The Innermost House
The Innermost House is a reflection upon our journey through life. The painting was inspired by Henry Beston’s book, The Outermost House, which was published in 1928. In his chronicles, Beston describes his year-long stay among the dunes of Cape Cod, where he was energized by the taste of the salty air, the birdsong, and the power of the surf.
In my painting, I have chosen to create a series of houses on the Cape to depict the three separate stages that represent the journey of life. The choice of tones of the painting is somewhat muted, to match the reflective nature of the piece. The first house, located near the water’s edge, represents our childhood. Here, we can feel the coolness of the water, and taste its saltiness; the proximity of the house to the shoreline allows us to witness the beauty and power of nature first-hand. But, similar to Beston’s original house, which was located too close to the water, the “folly” of our youth is often framed by excessive risk.
The second house was created to represent adulthood. Here, the house sits back from the surf, but at a higher elevation to enjoy the entirety of the Cape’s perspective. The position is unassailable and represents the wisdom we have gained as time has passed; the grandeur of the house shows the world the accomplishment of our lives, and our ability to provide for others. The 10 windows of the house match Beston’s description of his original Fo’castle house. I have also chosen to depict this home in ecclesiastic terms, to convey the idea that, in later adulthood, we start to see our journey, not in terms of accumulation of material possessions, but rather, in terms of legacy and spirituality.
The last house, shown in the painting’s foreground, depicts the last leg of our lives: it is small, austere and well-setback from the energy of the ocean. This house represents the desire for safety, and the lack of need for material possessions as we start to wind-down our lives. In the bottom right in the painting’s foreground, I have placed a small elevated narrow of sand to convey our transition into the spiritual realm, as we finally leave the physical world and begin our second journey. Here, I have placed three flowers, again to represent the three phases of life that we each pass through on our journey through humanness before transitioning into what comes next.
Size: 40" x 30"
Acrylic on canvas with gold foil accents