After six months away from his easel, George Rodrigue returns this fall to his instincts, painting throughout the quiet nights in solitude.
The canvases, dominated by a Blue Dog
and oftentimes a typical Rodrigue oak
, are familiar, yet something is different in the feeling behind the images.
To the point, something is different in his affect.
(pictured, George Rodrigue, October 2012; click photos throughout to enlarge-)
“People asked me all summer,” explains George, “‘What will you paint once you’re back at your easel?’ I said I didn’t know, but that it probably would relate to my illness. Looking at these first canvases, that’s exactly what happened. I’m painting hope, love, happiness, sunshine, everything that I faced losing.”
, I thought as he spoke from his easel this morning.
But then everything is heavy these days, even as the world grows lighter and George’s paintings fill with sunshine.
(Before beginning this post, I half-jokingly started one called “Poor Pitiful Me
,” a saying my mother
attached to my self-imposed drama years ago.)
(pictured, Sunshine Over My Future, 18×24 inches, the first painting completed by George Rodrigue after returning to his easel this fall; click photo to enlarge-)
We’re struggling to grasp this new life, particularly with regards to society and the public.
George’s outlet is painting and mine is blogging, but otherwise, with the exception of commitments
related to the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts
, we live a bit like hermits these days, as we contemplate the meaning of this second chance.
Looking back at our calendar, usually booked months in advance, we noted that in more than one year, we had not spent a dinner out just the two of us. Accordingly, for the past four weeks we’ve enjoyed once each weekend ‘date night,’ an evening set in stone. Our lives, or rather living, depends, we’ve realized at last, on appreciating each other in action as much as thought. And we marvel at our ability to turn down with ease what we formerly saw as social obligations.
(pictured, The Path Out of an Unknown Danger, 2012, acrylic on canvas by George Rodrigue, 20×16 inches)
Let’s face it, even when we have it bad, George and I have it pretty good.
I wrote this summer about George Rodrigue as one “Lucky Dog
,” and I thought a lot about the nature of my own psyche— how I worried constantly about George’s suffering, struggling even now to relax my panic, while he worried only for my future.
(pictured, Love is All Around Me, 2012, acrylic on canvas by George Rodrigue, 30×40 inches; click photo to enlarge-)
I recall a mindfulness exercise several years ago when my sister Heather
lead me blindfolded into the Arizona desert as part of a relationships class.
Not permitted to speak, she guided me silently around cacti and over rocks for close to an hour.
At the end, the guide asked us both about our feelings.
“I’m glad it’s over!” said my sister. “I was afraid the entire time that Wendy would fall.”
I was fine, I shrugged. My sister would never let anything happen to me.
On the return, Heather wore the blindfold, and I guided her across the uneven sandy terrain, so different from our hometown beaches
“I’m glad it’s over!” she sighed as we finished. “I was afraid the entire time that Wendy would fall.”
But I could see! I exclaimed.
“I know,” she said. “But I still worried about you.”
-pictured above, Sunshine is Mine, 2012, acrylic on linen by George Rodrigue, 16×20 inches-
-for a related post, see “Blue Dog Oak (Old Friends),” linked here–
-meet George Rodrigue during his only public appearance this fall, an exhibition of portraits and a series of events surrounding the Louisiana Book Festival, October 27, 2012; story and details here–