103 Paintings

This is it: my very first blog post.

As those of you who follow me on social media are aware, for the last 98 days I have been working to complete a small painting every day, as part of a self imposed term of making 103 paintings in 103 days. I have undertaken this project for a couple of reasons, both of them depressing:

The first is that my partner died unexpectedly at the end of July and the couple of weeks spent with him in hospital and then face down on the couch of friends and then travelling for funeral and various memorials was enough to break me financially as well as emotionally. I am fortunate that I have dear friends who insisted on helping, but I could feel my Calvinist forebears spinning in their graves with each kindness accepted. There was a moment in early September, when things were wrong with my car and my kids needed money spent on school photos and soccer, a ridiculous moment of thinking, well I suppose it’s possible that I might also die before rent comes up. It wasn’t a good time. But I had a few small canvasses around, and I had paint and I needed to do something, so I started making little paintings in addition to what I think of as my “real” work, which is larger and far more time intensive. I made little paintings that were accessible, that didn’t cost much. I worked on a few at a time so that I could put a couple of days into each and still finish one per day, and at the end of each day I posted them on Facebook. And they sold, sometimes within minutes of being posted.

The second is also that Tim died. I don’t yet know how to be in the world without him, but I do know how to work. I connect with the universe through paint, and despite the fact that I am unable to adequately express how that can be, it remains a fact. I needed to impose a rule, and so I did. I gave myself a season of work when I needed it most. It’s given me the space to be the only version of myself that I find acceptable, and it’s given me a place where I feel safe and whole. It’s given me somewhere I have to be and something I need to do, at a time when life feels slack and empty. We all need purpose, I think, and the one I came with is painting.

I will try to update this blog every couple of weeks, and I will perhaps talk more about some things I’ve mentioned here; the prayerfulness of work, the language of grief and how that connects with beauty. For now I will say that I am so grateful to the people who have bought my paintings over the last season. You have made it possible for me to live this life. You’ve engaged in the conversation with me in the way that I know how to manage it. You’ve reminded me that the work matters, that it’s a gift, and it’s a gift you give to me again and again by opening your eyes to it. And lastly but certainly not leastly, you’ve allowed me to pay my bills, buy food, put gas in my car. You’ve kept me in paint, and that ain’t cheap. You’ve paid for my studio space and built this website. Thank you for that.

Happy new year. Thanks for finding me here.