Balm

When you’re in my situation, you never know when that sneaky monstrous grief will just appear out of nowhere and flatten you like the proverbial pancake. That happened to me last night. May is my really tough month. I’ve already made it through my wedding anniversary, Mother’s Day and my oldest dead friend’s birthday. Up next is my 70th birthday on Monday and the 4th anniversary of Michael’s death on the 28th. One more deep breath and there’s his birthday on June 5th. Then I’ll be able to slide back into the version of life I’ve created for myself without my partner. So last night I was looking to continue the seemingly endless process of downsizing, which is so daunting I don’t think I’ll ever be done. The project I decided to take on was weeding out the too many years of income taxes I’ve had stuffed in a file cabinet. I picked about eight years’ worth and figured I’d shred them will binge-watching a television series. Before long, I found myself getting deeply disturbed. The shredding became this giant overwhelming metaphor. I felt like I was tearing up whole years of my life, strip by strip. I kept looking at our signatures and the dates, remembering what happened during all those times. By the time I was finished, I loaded everything into the recycling bin, rolled it to the curb and went to bed miserable. I woke up feeling the same way and actually sobbed for awhile. I absolutely hate crying and always have; I can’t remember a single time I’ve ever felt better after purging myself. I think I’m better off digging in the dirt. In any case, I just felt awful this morning. So I decided to take my own advice which I hand out unsolicited on many occasions. After reading this book, The Mad Enchantment a few years ago, the story of Claude Monet’s obsession with painting his water lilies, I realized that although I had a cursory knowledge of artists and their work, I was wanting more. So I set off on this exploratory path, discovering artists I’d never known about and deepening my knowledge in a truly satisfying way. All the beauty is balm for my most achy days. And along with music, I’ve found my own quiet ways of patching myself up when the pain knocks me down. So I thought I’d share fifty paintings of the hundreds which have made a difference in my daily life. I hope you enjoy them.

A Lost Wonder – Alexandra Romano
Prades the Village – Joan Miro
The Shore of the Turquoise Sea – Albert Bierstadt
Bel Automne – Rose Dalban
The Gardener – Maurice de Vlaminck
Woman in Purple – Martina Shapiro
The Dance – Andre Derain
The Grand Canal of Venice – Edouard Manet
Winter Birches – Holly Ladue Ulrich
Harlequin and His Companion – Pablo Picasso
Maple and Cedar, Lake George, Utah – Georgia O’Keefe
Lady With Hat and Feathers – Gustav Klimt
Landscape – Emil Nolde
The Circus – Georges Seurat
White Birches – Winter – Maxfield Parrish
The Turkeys – Claude Monet
Orchard in Autumn – Pol Ledent
Loch Nevis – Scott Naismith
Rift – Ellis O’Connor
Kindred – Bisa Butler
Girl Looking Out the Window – Edvard Munch
The Poet’s Garden – Vincent Van Gogh
Woman With a Necklace – Amadeo Modigliani
The Flower Seller – Diego Rivera
The Wedding – Jacob Lawrence
The Laundress – Pierre Auguste Renoir
Flower Clouds – Odilon Redon
Seashore – Joaquin Sorolla
Green Wheatfiekds – Auvers – Vincent Van Gogh
Roman Girl at Fountain – Leon Bonnat
Girl With a Cat – Franz Marc
Cool Shade – Dana Irving
Nichols Canyon – David Hockney
Morning Interior – Maximilian Luce
The Blue Veil – Edmund Tarbell
Interior With Woman in Red – Felix Vallotton
Majestic Skies – Jonas Gerard
Copse of the Banks of the Garonne – Henri Matisse
Coming Home- Gertrude Abercrombie
Herons and Lilies – Frank Weston Benson
Serpentine – Jane Aukshunas
Tropical – Anita Malfatti
Path With Poppies – Sara Paxton
Summer in Waiting – Donna Young
Window in the Country – Marc Chagall
Boreas – John William Waterhouse
Landscape with Red Tree – Leo Marie Gausson
Midnight Sagebrush – Johnathan Harris
Streetlight – Giacomo Balla
Marriage – Andrew Wyeth

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