In honor of my grandmother, Florence Solone, I am entering this painting into this year's KVIE art auction.
About the painting:
An hour north of Bangkok lies the City of Ayutthaya, the original capital of Thailand. Rich in history, Ayutthaya has many ancient temples, most of which lie in ruins. Near the entrance to the temple site of Wat Phra Mahathat is a famous tree. Embedded amidst the roots at the base of the tree is the face of a Buddha carved out of stone. The honor of witnessing the details and intricacies of this sacred tree in person left a deep and meaningful impression on me.
A seed was planted for a future painting.
I started this painting in 2014, one month after my grandma passed away. Consumed with grief, I felt compelled to paint something other than my commissions. I was transported back to Wat Phra Mahathat. Where I had felt tremendous peace. As I worked paint into the canvas, I felt sadness and happiness, confusion and clarity, music and silence. With each stroke of my palette knife, I felt the ebb and flow of the tree roots surrounding the face of the Buddha. And, when I finally paused, I realized I had transformed my grief into an array of monochromatic blues and grays. I hung the painting in a place where I could see it every day. At the time, it embodied peace, rest, and tranquility.
Born out of love, strength and connection.
Not unlike the love of my grandmother, there’s something profound about the way the tree roots embrace the Buddha’s face, the way she had embraced me. The roots wrap around and intertwine, flowing into and alongside one another and seem to have a life force and strength of their own. The bark of the tree, with nicks, grooves, dirt, and moss covering the rings of time, tell a story, much like that of my grandma’s life. The heart of the tree is the Buddha’s face. And, it is there that I found a quiet, restful peace.
It restored my inner strength.
I returned to this canvas after deciding to enter the 2015 KVIE Art Auction. Once I placed it on my easel, I began to see it in a much different light. I played with the texture of the roots and fiddled with lines. As I painted and the layers grew, I began to feel warmth and color flowing into the misty beautiful blues that once flooded the canvas with sadness and tears. Now they peek through as a symbol of love. I saw the roots as veins and arteries connected to a beating heart. The heart of the Buddha, the heart of my grandma. And, cradled in the root’s embrace was the soul, firmly rooted into the ground.
And that’s how I came to name this painting, Heart and Soul.
Update: I'm excited to announce that I am now offering a limited edition of the painting, Heart and Soul. This edition is released in honor of Florence Solone and dedicated to all the grandmothers whose hearts and souls are rooted deeply in our veins.