Monday, May 31, 2010

Progress Report on Shame

Many of my friends and acquaintances know of my struggles with this particular painting and the "Feeling Series" in general. To see the series go here When this idea was first delivered to my brain by some unknown force outside myself, there were to be 12 paintings. After number 7 (Fear) my life unraveled in a strange way, presaged by that lightning bolt, and derailed most everything in my life, espeically my art life.

Moving to Florida required me to start over, which I was unprepared for, since I naively thought that moving would simply be a matter of handing over my credentials and the doors would open. It was not that simple, I was to find out, and it took quite a few years to even find the doors (I am not sure that I have found them yet), and when I did, many of them required a good bit of lock picking. I had moved from a series of large and glamorous studios in Connecticut and Rhode Island to a 10 x 12 spare bedroom in our mobile home and it was folly to try to work in there. Between working to earn money to keep us going, and taking care of George, and worrying all the time, there was no energy left for dealing with these was just too much effort and not enough time.

But eventually I did manage to get the Shame Painting underway. I had the props and during one of her visits Kit helped me set up the still life in the little bedroom, where it sat for about 2 years waiting for me to get the time and energy to start the painting. Finally it got started and I put in quite a few sessions in that tiny studio backed into the wall feeling as if the painting was attacking me.

I knew before George died that I would convert the living room into my studio and so last summer I began the project but did not realize that the still life would have to be partially dismantled to move it and reassembled in the new room. I am sure you can image that with a still life this complex this maneuver created a new set of problems!

It has been on my easel where I have poked at it on and off since last summer, but my enthusiasm to work turns into dread when I look at this painting and it sits on the easel shaming me on a daily basis for months at a time.

There have been moments when I considered abandoning the whole series, or at least this painting, but something keeps nagging at me, and I am still in the game.

A few weeks ago I went to the Pen Women Luncheon (National League of American Pen Women, of which I am an artist member) was the last meeting since we knock off for the summer and start up in September. Members were invited to share about "Inspiration"; where they get it, if any inspirations come from our meetings and associations, and how we manage our inspirations. When my turn came I found myself babbling on about my difficulties with "Shame". When I sat down, Staci Backauskas pushed a paper over to me with the following Haiku Poem on it, which I have now printed out in large letters and attached to my easel. It has helped me get motivated to finish the painting, and I made a commitment outloud to my Pen Women group that it would be done by September, thus somewhat kindling a fire under my butt.

Here is Staci's Haiku

When called to do what
You don't understand, let go.
It's not about you.

Here is a picture of "Shame" not finished yet, but well underway with Staci's poem on the easel tray.


  1. Gainor -- I love this story. I'm sorry you're struggling with the painting, but I'm guessing there's a good reason for that. I think it's one of your finest paintings compositionally, but also very unsettling -- which is as it should be. The process sounds very difficult and I salute you for not giving up... Hugs.

  2. Wow! This is a very powerful peice! My name is Dawn Hunt - I am a fellow artist and will be taking your photography class at the Carrollwood Cultural Center. I am really looking forward to meeting you and working with you - I too express and process a lot in my work. I was looking forward to the class before checking out my instuctor, but now I am really excited!