Years ago, when I was living in southern California, I was commissioned to paint a large canvas for the office of an executive of a corporation. This man, I soon learned, was wrestling with a troubled soul. He was suffering the after-effects of a divorce from his wife of many years and estrangement from their two young daughters. Worse, he was being constantly tormented by threats of legal action from the cause of that divorce, his male ex-lover.
Usually, those who commission paintings for offices expect a work that is primarily decorative, like the kind of work you encounter in the lobbies of their corporation headquarters. In this man’s case, I felt he deserved something deeper. So I decided to paint a vision that was so far above his troubles that he could perhaps be free of them, if only for the moments he was able to quietly contemplate the painting.
The image you see here is one of the studies I made for that painting. If you’d like to see an image of the final work and read the full story of how the painting came about, you can find it on my website: just search for “A Vision: Peace” or go to https://johnmichaelkeating.com/2018/06/18/a-vision-peace/.
Meanwhile, if you have time for only the abbreviated version, here it is: The executive was thrilled to the point of tears by my vision above the clouds, with the Pacific ocean on the left and the Mojave desert on the right, with clouds obscuring miles of landscape in between. I spoke with him briefly a few weeks after the painting was installed in his office. The news was not good. He had been fired, he told me. As for the painting, “I really miss it, but it belongs to the company. It put me next to heaven and now I can never see it again.”