My friend Bob died a little over a year ago.  I surprised myself with the amount of grief this caused in my mind.  I had always known that I loved Bob, but I had never realized just how much he meant to my life until I could no longer call on him.  He had always been a depressed sort of wonderful person, but I had never actually believed that he would take his own life.  So I either didn’t really know him at all, or I had not stayed in the friendship in a meaningful enough way that I could have contributed to his having second thoughts over his actions.  Of course, what I have come to realize is that it would be impossible to keep someone from killing themselves if they have made up their mind to do so… no one can crawl into that mindset fully and actually exact change.  I can certainly not suppose to understand.  I wanted so to honor him…to show in a painting somehow how much he meant to me.  I am not a realist painter at all, so why I felt that I would be able to somehow pull off some sort of amazing portrait of my friend that showed the world what I saw in him somehow….well I just don’t know why I felt I could do that.  When I first laid paint down it didn’t surprise me in the least to discover a kinship with the face of the child on the cover of the album “War” by U2.  First time I ever heard that cd (and it was the first time I listened to a cd, not an album) was over at Bob’s place.

But you know…as usual…I just didn’t feel it could just be that.  That wasn’t enough paint.  Plus, and more importantly, it wasn’t conveying what I wanted to convey.  That is the point of painting for me, after all.  Even when I am the only one who understands it…  So I tried again…

Okay, but still a way to go.  And now I’m starting to realize that it ain’t going to look like Bob. 😉

Kinda looks like Alex now. Hah! Yeah….now I’m  getting depressed because I think at this point I can’t paint.  And I leave it for a very long time….

I want to cover it up.  But there are bits I like.  It’s just now it seems to be someone else….someone I don’t know….my life as it is, is informing the painting and this is what I get for not trying to paint a specific photo, or subject, but am only trying to grab at an essence…

So I turn to using darker colors…. and I leave it alone again for a very long time.  I hate it.

Oh yeah! Bob wore glasses! I copy a photo of him and make stabs at trying to make it look like him again.  His square-ish face…his glasses…  I’m still unhappy because it isn’t him.  It isn’t perfect.  I can’t paint realistically.  Interestingly enough this is the closest I get to it actually “looking” like him.

And then I get mad.  I paint it all purple, work on the eyes, take away any trace of him and attempt someone/thing new.  And then I get pissed off and put orange on it in a fit of passion/madness.  And I like that.  But I still don’t like those damned eyes.

And then suddenly it comes together.  Suddenly I see him again.  The way it felt to know him and the things he opened me up to and had to say.  I guess he didn’t feel he was very dear or something, but he was oh so dear to me.  My memory of him is still intact.  In some ways I should still be able to think to call him the next time I’m in town…

Do you know that I love you?  If you know me…if you have had even a shred of a conversation with me that you found memorable, or that we shared a memory that is ours alone, then know that I love you.  Just the same as I loved him.

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Now you see it…

I had this painting…

I have hung it in a few shows…I have looked at it often…it had it in my calendar from 2010….It has always bothered me.  So I finally reached a conclusion as to why, and I changed it….

And now I am happy….



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Owed To Mr. Coleman (or the importance of walking…)


It is in these little

The cloud shaped
like a horse running away.

The gray sleet settling
into memory.

Lost clementines against straw grass.

Fall is Winter is Spring is Summer is
Fall into
the big things…
Life is
with you in it.


that you are…

~Miriam Climenhaga 12/14/2011

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Thursday Night Art

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“Death ends a life. But it does not end a relationship; which struggles on the survivor’s mind, toward some resolution, which it may never find.” ~from “I Never Sang For My Father” by Robert Anderson

I remember this quote from many a boy doing this monologue back when I was in high school.  It was a very popular monologue.  It has wandered around my brain for thirty some odd years and the words have dropped off the end like leaves in the Fall until I can hardly remember what the tree looked like before.  Lately it has tried to surface…kanoodling at my thoughts asking to be let in.

I am sure that it is because my mother is dying.  I have to wonder what that means exactly, considering we are all dying every minute of the day.  At first we are growing, but at some point that growing turns to the slow fade out that we like to call dying.  Almost a month ago now, my mother wouldn’t wake up one morning.  She was sleeping very peacefully…snoring even…but waking up was not something she was interested in doing in the least.  She went to the hospital by ambulance and we were told that she was very sick with pneumonia, in all likely hood would not recover, and that her pneumonia was caused by a tumor growing on one lung right in between the other.  The cancer had spread to her bones.  This is what she woke up to be told 36 hours later.  She has been given six months to live, and has chosen to forgo chemo or any of that other junk as “they” feel that it wouldn’t prolong her life anymore than a couple of months.  She is 75 and is now at home and her two daughters that happen to live in the same town/house as her are now taking care of her.  I would be one of those daughter’s.  This 24 hour care that is now needed for her has turned life upside down for the moment.  I don’t mind caring for her at all.  But I can for see that this will be hard.  This will be a journey.  This will be….  Well, it just will be.

I have to find a place to talk.  For whatever reason, at the moment I don’t feel that I have that place…or person.  Even with the people around me that I feel I should be able to talk with.  I feel isolated.  Cancer is not something that has ever hit my family before.  We have been lucky.  I am realizing how it is all around us.  So many people that have been affected. But, it always means something else when it happens to you.

I know that my life is changing in ways I can see, and in ways I can’t see.  There is so much more that is changing than what I can even begin to describe.  Let this be a moment to say that I was here.


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working on…

More today & tonight. I am not happy with it though. I suppose this is what I get for painting from memory…but it isn’t a specific I am looking for, more it’s a feeling. There are lots of special bits though, which can trip me up when I strive to keep them at the expense of the big picture. I took this photo w/ a flash at night…forgive me. 😉

This is what I worked on yesterday.  The first part of painting is a conundrum for me. This is the second go at this canvas. I liked the first thing very much, but it wasn’t enough paint…or it seemed like I couldn’t just leave it on such a big canvas. I might have liked it, but innately I knew it wasn’t remotely done. So then you have to go at it again, which means you cover up some parts that you liked…but when I think on it long enough I start to see what I can do…how to get more layers on it in different ways. Yesterday it was about changing the colors mostly. The face took more shape. I had an idea. But…well the idea is still floating around in my head waiting for the next day. Tomorrow.

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Happy 150th Birthday, Kansas!

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