Maya Angelou: "Life rewards the liver of it"
I started and finished these paintings in the six months my father went from fine to gone. He was okay and then his brain and body went in reverse, to total decline and death, in excruciating real time. 77 years in rewind in the space of six months. During that time, when I was not with my dad at his home, then hospital, then nursing home, funeral home, and finally grave, I painted this series of self portraits in encaustic.
Painting was a knee jerk reaction to what was happening, not to my dad but to me. That was only obvious to me in retrospect -- these are self portraits, afterall. But at the time I did not think about it. I had some canvases prepared for something else and an old mirror sitting around the studio and I just started in. No thinking, just doing: "Life rewards the liver of it." The reward was that I got through.
I was painting without even really looking at what I was doing, beyond the actual moments of doing. After, I could see that the portraits put a pretty good mirror up to my stages of grief.
My father was a wonderful writer and a great reader. So I titled these paintings for authors/books that have stuck with me through life. The titles aligned so well with the paintings.