A good friend of mine lost her son to suicide and had been asking me to paint an Angel for her for over a year. It was something I struggled with for many, many, months. How do you express the gamut of emotions that follows such a tragic loss and do justice to the experience while still creating a piece of artwork that is not depressing?
The process of painting this piece, once I got started, was remarkable. It took no planned thought, but became a reaction of paintbrush to emotion. Dark and somber colors with angry scratch marks and loose runny tears of paint flowed off the brush to begin with. Her loss became the imaginary loss of my own son. Gradually the thoughts turned to fond memories and my paint selection and stokes became softer and lighter in color.
I have always been a believer in the value of art as therapy for the soul. This experience reinforced just that. The depth of sorrow I experienced was like two tectonic plates of earth meeting, her tremendous grief and my sorrow for her loss followed by the quiet settling of emotions.