Signing of Painting


The moment has come for Charles to stop working on the painting and sign it. To bring this chapter of the journey to a close. The frame will be here in the coming week and it needs to rest before the big show in the fall.

The day is sunny and spring smells are in the air. We arrive at the studio, which Charles has prepped for our arrival with some wine and cheese to celebrate after the signing. The afternoon light has more shadow and it the time he most liked to work on the painting, as it allowed for the best balance of color. Things weren’t so washed out.
We walk down the small stairway into the studio and there it is. Done. My husband hadn’t seen it in a long time and he can’t stop talking about it and that says a lot because my husband is usually not one to be talking more than me. It adds a level of excitement. For me to see the painting is a feeling of love, admiration, pride, joy, sadness and comfort. The painting has become an extension of me in a small way and being near it feels like I am around an old and wise friend. Looking at it in that moment I still can’t imagine it hanging in my house and for right now, that’s not something to think about. Right now we are here to watch Charles put the finishing touches on a couple of spots and sign and date the lower right corner.
We talk about what will happen next in the process, I take a bunch of photos and I just drink in the moment. Having passed my father’s grave sight on the way up to the studio I feel his connect in this moment too.
Charles’s wife joins us, as I have asked her if she would please be a part of this moment. We were friends before this process and through this we have connected even more. She has witnessed all of the hours that have gone into this, listened to my stories, and helped me process. I am honored that she is able to join us. Charles asks me what I think my dad would think of this whole thing. I have thought of that often. Just like me I think he would have mixed emotions. He was a shy and humble person and I think he would feel a little exposed and nervous able so much attention being given to him. I would like to think that deep down he would smile, feel a little braggy, and be honored by it’s beauty. I can imagine him saying, “O daughter the things you come up with.” With a nice smile on his face and the twinkle he would get in his eye when he was happy or proud.
Standing there I am mostly taken aback the incredible talent of Charles Kapsner. It really is more beautiful than I thought it would be. The flag looks incredible, vibrant and so real you want to touch it. The helmet, you can sense the fabric on it, so much so you want to touch some of the stitching. I know all of the hours put into creating such a statement and I know that Charles added a piece of himself having worked on it for so long. I am just so honored that he took in this project.
After things settle down and we stop just being in awe of how it has turned out Charles picks up the paint pallet and he starts to sign his name with a thin little brush in such detail. We look on as the moment is completed and the paints are put down.
It is complete.
For the next hour, we sit in the studio and celebrate with a little wine, cheese, crackers and laughter. Catherine and Charles just recently returned from being honored by the Norwegian Armed Forces and we got to hear all of the incredible details. While we were talking and looking at the painting I shared a recent story of how recently I started tossing out my old journals and one of the reasons I had been keeping them is because I had a fear that if I didn’t have them, I might not remember something important and I would get bullied for it. My father had this incredible memory and he could recall everything you had ever said, when and where you said it. My memory doesn’t work like that and so those interrogations in my youth were painful and very loud. I learned to journal so I could fight back against his memory. I want to be clear that not all memories through this process have been rosy and happy. That is not how PTSD works for the family members of a veteran. While my father might have been reliving his time in the war, we were all living in a new war with him and his PTSD. I explained to them that part of the closure this painting brings for me is it is a visual reminder that I can replace those past behaviors I needed to have to survive with new more constructive, kind, and loving behaviors. His PTSD went with him as did our war. May all of it rest in peace. This topic shifted the conversation to my other goals with this piece. I hope to bring awareness to Vietnam Veterans and all of their family members. I want to have conversations about PTSD and about the love and support I have received from TAPS and from VREC. This is the next chapter of my grief journey, I have no idea exactly what it looks like, and I can feel I am ready to embark on it.

The painting will be scanned at some point and we plan to make copies of it for my brothers and to be shared in other ways. That to will be something we learn along the way.

Peace to you,


VREC – Veterans Recreation Center

Til Valhalla Project

PTSD Resources for Veterans & Families

I did a little bit of research behind the importance of the signing of a piece of art.
This was one of the best articles I read.


Part 1
Part 2