Sunrise Over the San Juan Islands Print
11x17 ~ Archival Print on Epson premium watercolor paper
Oil on Canvas ~ 36x48
This four part series shows a view of the San Juan Islands, in the sea beyond my northwest Washington home, that begins at sea level looking out across the water, and gets incrementally higher and wider, piece by piece until we eventually see the curve of the earth beyond. It’s a testament to the perspective shifting it takes to truly see and understand a place. In this case, a reflection of my own journey of falling in love with my current home, and coming to fully own my place in it. How can we really understand anything when we have only seen it one way? It takes carefully exploring it through new angles to really begin to see it. Where in your life are you looking at things statically and insisting you know the whole picture? Is it time to change the view? Use a wider lens? Open up and look again?
When I began this series, I was looking through a singular view of my life, wearing rose colored glasses. I repeated “I’m fine” like a mantra I was trying to make true with enough repetition. But the reality included much more struggle and discomfort than I wanted to admit.
Rose colored lenses make it all seem okay, the shadows or the harshness becomes manageable.
The late summer in the Pacific Northwest brings smoke filled skies. A heavy, unbreathable reminder of the climate crisis around us. The “call to prayer” echoing through the skies reminding us to question it all, to grieve, to seek to do better. Yet the light paints the clouds pink, the sun a fiery red. We can choose to ignore the truth if we want to, to marvel at the beautiful sunsets. We can keep our rose colored glasses on, and bypass our way to “It’s fine. I’m fine,” while the world literally burns; tiny particles of ancient forests floating past your face. As we adjust to the existential reality of the fact we live on a planet with climate change, and we are somewhat powerless to directly shift it, putting on rose colored glasses allow us to go on living fully and not be dragged down into grief and dread.
But ultimately, it’s untenable to keep the glasses on forever. We need to change the view and see the reality of the situation. For me, painting this series was a way to process my truth, and the presence of shadow in my life. Building up from sea level, I continued to create a life for myself here (in Bellingham) including friends and community and a place where I no longer needed to pretend to be fine to make it through but instead was becoming “fine.” Thusly, I increased my willingness and my ability to take off the glasses, to stand in the sometimes smokey truth.