Chapter Seven: Abstract to “Gathering In, Letting Go”

In the fall of 2022 I participated in studio painting sessions at Woodmere Museum of Art. The class was called Exploring Abstraction and was led by Val Rossman. If any of this information sounds familiar it is because I have done previous sessions in the studio with this group. And that’s because I like being there!

You might remember that I said in my last post on these paintings that I thought there were a couple that were finished. I took them to class for another opinion. One was fine as it was. Done.

The other, just a little tweak… Val saw the same adjustments I had identified, so I took my brush in hand and, then as you know, sometimes things take an unexpected turn. By the end of the session, I had gone in a whole other direction. *

That was ok. I took the painting home and finished it.

Why did this happen? I have an idea.

In the studio we had been talking about memories of fall, and I mentioned one involving my grandmother and me as a very little girl. My grandmother’s yard had many trees, and our house, set in the middle of a former farm field, had none. In the fall, I felt it very keenly that we had no mounds of fallen leaves surrounding it as my grandparents’ house did.

My way to fix that was to take some home from their house and scatter them in our yard. My grandmother helped me gather up a bagful and I went home fully confident that I’d be covering the lawn with them. Imagine my shock (and I still remember this moment, how it felt) when I emptied out the bag and realized my offerings made not a dent in the empty space of our yard.

What kept me from being utterly downcast at this sight, and what I remember now, is how patiently my grandmother helped me, letting me know she appreciated my initiative and desire to solve a problem. Because of that I knew it was a good idea, I gave it a try, it was just a bigger job than I had thought!

So I think the painting became what it is because of this memory. It’s called “Gathering In, Letting Go”.

“Gathering In, Letting Go” acrylics and acrylic marker, 20″ x 16″, 11/22.

*the painting I started off with is the one in the middle.

15 thoughts on “Chapter Seven: Abstract to “Gathering In, Letting Go”

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I remember this whole situation very clearly. It’s nice that no one told me it wouldn’t work out or that I was wasting my time, but let me go about things in my own way.

  1. Laura (PA Pict)

    Thank you for sharing your childhood memory. It makes me appreciate this painting even more. I see the unbound joy in the child figure and the contentment in the adult figure witnessing it but, now I know the story, I also read the grandmother’s folded arms as symbolic of a hug, a gesture of warm love and nurturing. I had a grandfather who supported me in everything, no matter how wacky, so your painting really speaks to me of the joy of that relationship between grandparent and grandchild.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      I was really lucky in my grandparents. My grandmother in the picture was no nonsense, matter of fact, and totally reliable and consistent. You knew where you were with her. I always felt safe at their house and enjoyed being there, not one bad memory. They were good people and good to me.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I loved leaf falling time at my grandparents’ house – somehow it all seemed like something to look forward to every year, rather than a chore (at least that is how I saw it!)

  2. michele2932

    What a wonderful memory story and the painted you and grandma amongst the leaves. And as usual love the colors and shapes and energy in there


    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I was very lucky in my grandparents and have so many great memories of them all. I did love doing all the trees and leaves, I kind of got lost in the patterns and shapes.

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