The More Things Change…

Posted June 12, 2016 by Kerry McFall

"Pelargonium," mixed media by Kerry McFall, 8 x 10 prints $25

“Pelargonium,” mixed media by Kerry McFall, 8 x 10 prints $25

Crystal vases send sparks of color and light in every direction, confounding all I’ve learned and observed about figuring out which direction the light source comes from…  which is an apt metaphor for this phase of my life.  Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, the rules change.  Or, it turns out that there are no rules after all.  Suddenly instead of painting the simple vase of flowers before you, you’re dealing with refraction issues from sunbeams originating from a skylight that you had forgotten was up there…

As a young woman, I never gave a moment’s thought to what my life might be like when I was beyond 60.  Life whizzed past, and I grew older, but I didn’t waste any energy on planning for actually BEING OLD.  I planned for the next family meal, the next quilt, the next grand travel adventure, the Big Earthquake (no heavy framed art above the bed, keep the gas tank full, and a garage full of bottled water and granola bars!).  When friends began dealing with cleaning out the homes of their deceased parents, I decided I didn’t want my children to be faced with file cabinets and cupboards and bookshelves full of my past – so I planned for my actual demise by downsizing and simplifying.

But who can plan for a future that only existed as science fiction?  I’m sitting here at my mother’s dining table, in front of a tiny computer that even George Jetson didn’t anticipate.  The universe has expanded a billion times since Carl Sagan introduced us to black holes decades ago.  A woman has just won the Democratic presidential nomination.  It’s all amazing.

That being said, the more things change, the more they stay the same.  The rich still get richer.  Babies still need to be held and cuddled and sung to sleep. Geraniums are still beautiful and complex.  My mother still reloads the dishwasher after I put the dishes in, and she still refuses to consider using a cane, removing her throw rugs, or leaving her home and moving to Assisted Living.

Planned for or not, if you manage to stay alive, you’re going to get OLD.  And sitting there feeling old, you’re going to be surprised by a skylight somewhere that sends sunbeams through crystal. and there you are, completely unprepared for the result.  I hope that I will always be able to adapt, to learn, and to revel in the challenge presented by rogue rainbows.


I wandered through Mom’s garden in search of a subject.  The geranium begged to be chosen.  I picked a sprig, chose a small vase out of the china cabinet, and found a lovely pale linen tea napkin to set it on.  I began this piece using watercolor, and a little gouache for the linen; no pencil first.  Next a .01 ink marker for details, a bit of colored pencil, and a bold outline using a .03 ink marker.   Enter the rogue sunbeam… an AHA moment!  Use the Force, Kerry – the Photoshop Gradient Tool force.  With a few other little tweaks and warps.