“Cecillia, a Token of Remembrance.” 18″x24″ Acrylic, collage on canvas.
I am having fun with this collage on canvas and painting portraits over the collage. I like working fast like this and letting whatever happens happen! I’m trying out all kinds of different techniques I’ve read about – like using a sanding block – that produced the soft effect I was looking for in this piece, which is sometimes difficult with acrylics. I might have gotten a little carried away with the sanding, but it was fun. I glued down several pieces of paper before I began and gessoed over them. I chose to avoid painting over the handwritten date on one of the papers, ‘Friday, 6-48,” as this was relevant to the time period of Cecillia. I blocked in the basic structure of the face and hair and then decided to add the saved piece of canvas (from another project) with the nude figure of a child and framed it with pieces of scrap papers to make a little shrine to childhood. I think the stairs in the background represent the journey out of childhood where we are essentially helpless to make life changes, into adulthood as we strive to change our lives for the better.
Cecillia was my best friend first cousin. I have no photos of her, just my own memories of a soft brown-eyed girl with a dimple. I used to beg my mother to let her come and live with us (forever)! Cecillia had a wretched life, and though I was too young to fully understand, I “knew” that she was a fragile child and I loved her all the more. We kind of lost touch after marriage,kids and grown up life, and didn’t see each other as often as we could have. She passed away in 1972 from complications of second-hand cigarette smoke. She didn’t smoke. She was 28 years old and the mother of three-year-old twin daughters. She grew up with both parents smoking in the house, around the babies and children, and most other adults in our world did the same thing at this time. No one really understood how dangerous it could be to their own health as well as their children’s health. Their house was tiny, and the smoke would hang in the air through the whole house, which was a converted garage in the middle of an oil field in southern California. We used to play hide and seek around the grasshopper shaped oil pumps, and picked dandelion heads for wishing from between the railroad tracks than ran in front of her house. We always wished for six new dresses each. That’s how it was back then!