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ART TALKS! - Want to know the secret meaning behind my “Water” series? #Secret #Art #meanings

When you look at Art what do you see? Perhaps I should ask: “What do you feel?” for it’s not in the seeing, but in the feeling where art makes its impact. My art has meaning that I don’t need to verbalise or append some narrative to explain it.


I have an older brother, growing up he was the one who taught me how to overcome my fear of heights (just don’t look at it as high up, look at it as a nice view). How to be brave: He bravely stood between me and the geese so I could jump to the safety of the car.


When Paul was little he use to draw these amazing underwater scenes. All in the brightest of textas and you could see all the coral but it was the range of fish that he included. I loved his artworks, what made them special was the vastness of creativity. There was always a whale at the viewer’s right side coming into the frame, an octopus and schools of multi coloured fish. The coral would reach up as would the seaweed. There was a boat on top but it was never fishing, just floating along peacefully. This is pretty much the only kind of drawing Paul did. The same work again and again. Beautiful, joyful with a sense of humour.

Unfortunately, these pictures were not to be symbolic of Paul's life. At 17 with all of life before him he went on his motorbike to the local shop and never came back the same.

Paul’s life of promise ended that day when he was found near death on the side of the road. He went into a comma; his brain had been so badly rattled from the impact that the fluid in the brain was not enough to protect it from devastating long-term damage.


After 10 days he emerged out of the comma and we all thought, like the movies, he’d bounce back to normal. Even with a compacted spine Paul was able to walk but his mind was lost to delusions and damage that frontal lobe injuries cause. His life: of a career, working hard to get a house, settle down have kids then maybe grandkids would never eventuate.


Instead, he chain-smokes his life away with a mind that remembers everything exceptionally well before the event but not a lot is retained after. He remembers people he met 20 years ago once but fails to recall that I no longer have my childhood dog! The last drawing, I saw Paul do, well it was a HB pencil. It was of a tree, a tree that was broken in the middle with the top crumbling off. I wished I hadn’t sneaked a peak at his papers.


So now I recreate Paul's underwater scenes but without the fish, the fun whales or little seal he added just for me. Mine are seascapes that are deep, the coral is not as bright and clear. It has the texture of being weathered. Still being there but time has taken its toll.



The waves of life have etched away crevices of damage. The coral also looks (intentionally) a bit like the membranes of the human brain. His brain that was once so clear and crisp has withdrawn.




I wish I could go back in time and make him stay home that day. I can still hear the ambulance go by not knowing it was for him on that fateful day. Unbeknownst to me Paul was in love with my best friend from school, they’d been secretly seeing each other for quite a while. In retrospect I can see how well suited they were and how had that day not happened his life of family and children would have ensued. Paul was hardworking and good with money but extremely generous. I know he would have been an amazing family man, well respected in the community.


Paul was often the kindest, most wisest of brothers, who could make anyone laugh but look out on the chessboard he would take delight in victory over any unsuspected adult!


Paul taught me not to be a cry-baby, that if there is an easy way to do something then there has to be an easier way to do it! But most of all Paul has taught me humanity, empathy, because even though his life has been the hardest of roads his heart is soft, humble and full of compassion for anyone he sees suffering, even though often, it is he who has suffered so unjustly.


Your turn

The ‘Your Turn’ activity detailing exactly how to create your own ‘Water’ art will be published in the release of my upcoming book. "Art Talks"












All Artworks on this page created in Sydney 2017

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© 2019 by LINDA RISELEY All rights reserved Created by Linda Riseley

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