Fall 1982, The Time of Illness
Unless otherwise noted, all paintings are watercolor and gouache, 22 x 30 in.
** are described
in the catalog for my 2003 Retrospective at the Oakland Museum of California.
** to go to the
** Poppies, Grass and Scythe
from The Cultural History of the Earth
July 28, 1982
watercolor and linoleum block print on paper
40 x 40 inches
"Poppies, Grass and
Scythe" was based on a pastel painting on brown paper of grass streaming in
the wind and Jean’s and my shadows running across and through it, a
painting I had made when we lived on College Avenue in 1951.
When I started this painting as part of the series
"The Cultural History
of the Earth" in early June of 1982, I had put in only
the the grass and a few poppies.
The original idea for the
1951 painting had come from the liner notes of a recording of Rachmaninoff’s 2nd
Symphony—that our lives are like grass. So, for the cultural history of
grass I remembered the College Avenue painting of “our lives are like
grass and these are our shadows,” and decided to make a new one, but with
the addition of poppies, the symbol of woman (and of Jean) from my
Land" book and paintings. I made the painting as "The Cultural History of
Grass" for the seminar, but it looked a bit dull and I never used it in
the class. About a month later, I thought to jazz up the painting
with a row of impressions from
the linoleum block of the Tarot Death Card
(“Our lives are like grass”) that I had made a year or two before.
A few days after I had put
the Death Card images running across the grass and poppies where our
shadows had been in the old College Avenue painting, I showed the painting
to Jean. She was horrified and hysterical—“Why did you put those marks
there?” I said there was no special reason, I only wanted to liven up the
composition. She did not much reply. A month or two later a lump in her
breast was diagnosed as breast cancer. I did not then know, but I am now
certain that when she saw my painting of the “cultural history” of grass,
she had known and feared the lump for months.
These are a few of the paintings made in the
months that followed...
Up from the Depths
late July, 1982
August 5, 1982
And the power of love will save you
August 26-28, 1982
Star Light, Star Bright
August 29, 1982
September 1, 1982
September 25, 1982
The Promise of Life (and death)
I am a diamond
December 16, 1982
The Arch of Life and the Grass of Blood
December 31, 1982
When painting is a diary and the diarist is in a time of
the diarist makes many, many more pages than at other times.
There were several hundred more of these paintings made in the fall of 1982
But this is enough for now.
Click here for
and summer 1983 paintings from the continuing
Time of Illness.