There’s a pathetic little poppy sitting in the garden I once tended with more care. I began wishing one morning that I’d done more to keep it blooming. I wanted to study every detail of its petals and stems, hoping it’d help me “get it right” during a painting party I was attending later that day.
I got to pondering the potential for painting to reveal one’s personality when first invited to the affair. Agreeing to paint with a group of peers meant several things. At the very least, they’d see my work. Worse still, they might judge it. Or me. It wouldn’t be perfect. And that felt intolerable.
Still I agreed — though saying “yes” seemed a monumental act of courage. Learning to let go is a good thing. I know this in theory, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I arrived late, after a morning appointment, to find most were about halfway through their painting.
I dived in, chatting nervously while attempting to allay my own insecurities. My level of painting prowess lies somewhere between color by numbers and just let ‘er rip. Once I had paintbrush in hand, my concerns about making a masterful finished product melted away.
Instead I enjoyed the feeling of drawing my brush across the canvas, of capturing new bits of color off the paper plate that served as my palette. I loved the movement, and began to remember earlier experiences, like dancing and speed skating, that elicited similar emotions.
Still, I was disappointed with the finished product — which I decided to call “Patriotic Poppies.” Too much blue, Too much white. I vowed to “fix it” once I got home. But my daughter Jennifer got ahold of it first — approaching me one morning with painting in hand.
She noticed the things I liked best about the work. Paint applied thickly. A streak of red through the yellow sunset. I shared that painting the poppies had reminded me of her, because they’ve always been one of her favorite flowers and they’re plentiful in parts of Northern California we’ve traveled together.
Jennifer smiled when I gave her the painting, sharing that she’d been planning to ask me whether she could have it after I died. “I’m glad I don’t have to wait,” she told me. Me too.
Note: Click here to explore Carrie Curran Art Studios, where all sorts of art is in bloom
Coming up: Dance by the dozen