Sunday, October 25, 2009

Painting by Carmon

No! I did not paint this.  I am not that good.  It was painted by a former student of my husband, Lindsay Carmon, who was a Ph.D student at the University of Michigan.  My husband came home and told me about one of his students who was living in his van that was full of paintings.  "Bring him here," I told my husband.  We always had room for another person.

Carmon moved into our home and was the most unexpected gift we've ever received.  He was quiet and unassuming, refusing to live in the main house, choosing instead to live in the basement.

Everyday while we were at work, he would find something that needed repair, fix it, and quietly hand us the bill from the hardware store.  He refused to accept any money for his labor, only money for parts.  He fixed things we didn't even know were broken. He was concerned that someone could easily enter our house from the patio door so he developed an elaborate safety system for the door.

One day we came home and he had all of our sons painting the outside of the house.  We were stunned.  We had never seen our boys work so hard.

Eventually, Carmon finished school.

We came home one day to an empty house.  Carmon was gone without saying good-bye. But he left this large painting, which I had always admired, with a heartfelt thank you note.  The painting was leaning on a wall in the living room and I was so moved that tears began to fall down my face.

We kept in touch over the past thirty years and he became an art teacher in Alaska.  We were so happy when we were invited to Alaska because we thought that at last we would have a chance to see him again.  Alas, when we arrived in Alaska and called him, we discovered that he was in the lower 48 and we would not see him.

Last year we talked by telephone and I told him how much we still loved the painting but had sent it to our son in Atlanta because we didn't have a wall large enough to display it in Las Vegas, where we now live.  I missed having the painting so much that on a trip to Atlanta I took a picture of it and had a graphic shop make me a copy which we display in our home.

I asked him how his painting was going and he told me that the painting above was the last thing he ever painted.  There was no more.


  1. What a beautiful, sad story of an incredibly talented man, a good man. It is also wonderful to read of people like you and your husband taking the young man into your home. Do you have any idea why he is no longer painting? I have been so moved by what you have written and the painting -- it's incredible and, again, heartbreaking at the same time. Thank you so much for posting this.

    Hope your day goes well.


  2. In real life the painting is breathtaking.

    He never seemed to believe his talent nor did he have anyone pushing him.

    He's is so talented without any efforts.

  3. What an incredible painting and story. Sylvia expresses exactly what I feel.

  4. What a sad story, but a beautiful painting. It was so kind of you to take him into your home. I'm sure he appreciated it beyond words.

  5. This painting is breathtaking indeed! What a sad story - that this was the last thing he ever painted. Maybe one day he'll paint again.

  6. My mouth is hanging open at this story! I know so many artistic people who've gone this route. We can never know what happens in someone's life that makes making art painful or impossible or unimportant or irrelevant for them. Sounds like now he makes artists instead of art. :-)

  7. Yes, Carmon's work is breathtaking. The woman in the painting is in Africa thinking about her husband who was taken on the slave ship. Glad you all liked it.