Join me in giving to the Hawaii Community Foundation’s Maui Strong fund – an organization accepting funds to provide food, clothing and shelter for families who have lost their homes in the tragic Maui fire. The devastation and loss are heartbreaking. Like me, feel free to donate 'in honor of Art Conrad', my dad ♥
This is my 4th weekly email sharing the story of losing my father in Maui (part 1, part 2, part 3)… and how the mysterious ocean spun my life in that moment. 25 years after his death, I’m creating a new painting series, the Open Skies Collection, that seems to be deeper than I first intended.
Earlier this year, I found myself beginning these paintings after spending time at a local wildlife reserve, witnessing the beauty of the blues, the viewpoint above the water, the space and depth… but once I got to painting number 6 of 16 (so far), I realized that these pieces feel more like my soul calling out to honor my father, and to honor days and loved ones gone by, for us all.
Women staring out to sea. The beauty of the waves and the ripples, the cast sunlight sparkling. Could these be prompted by my soul looking for healing after loss, and wanting to find comfort in the mystifying ocean that gives and takes as she pleases?
For all of us… our losses, our lonely times, our inspired times. Our moments of feeling powerful and complete, lost, accomplished and/or searching, and looking over it all from a vantage point of presence. We are resilient.
These paintings remind me of both how resilient we are, and of how small we are. With the sparkly ocean as their backdrops, these pieces continue to call to me and yearn to be created. They ache to provide peace and contentedness that we can touch.
Earlier this week, I spent 3 days in Cannon Beach, Oregon. Almost three days of walking the sand, toes in the water, accepting the therapy of the sea. When not on the sand, the 2nd story balcony held my husband and I. HOURS of watching the waves and the people, me sketching, him reading. Or both of us just contemplating the colors and value-shifts of the sea and sky, watching the rocks and shore disappear into fog. My soul is filled.
Here is a time-lapse of one eve's sunset:
I came home aching to work on my piece in process, below, which is called Alone Together, and itching to start another larger piece.
In 1998, I never dreamed I’d come home from our trip to Maui with my dad IN my suitcase. 1/3 of his ashes we sprinkled on Haleakala. 2/3 we brought home. Half to sprinkle on the property we grew up on, and half to bury so we’d have a place to go…
Here is another part of my in-process, but may never go anywhere, memoir:
When we buried dad’s ashes, we tucked his trademarked grey wool stocking cap over the jug-turned-urn that we found in his house. We leaned a photo of each of us against his hat. Four sides, one kiddo at each side, leaning against their daddy. My brothers had sealed the jug with melted wax, and the cemetery had allowed us the chance to intern him on our own. They dug the small square hole and permitted us to do the rest. We included a shell necklace from Maui, a Hilo Hattie’s special put around the necks of most tourists. We arranged it in a heart shape around the hat which held the jug. We four sat somber and silent, then, with our hands, we filled in the hole.
I sit at dad’s memorial stone from time to time, telling him I miss him, and staring at the words my brothers chose to inscribe on the plaque: “see you soon, maybe tomorrow”. I choke back tears for how much he has missed; how much we have missed by not getting to be adults with a father.
But in sight of the ocean, when I ‘feel’ my father's presence from across the sea, it doesn’t feel negative. If there was a place in which to ‘go’, Maui would be it, especially for him.
Writing this email series and creating these paintings has invited a new light of healing into the sadder pockets of my heart. Going through his albums and feeling okay with letting some of his photos go after giving them a good look of appreciation, and hearing from my kind and loving collectors and community, knowing that I’m not alone, has layered a fresh dose of healthy into my soul. Thank you for being here, for reading and for writing ♥
I will continue to create for the Open Skies Collection. Honoring these women as they stare out, longing for a sign, aching for understanding, believing in healing and meaning. Just like I do.
I still have the page set up for free prints from the Open Skies Collection, if you feel the urge to share this link with your lovely people, I’d be grateful 😊 Or get larger prints (including stretched canvas prints) of the paintings, here.
Love & Sincerely,