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Love smells like petrol


I was visiting Dina in Burundi -  her town is called Kirundo - and she is a hero there. On one of my last days she asked if I could paint something for the orphanage of the Sisters Of Charity. We had visited the kids earlier in the week and it was funny and agonizing beyond belief to see so many orphaned children and so much love from the sisters.

So we went out and bought some oil based paint from a guy on the side of the road in Kigali, Rwanda. I wasn't sure how much paint to buy but since he didn't really have any colors, we just bought everything he had.

I prepared a sketch (above) at breakfast one morning and presented it to the sisters. They seemed to really like it, or so Dina said in her translated french, but the sisters insisted that Christ be central to the image. Hmmmm. I've never painted Christ before and wasn't sure I'd be able to. And also, I felt as though what the kids needed most was color and shape over symbolic representation. Later I was told that if I painted the children playing soccer then that was almost as good as having Christ.

Ultimately we agreed that Christ lived in the heart and the sun and that maybe later on, Christ could be added. It was already mid-day and I wasn't even sure I'd be able to cover the whole wall since I'd never painted a mural before. 

I had helpers for the whole day who would critique each new element. I'd paint the sun, stand back and we'd all debate how to make it rounder, or lighter. It was really a magical experience since we couldn't use words - it was a lot of hand gestures and smiling. It took me 6 hours and it was hot as hell. I had to wash my hands in petrol because there was no turpentine to be found. In the end, we all stood there and smiled and embraced and it felt like love. And I cried. 

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    I know about this site, really very useful and helpful for all, keep doing in the same way with informative tips. This chworkshop blog has been giving us info about love smells like petrol, lol.

Reader Comments (2)

Chris--thanks for sharing this. I think Christ was in your hands, your sweat, and your heart as you painted this mural; and then in the joyous tears you shed.--Peg

September 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPeg Ross

Chris....I do not know who you are, but you are someone highly special, gifted, and insightful. I have thoroughly enjoyed looking at your amazing site with heartwarming and intriguing commentary and imagery. You are potently talented and human.

Thanks for sharing!

Lacey Richter
Artist in Austin, TX

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