Ghost Ship, Morning. 2011. Acrylic, water color, pastel, gel medium.
Until I saw Jennifer Ewing's exhibit and then, Hesse's boats at the Berkeley Art Museum, I hadn't thought too much about my current series of boat paintings, that is, was there any deeper symbolism or was I simply fascinated by the shapes and playing with color?
For instance, I know what I want to accomplish with my ongoing series of restaurant paintings - I'm fascinated by the way people interact in public spaces, or the private space that people create around themselves in public. I make up stories about my figures or wait for them to tell me their stories. Maybe that's why the series moves so slowly because the more I work on these, the more they speak to me.
I can hear you saying to each other - "hears voices, does she?" and back off carefully. Well, actually yes, I do. Not voices telling me to hurt other people or drive the English from France like Joan of Arc but, I suspect, the voice that a writer hears when he or she is telling a story. I've become a writer as well as a painter in my later years but I don't write fiction. So, I think that my figures are the equivalent of fiction and I listen for their voices, a narrative in visual form.
But in other cases, I just go along as the spirit moves me and then, later, have the "ah Ha!" moment when it all starts to make sense. I had not considered the symbolism of ships and boats. They deal with travel and journeys but it's also about baggage and cargo, what kind of baggage (cargo) am I carrying and how am I navigating over the deep waters of late middle age? Given how tumultuous my life as been, I find it interesting that so many of these paintings are so very calm. The one that I finished last year, "Moss Landing, Estuary" was completed after I returned from getting my mother packed and moved to a senior facility. It was an incredibly difficult time for my sister and me. We had to deal with a horrible mess and a woman who didn't want to go and made us suffer every minute of the day, yet the painting is calm and peaceful.