Colchis (Cold Kiss) photo of the painting - impasto mixed media + oils


Perth, Australia

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Artist's Description

(Cold Kiss).
Being held up by the patron of the piece.
This was a big commission for a client and unfortunately took me a long, long time.
It was so big that I had to put the canvas together at HIS house.
Here’s the sketch I did for the clouds and water and stuff to go behind it all

One of the few memories that remain from that year is from when I first arrived at his house to start work. He wasn’t home. I wasn’t expecting anyone to be there that’s fer sure, but his girlfriend was. She was… She was so kind. I bite my cheeks and swallow right now and I feel the sweet ache and longing of that moment to begin to write of it.
My shakes and anxiety were so extreme that I couldn’t talk. I had been desperately hoping that I would be alone and that none would see my terror – that I wouldn’t have to inflict my hell upon anyone else.
I was desperately ill then (look at some more o’ more profile ‘n’ work if u want to know what I mean.)
I had just come out of hospital, or maybe I was just about to go in again. Committed, I mean. Apparently I worked ten hours a day on these and other sketches and paintings, whilst on the wards. I don’t know. That is what my Dr has told me, in the years since.
My memory from that year has been splintered – no, more than that – almost all of that time has vanished from my mind. I cannot grasp even the fey shadow of whispers of those eighty, ninety weeks. I reach and scramble at the hint of my memories, even their scent, even the ghost of the pain but they are not part of me. I cannot feel nor see myself in the events that have been described to me from that time. I was present. Where I was strange and frightened and when I was so strange and so very frightening.
This is the pastels sketch that I drew for this piece –

I had a great deal of shock treatment that year. I do know that it probably saved my life. Even as it tore four hundred days from my mind.
So. My client’s girlfriend was home.
I remember her. Not her name, but…. when I knocked on the door, after she figured out what I was doing there (somehow) and led me to the back to set up – I was trying to thank her and I just couldn’t make the words, any of them. I just stuttered and shook because – because I am such a
because I am such a fucking freak
starting to choke back tears
A sluice of warm colour flooded her blue gaze and the glowing pink of her palm in the sunlight and I –
I remember the softness of her skin as she cupped my cheek and I got teardrops on her tiny hands and probably lots of snot and -
I had not known her for five minutes; had not been able to speak one word I was so messed up and crazy and sad and she said – she touched my face so tenderly it held such a virulent of gentleness

(so real that it has prevailed over the white hiss of scoured memory clear as my first lover’s eyes),

and she whispered
‘Hey. hey! It’s alright! it’s alright.’
and pulled me to her and wrapped her arms across my shoulders and said
‘Shh. Sh. It’s ok. Shh.’
Though I had never met her and I was this weird crazy mute crying and covered in paint and she didn’t know who I was she looked at me and into my eyes and into me I think and she wasn’t afraid and she stroked my hair
- that kindness, those moments writ huge on my heart. The painting came into existence because of her fierce, brave murmurs. In the afternoon sunlight, prosaic and utterly normal.
and I couldn’t drink the tea she made me nor the wine she offered but I came back every day until the painting was finished; until it was done and beautiful though I was so sick I couldn’t paint as I wanted to and – and… it’s because of her, whose name I have never known.
It is the smallest acts of compassion. The simple guileless kindness swells my heart and floods me to the tendons with an ache of sweet sadness and joy.
I will carry what it felt like for her to help me – to touch me, and the mass in my chest forever and always.
I am intensely happy that I remember this event This one thing.
This one, still,
out of all of the 14 months vanished and burned by the treatments.
I will always love her for what she did.
Whoever she is.
Even though my client loves the painting, it should have been hers.
– paul.

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