Monday, June 18, 2012

Dictys' Devotion

How do you choose the title for a painting?

Choosing a title is one of my favorite parts of the process.  It's the step that finishes (or maybe begins) the story of the image.  The instant I saw this image on a Facebook post, I knew I wanted to put those colors and shapes - that story - on canvas!  But, I had no idea who the couple was... what they were doing... where they were...  In other words, I saw that there was a story; I just didn't know what the story was.  
What fun it was to send images of the painting to my friend along the way!  But, in the end I couldn't pick the title because I didn't know the story.  So, I asked her to choose.  

I've asked her to step in and tell the story.  Here are her words:

There are people who touch your life at a time or in a way that leaves an indelible mark and, even if you are never together again, the bond remains.

This painting is about two of those for me.

Thirty years ago, I spent a summer working with Helen setting up kids’ camps and clubs, living in different towns each week, having no one to depend on but each other. The challenge was made delightful because of Helen. After spending 10 weeks together 24/7, we returned to our separate worlds as if that chapter had never happened. Our spirits, though, remained entwined, as we discovered after finding each other again on Facebook.

On Mother’s Day, I was given a photo of my son and his girlfriend that I posted. Seeing it, Helen commented that it would make a great painting, and, so, the process began. It has been fascinating to watch the metamorphosis—which at one point included a large duck behind the kids. As it came near to completion, Helen asked what I’d like to name it.

Such pressure! I’ve never named “art” before. So I thought.

The photo was taken by a true and loyal friend—the second in this story to leave an indelible mark. He has been my friend since my son—in the painting at his current age of 20—was two years old, the time at which my life took a turn that forced me to raise my children alone. 

After many years of camaraderie, I was very surprised when a mutual friend said to me “he’s in love with you.” It’s not what I expected, but it was true. He wanted to marry, but that was not to be. He did, however, remain a devoted friend and has been the only man in my son’s life. 

I wanted the title to somehow reflect that, so we settled on “Dictys' Devotion.” Dictys, in mythology discovered Danaë and Perseus inside a chest that had washed up on shore. He immediately fell in love with Danaë and wanted to marry her, but Danaë didn't want to marry. He treated them well, however, and raised Perseus as his own son. 

Helen sent the painting to “Dictys” today. 

It took one person who is woven into my soul to provide the means for me to thank another.


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