Capturing Joy in a Painting. Fairbanks (Alaska)

Fairbanks (Alaska), June 2019. Adela and I are tidying up the kitchen when an idea starts to peep into our minds and in our conversation.  The solstice sun brings a shining light inside the home, and the atmosphere is magical. “We could create something together, to fuse our harmony into a piece of artwork that represents us”, Adela says. “What kind of artwork are you thinking about? Maybe, we could co-work on a painting, what do you think?”, I answer. “Yes, a painting! Good idea! We could mix up colors and our hands, making the brushstrokes confused on the canvas in order to become a single author”. Adela enthusiastically replies. “Awesome!!!”, I say,  and we start jumping together like children, and shouting: “Yes! A painting! We will co-create a painting!”.

From that moment, this idea stays with us every day and we give so much space to her in our conversation that soon we have a draft of the painting on our minds.

Adela is driving, coming back from an art exhibition in Fairbanks, and we are discussing the theme of the painting. We agree that the theme of Happiness could be the perfect one to describe our gratitude towards life, and Alaskan flowers could be the ideal subject to describe it.

Our brainstorming goes on visualizing new elements on our imaginary canvas: a yellow background to symbolize the sun, many colorful flowers that are bigger at the base, and become smaller and lighter as they leave the ground, dancing towards the sky. The stems of the flowers are united signifying the connections among all human beings…

“This evening we should separately sketch our own draft of the painting and then we will compare them”. Adela appears very self-confident about the creation we are going to start, and she shows method and discipline. On the contrary, I am still dreaming, making this painting in my mind more a desire than a goal. She is concrete, I am a kind of fantasist.

Time goes by quickly and we are deeply engaged with all our adventures that day by day the painting idea becomes for me more and more a  romantic dream than a realizable project.

Even when Adela takes me to buy the canvas and some tempera colors I have an attempt to discourage her because I don’t believe any more we have enough time to make the painting. But she is determined, and only thanks to her positive spirit, we buy all the stuff and we get back home.

But one day, we are again in the kitchen tidying up a few things when a new intuition comes up in my mind: “Adela, I think that we should change the theme of the painting from Happiness to Joy”. Adela stops, takes a pause, and almost solemnly declares: “Giulia, I was just waiting for you to tell me this.”.

Joy is the uppermost happiness our souls can aim to, and you can identify it with God, the Universe, or whatever your religion suggests you, and to give and receive joy is the supreme purpose of our lives.

But time is definitely over, tomorrow evening I will have my flight back to Rome. This painting will live forever in my mind and in my imagination, reminding me of these gorgeous days in Fairbanks with my special friends Larry and Adela. I go to bed melancholy, and I dream: good-bye to Alaska, good-by my friends…

It’s about nine o’clock a.m. when I go upstairs to say good morning to Larry and Adela. This morning I slept longer since we don’t have plans because I am leaving in a few hours. But what a miracle I find in front of my eyes! The long table on the balcony is set with all the painting stuff and Adela is giving her first brushstroke on the canvas. “Giulia, come on. Let’s get started!”.

I can’t believe Adela is defying time to realize our painting on my very last day in Fairbanks.  She is ready to mix up colors and brushstrokes to work together on the canvas like a single author. We are going to create a piece of artwork, where we can fuse our souls and our spirits  in the name of joy and Human Connections.

We are working continuously for hours and hours. We are happily painting, and there is no sense of time, no flight back, no goodbyes, no end that can distract us. It is a joyful process of painting while the flowers fill the background and our brushstrokes overlap. Forget Me Not, flower symbol of Alaska, and many other flower shapes free themselves to compose the picture. A dancing ray of sun on the upper-left draws the word joy to remind us to love life. A butterfly symbolized our lives.

As soon as the painting is dried, we remove the frame to roll it up. My flight is in a couple of hours and this special painting will be my travel mate. It will live with me in my home, to remind me every day that despite the fact that happiness could disappear in some situations of our lives, only joy will be always stable if we cultivate it inside of us.

Special Thanks

A special thanks to my dear friend Adela Jackson who during my stay in Alaska taught me so much about life. She taught me that a project must be pursued until the end, and it isnt’t worth dreaming if we don’t put at work our desires. It taught me the importance to keep stable an idea,  draw it down to make it concrete, take action to make it real. She taught me that, if we are lucky enough, the outside circumstances of our lives can make us happy most of our time, but only what we live inside ourselves can take us to a higher level all our existence. And this higher level is joy!

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