Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Pas de Deux

He wondered out loud, what is love now that we are in the last (two, dare I say three) decades of our lives? I said that I wasn't sure, but what I did know was that it was different from the deep crushes of middle school and beyond that, the urgent, hormone-fueled passion of the reproductive years.

Pas de Deux © Lissa Banks 2019
Deeper into our lives we accumulate scars of disappointment and betrayal. These cast a shadow of suspect on others' intentions and cultivate cynicism. Small accomplishments build strength and independence over the years. Eventually we learn who we really are and, with that, what we want and what we won't accept. In short, we narrow our parameters as we broaden as human beings. It's both the gift and the curse of getting older; as we long for connection it becomes easier being apart.

I remember junior high dances: the crepe paper and fruit punch, teachers clustered on the perimeter and mobs of girls and mobs of boys eyeing each other with longing and fear. Cheap cologne and perspiration filled the air as damp hands touched and couples stepped tentatively into the center of the room. Awkward gyrations were met by giggles and taunts offstage. The music stopped and if you didn't like your partner you'd run back to your gang and recover from the humiliation. If you did, you stayed and danced again and again. A date at the movies might be planned. St. Christopher medals exchanged. Such was budding love... for a week or two.

When we pair off into marital bliss we learn about a new, deeper kind of love. The kind that allows for compromise and sleepless nights and changes in plans. There's sickness and health and not everyone emerges unscathed. I'm not sure who are the lucky ones, those who celebrate anniversaries of nuptials longer than a life well-lived or those who switch gears and go solo.

We dance the dance throughout life. With suitors and blind dates and girlfriends and boyfriends and spouses we dance the graceful, inspired, painful, disappointing, sensual, desperate, heartbreaking, dutiful, chaotic, blind, uplifting, affirming and transcendent dance. A pas de deux for our lives.



I invite you to visit my website where you can sign up to receive now and again emails that will keep you up to date with where I’m showing, when I post these musings, and when I am offering special sales and promotions! My site is secure and I PROMISE never to sell your information.

  For more about my work follow me on Facebook or visit my website Lissa Banks Paintings to learn how to purchase an original. You can purchase prints for sale at  FineArtAmerica.com.


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Perfectly Imperfect

Modern social media is full of it. People proudly showing off their abs, their glutes. Perfect family photos, never crying chidden, tidy houses, fabulous vacations, happy marriages. I do it too. I post pictures of the finished product, not the messy process that comes before.

The casual eye digests this and can't help but compare our imperfect lives to these seemingly idyllic ones. There are no unpaid bills, no threatening health concerns, no unreasonable boss in those images.

Perfectly Imperfect © Lissa Banks 2019

Right now my lawn is about a foot tall. The spring rains and my mower in the shop have left me with a mess that I am a little embarrassed by every time I walk up the drive.  But I've noticed that when I walk through that burgeoning meadow I can see that it's made up of graceful grasses whose seed heads brush my calves and cheerful buttercups and nodding violets. Little toads pop up now and then to give me a good start. Birds and squirrels plunder its bounty. Yes it's a mess, and it's also perfect.

I've spent hours looking at this single tulip. Its grace and gentle colors. It's perfect just the way it is. But a random deformity caused a petal and leaf to merge, another petal seems to have wanted to cleave in two, its center spine oddly thickened, a few age spots beginning to form. It's hardly an ideal specimen. What it is is unique and graceful and fully possessed of the essence which is tulip.

Maybe we could take a lesson from this beauty, that all beauty is not perfect, that all perfection is not necessarily what we think it is and that finding beauty and perfection in the messy part of our lives is just as worthy as the perfect post.


I invite you to visit my website where you can sign up to receive now and again emails that will keep you up to date with where I’m showing, when I post these musings, and when I am offering special sales and promotions! My site is secure and I PROMISE never to sell your information.

  For more about my work follow me on Facebook or visit my website Lissa Banks Paintings to learn how to purchase an original. You can purchase prints for sale at  FineArtAmerica.com.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Kite Day

It had been a long hot day in July, though a perfect day to fly kites, which is what we'd done.

After the Kites © Lissa Banks 2019*
After a long drive, and a long search for a parking spot, and sunscreen in somebody's eyes, and experiencing a little of the kite enthusiasts' world, and many unsuccessful attempts to launch our own kite, and meeting a friendly little dog who seems to have changed our flying luck, and piling back into the car we landed at a clam shack in Warren, Rhode Island. Everyone was thirsty. And everyone had every reason to be cranky and tired, after all, the only bathroom options were the two portapotties that had been sitting in that long hot July sun all that perfect day. You do what you gotta do.

But for a brief moment there was not just sibling comity, but downright love and adoration. The kids mugged for the camera and for each other. They, with their hat hair and grimy faces and thirsty mouths rose above it all and were perfect for each other, and for me, their grandmother.

*For some reason this image isn't a very good translation. Guess you've just got to see it in person!




Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Glory


As I finished up this painting I was taken back to high school English (my tattered, 1,398 page textbook still takes up real estate on my bookshelf). Thinking about what I might want to express about this painting Wordsworth's poem came to mind; Intimations of Immortality, and the famous lines:

What though the radiance which was once so bright 
Be now for ever taken from my sight, 
Though nothing can bring back the hour 
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower; 
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind



Glory © Lissa Banks 2019

Indeed, what does remain? I'd say quite a lot.

I often think about those days. We wore uniforms: plaid jumpers, saddle shoes, peter pan collars. Any individuality was tucked underneath in the form of ruffled bloomers, leopard print bras and snazzy underpants. We were offered an excellent education if we were willing to pick it up. I think we did, for the most part. We graduated, scattered. Some of us married, some are now grandmothers, too many are gone.

But back then we were rebels under those plaid jumpers. We chaffed under the constraints of the school's rules, of the world's rules. The year we graduated students marched in the street to protest the war and one was shot and killed by a National Guard soldier in Ohio. We expressed our shock by wearing black armbands over those white short-sleeved blouses. We lost our innocence; we found our voices. Despite evidence of the world on fire all around us we believed the world was changing, slowly, for the better.

Wordsworth laments the losses of childhood but comes to recognize the richness of the world that he knows now as an adult. It's a powerful image and one reason I think I'm so drawn to paint these beautiful flowers. It takes me back to my childhood home and the tulips my father refrigerated all winter so they'd bloom in our California spring. It takes me back to my "flower child" adolescence and the idealism we held so dear.

Yes, time passes. We lose some things and people we love, but we gain some things also. And we have all those memories that we can gather up like a bouquet of our life. And we have tulips.




Friday, March 15, 2019

A Diversion

The finished product.
I've been going through an artists' slump. Just not inspired. Being someone who doesn't like being idle I realized that I now had the time to finish a long, put off project to paint a "headboard" for the second guest bedroom.

Inspiration image.
The "guest" who would most likely be occupying that room is the indomitable Charlotte, my granddaughter. As a matter of fact, even if I hadn't yet determined that it would be her room there was little chance it could belong to anyone else. She has claimed it, loudly and definitively. She is two and a half years old after all.

Like many of my home improvement projects, this one came as a result of the previous one, revamping a dark, nasty basement that had sprung a leak. I turned that into a bright and (hopefully) childproof playroom; to accomplish that, I'd poached the small sectional that used to be in Charlotte's room, leaving her with pretty much nothing except her Pack 'n Play. Having spent enough money on the basement I looked for ways to save on the guest room and came up with a painted headboard...like painted on the wall headboard.

There was a ton of inspiration on the internet, but I got mine from a Ballard Design catalog. The clipping sat around in Charlotte's room while I put off the project. She saw it and claimed it as hers too. Well, I guess it was.

I have done other murals in the past, so kind of knew the ropes, but learned some new ropes too on this project, they are:
Chalk was my friend.

  • Chalk is a great thing to mark out your design! How did I ever do those things before without it?
  • A level saves you a lot of grief. I have a good one that I love. Might request that it enter the crematorium with me at my demise.
  • Double the time you think it will take. Yup.
  • Don't trust drop cloths. I put my water, paints and brushes on a tray. No chance, well, maybe a small chance of disaster on the white carpet.
  • Take pictures of the work as you go. Helps to see what's wrong and lets you write a blog post about painters block!

Charlotte hasn't seen her room all finished yet. Since she's already the proud owner I suspect she won't be particularly wowed but at least I filled a couple of days with a worthwhile endeavor. If you're interested in knowing how I did this I've created a crib sheet. Please feel free to email me with questions if you get stumped!

Step-by-step Instructions: Making a Headboard With Paint (And Without Wood)


Saturday, February 16, 2019

Aglow

I met Alicia online. As in an online dating app. But I wasn't looking for a girlfriend, I was checking out the competition.

After countless profiles of women my age in v-neck dresses looking lovingly toward the camera with alluring smiles and dreams of Mr. Right holding hands on the beach at sunset, I came upon her profile. I laughed out loud and had to tell her what a great writer she was and to wish her luck, so I did. That led to a meet up which turned into a friendship. Shortly thereafter she met a great guy and eventually I moved across the country.

From Alicia's Eye © Lissa Banks 2019

Now we are Facebook friends. She posts pictures of her remodel. She posts pictures of hummingbirds at her feeder, her brooding plumeria and moonlight over Los Angeles making me a little homesick. I salivate at the chicken mole she memorializes at a local spot. She's still in love with her man and I'm happy for her happiness.

Then one day she posted a photo of some cut citrus and I asked if I could use it for a painting. Being the generous soul that she is, she said yes. And so I painted it.

There are people that come into our lives and move right on through, like ghosts through a wall. Most of the men I met online were that sort. Others stay and have long lasting influence, both good and bad. And then there are the Alicias whose bright light shines like a beacon now and then, as bright and tart and sweet and aglow as the fruit in her photo, and now, hopefully in my painting. 

Thank you Alicia first for your turn of a phrase and now for your eye for something extraordinary. Please keep sharing that moonlight.


I invite you to visit my website where you can sign up to receive now and again emails that will keep you up to date with where I’m showing, when I post these musings, and when I am offering special sales and promotions! My site is secure and I PROMISE never to sell your information.

  For more about my work follow me on Facebook or visit my website Lissa Banks Paintings to learn how to purchase an original. You can purchase prints for sale at  FineArtAmerica.com.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Heading For The Barn

It was a dark and stormy night. Well, it was dark and it was raining.

We had been wine tasting down in the Willamette Valley on a cool autumn day, our teeth stained gray by the luscious pinot noir we'd tried. After a prudent break in the action, and a meal to fill our stomachs, we headed back north to Portland. I sat in the back seat.

The best place for me is always in the back given my penchant for dramatic air-driving to assist the actual driver from steering us into certain death. From there I can mutter exclamations, grit my teeth and hold tightly onto myself in phobic peace. On this drive there was little to see. It was pitch black even on the major highways as we hurled home.

Dark Driving © Lissa Banks 2019

When I was at camp--a horsy kind of place, just right for this little tomboy--we rode trail horses of all colors and sizes. And also of personality. First year campers were given the older, more experienced horses who were slow to rile and, well, just all over slow...with one exception.

At some point in the ride they knew, having traipsed these trails much of their lives, that home was nigh. So with the scent of the barn in their nostrils they perked up their ears and picked up their pace. We were warned to not let our chargers break into a trot, let alone a gallop, lest we newbies loose control. So we plodded on. How we all longed to let them go for it and make like Annie Oakley along with them.

Gone are those days for me. I'm sure that when we parked the car and dashed inside, I didn't even think twice about the intense fear I had experienced just moments before.  As annoying as my fear of being a passenger is to my fellow travelers, and I know this because they tell me, I long for those days of casting caution to the wind and spurring on the steed, wind in my hair and rain on my cheeks.


I invite you to visit my website where you can sign up to receive now and again emails that will keep you up to date with where I’m showing, when I post these musings, and when I am offering special sales and promotions! My site is secure and I PROMISE never to sell your information.

  For more about my work follow me on Facebook or visit my website Lissa Banks Paintings to learn how to purchase an original. You can purchase prints for sale at  FineArtAmerica.com.