A lovely surprise awaited me in last night’s email from Walkerton. I knew the jurors had awarded “Fly-fishing in the Gorge” second prize, so I was already pleased as punch. But the second email referred to the second painting — “The Cradle Endlessly Rocking” #2. Apparently it had been voted “People’s Choice” by those who visited the show during its three-week run. So thanks, Grey-Bruce!!
It is deeply gratifying to receive a popular choice award. An artist thinks of it this way: a group of total strangers (I know of only one friend who was able to attend this particular show) liked your work. Why does that matter so much? Well, think of your spouse and the general reception (or lack thereof) that your outstanding advice receives. Then suddenly s/he takes the advice to heart. And why? Because it has now been delivered by a neutral source. Case in point: Jon paid absolutely no attention to me for years when I encouraged him to drink his coffee with little or no sugar. One comment from Alice, our doctor, and he went cold turkey that day. Maybe women just need to organize better - speed up the process by assigning our priceless advice to a friend in a reciprocal arrangement. I could tell Harry that wearing sunscreen is a smart thing to do; in return for my favour, Harry’s wife, Sue, would tell Jon what a good idea it is to leave your keys in the same place. OR we could all hire Alice, I guess, although her day job might preclude it.
The point being, however unfair it is, advice or praise from a neutral party motivates us. In fact, the more distanced the source, the greater the weight it carries. No-one is suspected of being just kind or pulling a punch. (In that regard, I never need worry about Jon. He’s honest to a fault. For example, let’s take the title “The Cradle Endlessly Rocking,” an allusion to Walt Whitman. Jon has been known to volunteer his opinion that it is “the stupidest title anyone ever gave a painting.” Don’t hold back, Honey. Give it to me straight!)
Okay, I will admit that the title is a bit of a stretch but the phrase kept repeating in my head as I painted the two 30 x 40’s in the series. A river frequently symbolizes the life force in literature and in art and this painting was surely all about the river. There is almost no sky, and only enough vegetation to direct the eye downward. We were paddling down this blue avenue, floating across the sky, as the current drew us into the future. We felt safely contained - cradled - within the eternal procession of life.
That said, I am open to retitling the series with a more accessible title. Buttercup is prepared to suck it up, but if you have an idea for the title, please tell me directly. I would feel compelled to ignore it if you funnelled it through Jon.