Earlier this week a gentleman stopped me and asked me if I had a dollar fifty. He was trying to take the bus to Moorhead to the Dorothy Day House. When I checked my wallet the only money I had was a ten dollar bill, so I gave it to him. He started to cry. I ended up visiting with him for a bit, and discovered he had just arrived from Minneapolis, where five of his friends-being homeless, like himself-had been killed in their sleep over the past month. He was obviously ill, physically as well as mentally, and certainly hurt emotionally. And he was grateful because I hadn’t called the police to make him move.
I am always a little wary of the homeless men with their signs on the corners by the shopping area. Having seen the shiny van come around and drop their crew off at respective corners. Not that it isn’t brutal work, but those people do it for a job and don’t need my help. I don’t believe this man to be one of them. Nor the men who talk quietly to each other at the library whom I can overhear share their burdens of not being able to do much without an ID, which the police took away from them, or not having their medication, and hoping they can beg enough money to afford something to take the edge off their pain.
Once I was visiting with a friend who worked at the women’s shelter. I thought it must be nice to know you were helping so many people. She said it was, but also so brutal, because no matter how many you help, you turn so many more away. I understand that more on some days than others. I couldn’t help him with his illness, or to find a place to sleep, or in any significant way. All I could do was give him ten dollars.
None of which has anything to do with my paintings this week, but it puts me in a contemplative frame of mind when I am so fortunate to be fairly stable and secure, with the room to pursue art, and surrounded by so many supportive family and friends.
Two weeks ago I was lucky enough to get space in a color workshop given by Heeyoung Kim, an amazing botanical artist from Florida. Her art is vibrant and beautiful, and the sheer number of factors she takes into account when setting up a single painting only reinforces how far I still have to go! It was an incredible experience, and unlike many workshops, I actually have something to show for it! My calla lilies:
I got very excited when I got home and promptly launched into another painting, this time a daylily. Unfortunately, I worked off a photo for this one. My neighbor is an incredibly kind woman who doesn’t mind me occasionally stealing her plants. Her lilies are not yet blooming this year, so I had to go back to last year’s photos and reference information. You never get as detailed as you like from a photo, but I think it came out fairly well. It always amazes me with botanicals. It is such a learning experience that I am always simultaneously impressed with what I have managed to do, and disappointed as to how far it is from what I want.