I want to keep my promise that I would tell you about my dad. And why I think the Open Skies Collection came to be.
When I was 20, I went to Maui with my father, grandmother (his mother), and big sister. I will share more later, but today I want to focus on this bit from a memoir I’ve been writing, it’s likely 15 years from publishing, if ever 😊 only because I am not sure… but here goes:
Driving home, we put on an Elton John CD that we hadn’t played in a long time, and I was feeling great. All was calm, and I was thinking of my newest paintings, when all of the sudden dad flashed into my mind and tears came cascading. Evidence of this new heartbreak session was protected by my sunglasses until tears slipped from beneath them and were caught in the sleeve of my sweater.
The choke in my throat, the throb of emotion was sticking around. I changed to a Marc Cohn CD, and automatically skipped the song about his father. I knew that would take me down hard. Chewing some gum helped, but for about an hour my tears came and went as they chose.
Eventually the tide went out and I was okay. My neighbor watched her father die last week, and I saw her walk past my house with her pup on a leash and sunglasses on... I wonder if she cares that the tears can slip from beneath?
My crying started up again in response to a Train song. I said to my husband, since both of our sons were asleep in the backseat now, “how can my dad still haunt me after 24 years?”
“Just memories, not haunting”, he replied.
“I mean, I’m haunted by him being gone and all that he has missed. I’m perfectly fine and then all the sudden I’m not. Maybe I’m meant to USE this.”
“Use these emotions to CREATE.”
“You DO create.”
“Create something about HIM – about that day, about those feelings… the loss.” My mind goes to Silent Story, and how creating it helped to heal my heart after being ghosted by my best friend. And the numerous emails I’ve received from my collectors who have also found comfort with The Seeker.
Would I make an art book about losing dad? I immediately saw images and pictured me making them: watercolor on paper – deep greens and blacks beneath a Maui ocean, fish circling around him, my legs and arms ghost-white against that inky blackness. Swimming intently toward him in that water that suddenly felt unnaturally choppy and frigid, and so black... Both of us underwater… his fins floating away…
One day, many months later, my husband and I walked at a beautiful wildlife reserve near our city. From the elevated gravel trail, a vast horizon and watery scenery gave me pause. The peace was tactile. We sat on a bench, purposely in silence, just looking and listening. Whenever I am quiet in nature, I feel my dad with me. He was a nature devotee. Which is partly why losing him in Maui is okay, at the same time as being completely not okay.
I came home and started sketching what would become the Open Skies Collection. I held onto that peace and those long-distance views of water and trees, the muted but clear blues of the sky and lakes and river… it lived in me for months while I created painting after painting for this collection.
It wasn’t until the pieces were mostly all sketched out and completely painted that I realized these vast horizons and longing glances embody a search for harmony, and a trust that it exists. They signify the mystery and power of the ocean, yes, the distant horizon of where we once were or could someday be, the in and out, up and down of the surf and of life in general. Yes. But also, loss. And all of us who have lost.
As these women peer out to sea, are they seeking a peace that we aspire to? Are they resenting and/or revering an ocean and a world that takes, but also gives? Like you and me, are they looking for a sign, aching for understanding, believing in healing and meaning?
I can share more of this story if you’d like to hear?
In the meantime, take care, know that I appreciate you being here. And I value any moment you have to respond and say hi ♥
You can still choose a free art print from the Open Skies Collection, and may I ask you to please take a moment to share this offer with your friends? Simply forward this email, or tag them in this post on facebook.
♥ Thank you!
Love & Sincerely, Katie
Here's my dad. He would be 75 years old in 2 days ♥ he died when he was 50.