original painting by Leah Campbell Badertscher, 30×30 acrylic on canvas
Available Friday, June 20, 5-8 PM per silent auction, Floyd County, Iowa
value: $1,800, painting will go to highest bidder
If you are not able to attend the auction but would like to place a bid by proxy, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that if you win the auction and would like to have the painting shipped, there will be an additional $150 required for S&H.
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
-Mary Oliver (from the poem When Death Comes)
This is a painting that I created for a Relay for Life silent auction fundraiser in Floyd County, Iowa. I was honored to be able to contribute something to this event. Not only do I believe deeply in the cause but because I grew up in Floyd County (and was even once the Floyd County Queen!) it is extra special for me to be able to give back to the place that gave me so much.
I began this painting as I begin all my paintings – with a prayer. I open my hands and lift my heart and ask God to allow me to remember that I am the vessel and not the Source. I also ask that I be allowed to do the best that I am able to do and that it might somehow bring something beautiful and useful, necessary even, to others. Sometimes I even write the words of my prayers onto the blank canvas so that that intention becomes the very foundation of the painting. I also spend a good amount of time “gathering Inspiration” for any given painting and, again, I ask to notice the Inspiration I am meant to see. This painting was no exception.
I try not to have any preconceived notions about what my paintings will look like before I begin. I much prefer to get lost in the process, carried away by the flow, and be surprised myself by what happens. I did know, however, that one of my deep intentions for this painting was that it be so, so, so very full of life and a reminder of the miraculous, divine nature of the gift of our lives and this world.
I know cancer can cause so much fear and many times results in tremendous pain, loss, and nearly unbearable grief. I have known too many people who have in some way been affected by the disease, either had cancer themselves or they have loved ones who have had cancer. My grandfather died when he was 43, before I was born, of cancer. I have aunts and numerous friends who are breast cancer survivors and I’ve also lost two family members in just this past year.
These people, those I know and love and those I don’t know and yet send so much love to, were very much in my mind and in my heart when I created this piece. For them and for everyone who loves them, I didn’t want the emphasis to be on the loss of life or threat of losing life or fear.
Instead, I made it my intention to come from a place of being heart-centered, true to my profound belief in the innate goodness and miraculous nature of Life, aligned with a deep joy of living and love of life- all of life. I wanted to paint as a bride married to amazement! I even wrote those words (though they’re mostly hidden now) into the painting, and other words that, to me, represent and embody a similar energy of aliveness and love, words like ” believe in miracles,” “choose love,” and more…
I was in the middle of contemplating this painting (meaning that I was holding it in my heart and being open to inspiration) when my family and I took a trip to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. As we toured the Egyptian exhibit, a certain symbol kept catching my eye. I knew I’d seen it before but couldn’t recall what it meant. I also had a hunch it was something I was meant to use in this painting even though I couldn’t remember the meaning. I sketched the symbol in my journal and then looked it up when we got home.
The symbol was that of the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic “ankh,” also known as “key of life.” (If you google it you’ll get a much more in-depth and fascinating history).
It was the inspiration for the vibrant orange symbol you see in the painting. At first I thought it was something that would eventually fade into the background of the painting as I added more layers. But I like to let my paintings speak to me and dictate the course of things and the symbol not only wanted to remain, but it demanded to be dominant, foreground, and a strong, vibrant, alive orange.
It also, as you can see, is not exactly like the “ankh.” Whereas the “ankh” has one solid line bisecting the vertical line, my symbol has two shorter lines running perpendicular to the horizon of the painting – like an equal sign. To tell you the truth, I have a hunch or two what this might mean, but I’m not entirely sure. I had a strong feeling though that it was meant to be that way and so I’ve learned to trust those instincts and have left it. I suspect further meaning will reveal itself in time – or perhaps it will speak to the viewer in ways I could never have imagined and could not explain.
I love to leave room in my painting process and the paintings themselves for something unexpected and something unexplainable. To me this is directly related to how I want to live – as if life is, at the origin and all through, something sacred and as such, something mysterious and ineffable. I believe that when remember this and keep our hearts open to wonder, mystery, and love, that’s when we experience what it means to be truly, deeply alive.
My greatest hope for my paintings is that they inspire in the viewer a connection to the energy and experience I had when creating them. I have a deep passion for helping people become more fully alive and flourishing – no matter the circumstances, I think at all times we are invited to choose love as a way of strengthen our spirit and our capacity to love and experience Life. I hope this painting can serve as a reminder that when life delivers a very, very difficult hand, such as cancer, that one response available is to fall more madly in love with life and live, live, LIVE.
In the words of Mary Oliver…
Do not merely visit this world, don’t merely inhabit the world. Marry yourself to amazement! Take the world in your arms.
Live your life truly alive.
With love and deep admiration to all affected by cancer,
and with a special dedication and in loving memory to my father-in-law, Roger Badertscher, and our nephew, Braden Badertscher, who lost their battle with cancer this year and who we will always remember for the way they lived and loved-