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Jay Lacklen: Things I would paint, if I could

 

Jay Lacklen

 

Attending the Renee Sheridan display at the Rosensweig Center this morning reminded me, painfully, that I cannot paint with a brush and colors as Ms Sheridan can so well. I can paint with words, somewhat, but my brain just doesn''t get painting with a brush. 

 

My favorite Sheridan piece in the show is a pencil drawing of "Benjamin," a boy young enough to be unconcerned about how he presents himself, but who holds the viewer in a demanding gaze of close inspection. I felt he was analyzing me, this person who has suddenly appeared in front of him. 

 

In a few years will his concern shift to how he looks to others instead of how others look to him? Or will he continue to interrogate his surroundings searching for definition and truth without hiding insecurely behind the latest fashion trend to fawn approval from his peers? As he appears in the drawing, he seeks approval from no one. 

 

Two of Ms. Sheridan''s paintings reminded me of mental pictures I would paint, if I could. 

 

Her winter nightscape brings back to me a cold, night, winter scene where the sky is a hard deep blue after sunset but just before it fades to hard, deep black. The stars are crisply white and of varying brightness, diamond dust flung across black velvet. 

 

The landscape is stark, hard and frozen and utterly clear in the moonlight, as if the air had disappeared. Every landscape feature shows vividness not possible in summer no matter how bright the sunlight. 

 

Another Sheridan portrait of a buffalo soldier sends me to another mental scene. This one emphasizes the red light of sunset as it illuminates a figure through a window, in my image a thoroughly worn down cowboy seated in a hard-backed chair. The red light provides a mellow glow to the end of the day as the weary, dusty cowboy smiles at his surroundings and at his abundant life that has left him deliciously worn. The scene may also presage the end of life as the cowboy recalls a favored incident on the trail years before, or one of the many personalities who accompanied him on his journey, as the red light begins to fade. 

 

As I toured the Sheridan display I decided we all do what we can with the tools we have been provided. I look forward to a Sheridan drawing of Benjamin as a young man.

 

Jay Lacklen is a retired Air Force Reserve pilot, who flew missions in Vietnam and Iraq. Presently he is simulator instructor at CAFB and is writing a book about his experiences in the Air Force.

 

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