36”x36” Acrylic on Canvas
“Inspiration happens in the strangest of ways.” Back at the beginning of this year, I met with Jan Higman, the Executive director of the Alzheimer Society of Washington to discuss me doing a painting for their auction. I told her my purpose and that there was a personal need for me to do something for them and bring awareness to the disease. She shared some wonderful ideas and thoughts, and really gave me the creative liberty to create something.
As always, my original ideas, really don’t ever come to fruition, but they are more of a launching pad of thoughts to understand what the art piece will become. So, with that in mind I had some quick sketches of a lonely person with swirling people and scenery. I became frustrated and couldn’t find a solution. How I was going to represent things missing or chaos around a person who cannot remember?
The Process Starts
I walked away from it for a bit. I knew in my process that the canvas had to be square. Like being confined to a space, that is even, without real definition of direction. I got the square canvas and placed it on my easel for inspiration. Nothing was jumping out until I did a google search for “rabbit hole.” I started to study the disease itself, what the brain looked like with and without the disease and the colors that represented. I looked at the outline of the diseased brain to the normal brain with great contrast. There was a certain outline of an animal that resembled an elephant. Upon further research, I found that elephants have been used to represent hope and faith in the Alzheimer community. Purple was also a running color theme of hope and remembrance. A solid concept was coming into place. I knew it was going to be an elephant and now with missing pieces to show loss of self by those afflicted with the disease. I did a quick sketch of an elephant I found from National Geographic online to help guide me. Next a quick overview of colors I wanted to work with to define the piece. I did some digital ideas and really got the concept in place to finish the painting.
Understanding the Purpose
That next week I had the opportunity to hang out with my friend Dondi and also have our dog Judy have a photo shoot with her husband Joe. That’s, a whole other blog post! Dondi and Joe lived with the elephants in their life journeys, and they have such a bond with the animal, even down to the tribal wedding tattoo bands around their arms. Dondi is always a source of inspiration, and we talked all about the elephants and their life journey. They are wise and quiet. They remember everything and mimic human behaviors, like happiness, death and mourning. They are strong when together and committed to helping each other, as they live a long life. I was in inspiration overload and needed to be in front of the canvas to finish this mission. I was in front of the canvas whenever time allowed and was confident of the end result. It was completely clear to me.
Needless to say, this piece became personal as has been more frequently with this new mission. This piece made me think about my own life and what I wanted to remember and be remembered by with every brush stroke. This lead to memories of my own, that transcends into my daily life now. This type of inspiration can also lead to forgiveness and letting go. I realized this painting was a piece of freedom. It was realizing, that not all of life’s pieces are always going to be there at once, but hold onto the memories that matter. Make your life more valuable and with purpose by those you are around. Let go of the things you cannot control. Let go of the control you have put on others, and have allow others put on to you. Be free to laugh and love, and share your true thoughts, wi
thout persecution or harm. My hope in all of this, that this painting touches many hearts and makes people think about what their own lives mean to them. What are they truly living for and does their own life matter? I hope they are inspired to hold onto the Memories that make them the happiest and best.