My friend Bob died a little over a year ago. I surprised myself with the amount of grief this caused in my mind. I had always known that I loved Bob, but I had never realized just how much he meant to my life until I could no longer call on him. He had always been a depressed sort of wonderful person, but I had never actually believed that he would take his own life. So I either didn’t really know him at all, or I had not stayed in the friendship in a meaningful enough way that I could have contributed to his having second thoughts over his actions. Of course, what I have come to realize is that it would be impossible to keep someone from killing themselves if they have made up their mind to do so… no one can crawl into that mindset fully and actually exact change. I can certainly not suppose to understand. I wanted so to honor him…to show in a painting somehow how much he meant to me. I am not a realist painter at all, so why I felt that I would be able to somehow pull off some sort of amazing portrait of my friend that showed the world what I saw in him somehow….well I just don’t know why I felt I could do that. When I first laid paint down it didn’t surprise me in the least to discover a kinship with the face of the child on the cover of the album “War” by U2. First time I ever heard that cd (and it was the first time I listened to a cd, not an album) was over at Bob’s place.
But you know…as usual…I just didn’t feel it could just be that. That wasn’t enough paint. Plus, and more importantly, it wasn’t conveying what I wanted to convey. That is the point of painting for me, after all. Even when I am the only one who understands it… So I tried again…
Okay, but still a way to go. And now I’m starting to realize that it ain’t going to look like Bob. 😉
Kinda looks like Alex now. Hah! Yeah….now I’m getting depressed because I think at this point I can’t paint. And I leave it for a very long time….
I want to cover it up. But there are bits I like. It’s just now it seems to be someone else….someone I don’t know….my life as it is, is informing the painting and this is what I get for not trying to paint a specific photo, or subject, but am only trying to grab at an essence…
So I turn to using darker colors…. and I leave it alone again for a very long time. I hate it.
Oh yeah! Bob wore glasses! I copy a photo of him and make stabs at trying to make it look like him again. His square-ish face…his glasses… I’m still unhappy because it isn’t him. It isn’t perfect. I can’t paint realistically. Interestingly enough this is the closest I get to it actually “looking” like him.
And then I get mad. I paint it all purple, work on the eyes, take away any trace of him and attempt someone/thing new. And then I get pissed off and put orange on it in a fit of passion/madness. And I like that. But I still don’t like those damned eyes.
And then suddenly it comes together. Suddenly I see him again. The way it felt to know him and the things he opened me up to and had to say. I guess he didn’t feel he was very dear or something, but he was oh so dear to me. My memory of him is still intact. In some ways I should still be able to think to call him the next time I’m in town…
Do you know that I love you? If you know me…if you have had even a shred of a conversation with me that you found memorable, or that we shared a memory that is ours alone, then know that I love you. Just the same as I loved him.