“Never Alone” 4×4 oil on canvas

“I come as one, I stand as 10,000”

– Maya Angelou

My cousin texted me last month to ask me how the marathon went. Her mother is my grandmother’s sister. Their third sister is my Aunt Catherine who was a brilliant artist and my first art teacher. She is the one who gave me the lessons in her studio that prompted me to then get a degree in art. Of the three sisters, my ninety-seven-year- old grandmother is the only one still living. 

I told my cousin that the actual race was harder than I’d expected, and that I called upon my two great aunts towards the end to help me, which is something I did a lot during training. 

These two tiny women loomed large in my life. And they couldn’t have been more different. One, a soft-spoken nun who joined the Carmelite sisters at the age of thirteen. The other, far more spicy and willing to tell you bluntly when you were wrong. I miss them both dearly.

And so when things are hard they come to me in my imagination. Cookie (the spicy one) takes my elbow and says, “Come on, let’s go. Hurry up.” and Catherine, the gentle one, softly touches my hand and says “You’re doing great. Take all the time you need.” And together they get me through it: a race, a tough day, an overwhelming to-do list. 

Today’s painting is a redo of a painting I had sitting around. One that was “fine” but never felt complete. I scraped off all I could. I changed the background color. I added a cardinal as a nod to being visited by those we love. Those who give us strength when we’ve run out. Those who stand beside and within us even when they no longer walk this earth. 

Who do you call upon in stress or turmoil? 

** I’m doing something a little different this year. 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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