Anne Notations

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Portrait of the artist

Imagine a story that fits what you see in the painting. You have 10 minutes.

The artist hadn't touched his food.

"Alors – you mustn't dwell on yesterday," Yvette scolded. "Everyone knows the Salon is political. These days, a rejection means nothing."

Gaston continued to ignore the savory dishes before him. What would a dance-hall girl know about art? he mused stonily. How could she comprehend the wound to his pride, his very soul? He drained his glass of champagne.

"Come now, cheri. Mangez."

"Tais-toi!" he snapped. "Enough." The young woman pulled away, lips pressed in a thin pout.

Earlier that day Gaston had fled his studio in despair. It was all he could do not to throw his canvasses out the tall windows, to snap his brushes over his knee.

Yet far from finding solace at the brasserie, he had encountered instead the very face that stared back from his painting – his rejected, unloved portrait of a sensuous beauty.

Yvette – model, mistress, muse. And now, unbearably, the living emblem of his failure.

Painting: Les Soupeurs (The Diners), by Pablo Picasso, 1901. RISD Museum of Art.

Thanks to colleague Terry for the inspiration at our work group's daily morning "energizer."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

When a tree is more than a tree

Thoughts about a photo I took several evenings ago

1. The telephone pole is our public self, the respectable persona we show neighbors and colleagues: upright, reliable, calm. The tree is our spirit, dancing free of expectations, tossing its hair in the twilight.

2. Pole: "Can't you ever hold still?"
Tree: "No! Not when the music's on."

3. A brother and sister grow up very close but with markedly different personalities.

4. Even though she is decades past childhood, the girl still enjoys hiding, then jumping out – "Boo!" – to scare her friends.

5. The pole is a husband, strong and tall, perhaps a little rigid. He isn't (usually) silly, nor does he sway in the breeze. He is, and always has been, a grown-up.

The tree is me.