Steve Derrick; beautiful nurses’ eyes

portraits of healthcare workers

eyes.Steve derrickOn the Road with Steve Hartman introduced me to Steve Derrick, an artist from Clifton Park. He “has produced more than 100 portraits of healthcare workers as they ended their shifts, many of them nurses at Albany Medical Center.”

The artist paints portraits of medical workers and captures their exhaustion treating Covid-19 patients. The subjects are weary, tired, brave, bruised, and raw. “Steve Derrick’s paintings depict the spirit of healthcare heroes on the front lines.”

“To escape the overwhelm of the pandemic, he engaged in painting. He says, ‘there was so much negativity on the news. This gave me something positive to think about while sitting in quarantine.'”

I found the story so touching, so compelling that after seeing it on the CBS Evening News on a Friday, I watched it again on CBS Sunday Morning. “He presents the finished portrait, a moment in time that omits no detail, to each of his subjects, and refuses payment.” Herrick’s actions have become part of a movement.

The eyes have it

Beyond this story, I’ve discovered that I have spent a whole lot more time looking at the eyes of people wearing masks. I find almost all of them are beautiful. Without seeing the whole face, it’s been necessary to discern how another is feeling. I’m required to actually look at people in a new, and arguably, better way.

Googling “eyes,” I came across a poet and short story writer named Avijeet Das. He wrote: “Eyes speak. Eyes say the unsaid words. Eyes express feelings. Eyes convey emotions. Eyes are eloquent. Eyes are tender. Eyes are sensitive. Eyes are captivating. I can’t help looking into eyes. I am always fascinated by eyes. If I were a painter then I would love to paint the eyes of the people I meet and come across.”

CBS’s Steve Hartman asked painter Steve Derrick if he were painting the nurses at their worst. Derrick totally disagreed. It is his belief that he has captured them at their best. I believe he is correct.

Les Green, painter

Les Green.bridge
My sister Marcia posted this on Facebook a few months ago:

Though the Binghamton memorial bridge is similar, the story behind the Green family painting of a bridge goes as follows: a young married couple with 3 children, saw a painting/print in a store window. Not having extra income, that talented renaissance father/husband/man made the canvas by hand and painted this painting for his lovely wife. Dad always worked in acrylic paints, as it dried much faster and was easier to work with and cheaper than oils.

See his signature trees at the Roberson event. He also had this bridge painting on display and always joked that if he ever sold it, that he would be in for a Divorce. I am sure that our father could have been inspired by the Binghamton memorial bridge, as he kind of had a “things for bridges…and roller coasters.
Les Green.painting.newsp

The bridge painting was in my parents’ bedroom when I grew up. It is now at my sister Marcia’s house in North Carolina.

Les Green – Dad – would have been 89 tomorrow.

“The Boy Jesus in the Temple” by Hofmann (Five Photos, Five Stories #3)

A young adolescent Jesus in white robes is shown at the center of a group of wizened, bearded old men who appear to be appraising him.

jesus.sorrow The family spent a few days at this inn on the Catskill Mountains during the school break after Easter. It was a nice place. There were several pictures, paintings of the scenery of the area, a still life or two, and the like.

But right outside our room was an outlier, a painting that looked terribly familiar, something like the one above. This intrigued me, for – and memory is a tricky thing – I believe my maternal grandmother had a reproduction of it in her house. Something quite memorable about that representation of Jesus.

Heinrich Hofmann’s religious works are filled with the deep faith that inspired his life and creativity. Painting subjects from literature and mythology, Hofmann (1824 – 1911) is most famous for his paintings of Christ’s life… Before painting any scene depicting Christ, Hofmann would intently study the Bible. He was adamant that anyone who was not moved to their innermost core while painting religious subjects was not capable of the task.

Thing is, I can’t remember if the picture in Grandma Williams’ house was in color, as painted, or black & white, like the one at the inn. Did it include the whole image, or cropped to highlight the Jesus character?
This painting of “The Boy Jesus in the Temple” was so noteworthy that it was photographed by one C.C. (Charles C.) Pierce (1861-1946)

Photograph of the painting…. A young adolescent in white robes is shown at the center of a group of wizened, bearded old men who appear to be appraising him.

In the left foreground, one is seated with at book, two other standing next to him making quizzical gestures. To the left, a fourth man holds his hand to his chin and a scroll on his hip. Farther back a fifth man without a beard can just barely be seen.

Other titles given for this painting are “Christ in the Temple” or “Jesus at Twelve”. The picture file card reads “The scripture passage for this subject is Luke 2:46-47”.

46 After three days they [Mary and Joseph] found him [Jesus] in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.

Is this picture familiar to any of you, and, if so, in what version?
Note: I have been nominated by my buddy Lisa over at Peripheral Perceptions to participate in the Five Photos, Five Stories meme, which simply says I should post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge.

The problem is that almost all my posts are stories and have pictures. So I’m cheating and writing only one new post. And I’m nominating YOU!

The writing exercise, in which Dad’s paintings appear

Those particular creations represent a certain impermanence, not unlike life itself in general, and my father’s life, which ended August 10, 2000, in particular.

Back in May, I participated in this ninety-minute writing class from a woman named Diane Cameron. Among many other things, she’s a freelance writer who appears in the local newspaper regularly.

The directive was to think of three doors that were important in your life. Then you write about one of them for four minutes. And by “writing,” this means not taking the pen off the paper, not editing, just letting the words take us where they would.

The first door was the outside door at 5 Gaines Street, Binghamton, NY, the house in which I lived for the first 18 years of my life. We lived in a two-family dwelling, so this was the door to the hallway. It was very thick, as I recall, painted white, with green trim.

Inside the first-floor dwelling was the living room, very tiny by today’s standards. The remarkable thing, though, was the fact that my father painted on the walls. I don’t mean he hung his paintings on the wall, but that he painted art directly ONTO the walls.

The picture above was located between two of the windows in the front of the house. I think it was a re-creation of some painting he had admired, though I couldn’t tell you what. It seems that the colors were muted oranges, and tans, and maybe greens.

On the opposite wall was a sharp contrast: a mountain scene, all blue and black and gray and white. Very forceful and bright, where other painting was subtle and subdued. (The woman was dad’s mother, Agatha, who lived upstairs with her husband, and would die less than two years after this photo was taken.)

The feeling I got from the writing exercise was of some significant sadness. Those pictures are long gone, like the solar system he painted on my ceiling, or the Felix the Cat he created for my sisters’ bedroom. Other paintings and drawings and writings he created live on. So those particular creations represent a certain impermanence, not unlike life itself in general, and his life, which ended August 10, 2000, in particular.

I had thought of those paintings many times before. But only after this writing exercise did they resonate so greatly. Thanks, Diane, I think.
grandma green_Mt pic

Breakfast post: the weather, my niece’s new Kickstarter album

My niece Rebecca Jade is doing a Kickstarter for her new album!

My friend Dan has more than once labeled Ramblin’ with Roger as a “breakfast blog.” I still don’t know what that means, precisely. But I think the following post is more in keeping with what he’s talking about.

It was weird: the death toll in the Moore, OK tornado went from 37 to 51 to 91 to…24? I was watching a live feed on the Tuesday morning after the event from the OKC NBC-TV affiliate – the magic of the Internet – and they gave the 91 number, based on info they had gotten from the medical examiner’s office. Saw a lot of comments on Facebook about how the media was ghoulishly upping the numbers. I’ve often criticized them. but I don’t think that happened here, just a lot of multiple recordings of the same decedents by someone – the M.E.’s office perhaps. Then I get to see, Thank goodness, “ONLY 24 dead;” THAT is weird to read.

It’s interesting, too, that I actually worried a bit about people I don’t even know, such as Cheri and Dustbury, who are both fine.
The forecast in Albany Tuesday was for severe weather. I was at Corporate (frickin’) Woods at the northwest edge of Albany and saw nothing. But people downtown were chatting about downpours and hail; we’re talking a distance of three miles away. I HAVE seen that before, where it’s dry at the Albany airport, but evidently had been pouring at my house. They had canceled my daughter’s soccer 5:30 pm practice, probably because of a severe weather watch from 1:40 pm to, I think, around 10 pm.

10 pm, practically on the dot, I heard rumbles of thunder, heavy-duty rain. The lightning and thunder at 1 a.m. woke me from a dead sleep, but happily, the Daughter can sleep through almost anything.

Wednesday, got to work late because I had my monthly allergy shot. The power was mostly out until after 11 a.m. No computer, no Internet, no phones. Nasty weather in the midday, but amazingly nice to and from work.

We are preparing our living room to be painted by my father-in-law starting on Thursday, with help from my wife on Friday, and eventually me on the weekend. The key now is moving all the stuff, a job in itself, and something I prefer to paint, which I hate because I just can’t see the difference while I’m working between, say, an off-white and a pale yellow.

My wife and her father painted the dining room three years ago. The three splotches of test colors have been on our living room wall ever since. I’ll miss them, almost.

If I had my druthers, we’d move out for four days while painting; the smell of even the newer paints bug me at night. Oh, well.
My niece Rebecca Jade (pictured) is doing the Kickstarter thing for her new album. You can read all about it here. If I were to tell you she was really good, I would sound biased. But she is! Check out this review of a recent live performance of hers.

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