Sunday, October 11, 2020

Picking Through the Ashes and Finding Art Inspiration

A bit broken, but life goes on.

A month has passed since the Holiday Farm Fire burned down our home. The greatest save was to our barn which houses my studio. The rest of what Mike and I have is just bits and pieces of our 50 years together raising our family.

The first few trips to our property were blurred by shock and sadness. It is so unbelievable that my home could be leveled by a fire in such a wave of burning east winds, and that we could be so unprepared to save things of importance. But then, what is important? Human lives, animal lives, and apparently my latest series (the only art I threw in the car). If only I could go back in time!

But life goes on and becomes full of hard decisions, dealing with insurance, buying underwear, and on and on. Looking forward, we will rebuild. We will have trees downed. We will have house remains hauled off. We will have ground leveled. We will meet with architects and builders. We will meet with friends and acquaintances and retell the stories of our escapes through the fire. Occasionally we will cry and moan.

My desire to create is deep and continues. I truly am an artist! Art is where I escape the worries of my world--it always has been so. Early on in our visits to the property, I would leave the pulling of the roofing, sorting through ashes and retreat to the studio. 

Before the fire, I had prepared a piece of watercolor paper with matte medium (a transparent liquid) to create some texture before applying paint. I had in mind (a month and a-half ago) to try an abstract based on a photograph of a crack in my husband's rowing dory. It was a sad event for him, but from that came an intriguing photo. That is what I was thinking about as I started to apply paint, but before I knew it, it was about the fire.

This part of the painting was done in a fairly small time period taking a break from pulling and sifting.  This version of the painting sat in the studio for a couple of weeks.

On the 3rd weekend post fire we had a great work party with wonderful turnout and support from family and friends. With much help, we got off all the metal roofing so we could begin the serious sifting. Not much was even recognizable.

My friend Kathy Tiger suggested I put some of the ash into my artwork. I didn't think much about it until we returned to the property a few days after the work party. I went back into the studio and found the painting very simple for the complicated event it represented, so I decided to try Kathy's idea. I like to use framing in my paintings, so I mixed the charred ash with matte medium and "framed" the painting with the ashy liquid. Since matte medium becomes transparent when it dries, it became a gray frame hugging the center. I also added a few chunks of black to the horizontal line.

In sorting through the rubble, a few burned pages were found around the property. I do not know where they came from; not from our assortment of books that burned. But oddly they appear to be out a textbook or encyclopedia and this one page discussed the art of illustration. It was a perfect addition to this piece using some blue from the illustration and some appropriate verbiage. The collage gives even more meaning to the painting. 

Here are the words I chose from the burned paper. "Emotional" and "drama" stand alone on either side of the words below.

The Day His World Cracked
22" x 30"

Life on our property is not all bleak. Our younger daughter and son-in-law have loaned us their camper trailer where we sleep quite comfortably. And we sit at the front of the trailer and look at the pasture's green willows that saved the horses. We are in the outdoors that we love so much and dream of what will come next. 



Tara said...

Great post. I can't believe it's been a month. My offer is still open if you need a break. Love the art.

Donna Thibodeau said...

I live in Michigan and we had white skies from the smoke. I wondered but didn't want to think about the fires and loss. There is so much else going on right now. I am so sorry for the material loss. I'm glad your animals and studio survived. I admire you as an artist who turns to art at a time like that. I have let the stress move in and I am paralyzed artistically right now. I am gradually starting to push myself and being successful. Maybe you can build a better house that you have dreamed of. I wish you the best of health and success in your future.