Alan’s other idea that blossomed at the workshop was also around a bonfire. He instructed us to go into the woods, gather sticks, ones that speak to us about someone or someones who have passed on. Then we brought what we had found back, built some structures and once the fire was going, tossed the sticks in with homage to the ancestor.
Coincidentally, I have, recently, been working with this idea in my paintings . For quite a while now, possibly about fifteen years, I’ve been beginning the painting process by implanting photo-silk-screened images of people important in my life onto the canvas. A couple of years ago, I knew my ex-husband was dying and he became the focus for starting the painting process. The point for me is not to dwell on memories, pain, regret, longings but to take what arises in the process of painting and transform it. Make it resonate in a universal form. It has worked well for me. The initial energy sparked by the photographs charges the painting in ways I don’t always expect. As well, the images are buried into the paint, so, although an enduring element, they ultimately are just a private starting point.
At the fire pit last week, all I could say to the group was that there are a lot of people I need to throw into the fire, too many to choose just one. They are all important and have made very rich contributions in my life, often in many unexpected ways, not always pleasant, but definitely useful, a part of my life. I put a circle of sticks around my many sticks, then tossed them all in. They went up in flames, where they belonged, along with everyone else’s.