This month has taken a lot of personal strength and fortitude. I fought off a horrible six week illness during the busiest time of my year, the art business has careened head-first into a paradigm shift this year with retail shopping habits shifting to online venues, and I’ve had to put on a whole new collection of hats to keep the wheels of industry moving, my bills paid, and my family cared for..The world can be a scary, disjointed place right now in our politics, economics, sense of well being, relationships, and security…Even my children absorb the debates and media hype and want mama to assure them that all will be ok.. It can all get to you.
However it came to me, that I first found success in the art business in the weeks immediately after 9/11. Something happens when the outside world turns upside down. People have a visceral urge to make their intimate surrounding soothing and comfortable, to bring peace and beauty to their most personal space, their homes. In this crazy time of 2016, I’ve had that same primal instinct to go back to my artistic roots, and paint soft, beautiful, warm subjects..Watercolor is a perfect, peaceful medium.
Living on a little hobby farm, Farm House Chic has been my aesthetic for several years now, but these beautiful cotton boll paintings were a new theme to me..They immediately reminded me of my Grandpa’s ranch. He was an Arizona cotton farmer and rancher, and my life and creative evolution as a child revolved around running and day-dreaming along those cotton fields. The cotton industry itself is rife with historical symoblism, from its dark beginnings using slavery and forced labor to the revolutionary shift of industry with the invention of the cotton gin, to now-a-days evoking feelings of down-home whimsy, nostalgia, and country charm. That old cotton commercial “The Touch, the Feel of Cotton, the Fabric of our Lives” would make me cry every time I watched it, ha! So I find it telling, that in these strange days, there is a call of our hearts to hold on to soft, warm, insulating themes such as the rustically beautiful cotton boll.
Today is my Grandfather’s birthday. We will all be gathering to celebrate his 88th birthday on Saturday..It had been a rough year for him, with a miraculous recovery over the last few months.. I wrote the following essays about him as he was going through his health problems..I thought it would be a beautiful tribute to him to share a bit of my heritage with you:
Four months ago, medics had to defibrillate his 87 year old heart 3 times on the chopper ride between the small mountain enclave of Young to the busy metropolis of Mesa, AZ..The first attending doc said he was brain dead, and we’d be taking him off life support in 72 hours…The next day I fed him a navel orange the size of my head, while he was sitting in a chair, demolished his dinner, flirted with the nurses, and complained about the “aggravation” of all the tubes sticking out of his neck and arms,…If I ever show a glimmer of throw-down in my eyes when life gets rough, I’m pretty sure you can thank this tough ole’ cowboy and the upbringing my grandparents passed down to me…
Earlier in the year~Fall 2015 around his 87th Birthday:
As a child, one of my fondest memories was time spent on my Grandparent’s ranch, running through the irrigation ditches along the dusty cotton and alfalfa fields, climbing the haylofts, smelling the flowers in my grandmother’s gardens, and chasing the critters all through the yard. All day, from sun up to sun down, my cowboy Grandpa would be outside, working and sweating away to make a living, and keep the farm running. But on a Sunday night we would come inside, have dinner, Grandpa would make a roaring fire, Grandma would be in her robe and curlers, and we would tuck in, turn on PBS, and watch the National Geographic special for an hour until my parents came to get me. I remember it like it was yesterday. Today (This was a cold fall day in 2015) I got to spend the day with my 87 year old Grandpa at my home…a few years ago he had to give up horseback riding, he’s retired his boots for velcro, and it was just too dang cold on his bones to spend much time outside…so instead we sat on my couch and watched the National Geographic Channel for hours, we watched calves being birthed, dogs trained, electric eels caught, and during the commercial breaks he’d share stories of his veterinary skills that he learned as a 13 year old ranch hand in 1941, when the world was a scary place as well… And all I could think of was how grateful I was for something as silly as a cable channel…how sweet it is that boys such as mine (10 and 8) are just as fascinated by God’s creation as an 87 year old man, tough as nails…both have the same boyish grins on their faces when they watch that black mamba pulled from the rafters…and I was grateful for one more day to love those dear to me.