Sweet Sorrow

Ripe red strawberries, delicately patterned china cups, and a spread of sweets and small sandwiches fit for a queen. The table could not have been better set for a meeting of sketchers eager for camaraderie and a few hours of painting.

Out of the winter…out of my life…these hours spent in focused creativity stand starkly against the backdrop of my mother’s move this week to a nursing home. She—no longer able to hang on in her home in New York; me—sketching tea in Connecticut. Inexcusably incongruous…but there it is: a daughter’s respite and sadness contained in a few strokes of paint and bitter lemon. Sweet sorrow.SketchersTea_013116

My Mother’s Essentials

M&Ms, Diet Coke, butter, and a pharmacy of prescription drugs keep my mother going these days. But after drawing her kitchen table while doing an overnight shift to care for her this week, I quickly realized that my drawing would be incomplete without the addition of the other essentials that keep her alive. In spite of physical decline and hardship, her 70-pound, arthritis-riddled body is no match for her indomitable spirit and force of will.

My Mothers Essentials

Drawn with Micron 02 and 005 black pens, watercolor in Stillman & Birn “Beta” sketch journal. Click to view larger

Admittedly, it’s strange to share a page like this one. But it’s also the honest reflection of my life at the moment, which is what I like to capture in my journal. And hopefully, my mom won’t mind too much…

Resilient

Cottonwood-ResilientI love the sheer mass of this old cottonwood, towering above younger trees in my neighbor’s abandoned field. Less than a year ago, its hollow trunk still supported most of its aging, weighty limbs. But summer storms recently brought a good portion of the giant to the ground.

At first sight, I was struck by its brokenness in the late day sunlight. Only later, I realized my shortsightedness. Trees, like people, can weather many storms—their character often enhanced by years and trials. Sending greenery skyward, they go on living—aged and scarred, but resilient.

Sketched on location in ink; watercolor wash and text added later.