24 September 2008

walk a mile


8x11 gouache


We were in Cambridge, Mass. for a mental health conference. While Eric attended seminars, I explored the city. It was good for my mental health.


I only had time to duck into one art museum, Harvard's Sackler Museum. I saw Orazio Gentileschi's The Virgin with the Sleeping Christ; Rembrandt's Bust of an Old Man; The Gare Saint Lazare: Arrival of a Train and Red Boats, Argenteuil by Claude Monet; and Mother and Child from Pablo Picasso. One painting took my breath away, and that was Vincent van Gogh's Three Pairs of Shoes. I stood before it, entranced, and cried. I'm afraid I can't explain it. I was in the midst of incredible works of art, but Three Pairs of Shoes was simply beautiful and incredibly moving. Everything else seemed flat compared to this, in terms of perceived depth but also in terms of emotional depth.


I also saw Van Gogh's Self Portrait Dedicated to Paul Gauguin. I picture a passionate Kirk Douglas version of Van Gogh, feeling intense love and brotherhood, wanting to please his friend. He made a special effort to portray himself in an ascetic and reflective way. I want to learn more about Van Gogh. It saddens me that his psychiatric issues were not handled in an effective way.


We now live in an age of great progress in mental health, but many of our citizens do not receive the care they need. Managed healthcare usually places severe limitations on outpatient and inpatient psychiatric care. Employees of certain megastores do not receive mental health benefits. And after a movement to close psychiatric facilities, we see a population of chronically mentally ill persons who are homeless or incarcerated.


Review the presidential candidate's responses to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. There is a remarkable difference in attitude, urgency, knowledge and specificity.


I'm proud of the work my husband does as a therapist. He is extremely gifted, and continually educates himself to the latest research and ideas. His clients are in very good hands. I painted Eric's shoes, thinking about dear Vincent.

Don Mclean, Starry Starry Night
Dar Williams, What Do You Hear in these Sounds
Elvis, Walk a Mile in my Shoes
Kirsty MacColl, In These Shoes?

20 comments:

Barbara Pask said...

Wonderful painting, there is always something to paint just need to look for it. Sometimes the most simple subject can make the best painting.

Sheila Vaughan said...

That's a great painting Dar Presto and your sentiments regarding the mental well being of our brothers and sisters is well founded. We need more people around like your husband - and I bless his shoes!

Bill Brauker said...

Loved your comments about Vincent. I know the feeling. I've been to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam twice, and each time was a very emotional experience. I listened to Starry Starry Night, after reading your post. Thank you for that, and great job on your husband's shoes.

Diane Hoeptner (hep-ner) said...

Nice painting and eloquent words, Dar. I cried when I saw a real Van Gogh too-- It was a painting of two crabs and they were lovely. Thanks for such the thoughtful post.

Dianne Mize said...

What a fine painting, Dar. Passionate, strong and well-crafted. And bravo for your comments about mental health. Your husband must be a gem of a guy. To this day I can't hear "Starry, Starry Night" without choaking up.

Dar Presto said...

Thanks, everyone, for the kind words.

Barb, I'm just starting to figure that out. I think painting brings out our optimism and sensitivity.

Sheila, you're very kind. I'm so glad you stopped by.

Bill, what a meaningful pilgrimage you had. That's awesome.

Diane, I'm reading 3 books on Vincent now. He has a lasting impact.

Dianne, Eric is a gem for certain. He tolerates my painting messes, and stealing his shoes. I'm glad you like this one. I was painting for paintings sake, unconcerned about the outcome.

Sylvia Jenstad said...

I agree... your husband's shoes... your words... there is nothing else for me to say...

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

That's a touching post and a sweet tribute to your husband. Nice painting. You do quite well for your stated lack of experience.

Dar Presto said...

Thanks Sylvia.I appreciate the visit.
Thanks Mary. Yep, I just started painting the beginning of this year. Wow, did it open up a whole new world!

onpainting said...

Maybe someday someone will stand in front of your painting and feel an emotional release as well.

Good painting - time to shop for another pair for the next piece.

Dar Presto said...

Hi Bill, Thanks.
Plein air painters justify vacations for painting. I guess a still life painter can justify a shoe habit. I see some interesting tax deductions in my future.

Debbie said...

i'm fairly new to your blog, and enjoy your posts. I loved your comments about your experience viewing Vincent's painting. I have never seen one of his paintings in person, I imagine it would be very moving. Also, thank you for the link of starry starry night, I enjoyed it. There is a wonderful website of van gogh's paintings, drawings and letters that you might like (you may know of it, but just in case-) vggallery.com

Dar Presto said...

thanks for the link, Debbie, and thanks for visiting. I like your blog as well.

Marilyn M. King said...

Hi' I'm new to your blog too, but so glad to find you. Your writing is so thoughtful and interesting, something I envy. Mental Illness is something I'm very familiar with in my family and admire your husband's work and dedication. Your shoe painting was a wonderful way to honor him and a wonderful painting. Isn't it wonderful that we artist's can be inspired by other artists! Inspiration can come from so many places, but other's work can be such a gift.

http://www.onpainting.wordpress.com said...

Dar - these shoes must be worn out by now. Maybe you should look at the soles to check for holes. If you don't have time to paint a new pair you could just paint the repair work on these.

Dar Presto said...

Hi Marilyn, thanks so much.
It is interesting how various forms of inspiration can present themselves.

OK Bill, I'll paint your shoe kicking my butt. That's a different type of inspiration altogether.

Gail Murray said...

Darlene -- I love this one! Your background really works. The shoes are very grounded, the ligth ties it in, and there is so much movement & interest! It's not as "calm" as your other backgrounds (which are lovely also).

I haven't heard Elvis sing "Walk a Mile in My Shoes" for years.... thank you!

And thank you very much for assisting me with my computer literacy also. It's nice to be able to communicate!

Dar Presto said...

Thanks, Gail. I'm glad you like my guy's stylish shoes.
I'm happy to see that your blog has begun! Your photos are always so well composed.

rob ijbema said...

i love shoes paintings and this one is no exception,love the shine,like you painted it with shoe polish

Dar Presto said...

Hi Rob, thanks so much.