Friday, September 24, 2010

About Memory

Interesting, isn’t it, the ways in which scenes from the past can be brought to mind? They can be revisited suddenly and surprisingly because of a bit of music or an odor or maybe a picture. Recently, I heard again the voice of my late ex-husband when I encountered some lines of a love poem he recited to me on occasion. He has been gone these many years but might have been speaking in the same room.

I came across the image above when I looked into an ancient leather portfolio of mine, thinking I might use it to take some work to the next town for an exhibit. The image was, or rather is, part of a group of paintings I made more than thirty-two years ago. That was one year before I returned to this country after living away for twenty-four years. They are small paintings, done on watercolor paper with intensely colored inks. The inks were a pleasure to use; they had a glow to them that came from some sort of shellac. Unfortunately, in spite of being made by a very reputable manufacturer, the colors were and still are, fugitive. So the little paintings have resided in the portfolio to keep them from fading. I realized yesterday, when I rediscovered them, that now I have powers unknown to me when I made them. I can scan them and print them. Not only that, I have learned enough in the intervening years that I can upgrade and refine them as I take them through my computer.

The memory that came with them was of sitting in that dining room, working on the table. I had no studio then and took advantage of the quiet while the kids were at school. I saw again the furniture, felt my feet on the rug, and looked from there into my kitchen. It was another life; the family was whole, together.  That past that is gone and always present.

Isabel Allende, who suffered some immense losses, said: “I finally understood what life is about;  it is about losing everything. Losing the baby who becomes a child, the child who becomes an adult, like the trees lose their leaves. So every morning we must celebrate what we have.”

The image above is History-002, ©1976-2010 giclée print, size varies. For information or to purchase any of the images on this site, please email Joan.

Please note that at your right, on this blog, is the door to my new Etsy shop. I have five of my new giclées there and will be adding more as I make them. I invite you to click and visit, and if so inspired, leave me a comment here. I really like hearing from my readers.


  1. This is so touching, Joan. It reaches in and pulls something up by the roots . . . to grow.

    When I look at this painting, I see the private territory of a woman. The place where we "lose" a baby to the world. I have never really thought consciously about that. That it is a loss, to birth a child. There is some grief in it, while other joys commence.

  2. I, too, hear that voice still. The image you post is really striking — it is almost three dimensional.

  3. Yes, I read those words by Isabel Allende a long time ago and they have stayed with me. It makes everything we love very precious to always be aware that you can't keep anything. My father reminded me of that when my children were small and I am grateful to him for it.

  4. Just beautiful. I will try to keep this entry so I can return to it. It's put me in a quiet reflective space. Thank you for your wisdom and beauty, Joan.

  5. That is a unique and powerful voice and I am grateful for having heard it and kept it with me. There were many rewards and I am richer for those years.

  6. Thank you, Amy. Writing this blog has forced me to enter into places in myself that were not examined until now. What surprises me is that these words mean something to others.

  7. Thanks for u r information

    its very useful