How To Paint Love

Once, in my life, I received a dozen red roses  on Valentine’s Day.

I was 20, and the delivery of roses to my house was one of the few times in my minority years that my life felt just right, just like it was supposed to be. You know; as seen on TV.

But for me, when it comes to the delivery of a dozen red roses, once in my lifetime is enough. I understand that red roses are the symbol of luuuuuuuv, and I do love roses as my second-favorite flower, but cut roses are a shame, and the red ones are so “Eh”.  And painting them is not much of a treat either.

It takes a bit of experimenting — with vermillion, fuchsia, and various brands of paint called  “red” — to get the correct hue:


I am painting a specific kind of red rose here, and from the get-go I do not like the looks of it:


The black shading is not my thing, and at this point:


I think the rose looks capital-U Ugly.

It also looks Ugly (to me)  at this point:


But I am painting this rose for the One I Love, and the One I Love loves this rose, so I must paint on.

Because the One I Love is kind:


And the One I Love is sincere:


This rose is for the One I Love.

But the One I Love is also playful:


And  joyous…


…and I am painting these one-of-a-kind (made up) butterflies…


… for the air, earth, and fire of my love’s merry brightness of being:


The One I Love is like the waters of the oceans — patient, deep, and thoughtful:


An Everest of honor


…and wise in the ways of never and always, is the One I Love:


I paint this eagle feather…


…because the One I Love is true-hearted and brave:


In all the world — of plants, and birds, and rocks, and things — blue is the color most rare


…and the color most romantic:


The One I Love is all that, too.

And then there’s this:

The love of the One I Love.


The love of the One I Love is as every-day a thing as atoms, and gravity…


… and photons, and electrons;


the love of the One I Love is as commonplace as day, or night…


…or even quarks, and tea:


In other words,


it might as well be magic.


This is dedicated to The One I Love.

 Please feel free to lift any part of this image that suits your Valentine too.

And if you don’t have anyone you want to call the One I Love this Valentine’s Day, I am right there with you, pouring the Pinot Grigio and reaching for a box of Kleenex.

24 Comments, RSS

  1. Nina

    First you created the “Triscuit”, then you came up with the “champagne-o-meter”, and now you’ve invented the “biographical Valentine”. AND you write illustrated travel memoirs (I think you’re the only one who does). *Sigh*. Vivian, do you ever get tired of being a genius??

  2. Kimwithak

    Beautiful words, gorgeous painting!
    I have been in love with your second book for sometime and finally gifted it to myself along with your first book, sight unseen! They are traveling towards me via our postal system hopefully arriving before Valentine’s day.

    I’m excited to have found your blog and that there is a 3rd book in the works!

    Late to the party but so happy I made it!!!!

    • Vivian

      Kimwithak! So glad that my books found you (books find readers, not the over way around). Journeying with the USPS would take a lot out of anyone, let alone my delicate little tomes. So I hope you’ll find a comfy chair and make a nice cup of tea and let yourself get cosy with Book One and Book Two.

  3. Booklady

    I love your watercolor tutorials. This one *is* beautimous. And I also learned a new technique for making paintings that don’t look like the dog ate it: USE HAND RESTS. Even a righty can use your example. THANK YOU.

    Happy Valentine Day to you and Top Cat.

    • Vivian

      Oh yes, that hand rest is crucial when you work as small as I do. Also, you have to be careful not to drop the brush. They seem to slip out of my hands on a regular basis, and plop down onto the whitest, cleanest part of my picture. Thank DoG for White Out.

  4. Gigi

    I so love this composition of love and other wonders. It is absolutely perfect! I now have my February inspiration. Happy day to you, Top Cat, and the other love-y cats.

    • Vivian

      Gigi! OMG! Can you believe that I actually forgot all about the moggies when I did this portrait of the One I Love! Oh well, next time there WILL be lots and lots of cats.

  5. Jeannie

    That is exactly the kind of love note I love. I don’t care for store bought roses, and we are many months from roses out of the garden. My luv buys me roses. I know in his heart he would rather go pick one from his favorite bush. Romance takes energy, insight, and creativity. When you have been flat out with a cold, a dozen roses says you felt well enough to get to the store, but that was about it. LOL! Now for a nap. Since I love him, I will make him his favorite chipolte stew. It will help his cold and tell him that I love him regardless of the day. Vivian, your Valentine made my eyes tear up and the desire to send it to the world. Thank you. (By the way, I rarely share your posts with him, but the vocal fry post had me laughing with tears. He wanted to know the joke and was soon laughing out loud. We cranks have to stick together.)

    • Vivian

      I’ll take chipotle stew over cut roses any day. And so would Top Cat. And you are totally correct about Crank Love. Top Cat is quite the crank and me, well, I’m no slouch either.

  6. Felicia

    I too found love late in life. What no one tells you is that all of the heartache, sorrow and loneliness disolve into sweetness, comfort and the peace of a soul at rest once you find true love. Or that old passion can still light a bonfire. It’s hard to put all of that into words as beautifully as you’ve done today. Blessings to you and Top Cat on this day of saying out loud what resides in your heart all of the time.

    And aren’t we, your readers, lucky too, to have found such a rare talent that you share so generously. I hope you feel all the love and affection we are sending back to you! Happy Valentine’s Day.

    • Vivian

      The funny thing is, unless I have to remember what year it is, I forget that Top Cat and I found each other when I was 48 and he had told everyone that he was never getting married again. Felicia, you know what I’m talking about, about how being happy with the One You Love — it has a way of becoming part of everything you live and breathe (but not in a creepy way, more in a comfort/natural way) , including the past. I have to think very hard to remember what it was like before I knew my T.C. Also, I feel lucky because I got Top Cat in his best years, and didn’t have to wait out the 1980s and 1990s — and now he is my very own Sean Connery.

  7. JunoP

    This is so beautiful. SO BEAUTIFUL. I wish I were as talented and artistic as you… I would love to make a Valentine like this for the One I Luv sooooooo Would you consider doing some artistic consulting? Please! Could I send you a list of the things I luv about you know who and you give me the things I need to paint? And then would you show me how to paint them? That’s how much I need your help. Butputting aside my envy and admiration, this is a beautiful tribute to your love.

  8. Felicia

    I’m oh so glad I didn’t have to struggle through the “Testorone years” with Prince Charming, other women got to do that. I just get to savor the sweet man he is today. The beauty of aging is that it makes men more mellow, sweeter, kinder, gentler and it makes, or it’s made me braver, sassier, more confident of my own opinions and place in the world….I think of it as savory with the sweet–a lovely combination.

  9. Sigh. Oh, the one you love is lucky indeed to have one who so recognizes his fine qualities. And I’m guessing he’s pretty lucky, too! I know your Valentine’s Day was wonderful.

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