This painting was inspired by a family vacation to Mexico. One thing that was abundantly clear in the week we were there is that the Mexican people love their color. When you’re accustomed to everything being Pottery Barn beige and gray, it really stands out.
I wanted to incorporate that vibrant, whimsical color, along with one of the culture’s great traditions, Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead. I think it is a beautiful way to look at the afterlife, and the ancestors who went before us. I appreciated the idea of seeing death as a part of the life process, rather than an end in itself.
I also liked the focus on how much we owe to the people who came before us. In American culture, the independent spirit of the individual is celebrated. That’s fine, as far as it goes. Except that there is no such thing as a self-made man or woman. No one becomes successful by themselves. Yes, your unique talents and a fiery self-determination are key ingredients for success.
But life is a group effort.
I was thinking about the people in my own life who have passed away. Not just family members, but teachers and coaches who served as mentors, too. Every one of them taught me something that I carry with me to this day.
My Grandma K. made me feel like I was special, just as I was.
My third grade teacher, Mrs. Smith, encouraged me to take my artistic talent seriously.
My Little League coach, Mr. Dawson, helped me believe that I was a winner.
When I was an uncertain teenager, Deacon Vince saw me as a grown-up with valuable contributions to make.
Each of us is like that tiny sailboat. At times, it can feel like we are drifting, alone, on a vast and overwhelming sea.
But we are not alone.
We have the wisdom, given to us by the people in our life who have gone before us, charting our course. They have touched our lives and their examples live on, showing us the way.
And their words live on as the wind in our sails guiding us into a bright and colorful future.