In the last couple of weeks I’ve spent a fair amount of time on my iPad Pro rendering digital paintings of two friends, both musicians, both from Athens, OH, Jerry Schaffer and Bruce Ergood, who’ve recently passed away, and it’s beginning to become clearer or me that doing so, painting portraits of the dearly departed, creates an unusually liminal opportunity for me to spend bonus or lagniappe time with them. I’ve done it before, see my posts on Cuthbert or Lotfi, two examples that immediately come to mind; however, I’m only now coming to terms with certain dimensions of this experience.
The experience is obviously built on fond memories. Memories surface that evoke thoughts and feelings tied to familiar facial characteristics and other reminders as reflected in the photo references I use. Beyond that I can’t really add much; except that “muscle memory” and “day dreaming” are involved. It’s kinda’ improvisational and transcendental. In some ways it’s memory spilling into the Present Moment and being resurrected forever in the Now that tends to constantly escape us but that’s always there, or rather Here.
It was helpful in many ways having conversed by phone with Jerry’s Robin and Bruce’s Jane before digitally and free-handedly painting the portraits and experiencing this unexpected, extramural connection. The immediate grief embedded in those conversations continues to reverberate, which is helping me reprioritize things in my life as I age and, more broadly speaking, as we move into uncharted territories in relation to COVID 19. In both conversations this grief was scrambled and amplified by the pandemic, making what is already painfully real – really painful. And yet, grief has a way of shedding a new light on an old world, since, afterall, there’s no turning back.
Rest in Peace, Jerry (see obit):
Rest in Peace, Brucito (see obit):