There’s a little “Gauguin” in all of us

Painting by Gauguin

The tranquility in of this painting ” The Day of the god” (Mahaba no Atua) at the Art Institute of Chicago by Gauguin masks the inner turmoil facing the artist.

Mention the name of Gauguin and images of a Tahitian paradise come to mind. His poetic imagery captivates the hearts of all. Behind the facade, a troubled family life lays in ruin. Gauguin deserted his family to pursue his artistic passions.

Van gogh’s “Sunflowers” immortalized his art and are revered by most. Yet his co-dependent lifestyle almost drove his brother Theo to bankruptcy.

Like most artists, I struggle with finding a balance between relationships and my art. However, my passion for lighthouses has driven me a little closer to my family. During the summer I was able to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Biloxi lighthouse

Biloxi Lighthouse copyrighted by Elaine Marie Austin.

I went to a family reunion in Biloxi, Mississippi then painted a lighthouse nearby. While the family toured New Orleans, I painted two lighthouses. One of those was Port Pontchartrain Lighthouse.

Port Pontchartrain Lighthouse

Port Pontchartrain Lighthouse copyrighted by Elaine Marie Austin.

Pensacola Lighthouse

Pensacola Lighthouse  copyrighted by Elaine Marie Austin.

When my family visited the Aviation Museum, I painted the Pensacola Lighthouse. A compromise often works best for artists.

I did face some bumps along the way. I opted out of dinner for painting the Gay Head Lighthouse in Martha’s Vineyard. It wasn’t my original plan but a missed bus caused this dilemma. Still, my family was gracious and sent me a boxed dinner.

Gay Head Lighthouse.

Gay Head Lighthouse copyrighted by Elaine Marie Austin.

With over 400 hundred lighthouses to go in the USA, I’m sure there are challenges ahead. So far I’ve delayed painting lighthouses to provide assistance to family members. I must admit it wasn’t easy.

My Pastor at church said we should value relationships over tasks. Yet he admitted struggling with that. I realized then that not only artists struggle with balancing relationships.


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