Life: signs unseen

I look now at the image, End of an Era. I liked this piece so much, that when I’d been trying to find an image from my work to use for a logo, I’d suddenly seen this one and said, “That’s it! Perfect!” Because she is, she shows, the search.

The woman with binoculars to her eyes, is exactly my symbol, my inspiration for last year into this. That image guided and encouraged me the whole year, to create this blog and my webshop, helping me to trust my instincts. 

The title, End of an Era, had come later, at the painting’s completion. And honestly, I hadn’t realized at the time, that title was not just about an event, the date of which is scribbled on the back of the canvas. Nor what I’d spontaneously seen as an ideal finish: to paint a flag at half mask to commemorate that day. No, it had not occurred to me until just now, how symbolically that title would stamp my future.

I’d not been living in London then. That part of my life, traveling from Amsterdam to London every six months for 9 years (due to passport restrictions), had not yet begun. Nor had I began the joy and wonder of a new relationship, a terrific gallery deal and the whole new life that would not, for several more years come into existence.

I must confess, the image I painted of a beautiful woman, dressed in wide brimmed hat with veil of fine fishnet, gloved hands and exquisite mouth, she and the background of a race track, I admit I stole from one of my favorite films. Inspired by the master: Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious.

In the story, this woman is secretly in rendezvous with her lover. This particular scene is sprinkled with intrigue and espionage. Between the two lovers, tension builds, then brilliantly climaxes in fury with a hissed lover’s quarrel. The scene ends with his words of condemnation of her, while she raises the binoculars over her eyes to hide her tears.

Poignant, powerful, heartbreaking.

This image, of binoculars or sunglasses covering eyes began to reoccur, finally becoming the theme to tie my series, History of Women, together.

In the images, the searching of each woman is symbolized. Searching for what? A better future? One which did not include an oppressive partner who called all the shots? Or to choose for no partner at all?

From these emotions bubbling within me, the series, History of Women, was born. And yet, I had painted each image instinctively, without a thought as to what the sunglasses or binoculars meant. Perhaps at the time, I’d considered them just a prop, reoccurring in each scene from my 1960’s childhood.

This blog, that had started as fun with an image I love, has now soured into the relationship I ran out on.

So I tell myself, ‘I guess I’m not relationship material,-‘ My one-liner of truth, in all it’s simplistic self-interest.

Divorce. Does this equal flighty, callous, insincere commitment? Or just the grasping of life along it’s very bumpy roads? I ask myself, ‘To stay in the relationship, wouldn’t it have been for the wrong reasons?’

I’ve watched all the women I was friends with, waltz, then circle, then couple up and marry. I stand alone. Just an observation, not a depression, nor a bonus.

Some people just live their life. Others like me, live it, then paint or write about it. Rarely do I know, or notice, the underlying truths of the sign posts along the way. Does anyone?

I’m beginning to realize that signposts are the paintings, painted on impulse, not searching for the underlaying meanings of that moment. It is only now that the deep truths are revealing themselves to me. And it’s not pretty.

Because it was that apartment in Amsterdam that I’d been living in when the news flashed from London. And it only just now occurs to me, that the title, End of an Era, was not only about a British era, nor even the Hitchcock film I loved. No, it was an end to my era and a wonderful partner, with whom I could no longer live.

The event that happened so suddenly, rocking the British Empire and the world. From our apartment in Amsterdam, at 4:53, the morning of August 31, 1997, the date I’d written on the back of the canvas and flag painted at half mask, while this news flashed from London: Dianna, Princess of Wales, car crash, dead at 36.

End of an Era. Signs on the road, unseen.


Paintings of this series can be purchased as prints or viewed on the video, Butterflies don't sing, or my website.

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