By Andy Weddington
Saturday, 24 November 2018
Colors are the smiles of nature. Leigh Hunt
Yesterday morning to begin the day I read a short passage of wisdom that noted all unhappiness, according to Anthony de Mello, can be traced to one thing and one thing only.
That is, attachment to people, places, things, memories, and even ideas (as I understand the burden of attachment).
In short, people, places, things, memories, and ideas change and so must we accept. Otherwise, reasoned choice is sacrificed and unhappiness a consequence.
Thoughtful. Still mulling it over.
Over the past few days I painted several self-portraits.
The most recent yesterday.
Not until this morning did I understand why. Hold that thought.
A self-portrait painted and posted yesterday on social media elicited friend comment, "Where's yer happy fayce? (Said in my best Texas cheerleader voice.)"
In reply ...
" ... always happy as a clam when brush in hand. There is no, in truth, correlation between smiling (nor any facial expression) and happy."
And I am.
My not mask betrays.
Fifty+ years ago my Dad painted a portrait of his oldest son.
He used left over paint-by-number oils and worked on a 10 x 8 inches canvas board.
His subject me.
10 x 8 in. oil on canvas board
Still for awhile a challenge for a young boy.
Some might call it but an unsigned sketch.
Artists know otherwise.
It's "finished" - for there was nothing more to say.
Soon thereafter, I started painting. And have not stopped.
This morning, quietly gracing our foyer wall, I noticed that portrait of me.
A flashback - the odor of paint, the loaded brush moving across the canvas board, of Dad staring (at me), etc. - an attachment; unshakable.
Today Dad would be 83 - come January, five years in overwatch.
That's why I was painting self-portraits these past few days.
Yesterday, for reasons unknown to me, to the limited palette of three, I added chrome oxide green ...
18 x 12 in. acrylic on heavy paper
The two other portraits were missing something and Dad was telling me.
The green mattered.
And I noticed an eyebrow is pretty much the same but the decades ago happy face beaming more familiar mode.
Several times, long before he died, I tried to get Dad to sit for me.
He could not conquer the challenge his young son managed in pose; still he could not be.
So no small sketch of Dad complements his one of me.
But attached to him I am, see.
That's ever going to be.
And happy with that am I; even without brush in hand.
So perhaps attachment is a just a bit more complicated Mr. de Mello thee.
Happy Birthday, Dad!