Last weekend I took the painting I’d just finished to the stable where I presented it to my new “collector”. Her palomino is a good looking boy, she is a nice person, and I was extremely happy with the commission.
The weather was unbelievable for the end of January in these parts. When I arrived the place was bustling with lessons and riders. The barn is special to me. A place for me where dreams come true.. I learned to ride (as an adult) with these people and was greeted by friends and warmth. Working here for 12 years made me realize I really didn’t want a farm. I met my husband here. Our 25-year-old paint horse lives here. Unfortunately, unrideable now due to arthritic changes.
But under the beauty of the day lurked the fact that the vet was coming. One of the elderly horses was not eating, hardly able to move, and sweating profusely. Her owner and I had worked together for years, ridden together for even more years, and now I could only tell her I was sorry. We hugged knowing it will someday be my turn for the inevitable.
The mixture of the life in the painting and the soon passing of this elderly mare felt surreal. Not quite appropriate. I have done many commissions. Some of the souls I’ve painted are still with us. Some have passed. Owners of departed pets have cried upon opening their painting. After one commission, the animal passed within a few days. This customer, a friend, confided she could never again ask me to paint one of her pets for fear something would happen. As if somehow the painting had stolen the soul.
When I painted my beloved cat, Heater, after her passing, I was crying so hard, I used my tears, mingled with the watercolor paint for the finishing brush strokes. The painting of her image was a form of grieving for me. Knowing the paint contains my tears is a tribute to what an important part she played in my life. I could never bring myself to frame the painting. It’s in one of the boxes. However, whenever I come across it, the tears well instantly in my eyes.
“We, who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached. Unable to accept it’s awful gaps, we still would live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan.” – From a sympathy card from my vet.
So is there solice in art? Or just more grief?