Day 21. Leaning in, looking.

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“Lean In” 6×6, oil on canvas

“The temple bell stops

But the sound keeps coming

out of the flowers”

Matsuo Bashō

Back when the pandemic first hit, and we realized “two weeks” had been a laughable prediction by people who had no reference for what an actual timeline might be, I started doing a painting a day to manage my quarantine. 

A lot of flowers emerged on my canvases during that time. I did “math” with my then seven year old by walking through the neighborhood adding the birds, subtracting the squirrels. We’d end up with numbers like 237; we cheated often.

My flowers today remind me of my quarantine days except that yesterday there were 100 tiny little unmanageable things and no one seismic shift in the global community. 

Georgia O’Keeffe said of flowers: “When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not.” And so she painted large, precise, zoomed-in paintings of flowers that highlighted the universes they contained. 

My paintings are not precise or zoomed in. They are smaller than the actual flowers would be. I think it’s me, the painter, and maybe you, the viewer, that has to zoom in. You can miss it; I usually do. But I think that’s the point— leaning in, looking, finding glorious, imprecise messes that help me manage the less beautiful, more precise ones. 

Definitely time to mark your calendars for February 3. You will be stunned by the art coming out of the community of 31ers this year. I’m so proud the gallery will get to host a taste of it. Click the image below for more details. 

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Denise Hopkins

January 21, 2023

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