The writing exercise, in which Dad's paintings appear

Back in May, I participated in this ninety-minute writing class from a woman named Diane Cameron. Among many other things, she’s a freelance writer who appears in the local newspaper regularly.

The directive was to think of three doors that were important in your life. Then you write about one of them for four minutes. And by “writing,” this means not taking the pen off the paper, not editing, just letting the words take us where they would.

The first door was the outside door at 5 Gaines Street, Binghamton, NY, the house in which I lived for the first 18 years of my life. We lived in a two-family dwelling, so this was the door to the hallway. It was very thick, as I recall, painted white, with green trim.

Inside the first-floor dwelling was the living room, very tiny by today’s standards. The remarkable thing, though, was the fact that my father painted on the walls. I don’t mean he hung his paintings on the wall, but that he painted art directly ONTO the walls.

The picture above was located between two of the windows in the front of the house. I think it was a re-creation of some painting he had admired, though I couldn’t tell you what. It seems that the colors were muted oranges, and tans, and maybe greens.

On the opposite wall was a sharp contrast: a mountain scene, all blue and black and gray and white. Very forceful and bright, where other painting was subtle and subdued. (The woman was dad’s mother, Agatha, who lived upstairs with her husband, and would die less than two years after this photo was taken.)

The feeling I got from the writing exercise was of some significant sadness. Those pictures are long gone, like the solar system he painted on my ceiling, or the Felix the Cat he created for my sisters’ bedroom. Other paintings and drawings and writings he created live on. So those particular creations represent a certain impermanence, not unlike life itself in general, and his life, which ended August 10, 2000, in particular.

I had thought of those paintings many times before. But only after this writing exercise did they resonate so greatly. Thanks, Diane, I think.
grandma green_Mt pic

4 thoughts on “The writing exercise, in which Dad's paintings appear”

  1. Roger, nice job sharing your insights on the 14th anniversary of our father’s passing. Hard to believe it’s 14 years…I miss him more now than ever. Interesting writing exercise and interesting outcome of where it took you. What I also find interesting is that the painting from our living room that you posted is one of a village with windows and doors. More doors…I don’t recall him talking about that painting, it was just something that he painted on our living room wall. Like you said, it could have been a painting he admired that he recreated, or, a “snapshot” of a village in Europe during his military stint, or… Just one of the many mysteries of our beloved father. Thank you for sharing. You definitely embraced his gift of writing and have taken it to new global levels with your blog. So proud of you. Dad would be too. Love you.


  2. Thanks for sharing a little piece of your Dad with us, along with your memories. Sounds like he was quite a man – artistic, loving, creative – and it’s wonderful that he left a legacy of his art and writing for you and your family even if, as you say, “those particular creations represent a certain impermanence, not unlike life itself”. Did he ever let you paint on the walls?


  3. There is one aspect to this, Roger, that I could not ignore: Neither Lex nor I have ever owned a house, so we were never able to paint the walls, let Riley scribble artwork on her door.

    I love that you have thsoe memories of your dad’s artwork, bittersweet though the memories may be. love never ends…. amy


  4. This is a lovely memory of your father’s talent. When I was in junior high, I got to paint a mural in one of our lower-level rec rooms. Also, a neighbor let me paint one on her daughter’s bedroom wall. I never thought to take a photo of either one. They now only live in my memory.


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