I see so many changes in my world. Not just the way my pants fit, or the level of sag in my cheekbones, but the structure of my life. Our kids are getting older. My husband is fully engaged in a political campaign. The things that used to plant me no longer apply. I am so blessed, and I am so restless.
I painted three pieces today. First was Mira, a young painter from Lebanon. She sat still, very still, on the floor, looking up at the wall. She had a peaceful but knowing look about her. Her large dark eyes looked up – and in a way asked the world (or the wall) “what are you looking at?” I tried to capture her. I didn’t.
Carole was next; an elegant woman from South Africa that is now a permanent resident of this village. She was gracious, well dressed, and lovely. Halfway through the sitting, she said “I want to be beautiful.” She is beautiful – 60-year-old beautiful women. But I couldn’t get close.
Sandro came. He walked in. I sat him down, stood him up, and looked at him sideways, again at a different angle. Yes, this will work. He sat, crossed his arms as instructed, and looked at me. I pointed to my eyes, then to his, then out the window. He turned his head. Then he came back.. I pointed again, and he followed. I looked at him for a long time. I let my eyes move around him, and I began to work. The environment was passive. There was still the pressure of the ticking clock, but the intensity was gone.
As uncomfortable as his stare made me, I wanted to switch course and get it back. Perhaps there is something that happens for the sitter as well? Perhaps they come to watch me, paint them. I removed that equation today. Mira and Carole looked at the wall, and Sandro just stared out the window. There was no exchange.
I have no paintings to show you today. I tried to photograph them for you, but not one of them turned out. They were all blurry. The gods may be telling me to keep these failures to myself. Tomorrow I may just stick to landscapes, as they have no eyes and no heartbeat.
I did, on the other hand, get my laundry done, and walk the Umbrian countryside alone for over an hour today. These things alone help quell my anxiety. Though to use such a word while spending a month in Italy at “art camp” seems surreally absurd. 10 minutes spent on the internet, looking at the real tragedies coughed up by life, should cure any perception of toil inflated by the privileged person – and I am a privileged person.