Imagine on a sunny day standing on this pier. A cool ocean breeze slips across your skin. The blue-grey water gently moves back and forth below your feet. Reluctantly, you leave to return another day. While away…BOOM! This pier is under siege. Darkened skies, massive swells, lighting and thunder and a freakish gigantic wave develops. The world around this pier is in chaos. The pier like many times before will endure this drama, violent turmoil and unrest that seemingly won’t end. The pier will stand strong in adversity. Another day awaits. A beautiful, serene calmness will surround the pier again. We as humans are in many ways like this pier. Our daily lives can be filled with peace, love and harmony. But, in an instant our world can be turned upside down in an upheaval of unwelcome noise, darkness and uncertainty. The pier is me. The pier is you. The pier to me represents what we as humans face throughout our lives. I left a hint of blue sky in the upper left corner of this painting. It gives hope of what was and what will be in brighter days ahead. For me, this small space of calm gives the biggest message in an otherwise dominant mixture of anarchy and disorder. This tiny blue space within all of us reminds us that when we are experiencing dark and unhinged feelings there will be peace forthcoming. Keep the faith and hope alive inside you when your world is turned upside down. I made this painting on 4 pine planks glued together.
I did two other theme paintings like this one. They are titled “The Barn” and “The Dividing Line”, and they can be seen within this blog.
P.S I am sober eight years now. There was a time I was a functioning alcoholic. I was in a constant state of clouded numbness filled with anger and regret. Freeing myself from the bottle has heightened my creativity with painting. I wrote a poem years ago after some very dark days. Looking in the mirror and not liking that person very much I made a decision to stop the hurt I inflicted on others and to myself. That person is gone now and he is not allowed back into my life.
Alcohol was my downward spin
It was my friend that helped me sin
The juice took its toll on my role
Now I repent and mend and give hope to my soul
As a husband, a dad and granddad I’m glad
I am proud and at the same time sometimes I’m sad
I have changed as I live with regret its true
I hope my good replaces the bad I gave you
I wish I knew then what I know now
I’ve caused some hurt, anger and pain that’s foul
I no longer place blame on my old deceitful friend
Calm and peace is now my trend
It’s taken me years…I was a man astray
I thought I knew who I was…now I pay
I was weak from the juice and standing in my own way
I clearly see now and hold a new day
As I write this poem I want to weep
I can’t turn the clock back so I must keep
Bad childhood memories started my rue
Like with my dad the juice made me a fool too
Getting older makes me wiser I’ve seen
I’m only human and am no longer mean
I’ve changed my path and bettered myself
I focus only on family, time, love and health
My heart has ached with a piece of it empty
So I have learned to fill it with love and be true plenty
I’m a better man…you will see I am new
So please give me a chance and I will prove it to you
Tuesday 16 Aug 2016. I work with a man who is in the Army National Guard. He has had several tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. His name is James. He has seen and been through a lot in those tours, but nothing could prepare him for what happened this month of August 2016. He received a phone call that one of his troops had been in a horrific car accident locally. He is 30 years old, married and has a two year old child. There was a terrible rain storm. His vehicle had hydro-planed, and he had lost control and violently slammed into a tree. James told me the details of his condition after visiting him in the hospital. He told me it was one of the worst moments he had been through. When James arrived at the hospital his troop’s wife and parents were there sobbing. Their lives would never be the same. James explained to me that his troop was put into an induced coma. His hands and wrists were fastened to each rail of the hospital bed with carefully folded sheets. They had to restrain the young man because he had been flailing about in excruciating agony. They had to heavily medicate him and put him into an induced coma it was so bad. His spine had been snapped in two places, and one of his lungs was punctured. He also had brain swelling. James went on and explained how he had been in the waiting room with the family. They all were waiting for the doctor to come out. The doctor finally arrived with a not so good look on his face. James said he knew instantly this was going to be bad. He began to get up and leave out of respect of privacy to the family. The family called James back though. They wanted him there because they knew this young man worked and toured with James for several years. The doctor just came out and said it. He will never walk again. He would be paralyzed from the waist down. He would only have movement in his arms and head. This past Friday they operated and place a steel rod in his back in the hopes to allow him to sit up. The operation would be a problem though. In a good scenario it would be like fastening a rod against a pole. In this case, it would be like fastening a rod against a wet noodle. His spine is so jacked up there is hardly anything there to fasten the rod to. When the doctor finished saying what he had to say, James said it was one of the most awful things he had been through. The young man’s wife and his parents and other family members were completely shattered. Uncontrollable crying and sadness had filled the room. He said it was the most darkest and mournful moments he endured. James told me this young man is a good man. He was strong, athletic and had faith. His life and his families lives have been tragically ripped to shreds now. He will need constant care the rest of his life. He will not be able to run with his child or do the normal things we take for granted. The hospital bills will be insurmountable. His life will not be what it once was. There will be a “Go Fund Me” account established. This story had a profound effect on me this past week and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Any problems you may perceive pale and are minuscule in comparison. The next time I feel that I think my day isn’t going as expected, I am going to stop and think of this young man. I just had a compelling desire to paint something for him. I’ve been on this painting kick for the last several months. I don’t know what it is, but I went over thirty years without painting. Now I feel compelled to paint. I can’t paint just anything though. I have to have a real feeling about something first. I made this painting for this young man this weekend, and I am giving it to James to give to him at the appropriate time. Again, I don’t know why I just wanted to? I just feel I want to do something in addition to giving money. I will find out this coming week if his operation was successful. Since he has been sedated and in a coma, it’s unclear if he knows yet that he is paralyzed. I can’t imagine the pain he and his family will endure. It’s beyond comprehension to me. Bless this man and bless this family. I pray for all of them.
I did this painting for my mother. She is very religious. She lives in a Catholic assisted living home, and she is nearly 90. I burned the caption in with a burning tool. She absolutely loves it as well as all the nurses and visitors that come and see her. I live quite a ways from her (she is in Kansas and I’m in Illinois), so I have been giving her a call once a week for the last 5 years. Every week she talks about this painting I did for her. I’m glad that it makes her happy. That is all I ever need. I owe a lot to my mom for a lot of things. I love her dearly. My love for painting has been through her. She was an extraordinary artist in her day. There was something about this painting that I didn’t notice until sometime after it was completed. There is sort of an optical illusion about it. This was unintentional, but nevertheless it created an effect. When you stare at Jesus long enough you could say that he is staring straight down into the ground? That said you could also say he is looking to his left out into the desert? Personally, I’m really not sure? I believe the slight breeze through his hair helps create the illusion? What do you think?