Mirth…or just keeping your head above water.

 I submitted a few pieces to a juried exhibition devoted to work on paper, my Jumping Tlaloc from the last posting and this oil painting which I have titled Mirth.


Mirth…or just keeping your head above water

oil on cardboard;reclaimed frame with painted decoration

35 by 22 inches


The theme of the exhibition ( I hate themes frankly) is Celebration. Although I have a lot to be happy about my work doesn’t always reflect that fact; it is often dark and moody, certainly bizarre at times. I scrambled to come up with something suitably celebratory. My Tlaloc I find amusing, he jumps to attention and makes me laugh-that seems a reason to celebrate.

But Mirth is more personal, in fact I dedicate it as a psychological portrait of my first partner Douglas who couldn’t keep his own head above water. I see Douglas in this clown’s eyes and I’m saddened.

As someone who has wrestled with depression and self-doubt my entire life, my attraction to Douglas and his dark ways makes a great deal of sense. But when Douglas finally succumbed by his own hand, I became more determined not to give in. As anyone who works through these issues  knows,it is difficult. Douglas’s choice has a romantic appeal at times, but then its final. Really final.

There are days I am just stunned Douglas is no longer here, although the romantic love for one another faded, there are days I would love to share a passage from a book I might be reading or a particularly delightful treasure I find in the trash . One such treasure is the rickety frame “his” portrait is framed in. I was delighted to find it on the street soon after moving back to LA-I took it as a good sign. To further enhance its  awful teal ridiculousness I painted a little smiling clown-demon.

Douglas would have loved it.



My life now, even with dark days is amazing. David , my spouse (I cannot yet say husband-too much baggage I suppose) is incredible. We have our rows and differences, but his tender empathy and good cheer stuns the hell out of me consistently. So often I feel engulfed and he  floats by graceful as a buoy and reminds me of another brighter perspective.

For that I celebrate.

Take care, be well,


Author: babylonbaroque

I am a painter and printmaker working towards creating a body of work that reflects my own developing aesthetic. New work ,first link. The second link is an on-line portfolio.

11 thoughts on “Mirth…or just keeping your head above water.”

  1. this is a beautiful post, in so many ways…
    the frame and painting are fantastic, honestly you fit something amazing into that theme, and the colors and his expression fit together perfectly. wonderful!

  2. Leonard, you are so fortunate to be able to express your thoughts and feelings through your art. I love the fact (and the irony) that you found the discarded frame and made it into a memorial to your ex, who threw away his life. A fitting, and touching, memorial. Thank you.

    1. I am lucky
      In many ways I too feel he threw away his life and at times it angers me, but I also know he lived with a lot of emotional turmoil . Our relationship, after the first few years, was a painful one , violence, lies , infidelity- not pretty. He sunk deeper and deeper and eventually I left; but I never really did I guess . He is always there , a bundle of emotional contradictions . Thankfully my life is far more stable at this point .

  3. What a wonderful tribute to someone who, for better or worse, has partially shaped your life. Thank you for sharing this lovely work and the story behind it.

    1. Thank you.
      In many ways Douglas influenced me, I often wonder what I would be without his faith in me. Sadly he did not have the same faith in himself.

  4. Oh you are SO in the zone these days. Love this painting, and love the frame Oh Oh you are so in the zone with your painting right now. I love the portrait, and love the frame with its little demon too. (I like that second photograph a lot: the clown’s eyes and the mask above it.)

    Painting out

      1. Dear Clive,
        I understood perfectly, sometimes my fingers get away from me on the keyboard as well…
        I feel I am in and out of the zone, I admire how well you know your own aesthetic; I am working towards, inching towards the Promised Land.
        Happy you liked the demon, I think he is adorable but a FB reader found him disturbing…perception is a peculiar thing.
        Hope you have settled into your hermitage, faithful Jack by your easel.
        wishing you well and sending affection,

  5. thank you for such a rewarding post, i started by admiring that beautiful painting and then looking at it again after reading about Douglas – what a wonderful tribute to him this painting is. It made me then reflect on my own past loves, and how I’ve sometimes been with somebody who reminds me of the person you write about and sometimes felt like that person myself; I think that’s why the painting works so well for me, it speaks of the complexity of love and life. It’s a powerful painting, but like so much of your work recently, for me, there’s strong images and emotions and then much more tender and delicate ones underneath too, i’m absolutely loving your work over the last year or so, you’re going from strength to strength. Great stuff, good luck with the exhibition.

    1. Thank you Phil,
      That was a very touching response. Emotionally I feel at times like your description of my work-extreme emotions bordering on mania and then tenderness and sometimes even calm.
      Be well,

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