Watercolor on Yupo
Please forgive me, the following description is long but it is all necessary to communicate the healing process I have been through. Every time I feel like this piece is complete, another step of healing takes place that I must add. I guess it just confirms we are never finished; healing happens one step at a time and when we do not expect it.
This painting is dedicated to my dad. I chose the title Overcome because my dad was overcome by chronic back pain and depression. He committed suicide 5 years ago because he could no longer cope with the physical pain and loss of his health.
Six years before he ended his life, he injured his back and had a failed back surgery. He had chronic back pain most of his adult life, but this last injury left him devastated physically and emotionally and he was not able to recover.
Being a farmer was all my dad ever knew and farmers are very much their own breed. They are fearless in providing for their families, and are some of the most determined and dedicated people I know. They are also the first ones there when a family member or neighbor needs help.
Farmers can be also be stubborn and too independent at times. Farming is a solitary life, and the tractor or combine is your office. The hours are long and you rarely lay your head on the pillow feeling your work is finished.
They show their love by working late into the night in Spring and at Harvest time. I will always remember the sound of my dad coming home in the tractor late at night in the Fall. I could smell the dryness of leaves dead on the ground, feel the cool of the night through open windows and see the tractor lights as he pulled into the driveway. I loved knowing he was home for the night.
To this day I feel warm inside and a bit awed, when I see a tractor or combine in the field late at night. All you can see are the lights on the machinery, shadows on metal and corn dust circling in the air. Even when you can’t see him, you know there is a farmer out there too, and that he would rather be home with his family.
As the painting developed I saw a spine and immediately thought of my dad. It did not cause me great pain but healing emotions instead. I needed to tell the story through art and in words. I started painting after his death because I couldn’t use words through speech, writing or journaling. This painting represents the death of my dad, the birth of my art and finding my voice again through art and word.
I don’t want this painting to communicate grief and pity, I want it say;
“Take care of your body. It is the only one you will ever get here on earth. Our bodies are created to accomplish what we are here on this earth to do, but sometimes we don’t take care of them. Our bodies are strong, but turn fragile when not cared for. Ask for help and wait for assistance to arrive, don’t go it alone.”
This painting is for you dad – to the best of my ability, I understand. You thought you would not be missed , but you are. You always will be. I love you.
Aug 2009 – As I revisited this description and edited it for the Healing Through Art Banner Challenge, I realized that the painting title no longer just means my dad was “Overcome.”
In addition it now also represents that I have “Overcome.”
Thanks be to God that “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[m] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Sept 2009 Five Years After Suicide
Dec 2009 Another Layer of Healing