An art teacher once told me that the viewer reads a painting from left to right, and from top to bottom. So if I wanted you to travel with your eyes up the trunk of this magnificent dogwood, perhaps I should have flipped the composition. But this was not the intention with “My Beloved.” I set out to have the viewer travel to many places within the painting, to have an adoration as I did for this great lady. She had persevered through hardships and weathered many storms, and yet she was able to deliver a spray of abundant and graceful flowers. If you look deeper, there are many other symbolic messages. For example, the wedding ring quilt in the window was purposeful. And so was the almost symbiotic relationship between the tree and clapboard house. The old painted boards showed the same hardships and storms that the tree has endured. I tried to personify them both, such as that they are almost embracing one another, as if sharing the spotlight. Nine times out of ten, I title my works before starting the first brush stroke. This way I stay focused and committed to the prize at the end. I will usually pick a few words about the atmosphere in the painting, and repeat those to myself along the way. Here I found myself chanting “My Beloved, My Beloved, My Beloved” and naturally I kept thinking of my beloved wife, Bonny.
- Alan Shuptrine