March 14, 2005

Our family Dragon

Filed under: Art and About Family — admin @ 2:39 pm

If I had to rank the arts in the order in which they emotionally stimulate me, I would have to put painting near the bottom. It would be miles ahead of, say, rap music, but well below theater, music and movies. I am in awe of people who can speak through paint, but paintings themselves often don’t speak to me.

We have a lot of artwork hanging up in our house. Less than a half of one percent involves brushstrokes of any kind, and that is because my husband has some Asian brushwork in his office.

I brought no paintings into our marriage and my husband brought one. It is entitled “Khisanth’s Lair,” portraying a rather fierce looking dragon guarding his treasure while some armored gents invade his cave. It is a scene from a book my husband enjoyed, although now he can’t remember the title. He bought the painting while in college and paid a small fortune, in college-student terms. The Dragon, as we call it, hid in a box for several years awaiting a wall of honor in our first home.

I didn’t like The Dragon when I first saw it. Not only did I find the subject a bit frightening, but I am not ordinarily a fan of the fantasy genre and the painting underscored the nerdy side of my husband. But when we bought our first house, my husband announced his intention to hang the dragon. I had to acquiesce, although I requested it be hung in his office.

I couldn’t control how my husband felt about the painting, but I could control the environment in which it was hung. The walls of Khisanth’s cave are deep blue and artist Tom Denmark painted them as if candlelight is casting light and dark blue ellipses around the lair. I imitated those elliptical shade variances using a faux finish on the walls of the office so that it was as if the whole room was Khisanth’s lair. This made the setting acceptable to me, even if the painting wasn’t.

The Dragon hung to the side of the office computer, and as I used to wait for something to download, or for writer’s block to clear up, I would stare at it. I began to admire the painter’s technique, making the coins and gems of Khisanth’s treasure glisten in the light through manipulating color and shape on a flat canvas. At moments, I was convinced that if I could touch that treasure through the framed glass, the coins and gems would feel authentic. I still wasn’t a fan of the painting, but I appreciate the talent behind it.

When we moved to house number two, the family office was downstairs while the main living floor was upstairs. We decided to hang The Dragon over my desk in the living room. But we moved from that house in only 10 months, and The Dragon was packed away in its box.

Its intended destination in house number three was back in the office, but two years passed and something kept us from hanging it. It was always way down on the weekend to-do list.

Over the last several months, we have been converting a spare bedroom to a library. One wall is perfect for The Dragon so we took it out of hiding last month and hung it. We stepped back to admire it. My husband had a satisfied smile, my son squealed with delight, my daughter said “Whoa!” and I cried. It felt like a reunion with an old friend whom I hadn’t even realized I missed. Now our treasured Dragon is on the job guarding our treasured family books.

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