needed someone to drive cross-country with her, I volunteered. There were no long goodbyes from family as I pulled away from the house I grew up in. They thought I’d be back. That was 30 years and 12 moves ago. Two of those being back and forth across the country again. I have the record among my family and friends — not necessarily a bragging point.

I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I described all that moving as physically, emotionally and financially draining. We’ve owned three houses and rented many along the way. The last house that we owned was truly our dream home, and we lived there longer than any other place. With my art background and my husband’s ability with power tools, we spent many days and nights doing some of our best work as a couple in making it our own. Our daughters spent their "formative" years growing up there.

However, the circumstances around selling it were not happy ones, and the day we moved out was devastating. I will never forget the feelings I had waking up in our empty bedroom on a sagging air mattress  and realizing with something beyond sadness that this would be the last time I looked out the French doors onto our beautiful  green canyon. I have tried to let go and move on, but five years later, there is hardly a day that goes by that I don’t remember something I loved about that house — our home. When it was time to look for a rental, I guess my husband thought that somehow he’d make it easier on us by insisting that we stay in the same neighborhood. I thought it would be adventurous and a fresh start to try someplace new, but somehow I never managed to win that one. We’ve moved twice since then, always within a few miles of the last place. I am in a constant state of wishing I could live someplace else and trying to make myself not think about wishing it. I thought we had a shared dream to someday own a place of our own, but as time and circumstances move on, I see that dream becoming less ours and more mine.

I’ve always been artistic and creative, but since I’ve been a renter, I’ve had to put my creativity into things other than home decorating and nest-feathering. I don’t think I realized how much time I spent doing those things until I didn’t have a blank canvas to make my own anymore.

So maybe it was self-preservation that drove me to start painting again. At first I was doing these timid little canvases of pale layered color. But later on something inspired me to try painting large-scale. By large-scale I mean usually about 5 feet wide by 6 to 7 feet tall. Since I don’t have studio space I just paint on my kitchen floor. On a tarp, of course. I really wanted to use many colors and repetitive lines so I’ve experimented using all kinds of different things to apply the paint. Those first few paintings were pure joy for me. Looking at their vibrant colors and meditative lines gave me a sense of peace. Realizing that the physical nature of the process along with the mental work of intuitively choosing colors actually relaxed me, cleared my head and made me feel happy was revelation. Truly my therapy, perhaps even my sanity.

I’ve been painting this way for a few years now and find myself trying to think more about my process and purpose, which I have to say has taken away a little bit of the joy. Since they are so large, they have kind of overtaken a few rooms in the house, and I am being asked what I plan on doing with them. Actually it was more my family asking me "how long I plan on stock-piling those things." I don’t really have an answer for them. I guess as long as it takes.

What’s your reaction?