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2304 East Burnside Street
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In a Land Long Ago I was a Painter

Journal

In a Land Long Ago I was a Painter

Khrys Viaches

From an early age I enjoyed color, putting it to paper, watching it blend and bleed together. I was enrolled in art classes as a kid. I sought out classes through my early education and into high school. Some of this I could blame on my older sister. She has some mad-skills herself. She also had a head start with our high school art teacher and so I knew what to expect when I entered the classroom. Not only did I bask in the art glow of Mr. Durand’s classroom I learned so much more. A deeper understanding of my Irish heritage (I was in an Irish Catholic school btw), exposure to Celtic knotwork, incredible music, and a level of creative freedom I hadn’t experienced before. I ran with it. I worked on personal pieces. I learned drawing, shading, perspective, painting, clay work. I worked on set pieces for the school plays. I created fonts and calligraphy for fun.

Around me I had good friends who were also creative. We shared work, gave each other feedback and encouraged each other.

At one point I thought about making my livelihood from painting. When I enrolled in college I enrolled as a Painting major. I was allowed into painting classes my freshman year when that was normally not allowed. I focused on drawing, camouflage (one of my favorite projects), 3-D work and so on. I enjoyed criticism of my work. It encouraged me to work harder, to try new things, to do things differently.

Then it stopped. I became dismayed with “fine art”. “Things to hang on walls” I thought. How boring. I attempted to paint furniture, but that felt tacky. The work went unfinished. My interests drifted to food. A realization and craving “to stir” I figured cooking must be my destiny. Soon thereafter I moved across the country to the PNW and began this new life.

I cooked. I lived, breathed, researched, tried things and burnt things. I worked my fingers to the bone. All of this as a mere prep-cook. One day I overheard my certified executive chef boss and her partner claim to a patron after praise for the great food, “Oh we’re so exhausted by the end of the night we hit the drive-thru on the way home. We don’t eat this way at home!” I realized then that this wasn’t for me.

In a mysterious way herbs became my life. No real flag flew to show me my destiny. Somehow wellness, support for the bodies innate ability to heal itself, recognizing patterns and helping others became my focus. Making things is still important for me – hence the products I make and share here, but it goes beyond this. To make items custom for individual people is where it’s at.

While herbs began to take over I occasionally would draw them, paint them. Quick things. Some detail with an abstract twist. When my son was born I drew more things. Simple things to entertain him. Requests. It was odd stretching my fingers back into old patterns. I enjoyed it. I went through fazes of more and less drawing. I planned a babies herbal to teach the alphabet using illustrations of plants (it’s unfinished). I drew with my son to occupy the time. I occasionally draw something to show him how to draw something. None of this has been constant. Still we draw together, a beautiful blend of styles, colors and requests.

A few months ago it came back to me. It drifted in on a light breeze. I want to paint. How to find time? Where can I make a mess? A million excuses churned up to discourage this hint. I was stressed out. I wanted sunshine and peace and to let go. I saw a flash – the small watercolor kit I bought when I was 18. I held onto it for all these years. Over 20 years. With this a small watercolor pad and a travel water bottle from another travel kit I could have this in my bag at all times. It has its own pocket. On my lunch breaks I sit in the healing herb garden next to my 9 – 5 and paint. Free hand, pencil doodles, fine detail, abstract weirdness – it doesn’t matter. I’m painting again and I love it. Watching the colors blend and bleed together. So simple, so grounding.

I have bigger canvases. A new kit of acrylics and old kit of oils you can clean up with water. One of these days I’ll broaden to the larger realm (I did paint 4’ x 5’ oils back in the day). But right now this is just right.