You're Painting WHAT????
Well, they always say you never know where inspiration might strike and I guess this proves that "they",(whoever they are) are right.
Whenever I am painting a still life, I usually look for interesting objects to group together or objects that somehow tell a story. But every once in a while, a mundane object, something I don't usually consider as an item to paint will beckon me. In this case it was the combat boots. My son Ben had left them behind, when he was home on leave in summer 2011.
The boots were probably left behind intentionally because they didn't fit well. Ask any military person about their boots and you are likely to get a long story about the trials and tribulations of finding just the right boot. The right boot is usually never the one they were issued; nearly always the one they had to pay for later. But...I digress. Somehow I kept looking at those boots, deciding; acrylic? watercolor? pencil? And why? Why do I want to paint the boots? They really hadn't gotten to the point of being beaten down and grubby...artists always love that stuff. But they did appeal to me.
Maybe because it would force my left brain to pay attention to a right brained activity as I made sure I painted every turn of the laces as they wove in and out of the eyelets. Hmmm. Maybe... But most likely I was intrigued by the universal symbolism of the combat boot. The boots, more than any other part of the uniform, show the wear and tear of the daily routine of the soldier. I had read an article written by a soldier's wife who lived in military housing. She mentioned the eerie stillness of the housing development when the troops were deployed. One of the things you miss is the sound of their boots on the stairs in the early morning hours as they left for work.
So with all of those thoughts circling around in my mind, I painted the boots in watercolor and my left brain was intrigued by the laces and the eyelets and my right brain was just happy to paint.
I later used the boots in two of my greeting card designs, adding a stylized patriotic background.
The traditional Irish verse (below) was later added in a graphic design program to create a poster.
May the road is up to greet you, may all your days be bright,
May love walk by your side by day and keep you warm by night,
May all you meet along the way be glad to call you friend
And may the road rise up to greet you, and bring you home again.