In 1998, Kimberly and I added to our family. No, we don't have children in the traditional sense, but Ken and Barbie became the children that we doted on in the absence of human kids.
|Ken & Barbie getting a bit too heavy for the table.|
|Opal & Dignan|
|The big babies, Barney & Betty|
|Golden Gate Park|
|"Opal's Room" (oil on canvas, 20"x30")|
Over the years, I painted portraits of each of our family members. Barney and Betty were a struggle. There was just so much personality in each of them, that it was hard to capture in just one painting.
|"Betty" (oil on canvas, 30"x40")|
|"Barney" (oil on canvas, 30"x40")|
Dignan, the loner, was a portrait of beauty emerging form the dark around him.
|"Dignan" (oil on canvas, 16"x30")|
Barbie was a mix of pride and defiance.
|"Barbie" (oil on board, 27"x19")|
Ken developed over the course of an hour, his personality concentrated in his continuous stare.
|"Ken" (oil on canvas, 12"x9")|
|"Opal In the Window" (oil on canvas, 19"x28")|
When I say our lives revolved around them, it's not at all an exaggeration. Every morning, rain or shine, 100º or -20º, the dogs took Kimberly and I to the park at the crack of dawn. They lay at my feet as I painted and even attended classes with me. The cats were no different. Ken and Opal fought to be in our laps whenever I sat at my computer. Barbie demanded that I carry her cradled like a baby at least once a day. Dignan craved both attention and his space at the same time. We bought a king size bed, so that all eight of us could fit - for many years it's seemed as if Kimberly and I slept in separate rooms as animals pushed us apart, stretching out their own space on the bed.
Now, it's just Barbie. She still gets us up in the morning, but there's no longer the mad scramble of 24 feet running to the kitchen. Every morning, I pass by the paintings of all the kids as I get Barbie's food (and numerous meds) together. I have to admit that there's a certain comfort in seeing each of them in the mornings. I even reach out to touch the dogs heads in the paintings, scratching them between the eyes with a loving "good morning."
I cherish these paintings. I know that just as all things are temporary, these paintings will one day be gone. The canvas will rot, the varnish will yellow and the paint layers will crumble. Before any of that happens, myself and everyone that I know will long have turned to dust. I don't find sadness in this, but rather joy that these paintings continue to remind me of the times I shared with these lovely beings. Paintings aren't just images, they are packed with emotions and memories we want to revisit again and again. Compared to all of us, paint is seemingly immortal.