“Brutiful” 9×12, oil on paper

Over the holidays, our oldest came back from college and after weeks of his planning it, we sat around the kitchen table and did something I have never done before. We played Dungeons and Dragons. If you aren’t familiar with this particular game, this is how the official website describes it:  “the players form an adventuring party who explore fantasy worlds together as they embark on epic quests and level up in experience. The Dungeon Master (also known as the DM) is the game’s referee and storyteller.”

The character I created was a bird person named Raven whose magic, at least in our world, was unparalleled. 

I have never particularly liked or disliked Star Wars. I fell asleep during one of the Lord of the Rings movies. (Gasp!) In other words, this was not a game I would typically play or seek out. 

And I enjoyed it. 

Since then, I have been thinking about Ravens. Those dark birds I never paint. And I’ve been thinking about how sadness and joy so often commingle, walk together, how they don’t stay in their own lanes, no matter how much we try to see it that way. The joy of being with a child (or adult I suppose?) who has been away for a while, mixed with the heaviness of his having grown up so much. The beauty of this present life and the longing for those who aren’t here. 

So my bicycler today has both flowers and a raven in her basket. She is moving through this world fully alive, fully human, with wonder, delight, and despair. 

A writer I follow, Glennon Doyle, calls things that are both beautiful and brutal “Bruitfal,” a word I’ve now incorporated into my vocabulary. A word I’ve used as the title to this painting.

Please note

The framed image of this piece was created digitally as the piece is currently being framed by a local framer. The artwork will have some variations from this image that buyer will approve before shipping. 

I’ll post each painting at (or close to) 10 am each day this month and they will be available for purchase on my site. However, the pieces will not be shipped out or available for pick up until February 26, after the run of the gallery show.



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Written by Denise Hopkins

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