Time Travel

Today, I oil painted for the first time in many months. I had been building layers of acrylic paint on a canvas, playing with textures and different ways to make marks.  I was not feeling inspired by the painting at all, and I had no plan for how to make the painting work. I have never considered myself to be an acrylic painter, and I keep playing with the paints to learn more about them, but this painting was going nowhere. So I used that canvas as a base for the start of an oil painting. So far, I like how the old painting is peeking through the new painting. It gives some interesting depth and textures. Since the old painting was just for play, it feels like starting with a seriously tinted canvas.

The smell of oil paint and printmaking ink take me back to college and that ‘in love’ feeling I had when I knew I had found my place. It’s so incredible how the sense of smell is connected to emotions and experiences. The feeling hit me so strongly today that I just had to close my eyes for a few minutes and be in that place – remembering falling in love with painting back in Santa Cruz, CA. Those scents of painting and printmaking supplies also make me want to be in the studio. There’s energy and joy in the fragrances of making art.

Other smells that transport me:

  • Northern California beaches –The smell takes me back to childhood visits to my grandparents.  Now the smell also reminds me of Santa Cruz and days at the beach when my son was a baby. Beaches in other places don’t smell exactly that way.
  • Homemade spaghetti sauce – my childhood favorite dinner. Major comfort food! The smell still makes me feel ‘home’.
  • Bayberry candle – When I was a child, we had one in our home at Christmas time. That smell always takes me back and says CHRISTMAS!
  • Lilacs – I remember a bush in a yard from childhood. We shared it with a family whose elderly mother lived with them. The smell reminds me of both the yard and the sweet lady.
  • Cedar – The smell reminds me of my grandmother’s house in northern California. She would pull quilts from the cedar chest for us to use. I have always loved the smell of a quilt pulled from the cedar chest. Now, I have the chest my dad built, and I can pull blankets from it in winter. The scent makes me feel cozy and warm.
  • Lithotine – Falling in love with lithography! I know it’s not good to love the smell of a solvent, but the smell transports me to the printmaking studio at UC Santa Cruz.
  • Strongly scented roses – remind me of my husband. He brought me one from his yard on our first date, and it had such a lovely fragrance that accompanied us the entire evening. Now, the smell reminds me of that magical night.

There are so many! Are there smells that provide time travel for you?