The Art of Staying Home

"The Painter’s Family" by Henri Matisse, 1911, The State Hermitage Museum

To look at something as though we had never seen it before requires great courage.

– Henri Matisse

Here in California, I have been sheltering in place for three weeks while  experiencing the following: utter disbelief and despair, intolerable anguish, abject fear and loathing, pulling my hair out while watching the news, total inability to get out of bed in the morning, crying while witnessing the plight of first responders, and laughing obsessively while repeatedly watching goofy dog and cat videos.

On top of that, although I typically eat loads of veggies and leafy greens, I confess to devouring bags of barbeque potato chips, plus salt and lime pepitas with peanut butter and jelly, tuna fish and egg salad sandwiches. I also crave boxes of Saltine Crackers, mini sweet pickles, cheap Mexican food from Lola’s, mushroom pizza from Servino, and smashed new potatoes, oven roasted till crunchy, then smeared with Sir Kensington’s Avocado Oil Mayonnaise – which, by the way, is considered totally nutritious.

To be honest, I have become a child again, stuffing myself with cherished Texas comfort foods, nightly shared bottles of Prosecco, and occasional double shots of tequila. But I always end my day down on my knees praying for a miracle.

Staying Home: A Little Art to Cheer Us Up 

“Family Portrait” 2011 – Kirby Kendrick

And thank God a miracle showed up in my inbox a few days ago in the form of my friend Kirby’s Art Blog ( It reminded me of the way art calms and soothes my soul and spirit. Kirby’s blog included Matisse’s outrageously colorful 1911 The Painter’s Family, and her own whimsical Family Portrait from 2011. Kirby’s subtitle for this painting is Home has Never Been Sweeter. I couldn’t agree more.

Gathering Shattered Like Teacups 

“Tea Party Gone Awry” 2020 – Kirby Kendrick

Today, Kirby surprised me again with a photo of a new piece of art titled Tea Party Gone Awry that she is entering in the San Diego Watercolor Society 40th International Exhibition. The timing couldn’t have been better, as I was grieving a series of cancellations: a talented friend’s gallery opening in Southern California, a treasured couple’s wedding celebration in the Sonoma Valley, a girlfriend’s 50thbirthday party at an oceanside spa, and my beloved Thursday morning painting classes here in Marin County.

Kirby’s latest painting made me think of all the gatherings that have gone awry lately, just like those teacups falling to the floor and shattering before anyone can realize what’s happened. Our best-laid plans for celebrations, vacations, birthdays – all anticipated for months to create new memories – have vanished in an instant. Though I know in my heart there will someday be gatherings where we share our wisdom and laughter from the gifts of this daunting adversity.

Although the world is topsy-turvy right now, these pieces of art help us recognize what’s important in our lives just as in Matisse’s – family, friends, community and something we take for granted – our homes.

Living in a Painting 

Kirby and Robert’s Casa

And speaking of home, here’s a picture of Kirby and Robert’s casa in the Mission Hills neighborhood of San Diego. I was visiting a few years ago when we impetuously decided to rehab their living room fireplace to establish a focal point. We painted the white mantle black, then brightened up the surround and hearth with a feisty black and white checkerboard pattern. The bold neutrals grounded the room’s colorful palette, tying in the black coffee table and wide floral border of the rug and accenting the art on the mantle. Like magic, an inexpensive and whimsical makeover transformed the room into a vignette worthy of an impressionist painting!

The Importance of Art and Home 

In this time of focusing on what’s happening outside while remaining inside, stop for a moment to appreciate not only your home, but also what you have collected and displayed on your walls and surfaces. Art is the greatest expression of the human spirit, whether it be a poster, textile, three-dimensional object, drawing, watercolor, oil, a child’s creation, or the sacred moments captured in photos of your life and the people, places and animals that comprise it.

Please stay safe, healthy, brave and strong. Thanks to all of you who inspire me with your generous comments on my blog and your daily messages on Instagram and Facebook that I treasure. You truly sustain me and lift my spirits, affirming we can absolutely get through this together learning valuable lessons along the way. And don’t forget to laugh in between your tears!

For the love of life, home and art,

Linda Applewhite's signature
Toby is now Senior Official in charge of Communication,
and is keeping us sane!
Toby is now Senior Official in charge of Communication, and is keeping us sane!
  • Gigi Woodward

    Linda, I love your blog post. Honest, lively, an arrow straight to the heart. The anguish of the circumstances in the world create anxiety of the unknown, but you lead us with your thoughts and Kirby’s paintings to the safe place in our hearts. During this time, I pray that our homes heal the fear and lead back to where we are most grounded.
    Sending peace and love to you, Marshall and your babies, GIGI

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