Turning Things Around

Turning Things Around 16 X 40

Turning Things Around (Mixed Media/Acrylic 16″ X 40″)

I tend to “drift with the current”, to let the direction my life is taking be directed to some degree by circumstances rather than rational well thought out choices. This can lead to mixed results.

Thirty-six years ago, I was studying Architecture and Art History at the University of Illinois. My passion was painting, but I needed a “day job” to provide some sense of financial security. I had “experience” as a security officer (long story to be told some other time) so I started the lengthy and arduous process of being hired as a police officer. I applied at all of the police departments that were hiring within 50 miles of the University of Illinois. The Champaign County Sheriff’s Office was the first to call with a job offer. I took it. I did not plan to stay too long. Turns out, I loved the job so much that I spent nearly 35 years serving as a Patrol Deputy for the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office.

In this instance, I was fortunate; circumstances led me in a good direction. However, when the currents of life cause us to drift off in the wrong direction, we need to change course. Sometimes we need help.

This painting was inspired by my desire to express my thoughts about moving in the wrong direction. We need to be willing to accept a little help now and then to make needed changes; and we need to listen to “that little voice” that warns us about danger and guides us down the path our life is supposed to follow. Sometimes the guidance is as subtle as a summer breeze, and sometimes it will grab you and drag you in the right direction.

As with most of my paintings, the ship and tug are idealized caricatures rather than portraits of specific watercraft. The ship is designed to resemble the style of ship used to move cargo on the Great Lakes.

When I was composing this painting the ship and tug names were problematic. They both needed names in order for the image to feel authentic, and yet I did not want the painting to be “about” the names. When you include text in a painting, our eyes tend to focus on the words and the text can easily dominate the image. You end up with what I think of as an oversize inspirational greeting card. Not that there is anything wrong with that (as Seinfeld says), but it was not what I wanted to create.

In the end, I tried to give the ship and tug authentic sounding names that were not full of obvious meaning. However, I did not select the names at random. The ship name has a dual reference. First, my mother grew up in Argo, Illinois. Second, the ship name is a reference to the mythological voyage of Jason and the Argonauts. The tug name is intended to hint at any positive influence we encounter as we chart the course of our life.

This painting is a bit of a departure from by usual subject matter, but I wanted to use an image that highlights the fact that we can all use a little help when we are “Turning Things Around”.

© James Golaszewski 2015
“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” (Lao Tzu, 6th century BCE)

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