Eight years ago today, I bolted up from a good night's sleep and announced to no one at all, "I need to paint."
I ignored the day's responsibilities, choosing instead to find my way to a craft store. I bought cheap canvases, and cheap paints, and cheap brushes, because I had no idea what I was doing or how to do it.
I just knew I had to.
I'd been writing songs for two decades. In that time, I'd learned to choose each word with purpose, crafting cadences and rhymes intended to deliver a gut punch in less than four minutes. But I'd hit a wall. I was writing songs that would eventually appear on the album love & blood, but every draft of every song seemed to get further from the hard truths I wanted to convey.
Words had finally failed me, or I'd failed them. It made no difference; either way, I was compelled to paint.
The painting above was my first effort. Called "Separation," it's a pretty straightforward metaphor representing my separation from Charles. In 2013, he'd been my husband and musical collaborator of eight years. The guitar's body represented the contours of our bodies; the neck represented outstretched arms reaching for the same thing but unable to connect.
You get the idea. As I said, it's pretty straightforward. But because I could not find the words, I had to paint. And because it gave me a new vocabulary, I could not stop.