Clinging to Life is a series of paintings I painted expressing my emotions of what I felt I was witnessing during the short battle my mother had with cancer. Feeling that I never really explained much of what they meant to me, I wanted to dive a bit deeper into them and their meaning to me.
Funny how memories flood in during my studio time. I get engrossed in what I’m doing and time slips away and I find myself in another world. A stroke of my brush or a color that I mix reminds me of different moments in my life. Art is very therapeutic for me.
The Clinging to Life series didn’t start out as a representation of the death cycle I was witnessing. My mother died many years before these paintings came out of me yet the memory is just as fresh today. Rich jewel tones represent her rich life, even though it was cut short. It also depicts the somber moodiness of the situation.
The first one in the Clinging to Life Series is Shedding Skin and depicts a stalk of wheat with kernels of wheat flying away from the stem. This is implying the beginning of losing ones earthly existence – like when we discovered my mother had cancer and it was already stage 4. It was July.
The fish like creatures swimming in the green waters below the wheat represent my grandparents, my mother’s parents, watching and waiting. Being there for her as she begins her journey into the next world. They had already passed. You can see a bit of faded kernels already letting go of the stem and floating away meaning she’s accepted her fate and has already started to release her life.
She had faith that maybe she would be healed around me, however conversations with my dad later revealed her believing she was going to die.
Shedding Skin – 1st painting from the Clinging to Life series
Free From Earthly Roots – 2nd painting from the Clinging to Life series
Next, Free From Earthly Roots, shows another phase of passing onto from one realm to the next. The kernels have fallen off the stalk that keeps it attached to this earth. You’ll notice there are now roots and vines trying to entangle the now loose kernels… clinging to life… me clinging to her life.
This is my way of expressing me trying to hold onto her, grasping and not wanting to let go. However, her spirit as already started to rise and float up as you see the kernels now in blue at the top.
Earthbound No More – 3rd painting from the Clinging to Life series
Finally, Earthbound No More displays a more jubilant feeling. The wheat kernels are fully back together – representing she’s got her body back and is healthy… the cancer is gone.
Stalks of wheat are swirling around in joy and freedom. The roots have been severed from earth. Drips in the background represent many tears from me and family even though we know she no longer suffers. The roots remaining in the earth represent all the people left behind – me and my son… her grandson, my dad and all the family and friends.
The transition from life to death complete.
My mother was very religious. She believed in a hereafter… heaven. I was raised in church but as I reached 18 I stopped going. I kept my faith though through a lot of my adult life. Then Mom got cancer (for a second time in her life) and died. I’ve gone through much of the grieving process I think. Ultimately, I believe my mourning for her will last until the day that I die.
Someone once said to me you should be over that by now and I couldn’t believe what she was saying. This October will mark ten years since she’s been gone.
I’m lucky in a way, I’m able to express my feelings through my art as it’s still hard to communicate it verbally. It doesn’t always shout out at what it is and I don’t mention her deaths influence, but it is most definitely a big part of my creative process.
As far as faith… I’ve embraced more of a spirituality than following a religion. I’ve grown.
Learn more about me on the ‘About’ page in the menu at the top. I’m an artist – a painter mostly and an avid gardener. I paint a variety of subjects including birds, koi fish, my gardens, ponds and flowers as well as anything having to do with nature especially trees and tropical scenes. I also enjoy painting abstracts and have started creating more and more of them. My most favorite thing to try to achieve in my painting is mystery.
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