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Corona Heart Art — Close Encounters of the Human Kindby Blake Marler on April 15, 2020
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story of #CreativityInCaptivity was originally shared by Charlottean Blake Marler. We are sharing it here with her permission. How are you staying creative at home? How are you interacting with the world? Tell us here.
I’m no artist. So, I don’t really know why I felt compelled to go to Michael’s when it looked like we, like many other countries, were going to be hit hard by the coronavirus, but I did … and in a very big way.
I’ve taken a few SkillPop classes in acrylic/gold leaf painting, so I headed for the acrylic paint aisle. This was so foreign to me that I consulted Google while standing and staring at the sea of colors. I didn’t know what I was doing, but there was something exhilarating about it nonetheless. A handful of canvases, a beginner’s set of small tubes of paint a few brushes and off I went.
There is plenty to do on the home front …
I have thousands of emails waiting to be filtered, filed and tossed; a yard in desperate need of TLC; a house that could use a cleaning.. Plus, I am now working from the home I share with my teenager and two four-legged creatures. I’ve recently gotten back into photography, am learning the didgeridoo on my own, taking weekly bass ukulele lessons – now, virtually – and have no fewer than 15 books waiting by my bed. My list of obligatory to-dos is long, as are my extracurriculars. I certainly didn’t need to add acrylic painting to the list. But much like Richard Dreyfuss’s character in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” I couldn’t stop. Nor did I want to.
I started with abstracts. That seemed more forgiving to me than trying to replicate some object found in the real world and knowing that it likely would not bear a close resemblance.
I painted before I started my workday…
I painted when I passed my dining room table to get a glass of water; I painted before and after dinner; I painted when I couldn’t sleep. There were – and are – no regular studio hours. I am clearly getting something on the inside of me, out, where it should be. I believe it was my intuitive voice that led me into Michael’s, told me to silence my inner critic and just paint.
I can’t recall which piece was my first, but it quickly led to more. I painted a heart sometime in my first few paintings, which felt really right. I painted one that had a lovely red heart, covered over by dark lines and shadows – meant to represent the coronavirus – but then another pure red heart triumphantly on top of the angry lines and shadows. “We will prevail” is what I wanted to convey.
I did another one in similar fashion, but this one had coronavirus-related words and statistics in a collage around the heart.
Before we ratcheted up the shelter-in-place, my sister came over to help me celebrate my birthday, quarantine-style. She was kind in her assessment of my work, but I think mainly happy that I was getting what was on the inside, out. She especially loved my hearts, and told me to paint more of them.
I did and I continue to.
Small hearts, large hearts, multi-colored hearts, hearts with texture.
I had no idea what I was going to do with them all. I still don’t have that question fully answered, but I am clearly not waiting for clarity to express myself.
It hit me on one insomnia-ridden night that I could hang a lot of them in my front picture window.
We live on a cul-de-sac, so not many people see them, but bringing joy to a few is still bringing joy. So, the next night, my son and I hung 15 of them in that window. A large heart anchors the ones floating around it and lining the base of the window below it. I have no idea if anyone has noticed them, and that’s OK.
I have been getting local produce delivered from Farm Fresh Carolinas for a few months, and am even more grateful to them now. I painted a “thank you” heart, wrote my thanks on the back of the canvas and laid it on top of the empty produce bag on my front porch. I didn’t see the delivery person’s reaction, and that’’s OK. The joy is in the making – and in the giving.
Sharing one piece with one person was gratifying, but I’d soon run out of folks coming to my house. One postman, a couple of trash collectors and that’d be it.
A post on theNext Door app gave me my next idea.
A kind-hearted and creative neighbor is spearheading an effort to provide meals and art to healthcare workers. This is where I will start sending some of my corona “Heart Art.”
I still worry over our state of affairs and what’s yet to come. But, I am channeling that worry into something that brings me joy.
Since we are social distancing right now, our encounters with one another cannot be close. While no one can predict when it will end, I take solace in knowing that it is temporary. One day – hopefully sooner than later – we will return to actual close encounters of the human kind. Until then, you’ll find me painting.