Here’s my long-winded description of how the painting happened:
I’m housesitting 1000 miles from home, and I’d packed a few paints and a big sheet of arches watercolor paper - 22 x 30” - and some oiler boilers I’d Just ordered from CheapJoe’s. I used a comb dipped in Miskit to save some streaks of pure white on the left hand end of the long paper.
While the miskit dried, I made three separate bottles with Da Vinci watercolors - Hansa yellow, phthalo blue, and red rose deep, mixing with water in those three oiiler boiler’s until they were really dissolved. (Weird how even now I know the names and brands I used.)
My intent was to enjoy painting, splashing, misting, squirting colors together to make a kind of background to build a painting on, maybe even an abstract. It was a ‘vacation’ away from responsibilities and ongoing busy life.
Spontaneous and fun (but my sprayer wasn’t very good.) I stood the painting upright and let it drip while I went and put on a bathing suit. There was a perfectly good hot tub waiting to be used.
While enjoying the luxury of that hot tub, I remember looking at the splashes of beautiful colors with all the drips, and couldn’t wait for it to dry so I could take off that Miskit to see how those resulting white streaks were going to fit in the picture, whatever it turned out to be.
Turning the paper different directions after the Miskit was removed helped me decide which way would be up. I’m a planner who likes to be in control, so this was all new to me.
Well, dang! The only blasted thing I could ‘see’ amidst all those pretty colors was a man’s profile with a nose bigger than Jimmy Durante’s. And the white lines left by the Miskit seemed to suggest a woven sort of hat on top of the head shape. Or crown of thorns.
That did it. I certainly wasn’t EVER going to paint another “religious” picture of any kind. I changed into street clothes, leaving that vibrant pink, gentle yellow, and turquoise blue painting sitting in the hot Texas sun. I grabbed keys to the car I had to use and remembered how to get to Walmart. I needed a decent sprayer, after all.
Probably seven steps into Walmart, I didn’t hear it or see it or think it - but I KNEW the title to the painting. It was to be titled “The Cost.” At least that was settled. Bought only a sprayer and headed back to the house.
I set up a studio space inside. Good lighting. Air conditioned. I needed a mirror. And to figure out something to eliminate and to add in to bring this painting along. Watercolor pencils I’d packed😊 I really wanted to keep all the pretty pink drips and not touch them.
First thing I did was to pare that gargantuas nose down to Jewish proportions as best I knew how. Needing a more distinct eye, I’d look in that mirror at my eye as I partially closed it like I was in torture. Easy to do considering the past few years of trying to survive being super mom, super good church person etc. You get the ‘torture’ part, right?
Eye was the easiest, mouth, the most challenging. Hair was tentatively placed with thorns added onto crown. Set it above the mantle to critique. What to do next?
Then the house owner came home, surprising me, several days early!!! I was embarrassed to have this fresh new piece of my heart blaring out into his home so blatantly. He saw it and said something like “that’s really nice,”. Very kindly cause he’s a kind brother.
But I didn’t yet know why it was called The Cost. Took a while. Seems I’d thought if only I could get it all right, do a perfect job, quit screwing up, I’d be worth something. But HE paid that cost long ago. I could relax and lean on Him. Still learning that over 30 years later. He’s still patiently showing me. Love is beautiful.
And that’s why today is called GOOD FRIDAY. All good