When the Ash and Smoke Settle

Life can get hard.  It can get so very hard somtimes.  Our scars are a reminder of just how hard this life can get.  We have days that leave us feeling too rubbed raw to pick ourselves up and start again.  Other days we are faced with the unrelenting demand for answers we know we can never have.

I have a rule that I don’t explain my artwork.  I tend to do more abstract art, so I get asked a lot to explain.   I think the beauty of art is that it speaks to each of us individually. Each person sees what they need to see.  I don’t want to ruin your interpretation by forcing my own upon you.

Which is why I created my rule (the one I am about to break).  Only I am not going talk about all of the symbolism and such.  Instead I want to talk about the inspiration behind this series.  This series is about a topic that has been on my mind a lot the last year.

This series is our human ability to mend and to bounce back after incredible defeat. These paintings were inspired by my trip to Africa, were hope and despair are found in equal abundance.  They dance around each other like a perfectly stepped waltz.  You can’t have hope without despair.

There is a Russian word Toska, I think it is one of the most hauntingly beautiful words I have ever found.  Toska as defined by Vladimir Nobokov:

No single word in English renders all the shades of Toska.  At its deepest and most painful it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause.  At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long form a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning.  In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness.  At the lowest level it grads into ennui, boredom.”

That feeling when hope dies, and we feel lost without any hope of being found.  This painting pulls you in with its fire and anguish.

Burning and consuming.

Turning life into ash and smoke.

Turning hope into a distant memory that was never meant for our lives.

Toska

Photo Credit: Lori Rensink

There is also a beautiful Portuguese word -Saudade- which as defined by Dictionary.com “A deep emotional state of melancholic longing for a person or thing that is absent.”

The budding leaves gives us a picture of a better world coming our way. The moment when we first allow ourselves to believe that there is more, that there is something better.  Although it may be out of our grasp, we can feel how close it is.  It is a chance for something better and we are hungry for it.  

It’s this hunger that causes our greedy fingers to pull tomorrow’s promise into today’s reality.

Saudade

Photo Credit: Lori Rensink

And finally like a breath of fresh air, hope draws us in with its childlike whimsy.  The ashes and smoke has settled replaced with raw unadulterated hope.  We thought we would never be okay again, but then subtle and without notice one day we were.

Hope

Photo Credit: Lori Rensink

People are made to mend. It’s what we do. We can’t stop ourselves from hoping again, from falling in love again.  Our hearts are made to be malleable.  They were made to break and mend and change and grow.

Strangers will become friends and friends will become strangers.  Hearts will break and hearts will mend.  On the days when you feel broken into so many pieces that you don’t believe there is a way for the all of the pieces to ever find each other, remember this – people were made to mend.  You were made to mend, and mend you will.  

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5 thoughts on “When the Ash and Smoke Settle

  1. Pingback: My Article Read (7-30-2015) | My Daily Musing

  2. I love learning new words that convey such depth. Thank you for those and sharing your art. I liked that you broke your rule. People will still see what they want or need. Your commentary is a lovely addition. My niece was recently told in her high school literature class that her interpretation of a particular abstract story was incorrect. It upset me, because she is a creative writer. I told her that any artist would have their motivation for creating, but I assume they would also want the viewer to allow the art form to speak to the viewer in whatever form they can relate to. You just confirmed that with this post. Thank you for that.

    • Thank you, am I so glad you liked it! I am sorry that happened to your niece. I can relate because a similar thing happened to me in my college lit class. I was told by the professor that my interpretation of a poem (which was also fairly abstract) was incorrect. It upset me because the professor had no way of knowing what the author meant, so really I was just incorrect according to what my professor thought it meant. It frustrates me because the more creatively inclined are often the ones that see different meanings, and they should not be told they are wrong because they see something different from the teacher. As an artist I try to bring out certain emotions rather than show one specific meaning. I would not want a teacher to tell their students that they must only see one meaning in my artwork. I would assume most artists and writers would feel the same way.

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