Vernon wasn’t in a great mood yesterday. He didn’t want to get out of bed, then he decided I wasn’t his wife, but possibly his mum. A special Easter lunch was being cooked for the residents and staff on the outside grill. The smoky aroma of carne asada filled the air. So in the spirit of damage control, I made sure Vernon avoided the area completely. I knew it would make him hungry—it was making ME hungry, and I’d just had breakfast! Once we got him up, I tucked his geri-chair up against a table in the multi-purpose room.
He was in one of his easily frustrated moods, but he was willing to start painting. I think he gets so bored sometimes that even if he’s in a bad mood, the knows the project or company at hand is still better than nothing. He didn’t talk much but went straight to the paint. What colors do you want, Vernon? “Black. Black and red.”
This time, I didn’t see him painting anything I could recognize, but I enjoyed watching him. Even since he painted last week, his strokes are more confident. And this time, he was full on-abstract, even geometric in his approach. I recognized his lines from earlier work, though I doubt he was never quite this free with a paintbrush. I particularly loved this one, which could fit in with Vernon’s section of our art collection.
Following is a photo I took this morning of his most recent painting (that I knew of.) He didn’t paint a lot, but he often mentioned wanting to get back into it, particularly after moving to California and spending time around my parents’ studio. This is one of a series of three, possibly still unfinished, that Maki has salvaged from the garage and hung up in his bedroom.
After another post about Vernon’s painting, Synnove, Vernon’s first wife (they had met at art uni) sent these thoughts by email:
“Its so nice to see you out with the wheelchair and to see Vernon painting. The last painting was wonderful. Did he paint the light blue background himself? Vernon was always very keen on making a one colour background on all his paintings. I can see his lines in the painting. I wonder if he is just as good a painter as before and even better.”
“Vernon was always very “unfree” when he painted. Artists often make themselves a lot of rules they are not allowed to break, and Vernon was just like that, but he would keep challenging his own rules, struggling with them. I always thought he made it harder than it needed to be, and I am hoping that he now perhaps can enjoy painting and let his talent rule (not a bunch of rules), because I know he really did love painting (He just made it such a struggle.)”
That is interesting because there does seem to be so much freedom in his painting at the moment, and yet, he still seems to have a deeply rooted sense of preference and style. I don’t have much of his old painting work to compare, but I am happy to see what I think of as flashes of his genius coming through.