If you were once one of my art students, you can preemptively put your finger underneath your jaw and apply a little pressure– just to keep it in place for what I’m about to say. Most days lately, I go into the studio without a plan or a sketch. Without so much as a...
“Leaves a Trail Behind Her” 36×48, oil on canvas
I wrote about how I got the title for this painting on instagram back in October. I told the story of how when I was a kid, okay not just a kid, a young adult too, my Dad used to say quite often, “Oh that Denise, she always leaves a trail behind her.” In other words, I was a mess. I’d open a granola bar and leave the wrapper on the counter, inches away from the trash. I’d use a pen and leave it out, the cap resting somewhere nearish but not easily discoverable. My clothes were rarely in drawers. In college, my roommates used to joke about how I’d sleep on the tiniest sliver of my bed, the rest taken up by books and whatever other materials I’d used that day.
My kids do all these things now and probably to a lesser degree, and it drives me batshit crazy. What’s life without at least a dash of hypocrisy? Or maybe retribution.
In my post, I said I like to think that all those trails led me somewhere. I think what I meant is that I think I may have learned, eventually, how to leave better trails– how to take up space with my voice and my art rather than all my trash, my discarded projects, my oblivion to who might come behind me.
I may remember this the next time I pick up yet another ramen wrapper from the counter. I may, as I wipe the dust of the flavor packet remnants into the trash, think about what kind of other trails they will leave behind them, how we are not really so different at all. I might.
I started thinking about this because someone purchased a print of “Leaves a Trail Behind Her” this morning and inquired about whether or not there had been a blog post about it. I sent her a screenshot of the original instagram post. She responded by telling me that she’d picked this piece because there were peacocks that lived in the rehab center where her dad resided a couple days before he passed away. She said he was very confused and sick at the time, but made her laugh when he said, “I got lost looking at the peacocks.”
I loved that. Maybe it’s okay to be messy and lost sometimes. Maybe the child becomes the parent before she’s ready or before she even realizes it. Maybe the trails we leave are littered and overrun but take us somewhere worth going anyway.
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This is a backwards “s” painting. I’ll explain. I’ve been having this memory playing on repeat in my mind recently. I was around six years old and reading a book with my dad. I don’t remember the book, only that it had one of those “This book belongs to” pages...