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  • Writer's pictureSteph Holmes

Revisiting "Wings in a Rainstorm"

This painting, Wings in a Rainstorm, has been sealed away in its' frame in my studio for the past year. Upon finishing it, I started to get this little nagging feeling that it was actually still missing something. This thought was never loud enough for me to really notice it and certainly not loud enough for me to take action! But a couple of weeks ago I suddenly saw it there for the thousandth time and didn't hesitate as I pulled it out of its' matt and frame and set my paints up on my table.

The process of going back into something that you've already put a lot of work into can be daunting, but if I've learned anything from art-making, it's that being fearless with your artwork is key to getting at something that can be potentially magical. You'll never see the possibility of what a piece can evolve into if you aren't willing to take some risks, so you have a lot to gain by making sure you don't allow everything you make to seem so precious.

I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted to add to this painting, so I went about figuring that out by blocking out some colorful shapes with paint. With acrylic paint, if I don't like something I did, I can always let it dry and cover it over with something else. I like the flexibility it grants me.

Do you see the snake curled up in the greens? I love animals, but snakes still trigger a wave of sudden fear in me, so it makes sense that the snake should represent fear.

This year has taken my (our) deepest fears and painted daily life with them. It's a pretty interesting to think about how the fear that nearly paralyzed me months ago at the start of the pandemic is now just hovering there right in the back of my mind. Do you have that too? I can tuck it away and go to the grocery store, go to work, do what I need to do, but that deep fear is still present in everything I do.

The brain is fascinating in what it can do to keep us moving forward. I suspect that this is the reason why we don't see the snake's face in the painting. Fear is there but we can't face it every second of every day. Life pushes us to carry on. (Side note: setting aside our fears doesn't mean pretending that the threat is non-existent. Wear a mask, wash your hands, be part of the solution)

Wings in a Rainstorm

Acrylic paint on paper

14" x 21"


This finished version of Wings in a Rainstorm feels complete now. There is joy, there is chaos, and there is fear there too. It gives me the same feeling that a busy, insect-filled flowerbed does - full of creatures living lives just as precious as our own.

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