My sister came up with the idea this year to have me create art for each of my five siblings . . . something which would bring back fond memories of our childhood in New Jersey. At first the thought was to duplicate the same concept six times (I get one, too). It was too tall of a task for me to make the decision about what would be a good memory. I knew it was different for each of us.
I am so happy with not only the art, but mostly with the conversation that ensued when we started talking about things that were, and are, significant when we step back in time.
Carol went with the magnolia tree we climbed and carved on, jump roped in front of, and had every Easter photo taken in front of. It had a limb that grew out at about a 45-degree angle from the trunk at the perfect height for children to master the art of “monkey-hood” from. Fond memories, for sure.
The roses were important to Janice. Daddy used to call her “rosebud.” Not that we had a rose garden or some stellar backyard. No. Mom planted rose bushes alongside the one-car cinderblock garage and driveway, along with a rose vine that separated our little property in South River from the neighbors’ yard behind us. As we talked about pink versus red roses, we wondered for just a minute why we never had cut roses in the house, sitting prettily on the kitchen table. Didn’t take us long to remember that Daddy had a sensitive nose and could not tolerate floral scents.
Marlene wanted “punks” on her painting. We lived near what must have been wetlands because cattails were prevalent. We would cut them down, dry them on the garage roof (just throwing them up there was fun). When ready to burn, we’d get to the gas stove and light them in the kitchen and run outside before Mom smelled the familiar burn. I miss those days, and so does my sister. I forgot, but she remembered, that we would get large maple leaves and burn smiley faces into them with the punks.
I’m going with the clothesline and pins. We had a wringer washer in the basement, and, after a damp load ended in the wicker basket, Mom would recruit me to help hand her the clothespins while she hung the laundry in the sun to dry. You know that smell — fresh, clean and damn near intoxicating. No longer an option on my postage stamp lot. I’ll bring back the memory with a painting.
Two more to go, as Lois and Joey haven’t made us their minds yet. Christmas was always a magical time of the year, with total thanks given to my mother. She made the memories I will never forget (I hope). So the three I finished are on their way to Jersey. I hope, through my art, that I have honored my parents with my efforts to help preserve the childhood memories in six small ways.
Wishing you all new memories in the making. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and warm hugs all around.
If you could choose only one utensil to carry in your pack as you trudged through the jungles of New Guinea, not on a grand hiking adventure, but fighting a war in your mid-20s, what would it be? Daddy always said take a spoon — good for scooping food out of ready made pouches or quenching thirst, sip by sip, but also good for digging and scraping . He didn’t talk much about his years fighting in WWII. He came home with a Purple Heart and married the love of his life, made lots of babies and lived a good long life providing for his family. The last time I saw him, he lay in a hospital bed at home. My mom and I were at his side. I was getting ready to fly back to Florida. He looked at his wife of 67 years and said, “This is the last time I will see Lori.” I grabbed his hand and shook my head. “No daddy, I’ll see you in heaven.”
I’m sorry, Daddy, that I joined the Navy without telling you first. I’m sorry I asked for an assignment in Japan. You fought the Japanese and certainly didn’t like the fact that I would be in that country for two years. You called them “those damn Japs.” I did not know your pain. I never had to walk in your boots. I served in peace time, and when people say “Thank you for your service” on Veteran’s Day, I channel the good thoughts to you and those who marched alongside you, knowing in my heart I am undeserving in comparison.
To all those who served our country, and to all who continue to do so, thank you. Thank you for our freedom, and may we honor you always by loving this land and protecting it with all our strength. It wasn’t until I started writing this that I realized something I should have figured out years ago. Some people see signs from those who left us — things like cardinals and butterflies and even boat anchors. I see spoons — the antique silver ones. Thank you, Daddy. Happy Veterans’ Day 2020.
I left my childhood home when I was 19, believing the U.S. Navy slogan, “It’s not a job. It’s an adventure.” It certainly was, and the adventures have continued. But there really is no place like home.
I have a collection of homes, from the east coast to the west, midwest to the south. Home is not a place on the planet. It’s a place in your heart.
This new work is called Home and includes an ancient photo of me in my old backyard in South River, NJ. I could have titled it Summer on a Chaise Lounge and told you about memories of plastic pools and running the neighborhood, jumping rope with the crew on Lee Street, making perfume with rose petals and water-filled mason jars, rope swings, forts in the meadows or sliding down mountains of gravel on a cardboard box . . . until I was called home for supper.
May your days at home be comfortable and filled with content, hope and gratitude.
I hope your home is filled with treasures that bring you joy. Furthermore, I hope your favorite works of art are top on the list of your treasures. They are for me, and I am blessed to have my studio as part of my home. I’ll be helping to slow this monster with extra time in the studio, creating what I can. Got to take the advice of a great friend who recently wrote encouraging words for me to turn off the news and concentrate on painting because, “the world needs all that beauty you create.”
By staying home, we are saving lives. I truly believe that.
By staying home in the studio, I hope to bring joy and peace to the comfort of your home with new art as often as I can. This (loridrew.net) is my website, and I welcome you to tour the gallery at your leisure during the next 30 days. If you have any inspirational photos, I’d love to see them. Email me at email@example.com, and if you need help adding to your art collection, just let me know.
Stay home. Stay safe. And please stay in touch.
Last week was a bonus week . . . I was gifted with a full week in the studio . . . practicing, playing and picking up the pieces of paintings left unfinished. In other words, although there were struggles, there were also some successes and I found myself feeling good about a couple of things I wanted to share with you.
The first was an exercise in freedom. It’s harder than you think. No planning allowed, only a will to lay color to the surface and keep going until you feel satisfied. The big idea behind this exercise was to be oblivious to the applause of others. Over the years, I have somewhat grown in confidence because of time spent practicing the process, and although I still seek approval, I am happy if I can look at the finished work and smile, at least a little, knowing I did my best and that I would happily hang it on my wall. But please don’t stop the ‘likes.’ I’ll be devastated.
The second thing I learned last week came after a conversation with a dear friend who wanted to know why I don’t have the ability to make purchases on my website. Without even thinking about this in depth question, I said, “because I want to meet the people who like my work.” So far, I really like everyone who likes my art. It’s crazy, but I don’t want to give that up by including a shopping cart and digital checkout. I want to get to know you, maybe meet your family, share a few bites or a glass of wine and hear what you love about my art. It feeds my soul and gives me the courage to continue.
So I guess what I’m saying is that I need you. I enjoyed the quiet studio time striving for freedom from fear. But we need each other in this journey of life, and art enhances it.
I hope I’ll see you at the studio someday soon. In the meantime, enjoy the new additions to my website. No cart, but lots of heart!