As Hurricane Dorian barrels toward the Bahamas from where I descend on my father’s paternal side, I watch news updates. I send good thoughts to the Bahamas and to my friends and family in Florida and the Carolinas. They are in this storm’s path.
I also return to painting. I typically paint every August and December, or before a new semester and between the fall and spring semesters. Painting is a way to press pause.
I could literally feel my breathing change as I sat on the porch of our tiny house where some of my craft and art supplies are stored.
Inside the tiny house, the recently departed novelist Toni Morrison holds court. Her image from a magazine sits in a frame.
Perhaps because I am seeing the circular shape of Dorian, my paint brushes move in circles in ways that draw my attention to many things. I watch thoughts come and go, thinking of the past and future, but mostly the present. Being present is a good thing after two good weeks of teaching. I have some amazing students with whom I am learning.
In addition to completing images in a series I began last December, I made two small pieces that have special resonance. One of them is of a cardinal.
I pay homage to the cardinal who playfully looked in and out of our home’s windows this summer when so much weighed on my mind as I dealt with a family member’s illness. I called Summer 2019 “the summer of the cardinal.” I made this painting to remember this fella. He reminded me to make time for play. I finally have a moment to do just that.
I also made a small painting of the African continent. It looks like a conch shell that also brings thoughts of Dorian and especially the Bahamas. I grew up eating conch, a shellfish that is in many Bahamian dishes.
As I continue to enjoy the slowness of this Labor Day weekend, and look warily at the slowness of Dorian (and enjoy the return of college football), I hope for the best. There is so much going on in this world. I must continue to hope things will get better for everyone.
(“Albert Camus once wrote that a person’s creative work is nothing but a slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three images in whose presence his or her heart first opened.” – Edwidge Danticat)