Sunday, February 1, 2015

February 1st

February 1st
8" x 10" oil on board

February 1st. Quite possibly the worst day of the year. Not only is February 1st the dregs of winter, my least favorite time of year, but it's also the day my mom passed away, 18 years ago.

I have tried not use my mom's death as a reason to hold back from enjoying the good things in my life. However, not a day goes by that my mom or her death doesn't cross my mind in some form. And although I've tried not to let if affect me negatively, I know that her death, and the chain of events that followed, have forever changed my life and my view of the world; in many ways for the better.

Because of my mom's death and my dad's a few years later, I spent a lot of time thinking about the point of life and what was really important and worthwhile.  I ruled a lot of things out; an obsession with staying busy, relentlessly staring at screens, blind consumerism and inactivity. Many people seem to think these things are the point of life. Ultimately, it was my mom who helped me find the truth.

An excerpt from a journal that she wrote as she was dying is framed by my bedside, and I read it often. My favorite line is this: "Every day of life has something good and valuable in it. Sometimes you have to look hard to find it, but it's there." This line may have been what spawned my love of painting, and my obsession with trying to see the beauty in life. I don't always succeed in finding it, and I often lose my way, but I've been able to return to this, and I've been happier for it.

With that in mind, I attempted to honor my mom today by braving the extreme cold and painting outside. Man was it cold. I think I may have been close to hypothermia. The wind blew harder and harder off the frozen lake as I painted. And, although the painting is pretty true to the colors and values of this cold, dreary day by Lake Fairfax, I'm not sure I captured the beauty of the scene. But at least I tried.

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