The Feeling of Safe: a simple gift


Comfort (no.3)

I painted this on Friday of last week and took it to yesterday’s art show – a chronological detail that might seem irrelevant. I assure you, it’s not.

A couple called me over to ask about it. To be fair (fine. I’ll be fair), they asked, quite specifically, for the price.

All the monsters have stories and all their stories are quite meaningful to me. This one, though, is particularly … special. Because of chronology. Because of the world revealing itself.

And so, I said: this is a painting of how easy it is to reach out and make someone feel safe, to offer sanctuary, to …

The woman blinked. ‘It matches the colors in the bedroom.’

Oh, said I. ‘I guess you didn’t want to know the story.’

She made one of those faces. ‘We asked what the price was.’

I told them. In the end, it was a bit out of their budget.

If it had been in their budget, I don’t know what I’d have done. I don’t paint politics. I paint stories and, even if no one sees them or feels them, I paint possibilities. I paint (oh, yes, I am. I’m going to say it.) happiness. Not the easy kind you can get eating sugar. The kind you get by accepting that the world can’t help being the world. No one’s required to embrace my philosophies and ideas.

This one, though, was different. Is different.




9 thoughts on “The Feeling of Safe: a simple gift

  1. I am guilty of picking monsters based on colors. But I do love that your art (and writing) is not JUST about the visual, it’s about everything else too. Which is why books and cards with empowering thoughts are as desirable to me as pretty things that I can hang on walls.

  2. Ha! You are guilty of nothing. (Oh, I’m going to include Rosie in this reply because I don’t understand how the commenting and replying system works here. Or maybe it’s wine time. Hard to say.)

    It seems to me that most people are buying art to decorate and if you want it to match, you want it to match. Sometimes, it’s a color scheme. Sometimes, it’s a life aesthetic and their heads. I think even people who buy fine art, the museum stuff, are decorating. So, my problem wasn’t at all with that and I didn’t intend to belittle that. I WAS, however, intending to say that I draw a line at someone openly disinterested in the story or the thoughts (because, to borrow your expression, this was sweetly empowering. Maybe to no one else. Fair enough. But to me.) I rarely meet people who don’t care, but when I do? I get angry.

    Not long after this couple, a woman with two college age companions (kids? friends?) stopped by. She had a straight up tragic story – and a lovely, fizzly plan for her future. She and her young friend pool their money to buy a painting that she understood deeply, with thoughts she was ready to see in her life. I was soooooooo grateful to have a painting that meant something to her.

    It’s the painting I posted here:

    (Well, what a coincidence.)

    PS. You are ThE most patient person on the planet. :):) Love, love, LOVE, me

  3. Ugh. People can be such jerks. I’m with you – wouldn’t want to send off a part of me with them. Can’t imagine that her bedroom was suited for a painting about happiness anyway:0)).

    How satisfying that people who understand and find meaning in your art take them home so that your expression of happiness becomes part of their lives!

    • This, Beth, is a truth gem: How satisfying that people who understand and find meaning in your art take them home so that your expression of happiness becomes part of their lives!

      To be really, really fair (damn), I stopped telling the exact ‘story behind the painting’ quite awhile ago. People are so good at filling the room around a painting with their OWN story and weaving it into their own experience. I have to mentally zip my mouth closed when they get it terribly wrong, because in the end, it’s not for me to tell them what they feel.

      But this one? Any painting that’s unapologetically an illustration of what I want in the world? aghghkghghk. (Oh, I worry about having to transcribe the sound of a kitty spitting up hairballs.) :)

  4. Oh, Booda, I will tell you this: when I clicked on this page after a week or more of temporarily quitting the Internet over all the ugliness out there right now, that painting just short-circuited the ugliness — bam. It literally made me smile and gave me a “Whew, look, it’s okay” feeling. In fact, I may put it as my screensaver so I can see it every time I log in to the cyber madness.

    You already know how I adore your monsters, but it’s their stories that make them so wonderful and lovable. I love these colors, in my mind, but they do not match the colors in my little apartment — here I have a glorious sunshine yellow on the walls, burnt orange love seats, deep red, sheer curtains (warm colors to make me forget the rain years) — but I would hang that monster up and not care at all.

    • Could. NOT. be. more. grateful, Cowbell, that you let this monster be and do what he was meant to be and do. (They certainly don’t flatter themselves powerful, but they know what they illustrate and … well, that counts. At least I think it does.:))

      Ooh, I’m feeling a little dizzy about your colors. They’re luscious in my mind. One of my favoritely decorated monsters – a stripey chappy that just sold – wow. when? Last week. Really? Last week was just … last week? Agck! The head!) Oh. Anyway. He had maroon and yellow stripes. Ymmmmm!

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