Windows that Wait
Even as we slept, the old wooden farm window had plans to scare the pants off my sister and me. It held its breath against fierce midnight wind, waiting for the perfect moment before it released its latch and burst open, banging into our macramé hanging pot and scattering us senseless. Sometimes, we would yell for Dad to come save us from the bad thing (wind…window…or what…not sure), but usually, I would bravely advise my sister to give up the safety of our bed covers and rescue us by closing the offending structure. She was older, after all, right? I could play the little sister card! And did. Frequently. The truth, though, remained that although this was THE SCARIEST window in the house, they were all freaky! Every window in that old, creaky farm house had mad ways(and there were many of them, by the way). At night, their dark, ominous rectangles popped and creaked weirdly, suggesting, perhaps, that something may be on the other side. They seemed to watch us. CREEPY!
Later, as an interior designer, I eliminated my fear of windows. Time to buck up, Sarah! Get a grip! I began to use windows as structure, egress, rhythm, a light source, and view. I turned fear into fascination. I mean, they brought sunshine into the home! Hello! I now LOVED windows! I’ll be honest. I have a thing about windows. I do. Maybe you have guessed that by now.
So I’m not a kid anymore (rats), and I can’t be afraid of windows (except when it’s dark outside and my hubby isn’t home… ehem). I’m no longer an interior designer by day, so I don’t use them in architectural design. But as a watercolor artist (or so I claim), I find myself painting windows in almost every painting. They show up in my work in their literal form much of the time, providing structure and escape from the confines of an indoor structure.
But I also I see windows in negative space such as the area between background trees, where they allow release from the painting and represent trails traveled.
Window shapes in my paintings mean more than literal interpretation or elements of design. We can see through them to the future, or they can reflect back at us our past. They offer a choice.
A few years ago, I imagined being a large room. The room had many high windows. Each window offered a different future. I could not see out the windows, as they were too high above my head. I knew each one was a different direction for my life. I wanted to make the best choice and the windows were the portal through which I could change. They became a symbol for past and future decisions. I chose a path, climbed up, opened the old latch, and crawled through, thus changing my life. I represent those decisions in my paintings
I continue to find more windows every day, even in the small, everyday decisions I make. Just as these many choices in my life reflect different paths, the window-squares in my paintings all differ from one another. They are scattered squares, misshapen and collaged haphazardly onto the painting surface.
You might notice they are randomly drawn and irregular, changing in color and shape from square to square. This off-kilter structure better reflects past decisions or choices for the future.
Yep, those old windows of my family’s farmhouse were creepy. They still would be today. In fact, maybe the house was haunted (I’ll save that for another post!). But they began in me a fascination for windows and all they represent in my life. Now, instead of feeling something is watching me through the windows, I feel the windows of my childhood were waiting. They were my future and past, my discoveries, opportunities, and choices to travel down. They were waiting for me to make a choice and climb through.
Happy creating, everyone! Keep making choices and climbing through those windows! Watercolor Artist, Sarah B Hansen.
Words and Artworks: Sarah B Hansen
Categories: Art Diaries