Earlier this year I inherited a few things from the passing of someone who was once close to my family.
One of the mementos I was able to take with me was an old photo album full of beautiful snapshots from their travels in the 1960’s.

There were a number of photos that caught my attention, so I picked them out of the album and scanned them.
I have been thinking for a while about making a painting from this one:

Cactus Garden 1

After looking through the album several times, I found several other photos that caught my interest.
I like the aged colors in these pictures. I like the way the discolored white of the border sometimes becomes part of the faded pictures, as though offering escape, or in some cases, giving the appearance that parts of the picture were erased.

OtherPeoplesMemories_MissionGarden
a mission garden

I would like to do a series of paintings based off these snapshots. Paintings that utilize this color palette, but obscure the subject matter the way the passing of time has obscured our memories – in the way the emulsion has allowed the colors to fade into the yellowing paper.

This next one has some really lovely color and motion in it. The photo looks like it was taken at the end of the roll, maybe even as an impulsive afterthought, a way of using every last bit of it so the photographer could wind it back up and load the next roll of film, at the ready for the next exciting wonder to reveal itself.
The thing is, for me, this snapshot of an unknown woman, a fellow tourist, that seems somewhat of an afterthought.. for me, this is probably my favorite image in the entire album.
There is something so perfect about it that I just can’t stop thinking about how to paint it, how to allow her perpetual movement to remain captured in this brief moment in time, at then end of the film roll, half a century ago.

OtherPeoplesMemories_WomanExitingCableCar
(unknown) Woman exiting a cable car.

I look forward to working on these. I think my explorations of the imagery and the warm faded colors within will be the change of pace I was looking for.

OtherPeoplesMemories_CactusGarden2

I’d like to loosen up more, and allow my technique to relax and expand. I’d like the painting to shift and melt together the way the borders of the paper melt into the skies.

I’d like to allow this experience to give me a more positive and uplifting glance back to the person she was, when she was in her more agreeable moods.

OtherPeoplesMemories_LunchAtTheCafe
My Godmother, in the center, alone at their table. (very “Le Dejeuner des canotiers,” no?)

Perhaps it’s an exploration of self, too.

She was a prominent figure in my upbringing.
When these photos were taken, she was probably very close to the age I am now.
I always wondered if she was always unpleasant when things didn’t go her way, or if it was something that got worse with age.

The only thing I know is, as unpleasant as things could be, she did have a large impact on my development, and brought a great deal of beauty into my life. Even posthumously she shows me beautiful things, I’m thinking now, looking at these pictures.
We will never know how different things could actually have been, had certain people never been in our lives.  Even after her passing, I don’t know what to make of it all. But that’s okay.
I feel free of her now. Free of worrying about criticism, unwanted obligation, guilt.

Catholic guilt.

OtherPeoplesMemories_AnarchyArch
Mission San Juan Capistrano

I hope in her Catholic Heaven, she’s happy and treating people well.

OtherPeoplesMemories_SMILEJack
Jack and Marge Rammer at a scenic overlook, Yosemite Ntl. Park

And I hope I can do this all justice, the best I can.

OtherPeoplesMemories_OrangeJuiceClink
Mr. & Mrs. Rammer having breakfast
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