I have grown to love texture and patina. My husband and I live in a 100 year old house with four active children and a dog, so perhaps it is simply a subconscious decision to accept the inevitable. But, actually, I think it might be rooted in wisdom.
Earlier in life, I strove for pristine surfaces; Sherwin Williams and I were good friends. Now my walls display obviously-patched dents from balls that hit too hard. One errant ball cracked a hundred year-old window. My husband taped the glass, and I “creatively” positioned an antique-framed photo of flowers to cover it, waiting for warmer days before I call the window repair business. Chewed corners accent my living room side tables, thanks to a certain bored and adored white greyhound. A child’s ADHD-inspired knife experiment patterns my kitchen drawers. Even ten layers of polyurethane are powerless to protect my re-painted dining room table from the wear and tear of clattering silverware and pens that drift off the sides of homework. It’s the kind of patina you can’t buy. It can only be earned through years of living and loving.
You see, I hope that the patina of my 100 year old house adds up to more than the sum of its beat-up textures, to an overarching theme of my children knowing they are loved and valued.
One of my favorite secret tools for creating texture in my art is humble cheesecloth. I spread it across watercolor paper before painting my first wash, then paint over it and between its parts – letting the colors pool, run, and dry completely. The strings cause the paint to mix and move in sometimes unexpected ways. When I strip away the cheesecloth, I receive whatever the process gifted me: re-work, highlight, and accent towards the overall theme I have in mind. (Images below can be viewed larger by clicking on them.)
When I was younger and challenges threatened, I exerted great effort to avoid and escape potholes of irritation, sorrow, or struggle. I would say, “When I get through x, y, or z, then life will be good.” But in more recent years I’ve come to revel in the interplay of highlights and shadows, all swirling around simultaneously. Increasingly, I think the highs and lows knit together a more profound total.
You see, I have this expectant hunch that it isn’t actually about the texture of any given series of moments at all, but something bigger. Something we can’t see yet.
I’m stumbling into a growing confidence that submerged beneath the dappled surface, somehow life is firmly held in the Whole – in the good, the oh-so-good, Hand of God.