Diana’s Pom Pom

'Diana's Pom Pom' Acrylic on silk. Copyright Paula Carnell 2007
‘Diana’s Pom Pom’ Acrylic on Silk by Paula Carnell 2007

Rather than grieve when people leave my life I’m learning to appreciate that age old saying, ‘people come into your life for a reason or a season…’

The story of this painting is all about someone who came into my life with all the promise of being a long time friend but after her ‘reason’ our paths didn’t cross again, but this painting was born.

Summer 2007. I had a couple of weeks during the Summer holidays when my two sons were away. Maybe with their father or more likely their grandparents. Husband Greg was working and his son wasn’t living with us then. These times ‘alone’ were much treasured and I wouldn’t waste a moment. Housework would be ignored, friendships on hold and I would paint and walk.
On one of my walks ( high speed & high distance), just as I was approaching my lane I met Diana. Similarly dressed in shorts & walking boots, also walking with purpose we were forced to greet each other meeting head on on a narrow pavement. I was intending to cross but the road was so busy I couldn’t. Diana was just starting her walk around the field behind our house, so I joined her. She was a published author of walking books and happened to live just a few roads away from me. We shared a passion for walking, and flowers! I invited her to look around my garden where I showed her my Japanese Anemones. Despite being a lover of pink, I had bought this plant expecting it to be white, so it’s abundance of pink blooms were a continuing disappointment to me. However I coexisted with my Anemone as it gradually claimed a larger plot.
Diana, unlike me, knew her Latin names, and she invited me back to see her garden, and her Anemone hupehensis ‘Whirlwind’ (WHITE double Japanese Anemone).

It was spectacular and I was instantly in love. She willingly gave me a stem and I returned home and started to paint, that evening!

When painting flowers I would always hold it in my left hand whilst painting on the silk with my right hand. Speed is needed to paint skillfully on silk, balancing the confidence of the gutta or brush mark with the flow of paint as it dries. My best paintings of flowers were started and completed before the flower I was painting had passed away.

I used a grey paint on a fine brush to draw out the outline, sketching rather than producing a thick outline and then I built up layers of colour to add texture and form.

As I was drawing, a ladybird appeared, exploring the flower and stem. I had to include her. Without the ladybird the painting would have been bland, that flash of red is just what it needed.

I was so excited painting this one and it continues to be one of my favourites. It became part of my collection exhibited in Cork Street London in May 2008. I had to borrow it back from its new owner. A collector of mine brought a friend along to my studio and she fell in love with Diana’s Pom Pom and bought it there and then, Autumn 2007. She has since passed away and so now her son has the painting.

Diana and I only met briefly after that, I bought two of her walking books and then she moved away. Our meeting really was a reason, not even a season!


One comment

  1. Re reading this three years later makes me realise several things. Firstly, although I say that I was learning ‘not to grieve’, I was actually in the midst of tremendous grief.
    I was four years in to a chronic, undiagnosed illness and was in the midst of around thirty of my friends and acquaintances passing away. Not only had there been around a funeral every month, some I was able to attend, but needed a carer to take me in the wheelchair, but there were many more I just couldn’t get to for various reasons.
    I was also grieving the loss of my passion and career- painting. Then there was the grief of loosing my ability to walk. I think that was what this post was really about, a treasured memory of the freedom and ability to walk, and to walk a little bit longer and further, just because I could!
    I now know that grieving is a very important emotion, not only to feel but it needs to be fully experienced, no matter how painful. Grief is triggered by so many events in our lives and rather than suppressing it, we need to cry, scream from the roof tops, or hill tops in the wind, and then just sit and be grateful that we have loved and lost. Letting the grief go, pass through us enables us to move on, ready for the next crashing wave!
    This painting remains one of my favourites, and as it sold very quickly, it was akin to a child leaving home. I hadn’t had a chance to ‘mother it’ and really enjoy it’s beauty. I think that’s why I had to write about it.
    Also, Diana and I never met after our couple of walks and garden visits. I have seen her around recently a few times, I’ve smiled but she has no recollection of who I am, or of the impact she had on a moment in my life.

    That’s interesting proof in itself that it’s ok to let people & things ‘go’.


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