As I work on revamping my webpage, I decided that it was important to include the history of the last 18 months since our home burned down. It has made such a tremendous impact on my art. Not that I have stopped painting, but I am painting an entirely different subject matter and in a different style. Mostly I focus on two things, our charred forest and flying birds.
Here is my essay on What I Paint and Why.
Holiday Farm Fire, Sept. 7, 2020
(The night my home burned down.)
At 8 PM on September 7, 2020, the power went out at our home. Soon 70 mph winds were pushing a wildfire down the McKenzie Valley toward our house and by midnight our home was engulfed by flames. Just like that, my life changed and so did my way of creating art.
On the first day we were allowed back to our property I was relieved to find that our barn, which housed my studio, was still standing. Without power or running water, I pulled out a piece of watercolor paper and painted my first post-fire painting. I used collage materials that had fallen from the sky and ash that surrounded me and painted “The Day His World Cracked.” But working there, an hour from the house we were renting, was not practical. So I gathered up paper, paints and brushes and set up a workspace in the rental.
I had new topics to express, fires, ruins and loss. Since I was working in a smaller space, I used smaller papers. At first I continued to use a full color palette, but the more we visited our property, the more I saw the world in black and white. What is easier than drawing images in black and white then adding bright red expressing the burn!
From that first small piece, I began looking at the patterns left in the burned remains and was drawn to the charred wood of the trees. I have since painted many black and white pieces, usually with a bit of color. For months it was just trees, then as life began to return I added birds and plants as they appeared in the McKenzie Valley.
At some point, I began another topic, flight. I believe I envied the birds and their ability to escape an alarming situation with a few flaps of their wings. For us humans, it is not that easy. We have had continuing difficult decisions to be made since the fire.
But my art gives me hope. It helps me see the color in our world again. and it gives me valuable time where my focus is entirely on the relationship between my thoughts, my feelings and my art.