Sunday, September 15, 2019 1:00 AM

It''s been a long time - almost nine months - since I last posted here. My last post was January 25, my birthday. About two weeks later, my dear husband of 39 years passed away very suddenly. My life changed in an instant. It took until May for me to get back into my studio. People asked me if this loss would change my work, but I didn''t know how to answer that question except to paint and see what happens. So here''s what happened.

Working on some small pieces seemed like a good way to get myself back into a painting mode.

The Thinker (oil on gessoed paper, 15 x 11") was one of the first paintings I made. The warm background and cool, darker foreground lets viewers feel that they are sharing an interior space with the figure and glimpse a bright exterior beyond. This thoughtful figure seemed to expressed my own status: a woman trying to figure out how to re-form her life going forward.

In February I had been scheduled to teach a painting class and of course that was canceled. But by May I had gotten my life sufficiently under control to teach again. In my class, I did a demonstration for my students, showing them how to use a colorful, random background to create a painting of flowers in a vase.

As I painted the flowers, a figure began to suggest itself on the left side of the canvas. I decided to let it emerge and this painting, Still Life Observed (12 x 9", oil), is the result. My students loved it.

The vase of flowers reminded me of the many bouquets that had come to my home, sent as expressions of sympathy. And the figure looking at the bouquet seems very ghostly to me. But I let the actual viewers of this painting make their own interpretations. 

Having previously made a series of Men Waiting paintings, I undertook another painting of a man, this time the one I married so many years before. "My Guy" (20 x 20", oil) is based on an old photo of my husband as a young man. I used color and shape to integrate the figure into the background. I wanted to make a general statement about masculinity and nature - but not too far from civilization. There is a town just on the horizon. And the outside grill presages years of very domestic back yard barbecues.

Summer Sun (20 x 16", oil) came together quite quickly using bold strokes of paint, letting the figure emerge from the pale colors raining down from above and earthy red up from the bottom. This is another thoughtful woman, this time looking upward and quite obviously entirely out of doors in full sun. A combination of physicality and emotion in this figure gives it a kind of vitality.

And then Woman in Blue (20 x 16", oil) came about. I started with the idea of the woman gathering or containing some swirling blue, but I couldn''t find a resolution. It sat unfinished in my studio for some weeks until it occurred to me to spread the blue to the whole surface. Immediately, the painting expressed serenity.

This is far from the end of my journey to reshape my life after such a loss. But maybe the paintings  do indicate progress. Who knows what will happen? I''ll just keep painting.

Peace and love to you all.