FIRE, oil on canvas, 72 x 48 inches
On Friday, January 11, Hilton | Asmus Contemporary hosted PART II of BODY & SOUL. More than 300 guests flowed through the gallery viewing my paintings and the bronze and honed metal sculptures by two other Turkish artists, Cetin Ates and Belgin Yucelen, and ethereal jewelry creations by Tammy Kohl, whose thought-provoking works were intermingled with mine.
That evening was a powerful experience for me. A lovely lady, whom I won't name, proceeded to tell me that I had it all wrong with the naming of one of MY paintings. FIRE. She told me I should change the name to "Monet's Waterlilies" or simply "WATERLILIES." "Really," I replied, incredulous that she should see a waterlily in a painting clearly of water with fire. My hero, JMW Turner, painted fire on water with such luminosity that I paled when she told me she didn't see my fire on water. I failed. She doesn't see the flames rising from the water. All she sees is a waterlily in the center of the painting. She said she didn't like my title at all. I told her I would think about it.
Later that week, I thought about it. No one had ever told me that I should change a title of one of my paintings. How could they possibly know what is in my mind and heart when I lovingly apply the first brushstrokes to a canvas. But then again, do I really know? So often, I begin a painting with an idea in mind and later it transforms into something totally unexpected. Maybe I was painting waterlilies subconsciously instead of fire?
WATERLILIES, oil on canvas, 72 x 48 inches
The more I thought about, the more I decided to research this spiritually symbolic flower. This is the flower that grows from darkness and mud, reaching towards the light. Once I was visiting an abby in Southern Illinois with my friend, Joe. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon so I decided to sit in the beautiful flower garden with a lily pond. Over the hour I sat there, mesmerized, I watched a waterlily rise from below the surface of the water to a full bloomed flower. It was one of those magical moments of nature, like when you see a video on fast forward.
The more I learned about waterlilies (also known as Lotus Flower) the more I became enthralled by them. Its scientific name is Nymphaea, from the Greek word 'nymph', which according to Greek mythology means a "supernatural feminine being who inhabits water bodies like springs."
This powerful and ancient image symbolizes harmony, spiritual illumination, unlimited potential and rebirth. It is also a symbol of all that is true, good and beautiful, representing good fortune, peace and enlightenment. It has become a symbol for awakening to the spiritual reality of life. As the lotus flower grows from the mud into an object of great beauty, people can also grow and change into something more beautiful, more pure. So the symbol represents the struggle of life at its most basic form, for people who are able to overcome and rise above all challenges.
According to an Indian legend, the waterlily was once a star. It fell from the sky on the water and changed into a flower. WIth my previous show, "WHERE STARS ARE BORN," I thought this legend was apropos.
The more I realized the symbolic meaning of a waterlily, the more I began to see what this very insightful woman saw in my painting. All the elements were there. The water, the light and the pink and golden hues of the flowers. Dark in the bottom, lighter towards the top, illuminated by a flame. The elements of the sun are fire. So maybe I was partially there with my title. I had not realized the true potential of my painting. I only saw what I wanted to see. Isn't that how many of us are? We don't always look at our own lives, our friends, our families, our partners or situations in a whole light. We see only parts. Only when we open our eyes, our hearts and minds, can we truly see what is there.
So thank you, Nancy, for helping me to see my painting in its entirety. Move over, Monet. I have officially changed the title to "WATERLILIES."