Sunday, May 21, 2017

Three Portraits

Three portraits gave me reason to head into my basement studio this past winter and spring — a couple of “would yous?” and one “just couldn’t resist.”  

                                         Jay    12 x 12 inches   Alkyd on Canvas

When I think of heroes, one of the first who pops into my mind is Jay.  Summer after summer Jay and his wife, Carolyn, would charter a plane from Yellowknife in Canada’s Northwest Territories to fly into a lake surrounded by a continental sized wilderness.  Left on their own in the middle of the Canadian Barrens they would set off in their canoe chasing the retreating winter’s ice as they paddled up some unexplored drainage to it’s headwaters, portage over the continental divide (the other one) and trace the path of another drainage until their journey ended as autumn reached the Arctic Ocean.  They had zero room for error as they surveyed countless rapids before deciding whether to risk running them or to portage past, keeping in mind the date of their Arctic Ocean rendezvous with the plane flight home.  Almost every year they explored a new drainage and most years they may have been the first people to ever set foot where they trod.  The nearest person, with whom they had no contact anyway, might be the distance from Alaska to Seattle — maybe even further.  At the end of one of their last expeditions, the two celebrated Jay’s 80th birthday by scaling a granite wall overlooking Bathurst Inlet, a branch of the Arctic Ocean.  The top of that cliff is the setting for “Jay.”

                                       Ava    12 x 12 inches    Alkyd on canvas

Ava presents a different inspiration — the creative kind.  I often reflect on how an elementary school aged child can have such a fertile mind.  Her grandma keeps us updated as to her comings and goings and there is no doubt Ava possesses “the gift.”  Ava reportedly often retreats to her room after school where she creates fabulous art work.  I only hope she can keep doing her own thing instead of someday being drawn into other’s expectations.  I painted Ava based on one of her grandma’s favorite photos of her.

                    Cadence Lost in Thought    12x 12 inches    Alkyd on Canvas

I didn’t even know who Cadence was when I began painting her.  A friend asked Karen to take some photographs during her son and soon-to-be daughter-in-law’s wedding rehearsal.  As usual, Karen’s eye for strong images gave me fodder for more painting subjects.  One photo of three children especially caught my eye.  The young lass in the photo seemed a million miles away, maybe thinking of her own wedding someday.  Who knows?  That’s for whoever views “Cadence Lost in Thought” to figure out. 

Karen’s photo translated into my painting remind me of a poem I wrote several years ago:

We passed in the morning
She a child
Lost in her dreams.
I a man
With mine.
Her eyes turned skyward
Yet not.
For hers was an inward gaze
Bound in some other world
From that which we traveled.

She, an unfinished page
Her beaming face
Like the morning sun
Clothed in innocence
Unsoiled by time
Without a laugh,
Rising corners of her mouth
Said everything
And yet so little.

Our eyes never met
Giving me the chance
To wonder.
Where was she as we passed?
Somewhere ahead,
Or just behind?
Today, tomorrow, or yesterday?

There was no hint.
Only joy.
That enveloped my today
And made my tomorrow brighter.

Don Cornelius