When I painted this picture, I looked at the paper and had this concept of a flower riding the waves. An emotion which I started working into the paper. That's how I usually paint. Propelled by an urge. Not a lot of planning goes into my paintings.
I also don't really have a story in mind before I paint the picture. The story usually happens after I complete the painting. I'll look at the work, and it will elicit the story. Today, when I looked at "The Struggle of Beauty" here is what she had to say.
This painting was born from my story. circa 1958-1965ish
As a small child I felt like the wind was blowing hard and waves were high. Just like this painting! I grew up in Timmins Ontario next to the "Three Star Hotel" where the miners and the lumberjacks would come to cut loose. I don't recall going inside the hotel, but I felt there were wild things going on there. I remember conversations my Mom would have with my Dad about prostitutes and abortions. Drunk men and woman would stagger in front of our house, while I sat on our porch watching.
On one side of our house, and attached to it, was a smaller, more dilapidated house. Sharon's house. She was my friend. Her Mother was a hooker and she had no father as far as I could tell. One day their little shack vanished and so did Sharon. When I was going sledding several years later, we had a brief encounter. She told me she had foster parents now. I wondered what happened to her Mom.
My Mom told me about something that happened in that little shack, before I was born. She said that one day she came home from work, she could hear a baby crying from within. No one lived there and she went in, and found this tiny abandoned baby under dirty sheets.
She took the baby to the hospital where she worked, and all the nurses loved that baby and my Mom really wanted to adopt him but the authorities wouldn't let her.
In my house there was love, debating adults, gangsters, wrestlers, men who broke legs for a living, gamblers divvying up their winnings, drunks sleeping on the couch, who got into the house when we were sleeping, stories about how "I lost by a nose" and sports on TV. Art canvases laid out with squares in pencil. My brothers and sister, a dog named Tony. Jewish grandparents who didn't approve of Christmas, and a very uptight Catholic grandma who didn't approve of us. My Dad's "phone directory" was scribbled on the wall next to the telephone. The scribbles just kept taking over the wall. I always wondered how he found a phone number when he looked at it!
There was exhilaration when my Dad won at last night's poker game and extreme stress when he lost. There were loud stories told and everyone seemed so wonderful. When I was little I didn't really understand who these people were and what they did. I learned that later. As far as I was concerned they were wonderful people who told great stories but none of them compared to my Dad. He had all the charisma. He was a bigger than life card sharp and a commercial artist who looked like Clark Gable. (I really want to write a book about having him as a Dad. Not many people have a Dad like that.) It would make a fabulous movie. Kind of like "Goodfellas" and "American Hustle" but also like a western and a great artist story. From the viewpoint of the kid who didn't grow up to be a gangster.
My Mom was a very liberal thinker. She was a vocal anti racist and I would say she instilled some pretty amazing values in me that I still hold today. When I was in my early teens she became a Nichiren Shoshu Buddhist and a vegetarian. I think she was very progressive for her time. Her conservative Catholic family thought she was crazy.
I loved that she became a Buddhist. I loved going to the the meetings with her.
And that is the where the Struggle of Beauty began. My roots! In the painting you can see the root of the plant precariously dancing on the waves! She doesn't know where she is going to land.
There is more to this story, because it is my story. Revealed through my paintings and the stories about them.
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