A Painting that is Part of My Story

Seated Woman
artist: Ellouise Schoettler
Acrylic on Canvas
4' x 6'

Today when I walked into Jimmy and Monica's home I stopped as I passed the doorway for a close look at this familiar painting which hangs in their living room.  I remembered painting it. The woman is a studio model who was sitting every day of a July week in 1975.  That's 41 years ago but seeing her transported me back into the studio. I felt I could breathe in the pungent smell of  turpentine where some near me were painting with oils.  

Lately I have written posts about working on my
collection of personal journals. Initially I thought a memoir could be gathered from my 30 year collection of notebooks until I realized the story also has threads from art works, letters and other ephemera I have kept all these years. Every bit of these items also carries some story. My memory seems to have registered all these items in a way that I can remember them and what was going on at the time. Well - need I add that the scope of the project has grown.

For instance - take this painting. I gave it to Jimmy in the 1980s because his apartment walls were bare and I had no wall space left for it at  our house. To be honest, I was not sure of it at that time. But thanks to the years of seeing it hanging in Jimmy and Monica's home I have come to appreciate the good in it - in fact there are times I am proud of it. Most of all I am grateful its not tucked in a storage bin because whenever I see it - that painting carries me back to a very exciting time in my life filled with opening to art and seeing the world differently.

When I painted this painting I was in a summer-school graduate painting class at American University.  I was a 39 year old mother of three, who was in my second year of work for an MFA in painting. The instructor, Ron Haynie, was a favorite of mine. He was my first painting teacher four years before at Dunbarton College of the Holy Cross when I was a Sophomore working for an undergraduate degree - a BA. Ron was one of the most articulate people I have ever known which was a gift to his students. When teaching he could tell you the same thing 10 times or until you "got it". He was an AU Painting MFA graduate and teaching at Dunbarton was his first teaching job.  In a few years AU reached out and brought him onto their teaching staff where he remained until his death in 2008.  Here is a tribute post I wrote about Ron Haynie at that time.

Daily I realize that one of the most valuable benefits that comes from re-reading old journals or looking through piles of papers and fingering memorabilia or studying old art work  - is finding and remembering the people I have been fortunate to know.

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