I remember coming home from a year away, aged seventeen, and discovering that the whole house (previously a greyish-brownish kinda colour) had been painted emerald green. That was startling, but I got used to it.
After it was sold, it was hard to get used to not having it there. I remember one time diverting a drive with a friend who had to make a bathroom stop, saying, "we can just stop at the house." We were almost there before I remembered we didn't live there anymore.
Anyway, in the Christmas of 2002, I had a photograph of the house that had been taken in the daytime, but I thought it would look more wintery and Christmas-y to paint it at night. So I made the sky and the house dark. Then I made a whole bunch of Christmas cards and gave them to all sorts of people. At last I gave a card to a friend of mine on a visit to London. She was an objective observer who looked at it with the critical eye of a friend and an artist. And right away she pronounced that it was the saddest painting she'd seen for a long time.
As soon as she said it I knew it was true. There I had been trying to commemorate the happy home of my youth, but what I'd painted was a cold, dark, empty building. It didn't look welcoming... it looked deserted. But maybe that portrait showed the real situation more accurately than what I'd had in mind.
Ten years later, my three-year-old son refers to this house of legend as "the frog house" because it was green. That's the legacy... for now!