The Mermaid’s Feet


68 X 70 Oil on linen


On a trip to Italy I was taken up into the mountains. As we drove higher the evening shaded out the beautiful view, the sun angling across the tops of ridges and the plants just beyond my window. I began to see blue thistles crowding against the road. They were of a deep, deep blue that pierced through the other foliage and seemed to stop the motion of the car. Later, after having heard a piano concert in a cave and attended an Italian pick-up feast by a huge fire, we walked back up the steep hillside under the stars. Again I could see blue thistles, even in the dark, spread throughout the mountain field and disappearing into the shadows.

These images coalesced in my brain, becoming the painting: The Mermaid’s Feet. The title refers to the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale The Little Mermaid. In the story, after exchanging her voice for legs, the mermaid must endure the pain of knives with every step she takes. It is a story about the spiritual path, but also about life.

In my painting there is a path of blue thistles across the mountainside leading to the river of stars that milky-ways across the sky. I imagine the feel of them on bare feet as one traverses the path to reach that river. It’s about the small story of my trip to Italy, the bigger story of the little mermaid, and the amazing luminosity of the blue that awoke color in the dark of night.


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