Sunday, November 9, 2014

Le fruit de l’Espirit

"l'amour" | 8" x 10" | Mixed Media on Canvas

Almost a decade ago, I was traveling with friends through the south of France, researching for my novel, The Honeylicker Angel. We stopped at a massive, open-air flea market near the Sea. I could have spent all day there, picking through boxes of photos, running my fingers through bowls of buttons, shrugging on vintage jackets. I still have two of the treasures I bought that day. Well, now just the necklace.

The other treasure was a bit inexplicable at the time: a window valance made of burlap. The bottom edge was scalloped in wine-colored stitching, and the images embroidered across it depicted women circa the 1920s, frolicking in bucolic farmland.

I never hung the valance in a window. Over the years, I kept rediscovering the piece in my basket of fabrics, unsure what to do with it—even whether to keep it.

And then. I bought a set of small canvases and envisioned them with sky-ish blue backgrounds as if they were windowpanes. Maybe with a dash of red the color of Mourvedre—and then I remembered the fabric. I pulled it out and stretched it across the floor. I got out my scissors, cut a knick, and ripped off the first figure. The burlap tore into marvelous, rough edges. All of a sudden, I could see the paintings: the women and animals adhered to the canvases as individual vignettes like windows to history, each with their individual story. Finally, the valance would have not just one window, but many.

I knew words were waiting, too. And they would be in French to honor the fabric’s origins. One day, walking by the almost-finished paintings, I thought of the words we often see during the holiday season: love, joy, peace—some of the “Fruit of the Spirit.”

Voilà. I looked up the translations in French. The paintings had their words, and the series had its title: “Le Fruit de l’Espirit.”

May these fruit and their power extend through all the seasons. May they be the windows through which we see our lives and those of others. 

l’amour, love
la joie, joy
la paix, peace
la patience, patience
la bonté, gentleness
la bénignité, goodness
la fidélité, faith
la douceur, meekness
la temperance, temperance

You can view the full set of paintings at Fine Art America, and they are on exhibit through the end of 2014 at Art Presence in Jacksonville, OR