the year of watercolors at nautilus teachings


1973-The spring of 1973 is the year of watercolors. No matter how hard I put my brush to paper, the colors become muddled. I cannot separate the tangerines from the lemon yellows so I end up with angry reds. Red is the color of my face when my brothers hold me down so tight I cannot breathe. They place their knee under my rib cage and press so hard I think for sure my head will pop off of my shoulders. Every painting I attempt, I tear up.
By the summer of my 11th year things change. The demons have stopped their attacks on me and I very rarely see them. They are 14 and 16 and have their own lives now. My life is still shadowed.
I begin journaling to try to rid myself of all the sadness. I cannot speak to my parents because they are either sitting in silence, fighting or my mom is weeping. My mother seems so sad. She no longer wears bright colors and even her berry brown tan which shines so magnificently seems to make her look like a worn leather shoe. Many times I will see my dad in various chairs sagging down in defeat. He looks scuffed and tired like his old leather belts that hold the demons beatings within. No amount of buffing can make these belts shine. My mother begins disappearing each day, saying she is out walking. Soon, my father finds out she has taken a part time job to help cloth and feed us. It seems my father has been let go from his job and cannot find another one. My mom is trying to help, I know, but my father becomes the color of a burning house. His anger is so strong, so scary that even his deep sadness of storms cannot douse the flames expelling from his lips. It is a long summer this year. I am wearing more hand-me-downs from my cousins and even my colors began to fade. My girlfriends are busier than ever with all their activities and I feel so alone. I still walk in the park and speak to all my animal friends, but I am growing up and I want to help my family.
I feel so lost
I feel
I see myself
In the dungeon
Which is our basement
“This is where I belong”
I think to myself
Amongst the rubble
The trash
The spiders
And dead bugs
I don’t have a voice
So I don’t know what to say
My mother is full of sadness
My father carries anger
I feel alone
And I feel trapped
Like the bugs
My brothers
Squish with their
Ratty old shoes…

2010-Studio-All my mother was asking my father for so long ago was a little room. She needed him to back off just a tad on his rules and regulations and allow her to help.
Now, some 30+ years later I needed my 18 year old daughter to truly listen to me and quit rolling her eyes in disgust.
Neither Happened.
This canvas was fun to paint. Using only cobalt, navy and indigo blue I dipped my fingers into the paint and, “wiggled” them around to create movement, like tiny organisms in the water. Sweet dollops of kelly green and banana yellow danced around the waters current creating a feeling of celebration. My tiny white fish friends swam half-hazardly around the entire 3’ x 4’ canvas. Wiggle Room, can also be called, Giggle Room for every time I step back and gaze at the almost nothingness of this piece, I am reminded of how silly my father was to try to reign in my mother and how now, my daughter calls me for advice.
My mother’s colors were strong. Her gift of giving, love and passion for people could not be harnessed. God made her to be unbreakable. What he forgot to do, was to make her impenetrable to disease and death. God made my beautiful daughter strong, stubborn and sweet as a spring rain. He kissed her face with freckles and gave her my mothers hair and smile. I wanted to hold her so close because I knew my mom lived inside of her tiny 5’4” frame. I had to let her go, to grow up and leave home. It was the hardest thing I ever did so far in my life, besides standing beside my moms casket in 1987.

thanks be to God
thanks be to God