I thought about blowing it off. Everything in me just wanted to sit on the couch and have a glass of wine. It was 5 PM. We’d had a long day of doctors, shots, shopping, -general errands that need to happen if you have a family. “Go on Kelly, just a quickie and you’ll be on track” I assured myself. Reluctantly I went.
Standing before my proposed subject – a leaf, a beautiful leaf – I felt unmoved. The light is not good in the studio at night, and it just didn’t seem as intriguing as it had the day before. I rubbed my forehead. I sat down. For a moment I let the long day wear at my resolve. I stood up and stretched, I bent over, I turned around. There I was, staring back at me in an old flea market mirror I had just hung on the wall.
“OK – a quick study of my funny little face,” I told myself.
Generally, I find self-portraits the most difficult practice out there, but I’d been painting a lot and I was feeling confident that I could whip one out. Perhaps my half-exhausted state of being might even project me into something fabulous and telling.
I started one – wiped it out – started again – left it for a larger canvas – started again. Over and over again, I struggled with it. By 7 PM I was close to weeping and decided to give up. I went home and climbed into bed feeling beaten by my own face. I was sad that I had nothing to show for the day, other than children current on their immunizations.
Morning brought a new commitment to remedy my “missing piece”. I looked at my efforts from the night before and worked to correct and simplify. By 11 AM I wiped it out all over again.
I set up the bottle and olives – and there they stayed – still – without thought or emotion – without judgment of age or time – without notice of me. Into them I sank; a peaceful fit of bliss. Then they were finished.
I looked at the floor – a canvas stained with the remnants of my crooked face stared back at me. Up it went. On I went. At some point, I felt a hint of “happening,” a small glimmer that I might find myself. I simplified in every possible way. I tried to eliminate all of the age and hardness that life has left me and prayed for even just a whisper of the essence. I think I found it.
It may be a while before I look again.
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