Breathing the Night Air

“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” Maya Angelou

I remember the day I drew this picture because I fought with my husband. And in our 23 year marriage, it was the only time he hit me. I don’t even remember what we were bickering over. Just the same stupid shit that all couples argue about. He wasn’t paying enough attention to me, or our son. Maybe that was it.

I was pregnant at the time. About seven months. Large enough to be slow an emotional and uncomfortable almost all the time.

I didn’t think he would hit me, so when his hand slapped me across the right side of my face and cut my lip on my teeth, we were both shocked. He stood there looking at me and the thin trail of blood running from my mouth. And I crumpled into a heap on the floor. I sat there for some time, long enough to hear his footsteps leaving the house and hearing the door shut behind him.

I sat on the floor weeping and felt a tiny hand push my hair behind my ear. Our little son, three years old reached up his sweet baby face and kissed me on the exact place where his father had struck me. It was the sweetest kiss I’ve ever had, maybe the sweetest kiss I ever will have. And I felt so badly for him that he should have parents who could be so hateful.

I put him in the car and we drove to the coast, only ten minutes away. We walked along the docks that night. I smelled the green wind and looked up at the darkness and felt soothed by the same stars that were gazed upon by every human from the beginning of time. And my problems seemed less significant. I loved looking at the boats at night. They bobbed up and down in the waves like corks. The wind blew in from the water smelling like death and life at the same time. I could forget how homesick I was living in a foreign country with not one friend.

I drew this picture while sitting cross legged on the dock, my large belly spilling over into my lap, my little son leaning on my leg and watching my hands. I wondered at the time what he would be like as an adult. And now I know that he wears the evidence of his parents discord on the surface of his skin, and he explodes with anger unless medicated. And I see a younger me pursuing an idea I had, an idea of love, when I should have left it alone. And things have changed between my son and I. He no longer puts his head in my lap and smiles up at me. And I wonder how much less pain there would be in the world if there was no love.

This image is available for download at dalegreenearts@bigcartel.com

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Why is it a Sound?

dit-dot-low-res-watermark

“The aim of art is to represent, not the outward appearance of things, but their inner significance.” Aristotle

For about five years I lived in North Carolina with my husband and our two sons. The landscape there has it’s own particular beauty as all places do, but I found myself less inspired to my artwork than I was in Alberta, probably due to the fact that I was working nights, going to nursing school days, and still breast feeding the baby. But every now and then, I packed the boys in the car and we drove to the coast which was only about half a mile away. We often went to the water’s edge and walked along it, listening to the waves roll in and tasting the salt.

One Christmas, we took the boys to the beach. It was so warm I wore shorts and my older son splashed in the water. I sat in the sand with my infant son feeling the cool water wash over our legs. People walked by us and I noticed they had parkas on which I found strange because the weather was so warm. But they were giving me dirty looks and I realized they thought I was a bad mother for letting my children into the water and I wanted to shout “I’m not a bad mother, I’m just Canadian.”

This sketch was drawn on such a warm day from a wharf in Beaufort, North Carolina. It was my first attempt at painting water and I loved the curved horizon line. The boats bobbed in the cool water, air blew in from the ocean, outer bank islands were visible in the distance where, on a good day, you can still see the wild horses.

Of course, this was the Sound, not the ocean but I still have trouble understanding the difference between the “sound” and open water because it seems to me that it’s all ocean. My older son was likewise confused. He put it very succinctly when he said with his lisp, “Why ith it a thound? I don’t hear it.”

We saw the little, purple boat that had the words “Dit Dot” painted across the back. Dit Dot, it was explained to me, was the name the locals gave to the non locals, the tourists with their cameras and strange accents. I was a Dit Dot, apparently. And this painting, is a commemoration of that time in my life when I was the boat, drifting on waves, and wondering what wind would push me towards shore.

Watch this video to see the sketch of the dit dot painting.