Friday, March 30, 2007

Don's Macaw

This is only of my early paintings, done about 2o years ago in acrylic on canvas board, about 16 x 20. Its one of those paintings that has travelled continents with me, and keeps turning up when I sift through old drawings and boxes of half finished paintings that I discarded years ago in the hopes that 'one day' I would find time or inspiration to continue on with them.

This was pretty much finished. Looking at it now, I can see how much more work needs to be done ont he feathers, especially on the right side.

The painting reminds me of a friend who died after the painting was complete. Don had developed lymph node cancer and the painting became part of his ritual. In the week following chemotherapy, when he felt sick and depressed, he would come to my house and sit in the kitchen drinking tea and eating digestive biscuits and watch me paint this bird. Each day that he came he would sit back and say ' Man, that's a great bird.' We talked little some days and a lot on other days. I learned more about him than I ever knew in superficial conversations in a pub with others around. I knew his fears, his deepest fears about cancer, life, death, people, but the conversations were never depressing. Sometimes sad, but we always managed to laugh at some point during his visit.

The macaw remained at this point of completion and was put in the pile of drawings and paintings accumulating in a spare room or behind the sofa. Don had a brief remission after completing the first sessions of chemotherapy but a year later, the cancer returned. He came back to my house again to talk and to watch me paint, more to talk as my back would be turned to him as I painted and it made an easy sounding board. I was there, but I wasn't. I was the listener. He told me he would not have chemotherapy again, it was too hard on his body and mind. Having seen the ravages, I agreed with him. Weeks later he went into a hospice and died there.

The painting, complete or not will stay with me as a reminder of Don and of those talks.

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