Is the Past Younger than the Present?

Yesterday at the breakfast table, Monty, my husband, spoke about shooting a web video for a towing company which was his assignment that day as a videographer. An artistic soul, he was wondering how to coax inspiration out of this rather dense subject.

A picture arose in my mind's eye of our son as a three year-old, beaming as we drove down the streets of Berkeley, pointing with enthusiasm as he declared "guck, guck!" I'd look to see what he was pointing at and invariably it was a large, liberally enhanced truck.

I shared my image with Monty and we talked about re-inhabiting the mind of a three year-old for the job. 

Later that morning I sat drinking jasmine tea with a woman interested in buying my work. We drank our tea from flowered cups, a Villeroy and Boch pattern I remembered from long ago.  She shared a small, leather bound photograph album of her recent trip to Chicago. I leafed through the pictures, imagining myself back in Chicago, walking along Lake Michigan, heading toward the Art Institute.

That imaginary walk on the pier came back to me during our art group that day, as a young boy worked on notching skill sticks together to create three interlocking towers. To him, they were an imaginary surf shop. To me, they were the buildings I passed as I strode toward Millennium Park.

There is tremendous power our imagination, that as artists, we are constantly drawing upon. I'm trying to put imagination and memory to work in this same way in my studio. My assignment: to create a series of paintings of "objects" for an upcoming exhibit entitled: "Lessons from Things."

Not normally a painter of things, I've had to reach back in my memory to my student days when anything in my surroundings was grist for my mill. Whether it was kitchen tools on a pegboard, two fine russet pears, or an arrangement of bottles a la Morandi, painting my life onto canvas was as fresh as my son spotting a tow truck.

I'm reaching back into those days now and drawing out the enthusiasm, pulling it through a tunnel of years into my present. I absorb an elegant little still life I've set before me consisting of a white raku vase, jade-colored beaker and a palm-sized, brass Aladdin's lamp. The magic begins.

Still Life with Jug, ©2010, Hannah Klaus Hunter