Stories: How my paintings came about
When Mary and I were in Barcelona in 2011, we visited Antonio Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia. Since Gaudi was run over by a street car in the 1930s, work had progressed slowly. The towers were in danger of collapsing, so they had to be supported by cranes. We expected to see the structure in disrepair, but when we entered, we were in for a pleasant surprise: Hundreds of workmen were finishing the vaults with high-tech equipment--scaffolds, cherry pickers and power tools everywhere! When I looked up into the vaults, I was so overcome with awe that I shed tears uncontrollably. It was one of the most worshipful moments I've ever experienced! My painting shows scaffolding dimly in the distance, but the art nouveau columns and vaults in the foreground are completed.
I came across a photo similar to this scene: a Germanic rooftop, with one light in a hip-roofed dormer window. The blackness of night, coupled with the barbed wire in the foreground window, gave the impression of sadness and suffering; the light in the dormer window suggests the possibility of joy and healing.
I've always loved the sea, sailing and sailboats of every sort. My wife's Mom, Virginia, had a print of a mysterious painting hanging in her home. It had belonged to her grandmother. The painting shows a sailing ship in the darkness with a lantern light reflected in the sea. Since her death, we've had that print hanging in our home. While searching the web for photos of square-rigged sailing ships, I came across a photo of a figurehead--a woman carrying a dove.
The two images coalesced in my mind: a square-rigged ship sailing in the darkness with a figurehead similar to the one I saw online. When I had finished the sky and sea, I showed it to our artists' circle at a critique. The other artists were unanimous: "Don't add the ship; we like it just the way it is!" A couple of weeks later, I showed the ship at our critique. Again, they were unanimous: "Don't add the figurehead; we like it just the way it is!" Before the next week''s critique, I painted the figurehead. The result was three paintings on the theme of hope.