#364 Christmas With My Family


This picture started out as a celebration of 2011. I wanted to make something that highlighted the things I liked about that year. The black circle and surrounding blue background began life in October after my friend, Alma, died. It was going to be a close up of an eye but I stopped painting it. On New Year’s Eve it seemed the perfect background for my picture.

I spent Christmas at my sister’s house in Grantham and I collected wrappers from the Roses sweets we ate during the Christmas break. Rose was my Grandma’s name. Rose Alice Tampin. She died in December. So Christmas was bittersweet. Next to one of the Roses wrappers I continued the ‘Ro’ into ‘se has gone’. Rose has gone. Where? I wonder if the former pupil in my painting has become a black hole? Is that what the doves are flying across? I think eyes are interesting in that respect: the pupil is a tiny black hole into which light flows but does not escape out of. Perhaps each of us is a universe within a universe.

The tiny pink objects represent my friends. I’ve appreciated meetings in coffee shops, visits to the cinema, chats in person, on the phone, online. A trip to hear Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was one of the highlights of 2011. There are friends I miss too: those with whom I’ve drifted apart and I am especially aware of my hang up about not contacting people in case I’m forcing myself on them.

Reconnecting with my mum and with my Auntie Penny has been important. I’ve learnt to be more compassionate towards my family and appreciate them for who they are right now. Staying with my sister and her family for two whole weeks helped me to appreciate different styles of living. We live differently; we value different things. Sometimes I could immerse myself in her world happily; other times I felt like I was going nuts living in such close proximity to others and I’d take myself off for a walk. I came away appreciating my family and my life: I love being single and living alone and the freedom that brings me. So the doves, flying across that great black hole, are about peace; I’m appreciating feeling peaceful.

One way of looking at this picture is as a reflection. The eye, with its glassy film, is a mirror in itself. Perhaps these things floating on its surface are a reflection of what the person whose eye is in the picture is seeing. If that’s the case, who does the eye belong to? And maybe those Roses wrappers are cosmetic implants – eye jewellery – which I learned about in a TV programme at my sister’s house.

The red nail varnish dot was added this afternoon. I realised as I added it that my statement of commitment to Project 365 had been too rigid, even as it tried hard not to be. Making art, or expressing myself visually, will not be contained by rules. I love the vibrancy of the red against the black and how it plays with the other nearby colours of white and blue. Perhaps it’s a tiny rebellion at the inevitable death that awaits us all: I can control a small part of life by placing this bright red dot against this blackness. Or perhaps it’s a delight in contrasts and colours and how they interact.

What do you think?


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