|"Losing It," water color by Jan Barry|
In my continuing quest for self-improvement, I’ve taken up delving into “oh crap!” moments as I dabble with learning to paint in water colors.
Thus, I mutter “oh crap!” whenever I mess up in my late-stage foray into painting, which outburst echoes—and hopefully draws some of the sting from—far more unsettling “oh crap!” moments in life.
Recently, I’ve managed to do an art piece on an incident that happened last spring. For reasons that will become evident, I’ve titled this work “Losing It.”
For a couple-three years now, I’ve joined other veterans as volunteers staffing tables in the “Activist Area” at Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival music festival at Croton Point Park, NY. This year, several of us decided to display a large array of Combat Paper art works on just about every nook and cranny of a street festival-type tent sheltering a folding table covered with more art work.
The idea was to raise public awareness, funds and support for the Combat Paper Project, which provides workshops at which military veterans turn old uniforms into hand-made paper, to which art is applied that addresses deep-seated emotions about war-time and postwar experiences.
On the second afternoon of the festival, after others in the group had drifted off to rest, catch some music or head home, a thunderstorm cloud rose just across the Hudson River. Abruptly, a fierce wind swirled across the water, scattering Combat Paper pieces into wet grass and mud puddles from a previous rainstorm.
I felt overwhelmed by hostile weather, trying to save what seemed like an endangered enclave of artists’ works. “Oh crap!” was the mildest of the volley of four-letter words I yowled.