Farewell, Summer

Oct 8, 2016

"Summerland" (Woman on a Terrace), 2016, oil on linen, 81x65cm

I started this painting towards the end of August. It’s a vision of summer which is partly based on my experience here in Spain and partly on reverie. It’s a daydream, a mythical ideal of the Mediterranean which I sometimes escape into and find refuge and inspiration in.

The title (“Summerland”) comes from a short piece of music by the composer William Grant Still which I heard one night while working on the painting. I was haunted by its plaintive beauty and felt that it evoked something of the same spirit and emotional undertone which I desired to reflect upon and address through the process of painting the picture. I later discovered that it is part of a longer suite:

“Three Visions is a suite for piano written by Still for his wife, Verna Arvey, who first played the composition in Los Angeles in 1936. The three segments of the suite, Dark Horsemen, Summerland, and Radiant Pinnacle, tell the story of the human soul after death: the body expires, and the soul goes on to an apocalyptic judgment. If it is seen that the past life has been a good one, the soul may enter “heaven,” or “Summerland”.  (from Naxos Records, www.naxos.com)

I found myself once again in that place, as we sometimes do in life, where we are invited to savor a moment and feel grateful for it, while at the same time acknowledge and try to accept its passing. Perhaps knowing it’s about to end makes it all the more poignant.

For Allie. I miss you, but your light shines on. And I still have your red rocking chair, I’ll look after it.

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