Although I painted The Swing 8 years ago, I still marvel at the circumstances and events that transpired around it. Evidence of things not seen.
Several years ago I went through a period when my art was my only means of financial support. It was critical to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible.
I taught watercolor classes, had my work in a few gallery/gift shops and participated in art festivals. A commission house portrait business was growing, plus, an international company had purchased all the rights to five originals and royalties on print sales were beginning to come in. But, none of these activities promised a steady, predictable income and I was always on the lookout for what more could I do?
When it was suggested I join the local chamber of commerce, I followed the advice. Upon paying my dues, the director urged me to attend an upcoming networking event.
“Bring one of your house portraits, put it on an easel and hand out your business cards,” she said. “This will be well attended and you’re our only artist!”
I did what she said. And she was right, the room was buzzing with about forty animated people. But we were all doing the same thing. Promoting ourselves. There was an awful lot of talking and very little listening. We were all too needy.
I remember not one person there ever really looked at the house portrait. And the sense of hollowness and yes, fear that overtook me afterwards as I carried my things back out to my car and drove home.
I unpacked and immediately went for a walk to clear my heart and my head. I did that a lot in those days. Often, walking twice a day through nice neighborhoods with well-kept homes and well-tended yards.
I had discovered several favorite houses during my many walks. And was so taken with the memories evoked by the porch swing and flowers of one in particular I had photographed it and created a small watercolor. The setting took me back to a time I would sit with my grandmother on her porch swing and she would tell me about her flowers. It was a time I had felt safe and loved.
On my walk the afternoon after the chamber event, the woman I assumed lived in that house happened to be working in her yard. We had not met but she smiled and waved at me holding out bunches of what she was digging up in both hands.
“Need some liriope?” She asked laughing.
We were engaged in conversation before I knew it. She had seen me walking and was curious to know who I was. In the course of talking, I told her I had admired her swing and had actually painted a small watercolor of it.
She was delighted. “Really, I would love to see it!”
“Well, I just finished it. It’s still on the support board.”
Oh, that’s okay. I really do want to see it.
“I could go get it now?”
“Would you? That would be great!”
I practically skipped back to my little apartment feeling lighter with every step, quickly retrieved the watercolor and carried it back for her to see.
Assurance soaked through me when she said she wanted to buy it. Everything was going to be okay.
“Leave room to be astonished by God.” –Richard Rohr