Well, This Could Be Awkward

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So, I read today’s Zero to Hero Challenge, and it sends the challengees to a new link and suggests we participate in the Daily Prompt. Okaaaayyy. Do I have a reputation? Hmmm. But first there’s a post I HAVE to post today, and it’s about my dad. Maybe these things are connected. I mean, I was a “daddy’s girl” and all, and yeah, years of therapy have taught me that many of the things that I’m about, my “reputation” as it were, have to do with things that happened in my childhood.

I thought that it would be hard to start writing this post. I wanted to set the right tone, without being shocking, maudlin, or look like I needed sympathy or condolences. But the reason I have to write this particular post is that today is the 23rd anniversary of my father’s suicide. Did you see the sentence above about years of therapy? For me, I mean. My dad was an alcoholic and we (my immediate family and others) are pretty much in agreement that he had bipolar disorder (undiagnosed). It was almost half a lifetime ago, and I’ve come to terms with it. So today, I wanted to focus just a little bit on something else that made my dad my dad. Gave him his reputation.

Dad was an artist (writer, painter, photographer, among other things) and he LOVED anything to do with aviation. LOVED. That was his reputation. He always had something he was creating. Always taking pictures, writing, and painting. Usually not all at the same time, but who knows what was going on in that always scheming and plotting mind of his. He had lots of projects. Mostly in the garage.

It was in our garage where he  developed one style of artwork that was so identifiable, that when Roland (see new widget with my “cast of characters” in the sidebar) saw my latest painting, he knew the reference immediately.

Mine painting is much smaller, because my dad did everything big. He would paint a large canvas or board all black. Then take the time-honored artist technique of flicking paint with a toothbrush, and create stars. His piece de resistance was the planets. He would raid our kitchen “stealing” round items, usually pie plates, much to my mom’s dismay. I’m pretty sure he used oil paint and he would squish blobs of paint from the tubes, randomly on the bottom of said pie plate. Then he would flip the plate over, and press the pie plate to the canvas, slowly spinning it to create his planet.

He spent hours perfecting the technique of planet creation, and I confess that my planets were created more timidly. Ultimately, I just painted the circles. Sorry, Dad. The airplanes on my painting were originally drawn by my dad when he was in high school. I found the drawings in an envelope with some old photos, scanned them, and inverted the colors. The photo of the little boy in the plane is actually my dad, taken in the late 1930s. You can see his love of aviation started very young. So the painting above is a collaboration of sorts.

Today’s post is not about me, but my dad, and his reputation for a love of all things aviation and creative. Boy, I can only imagine what he would have done with a digital camera…

Happy flying, Dad.

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26 thoughts on “Well, This Could Be Awkward”

  1. Ellen, I absolutely love your mixed media work in the header image. There’s your father as a boy! It’s lovely and perfect for the post. Lonely, lost in the universe. Looking at your tags is really cool for this post, too. I appreciate how you took the prompt where you wanted to go – connecting your life experience and the loss of your dad with your art.

  2. I loved this too, lighthearted and meaningful. The end reference to what he would do with a digital camera made me giggle. I am sure he watches your work constantly and has a smile on his face. By the way your artwork above would be adored by many little boys across the universe I am sure if made in to a textile for duvets etc, good textures are so lacking, this would be great! 🙂

  3. Awww..the fact that you made this post about your father made this post even more amazing. The first thought that came to my mind about the prompt was about myself..so, I think it’s refreshing to see a take of this prompt about your father. I would have never thought of that. I also loved the artwork. It’s really wonderful!!

  4. My step father committed suicide last June. He was the eternal optimist (struggling with disappointment and depression.) I think he couldn’t express or live with his own negative feelings. He was also an insomniac with a terrifying fear of any and all mind altering chemicals. His father was an abusive alcoholic and his negative experiences with the Catholic Church and priests made him untrusting of religion. I love how you honored your father in your artwork. I understand your hesitation to talk about it. I haven’t mentioned the specifics of my step father’s death out here in the blogosphere except that it was unexpected and tragic. I’m at peace with my situation because I accept that it was a tragic and illogical decision to seek a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Some of the best works of art come from deep emotion! Happy blogging and I look forward to reading and seeing your art!

    1. Julie, your statement that suicide is a tragic and illogical decision is spot on. Unfortunately, it is one that does find a permanent solution for the one suffering, yet also leads to more problems to the survivors left behind to try to make sense of something that often simply cannot be understood.

      1. Yes, I agree. I believe strongly in the healing qualities of creativity. I find your artwork an inspirational way to deal with grief. I’m thinking I’d love to share this post with my mother. I’m sure she would appreciate your art. She has a blog here on WordPress she hasn’t visited in awhile, but she is still quilting (one of her favorite crafts…)

  5. This proves that family is family, no matter what happens. You must miss your father very much. I know that he’s smiling while reading this. This is heartfelt, and in no way awkward.

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