My thanks and gratitude to fellow blogger Caroline Simmill of Scotland for her generous presence and the encouragement that she sent for me to undertake this journey and this project.
" Il Camino di Allie" - oil on canvas 16 x 20 inches
"No one who walks with you ever leaves you."
-Camino -Peter Coffman - pg 73
I recently had the good fortune to reconnect with two of Allison's wonderful peers/friends and artists, Peter and Diane Coffman at a book signing and speaking event in Kingston to launch Peter's newest book Camino.
Camino is a deeply spiritual and rich literary amalgam of his photographic and prose gifts.The book chronicles a quest that four modern pilgrims... Peter, his wife Diane, Peter's long time friend... musician/violinist Oliver Schroer and his partner Elena walked and endured together.The spiritual test twisted its way across a distance of one thousand painful kilometers. This ancient and well-travelled pilgrimage route is known as El Camino... or the Santiago Camino.
The medieval pilgrimage route El Camino sprawls and climbs high through mountainous regions and along flat dry plains, before finally spilling into its final destination at the cathedral of Santiago di Compostela in the south-west of Spain. Hearing Peter speak so passionately about his journey compelled me to purchase his book... which I could pour over at my own leisure... while listening to the hauntingly beautiful musical compilations from Schrorer on his titled CD Camino released in 2006. Sadly... Schroer would be stricken with leukemia and his violin would be forever silenced in 2008.
It struck me while I was reading this compelling account by Peter that strange parallels to the struggle that I was encountering daily in completing my portrait began to reveal themselves. Each stage of painting process.. the need to rest and the actual motivation for me to undertake this painting challenge became ever more like the physical pilgrimage that the four had completed.
Further to that uncanny sense of sameness was the actual fusion of the senses and the artistic gifts of both men. The interpretations of what they created together... and alone... during and after the actual journey uplifted my own artistic spirit.
What they achieved together underscores my constant belief that the arts,when unified together create a powerfully spiritual essence that crosses all borders, politics and religions. It embodies all that is good about humanity.
I had simply been "stuck." Paralyzed artistically and emotionally. Grief was that wretched thief which robbed Allison of her right to live. It as well caused me to falter in the continuance of many of my basic principles and goals... and creative force.
This book... a couple of family and true friends have unshackled the very things that I have shared and depend upon to exist with Joy myself.
I am greatly blessed!.... Thank you Peter, Diane, Oliver and Elana for having the courage to face the pain and uncertainty of your Quest. Thank you Peter for sharing your photographic essay and sacred thoughts to be woven so inextricably in tune with Oscar's hauntingly beautiful violin virtuosity.
I have chosen to name this portrait/ode in memory of our beautiful daughter Allison, "Canadian Camino... Il Camino di Allie". I have conducted my painting pilgrimage in a rather altered fashion. I have chosen to reveal and share its conclusion, or final destination (the finished portrait)... to begin with.
I have decided as well that showing the work in progress afterward has value in bringing forward the similarities between El Camino and the journey to complete Allison's portrait. Visually... you can follow the actual steps along "the way". Some even clearly show the plodding nature and dead ends.
The final finished portrait emphasizes the message that an Australian aboriginal proverb offer me (via one of Sara Genn's recent Biweekly News Letters.
In closing out this post, I would offer that most journeys do work from a beginning to wards a desired end. However... it also holds true in my own spiritual beliefs that along with every end... there lies an opportunity for a wholly new beginning. Why else do we paint... or create????
"We are visitors to this time,this place
We are just passing through
Our purpose is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love... and then to return home."
My beautiful gifted and generous daughter that I commemorate here with my words and this "love painting" has most certainly returned Home. I choose to believe that... and continue to "Believe in miracles."
I love you forever Allie!
"Every time something is taken away, something else is given."
camino by Peter Coffman - page 85
Google camino - Peter Coffman for more details and price
Camino (the book) n- author Jeter Coffman
Available through: Wintergreen Studio Press
PO Box 75, Yarker, ON K0K 3N0
Camino CD - Musician/Violinist Oscar Schroer (deceased)
Available through Borealis Records at: borealisrecords.com/artists/oliver-schroer