Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Strange evening

It was a long day, with a strange evening to conclude it...shocking, especially for the kids.  As Anthony and I rode into Tamaqua to pick up the girls, it was a beautiful, clear evening.  On the other side of the road, a Police patrol car straddled the shoulder and left lane, sticking obtrusively into traffic.  I could not see if he had a car pulled over, but the whole scenario just struck me as odd...but we thought nothing more of it and drove into the town.  After a disconcertingly bad attempt at double parking (hey, I'm a country bumpkin now!) we doubled up in front of Subway, chatting as we waited for the girls to come out.  After some hurried re-arranging of the car, we gathered everyone and started home.  The girls were chock full of chatter, and we listened as they talked on and on. 

As we approached the area of the earlier police car, we now noticed that there were two police cars instead of one now blocking the road, on a very dangerous bend.  It was now nightfall, and Rt. 309 is only 45 mph in that area, so between the glare, the bend, and the confusion of the police car facing oncoming traffic, I became somewhat disgruntled at what this officer could possibly be thinking, with his car stopped in oncoming traffic blocking the road.  Did he want us to stop?  Was it some kind of a drunk stop on a Tuesday night?  I slowed to a near stop, unsure how to proceed.  I looked to the right, to the shoulder, instinctively, and it was there I saw the reason for the blockage...a dead man laying broken in the road.  I immediately gasped out, "Oh my God," and the two girls immediately followed my gaze...and both screamed and started panicking.

I tried to drive by as quickly as we could without endangering the police that were in their cars blocking the road, but it was enough for all to get a full view of the poor soul.  He lay in a position I've never seen a human being in, like a jack-knifed truck.  He was face down, yet somehow his face was tilted so that you could see his lifeless eyes.  The amount of blood was tremendous, all about him, and his salt and pepper hair was matted with it.  He was wearing a grey flannel and blue jeans, and his legs looked like broken twigs.  I felt so intensely sorry for him, my heart wrenched.  He had been walking along the barricade, and he had been hit and left, like so much garbage, or a deer.  But, he was a person.  He was someone's.  Even if he was, at worse case scenario, a drifter, he was still a man...and it was an extremely sad thing to witness.

The girls were silently weeping in the back seat, and Anthony tried to shake off the shock with platitudes and small talk, but by the end of the ride, we were all silent and red-eyed.  Again, the girls experienced a life lesson together, and again, I had to explain the facts to them.  They were a little more sober minded this time, a little more mature about the reality they had witnessed...the horror.  It was no movie, no video game, and he wasn't laid neatly in a coffin in the funeral parlor.  They saw the grim reality of a highway death.  And so did I. 

So, I am grateful today for many things, especially for the gifts of life and health we have been blessed with.  Never ever take those things for granted, for they can be gone in the blink of an eye, as they were for that poor man.  Life is unpredictable, and we should respect that thoroughly.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Moonbeams and shooting stars

It was just about the finest day since the dawn of time.  The sun was high, the colors brilliant, the air crisp and clear, and the vibration from the earth was perfectly pitched, like a tuning fork.  I went out into the perfect day, and the energy filled me like I was plugged into a socket.  I was able to get much done, although shamefully no en plein air work.  I would've been too antsy for it, I believe, since the wind was slight and gentle, gleefully stirring up the crispy red and gold leaves, and I would not have been able to concentrate for the joy of it.

Tonight, the night is clear as glass.  The cool autumn temperatures accentuate the moonbeams and the stars hanging in the firmament...a night so clear you can see the cosmic dust scattered through the sky like glitter.  I like to sit in the chilly dark, smoking my cigarillo.  It smells even better in this weather.

I was so excited to begin my new painting, I could hardly contain myself.  I have envisioned the entire series, and have even let the "cat out of the bag" by telling Jayson, my rep, so now I am most definitely committed to it.  I hope to have the entire series done by Christmas, in time for the shows I have scheduled for after New Year.

Barcelona is speedily approaching, and I am looking forward to the exponer, and to spending some time exploring Spain...

But for now, let me bask in the sly, melancholy wit of "Smiles of a Summer" by Ingmar Bergman, and enjoy his genius.  It's critic's pick tonight, and there have been some amazing films for our enjoyment.  Thanks TCM!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Incredible flow of thought

I've begun my second work in my newest series, in spite of some very strong forces externally that seemed to be in a cosmic conspiracy against it--that's partly a joke, and partly true, like most humor.

Noelle was a reluctant model/specimen...she doesn't like being observed much, as it makes her feel self-conscious, at least more so than a fourteen year old would normally feel...but she has been good about it.  I have also obtained permission from a few of the teens she kicks around with, although rather than a direct study of them, they are more of a "phantom" study...as much of this work is being done par coer/in studio, rather than on location...lots of studies on location, but no real direct, finished work.

I am pretty charged up to move through this series...it's exhilirating to begin it...like embarking on a new love affair!  I like to shake off the old, and move on to the fresh, new thought processes...and getting those thoughts and feelings thoroughly translated onto the canvas.

So, I may post some photos as I progress along, but, in all honesty, that is not likely.  I like nothing, and then all...as I usually operate in the opposite very well;  I have that down.

So, dream exciting, earth-shaking dreams....I know I will.

Halloween Thoughts! Fright Night 1 - 7/11


Ah, we are approaching Halloween, and love it or hate it, it's that time of year where the mind sort of drifts towards things of the occult, and the nature of that. Since I was a child, I was always fascinated with good and bad, Heaven and Hell, and the forces of nature that propigate that. I had a special fascination with vampires, and no, not the high maintenance, MTV and "Twilight" types, but the old school, dark, evil, truly primeval and hideous vampires, and vampire fokelore. But, then again, I was also obssessed with Greek mythology, LOL.

Stephen King's "Salem's Lot" both the book, which I read countless times before I was even 10 years old, and the movie, which had me transfixed with delicious horror when I was around 10, was the the quintessential prototype of what I thought vampirism was, and I had carried that idea with me until I hit around 19 years old, and I read the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice. I was immediately in love, a little guiltily, with how these vampires still had a hand in their humanity, yet retained that nauseaous death about them. I could handle that compromise, that balance. I wasn't truly the purist I thought myself to be!
Years later, and I still have a guilty softspot in my fascination with vampires, probably a remnant of youth, but when the annoyingly and cloyingly saccharine vampires of "Twilight" were introduced, it was, almost, all puns intended, the final nail in the coffin. They had made vampires into a franchise, with the "Twilight" series as the pinnacle of it, literally the Super Walmart of the vampire stereotypes. It was enough to make me barf! So, I let the fascination go to sleep, like so many other things you leave behind.

Ah, but then, the other day, I remembered my all-time favorite, sexiest on screen vampire, HANDS DOWN. I smiled, and took a trip down memory lane, with Jerry Dandridge bringing me back to greener pastures...I remember watching Chris Sarandon, and my heart literally melting in my chest, by how incredibly good looking, charismatic, and just damn HOT he was in "Fright Night." The movie had a really enjoyable story line, stuck to most of the vampire "rules" about sunlight, crosses/crucifixes, and the plain old downside of being evil, and has just the appropriate touch of 80s campiness to be what I consider the ideal vampire movie!
Plus, I think this scene in "Fright Night" is just so damned sexy, whew, it's like eating hotsauce straight from the bottle!  I love the play of virtue and giving into decadence, and how even Amy's hair reveals she is going wild, and "blossoming;" how she is making the wrong choice, but she runs and embraces it...there is so much that can be read into the scene, but, that's not the purpose of this post :-)   Start the scene at about 1:40 in, and just ENJOY ;-)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

New Painting/First of Series!

"Alejandro/a swiftly tilting planet."  by Hilary J. England 18" x 24" oil on harwood panel

It's been a while since I have posted...that monster  "depression" had reared it's ugly head, and I found myself too listless and too resistant to blog.  I forced myself to continue painting, to continue to ponder, to force myself forward, and that was a titanic battle in itself. 

My sister in law Susan died last week of ovarian cancer...not my sister in law Nicole, who battles on in hospice against her brain cancer, but Mark's sister, who was just one week shy of her 47th birthday.  She fell ill last year over the holidays while visiting us.  One night, she didn't come down for supper, which was uncharacteristic of her, since she was a vibrant, jolly, good-natured woman, and enjoyed socializing over dinner.  Barb, my mother-in-law, questioned whether she may have a stomach flu, and since it was the season, we all agreed.  Mark and I then went off to Paris a few days later, and they went on their way back to Florida.

But, before Susan could make it home, she was beset by a pain so terrible, they had to stop in South Carolina and bring her to an Emergency Room.  Here, it was discovered she had Stage 4 ovarian cancer, and she began her short, but torturous battle.  She had massive surgery, many complications, and ultimately, by August of this year, the cancer had spread throughout her lungs, and she was deemed "terminal."  Mark flew out to Florida on September 23rd, as she was not expected to live for more than a few more days; she was on a ventilator against her wishes, and they were going to remove her from it.  They did, on September 25th, and she lived valiantly for a few hours, and then went on to eternity...

That very day, as we waited anxiously for news from Florida, during that timeless, breathless wait of three hours, my niece, Nicole, was born in Los Angeles.  Firstborn for my sister and her husband, they named her in tribute of my ailing sister in law Nicole, and in New York, from her sickbed, she wept tears of joy when they held the phone with the baby's newborn picture up to her face.  It was such an overwhelming day for me...

In the midst of this, we were suffering on a different front at home.  My daughter Noelle was dealing with some very severe bullying issues in school, and she was, as were we all, completely bowled over by the enormous tension of  these bullies relentlessly sending death threats on her telephone, Facebook page, etc., while we were going through these events of life and death.  It got so bad, and the school administration refused cooperation, that we had to withdraw her from school, and enroll her in a charter school.

This large tidal wave of events had knocked me down, rolled me, nearly drowned me...nearly, but not quite.  I leaned heavily on prayers and just the knowledge that this storm will pass, as all storms do.  I found myself washed up on shore...scraped and bruised, but not drowned.

This painting was done in the midst of all of this turmoil.  It's called, "Alejandro/on a swiftly tilting planet."  It is a summary of the pain and isolation Noelle felt, we all felt, during this time.  Noelle and her friend had found a dying mouse on the sidewalk, and in their youthful thinking, felt they would save it.  Apparently, it had been mauled by a local cat, and abandoned.  It lay, gasping and crushed, in the kitchen towel they wrapped it in.  After several hours, they had refused to give up, and so did the little mouse. 

But, it was apparent it was dying, and I caught them just at the moment of his death...They were confused, and angry at why they couldn't save him.  It was a moment of lost innocence, and they had looked at me with hurtful, blazing eyes, for an explanation, one I could not give them...I could only tell them, "this is life, fair and unfair, seemingly without rhyme or reason, but in the end, we will know all things, we will know why.  It may seem a long time to wait, but patience is a very necessary virtue, since if you have patience, you can endure to the end, without bitterness." 

I painted them against the backdrop of a tilted, broken garage door, which I felt added to the confusion and vertigo they were feeling about being confronted with death, the only amount their young minds could grasp at this point.

So, this is the first in my series, surrounding the passage of innocent youth.  "Alejandro" is 18" x 24" oil on hardwood panel, gallery wrapped. 

hilary j england paintings

Old Stone cottage and wildflowers

 "Old stone cottage and wildflowers" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 8" x 11" Lest you think I have moved to some r...