“Nostalgic” 6×6, oil on canvas

This past September, I went to Mobile, AL to visit a dear college friend. We walked around Spring Hill College campus reminiscing about our years there. We toured the entirely new art building and found some relics from the past– the same clamp lights I’d used to shine on a still life, the same skeleton we’d referenced in Drawing 2 where you learn the human body. The building was new, but some of the things in it brought me right back to when I was first discovering art, first learning what it meant to use my hands to make things. It felt so good, I’m still doing it twenty years later.

In the campus chapel, there were sunflowers on the altar so I snapped what turned out to be terrible photographs of them on my phone hoping to turn them into a painting some day. Which, as it turns out, was today. I woke up this morning thinking of them.

Before you put paint to canvas, anything is possible– you can not only paint sunflowers but nostalgia for a lost but formational time. But when the paint hits, the shapes form, the colors mix, it becomes something contained and finite. I’m not sure how to paint nostalgia. Or if that’s even a thing. But I sure thought a lot about it today. And I thought about my friend, the way neither of our lives turned out as we’d planned and maybe hoped, and how beautiful they are instead.




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Written by Denise Hopkins

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