Over the three weeks following that message, I met Valerie for the first time, and then said goodbye for the last time. The incredible artist Valerie Thomson passed away in her own home yesterday.
She was a fount of knowledge, sharing her passion for plastic-free art and environmentally-gentle packing materials, paints, substrates (and even tape!) with anyone who was curious. And she painted like the muse was in her own two hands. Her entire home was her studio - no space was left for anything other than art and the creating of it. She collected art from around the world (including many of mine) and sold her paintings around the globe.
During the last visit, I asked her what she wanted the world to know. She said, without hesitation, "there is always room for more kindness." And then she proceeded to give away her entire studio of art supplies and her entire collection of art. To me and to others who responded to her messages. This amazing woman, who had been reclusive and hermit-like for the last decade, found herself in tears over the people who said "YES!" and rushed over to meet her and help in any way possible. And there I was, on the end of her bed, crying with her. Over bagels with scrambled eggs, just the way she liked them.
My studio is packed from floor to ceiling now. Canvases, boards, oil paints, oil sticks, papers, pigments, brushes and wedges. Including several of her unfinished paintings, of which she said "finish them. Or paint over them. You'll know what to do." It's a daunting thought.
From her diagnosis to her final day was just a few short weeks. Once again, the brevity and fragility of life overwhelms me.
About the art: beginning with an A.I. prompt asking the bot to create a "killer robot samurai dancer in the style of Degas" and the bot's response image below, I created a notan and a notanized grid, sketched the composition onto some Arches oil paper (a new favorite) with colored pencil. Thin washes of oil paint to rough in the shapes and the background, then increasing thicknesses applied with brushes, rubber wedges and paper towels. Veering away from the inspiration image to create my own version of this strange little one. Oh, the wondrous dance of it all...