Calla Lilies

May 18, 2009

Calla Lilies 5.18.09

“Calla Lilies,” by Kevin Miller, 20″ x 24″ acrylic on canvas, May, 2009

29″ x 32″ framed and ready to hang

Peaceful “Calla Lilies” seemed like the perfect thing to paint while I was down with a springtime cold or allergies for a week. Introspective, lyrical and spiritual, calla lilies have always captivated me, as they did Diego Rivera, who painted them frequently. I return to them for refuge, as I do to prayer or meditation from time to time. Their unfolding spiral design centers me. Calla lilies impart peace.

I finished “Calla Lilies” Saturday evening at 6pm and enjoyed a drink up in the Tree House Deck overlooking the pond, watching the koi leap and thinking about the future. I made chicken and vegetable fajitas with refried beans on corn tortillas for dinner. It was a warm evening. A thunderstorm was approaching, so I opened all the doors and windows in my rickety old temporary house to enjoy it. A car full of young people drove by on my dirt road and shouted “WHITE TRASH!” I felt a surge of pride to know that after a lifetime of hard mental and aesthetic work, worldwide travel and high level work with scores of Fortune 500 companies, and other richly varied experiences, I had finally earned this label.

However, this morning it occurred to me that I probably could have arrived at this same place without devoting so many decades of my life to commercial concerns, just by squatting in a shack in the woods somewhere and painting. But there are no mistakes in life. I had, and continue have so much to learn. The commercial arena has been an excellent school for absorbing needed lessons and balancing my natural hermit tendencies with activities among people in the “real” world.

Still, it feels really wonderful to spend at least some time painting again. As long as I can pay essential bills and feed and shelter myself and my animals, I’d rather paint any day than count a mountain of money.

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“Time and Money Dancing Together,” 20″ x 24″ acrylic with gold and silver paint  on canvas, by Kevin Miller, 2009

29″ x 32″ framed and ready to hang

After 10 days of intense corporate work and the inevitable sick-in-bed crash that follows, I am painting calla lilies and watching our koi leap into the air to restore the soul’s peace. This painting, “Time and Money Dancing Together,” is still something of a mystery to me, but I produced it a few months ago to explore the artist’s age old dilemma: If we have enough money to live, it means we are employed and don’t have any time to create. If we have enough time to create, it means we aren’t employed and don’t have any money to live. For ages we artists have been trying to find the right balance between time and money so that we can both create and live. I’m still searching for the answer. It’s a roller coaster at best.

In this painting the dilemma has been resolved. Time and Money are represented here by Krishna and Rada, dancing together in perfect harmony even though their demons and attendants would appear to be poised to destroy one another. Time is accompanied by his laughing wolf of temporal destiny in the upper left corner, who mocks all human pursuits and cuts them short at his whim, as does the skull woman of death in the lower left corner. The wolf is under attack by the brightly colored, seductive but poisonous snake of materialism at Rada’s upper right. And Krishna’s skull woman of death waits for the old man who attempts to hide and camouflage himself in Rada’s lovely shoulder.

Perhaps this particular balance is not so perfect after all. It may be little  better than a standoff. But it is clear that at least for the Avatar Krishna and His ecstatic lover Rada, Time and Money can exist in dynamic union, and their lower natures are held at bay. As they dance, embrace and kiss, their two profiles become one whole face — the balanced blending of Time and Money every artist craves.

It may be that such a dream can only come true in the rarified atmospheres in which the gods dance and love. However, a painting of this fantasy brings it one step closer to physical manifestation, and helps me to hope it may yet be possible.