They say the sense of smell is powerfully connected to memory. It’s been raining, and the scent of lilacs surrounds the house. Every time I step outside, the flower smell hits my brain and lifts my feet a couple inches off the ground. Wow.
I remember being an undergraduate art student at the University of Idaho in Moscow. Spring can be rainy there too. I rode my bike to the art department, and painted the sensation of lilacs in the rain–lots of dripping green with some purple. In 1987 I was experimenting with layers of watercolor and acrylic medium on a paper with an interesting surface. Strathmore Aquarius II–it had strands of fiberglass in it. After the painting was dry, I would take it to the paper cutter and slice off long pieces, and weave them back into slits I made in the body of the painting. This was a fun and liberating phase of making art, especially because it horrified the architecture students in my painting class. I could see them flinching over their tight renderings of buildings every time I brought the paper cutter blade down.
If I were painting the smell of lilacs today, I think I would put in more purple.