Before I get into the story behind the painting The Other Shore, I would like to come back to the blog I wrote on my painting entitled Reach for the Peaks. In my early March post, I wrote about the fact that I had written my frustrations and hopes on my canvas as part of my creative process, and that had I known I was going to be blogging then, I would have taken a picture. Well, last Sunday, I was going through my pictures on my phone and I realised that I actually had taken a picture! Want to see?
Yeah, it was raw, but boy it was a liberating process! I haven’t done it since but I will surely happen again. And I do feel better now!
The Other Shore
The Other Shore was a commissioned piece from my dear friend Martine. I met Martine when I was 17 years old. She had just moved to Ottawa and we had both gotten summer jobs at Statistics Canada. We spent our days coding answers to surveys, laughing and learning to know each other. We hit it off right away and within a matter of weeks, I had introduced Martine to my friends and she became part of the gang. We lived our first real loves, our weddings, kids, and heartaches together. A lot of good and fun times. While over the last thirty years, we didn’t always keep close contact, the bond remained and our ability to go back to a deep intimity in our conversations is very precious to me.
Just before Christmas, Martine asked me to do a painting to put in her bedroom, she wanted soft colours and she had given me a picture of a painting that she liked to show me what she liked. I decided to dedicate a Saturday to her painting and that day, Martine was supposed to come by for a quick delivery and visit in the doorway, given the pandemic.
She texted me to tell me in the morning that her mother was unwell and couldn’t come. Martine’s relationship with her mother is beautiful - two best friends who confided in each other and did a lot of activities together- and I knew that she was quite worried.
I decided to start the painting earlier and after a while, I had to admit that I was struggling. I kept working at it and sending pictures to my friend Nadine (the same one mentioned in the blog Reach for the Peaks) and she as usual was providing some constructive criticism. Something was just not right, I felt that I was not able to convey what I wanted, feeling. I kept thinking about Martine and how worried she must be. By mid-afternoon, I got the news, Martine’s mother had unexpectedly passed away that day.
I was in shock. Sadden because my dear friend had lost her mother but also because I spent hours thinking and meditating and creating with all my thoughts focused on them. Creating, particularly when you are focusing your efforts by channelling your thoughts and feelings for someone you know, can be quite powerful, and spiritual. I took some time to pray and meditate and painted thinking about Martine’s mother going over to the other shore. The drips on the right side of the painting were for me that day’s pain. But the being on the right, it is about to leave the painting, as showers pass, and what is left is all the love and memories that Martine and her mother share for all of eternity.