PART 11: LIFE IS A PAINTING
Picasso said, 'Every painting is a self portrait', and for my own life, this is quite true. I have been painting and exhibiting for over twenty years. I am a prolific artist, some would say obsessed! Currently I am painting mostly abstract works, I believe the non-representational format allows for greater personal interpretation, both for myself as the artist and the viewer.
I have explored most mediums, starting with pastels and learning drawing skills. I then moved onto watercolours and acrylic paints. I spent a long season experimenting with mixed media works, including the process of image transfers and acrylic skins, but ultimately my heart belongs to abstract expressionism, especially large paintings of saturated colour and texture.
Some people have asked me through the years, why do I paint? My answer is simple, it is how I process life. I began painting after my first husband died. It was my way of dealing with the grief and loss. It started out like any other morning. I had headed off to get some groceries and Neil was looking after the two boys, Jordan & Chaylon. He needed to dig a ditch in the front yard, to sort out some drainage issue and from what I can piece together, it was a rather sudden asthma attack.
Neil was a chronic asthmatic, but he wasn't sick at the time. Perhaps it was the strenuous digging or something in the air, but he felt the attack coming on and dialled for the ambulance. We lived on a long road, the same one that his brother's family lived on and the ambulance got confused with the similar surname. After finding they had the wrong house, the ambulance arrived to find Neil had collapsed on the kitchen floor.
I arrived home, groceries in hand, to find the ambulance blocking my drive way. This didn't immediately concern me, as the neighbour was old and often called for medical assistance, but as I entered my kitchen, I found them working on Neil. They put him on a stretcher and carried him off to the ambulance and headed for the hospital. It felt like one of those tv shows, where you are watching someone else's life. It didn't seem possible, it just didn't seem real.
When I arrived at the hospital, they ushered me into a side room and told me that they couldn't save my husband, the doctor could not resuscitate him and he had died. I wanted to vomit on the spot, the news devastated my whole world. We had only been married a couple of years, I had two small boys at home, how could I possibly go on?
But we are resilient creatures, we do find the strength to keep going. This was helped by the two little faces that looked for breakfast each morning and beautiful sister's in law who helped me pick up the pieces. This was 25 years ago, it seems like a life time ago, but the memory of this day is as vivid as though it was yesterday.
Painting helped me to process my emotions, they were pretty ugly to begin with, but after a few years the sheer passion of creating became as necessary as breathing. I then needed to learn more skills, so I took my boys and went to Sydney to the School of Creative Arts, but that is another story!
I still continue to paint, each season of life well documented through colour and texture. My instagram feed reads like a visual diary, recording paintings through the years. Once I was settled in Palmy it didn't take me long to develop a series of paintings in response to my journey home.