Arkansas Sketchbook

Laura Raborn | Acrylic, oil and charcoal on canvas | 2014

By virtue of what it is, the moment in the painting is suspended, held fast for whatever scrutiny and time the viewer decides to allow it. But in this case, there’s more. Not that there isn’t more to other paintings—more depth that can be plumbed—but here, the subject is less the girl, less her movement, and more the moment in which she exists. Because even though it could be any number of occasions—anytime she was at play, anytime she was held for a moment in the space in the air—it’s specific in the sense that there are limitations, because she’s different now.

Now, two years later, she’s a girl flirting with the breach of childhood and adolescence. She’s a girl who, upon seeing a playground, still yearns to hang from the monkey bars, but also the girl who wants to go out, her face made up for the first time, picking out her outfit in a way that a little girl might not, with her friends for the Fourth of July. So, too, is she a girl wise beyond her years, who’s taken stock of all of this—who recognizes the fleeting quality of youth and, as her mother, the artist, says, already mourns it.

“I think there was a time when she knew she was more sheltered, and she misses that,” Laura says. She pauses for a moment and then laughs, saying that was more about her family and her daughter than she’d intended to mention. But the truth, as she goes on to say, is that “we all have that at every state of our life, every moment. Time that’s fleeting. … Like, you really don’t know what’s coming next. So, how to really look at every moment with appreciation is a big part of the way I think and becomes a part of my paintings.”

But yet, in looking at the painting, the abstraction of the plane and its figures, the blue and the orange, the girl’s face that says so little behind the crook of her arm and her eye that says little more, in looking at this moment of youth, it’s clear there’s something more. The painting can be turned on its head, and now she’s rising to the top. 

“Moving” is on display at from August 5-31 at Justus Fine Art Gallery in Hot Springs.